HC Deb 11 May 1866 vol 183 cc769-70

said, he had a question to put to Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, which, as it considerably affected landed property, he might, perhaps, be allowed to preface with a brief explanation. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, when the Chief Secretary introduced his Bill to amend the law relating to the Tenure and Improvement of land in Ireland, said that it implied the consent of the landlord to specific improvements, and that it proposed to interfere in no way with the perfect freedom of contract between landlord and tenant. That was a clear and distinct statement. It had, however, been stated authoritatively by the organ of the parties who induced the Government to bring forward the measure that— No landlord can defeat the claim of his tenant to compensation under the Act by a general contract not to improve, or not to claim compensation if he should improve. And again — A general agreement would be one in contravention of the policy of the Act, and would be voidable. The question, therefore, he had to ask was, Whether the statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman was the correct interpretation of the Bill; and whether by Clause 29 an owner will have power by means of a written agreement with the tenant to prevent him from executing all or any of the improvements mentioned in the 37th section of the Landed Property Improvement Act, 1860?


said, he thought the clause alluded to by his right hon. Friend was clear and free from ambiguity. It provided that there should be no compensation for any improvements which the owner might prevent the tenant from making, or might compel him to make, by the contract. If, therefore, a landlord wished to control his tenant in making any improvements, he had only to introduce a specific clause into the lease or contract controlling or preventing him from milking that particular improvement. If, for instance, he chose to prevent him from building a house, he had only to intro-duce a clause to that effect in the contract, and if the tenant, acting in defiance of it, did build, of course he could not claim compensation against the landlord. The right hon. Baronet had ascribed to him an observation which he did not think was quite correct, but that was the meaning of the clause. It did not, however, give validity to general agreements professing to bind the tenant to forego claims for improvements made by him under the Act.


said, the question people in Ireland desired to know was whether, if an owner of landed property entered into a written contract with his tenant that as between them the provisions of this Bill should not apply at all, that would be valid under the Bill?


said, he did not think that would be a valid contract.