HC Deb 22 July 1853 vol 129 cc635-40

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.


said, he objected to the mode in which the Bill was being proceeded with. The right hon. Secretary for Ireland had informed the Irish Members that it would not come on again today, and colder that impression many of his hon. Friends had remained away from the House. It was with much surprise that he now found the Bill standing first upon the Orders.


said, he was never more astonished in his life at any statement than he was at that which he had just heard from the hon. Member for Kerry. He had never stated that the Bill would not be resumed to-day. Certainly, nothing of the kind had ever escaped his lips. However, if any inconvenience had arisen in consequence, he was extremely sorry. He was most anxious that the Bill should come on to-day, and he had even gone to his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to ask him to allow it to take precedence of the Pilotage Bill, and, though his right hon. Friend was very anxious about that Bill, he kindly consented to allow this measure precedence.


said, his memory certainly differed from that of his right hon. Friend, for he distinctly remembered that he stated it could not come on till Monday. He believed his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Portarlington could corroborate him in his impression. [Colonel DUNNE: Hear, hear!]

Clause agreed to.

Clause 10 (Recovery of compensation in cases of eviction).


said, he should wish to move the omission of certain words so as to give the tenant the right to compensation without the landlord proceeding to actual eviction.


said, as the clause now stood the tenant could only recover compensation when he was evicted, or his tenancy terminated from the effluxion of time. Now he would suggest that the tenant should be entitled to compensation whenever the landlord required him to give up the tenancy.


said, he must admit the justice of the suggestion, and would promise to reconsider the clause before the bringing up of the Report.


said, he would now move to insert before the word "default," the word "wilful," with the view of enabling an evicted tenant, whose nonpayment of rent was not a wilful act, to claim compensation for any improvements which he might have effected.

Amendment proposed, in page 7, line 32, after the words "Act or," to insert "wilful."


said, he thought the clause, if passed in its present shape, would destroy a large class of tenants. He saw no reason why parties evicted for nonpayment of rent should not receive compensation as well as others. Where the improvements were bonâ fide, they ought in all cases to be allowed for.


said, he should vote for the Amendment, on the ground that the clause was one of forfeiture.

Question put, "That the word 'wilful' be there inserted."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 47; Noes 65: Majority 18.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 10 to 13 were also agreed to.

Clause 14 (Tenant to be entitled to Compensation for Improvements made before the passing of this Act, if evicted).


said, he objected to the clause, as altogether opposed to all principles of legislation. Every kind of retrospective compensation was extremely questionable, but, if permitted, at all events the law should be so defined as that it should not lead to perpetual litigation. He thought the clause would prove so injurious in its effects, and would keep the country from one end to the other in such a state of ferment, that he believed the tenant would be no gainer by it if it passed. He would beg to move, therefore, as an Amendment, that the clause should be omitted, with the understanding that if the feeling of the Committee were in favour of retrospective compensation, the words recommended by the Select Committee should be inserted.


said, he was inclined to agree with the noble Lord in his view of the anticipated effects of the clause, but would suggest whether his end would not be gained by limiting the period within which the eviction could take place to ten years from the date of the completion of the improvements. He would move an Amendment to that effect.

Amendment proposed— In page 9, line 40, after the words time being,' to insert the words any time before the expiration of ten years from the date of the completion of such Improvement.'


said, he felt bound to defend the clause, which had been assimilated to the Poor Law Act, the Valuation Act, and the Scotch Act. If they permitted the principle of retrospective compensation at all, let them do it boldly and distinctly. If it were a good plan to give compensation for such improvements as were adjuncts to the land, it was good irrespective of any limitation of time.


said, he could not accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for the city of Dublin, and he should persist in moving, after that Amendment should be disposed of, the expunging of the clause.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 42; Noes 87: Majority 45.


said, he now wished to propose an Amendment, the effect of which would be to limit the amount of compensation to four years' clearly letting value of the land improved. These words were in the Bill as adopted by the Select Committee; and, as he was opposed to the principle of retrospective compensation at all, he certainly thought some limit should be placed upon it.

Question put, "That these words be there inserted."

Amendment proposed— At the end of the Clause to add the following words, but not exceeding in the whole four years' clear yearly letting value of the lands improved, as hereinbefore mentioned.

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 52; Noes 77: Majority 25.


said, he would now propose, as another Amendment, to add to the end of the clause the words— Provided always, that such tenant shall give notice to the landlord within one year from the passing of this Act of the improvements for which he intends to claim compensation.


said, he would have no objection to consider whether something, could not be done to have a register of improvements made, which would answer the same purpose.


said, that in that case he would withdraw his Amendment, it being open to him to move the omission of the clause, if he saw fit, upon bringing up the Report.


said, he was so anxious to have a register of the nature referred to by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that if he would give an undertaking to provide such a register, he also would withdraw his Amendment.


said, he would undertake that this should be done.


said, he could not assent to the clause, notwithstanding any precautions with which it might be guarded and fenced. He objected to the principle, convinced that it would prove most unjust if they gave retrospective compensation, and that it would lead to interminable lawsuits. He should therefore move for expunging the clause.


said, if the register were agreed to, the whole effect of the clause would be destroyed, because the moment a tenant gave notice to register, the landlord would give him notice to quit. It would therefore create bad feeling between landlord and tenant, and put a stop to all improvements.


said, he was opposed to the clause, as tending directly against the rights of property in Ireland. He would not relinquish his rights for any temporary popularity; and he would ask, who would buy property in Ireland if it were subject to a clause of this nature?


said, he looked upon the clause as the very essence of the Bill. It was a bad measure for a bad state of things; but the state of things as they existed rendered it necessary; and it was, in his opinion, much more important to make it retrospective than prospective. Let them compensate for what had been done, and leave the future to the good sense of the persons concerned, as was the case in England.


would suggest that the clause ought to be made to define more clearly what were improvements, and the person who was entitled to compensation for having made them—the tenant who held the farm, or the party who held the lease.

Question put, "That the clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 103; Noes 44: Majority 59.

Clause agreed to; as were Clauses 15 to 19.

Clause 20.


said, if this were such a very fair, proper, and just measure as had been represented, it would be extremely hard that the poor tenants of England and Scotland should be deprived of it. As this clause limited the Bill to Ireland only, he should move that the clause be omitted.


said, he must support the clause, on the ground of the different circumstances of the two countries.


said, that Scotland did not require a Bill of this nature; and he congratulated the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite on the position to which at length this measure had attained.


said, he also begged to congratulate the right hon. and learned Gentleman upon the state at which this and the Landlord and Tenant Bill had arrived; and, on the part of the people of Ireland, he emphatically thanked the right hon. and learned Gentleman for having introduced these measures, and for the attention and care which he had bestowed upon them. With regard to the Motion, he could only say that he had discussed the Bill with reference to Ireland alone.


said, as a humble English Member, he must protest against the application of the Bill to England, where it was not required.


said, as he did not regard the Bill as just or wise for Ireland, he certainly should not vote for its extension to England.

Amendment negatived; Clause agreed to.


said, he begged to propose the following clause:— Any judgment or decree obtained under this Act, in respect of Compensation for Improvements executed by any tenant who has been evicted from or put out of possession of his holding, shall be the first charge thereon; and, in default of payment within the time limited by the Court in that behalf, shall entitle the tenant to go forthwith into actual possession, or into receipt of the rents and profits of such holding as mortgagee thereof, and to continue in possession or receipt until fully paid oft with interest and costs.

Brought up, and read 1°.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the clause be read a Second Time."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 25; Noes 116: Majority 91.

House resumed.

Bill reported as amended.

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