HC Deb 10 March 1847 vol 90 cc1126-32

On the Motion for bringing up the Report on the Landed Property Bill,


said, that the House would see that there was an additional grant of half a million given by this Bill to the landlords of Ireland. He believed that the amount of money applied for had been very limited, and he should wish to know whether the million originally granted had been exhausted before an addition of another half million was made.

Bill reported.


moved a clause, to enable trustees, through an application to the Court of Chancery, to make permanent improvements by monies in their hands.

Clause brought up, and read a first time.

On the question that the clause be read a second time,


said, the clauses proposed were not at all within the scope and intention of the Bill, and that they would have been very proper to introduce in the Trustees Bill passed two years ago.


replied, that his desire was merely to give power to trustees to advance their own money for the improvement of the estates in their charge. He did not ask for a loan. In cases of forced sales of land to railway companies, to what better purpose could the purchase money be applied than to the improvement of the remainder of the estate?


urged upon Government the necessity of reconsidering their decision upon this clause. Large sums of money would have to be invested out of the country without some such provision as the one now proposed.


said, it appeared to him that if private individuals could be found to advance money to improve property in Ireland, it would be much better to take it from them than from the public purse.


had received many valuable suggestions respecting this Bill from various Members; but, like the present proposed clauses, they were quite inapplicable. They were no doubt very desirable things to be done, but not calculated to be introduced into that Bill. Parliament had of late very properly set its face against this incongruous style of legislation.


agreed with the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer in thinking that the proposed clauses could not fitly be introduced into the Bill then before the House. It could not be denied, however, that the present was the fitting time for carrying out the objects embodied in those clauses; and he trusted that the Government would take the same view, and devote their attention to the subject. It was most desirable, not only with a view of saving the public money, but also for the purpose of enabling and encouraging parties to spend their money in Ireland instead of investing it in other directions, that greater facilities should be granted than now existed for improving land. If any legal Member of the Government would turn his attention to the subject, he had strong hopes that a Bill for carrying this object into effect might be passed in the present Session. In his opinion such a measure ought to include England as well as Ireland in its provisions; and he would recommend that the measure introduced by the Duke of Richmond about a year ago, and that brought in by the hon. Member for Berkshire, two years previously, should be taken as the basis of legislation. He could not help thinking that an effort ought to be made by the Government to take advantage of the existing feeling with respect to Ireland, and he had no doubt that under the present circumstances such a Bill might be passed this Session.


concurred in the proposition of the hon. Member for Limerick, and felt desirous of impressing upon the Government his conviction that the only way to give extensive employment would be to promote and encourage private enterprise. If the Government would introduce some measure calculated in its operation to throw more capital into Ireland, they would effect a far greater amount of benefit than could be realized by any State measure. He strongly objected to the 34th and 44th Clauses in the Bill. The 34th gave power to the owner of land to enter upon the holding of his tenant, whether that tenant remained in possession under a lease or by will, and order improvements without his consent being obtained; and the 44th Clause gave the Commissioners power to increase the rent of the tenant on account of such improvements. To both of these clauses he entirely objected; and he was sure if any proposition could tend to embitter yet more the bad feeling which existed between landlord and tenant in Ireland, it would be to give the landlord a power to enter the occupation of his tenant, and increase his rent on account of improvements effected, without having first obtained his consent.


hoped that the hon. Member for Limerick would introduce the Bill he had promised as early in the ensuing Session as possible, and that the Government, if they did not consider a substitute necessary, would put it into such a shape as in their estimation might practically effect the object in view. The Government was now about to grant assistance to the landlords of Ireland to improve their estates, partly in redemption of a promise made last year, and partly on account of the distress which prevailed in the country. They ought not, however, in doing so, to overlook the necessity of passing some measures calculated to stimulate and encourage private enterprise. If any such Bill were brought in, either by the hon. Member for Limerick or by the Government, he hoped, were it even for novelty sake, all parties in the House would unite in supporting it.


concurred in the expression of hope indulged in by the hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. M. J. O'Connell), that a Bill of the nature alluded to would be brought in; but he could not concur with the hon. Gentleman in hoping that the hon. Member for Limerick would be the person to introduce it. He hoped the Government would take upon themselves the task of introducing the Bill, for it was one of those important Acts which the Government ought to bring into the House, and respecting which individual Members had neither the machinery at command necessary for the purposes of preparation, nor the influence to carry through successfully. There was also another reason, which in his mind operated as an additional motive against its introduction by the hon. Member for Limerick. That hon. Gentleman would only make his Bill apply to Ireland; while if the Government brought it in, and the principle was a sound one, they would extend it to England and Scotland.


entirely concurred with the hon. Member who had just sat down, that this was a subject which could be more properly dealt with by the Government than by an individual Member. He fully appreciated the great importance of such a measure, as he considered any measures which would have the effect of encouraging the application of capital in Ireland, and the reclamation of waste lands in that country, would be productive of much benefit; but he hoped the House would recollect that although nothing was more easy than to give expression to the desirability of such a measure, it was very difficult for the Government to pledge themselves to introduce it at once. In the course of that very day an endeavour had been been made to draw the Government into a pledge to introduce no less than three Irish measures within the present Session. [Mr. SMITH O'BRIEN: And why not?] The hon. Gentleman said, "Why not?" but he would take leave to ask him whether the Government could not facilitate Irish measures much better if they were allowed to go through the business now before the House, rather than that the public time should be wasted by discussions upon a great variety of questions. He hoped the Government would be able to introduce the measure this Session; but he begged to impress upon the House, and more especially upon Irish Members, that the endeavour would mainly depend upon the progress which they might be able to make with those measures which they considered more immediately necessary to meet the present condition of Ireland. He, therefore, hoped the House would not consider the Government was indifferent to the importance of the subject, if circumstances should prevent the introduction of the measure this Session. It was his intention, with the assistance of his right hon. Friend the Attorney General for Ireland, to found a Bill upon the suggestions thrown out; but he hoped the House would not force them to bring in the measure until they had ascertained what progress had been made with other important measures directed to the improvement of Ireland.


expressed the deep concern he felt at the remarks which some hon. Gentleman, but more especially the hon. and learned Member for Bath (Mr. Roebuck), considered it necessary to make with respect to the landed proprietors of Ireland. Perhaps it was not generally known to the House that the major part of the property of Ireland was settled, and that the savings from estates could not be expended on improvements, without depriving the younger branches of families of their provisions. He was acquainted with many difficulties which attended the introduction of a Bill of this nature, and on that account concurred in thinking the duty of preparing it ought to devolve upon the Government, rather than upon an individual Member. He begged to say, in answer to the foul imputations which had been cast upon the landlords in Ireland, that this proposition came from them, and that, if it were opposed, blame should not be cast upon those who were anxious to afford every facility for the investment of capital and the encouragement of industry in that portion of the empire.


said, that under the clauses objected to by the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. S. Crawford), it was not necessary to give notice to the tenant. It was important that some such notice should be given, so as to enable him to come before the commissioners and make his objection. It was a strong power to give the landlord to go upon a man's land (who might perhaps hold it under lease) without his consent, and a still stronger power to charge the tenant with a sum for improvements without his consent.


said, that before an application could be made to the Board of Works for a loan, plans and specifications of the land must be sent up to them. The tenant could not have a better notice of the intention of the landlord, than his sending persons to make such a survey. The 34th and 44th Clauses were necessary, because the occupiers of land in Ireland did not always see the advantage of improvements; and if their consent were necessary to the survey, and to the increased rent, they would oppose both.


did not object to the clause; but he was anxious to state that, with respect to the trust in which he was himself concerned, that unless a clause similar to that alluded to was introduced, he very much feared the money would be invested in England.

Clause negatived.


moved the insertion of a clause, to enable corporate companies to borrow money for the improvement of land in Ireland for the purposes of this Act. The noble Lord observed, that great benefit would accrue to the country generally from the increased employment which would be afforded to the people, if public companies were enabled to enlarge the sphere of their operations. He held in his hand a report of the operations of the company established for the improvement of waste lands in Ireland, by which it appeared that on one of the company's estates in Sligo, no persons had to seek employment on the public works, neither was there a single instance in which recourse had been had to the workhouse; but that all had conducted themselves in a peaceable and orderly manner, in the hope that better days might soon arrive. He was aware that the same state of things existed on the other estates of the company; and that fact fortified him in the belief that similar results might attend the operations of other companies, if they had facilities afforded them to give employment.

Clause read a first time. On the question that it be read a second time,


opposed the insertion of the clause, on the ground that he could not recognise any necessity to depart from the original provisions of the Act. He did not deny the great exertions which the company alluded to by the noble Lord had made; but he begged to say, that under the first Act of last Session, they might borrow from the Loan Commissioners, and repay the amount in twenty years. If public companies were in a position, according to their own Acts, to borrow, they came under the provisions of this Act; but the present Bill was not the proper vehicle for amending former Acts.


considered that the great object of the Landed Property Bill was to give employment to the people; and he, for one, had never looked upon it as a Bill to benefit landlords, further than they might naturally be supposed to be benefited by the process of that employment. As it was his desire to facilitate the progress of the Government measures for Ireland, he would not occupy the public time by pressing for a division; but would content himself by expressing a hope that when the Government introduced their measure for the reclamation of waste lands, they would not overlook some provisions of the sort.

Motion negatived.


observed, that he rose for the purpose of moving the Amendment to the 5th Clause, of which he had already given notice. The clause had reference to the erection of corn mills and other buildings of an agricultural character. He opposed the principle of Government giving grants of money on loan for such purposes, on the ground that there was not any enterprise that required less encouragement than the erection of corn mills. On the occasion of his recent visit to Ireland, he had seen a great number of streams, independently of the larger rivers, upon which corn mills were now in course of erection by private enterprise, in the belief that a larger demand would in future be made upon that produce for home consumption than heretofore. An hon. Gentleman, not at present in the House, had informed him he had that morning received plans for the erection of a mill upon his estate at a cost of 2,000l., for investment; but that he could not decide upon them until he knew whether this clause would become law or not. That fact, he submitted, was enough to show that the Government would be doing harm instead of good, if they lent money for the purpose of erecting corn mills. The noble Lord was about to proceed with his observations, but


begged his noble Friend would not charge him with discourtesy if he requested he would postpone the conclusion of his remarks to another opportunity. It was then ten minutes to six o'clock, the hour at which the Speaker would have to leave the chair; and as there was yet remaining a quantity of private business to dispose of, he would propose that the further consideration of the report be postponed until to-morrow. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had some Amendments to propose, which he would have been happy to have brought up; but if hon. Gentlemen would insist upon such long discussions, it would be impossible to make any but the slowest progress. Unless some private business were now disposed of, the Railway Committees would be unable to proceed with their labours.


expressed his willingness to meet the views of the right hon. Gentleman. Further consideration of the report adjourned accordingly.

House adjourned at Six o'clock.