HC Deb 13 February 1824 vol 10 cc155-7
Lord Althorp

rose to move for leave to bring in a bill to amend an act passed in the year 1816, enabling landlords in Ireland to distrain, as in England, the growing crops of their tenants. To this measure he could see no objection; for he was sure that the landlords themselves could have no desire to exercise this odious power, although, perhaps, their agents might. The object which he had in view was, to take from the effect of the act of 1816 all farms, the rent of which did not amcunt to 10l. a year. The landlord should still be left the same power as before of distraining cattle. This appeared to him to be an act of humanity to the poorer classes in Ireland; and it would have also a collateral advantage; for it must be manifest to every one acquainted with the condition of that country, that one of its principal evils arose from the great subdivision of farms, and the tendency of this measure would be to prevent so great a subdivision, and thereby remove to that extent one of the grievances under which Ireland laboured. He should therefore move, "That leave be granted to bring in a bill to amend so much of the 56th of Geo. 3. c. 88, in so far as it applies to the distraining on growing crops in Ireland."

Sir J. Newport

seconded the motion, and remarked that, as an act of justice and humanity to the people of Ireland, the House should remove the power of oppression which at present existed.

Mr. Goulburn

said, he did not rise for the purpose of opposing the motion. He should be sorry to oppose any motion which it was alleged was likely to afford relief to the people of Ireland; but at the same time, he did not mean to pledge himself to give his support to the measure in its future stages, or, on the other hand, to state that he should give it his opposition. But it was worth the consideration of those who introduced the measure, to examine whether there were any circumstances that rendered the extension of the measure necessary to Ireland and not to this country; and they should also consider whether in giving what appeared an advantage to the suffering tenant, by depriving the landlord of the means of recovering the sum which was due to him, they did not impose a greater evil upon the tenant himself, by destroying that credit which the landlord might otherwise have been disposed to give him. It was perfectly true, that the process of distraining was one of those cases which might easily be depicted as extremely oppressive; but if you deprive the landlord of the power of recovering, let it also be remembered that you destroy, in a great degree, the confidence which he might be disposed to place in his tenant. However, he should offer no opinion at present on the merits of the bill, nor as to the course which he might feel it necessary to adopt at a future period.

Mr. Grattan

said, the measure proposed by the noble lord would not take away from the landlord the power of recovering his rent; it only altered the time. What the noble lord had proposed, was perfectly fair; namely, that a keeper might be retained on the crop whilst it was growing. In the part of Ireland to which he belonged, and where there were resident gentlemen, there was no disposition to distrain the growing crops; so that whatever it might be in other parts of Ireland, the neighbourhood to which he belonged was exempt from the evil.

Leave was given to bring in the bill.