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THE WELSH LAND > COMMISSION.# HABITUAL grumblers always grumble at the appointment of a Royal Commission. They look upon it as the resource of a Government which wishes to do nothing except collect statistics. We do not deny that there have been Royal Commis- sions to which this description has been applicable. Some Royal Commissions have not merely retarded but actually prevented reform. Others have been merely useless. Our book-shelves are littered with their reports—reams of evidence preceded by a few judicious t'entences as careful as the Thirty-nine Articles not to offend anybody. But one may say, perhaps, without irreverence, that Royal Commissions help those who help them- selves. Whenever a band of reformers demanded a Eoyal Commission and the Commission came to nothing, it will generally be found either that the reformers had a bad case or that they put it badly before the Commission. And for this very reason we do- not think the present inquiry into the Welsh land question will be a barren inquiry. The Welsh farmers have a good case, and they seem- to be putting it forward temperately and well. They are proving by hard facts the neces- sity for legislation. >. In reading the reports of the evidence anyone -who knows the history of the Irish land question jritt" be struck by the curious similarity of the con- ditions disclosed. As in Ireland the farmers of the manufacturing North could make better terms for themselves than those of the South, so in Wales there are variations. In Glamorganshire the great mineral industries relieve the pressure on the land, and a tenant-right custom has arisen which may be compared with the Ulster custom, though in Ulster the outgoing tenant got his com- pensation by a practically free sale of his interest to the highest bidder, while in Glamorganshire the arrangement is not essentially different from the tenant-right allowed in parts of England. The landlord selects his tenant and the outgoing tenant receives for his improvements, not a com- petition price but a price., fixed by valuation on customary principles. In other parts of South Wales the. outgoing tenant -is by custom entitled to some slight compensation, but in North Wales, as was long ago reported by the D-UKE of RICH- MOND'S Coinmission, no tenant-right whatever ekists. Thepressure of the people on the soil, while not .perhaps so great as in those parts of Ireland where no manufactures of any sort are found, is, great enough to make the landlord master of the situation. It, is in North Wales naturally that the Irish conditions are most com- pletely reproduced. We find the tenants making most of the improvements. The general rule in Wales, differing in this respect from Ireland, is that the landlord builds the houses, the tenant doing the haulage. But in Anglesey even the houses have been built by the tenants. They are poor and insanitary houses leading to moral con- ditions which are by no means admirable, but they are built by the people. The landlord (an- not be said to perform any duties except those of rent collector. There is no sympathy between landlord and tenant. Some people were surprised to read that a Welsh tenant regarded his English landlord as a foreigner. But when the English landlord is an absentee whom the tenant has never seen, speaking- a language the tenant could •not understand if they did me--t-when he will only let his land on an agreement in the same un- familiar tongue, and makes no greater concession to popular feeling than to appoint an agent who knows just enough Welsh to collect the rents- the description of the Welsh witnass is not so very surprising. Even when there is no difference of nationality the landlord is, as in Ireland, divided from the tenant by religion. The land- owners are most of them Churchmen the tenants are Nonconformists.; and the feeling between Churchman and Nonconformist is more bitter in Wales than that between Protestant and Catholic in four-fifths of Ireland. So far has this religious and political bitterness gone that in a large num- ber of .-eases, as has b-eec. proved by incontestable evidence, Nonconformists who were good farmers and good rent-payers have been got rid of. simply because they were Nonconformists. As long ago as 1868, it will be remembered, Mr HENRY RICHARZ had to protest against a series of .politi- cal evictions due to the tenants' votes. The evi- dence of similar conduct which was brought before the Commission against Mr ELLTS NANNET, Con- servative candidate for Carnarvon borougihs in 1890, was not sufficiently 4-isproved. Thllilwe have in Wales as in Ireland landlords performing no useful economic functioogjandlords by nation- ality or religion unfitted for useful moral influ- ence, landlards carrying theiDoreligious and politi- cal differences to the extent .of inflicting actual physical wropg. It is not sctsprising to find that they go further, and habitual) y<-exact more than; they are reallf- entitled to. Aboat a year ago con-j troversy arose ft etween LORD BUCKLEY and Mr THOMAS ELLK as to whether the landlords in Wales had ma.dhe same reductiQUSas landlords in England. Though the correspondence was rhaps inconclusive, the evidenaer before the Com- anission has clearly proved that :MR ELLIS was sight. The landlords have habitually i taised the rents on the tenants',improvements. The tenant could claim nothing for improvements. The Agricultural Holdings Act, owing, to the many technical pitfalls, is a! most wholly inoperative, and the agent of Stir (RICHARD BUWELSY said that he gave outgoing tenants just what hetliked -to offer for compensation. Practically, therefore, the-tenant asked to pay«a Jiigher rent must either agree, to pay it or leave ,an £ sacrifice his life-work. -Coutra.et-g made under these conditions are net free, and when we read;that one who was once & Liberal member raised -the irent of one Anglesey; tenant from X7 to £415 as rtbe tenant built tbe: house and stubbed the fn-rxe and drained the juarsh, we.fgel that legislation is urgently needed to Ifemedy so gross an injustice. Rents fixed in this way have not been lowered in the tioaes of depression, aJM1 from Noeth ant South, Wielsh farmec*—more intelligent than their Englwh bretkren-see t&at rent is pressing- out agricul- ture. Of course, the landlords ¡pqt it all down to the agitators. Low PENBHDr, with Ms Property Defence Associatiou,.spoke of the Walah members just as the landlord witnesses before !the Bess- borough Commission apoke of the Irish iwembers. The agitation was spurious liow well we know that word- He wu quite certain thejt tue distress had not eaused the agitation. But he admitted that 11 the period sf distress was coinci- dent with the periodof agitation." An even iii.-)m amusing witness spoke on be of a Mrs PAIR Y. This lady evicted one of her tenants. The tenant, after protracted litigation, was proved to be in the right. But Mrs PARRY refused to pay .lb gm pf costs which were legally due, because there were such horrible articles about her in the) papers. Even the country of Clanricarde could not produce a more delicious example of the party of law and order. Such in brief is the state of things disclosed before the Welsh Land Commission. It is too soon to suggest the remedy. The notion of apply- ing Irish land legislation just as it is seems to us somewhat crude, but in some form or other the Welsh tenant must be given such fixity of tenure as will preserve him from capricious eviction, and fair reits which must be fixed by. a court or an arbitrator. We trust that the legal machinery will not be as elaborate as in Ireland, and that the rents will not be fixed for so long a term. Whetber the third F—free sale—should be given is a question on which we confess we have no strong opinion. We doubt whether it is a better protection for the tenant's improvements than compensation fixed after a valuation unfettered by technicalities. And it might increase that grabbing for farms which is already said toe I r3 -Y among the curt-es of North Wales. But on this as on other matters most of us will be willing to accept the verdict of the able and knowledgable men who form the Commission.-Tke Speaker.