HC Deb 09 July 1851 vol 118 cc416-21

Order for Committee read.


said, that as far as he understood the subject, the principle of the Bill was to value lands and tenements in Ireland on a scale founded upon the prices of agricultural produce, and that such valuation should continue in operation for the next fourteen years. He objected to the returns of 1849 and 1850, on which the calculation of prices was based, because he considered them incorrect. He had no objection that the price of agricultural produce should be an ingredient in the valuation of land; but if it were to be so, the question must be asked of the Government whether the scale could be correct, or corresponding with the prices at present existing in Ireland. He had moved for returns from thirty-six towns, having reference to the prices of agricultural produce; but these were so mystified that he thought the recognised organ of the Government in Ireland had justly remarked that no dependence could be placed on the figures; any scale derived from them must he totally worthless as a criterion of agricultural prices in Ireland, He would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland the expediency of introducing into Ireland a mode of ascertaining the average prices of agricultural produce, such as existed in England, where these average prices were used to ascertain the value of tithes, and for other purposes. With respect to the particular provisions of the Bill, he called attention to the circumstance, that while the Lord Lieutenant had power to appoint Sub-Commissioners, and the Chief Commissioner to appoint valuators, the ratepayers had no right to name a single individual. He objected to a mere arbitrary Court of Appeal, such as the Bill proposed, and thought it monstrous that those small holdings below 5l., which had hitherto been exempt from county cess, should be brought under taxation. The entire machinery of the Bill was very complicated; there were numerous forms and technical points to be observed, and he apprehended that the measure would be distasteful to the country. As matters stood, they had had enough of Valuation Bills for Ireland, and he thought the complicated machinery of the present Bill would rather make matters worse than otherwise. The cost of the primary valuation in the part of the country with which he was connected, under the present Act, was 22.000l., or 5d. in the pound on the valuation, and the expenses under this new Bill would be equally great. He thought a commission of valuation in each county, with a sufficient staff, to go from barony to barony, would lead to a correct valuation in Ireland; and he hoped the adoption of some such scheme would not be overlooked by the Government. It was most important, both as regarded the Registration Bill of last Session, and the It cumbered Estates Court in Ireland, that a correct valuation should be established in that country; but he objected to the mode of obtaining it laid down in the present Bill. It would depend upon the view of the measure taken by the Irish Members whether he should move in the present stage that the Bill be postponed; and, therefore, in the meantime he contented himself with expressing his individual opposition to the measure.


hoped they would not go on with the Bill in its present form, and that before they proceeded with the measure there would be some modification of it. The present valuation had cost over 270,000l., which must have been drawn from the county rates in Ireland. Besides that, there were the salaries of the Commissioners of Valuation, which were paid out of the Consolidated Fund. Notwithstanding that expense, twenty - six counties only were valued, and six counties were still unvalued in respect to what was called the uniform valuation, though the work had been going on for twenty-one years. And now they were about to commence a valuation on a new principle, after all their waste of time and of money. He must complain of the injustice which had been done by this Bill to town property particularly in Ireland. Formerly a general average valuation was made of houses, and then one-third of the value was struck off to bring them down to their comparative value in relation to the land in the district. It was admitted that up to 1846 the valuation of land was about 25 per cent under its letting value, and about 33 per cent was struck off the value of houses. Five years since the valuation of land was 25 per cent under the letting value, and he saw no reason why in five years hence the valuation might not be again under the real value; but by this Bill the towns were to be subject to taxation according to the full value, and the 33 per cent, which had hitherto been struck off on making them liable to the county taxation, was not in future to be struck off. If the Government were resolved on proceeding with the Bill, he trusted they would only adopt that portion of it which applied to tenement valuation, and that the present townland valuation might he completed.


supported the Motion for going into Committee. The present Bill was brought in to avoid the evils incident to the existing system of valuation in Ireland; and he thought the objection which the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Scully) had taken with regard to the scale of prices of agricultural produce, was a point which might be well considered in Committee.


said, he should oppose the Bill, because he considered that it was based on false principles, and would not practically answer the pur- pose for which it was intended, though he was willing to admit that the present law was in an anomalous state, and required amendment. It was of great importance to have a correct tenement valuation in Ireland, seeing that it would have the effect of settling the value of the franchise in that country in cases where it was in dispute. He would not then enter into the subject of the averages; but he would suggest that the House should postpone going into Committee on the Bill until they had some efficient mode of taking the averages correctly.


said, a necessity existed for an uniform system of valuation in Ireland; but he admitted that was one of the desirable things which appeared to him to he next to impossible. It was still more desirable that that valuation should be a correct one. Of all times the present was the most inopportune to commence such a valuation in Ireland as that which the Bill proposed. He denied that the present prices of agricultural produce in Ireland, especially the price of beef and mutton, bore that relation to each other which was put down in the Bill. He would counsel the House to wait until the different relations of property were fixed; and the state of the country became more settled, before they applied themselves to make a really true and fair relative valuation of land in Ireland. If they persisted at present, they ran the risk of committing serious errors.


would suggest to the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Scully), that it would be better that the House should go at once into Committee on the Bill, than that hon. Members should at that moment raise a discussion on the clauses.

House in Committee; Bill committed pro formô House resumed; Committee report progress.

The House adjourned at twenty-four minutes after Five o'clock.