§ [Progress 28th March.]
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1 (Legality of Ulster tenant-right custom).
§ DR. BALL
moved, in page 1, line 20, after "custom," insert the following paragraph:—Where a tenant or his predecessor in title has within ten years before the passing of this Act taken, or where a tenant shall hereafter take, a holding directly from his landlord, without having given to any outgoing tenant any valuable consideration for the same, such holding shall thenceforth cease to be subject to the Ulster tenant-right custom.He said, the object of this Amendment was to carry out the policy of the Bill, and to extend it to cases in which a man went into the occupation of a farm which was not at that time subject to any tenant-right custom. The Government Bill provided for the case of a landlord purchasing the tenant-right as Lord Dufferin had done, and the object of his Amendment was to insure that when once the tenant-right was discharged, it should not be again created by a subsequent reletting of the land. It might be said that the Judges would not en- 1000 tertain any such claim; but he was not certain of that, because there might be peculiar usages on some estates.
said, he hoped the right hon. and learned Gentleman would not press his Motion for the insertion of these words, because the contract between a landlord and his tenant was left perfectly free under the clause. If any Ulster landlord chose to let to a tenant any land of which the tenant-right had been bought up, he would provide by contract that the land should be free from the Ulster usage, and that no claim should be made upon him in that respect. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman's words were introduced, inconvenient questions might be raised, although the Court had by the Bill absolute power to determine whether or not any custom prevailed. To provide for any particular case in which there might be a doubt would be to encumber the Bill, and thereby weaken its operative effect. By the Bill, as it at present stood, a landlord was perfectly free to make any covenant he pleased with a future tenant to prevent the latter setting up any claim.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
said, it had been suggested that it was advisable for the Government to give them a definition of tenant-right; but it was impossible to define a thing that did not exist. Although, however, they might not be able to define what tenant-right was at the present moment, there could be no difficulty in giving a Parliamentary definition to it for the future. When the subject was first brought before Parliament by Mr. Sharman Crawford, it was known as "Crawford's craze," and it was then objected that it was injurious to the tenant, as it prevented the accumulation of capital; because the tenant was called upon to pay twenty years' purchase, not for the fee simple of the farm, but for holding the transfer of a lease from another man, and what was that but putting the tenant at once under a double rent? The tenant was thus unable to till the land to advantage because he was deprived of his capital, and the only person who was benefited at all was the landlord, who secured the payment of all his rent. It was a well-known fact that during the famine in Ireland the proprietors of those estates on which tenant-right existed lost little or nothing of the sum due to them; 1001 whereas considerably more than a year's rent was lost by the Western proprietors. The provision in the Bill which secured to the tenant the repayment of all moneys expended by him in permanent buildings and reclamation of land was wise and just to both landlord and tenant and had his hearty concurrence. He approved much that was in the Bill, and believed that its operation would be beneficial; but he was afraid that so great a number of small provisions would lead to a mass of litigation, and that the advantages which it was expected would be derived from the measure would thus be to a considerable extent obviated.
§ MR. BRUEN
said, he thought the limit of ten years in the Amendment of his right hon. and learned Friend would inflict a certain amount of injustice on those who were just beyond that limit, He should prefer to see the clause adopted without such a limit of time, and he would throw the onus probandi of improvement on the landlord, making the words of the Amendment read— "When it is proved that the tenant or his predecessor in the title has taken, or where a tenant shall hereafter take," &c. He would have been glad if the Government had given way in that matter, and allowed a clause in the spirit of the Amendment proposed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he felt a little embarrassment about this matter. The words proposed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Dr. Ball) did seem to be defective in one respect, and open to question in another. They were defective for the reason pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government—that they seemed to cover a case in which the contract between the parties might be that the land should be taken subject to the custom. He concurred with the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken, that in principle there could be no reason for limiting the Amendment as to the past for ten years. The chief source of embarrassment that he felt was, that if they left the clause simply as it stood without the second paragraph, then in each particular case a particular holding must be proved to be subject to the custom, and it might be contended, even where the landlord had bought out the custom, that a particular holding was still subject to it. 1002 But there was a later clause which declared, with regard to the past as well as to the future, that if a landlord had purchased the custom from the tenant, the holding should thenceforth cease to be subject to the custom. He would, himself, be content to leave the matter in the hands of the Government to adjust the language of the clause now or hereafter.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. DOWSE)
said, he hoped the right hon. and learned Gentleman would not press the Amendment, as it was calculated to lead to considerable complication. The presumption of the law would not be in favour of the custom, because the tenant would be required to prove that his holding was subject to it. But then the Amendment went on to declare that—Where a tenant shall hereafter take a holding directly from his landlord, without having given to any outgoing tenant any valuable consideration for the same, such holding shall thenceforth cease to be subject to the Ulster tenant-right custom.But if the Act was to be permanent, that Amendment would apply to a number of cases which its framer had never contemplated. A tenant might get a farm from his landlord without giving the previous tenant any valuable consideration, or he might inherit it from another man by will, or receive it as a gift. In any of these cases there would be no valuable consideration given to the outgoing tenant; but still the new tenant would hold the land subject to all rights, and, among others, to that valuable one known as tenant-right. None of these cases had been contemplated in the Amendment, which dealt unjustly with the tenant in the past, in the matter of the ten years' limit, as well as in the future.
§ SIR FREDERICK W. HEYGATE
said, he agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down. If the Amendment was agreed to it would have the effect, in a great number of cases, of doing away with the Ulster custom altogether. Not one tenant in fifty had ever paid actual money for his tenant-right; for so great was the confidence and good will existing between the landlords and tenants in Ulster that the tenancies often went on in an unbroken series from father to son for many years, and though a tenant under 1003 these circumstances might not have paid any valuable consideration, he was as much entitled to the protection of tenant-right as if he had paid for the practice all his life. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. C. Fortescue) whether, supposing the landlord bought out and extinguished the tenant-right, the tenant would, under Clause 3, be entitled to compensation under the different scales there set out, and also to compensation for improvements?
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the intention of the Bill and of the Government was, that a tenant in Ulster who, for any reason whatever, was not subject to the Ulster custom should come under the general provisions of the Bill, whatever his claims or position might be. If for any reason whatever, not confined to the particular method indicated in the words of the Amendment, the Court found that a particular holding coming before it was not subject to the custom, it would not enforce that custom, and the holding would be treated like any other holding from year to year.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. CORRANCE
moved another Amendment to the 1st clause, to the effect that, where a landlord buys up the Ulster tenant-right, all other claims to compensation should be extinguished, except for improvements made by the tenant during his tenancy. He did not intend to go into the question of the Ulster custom more than to say that in this so-called recognition of the Ulster tenant-right the Committee had, in fact, created a right which did not previously exist. The right formerly existed between the two tenants; but now, for the first time, it was sought to give it a security on the landlord's property. He did not know, however, that they had any right to take exception to it, because the Ulster landlords, with great generosity, had freely acceded to that security being placed on their property, in which, after all, there was some jus- 1004 tice, for the right could not be created without the assent and consent of the landlord, and to that extent undoubtedly the landlord made himself liable. He rejoiced at that for two reasons—first, because the tenant would gain a very considerable boon; and, secondly, because when the landlord had placed the security of this transaction upon his own property, he would take a great deal more care as to the amount of money involved in the custom, and we should no more hear of twenty, forty, and even sixty years' purchase being given. He did not think that tenant-right itself could be justified on any abstract principle—it was, indeed, opposed to all principle, and was simply a matter of expediency. But beyond that there was another serious question. He felt greatly in doubt whether, under any possible circumstances, the landlords, generally speaking, would avail themselves of this part of the measure, which presupposed in the landlords what he was afraid they did not always possess —a very enlightened view of the future, and a very considerable stock of ready money. He did not think there need be the least apprehension of the extinction of the custom taking place—it would only take place extending over a great number of years, and after there had been a long line of landlords who in turn combined wealth enough and intelligence enough to see the enormous ultimate advantages which would accrue to them. It was the duty of the House to afford the landlords every possible facility for performing the operation. What he wanted to know—and the reason which had led him to propose this Amendment was—whether the clause, after tenant-right had been extinguished in a particular case, would free the landlord from further payments to the tenant for compensation or not, except in the case of improvements effected by the tenant? The need of some such Amendment as he now proposed was made abundantly manifest by a remark made the other night by an hon. Member (Mr. Whitwell), who declared that, in one instance which had come under his observation, the landlord had paid no less than £800 for the tenant-right of a farm of only twenty-five acres. This was an evil which the Bill as it stood, instead of removing, would stereotype and aggravate. He contended that, unless amended, the Bill 1005 would act most injuriously upon the landlord, and in this way—Naturally enough, when the landlord redeemed the right by the payment of a fixed sum to the tenant, he would think himself relieved from further claims; but such was not the case, he could still be brought under the influence of the 3rd clause, and he would then have to pay another sum in addition to the one he had paid for the redemption of the right. That, in his opinion, was legislation run mad. It was certainly a most intolerable injustice. If such should turn out to be the real principle of the Bill, and if it were found to work as he maintained, those who sat on the Opposition side had certainly done wrong in agreeing to the second reading. They were told that what he was speaking of would be no burden upon the tenants. Now in his own county there prevailed a system of valuation, which varied according to the locality, but which, in certain instances was enormous. The result of that had been that the tenants, exercising their good sense, had sometimes incurred a loss rather than keep up the excessive system of valuation. But there was a difference he marked in the valuation for improvements. The loss of the tenant only extended to the loss upon his capital for about one and a-half years. He bought up the improvements for that period of time; but at the end of that period he could convert them into money. He, therefore, lost interest upon a deposit only for the one and a-half years, and yet even that was regarded as an intolerable nuisance. He approved some of the objects of the Bill; but it was so obscurely worded that it convoyed a great deal more than it ought to do. It ought to be fairly recognized that this was only temporary legislation; the Bill had no pretension to be final or complete; it was based upon no recognized principle of political economy; and it behoved them to see that Ireland was not made to suffer, as the Prime Minister said she had done, in the past, from the evils inflicted upon her by legislation. He therefore called upon the House to pause before passing the Bill unamended. He wished to move the Amendment which stood in his name.
In page 1, line 20, after the word "custom," to insert the words "or custom, or usage, or compensation, except for improvements made by the
tenant during his tenancy, hereafter recognized or conferred in other Clauses of this Act."—(Mr. Corrance.)
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, he wished the Government to read the first portion of the clause along with the Amendment that had just been submitted. The clause said that—Where the landlord has purchased from the tenant the Ulster tenant-right custom to which his holding is subject, such holding shall thenceforth cease to be subject to the Ulster tenant-right custom.Now he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government this question—supposing the landlord did not purchase this tenant-right custom, and the tenant had not established the custom before any court of law, would the tenant be able to apply for compensation under the 3rd clause of the Bill, preferring that clause to Ulster tenant-right? [Several MEMBERS: Yes.] If so, what benefit did the second paragraph of the 1st clause confer? The Bill pretended to give with one hand and it took away with the other. It was manifestly unjust that where the custom had been in operation for a considerable number of years, and where a landlord might fairly think he was perfectly safe under the Ulster tenant-right, a tenant who might farm badly, who might be in every way a most undesirable tenant, and of whom the landlord might wish to get rid, should be able to say—"If I go I can claim under the other clauses of the Act," and perhaps to claim a much larger compensation than he would be entitled to if the landlord were to buy up the tenant-right. That would be neither fair nor right. He had always understood that it was to be an agreement between the tenant going out and the tenant coming in.
But subject to the condition that the landlord gives permission to the tenant coining in.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
That was all very well; but he should like to learn distinctly whether or not the tenant in such an instance as he had given would be able to claim compensation under Clause 3?
§ MR. G. B. GREGORY
said, what he understood by the Amendment was that any holding on which the Ulster tenant-right had been purchased by the landlord ought not to come under the 3rd 1007 section of the Bill. The Ulster tenant-right was the right of the tenant to demand compensation either from his landlord or the incoming tenant, the value of the right varying on different estates, but including his interest, whether for buildings or any other improvements. Now, it was admitted on all hands that this tenant-right ought to be put an end to as soon as possible. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no!] At all events people in England were of opinion that the incoming tenant ought not to expend most of his money upon purchasing the goodwill, and have none to devote to the practical cultivation of his farm, and that was a condemnation of tenant-right. With respect to the Amendment before the Committee, either that or some one of a similar nature would be requisite to make the Bill work properly. One portion of the scale under the 3rd section was to give seven years' rent to a tenant claiming against a landlord in certain cases. But the tenant-right of Ulster varied from two to five years' purchase, and if the landlord bought up the tenant-right, why should he be subjected to a further claim for compensation under the 3rd clause? That would be certainly a very great evil, and unless such provision as the one now proposed were adopted the object which they all had in view in passing a Land Bill would be defeated.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the Government could not agree to the Amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. Corrance) being withdrawn. They considered it an Amendment that ought to be negatived. The hon. Member, and those who had followed him, had expressed great astonishment at the idea that a farm in Ulster which had been withdrawn from tenant-right custom was not to be deprived of the protection which was granted to all other holdings. He should like to ask the hon. Member why such a farm should not receive the same protection as others? The hon. Gentleman who spoke last but one was of opinion that the purchase of the Ulster tenant-right by the landlord ought to extinguish all future claims; but if the 1008 holding fell into the general category of holdings from year to year, why should it be treated differently from the rest, or why covered with a less amount of protection because it might be situated in Down and not in Cork? There was no reason whatever for making any distinction. The principle of the Bill was simply the principle that the Irish tenant required protection from the Legislature in one form or the other. If the tenant already had that protection in the shape of sound and wholesome custom he was allowed to make use of it; but if not, he was to receive that protection in statutory form.
§ COLONEL WILSON - PATTEN
said, the Chief Secretary had not put the case fairly. He had failed to grapple with the difficulty started by the hon. Member for Sussex. Suppose a landlord purchased the tenant-right of a holding which amounted to only two years' rent, and the tenant still continued on the holding, would the tenant, in the event of having to leave, be able, under Clause 3, to claim seven years' rent from the landlord? [No, no!] Hon. Gentlemen might cry, "No, no;" but that certainly appeared to be the fact.
said, he did not see why the Ulster tenant whose right had been purchased should not receive the same protection as the ordinary yearly occupant. The tenant was in possession of a certain right which the Government held amounted to a virtual covenant, and he had the right to have that covenant declared. If the tenant was in the same need as other tenants, why not have the right declared? Where a man had ground down the tenant-right to one year he might get rid of it by one year's purchase; but where he had ground it down altogether he was open to the claim of seven years' compensation. The Ulster tenant ought not to lose anything in respect of claim as to damages in consequence of his possessing the claim under covenant, except where that claim gave him an adequate protection.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, the Ulster tenant would be placed in a very extraordinary position. He would, in fact, be entitled to something over and above what was given to all other tenants. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Where he is unprotected.] Precisely so. Suppose a landlord had a tenant who by the cus- 1009 tom of his estate was allowed to have five years' purchase paid him by way of compensation, and the landlord bought the tenant-right for that sum. Suppose the tenant continued under the landlord, or a new tenant came in without paying anything, then at the close of his tenancy, according to the right hon. Gentleman, he might come to his landlord and say— "You must pay me seven years' purchase." The landlord would say — "What for?" The answer of the tenant would be—"Because you bought up my rights before by a sum which covered everything. All you were bound to pay in the former instance was live years' purchase, but now you must pay me seven years'." But it is said—"That is the maximum." Then, he would say, you are putting the landlord in a position in which no man ought to be put. Suppose he had got rid of the Ulster tenant-right by paying what was usual under the custom of the estate, he ought not to be called upon to pay more. The Ulster tenant-right was unsound and unwholesome; but it would be unsound and unwholesome to the last degree if, when a landlord had got rid of it by a payment of five years' purchase, he would have afterwards to pay seven years' purchase. His own opinion was that they had got into inextricable confusion upon this point.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
denied that there was any confusion whatever on the subject in the mind of the Government. What they said was that where there was not one form of protection there should be another. The right hon. Gentleman assumed that where a tenant had not paid for the goodwill on entering a holding he was not entitled to get anything. But the vast majority of the tenants in Ireland had not made any payment on entering into their holdings, and yet Her Majesty's Government held they were deserving of protection; and that was what they said with respect to the Ulster tenant.
§ SIR FREDERICK W. HEYGATE
said, he thought that in attempting to extinguish the Ulster custom the Government had not acted very wisely, and he must also express surprise that the Act should have been so framed as to compensate the tenant twice over for the same thing.
said, that the Act 1010 was not framed as the hon. Baronet seemed to think.
§ SIR FREDERICK W. HEYGATE
said, he could not accept this view, as, according to his reading of the Act, the tenants were first to be paid for the extinction of their rights which had existed under the custom, and then a further sum under another section of the Bill. He thought that compensation for improvements made in farms should be constantly proceeding; but he could not see why the occupation payment should continue to grow up.
said, he wished to explain how the matter stood in regard to this question of compensation. Supposing a landlord in Ulster purchased the tenant-right from an outgoing tenant, and then let the land to another tenant, who paid nothing on entering, why should the second tenant be placed ' in a legal position differing from that of a man who took a farm under precisely similar circumstances in Connaught. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were unquestionably wrong in supposing that any tenant would be compensated twice over for the same thing. It was a mistake to suppose that when a landlord bought up the tenant-right, and the tenancy did not then cease the tenant could go to the court and claim further compensation under Section 3 of the Act. The Judges would at once refer to Clause 14 of the Act, which expressly provided for such a case, and would settle the question on equitable grounds. The clause stated that in cases of dispute the Court should consider and decide upon—Any set-off (including in the case of a landlord any moneys paid on account of the purchase of the right of the tenant under the Ulster tenant-right custom).
said, the claim could not be made twice over. He also agreed that there was no reason why a tenant from year to year in Ulster who had not tenant-right custom should be in a worse condition under this Bill than a tenant in Connaught. But the point that struck him as requiring some explanation was this—that if the interpretation of the Solicitor General and the Chief Secretary for Ireland were adopted, they were in fact doing away with tenant-right; because it was not left at the option of the landlord or the tenant, but it was left for the tenant alone to say he would claim the Ulster custom, and if he did 1011 not establish this right, he would make a claim under Clause 3 of the Bill. They gave the tenant the option of taking this compensation according to Clause 3 or Clause 1, but no such option was given to the landlord.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, he was afraid that the difficulty in regard to the payment of double compensation for the same thing would rise in the case of a son succeeding his father in the tenancy of a farm. The son would be entitled to claim compensation under Clause 3, though his father had been paid for the extinction of his tenant-right custom. As he understood the Ulster custom, it did not affect the outgoing tenant; and he was of opinion that unless this double compensation question was clearly settled it would prevent landlords extinguishing the right, the existence of which would bar any claim to compensation under Section 3 of the Bill.
§ MR. C. S. READ
said, he thought that if a landlord should buy up the tenant-right and continue the same tenant in the holding, such tenant would, at the end of twenty years, have as good a claim to compensation under Section 3 as if he were not the tenant from whom the right had been purchased. Without discussing the general question of the Ulster custom, he would express satisfaction that the Government had recognized without attempting to extend it. He also thought the Government had acted wisely in providing for the extinction of the custom by mutual agreement between landlord and tenant; but he thought it most unwise and impolitic to have resuscitated it in a much more objectionable form.
said, that as he understood the Amendment, the effect would be to induce landlords to take advantage of the difficulties of their tenants with a view of buying up their rights.
§ MR. HUNT
said, that the effect of the Bill in cases where the tenant-right was extinguished would be to place Ulster tenants in a worse position than those in any one of the other Provinces. The Government said that, under Clause 14, when a tenant came before a Judge and claimed a year's rent for disturbance, what he had received from his Ulster tenant-right would be deducted from his claim. The outgoing tenant received a certain sum from the incoming tenant. Then, if the landlord extinguished the 1012 tenant-right the tenant received a recoupment of the sum that he had paid to his predecessor. If so, why was he to have that deducted from his claim under Clause 3, whereas there was to be no deduction on a tenant who had paid nothing on coming into his farm?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. DOWSE)
said, as he understood the objection of hon. Gentlemen opposite to this part of the Bill, it was that, according to their reading, though a landlord might buy the tenant-right, the tenant would still be in a position immediately to claim further compensation under Section 3. It should be considered that the landlord was not obliged to buy, nor the tenant to sell, the tenant-right; and that, under the 3rd clause, the landlord would not be bound to pay compensation unless he disturbed a tenant and proceeded to evict him. If he did not chose to do so the question would not arise; but if, after purchasing the tenant-right, the landlord evicted the tenant twelve months afterwards, and that the tenant applied for compensation under the 3rd clause, then the matter would go before the Judge under the 14th clause; and supposing the Judge was informed that the landlord had a good reason, such as misconduct on the part of the tenant, for the eviction, the tenant's claim, which would be sure to be put at the maximum, would then be cut down to the minimum —a sum probably so small that it would be hardly worth his while to go into court at all. If, however, the landlord bought the tenant-right and did not evict for twenty years afterwards, then the whole matter would likewise go before the court for decision. If the Committee passed the clause with the Amendment of the hon. Member for Suffolk (Mr. Corrance), then the tenant would have no compensation for his way-going crop at all.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, it had been stated on the other side that the landlord and the tenant were free agents. Assuming that to be the case, what was the bargain which they made? The tenant ceased to be entitled to any payment except for his improvements, on eviction or disturbance. There were no damages for eviction. Whenever the landlord had paid for the tenant-right everything was settled except for improvements. Whether the tenant remained for four 1013 years or for ten years made no difference, and if a son succeeded his father he held on the same title as his predecessor.
§ MR. PELL
said, it had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government that he was acquainted with a case where the Ulster tenant-right had been ground down to one year's purchase. With the Ulster tenant-right established a Court would hold that all that the tenant could receive would be one year's rent, and in this case the Ulster tenant was at a distinct disadvantage. The last thing the landlord would dream of would be to become the purchaser of such a limited right against himself as quoted in this instance. He was of opinion that if some Amendment like the one proposed were not adopted, the result would be that many Ulster tenants would be placed in a worse position than the tenants in the other Provinces.
§ MR. CORRANCE
said, there were probably not ten Members of the House who thoroughly understood the redemption clauses. The Ulster tenant-right was a right against the landlord. It included two things—good will and improvements. But looking to the 3rd clause they did not know what it comprised, and that was the reason why he said it ought to have been taken first. In regard to what had been said about appealing to the Judges, he maintained that the Bill ought to be intelligible not only to Judges, but to homely people like tenants and landlords. If not, they would raise excited hopes in Ireland only to disappoint them, which was a more fertile source than any other of unhappiness to Ireland. He should withdraw his Motion if the suggestion of the hon. Member for Sussex (Mr. G. B. Gregory) were adopted; if it were not adopted he should, divide the Committee.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
wished to refer to the probable effect of Clause 2, which appeared to render such an Amendment unnecessary.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: — Ayes 78; Noes 133: Majority 55.
§ MR. BRUEN
moved the insertion of these words, in line 20—When it is proved that a tenant or his predecessor in title holds, or when a tenant shall here- 1014 after take his holding directly from the landlord, without having given any purchase money or other valuable consideration for the same, such holdings shall not be deemed to be subject to the Ulster tenant-right custom.Ho would offer one example which illustrated the class of cases at which this Motion was pointed. In 1846 or 1847 an estate, consisting of 3,000 or 4,000 acres of demesne land, was sold, and divided into portions. These were occupied by the purchasers for eighteen or twenty years, at the end of which time the portions, or some of them, were let to tenants without a fine. Surely it was not equitable that these tenants should now be able to claim tenant-right. After the division which had just been taken he would not trouble the House to divide again; but before they reached the stage of the Report, the learned Solicitor General for Ireland, he hoped, would be able to introduce words meeting cases of the description he had mentioned.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON
said, the object of the Motion of which he had given notice was to afford to tenants having the benefit of the Ulster tenant-right custom, or of such abbreviated customs as had been substituted for it, the right if they chose to do so of foregoing all their claims under such custom or customs, and of claiming compensation under the subsequent clauses of the Act. From the Report of Mr. R. Hamilton it was evident that a very limited number of years' rent was all that was allowed to the tenant in many cases; and it certainly would not be fair, under the Bill, to place the Ulster tenants in any worse position than the tenants in any other part of Ireland. The hon. Member, in conclusion, moved in line 21, to leave out from "The," to end of clause, and insert—Tenant of a holding subject to the Ulster tenant-right custom shall be entitled, on foregoing all the rights and privileges enjoyed by him under this custom, but not otherwise, to claim compensation under the subsequent provisions of this Act.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, that he cordially seconded the Amendment of his hon. Friend. Without it the Bill would be a most imperfect one, and would place tenants in the North of Ireland in a very false position. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had described very forcibly the operation of that system under which the custom, 1015 that at one time was a real protection to the tenant, had been screwed down to a minimum of one year's purchase. He was glad that the hon. Member for Belfast had come forward to show that he did not think it wrong to place those whom he represented under the general provisions of this Bill.
§ MR. B. SAMUELSON
said, he also had given notice of an Amendment on this part of the Bill, and between his Amendment and that of the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. W. Johnston) there was no substantial difference except that his hon. Friend left the matter entirely in the hands of the tenant, while he (Mr. Samuelson) required the consent of the Court. There should be some power to determine whether the tenant ought to be allowed to forego the custom or not, and he hoped the Government would accept the spirit of the Amendments.
supported the Amendments, the effect of which would be, in his opinion, to dissipate the illusion that Ulster was more favoured by the Bill than any other part of Ireland. By the Amendments tenants would be benefited, while landlords would not be injured.
§ CAPTAIN ARCHDALL
remarked, that his hon. Friend the Member for Belfast (Mr. W. Johnston) was ready to blow hot and cold with respect to tenant-right. On Monday he was so much in love with tenant-right that he desired it should be extended to the whole of Ireland, yet on Thursday he wanted to get rid of that custom. His (Captain Archdall's) opinion was that no man in his senses could support tenant-right as it existed in a large part of Ulster, because in some districts it amounted to twenty-five years' purchase or even more, while in others it had been ground down to as little as one year. The hon. Member for Belfast had alluded to Fermanagh, where tenant-right was carried out under certain well-defined restrictions, and he (Captain Archdall) could assert that that county would favourably bear comparison with any other part of Ireland as regarded the relations which existed between landlord and tenant. He would read on that point the testimony of a gentleman who had been accused of having very strong sympathies towards the landlord class, but whose mission in Ireland appeared rather to have been to hunt up all 1016 grievances, either imaginary or real, and to make the devil appear blacker than he is. That testimony was as follows:—The classes connected with the soil in this county which have shaped its destiny and given it its social form, have for centuries lived together in goodwill; and, in the relation of landlord and tenant, have treated each other with mutual regard, have considered their respective rights and duties, and have even extended the gracious usages which have been the fruit of this state of things to those once in a thoroughly subject position, and still widely separated in race and religion. Society, accordingly, has grown up under kindlier and more happy auspices than in less fortunate districts; and the great relation of owner and occupier of the soil having been placed on foundations comparatively sound, security and progress have been the consequence.The writer further states that evictions are seldom heard of, and that the custom of tenant-right, as found in Fermanagh,Establishes really that security of tenure which in Ireland is supposed to be the first condition of agricultural progress and of social well-being and peace.He adds—It would be, however, shallow to imagine that this custom is the only or the main cause of the comparative prosperity of this county. That prosperity is to be traced, I believe, to the fortunate relations which, during centuries, have existed between landlords and tenants descended from the original colonists, and which have so thoroughly moulded the type of society that they have even protected the aboriginal race, which, though certainly, even to this day, a caste rather distinct, nevertheless enjoys security and justice on the soil extensively occupied by it. Tenant-right, in truth, is merely a visible sign of the general goodwill which knits the landlords and tenants of Fermanagh together, and which is the real cause of the welfare of this district.He was inclined to agree with the correspondent of The Times, that tenant-right was the visible sign and not the cause of prosperity. The Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Belfast would, in his opinion, be most mischievous, and would tend to undermine the good feeling which now existed between landlords and tenants, and he therefore trusted the Government would not accede to it: On his estate tenant-right was regulated, and varied from two to six years' purchase, with a sufficient allowance for improvements; it was occupied almost exclusively by yearly tenants at rents rather under the Government valuation. If the tenant's liberty were extended, the natural result would be that the estate would be let at rents about 25 per cent above that valuation.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he could not attempt to settle the question between his hon. Friends, but would state what was the view of the Government with regard to these Amendments, which had received very careful consideration. The Government thought those Amendments were, in substance, just and well-founded; because they had convinced themselves that they follow naturally from the true principles on which the Bill was founded, and that their rejection by them would be inconsistent with those principles. Of the two forms of Amendment they certainly preferred that of the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. B. Samuelson); but there was another form of words which the Government thought would carry out the same view, and could not be objected to by either of the hon. Members who had given Notices of Amendment. The reasons which had led the Government to accept the Amendments were shortly these—The Bill proceeded upon the assumption that it was the Irish tenants from year to year who required the protection of the law, either in the shape of a sufficient just and reasonable custom legalized and enforced by law, or in the form of a statutory compensation and protection as provided in the Bill. They had already in the case of Ulster made provision for those extreme cases in which the tenants were entirely devoid of any protection in the shape of custom. They provided that in cases where that custom had been extinguished — there being already such cases in Ulster, for instance, on the property of a nobleman in Donegal — the tenant should have the general statutory protection of the Bill; but they had not provided for cases that did not amount altogether to extinction, but came next door to it. Where the custom had been extinguished they gave the tenant the statutory protection; but where it might have been reduced to a mere nugatory form, and cut down to even one or two years' purchase, or £1 or £2 per acre, they left the tenant to the illusory protection of the custom, when in a degraded form, not worthy of the name of Ulster tenant-right; and did not afford him the statutory protection of the Bill. They believed that that state of things was not capable of being maintained in argument or in equity, and acting upon the principles laid down in the Bill, they thought the 1018 Amendment proposed was consistent with those principles. They believed it was necessary to carry out the object which he believed both sides of the House had in view. The Government could not agree to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. W. Johnston) without the introduction of the words which were contained in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. B. Samuelson). They considered it would be proper for the Court to decide whether there was a bonâ fide custom which ought to be enforced, or whether it was merely that illusory one to which he had referred, which rendered it no longer a reasonable protection to the interest of the tenant, on the ground either of improvements or disturbance in his occupation. If the Court should find that the custom had been reduced to such a "degraded condition," as it had been well termed, the tenant might be permitted to claim either under the general provisions of the Bill or (with the permission of the Court) under the other section, in order to obtain what the Court thought reasonable and just. With that view, the Government proposed to substitute the following words for the Amendment, of which notice had been given:—In the case of holdings proved to be subject to the Ulster tenant-right custom, the tenant shall not be entitled to any compensation under the other provisions of this Act; provided that a tenant in Ulster not claiming under the Ulster tenant-right custom shall not be barred from claiming with the consent of the Court under the other sections of this Act.
§ MR. M'CLURE
said, he heartily approved of the spirit of the Amendment as proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. He believed that the effect would prove satisfactory to both landlord and tenant; that where there were likely to arise difference of opinion as to the nature and extent of precise usage, tenants would prefer to come under the general provisions of the Act, and thus be saved from what might prove an unpleasant and irritating controversy with their landlords. There was one portion of the clause which he did not like, that which required the interposition of the Court to direct in what manner the tenant's claim should be put forward. He did not think that the House should relegate to the Court the power of debarring a tenant, merely on account of his residence within the pre- 1019 cincts of Ulster, from the privileges and protection accorded to the tenants in all the other Provinces of Ireland; nor did he think it would be fair to the landlord that the question of usage should be gone into in Court, and that when probably insufficient proof had been adduced, that the Court should then give permission to the tenant to fall back upon the other provisions. It would be better if the tenant and landlord could agree; but, failing this, he would let the tenant, before giving notice of claim, elect his position, and stand or fall by it.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the Government had taken care in the form of words used to insure that the tenant should not be at liberty to make a claim under the Ulster custom, and then, finding that likely to prove disadvantageous to him, to withdraw and make a new claim under the provisions of the Act.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he thought the Committee should look a little to what the Government proposed in their Amendment. As he understood the matter, it would leave the Judges to decide what was a fair claim under the Ulster custom. It was wise to abstain from defining tenant-right; but an extraordinary proposal to leave the matter to the discretion of the Judges.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
said, he approved of the original Amendment of the hon. Member for Belfast. As he understood the Amendment of the Chief Secretary for Ireland a tenant would not have the power of electing under what he should claim, and would require the sanction of the Court on that subject. He contended that a tenant should be left free to determine what course he should adopt.
§ DR. BALL
rose merely to suggest that, in the event of the Government Amendment being adopted, it would only be fair to add to it the provision suggested by the hon. Member for Dublin City (Mr. Pim)—namely—If he shall so elect to claim compensation under the subsequent clauses of this Act, he shall not, nor shall any subsequent tenant of the same holding, be entitled again to claim the benefits of the Ulster tenant-right custom.If this provision were not adopted, a landlord, after having compensated the outgoing tenant under the other clauses of the Act, might find that he was liable 1020 to compensate his new tenant under the Ulster tenant-right custom, which would be manifestly unfair to him.
§ MR. PIM
said, every man should be allowed to consider his own case, and the object of his Amendment was that if a tenant decided on abandoning the tenant-right custom, and of claiming under the Disturbance Clauses, he should not be able to revert back to the former. As the clause was proposed to be amended by the Government, if there were fifty tenants on an estate each might separately elect whether he would go before the Court or claim under the Ulster tenant-right custom, and he might afterwards change his mind and claim the benefit of the tenant-right, and thus there would be no end to the litigation it would give rise to.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, that so many Amendments had been proposed, that he doubted whether the Committee knew exactly what they were discussing.
said, he thought the Committee perfectly understood the object of his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The proposition on the part of the hon. Gentleman behind him was that, subject to the sanction of the Court, a tenant should have the option of claiming damages under the Eviction Clause. They quite agreed that he must not claim both in respect of the Ulster custom and for eviction. If he claimed under the one, he must not fall back on the other. The right hon. Gentleman said that when once a claim under the custom of Ulster had been paid, tenant-right should not revive under that custom. He (Mr. Gladstone) thought that was fair. People might agree by special covenant to frame something that should substantially correspond with the Ulster custom. There was nothing in the Bill to prevent them from doing that; but it would not be the Ulster tenant-right custom. He thought the words proposed by his right hon. Friend would effect what he (Mr. Gladstone) had stated.
§ SIR FREDERICK W. HEYGATE
said, it was absolutely necessary, for the proper management of an estate, that a landlord should know under what his tenants might claim compensation. If one tenant was to be allowed to claim under Clause 3, and another tenant under Clause 5, the landlord would not know what he was to do.
§ MR. ASSHETON CROSS
observed, that this was a matter which concerned English as well as Irish proprietors. As he understood it, the Government proposed to legalize the Ulster custom on the ground that it was practically part of the implied contract between landlord and tenant in Ulster, and that, therefore, it ought to be legalized like the customs in this country; but if a contract were not an agreement between two parties it was no contract at all. He asked the Solicitor General for Ireland whether the Amendment proposed by the Chief Secretary for Ireland would not give one of the parties power to terminate the contract without the consent of the other?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. DOWSE)
said, the Government were of opinion that the Amendment suggested by the Chief Secretary was more likely to carry out the object they had in view. They therefore proposed the insertion of the following words:—The tenant of a holding subject to the Ulster tenant-right custom, and who claims the benefit of it, shall not be entitled to obtain compensation under any other section of the Act; but a tenant not so claiming shall not be barred from making a claim for compensation by the consent of the Court, under the other sections of the Act, and when such compensation has been made such holding shall not be again subject to the Ulster tenant-right custom.He thought that the Amendment, though conferring an advantage on the tenant, was fair to the landlord. The hon. and learned Member for South-west Lancashire (Mr. Cross) said that it would confer an advantage on the tenant which it would not confer on the landlord in giving the tenant the option of putting forward his claim either under the Ulster custom or tinder the other provisions of the Act; but the object of this Bill was to confer an advantage on the tenant. If such words as those proposed by his right hon. Friend were not introduced, cases might arise in which the tenant would not get such compensation as the Legislature intended. For instance, there was an estate in the eastern portion of Ulster on which the tenant-right was only equal to one year's rent. Many people had paid the one year's rent to the outgoing tenant on going into possession; and he was afraid that the rule of the estate had been in existence for so long a time, 1022 and had been acted upon so invariably, that the Judge, in applying the principles of this Bill, would be obliged to hold that it was a custom. But many of the tenants who had taken their farms on those terms had improved them by erecting substantial buildings and draining the land; but yet under the custom they would only be able to obtain a year's rent as compensation for their outlay, because there could be no doubt that the tenant-right of Ulster included improvements as well as goodwill. When he first saw this blot in the Bill he mentioned it to several persons, and he was told that there must be some instances of individual hardship in the application of a law. But he was not satisfied with that, and the result had been this Amendment, which was now proposed by the Government. The tenant of a holding who claimed the benefit of the tenant-right custom would receive no compensation under any other section of the Act—he would stand or fall by the custom; but an option was given to him not to claim under the custom, and there was a provision that in that case he should not be barred from claiming under any other section of the Act. Of course, the tenant would not take advantage of that provision unless he found it to be to his advantage to do so; but when he did make such a claim, and it was allowed, his holding from thenceforward would cease to be subject to the Ulster tenant-right custom. There had been some objection expressed against this provision on the ground that the tenant would go into court with two claims, and that he would first try the tenant-right to see if it suited him, and then, if it did not suit him, he would fall back on the other provision. But that was not the meaning of the Amendment at all. The tenant would be bound to say under which provision he claimed the moment he entered the court, and it was not likely that the Court would do anything unfair or wrong between the parties. He ventured to say that the difficulty of a landlord not knowing how he stood with his tenants was one that never would be experienced by such landlords as the hon. Member for the county of Londonderry (Sir Frederick Heygate).
§ COLONEL WILSON-PATTEN
, as an English Member who asked for information, wished to know whether it was 1023 really the case that tenant-right excluded compensation for improvements?
§ SIR FREDERICK W. HEYGATE
wished to know whether the owner of the estate which had been referred to, and on which the tenant-right only amounted to one year's rent, made all the substantial improvements himself? He knew a case in which the landlord only allowed three years' tenant-right; but in that case the landlord put up all the substantial buildings and drained the land himself; doing, in fact, almost all that an English landlord would do.
§ MR. C. S. READ
wished to understand the Amendment thoroughly. The hon. and learned Gentleman had told them that, by that Amendment, the tenant could claim either under the custom or under any other section of the Act. But if he wanted to claim under Section 3, he would have no right to claim unless he was disturbed by his landlord or evicted.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. DOWSE)
said, there would be no difficulty about that. If the tenant claimed under the other clauses he would claim as if he had never had the Ulster tenant-right at all.
said, the option was to be given to the Ulster tenants, in order that they should not be put in a worse position than the other tenants of Ireland; but he would like to know what the feelings of the other tenants of Ireland would be, if they were not allowed to have the option also? The other tenantry of Ireland would look at the higher value given to a holding in Ulster by the custom of tenant-right, and they would ask why they should not have the option of claiming under the custom. What was justice for one should be justice for the other.
presumed that the right hon. Gentleman's observations did not refer to the tenants generally over the rest of Ireland; but if the right hon. Gentleman really asked why the tenants generally over the rest of Ireland were not to have the benefit of the Ulster custom, the answer was because they had never paid the sums of money, nor inherited or acquired the interest on which the recognition of the Ulster custom was founded. If the right hon. 1024 Gentleman meant to say there might be tenants in other parts of Ireland who were in this position — that they had paid money for and acquired or inherited an interest analogous to that of the Ulster tenant-right — the Government proposed to insert words in the 2nd clause which would provide for that case. He knew there was a feeling that cases of that kind really existed in other parts of Ireland, although he had seen no direct proof of them. But if there was such a thing as a custom strictly analogous to that of Ulster in other parts of Ireland — about which he confessed he was somewhat sceptical—it would be recognized by the Bill in precisely the same manner.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. CORRANCE
said, he thought the proposals of the Government would open an unexampled field for the lawyers.
§ MR. W. FOWLER
said, he did not see why those persons should have to go to the Court. If they were to have an option, it ought to be a free one. With a view to avoid an enormous amount of litigation, that question should be reconsidered.
§ MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, this was a serious matter for England as well as for Ireland. They established by the 1st clause what was the custom of the country in Ulster, and legalized it; and now they were about to say that one of the parties to it, without the consent of the other, might break through it. He wished to know on what principle that was done, and why a tenant in England was to be debarred from the freedom granted to the Irish tenant of breaking through a custom?
denied that they were about to give the Ulster tenant the right to break the Ulster custom. It was not a question of the tenant breaking the custom, but of his waiving the benefit of it. The custom was an obligation on the landlord in favour of the tenant, and all that was sought to be done was to give the tenant a right to waive the advantage of it in consideration of another privilege which Parliament declared the people of Ireland generally to be entitled to. It was a case of the relinquishment by the tenant 1025 of something which he was entitled to get from his landlord.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, the statements of the right hon. Gentleman and those of the Solicitor General for Ireland were totally contradictory. The hon. and learned Gentleman said the interest of the Ulster tenant was sometimes cut down by the landlord as low as one year's tenant-right, and yet he would give the tenants the power of upsetting the covenants into which they had entered as free agents with their landlords; whereas the Prime Minister said the covenant of the Ulster custom was always in favour of the tenant, who would be giving up an advantage. That was the first time the House of Commons had been called upon to sanction such a proceeding. The right hon. Gentleman and the hon. and learned Gentleman would have to settle the matter between them.
protested against the horrible doctrine imputed to the Government by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Everything he had said was entirely consistent with what had been said by the Solicitor General for Ireland. The covenant of Ulster tenant-right was unquestionably a covenant in favour of the tenant. It was perfectly clear that Parliament might think fit to give to the whole population of Ireland something still more in favour of the tenant in different circumstances, and so it did on that occasion. He contended that if Parliament gave the population of the rest of Ireland something more in favour of the tenant than the particular covenant of Ulster tenant-right upon which he subsisted, the tenant ought not to be deprived of that excess of advantage. But the Ulster custom of tenant-right, whether it was of one, five, or ten years' value, was entirely in favour of the tenant.
§ MR. PELL
said, it must now be admitted that the Government had come to a breakdown in the 1st clause of their Bill. The Ulster tenants, a short time ago, were looked upon as people under exceptionally favourable circumstances, and it was said to be the duty of Parliament to protect them, and to crystallize their tenant-right. But it was now shown that the Ulster tenants, under certain circumstances, were far worse off than the tenants who were open to a free contract with their landlords in other parts of Ireland.
§ MR. B. SAMUELSON
said, he thought the doctrine of implied contracts and free agency had been pushed a little too far by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The tenant-right might in its origin have been very protective of the tenant, and yet have been afterwards degraded by slow degrees by the act of the landlord till it was of very little value, and yet the tenant was obliged to accept it or nothing. With regard to the question before the Committee, he gladly accepted the words proposed by the Government, which would answer all the objects he had in view. But it was desirable that private Members proposing Amendments should have an opportunity of comparing them with the Government Amendments in print, to see whether they were equivalent to their own.
§ MR. J. S. HARDY
complained that the Committee could not rely on the statements of the Government being for any length of time consistent with each other. The other night the Prime Minister said that any landlord under the Ulster custom, by acknowledging the tenant's right to sell his interest to another tenant, would be free from any claim for compensation whatever; but now the Solicitor General for Ireland told them a different story.
§ Amendment (Mr. Chichester Fortescue) agreed to.
§ MR. M'LAGAN
said, the object of the Amendment which stood in his name was to enable the landlord and tenant, if they thought proper, to extinguish tenant-right by means of a lease. After the discussion of to-night he held that the sooner the landlords and tenants of Ulster adopted the leasing system the better. He objected to the Ulster tenant-right, in the first place, because it was prejudicial to the interests of the landlord, inasmuch as it prevented him from reaping the full benefit of his property. For though under the system a landlord had a perfect right to raise the rent as he thought proper, yet he could not do anything that would make him more unpopular throughout the district than to raise it. But he also objected to the system on the ground that it was prejudicial to the interest of the tenant; because, in the first place, it put him entirely in the power of the landlord, for it was well 1027 known that, according to Ulster tenant-right, the landlord could raise his rent when he thought proper. Besides, it caused the greater part of the tenant's capital to be bound up for years without an adequate return, and it withdrew that capital from the due cultivation of the soil. So grave were these two objections in the interest of the tenant, that were there no other he should be inclined to place his Amendment before the Committee. It might be asked why, if there were such objections to the system, was the land better farmed and higher rented in Ulster than in other parts of Ireland; or, as had been said by the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory), why was it that a traveller, passing from Ulster to an adjoining district, left all the good farming behind? One reason was that the system gave a security to the tenant which he would not possess if he had no lease and no other tenant-right; and the second reason was that the Ulster tenant was indebted to the manufacturing industry of the Province for the capital with which he purchased his tenant-right, and which he laid out on the cultivation of his farm. It was well known that in every farm household in Ulster there were handlooms at work which added to the income of the family, and the effect of superseding handlooms by power-looms would be a greater consolidation of farms in Ulster than had been brought about in other parts of Ireland by the famine years of 1847 and 1848. What he wished to substitute for the Ulster tenant-right was a system of leases. In favour of leases he had no need to say anything, except to call to the remembrance of the Committee the speech of the Prime Minister when introducing the Bill. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman made a comparison between the increased rental of land in Ireland, in Scotland, and in England, and showed there was a much greater increase in Scotland, where leases prevailed, than in the other parts of the Empire. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned that in 1770 the rental of Scotland was £1,200,000, while in 1869 it was £7,200,000. Now, he would go 100 years further back, in order to show the facts in a still stronger light. In 1674 the whole of the lands of Scotland were valued at £319,000; nearly 100 years later, or in 1770, the valuation had increased to £1,200,000. About that time 1028 the system of leases commenced in Scotland; the more intelligent proprietors having travelled into England, borrowed the best system they could find, and leases for thirty-one years were introduced, or what were called improving leases for twice nineteen, or thirty-eight years. Well, from 1770 to 1869 the rental had increased to £7,200,000, so that it had sextupled within the last 100 years, whereas it had only quadrupled in the 100 years before. But more than that, in the valuation of 1770 the rental of the boroughs was included; but in the last valuation the whole of the borough rental, amounting to £4,000,000, was excluded. He would now explain the operation of the Amendment he was about to propose. It was not compulsory, but purely permissive. If a landlord and tenant wished to extinguish the Ulster tenant-right, the landlord might say not, as in a previous sub-division of the section, that he would give a fixed sum to the tenant, but that he would give an annuity for thirty-one years or more. For instance, a landlord wishing to extinguish the tenant-right would get the farm valued, and finding it let at 5s. an acre less than it was worth would say to the tenant—"You may have a lease for thirty-one years at 5s. an acre below the value, provided that at the end of the term the right be extinguished." The effect of that would simply be to substitute an annuity for a set sum. He felt convinced that if they were to establish a system of leases in Ulster, it would be better not only for the landlord, but for the tenant and the nation at large. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Amendment.
At the end of the Clause, to add the words "any holding in Ulster under a lease made after the passing of this Act, and granted for a term certain of not less than thirty-one years, shall thenceforth cease to be subject to the Ulster tenant-right custom."—(Mr. M'Lagan.)
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he was not quite certain whether he understood the meaning of the Amendment. If the hon. Gentleman meant one thing, he objected to it as inconsistent with the custom; if another, he objected to it as unnecessary, and already provided for. If the hon. Gentleman meant that the mere acceptance of a thirty-one years' lease was to bar 1029 all claim to the tenant-right, he objected to it, because it was notorious— there was complete evidence of it in the Report of the Poor Law Inspectors —that it was very common that a thirty-one years' lease should run along with the custom and not extinguish it. Therefore, the Government could not admit the mere fact of the acceptance of a thirty-one years' lease should be a bar to all claims of tenant-right. On the other hand, if the hon. Gentleman meant that a thirty-one years' lease might contain a clause barring the custom, it was quite unnecessary. He admitted that the offer of a good thirty-one years' lease might be as good a mode of inducing a tenant to waive his right, as a sum of money paid down, or even a better mode. But that could be done already. If the Court should find that any holding had been discharged from the custom in any way, that would be quite sufficient. He hoped, therefore, the hon. Gentleman would not press the Amendment.
§ MR. PIM
rose to express a hope that the Government would accept the Amendment, because he wished that the same limitations should apply to every part of Ireland, and if there could not be perfect identity of legislation, at least let there be as near a parity as possible. He could not see that a thirty-one years' lease being made to bar the custom could do any harm. There was no necessity, unless the landlord and tenant wished it, that the lease should be so long. A thirty years' lease was much the same as a thirty-one years' lease, and a lease for thirty years would not bar the custom; and therefore a lease for this, or for a shorter term, might be used, when such a change was not intended. He did not agree with his hon. Friend (Mr. M'Lagan) in reprobating the Ulster tenant-right custom; and therefore he did not support the Amendment with a view to getting rid of it, but in order to procure similarity in legislation, and to afford the most convenient mode of doing away with the custom, when landlord and tenant were both desirous of effecting this object. There were cases in which the operation of the Amendment would be beneficial; and he was, therefore, sorry that the Government were not willing to accede to the proposition before the Committee.
§ MR. C. S. READ
said, that though 1030 he understood from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland that this Amendment was not necessary, he hoped the House would pass it, as he should like to have something in the Bill that a plain man like himself could understand. He wanted to see a good farming covenant independent of any sympathy for the Irish tenant, or any remarkable deviation from common farm practices. The hon. Member who had moved the Amendment did not wish that it should be compulsory; but that landlords and tenants should be at liberty, if they chose to agree, that after the lapse of thirty-one years the right conferred by the Ulster custom should be extinguished as far as they were individually concerned. [Mr. GLADSTONE: They have that power.] If that were so, what harm could there be in passing this Amendment? If at the end of thirty-one years, which would have landed them in the 20th century of the Christian era, landlords and tenants were not to be left free to contract in regard to the letting and renting of land, there would not be much hope for the regeneration of Ireland.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 140; Noes 176: Majority 36.
§ MR. CHARLEY
said, that the Prime Minister, in the course of the debate on the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam), had pointed out that the discussion of the principle of the Ulster tenant-right had better be taken when this clause came to be discussed in its entirety. In order to raise that discussion, he should move the omission of the clause. He regretted that the Motion had not fallen into the hands of some hon. Member more popular on the other side of the House than himself; but he trusted its merits would not be prejudiced by the demerits of the Mover. Glowing descriptions had been given of the advantages accruing to both landlord and tenant from the Ulster tenant-right, and the House had been informed in particular that it had established the most friendly relations between landlord and tenant. Now he, as an Ulster man, fully concurred in those views, and it was in order that that friendly relationship might be preserved 1031 that he moved the omission of the clause. It was because the Ulster tenant-right rested on honourable obligation and kindly feeling between landlord and tenant, and because it could not be enforced except by public opinion—which, after all, was perhaps the best of all sanctions—that the custom had produced such excellent results. Enforce it in the courts, and there would be substituted for mutual confidence mutual distrust, and, he feared, mutual estrangement and suspicion. He was in favour of extending the benefits of the 3rd and 4th clauses to all parts of Ireland, and hoped the House would not sanction a distinction between Ulster and the other Provinces. Indeed, such a distinction would be all the more pernicious now that the Ulster tenant was to have the option of selecting compensation, either under the 1st or the subsequent clauses. He fully agreed with what fell from the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) that the result of drawing such a distinction would be an agrarian agitation in the other Provinces for equal rights with Ulster. Parliament had no right to extinguish the Ulster right, and, indeed, any attempt in that direction would lead to a social revolution. Lord Derby's agent, Mr. Hancock, stated, before the Devon Commission, that the landlords were compelled to recognize the Ulster tenant-right, and that, in fact, it was one of the most sacred rights of the country, and he added his opinion that if a systematic attempt were made to invade it, all the force at the disposal of the Horse Guards would not be sufficient to maintain peace and order in the country. It would be very cruel kindness to the tenant to enable him to enforce the custom. Take a case. An incoming tenant had to supplement his capital by borrowing money, merely to purchase the right of standing in the shoes of the outgoing tenant. All he could do would be to keep down the interest of the debt he had contracted and pay his rent. Finally he would be obliged to sell his tenant-right when pressed for re-payment of the money. Again, when a son succeeded his father he usually found the tenant-right burdened with charges in respect of the portions of other members of the family, and in order to pay those portions he would be obliged to sell or to adopt the alternative of subdividing the 1032 land among all the members of the family, in satisfaction of their several claims, thus perpetuating one of the worst characteristics of the system of land tenure in Ireland. According to the author of the Digest of the Evidence before the Devon Commission the origin of the Ulster tenant-right was the inability of the tenant to compel the landlord to give him compensation for permanent improvements. The Legislature ought, therefore, to give compensation in respect of permanent improvements, and that was provided for under Clause 4 of the Bill. This measure would press very hard on the Ulster landlords, especially on the more indulgent ones, who would have to pay more for the tenant-right on their estates than the landlord who had kept the tenant-right down to the lowest possible figure. The more indulgent, in short, they had been, the larger the compensation they would have to pay. In his opinion, whatever a landlord paid in order to buy up the Ulster tenant-right ought to cover all subsequent compensation in respect of evictions. His hon. Friend the Member for Belfast (Mr. W. Johnston) had defined Ulster tenant-right as a right to continued occupation so long as the rent was paid, which made it tantamount to fixity of tenure. This clause proposed to do that to which the Prime Minister had objected—namely, to convert the landlords into rentchargers on their own estates. It placed the Ulster tenant-right on the same footing as a fee-farm grant—an estate in fee subject to a rent in fee — the modern equivalent of the Roman emphyteusis— a result which was deprecated by the Devon Commission. He denied that the Bill would assimilate the Irish to the English law, for the Ulster tenant-right was not analogous to the English custom, which must be certain, uniform, and ancient. And what the Bill proposed to legalize was not the custom of the country, but the custom of the estate. A custom to pay forty-two years' purchase, and a custom to pay two years' purchase for tenant-right were not the same custom, but totally distinct customs. He appealed to all who wished to see a good system of husbandry practised in Ireland, and did not desire a bad precedent set for England and Scotland, to vote with him against the clause.
§ MR. H. A. HERBERT
said, that the notion some persons in the South of Ireland entertained of a good landlord, was that of a man who turned out nobody, and allowed the tenants to remain in the state they were in at the time of the famine; but he thought such a landlord a bad one, and that the truly good landlord was the man who tried to raise his tenants out of "the slough of despond" in which too many of them grovelled. He thought that the extension of the Ulster tenant-right would operate unfairly to those landlords who had provided all, or best part of, the money for improvements. The discussion on this clause reminded him of an explanation given by Sir James O'Connell of the way he had managed to make his estate pay, and that was by minding his business. This example he commended to the landlords of Ireland.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
appealed to the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Charley) not to press his Motion to a division, because it would place the Ulster Members in a very false position. The great object of the clause was to protect Ulster tenant-right, and his objection to it was that it had been very much altered since they had been in Committee. As it now stood, the tenant could insist upon his right and claim compensation under Clause 3; whilst the landlord remained in the same position as he originally was. This was unfair; nevertheless, he would not like to oppose the clause even in its present form.
§ Clause agreed to, and ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 2 (Legality of tenant-right custom other than Ulster custom).
said, he rose to move an Amendment that would take precedence to any part of this clause, and which he thought would be agreeable to the general feeling of the Committee. Without going into the question whether there was or was not Ulster tenant-right outside of Ulster, he proposed to provide for it, if it existed, by the following Amendment:—If, in the case of any holding not situate within the Province of Ulster, it shall appear that an usage prevails which in all essential particulars corresponds with the Ulster tenant-right custom, it shall in like manner, and subject to the like con- 1034 ditions, be deemed legal, and shall be enforced in manner provided by this Act.Supposing this Amendment were agreed to, it would then be for the Committee to consider what course they would take, or whether they would take any specific course at all with regard to customs of less authority which may prevail among the people, though without the traditions or the assent of the landlords, that prevails in what is called the Ulster tenant-right custom. He owned he was not sure whether it would not be better, considering the long discussions the clause would otherwise occasion— whether it would not be better to proceed without any further enactments in the 2nd clause, and to provide for those other customs by an enlargement of the 6th clause. If it were so enlarged, it might be possible to omit the 2nd clause. However, he would for the present move to substitute his Amendment for the first part of the clause.
At the commencement of the Clause, to insert the words "If, in the case of any holding not situate within the Province of Ulster, it shall appear that an usage prevails which in all essential particulars corresponds with the Ulster tenant right custom, it shall in like manner, and subject to the like conditions, be deemed legal, and shall be enforced in manner provided by this Act."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
, premising that none of those around him had seen the Amendment, expressed a fear that it would lead to much litigation if adopted. The Amendment referred to a usage "similar" to the tenant-right custom of Ulster in other parts of Ireland, and not only so, but resembling the Ulster custom "in all essential particulars." Now, first, the word "usage" should be altered to usages; but then came the question, what usages? In Ulster the tenant on going out charged for the goodwill, and the landlord had power to agree to the rent the incoming tenant should pay. Were these the essential parts of the Ulster custom by which all other customs in other parts of Ireland should be measured? He thought his right hon. Friend would find that without a more guarded wording of the clause it would lead to needless litigation, and the Court would not have power to deetrmine that question.
§ MR. COGAN
said, as one who had a strong objection to the manner in which it was proposed to deal with Ulster, as compared with other parts of Ireland, he begged to express his satisfaction with the course which the Government had now taken. It would remove much of the unpopularity attaching to this Bill, and dissipate much of that misconception which the Bill, as it stood, had not unnaturally produced. He believed there would be general satisfaction throughout Ireland that all parts of the country were equally dealt with as regarded customs.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
also expressed his thanks to the Government for the course they had taken with regard to this clause. It removed the great objections he had felt with respect to the portion of the Bill which legislated for Ulster differently, and in some respects unfairly, as compared with the other parts of Ireland. As regarded the observations of the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole), he could not see any difficulty in the clause, as proposed to be amended, or that it would lead to anything like the same amount of litigation as it would if left unaltered.
§ COLONEL STUART KNOX
said, this Amendment had been suddenly proposed by the Government without notice, and it appeared that the landlord was to have no option in the matter. He thought the Committee ought to see the Amendment on paper so as to be able to judge of it, and he moved the postponement of the Amendment until it was printed.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. DOWSE)
said, he thought that the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole) would not, on reflection, find this clause inconsistent with the wording of the 1st clause. The 1st clause spoke of those usages which were all embraced under the general name of the Ulster tenant-right custom, and this clause spoke of any usage in all Ireland that was identical with any of those included in the Ulster custom. But though there were numbers of usages in Ulster, there could be but one usage in connection with any one holding; and the Amendment proposed that if, in any holding outside of Ulster, there was a usage corresponding substantially with the Ulster tenant-right custom, the hold- 1036 ing subject to such usage should be treated as though it were in Ulster.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, he had placed on the Paper an Amendment upon this subject; but substantially the proposal of the Government met his views, though, instead of saying that the usage "must in all essential particulars correspond with" the Ulster custom, he should have preferred the words, "analogous to the usage in Ulster comprehended and included in the Ulster custom." The proposal of the Government might lead to ambiguity. Out of Ulster there were customs which might not come within the definition they proposed, and he hoped these cases would be compensated and provided for.
said, he had read the words of the Amendment consecutively; but the formal Motion would be to strike out the words "where in any place" for the purpose of inserting "If in the case of any holding." Then would follow the words "not situate within the Province of Ulster," and the remainder of the Amendment. Afterwards it was for the Committee to consider whether, with respect to other customs of inferior authority, special provision should be made. The object of the Government had been to separate the consideration of the Ulster custom from that of other customs, and the Amendment was in the interest of the landlord, because the Government did not feel justified in enforcing against the landlord out of Ulster any custom which was more lax than the Ulster custom. Instead, therefore, of using the word "analogous" or "resembling" the Ulster custom, thereby creating laxity in interpreting the Act and bringing in a variety of usages, the Government thought it right to require that there should be a real, substantial identity with the Ulster custom. It would be for the Committee to say whether the words employed were the best fitted to attain this object; but the intention was that it should be really and substantially an Ulster custom, and not merely a local usage in some points corresponding with the Ulster custom. Those inferior cus- 1037 toms that were not Ulster customs should be provided for in the 6th clause.
said, it was often the case that with regard to particular portions of particular measures the Government were ready to take either one course or the other, according to what appeared to be the wish of the Committee, and that was the view of the Government with regard to the treatment of these minor customs.
§ MR. HUNT
pointed out that if the Amendment were adopted and the remainder of the clause retained, it would be perfect nonsense. It would read thus—If, in the case of any holding not situate within the Province of Ulster, it shall appear that an usage prevails which, in all essential particulars, corresponds with the Ulster tenant-right custom, it shall, in like manner, and subject to like conditions, be deemed legal, and shall be enforced in the manner provided by this Act;" then the clause would go on, "A tenant is disturbed in his holding by the act of his landlord.He again asked—was this virtually a new clause, or an addition to the clause in the Bill? What the Committee wanted to know was what was the plan of the Government upon the subject. They were at a considerable disadvantage, because this was an important clause, and, without any notice, the right hon. Gentleman had moved an important Amendment. His own impression was they were virtually dealing with a new clause, which the right hon. Gentleman did not acknowledge to be such; and the usual course in such a case was to postpone the consideration of the matter until the new clause had been printed. At all events, they ought to be informed what were the consequential Amendments.
said, he thought he was consulting the convenience of the Committee when he submitted an Amendment which was grammatical and intelligible, and he did not think it necessary to supply at the tail end of the Amendment certain words which he had before him, and which were necessary to make it fit in with the rest of the clause in case the Committee should be of opinion that the kind of recognition proposed in the rest of the clause of these customs was 1038 desirable. He must say, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hunt), that during the discussion upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. B. Samuelson) to the 1st clause, he urged most strongly that the 1st clause should be confined exclusively to Ulster; and that, when the Committee came to the 2nd clause, then would be the time to consider of the insertion of words, if necessary, for the purpose of legalizing any custom essentially like the Ulster custom in parts of Ireland other than Ulster. The insertion of the words he proposed would not entail changes in the rest of the clause, which had reference to customs of a different order, and which might, so far as discussion was concerned, be retained as they stood; but upon their retention the Government were willing to follow the general view of the Committee.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, they wanted to know what the policy of the Government was. Were there such usages as were referred to, or were there not? The Government had been making inquiries, and they had brought in a clause on the subject. In the course of the evening the right hon. Gentleman gave notice that he would propose on the 2nd clause to make some allusions to customs analogous to the Ulster custom, and now he had put in a new clause with respect to customs which he said corresponded with the Ulster tenant-right, and, at the same time, he informed the Committee that, in his belief, there were no such customs. He asked the Committee to decide whether the rest of the clause should be retained when they were ignorant whether there were such usages as the Government discovered when they framed their 2nd clause. Was it reasonable the Committee should be left in such a state of uncertainty? What the Government proposed had reference to something which they believed did not exist at all, and the Committee were to be left to decide the question without information.
said, the Government had taken not only the course open to them, but the course it was their duty to take, as the right hon. Gentleman knew from experience, having himself found it conducive to the progress of Public Business to consult the opinion of the Committee upon somewhat nice points. He thought he had 1039 proposed the best method of proceeding, as it was desirable to finish this matter of the Ulster custom while they were about it; but if there was any difficulty in point of form, he would introduce the words in the shape of a separate clause. The Government had no doubt whatever of the existence of the class of customs to which the 2nd clause referred; and the only question was, whether they ought to receive that kind of qualified recognition provided for in the 2nd clause, or whether they would be sufficiently provided for by an Amendment to the 6th clause?
§ COLONEL STUART KNOX
said, the right hon. Gentleman stated that there was something in his proposition in favour of the landlord. The Opposition wanted nothing in favour of the landlord. They wanted merely justice and fair play. He wished to ask the Chairman whether he was in Order in proposing that the Government proposal should be printed before being put to the House? He begged to move that the Chairman report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, he thought the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Stuart Knox) had not made that proposal seriously. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government did not seem to understand the difficulty. He had proposed an important alteration at the end of the clause, which was not known of till a few minutes ago, and which admitted of considerable verbal criticism. Having made a substantial alteration, the right hon. Gentleman said he wished to leave it open to the Committee to say whether it was an improvement. For one, he felt at a loss to pronounce an opinion on that alteration, unless he knew what the Government proposed to do with the rest of the clause—whether the Amendment was an addition and the rest of the clause was to run on as it stood, or whether the Amendment was intended to be a substitution for the rest of the clause? [Mr. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE said, the Amendment was an addition.] Then they were going to legalize any usage which in all essential particulars was similar to any of the numerous usages of Ulster; and this probably ought to be done; but they must take care that by their phraseology they did not open the door to endless litigation 1040 and disputes. How would it be possible to ascertain whether a usage corresponded in essential particulars with usages of various descriptions in another part of the country? Until they knew the full extent of the proposed change they were not in a position to pronounce an opinion on the merits of the Amendment submitted by the Government.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the Amendment of the Government was entirely independent of the remainder of the clause, and the Amendment was submitted on the authority of the Government, who desired to consult the Committee with reference to the rest of the clause. The distinction between the customs and usages referred to was literally a geographical one, and nothing more. No one could dogmatize with respect to the extent of customs prevailing by common consent between landlord and tenant in other parts of Ireland; but it was thought right and necessary to say that wherever they existed they should be recognized and enforced; and the difficulty of recognizing the Ulster custom, wherever it was found, was vastly overrated, as the variations were variations, not of substance, but of degree. No Irish County Court Judge would find the least difficulty in recognizing the existence of a custom corresponding essentially to the Ulster custom, no matter in what part of Ireland it might be found. With respect to the rest of the clause, it had nothing to do with this proposal; it referred to matters of minor importance, and the Government desired to be guided by the views of the Committee as to whether it should be retained or not.
§ DR. BALL
said, that the whole of the present difficulty would be obviated if the new clause were made No. 2 of the Bill, and the clause which was now No. 2 were made No. 3. This was a change which was demanded by imperative reasons. The clause just proposed by the Prime Minister dealt with an entirely different class of customs from those dealt with by the clause as it was originally printed. The new clause related to customs that essentially resembled the Ulster custom, and if that were the case they ought to form a separate clause by themselves. It would be much better to have each clause in a separate section. The Ulster customs had all been embraced in a section by them- 1041 selves, and those customs which essentially resembled the Ulster customs ought also to be contained in a separate section. But there was a third class of customs it appeared which had not the essential attributes of the Ulster customs, because they differed from them in this particular, that they made no provision for disposing of the goodwill during tenure. The clause itself, as originally framed, did not suppose this right to alienate, and that was another reason for what he was contending. As regarded the merits of the new proposal he must say that he himself had very great doubts respecting the existence of any such thing as Ulster tenant-right out of Ulster, notwithstanding that this had been affirmed by hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side.
§ MR. SHERLOCK
observed, that the clause, as amended by the Prime Minister, would make the Bill apply to the three classes of tenants. First of all the Bill by the 1st clause legalized the tenant-right of Ulster, and then the 2nd clause, as now proposed to be amended, would apply to a class of tenants out of Ulster to whom would be extended the benefit of the Ulster tenant-right in places having an analogous custom. After that the 3rd clause would apply to a class of tenants to whom the Ulster tenant-right would not extend. Such a classification as that would prevent all confusion.
§ MR. FLOYER
said, he thought that the discussion seemed to assume the logical, or rather illogical, character of explaining the obscurum per obscurius. Everyone who had spoken had entirely failed in defining what the Ulster tenant-right really was. They were told that there were various usages or customs that went under that description, but no definition could be found for them; but it appeared clear that, whatever the Ulster tenant-right might be, it was the tenant-right which prevailed in Ulster. It was now proposed to extend the Ulster tenant-right to the whole of Ireland. ["No, no!"] He maintained that such was the case. All tenant-right prevailing in Ulster was to be tenant-right, and also all tenant-right prevailing out of Ulster. Consequently all tenant-right, wheresoever it prevailed, would be contained in the clause. If that were so, and if the clause were carried, it would no doubt 1042 do much to promote the progress of the Bill; but he insisted that such an important Amendment as the one now under consideration ought not to have been moved till it had boon placed before the House, and full opportunity had been given for its consideration.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, the answer to the question as to what would be the effect of the words now proposed by the Government was very simple. The words would certainly confine the operation of the first part of the clause very strictly to a custom in other parts of Ireland which was identical with the Ulster custom, and it seemed a reasonable principle that the same rule should be applied to both. Then the question was whether there would not be difficulty in practically applying the words "corresponding in all essential particulars with the Ulster tenant-right." His notion was, if the Chief Secretary for Ireland were justified in his statement that there was a well-known class of usages in Ireland differing in degree only and not in kind, that then there would be no difficulty in applying the words of the proposed Amendment; but, on the other hand, there would be very great difficulty if there were various usages in Ulster differing in kind.
§ MR. C. S. READ
said, the adoption of the Amendment would be very unfair towards the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. M'Lagan), whose Amendment had been rejected. He understood the signification of the Amendment proposed by the Government to be that wherever a tenant-right such as prevailed in Ulster was found to exist elsewhere, it should be treated in the same way as the Ulster tenant-right; but by the 3rd section of the present clause it was provided thatA tenant of a holding under a lease made after the passing of this Act, and granted for a term certain of not less than thirty-one years, shall not be entitled to any compensation,and yet a similar provision was not applied to the Province of Ulster.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
observed, that usages identical with those in Ulster would be subject to the same conditions. All the restrictions in Clause 1 applied to the Amendment; but the restrictions in Clause 2 had no reference to it.
MR. B. SAMTTELSON
maintained that the customs of Ulster varied in kind as well as in degree. The words of the Amendment were, therefore, too stringent, and would occasion difficulty. Instead of the words "corresponding in all essential particulars," he would suggest that "analogous" should be adopted, which would in a great measure remove the difficulty.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
submitted that after the admission of the Chief Secretary that the customs to which the Amendment referred would be subjected only to the provisions of the 1st clause, the position of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) was fully established. The proposal of the Government formed in reality a new clause. It would save much time if the Government would agree at once to postpone the 2nd clause, and the right hon. Gentleman could at the proper time bring forward a new clause dealing with those other usages, which were now, for the first time, found to be in strict analogy to the Ulster custom.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. DOWSE)
said, the nine definitions of tenant-right which he had quoted from a book the other evening would be found to have common characteristics. Whatever the variations in extent and latitude, the tenant-right of Ulster had several leading characteristics; none of the definitions described a tenant-right differing in kind from one another.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
said, the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, in proposing an Amendment to the first part of the clause, before the remainder had been discussed, was quite in accordance with the custom of the Committee. After the Committee had divided on the proposed Amendment they could proceed to consider the latter part of the clause.
reminded the Committee that in proposing his Amendment to the 1st clause he had expressed a strong opinion that all the customs existing in Ireland should be dealt with by one 1044 clause, and everything which had occurred since had tended to confirm that conclusion. He objected, in the first instance, to geographical distinctions in respect of the Ulster usage, and they had now advanced a stop towards removing such distinctions. He could not understand the object of dealing with what were declared, to be identical customs in separate clauses. Two classes of custom were said to prevail, and they were to legalize one class but not the other, neither being defined. A clear definition of each class of usage was absolutely necessary to enable the Committee to proceed further. Under these circumstances, he hoped the Government would consent to put their Amendment fairly on the Paper before it was considered.
§ MR. G. B. GREGORY
said, he thought the Government would hardly take a division on the question after hearing the opinions of so many hon. Members. It was essential to decide under what clause the customs referred to in the Amendment must come; and it would be advisable to state their meaning in express terms, rather than leave the courts to decide what usages could be held to be similar to the Ulster custom.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, it might be quite right that when a usage had prevailed for a series of years in the case of a particular holding, it should receive the force of law for that holding. Still, that was a new matter of large inquiry which was now sought to be imposed on the courts under the Act, and. it was but fair that hon. Members should have an opportunity of seeing the proposal in print.
§ COLONEL STUART KNOX
said, he hoped the Prime Minister would give the Committee time to consider the matter. He strongly objected to Amendments being forced upon the House without notice. It was true that there were hon. Members behind the right hon. Gentleman who were ready to swallow anything which he might propose; but his proposal had taken those 1045 who sat on the Opposition side of the House, at all events, by surprise. It was all very well for a tyrant majority to try to force upon the Committee a proposition made by the right hon. Gentleman without notice; but, in his opinion, it was unworthy of the right hon. Gentleman and of the Committee not to afford opportunity for the consideration of a question of such deep importance, not only to Ireland, but to the Empire. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would yet think it right to give the Committee time to consider the Amendment.
observed it was quite clear, from all that had been said on the subject that night, that the Committee could not possibly judge of the full effect of the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman until hon. Members were enabled to see the Amendment in print, and he suggested that it should be postponed in order to allow time for its consideration. The 1st clause of the Bill declared the Ulster custom to be legal and would enable the tenant to enforce it; but the Government now made a proposition to the effect that the customs in other parts of Ireland should be dealt with in the same way. That, however, would be irreconcilable with Clauses 2 and 3. If he were right in that view the best course, in his opinion, to take would be to go on with Clause 2, and afterwards to bring up a clause giving effect to the new proposal of the Government.
said, it would be very inconvenient to postpone the Amendment. He thought his right hon. Friend would see that the arrangement proposed by the Government was logically quite consistent, and practically by far the best which they could adopt. The subject was one of the greatest interest to the people of Ireland, and it would be a very great disappointment to them if the Government were to postpone to the end of the Bill the declaration of the course which they intended to pursue with respect to cases of custom out of Ulster, where the custom was practically identical with the custom in that Province, The proposition of the Government was not a new one, but consisted in a verbal adaptation merely of Amendments almost the same in substance which had appeared on the Notice Paper for a long time.
§ Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 186; Noes 271: Majority 85.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, he did not wish to stop the progress of the Bill; but he hoped the Government would consent to the Chairman leaving the Chair. He should conclude with a Motion to that effect, because he thought the House had not been fairly treated in Morning Sittings being asked for before Easter, by which means he did not think that any real progress would be made. It was proper to have Morning Sittings to deal with, the Peace Preservation Bill; but with regard to this measure, it would be more convenient to sit until four o'clock in the morning. Under the circumstances, he moved that the Chairman should leave the Chair.
said, he hoped the hon. Member would not persevere with such a Motion after the House had pronounced so very decisively. If the eloquence of such a majority did not prevail with the hon. Member, he (Mr. Gladstone) could not hope to exercise any influence. He was sorry that the clause as to the Ulster custom had not been disposed of; but he hoped to be more fortunate to-morrow. [Several hon. MEMBERS: When?] At two o'clock. ["No, no!"]
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House will To-morrow, at Two of the clock, again resolve itself into the said Committee."
§ After short discussion—
§ Previous Question put, "That that Question be now put." —(Mr. James Lowther.)
§ The House divided:—Ayes 269; Noes 172: Majority 97.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolved, That this House will Tomorrow, at Two of the clock, again resolve itself into the said Committee."