§ Order for Committee read. House in Committee.
§ Clause 10.
§ MR. NAPIER
said, that by this clause 727 a tenant under an improvement lease was bound to improve one-tenth part of his land every three years, and, if he failed, he was liable to be ejected; subject, however, to compensation for the value of the improvements which had been made. He thought this latter provision would create great embarrassment, to landlords particularly, as the Bill provided no machinery for assessing the compensation which it was proposed to give. Believing that this provision would prevent owners of land from granting leases under this Bill, he would move the omission of that part of the clause.
§ MR. M'MAHON
said, that he could not assent to the objection to these words, which was founded upon the embarrassment they would cause to the landlords, because it was quite optional with the owner of land whether he gave such a lease or not.
§ MR. NAPIER
said, he must still maintain, in opposition to the hon. Member for Newry (Mr. Kirk), that where the re-entry of a landlord was caused by the default of a tenant, the latter was not entitled to compensation for improvements; such was the principle of the Scotch law.
§ MR. ROSS MOORE
said, he thought that while on the one hand a tenant who was prevented by some unforeseen casualty from fulfilling the contract he had entered into by his lease, was entitled to compensation for the improvements which he had made; on the other hand a tenant who had undertaken the reclamation of more land than he could complete, or had in any way failed to fulfil his contract by his own default, should not be so entitled.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, that the clause as it stood was already more stringent in favour of the landlord than of the tenant. If the words which had been excepted against were omitted, the Committee would be sanctioning the grossest act of robbery. MB. NAPIER said, he would not press his Amendment now, but he trusted that his objection would be met at the bringing up of the Report.
said, he would suggest that there might be such a thing as collusion between the lesser and lessee to defraud the remainderman. He thought that the hon. Member's (Mr. Moore's) sug- 728 gestion was absolutely necessary. He regretted to see that there were so few Irish Members present, and that showed the inconvenience of taking these matters in such an unexpected way, and at such an early hour as 12 o'clock. He protested against the vacillation of the Government.
§ SIR JOHN YOUNG
said, he denied that the Government had ever vacillated with respect to the measure. Nothing could be more certain than their intention to pass it with some slight amendments; and also to pass the Tenants' Compensation Bill, and the Landlords' Improvement Bill. The Government were perfectly united on this point, and he was in a position to state that they meant to carry all these three Bills. He also believed that by this Bill much would be done to enable parties to make such leases as would give the tenant full and fair compensation for the improvements which he had made. Reference had been made to the rights of property, and it had been intimated that this Bill was opposed to them. But he would ask whether the landlords' property was the only property that had rights? He believed that it was quite as much for the interest of the country that the property of the tenant should be protected, as that that of the landlord should be guarded.
§ MR. H. HERBERT
said, he was glad to hear from the Chief Secretary of Ireland that the Government were determined to urge forward both the measures in question, for he believed that they would confer immense benefits upon Ireland.
MR. J. D. FITZGERALD
said, he thought that it would be a valuable enactment to make the tenant liable, as it were, to a penalty if he undertook improvements and capriciously threw them up; but he ought to be compensated for what he had done with a bonâ fide intention to improve the land.
§ SIR ARTHUR BROOKE
said, that, as a landlord, if they really wished the condition of Ireland to be permanently improved, they must give bonâ fide and full compensation to the tenant for the improvements which he effected by his labour and capital.
§ Clause agreed to: as were also Clauses 11 to 27 inclusive.
§ Clause 28.
§ MR. NAPIER
said, that the portion of the Bill with which they had hitherto been 729 dealing related to the giving of enabling powers to make leases—they were now coming to that which regarded compensation for improvements. These were naturally divided into two classes—those on the soil, and those in the soil. With regard to the latter class, the Select Committee to whom this Bill was referred, agreed to the I principle originally inserted in the Bill—to give the tenant a certain period during which he should be sure of enjoying the benefit of his own improvements, and to entitle him to compensation if evicted be- J fore its termination for what was not matter of his own default. The Committee, however, thought that this principle would be a good one to apply to improvements in I the soil, and it was ultimately resolved that for improvements in the soil the tenant should be entitled to money compensation for such as were suitable to his holding, according to the value at the time of the landlord's entry, should that not be in consequence of his own default, while those improvements which he had chosen to make at his own risk should remain his property, to remove or dispose of as he pleased. The clause had been modified to embrace these provisions.
§ Clause agreed to; as were also Clauses 29 to 34 inclusive.
§ Clause 35 omitted.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to, with some verbal amendments.
§ MR. J. PHILLIMORE
said, that he could not allow the House to resume without expressing his sense of the great ability, good sense, discreet and admirable temper, which had been displayed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier) in the conduct of this Bill.
§ MR. FITZSTEPHEN FRENCH
said, that he thought they might congratulate themselves upon the manner in which a House composed almost entirely of Irish Members had conducted the discussion on this measure.
§ House resumed; Committee reported.