HC Deb 02 July 1835 vol 29 cc218-20
Mr. Sharman Crawford

moved for leave to bring in a Bill "to amend the Law of Landlord and Tenant in Ireland." He would not at that time, unless it were the pleasure of the House, make any observations, nor discuss the merits of the Bill: but would content himself with simply moving for leave to bring it in, that it might be printed.

Mr. Shaw

asked the noble Lord, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, if he was aware of the nature of the Bill: as it was quite out of the usual plan to bring in a Bill without receiving some explanation of the principles on which it was founded.

Lord Morpeth

was of opinion that his hon. Friend had better say a few words in explanation of the measure he proposed to produce.

Mr. Goulburn

protested against the deviations from the ordinary mode of proceeding on Bills of that kind: they were attended with very dangerous consequences. Bills were introduced without any reference to the object they had in contemplation, they got upon the order-list: deferred night after night till they came to the morning Session and then were passed, stage after stage, without any one knowing any thing about them; so that they got into the statute-book before they were aware that such measures were in existence.

Mr. Sharman Crawford

had merely abstained from giving any view of his object from the late hour of the night, and his conviction that it would not be well understood till his provisions were before the House. It was not his intention to push the Bill this Session—his object was to get it printed, and circulated through the country. The Measure which he wished to introduce was one founded on the report and evidence which was before the House, taken before a Committee of the House of Lords in the year 1829; and, as he conceived, he could express the object of his Bill in a much better way by extracts from that evidence, he would read one or two passages to the House. [The hon. Member then read two extracts from the evidence alluded to: the first was from J. F. Lewis, Esq. who stated that "the relations between landlord and tenant was one of the great sources of evil in Ireland—"in which he was confirmed by another extract from the evidence of Mr. Forster and an extract of a Letter to Sir R. Peel.] It was his object, in his Bill, to provide, that if the renewal of the tenant's lease were not effected by the Landlord, he should be enabled to obtain a fair allowance for the improvement and repairs made during his tenantry; that was the general principle of his measure, and he trusted that when it should appear before the House he should be enabled to prove that it would be of a most equitable nature: upon these grounds, pledging himself that it should not be pressed forward during this Session in a hasty manner, he begged to move for leave to bring in his Bill, and have it printed.

Lord Morpeth

had no objection to its being brought in, though he did not hold himself committed to its principles; it might contain suggestions worthy of being adopted into the law of Ireland.

Sir George Clerk

wished to put it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether such a Bill would be advantageous to Ireland?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

had rather reserve his opinion upon it till it should be in the hands of Members.

Mr. C. Williams Wynn

said, that without entering upon the general question at all, the orders and rules of the House should be established, as there was great inconvenience in these deviations from the usual mode of proceeding. He need only say that any interference in any contract between man and man—to say that a tenant taking a lease of his landlord, that he should have a claim upon him for compensation, if, at the expiration of the lease, he did not thint fit to renew it—it might be unobjectionable or not—but to say that this House had the power of interfering with existing contracts was in his opinion highly objectionable. He had no doubt that the measure was introduced from the purest and most charitable motives, but it seemed to him (Mr. Wynn) to run counter to the first principles of legislation; and the House ought not to give its sanction to the introduction of the Bill.

Mr. Warburton

could not gather from the hon. Member that he did interfere with existing contracts; or that his Bill differed from what already existed in this country, in the custom that the out-going tenant was to have his improvements, such as manure, crops, &c, estimated by fair valuation; and it was very probable that the hon. Member meant to do no more than provide that, by his measure, the same valuation should take place in Ireland. He, therefore, thought the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Wynn) had been rather hard upon his hon. Friend.

Mr. William S. O'Brien

thought that when the condition of the Irish peasantry was such as it was, the House would appear to disadvantage in the eyes of that people if an exception was made against this Bill in not allowing it when so many other Bills were admitted to their first reading. He should hold himself disengaged in regard to the principles of the Bill; and he should be prepared to give it his earnest attention, in hopes of its containing something capable of advancing the general improvement of the people of Ireland.

Mr. Sheil

thought that perhaps at this late period of the Session his hon. friend would have done well to postpone it. But as he had brought it forward, he had been rather unjustly dealt with; for there was already in Ireland, provisions that a tenant for twenty one years should plant the lands, and that the value of the plantation should be given to him at the expiration of the lease. At the same time, he must say, he thought at this time it would have been better to reserve the Bill for a future occasion, seeing they were engaged on two such important questions, the Irish Tithes, and the Corporation, (he hoped Irish, too,) Reform Bill,—remembering also there was another question which must come under discussion next Session—viz. the Irish poor-laws—it was impossible, whatever opinions they might entertain on the subject, for the Government to postpone it further till next Session—they must then say decisively—they shall be or they shall not be.

Colonel Perceval

agreed with the hon. Member for Tipperary, in one thing, that the hon. Member had better postpone his Bill till next Session.

Leave was given.