26 MARCH 1892, Page 3

The Small Holdings Bill passed its second reading on Thursday,

without a division, amid cheers from both sides. The only remarkable speech came from Mr. Gladstone, who supported the Bill, but wished for compulsion and a vast extension of the measure. This he would secure by enabling County Councils to compel landlords to let their lands "in feu,"—that is, on perpetual leases, which they would sublet to those who wanted them. This proposal, though specially designed to attract Scotchmen, who are accus- tomed to feus, is clearly a gigantic one, and might, if it became popular, place enormous liabilities on ratepayers. Moreover, it is entirely foreign to the social object of the Bill, which is not to multiply tenants, but to revive the dying class of small agricultural freeholders. The Government plan is the safer ; but there is a germ in Mr. Gladstone's project which may develop into large proportions, and we rather wish it could be tried as an experiment in Scotland. The labourers there are saner as regards what will and will not pay, than they are in most places. There was a great deal of discussion in the debate about Parish Councils, but that will come up again, and was only noteworthy because of Mr. Gladstone's admission that parish finance was impossible, and must be controlled by a larger body. In other words, a Pariah Council may suggest, but the County Council must accept or reject, a course practicable even now, though we call the Council a Vestry.