§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 3 (Compensation in absence of custom).
said, he would not move the Amendment standing on the Paper in his name, because it depended on his former Amendment, which the Committee had rejected last Thursday.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, he could not conceal from himself, nor would he attempt to conceal from the Committee, that the proposal he was about to make would be regarded as extravagant; but, notwithstanding this, he put it forward, as a most conclusive remedy for the present state of things in Ireland. Without wishing to be disrespectful, he assured the Committee that the land question of Ireland must not be decided on the narrow principles of the law of tenancy in this country. And he was not singular in this. Mr. Campbell, who had written ably on the subject, declared that the whole difficulty could be settled very speedily by one side of the House or the other, provided only it were left to Irishmen. The principle of the Bill, as regards its social aspect, was that, in order to apply a final remedy to the social grievance arising out of the present state of Irish land tenure, the occupier must be secured in his possession. If the Bill had the effect intended by its proposers the security of the possession of land in Ireland was as certain to the occupier as it was to the proprietor; because, unless the latter was prepared to outrage public opinion or to make a sacrifice of a great pecuniary character, he could not in the majority of cases disturb the occupation of the tenant. Under those circumstances, he would ask whether the Amendment he was about to propose was irreconcilable with the principle of the Bill. By his proposal the tenant had every inducement to enter 9 into a contract, because his security would be as permanent as would be his right of occupation under other portions of the Bill. He knew that on the part of many English Members it would be objected that the effect of long leases had hitherto been injurious in Ireland to proprietor and occupier alike, and that they had had the effect of retarding the social and agricultural progress of that country. He might, however, answer that objection on the authority to which he had just now referred, for hon. Members would find it stated in that, work that the supposed fact was no fact at all, but was utterly untrue. The long leases which had provoked such censure and condemnation were leases granted a century and a-half ago by absentee landlords to middlemen. It was impossible that the same evil effects could result in the case of leases granted to men who were bound to occupy the land themselves, and who would forfeit the lease in case they sublet. The leases to which the occupiers of land objected were leases in which the tenant was also the gamekeeper of the landlord; in which, on pain of forfeiture, he was bound to keep trespassers and dogs off the land, and do all in his power to to preserve the game. He confessed he should have been astonished if such leases were viewed by the occupier with favour. Burke, treating of long and short leases, said—A furnished and unfurnished house may be taken for any term, however short; but no one would take a house not only unfurnished, but half built, except for a term which, on calculation, will answer with profit all his charges.Even now, where a lease was granted at all, and where the landlord undertook such improvements as fencing, ditching, and draining, the lease was more commonly for 31 than oven for 21 years. In his county, at all events, landlords, as a rule, never attempted to offer a tenant less than a 31 years' lease. The general leasing powers under settlements in Ireland were for three lives, or 31 years, and many of them for three lives and 31 years. For his part, he would prefer a lease for one life and 31 years after, than for the 61 years proposed by his Amendment. It had been objected that 19 or 21 years' leases were regarded as sufficient security for the tenant in Scotland; but those leases were granted at a nominal rent for the pur- 10 poses of improvement. [Lord ELCHO: £5 an acre.] In that case Scotland must be a happy country. He ventured to say that in no part of Ireland was any such rent obtained. The tenant in Scotland undertook to effect the necessary improvements; but it was stated that in these cases the tenant usually—at all events in the Highlands—drove a hard bargain, and would not be content to pay even the small consideration he did were it not that he expected at the end of the term to receive some further compensation for his labours. M. Laveleye, who was a high authority on the question of land tenure in Belgium, and the system of peasant proprietorship, said—The farmer in short leases becomes convinced that in adopting a more perfect method of culture he risks a larger capital without corresponding advantages, and that in the end he will be only labouring to enrich another.He proposed the present Amendment in perfect good faith, supported by the authorities which he had quoted. Master Fitzgibbon recommended a 31 years' lease; and Mr. Campbell said that such a lease should be given to every tenant in Ireland, with rights of improvement and rights of renewal. He hoped, then, the Amendment would be received by I the Committee in the same spirit in which it was proposed, and that it would not be employed by any party or section of the House for the purpose of defeating the Government measure. If he thought such a use would be made of it, he would be the last man to propose the Amendment. He begged to move in Clause 3, line 15, sub-section 3, to leave out "thirty-one," and insert "sixty-one."
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he would put it to his hon. Friend (Mr. Synan) whether he would be consulting the interests of the Bill, even from his own point of view, by pressing his Amendment. The term of 61 years which his hon. Friend proposed was of very great length; and although the Government were ready to contend for a thirty-one year's lease, which was a valuable lease in Ireland, whore it seemed well adapted to the feelings of the people and the circumstances of the country, they were not prepared to go beyond that point. There was an issue which would presently be before the House, and which would be quite different from that raised by his hon. Friend.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
said, that leases of 61 years were by no means uncommon in Ireland. To his own knowledge the Rev. Mr. Townsend had executed 200 leases for 61 years within the last 12 months, and had raised his rental £400, besides refusing a fine. He had previously granted 100 leases of the same description. Of these leases The Times' Commissioner, in one of his letters, had spoken in the highest terms. He (Mr. Downing) could say, of his own knowledge, that while before the leases were granted the land was occupied by a most miserable tenantry, they were now among the most prosperous, contented, and happy in the West Riding of Cork. Only a short time ago the tenantry of Mr. Townsend presented him with an address and a service of plate, and among the subscribers were the Catholic clergy. Again, the second Earl of Kingston, who was also a clergyman—and he could state from what he knew that some of the Protestant clergy were among the best landlords in Ireland—had granted 800 leases upon his property in the county of Cork, each for their lives and 31 years; and that part of the county which was once the most lawless, was now perfectly peaceable and prosperous.
THE O'CONOR DON
said, that the question involved was not whether 31 or 61 years' leases should be granted, but what length of term was to be put into this section which would be most likely to serve as an inducement for the granting of leases. The proposal of his hon. Friend was that a landlord should grant a 61 years' lease, if he desired to relieve himself from the liability to compensation; but scarcely anyone would hold that landlords would grant 61 years' leases in order to get rid of that liability. But there was another point which his hon. Friend would do well to consider. The question before the Committee was, that "31" be expunged; but it did not follow that 61 would be substituted; and if his hon. Friend were successful in his Motion, the result would probably be the insertion of the words about to be proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball). He, therefore, could not support the Amendment of his hon. Friend.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
said, his hon. Friend (Mr. Downing) was mistaken in 12 stating that any of the Earls of Kingston had been clergymen.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, if we are going to a Division on the proposition of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Synan), I wish the Committee really to understand the issue before them. The question really is, whether the proposition of the Government for a 31 years' lease should be accepted. I am opposed to that. I am not in favour of the proposition of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Synan); I am opposed to the proposition for a 31 years' lease. As I find, from several Gentlemen who have spoken to me on the subject, that some perplexity exists as to the issue before us, it is well to state that the issue is whether we accept the 31 years' lease of the Government or not. We have nothing whatever to do with the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman opposite. The hon. Gentleman opposite seems to be annoyed at the prospect of finding himself in the same Lobby with Gentlemen on this side of the House. Well, the annoyance may be mutual. I would, however, make a suggestion to the hon. Gentleman. It does not appear, as far as I have watched the course of the debate, that he has obtained any considerable sympathy from his own side, and, therefore, should he insist on going to a Division, if he will go into the same Lobby as the Government, he will deprive the Division of the disagreeable circumstances he deprecates.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, he thought he might spare the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) the necessity of going into the same Lobby with him on that occasion. As he found the sense of the Committee was against him, and he had not received the support he had expected, he begged to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ DR. BALL
, in rising to move in page 4, line 15, to leave out "thirty-one" and insert "twenty-one," said: Sir, it is extremely satisfactory that the question now to be presented will come before the Committee disembarrassed of any matter of form, and raising a direct and plain issue between the two propositions. It is exceedingly desirable that the Committee should understand what is the nature of the proposition to be submitted to it, and to what it relates. The Amend- 13 ment I have to move does not affect the question of the lease to be given where improvements are to be made; it does not interfere with the compensation to be allowed under the Bill where improvements are made or shall be made. The only question that is before the Committee is this—What is to be the term of lease to exonerate landlord from what is called compensation for disturbance of the tenant or from damages for eviction? The Government propose in the 3rd clause that if the landlord grants a lease of 31 years the grant of that lease shall exonerate him from the operation of that clause—that is to say, in any case where a lease is given by a landlord and accepted by a tenant, and where the tenure is under an instrument defining it to have 31 years' duration, at the termination of that lease the landlord will be relieved from any obligation to compensate the tenant for the loss of possession. But the right of the tenant will remain under the 4th clause to permanent improvements, such as buildings or the reclamation of land. Here we are dealing only with the 3rd clause and not with the 4th. The Government have the same provision in regard to 31 years in the 4th clause; and I object to your laying down the same measure of duration to exonerate the landlord from the 3rd clause as you lay down in the 4th clause. I say the duration ought to be different, as the principles here applicable are different. We are now, however, only on the 3rd clause, and this ought to be distinctly understood, because the hon. Gentleman opposite who made the last proposition (Mr. Synan) seemed to confuse the two sections together, introducing into his speech topics applicable only to the lease to be given as bearing on compensation for improvements, but not applicable to the lease to be given to relieve the landlord from his obligation in respect of the loss, or termination of the tenant's occupation. I hold that it has been affirmed by the judgment of the House that there is to be compensation given in the abstract for disturbance of possession; but the Government themselves, by asserting that proposition and obtaining a majority in its favour, conceded the principle that there is a given tenure or duration of possession, which, if a man obtains, it is just that the landlord should be relieved from 14 the obligation to compensate him at the end of that term. The Government fix it at 31 years, and the proposition I submit is to change the 31 into 21. I assert, in the first place, that a term of 21 years is in itself a very considerable tenure. I have endeavoured to ascertain from the Tables what is the value of a 21 years' lease, taken relatively to the value of the fee I take the value of a fee simple in Ireland to be 20 years' purchase. That is computed on the supposition that money is of the value of 5 percent, and it is quite plain that 20 years' purchase does assume the value of the money to be 5 percent. On this basis, then, taking the value of the fee at 20 years' purchase, a lease of 21 years, such as I propose, would be equivalent to 12.82 years, or nearly 13 years out of the whole 20 years' purchase, while a term of 31 years would be equivalent to 15.59 years, or nearly 16 years out of the 20 years' purchase. Therefore, the demand of the Government is, that the landlord shall give the tenant close upon 16 years of the 20 years' value of the fee. That, on the face of it, shows that 31 years is too long a term. On the other hand, in proposing a 21 years' lease, instead of a 31 years' lease, the value of which, as I have said, bears the proportion of 12.82, or close upon 13 to 20 the entire value of the fee, I think I am not offering an inconsiderable or limited term. Therefore I hold that a 21 years' lease is a liberal and advantageous lease for the tenant, and, assuming it to be a liberal and advantageous lease, there are some considerations of policy in its favour. I think it was an error on the part of the Government, whatever term they adopted, to adopt the same term in Clause 3 and. in Clause 4. Your object in the exception in both clauses is this—you want to encourage a lease. I object to your laying down one standard and encouraging one single lease for this reason, that if you do all leases will fall in simultaneously, and when they so fall in you will enable combinations to be established to carry out the same organized system as we have at the present moment. If you by compulsion, or by devices equivalent to compulsion, say you will have one have one fixed and stereotyped form and duration of lease to be applicable to tenants in all parts of the country, there is great danger that when their leases are all at one time. 15 coming to an end they will resist any alteration of the relations of landlord and tenant, and demand the renewal of precisely the same tenure again. In the 4th clause, which deals with improvements, a pressure is put on the landlord to give the tenant a 31 years' lease, otherwise he would not be exonerated on the termination of the tenant's occupancy from paying for drains in the case of wet and marshy land; but in the 3rd clause the exoneration is applicable to land on which no improvements are required, or only such improvements as are of trifling value. By retaining the term of 31 years in the 4th clause, and by amending the 3rd clause by the insertion of the term of 21 years, the result would be not that leases would be granted either for 21 years or 31 years merely, but you would find leases granted for 22 years, 23 years, and so on, and consequently they would be falling in at different periods. That I consider an advantage in a political point of view, because I do not deem it desirable that the whole of the tenures in Ireland should be placed on such a basis as that they would all simultaneously require re-adjustment in one particular year. There is another reason which makes the term of 21 years for a lease desirable. If a man gives a 31 years' lease there is no prospect, in the ordinary course of things, that he and the tenant would ever make an arrangement together again. Now I say it is not desirable that the tenant should feel that when his lease terminates he will have to face a different landlord. Such a course would encourage ideas utterly at variance with all those feelings and obligations existing in the relation of landlord and tenant, and which, with all your legislation, you never will eradicate—the sentiment of a moral obligation on the one hand, and on the other a feeling of gratitude for favours and benefits received. I believe that a term of 21 years in reference to leases would have a tendency to keep up the idea that there is a relation between landlord and tenant, because that is a term which might afford to any landlord the hope of again seeing his tenant, and exhibiting towards him the same kindness as he had previously shown. Having made these few observations bearing on the policy of the proposition I am about to make, I will now state what has been 16 the practice in reference to leases in Ireland. I find, by a Paper taken from a Return made by the Poor Law Commissioners, that the number of leases for 21 years or less is 25,000, and the number exceeding 21 years, and not exceeding 31 years, is about 22,000. There is a greater number of leases for lives—namely, about 28,000; and for three lives, or 31 years concurrently, the number is 30,000. Hence it appears that there is a considerable number of leases for 31 years, and I will also add that a much greater number of leases for 21 years has been made of late than formerly. Those who manage their estates best in Ireland, and among them some of the greatest English proprietors, have selected the period of 21 years in preference to the more extended term of 31 years, holding the latter to be too long a period, inasmuch as it puts the matter out of the hands of the existing generation. Moreover, it was found that when the Irish tenants had leases of 31 years, or three lives, they covered the land by subletting and subdividing. A lease for 31 years was always considered of the same value as a lease for three lives, and that is the reason why leases were granted for three lives, or for 31 years concurrently. Now, I say, encourage under the 3rd clause the grant of leases for 21 years when the land is taken for ordinary occupancy, and encourage leases for 31 years under the 4th clause in cases where improvements are to be made. I now come to some authority which appears very much to bear on this question, and I have been greatly influenced in thinking that the term of 31 years is too long by the fact that a Committee of the House of Lords, composed of men of great ability, did not recommend a 31 years' lease. The Chairman of that Committee was a large Irish proprietor, with a vast knowledge of the circumstances of Ireland, and of great sagacity—the Marquess of Clanricarde. I find on that Committee the names of the Duke of Devonshire, the Earl of Clarendon, and the Earl of Kimberley—the two latter being ex-Lord Lieutenants of Ireland—and also the names of two ex - Lord Chancellors, Lord Westbury and Lord Cairns. I want to know to what better source you could go for authoritative statements on this subject? But those noble Lords did not act on their own judgment in the 17 matter. They took evidence not merely I on the point of land tenure, but also on that of improvements. The longest tenure suggested by that Committee was 25 years. The Committee never dreamed of any compensation for occupation. They were dealing with the large question of improvements. But I will refer you to some of the evidence. Among the witnesses examined was Mr. William Steuart Trench, who manages estates in Ireland for the Marquess of Lansdowne and the Marquess of Bath, and who, probably, is known to most Members of this House by his book, which gives a picture of Ireland in respect of the relations of landlord and tenant. I rely not so much on the book as on his experience as a land agent. The Marquess of Clanricarde asks him this question—What length of lease do you recommend generally for a farmer, properly so called?He replies—Twenty-one years is what I always advised and recommended.He is then asked this question by the Earl of Kimberley—If a tenant was about to erect a house upon land let to him for agricultural purposes, would a lease for 21 years in your opinion be sufficient?He replies—Certainly not, if he was about to do so at his own cost.He is then asked by the same noble Lord—How long a lease do you think would be a fair term for a man who was about to erect a house and suitable premises at his own expense?He answers—Thirty years, in my judgment, provided that the house was suitable in nature and extent to the farm he occupied, and that the farm was of sufficient size, so that consequently the house would be of sufficient size.The answers to those questions bear out the view that I ask the Committee to take—namely, that under ordinary circumstances a 21 years' lease would be sufficient, and that 31 years' lease would amply compensate for improvements. I find that before the same Committee Mr. U. R. Mackay was examined. He holds 600 acres of land in the county of Cork as a tenant-farmer. In answer to a question put to him by the Chairman of the Committee, he says—I think that 21 years would be sufficiently long on the generality of farms to develop the farms to their full maximum fertility, and under proper encouragement I think that would be done.18 I am not now referring to improvement, I am speaking of farming leases; but in this Bill no distinction is drawn between the two eases. The landlord is equally punished in both cases. Mr. Brooke, one of the Masters in the Irish Court of Chancery, says he believes the tenants would be quite satisfied with leases of 21 years, and would not look for more. Mr. Kincaid, another witness, says that in the case of building a 31 years' lease ought to be granted; but that is in accordance with what I want to lay down. I contend that there ought to be a difference between leases for improvements and buildings and mere farm leases. I admit, however, that there was evidence before the Committee which went rather further than that to which I have been referring. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) was examined. The hon. Member had previously obtained a Committee of this House on the land question, and much valuable evidence was elicited before his Committee. Before the Lords' Committee he intimated that he would not be content with a 21 years' lease; but when you come to examine the reasoning of the hon. Member—unless I altogether misunderstand his evidence—I think you will find that he is referring to improvements, and that he thinks nothing loss than a 31 years' lease would do in the case of improvements. In his answer to one of the questions put to the hon. Member there is this passage—My idea is that a lease of 31 years, which is about the popular lease in Ireland, would be the best for encouraging agricultural improvements, and the best to induce the tenant to improve the land and to expend whatever capital he may have upon the land; and I know that there is much more capital in the country than people generally imagine. But that 31 years' lease, in my opinion, would not cover all legitimate claim for compensation. If a man built a house, at the termination of the 31 years I would give him a claim for compensation for its value,But what is the meaning of all that reasoning? It shows that the hon. Member is not speaking of the compensation with which we are now dealing, but of compensation for improvements. The compensation with which I am dealing is that which it is proposed the landlord must pay as damages for eviction, and an Amendment of which the Chief Secretary for Ireland has given Notice powerfully supports my proposition. The 3rd clause has been ob- 19 jected to on this side of the House, not so much by Irish as by English Members. It has been objected to on the other side also. But the Government preserve it with the qualification of which the right hon. Gentleman has given Notice—namely, that the clause shall be law for only 20 years, unless Parliament shall otherwise direct.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
Certainly not. My Amendment does not apply to the whole clause, but only to that part of it which prohibits the parties from contracting out of it. That is quite a different thing.
§ DR. BALL
I thought it applied to the whole clause; but even if it does not, yet my argument remains of the same force, for the existence of the clause depends on the coercive portion of it. The coercion is what keeps it alive. Is it not as plain as light that if the Government give us the power of contracting out of it we shall not contract into it? I shall not detain the Committee at any greater length. The question is one between 21 years and 31 years. I say that statistics, the opinion of competent authorities, and good policy are in favour of 21 years. It will be sufficient to protect the tenants from capricious eviction, and they would not have asked for more if dangerous and extravagant expectations had not been suggested to them.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 4, line 15, to leave out the word "thirty-one," and insert the word "twenty-one."—(Dr. Ball)
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Sir, I am not one of those who ever thought this Bill erred, or erred greatly, in the direction of too much concession to the tenant. In my opinion, when Parliament made up its mind to deal with this question—when once it had resolved to go beyond the mere consideration of improvements, and to legislate on the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland—it ought to have decided on doing so in a comprehensive manner, and in a manner which would afford us hope of effective results. It is therefore I have seen with regret some Amendments which have been, I will not say forced on the Government, but pressed on the Government by the evident feeling of the House. I saw with regret, I admit, that the limit at which 20 the landlord and tenant might contract to be removed out of the scope of the Bill was brought so low as £50. I also regretted to see the Amendment placed on the Paper by my right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, by which the tenant-at-will of a farm valued at more than £100 will not be entitled to the benefit of this clause. I regret these two concessions, though I am quite willing to admit that they have been—not forced, but pressed upon the Government by the evident feeling of the House, because I believe that in Ireland there are many tenants of farms not only over £50, but over £100 per annum, who are not in that independent position which is occupied by similar tenants in England; and who are in need, though not in such great need as others, of protection under this Bill. But I can perfectly understand the reasons which have induced the House to press upon the Government these concessions. I can understand that the House is willing to legislate for the very poorest and most dependent class of tenants, though they would be extremely jealous of interfering with the relations between landlords and those tenants who are in a position to look after their own interests. This Amendment, however, if carried, will be unlike those Amendments to which the Government have agreed; it will not restrict the number of persons to whom the Bill will apply, but will restrict the protection which will be given by the Bill to the very poorest and most dependent class of tenants. If a landlord can force a tenant to take a 21 years' lease—as is proposed by this Amendment—the tenant will have forfeited the protection which this clause could otherwise have given him. I say "if a landlord can force a tenant to take" such a lease, because I believe it will require something amounting almost to force to induce an Irish tenant to take a 21 years' lease. Every Gentleman connected with Ireland will bear me out in the assertion that leases for so short a term as 21 years have ever been, as they are now, extremely unpopular with Irish tenants, and that under a reasonably good landlord they would prefer to remain tenants-at-will rather than take such leases. Then, I ask, what will be the effect of this Amendment? By that part of the clause which has already been passed the House has done that which will make it 21 more than over the interest of a landlord to force his tenants to take 21 years' leases; and inasmuch as a more secure character has been given to the ordinary tenure from year to year, the House has made it still more to the interest of the tenant than it has hitherto been to refuse to take these leases. Now, I want to know whether it will be wise or expedient, by passing this Amendment, to make landlords force upon their tenants those very leases which they have hitherto disliked, and will in future dislike still more? When we are trying to introduce into Ireland a better state of things than has hitherto prevailed, it would be a most suicidal policy on the part of the House to introduce such a provision as this, the very first operation of which will be to introduce a new element of discord into that country. A 31 years' lease, however, is very well understood, and in many cases is perfectly satisfactory to Irish tenants. It is what they have been accustomed to; it is what they have often asked for; it is what they are willing to accept; besides which, there is another reason why the term should be 31 years rather than 21. The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Dr. Ball) was extremely anxious that there should, be a proper relation between the various clauses of this Bill; but in his anxiety to secure such a relation between the 3rd and the 4th clauses he entirely omitted to consider that his Amendment would wholly destroy the symmetry of the 3rd clause itself. What have we already done by the 3rd clause? We have certainly given a very considerable amount of security to tenants from year to year against capricious, causeless, and unnecessary eviction; for in case of such eviction a tenant from year to year will be entitled, under certain circumstances, to no smaller a compensation than seven times the amount of his rent. Then, I ask whether the protection given by a 21 years' lease would be at all commensurate with the protection which is given by the third part of this clause to tenants from year to year? The Bill says that in future a landlord may do one of two things—he may either let his tenants remain tenants-at-will; or if he prefers to retain his present power of making such changes on his estate as he thinks necessary, he must run the risk of having to pay damages in cases of evictions which it may 22 be decided are capricious; or, if he likes to forfeit some of the power which he has hitherto enjoyed, he may make himself quite independent of any legal penalties, but he must divest himself for 31 years of the power of eviction. The right hon. and learned Gentleman went into some very abstruse calculations; but it is a question upon which anyone can easily make up his mind. Would anyone in this House prefer a tenancy-at-will, protected as he will be in his tenure by the previous part of this clause, or would he prefer a tenancy for 21 years, at the termination of which there may be a re-valuation of his farm? The Government have made inquiries, and have obtained such information as they could about this matter, though the time which has elapsed since this Bill was introduced has not been sufficient to enable any very great amount of information to be obtained; but I believe the opinion of all competent witnesses upon this subject to be that tenants-at-will almost invariably prefer a protected tenancy—as it will be under the clauses of this Bill—to the security of a lease for only 21 years. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said he thought it extremely wrong that the term should be the same in both the 3rd and the 4th clauses; but I am quite unable to follow him in that argument. It appears to me that the proviso in the 4th clause is the necessary complement of the proviso in the clause which we are now discussing, as the two cases are almost parallel. We wish to give the tenants in future one of two kinds of security—either by means of damages or by means of leases. We wish also that a clause should be imposed on landlords binding them to compensate a tenant for unexhausted improvements on his quitting his farm; but here also we say that a landlord may relieve himself from that necessity by granting a lease which shall be an adequate security to the tenant. In spite of all that we have heard from the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I still think that the security ought to be the same in both cases; and I therefore cannot see the reason why the term agreed to by him in the 4th clause should not also be the term in the 3rd clause. His argument about all the leases falling out simultaneously was very ingenious, but I think rather far-fetched. I ask him—as he is well acquainted with 23 the land tenure of Ireland—whether he really believes that, after the passing of this Act, there will be a great and simultaneous rush by the landlords to give their tenants 31 years' leases? I cannot boast of any very intimate knowledge of Ireland; but I know enough to say that that will not be the ease. I do not think that the landlords will view this 3rd clause with that terror and trepidation which it appears to cause in the minds of some English and Scotch Members; but I believe that, in the great majority of eases, affairs between landlords and tenants in Ireland will go on precisely as they have hitherto done. [Laughter. ] That statement appears to cause some amusement on the other side of the House, and it may be regarded as a damaging admission, though I do not think it any admission whatever, for I have never supposed that the great majority of Irish landlords are bad ones. On the contrary, I believe that Irish landlords have, as a body, done their duty to their tenants, while they have, perhaps, put up with more, and sacrificed more, than any body of landlords in either England or Scotland have done. But probably there are among them some who are inclined to use the power the law gives them with somewhat more than strict justice, and even with severity; and they have produced discord and have brought unpopularity and distrust upon all. I think the landlords of Ireland would, of all people, be the most grateful to Parliament for passing this Bill, in which there is not a provision that will force them to do more than the majority of good landlords willingly do now. I cannot see why the landlords of Ireland, good as I believe them in general to be, should object to a measure which will give to the tenants that sense of security which, in fact, they now possess, but which the acts of a few have hitherto prevented them from feeling. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, having exhausted his political and moral objections to this proposal, quoted several authorities; and, considering what Peers composed the Committee of the House of Lords, I have the greatest possible respect for the opinion of that Committee; but I do not think that, upon such a subject, the opinions of any body of men could be absolutely conclusive, when so large a proportion of them were by feeling, 24 habit, and association, closely connected with the landlord rather than with the tenant side of the question; and I do not think it at all certain that the opinions they expressed in 1867 would necessarily be those which they hold now. That Committee, probably, was not prepared to recommend what has already been passed by this House—namely, the adoption of the principle of compensation for eviction; and I do not feel it is at all certain that, if the Lords' Committee had compared the practice of tenancy-at-will, as it will be in the future, with leases, they would have recommended a shorter term of lease than that which is proposed by the Government. Therefore, I should not hold the opinion of the Lords' Committee, whatever it might have been, at all conclusive upon this matter. I suppose that, on such a point, authorities might be quoted in tolerable number upon either side, and I might cite an opinion, already sufficiently quoted, of Judge Longfield, who does not think 31 years too long, but, on the contrary, recommends 41 years. On all sides it is admitted that great attention has been paid to this subject by Mr. Campbell, who says that 31 years should be the term of the shortest lease; and the Government, seeking the best advice they could get, have received the unanimous opinions of others which I cannot quote, to the effect that nothing short of a 31 years' lease would be acceptable. To my surprise the right hon. and learned Gentleman quoted a Return of the number of agricultural holdings in Ireland, and I might quote it to prove my case. It is quite true there are in Ireland 25,000 leases for 21 years or a less term; but these include all the leases which are given by the Court of Chancery, and every description of lease varying from one year to 21 years. And if there are 25,000 leases for 21 years and less, how many are there for longer periods? Why, of leases exceeding 21 years and not exceeding 31 years, leases for more than 31 and less than 60 years, leases for more than 60 and less than 99 years, leases for terms exceeding 99 years, leases for lives, leases for lives or years alternative, leases for lives renewable for ever, and leases in perpetuity, there are very nearly 100,000, all being for a longer term than 21 years. Therefore, when the right hon. and learned Gentleman quotes the Return to show that there are 25 25,000 leases for 21 years and under, I can cite it to show that there are in Ireland four times that number of leases for longer terms; and that, I think, shows conclusively that leases for a longer term than 21 years are not only desired by the tenants but adopted by the landlords. Twenty-one years may be a good term for England and Scotland, if landlords and tenants think so; and it may be adopted in Ireland, if landlords choose to pay compensation at the end of the tenancy; and further, landlord and tenant may make exactly what agreement they please in respect of any tenancy of over £50 a year, which would surely represent a farm quite small enough, to try the Scotch system upon. I most heartily hope the Committee will not agree to the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman; but that they will assent to that term which, after full and mature consideration, has been adopted by the Government.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
Sir, the Committee are aware that on a former occasion I expressed a strong opinion that any bonâ fide lease ought to be excepted from the operation of this clause; and the Committee are also aware that I have been to some extent obliged from time to time to vary the ground which I originally took with regard to what was to be deemed a bonâ fide lease. In the first place, applying my judgment as an English Member acquainted with things in England, it appeared to me that a term of seven years was sufficient. Afterwards, under the advice of some of those about me, I put upon the Paper a Notice in favour of 14 years, and now the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Dr. Ball) thinks 21 years is the minimum which should be introduced. Having upon a former occasion assured the Committee that I would not be a party to taking any step which the Government might regard as imperilling the Bill upon any question or difference of opinion as to a point of policy, not to my mind involving an issue of principle or an issue of justice, I feel bound to act upon that assurance now, when I see the very narrow limits within which the question is confined, and when I consider that the 3rd clause does not touch existing leases, however short in duration, the retrospective part of it being applicable only to tenancies from year to year. As the noble Lord below me 26 (the Postmaster General) has justly said, the concession made by the Government reduces the question we are now considering to future contracts for leases of holdings under £50 in value. No one, probably, would think of giving leases for holdings of less value than £20; and the question is, whether we shall take issue with the Government upon the number of years for tenancies between £20 and £50? Further, the prospective part of the clause does not prohibit the granting of leases for 21 years and under; it only says that, if they are granted, there shall be engrafted upon them the condition that if the landlord does not allow the tenant to remain at the end of the term the tenant may claim compensation for the loss sustained in quitting his holding. In making their bargains the landlord and tenant may in all other respects deal together as they please, and if they should deal so as to indemnify the landlord there is nothing to prevent their doing so. Under all the circumstances, I should not be acting consistently with the engagements into which I have entered with the House if I voted against the Government upon this question. With respect to the concessions of the Government, I regard them only as concessions to views very largely entertained in this House—not in the interest of landlords a bit more than in the interest of tenants, but in the interest of society generally. The Government have divided the scale of compensation, so as to reduce the claim of a tenant under this clause when made separately for improvements and for loss of holding; as to future tenancies they propose to give unlimited power of contract in respect of holdings above £50 in value; and they propose to fix the limit of value within which existing yearly tenants may claim compensation for disturbance at £100. I frankly confess I should have preferred a lower limit, so as not to give any bonus at the expense of the landlords to independent tenants, such as I believe all above £50 value to be, who are well able to take care of themselves. But the principle of the limitation is of much more moment than the precise figure at which it is fixed. On another point also, that relating to the onus pro-bandi as to improvements, the Government have made a proposal which goes far to meet the object of an Amendment of which I had given Notice on the 27 5th clause; they propose to take four large and well-considered classes of cases out of that clause as it originally stood. I recognize in these proposals of the Government, and in the way in which they have met the suggestions I have made, a disposition fairly to consider what has been recommended on this side of the House, on points of principle and on points involving considerations of justice. Taking that view of what the Government has done, I shall not be able to go against them upon so abstract a point of policy as that one particular lease of 21 years is to be preferred to another lease of 31 years, the Government saying that they think it important to maintain the line they have drawn.
§ Question put, "That the word 'thirty-one' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 290; Noes 209: Majority 81.
Amendment proposed, in line 15, after "years," to insert—
Or for a term of a life or lives, with or without a concurrent term of years, and which lease has existed for thirty-one years before the making of the claim."—(Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson.)
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. DOWSE)
said, he hoped the hon. Baronet would, not press his Amendment, inasmuch as it would tend to create uncertainty in the dealings between landlord and tenant.
§ DR. BALL
said, he was in favour of the Amendment, and he thought that the arguments used that evening by the noble Marquess the Postmaster General tended in that direction. The tenure for lives appeared to be the most popular form of tenure in Ireland; for, while the number of leases for 21 years and less was about 25,000, for 21 years, and not exceeding 31, about 22,000, the number for lives and years concurrent was 30,000, and the number for lives alone 28,000. He could not understand the policy of the Government in encouraging leases for years in preference to leases for lives. It appeared to him that a lease to a tenant for his own life was as good a lease as he could have, because the landlord knew him and was sure of his being a fit tenant; but he could not tell who was to come after him. He was possessed of some land on the north side of Dublin, and he knew that the tenure of land in that neighbourhood was the Prince of Wales' life. He believed most Irish Members would agree 28 with him that a lease for two lives was considered as good a tenure as a lease for a certain term of years.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he could not agree with his right hon. and learned Friend (Dr. Ball) that leases for lives were the most popular kind of leases in Ireland at the present day, although they were formerly necessary for electioneering purposes. A lease for a life or lives might be a good or a bad lease; but he did not think Parliament ought to regard it as an equivalent to the other privileges conferred by this clause. The proviso that the lease should have existed for 31 years before the making of the claim did not mend the matter, because that was an accident which could only be proved at the termination of the arrangement; whereas the Government desired that the landlord and tenant should, at the time of making the contract, be aware of the terms which were to have the effect intended by the clause.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, that a lease for lives was, in substance, as good as a lease for years, and, indeed, it was preferred in Ireland. As the Amendment was framed, however, the lease for lives might be made either with or without a concurrent term, but if it were made without a concurrent term, who could insure that the life or lives would continue for 31 years? He did not see how the Amendment could be accepted unless its form underwent a change.
§ MR. W. ORMSBY GORE
said, he hoped the Government would not in any way encourage the granting of leases for lives. Formerly they were often granted for electioneering purposes; but on all the best managed estates in the West of Ireland the system had been wholly abandoned.
§ MR. SERJEANT SHERLOCK
said, he was of opinion that a lease for lives would introduce an ingredient of uncertainty which would prove absolutely injurious to both landlord and tenant. It was often a matter of difficulty in Ireland to ascertain whether the lives for which a lease was given were in existence or not, from the system of emigration and travelling that prevailed.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, he would not press the Amendment to a Division; but he should raise the question again on a subsequent clause.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn,29
§ MR. G. B. GREGORY
said, he rose to move, after the word "years" to insert—Or for any shorter term which shall be sanctioned by, the Court in manner hereinafter provided.To explain this Amendment, he would read the following new clause, the introduction of which he intended afterwards to propose (Leases or contracts approved by Court):—Not with standing anything in this Act contained, it shall be lawful for a tenant to enter into any lease or contract provided that the Court, upon examination of the same and consideration of the circumstances, shall be satisfied that such lease or contract is for the benefit of the tenant, and shall signify its approval of such lease or contract on behalf of such tenant accordingly.He admitted that that clause embodied to a great extent the idea comprised in the Amendment proposed, but eventually withdrawn by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Sir Frederick W. Heygate). He himself suggested the withdrawal of that Amendment, because it was open to the objection that under it the landlord and tenant would make a contract which might be forced on the latter, and would simply apply to the Court to sanction it. Such an objection was not, however, applicable to the present Amendment, which he sincerely proposed in the interests of the tenant. What he contemplated was, that the tenant, after entering into an agreement with the landlord, should ask the Court, as his natural protector and guardian, to decide whether the agreement was one which, under all the circumstances, would be for his benefit. The proprietor of a holding might, for example, contemplate attaching it to another holding, making it a part of his demesne, or using it for building purposes. He might, consequently, wish to let it on very easy terms, on condition that he should have the power of regaining possession when he required it. If, in such a case, the landlord were liable to the penalties imposed by this Bill, he would most probably refuse to let the land go out of his possession at all. Again, when a landlord was willing to let a farm on easy terms to an old servant who was past active work he ought not to incur the penalties imposed by the Bill. The Amendment he now begged to move would extend protection to Irish tenants, and he trusted the Government would accept it.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the point involved in the Amendment had been already raised by the proposal made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Londonderry (Sir Frederick W. Heygate), which was withdrawn in deference to the feeling manifested by the Committee. He would repeat what he said on the former occasion, that the Government did not think it desirable to leave a matter of this kind to the discretion of the landlord. It would be going a great deal too far to ask the Court to decide what manner of lease should be sufficient to bar the privileges which the House had already conferred.
§ SIR FREDERICK W. HEYGATE
said, he wished to point out that his proposal had been distinct from that of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. G. B. Gregory), inasmuch as he (Sir Frederick W. Heygate) proposed that landlord and tenant together should go to the Court. Substantially, no doubt, the question had been already decided; but as they proceeded with the clauses, it would be found more and more difficult to leave its provisions upon the point as they stood at present. The effect of leaving landlords in a state of uncertainty as to the position in which they would ultimately find themselves would be to induce them to keep the land in their own hands, which certainly was not the object aimed at by the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, that as the omission of these words made no real change in the meaning of the Bill, he was prepared to assent to the proposal.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. KAVANAGH
said, he would beg to propose an Amendment which he thought important to the maintenance of law and order in Ireland—Clause 3, page 4, after sub-section 3, insert—Any tenant who shall after the passing of this Act be convicted of any indictable offence shall not be entitled to any compensation under this Act.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. DOWSE)
said, he hoped the hon. Member would not press this Amendment, which was of a very sweeping character. A tenant who assaulted a man at a fair committed an indictable offence. Again, a man who libelled another might be indicted, and under these words he would forfeit all claim to compensation. What the hon. Member no doubt meant was a class of offences connected with the holding of land; but the Government had considered this class of cases, and felt that it would be very difficult to deal with them.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. J. S. HARDY
said, he thought that some limit of occupation ought to be fixed, before the tenant acquired such a beneficial interest as would entitle him to compensation for disturbance. The limit of three years seemed to him a fair one; on the one hand, sufficiently long to enable a landlord to discover the character of his tenant, and, on the other, sufficiently short to prevent capricious evictions. One year's residence was required to enable a man to obtain the suffrage; and only the other night the Solicitor General, in speaking on the Naturalization Bill, contended that a five years' residence should be required before a person not a natural-born British subject should be entitled to hold land in this country. Provided the Government would accept the principle of his Amendment, he should not insist upon the adoption of the particular term of years he had proposed in it. By the adoption of his Amendment the tenant would not be placed in a worse position as regarded the compensation he was to receive for his improvements. There might be many reasons why a landlord might desire to change his tenantry, which the Court might not accept as satisfactory. Thus, for instance, they might have quarrelled among themselves, or a person possessing the peculiar characteristics of Mr. Murphy might have settled in a Roman Catholic village and endangered the peace 32 of the neighbourhood. Surely the landlord ought to have power to remove him without subjecting himself to the burdens of this clause. He might be told that a landlord could choose his tenant at the beginning of the tenancy, and that the Bill would not oblige him to accept any particular tenant, and that where a tenant claimed compensation for ejectment the Court would have power to take cognizance of all the surrounding circumstances. But it was for Parliament clearly to declare what they intended to enact, and not merely to draw an outline, leaving it to the Court to fill up the details. He had not any very great hopes of the success of this Bill, otherwise he should have supported it with greater pleasure. He feared that the state of Ireland was such that no measure that was likely to be passed by that House would be of much avail. The only chance there remained of restoring a proper tone to society in that country was by inducing a more kindly feeling to spring up between landlords and tenants, by giving security to the tenants without forcing upon the landlords tenants with whom they might disagree upon every point. He trusted that the Government would grant the landlord some little time to enable him to ascertain what sort of a person the tenant was before the latter obtained a right to compensation for disturbance. He begged to move in Clause 3, page 4, after line 21, to insert—4.) No tenant shall be entitled to damages for disturbance in his holding under this Clause who shall not have been in occupation for at least three years.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he must point out that the Amendment of the hon. Member attacked the vital principle of the Bill to which the House had already agreed—namely, that the tenant was to receive that amount of compensation to which the Court should find he was entitled for disturbance in his holding. If the Court should be of opinion that, owing to the tenant's misconduct, he was not entitled to any compensation, then the clause would be superfluous; whereas if the Court should be of opinion that he was entitled to compensation the clause, coming in to deprive him of it, would be unjust, and would be calculated, to arouse the angry feelings that the Bill was intended to allay. He did not think there 33 would be the slightest difficulty in getting rid of a tenant resembling Mr. Murphy; because, if the landlord were not rich enough to buy him out, the neighbours would cheerfully subscribe in order to get rid of him. That would be a charming thing for the landlord. He hoped the hon. Member would withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. CORRANCE
moved to insert, after line 21, the following:—Where the claim of the tenant of any holding (being less than twenty pounds valuation), shall have been redeemed by the landlord, either by mutual agreement or subject to the award of any Court constituted by this Act, no further claim shall accrue against him for disturbance or loss of occupancy in virtue of any tenancy created subsequently, either from year to year or leasehold, in any sum exceeding two years' rent in the case of holdings valued as aforesaid at ten pounds and under, and in any sum exceeding one year's rent in the case of holdings above ten pounds and under twenty pounds, as aforesaid.In the consideration of this clause we have now made some progress; and this, no doubt, is a matter of very legitimate subject of congratulation to the Committee. Now, this clause is said to be the Bill; of all other provisions it forms the basis, and before I move the Amendment I offer, I shall beg leave very briefly to review it. Now, I must ask the Committee to remember this—that I have given my consent to this clause upon a very important section. I consent to the recognition of a distinct loss to the tenant caused by the act of disturbance; but to this, in my own mind, has occurred a most important series of limitations. In this clause these are most imperfectly recognized. Let me enumerate the principal objections. In the first place, it takes place upon too wide an area, and thrusts itself into places where it is not required; secondly, it is irredeemable and permanent; thirdly, it places too narrow a limit upon free contracts; fourthly, it most imperfectly defines the act of disturbance. And to these imperfections it adds another, which brings me to the subject of my Amendment. This clause, in establishing this rude and general manner, takes no distinction between tenants of the present and tenants of the future, or tenancies of the heretofore previous to compensation, and those created after such an act of justice. Is there no such distinction? Are we to 34 assume that those who framed this Bill acted upon such an assumption? We have certainly heard a remarkable statement to-night from that Bench, which would favour such a conclusion; but it was one I heard from Ministerial lips with astonishment, nay, I may say, with consternation. Why, the noble Lord the Postmaster General told us that after this Bill things would go on much the same as usual. I ask, is that the opinion we are to accept and act on? I shall assume the contrary. I must assume that when the existing tenant shall have been recouped for his present interest and improvements, that with the next tenant will also come a very different state of relation. Why, it must be so, from the natural operation of the clause, and I think that this will be seen from the previous arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland upon them. Why, when we considered the scale, and some objection was taken to the proportionate amount given to the smaller tenants—and it is the smaller tenant alone I refer to—his reply was this—"That this amount must be held to include, not only disturbance or loss of occupation, but also a considerable amount of undefinable improvement." Now, let the Committee remark this, that such uncertainty will cease from the first period of legal compensation; and more than this, that it will not again recur. Under various parts of this Act, and as contemplated under several Amendments, a record of the Court will exist removing all uncertainty, and enabling even the smallest tenant to define and recover his improvements. These will be recoverable under the 4th clause, and all he shall then lose will be the loss of occupation. Now, if this be so, then the one question which remains must be the value of the loss so considered. One consideration should alone determine this. What is the interest of the tenant? Now, I have held, and must hold, that it is absolutely opposed to his interest that this amount should be excessive. First, it will not be paid by the landlord, but by the tenant. It will constitute a tenant-right, and become transferable. Can an excessive amount be a benefit to the tenant? In this respect every authority is against you. Look all through the Devon Commission; see the evidence of every land agent, farmer, or priest, and you will 35 find this plainly stated. I need not quote from this, but refer to the names of John Forsyth, Hancock Kennedy, the Rev. J. O. Sullivan, O'Hara, and French; but if I am told these are antedated, let me see what is said by modern authorities. Ask the hon. Member for Linlith-gow, ask my hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk, refer to the able pamphlets of Mr. Thompson, Mr. Campbell, and others, and you will find similar conclusions. The whole tenant interest is against you—at all events, in England and Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Can he produce his witnesses? Who are they? Well, then, if against such testimony the Government are prepared to carry out this imperfect scheme unamended, I must draw this inference—that it will be a measure condemned upon all adequate authority, and that, falling below the standard of intelligent opinion in this House, it is framed to meet the unenlightened requirements of the Irish peasant.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the Amendment was substantially the same as one moved by the noble Lord the Member for Huntingdonshire (Lord Robert Montagu), and which had been disposed of on Thursday evening. The proposal was, that where the landlord had paid the claims of former tenants he should either be freed altogether, as previously proposed, or partly, as now proposed by the hon. Gentleman, from future claims under this Bill. He did not think that view would hold water; because all the circumstances would be taken into consideration by the Court when it came to make an award. He saw no reason why they should provide for the particular cases pointed out by the hon. Gentleman. The Courts would be quite able to deal with them when they arose.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. SINCLAIR AYTOUN
said, he had given Notice of an Amendment to move in Clause 3, page 4, line 21, after "holding," to leave out to end of line 25. His object was to place yearly tenants and tenants under leases upon the same footing. He did not think this clause founded either in justice or expediency, and for that reason he had voted against the Government on several important Amendments. They were not, he 36 thought, acting towards the landlord with due regard to justice. At the time of the second reading he had no opportunity of stating his views upon the measure itself, which was retrospective. If it was considered for the advantage of the country at large that part of the land should be taken from the landowners, the proper course was to grant compensation. There could be no doubt the effect of this measure would be greatly to reduce the value of property in Ireland. The operation of the clause as it stood would be retrospective as regarded tenants of holdings from year to year, and prospective in the case of tenants holding under lease. It was extraordinary to make any difference between the two classes of tenants. He would place them on a perfect equality. He could not see why tenants who held land on an expiring lease should be obliged to give up their holdings without compensation, whereas the yearly tenant would receive five or seven years' compensation. He would leave the former in the same position as the latter. He, therefore, begged to move his Amendment.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the hon. Member (Mr. Sinclair Aytoun) had moved an Amendment which he probably deemed harmless and satisfactory; but he felt sure the Committee would not coincide with him in that opinion. He had revived, in a very formidable shape, the dogma of "levelling down," and applied it to this subject with a vengeance; for, in order that existing leaseholders in Ireland might not be in a worse position under the Bill, as compared with yearly tenants, than they were at present, he proposed to exclude all yearly tenants from the Bill. His argument seemed to be that because one small class of tenants was not affected by the Bill, therefore no existing tenants should be. Further, he urged that by imposing restrictions on the power of eviction value would be transferred from the pockets of the landlord to the tenant. This, however, could not be substantiated; because, as the tendency of the Bill was to give greater security, which, as had been tested in Ulster, brought about almost magical effects upon the productiveness of the land, both landlord and tenant would be benefited. Under these circumstances, it became his duty to resist the Amendment.
§ MR. JESSEL
said, that the principle established by this section had not been fairly treated by many Members, especially on the other side of the House. It was described as a violent and monstrous attack upon the rights of property. Now, he wished to point out that the rights of property were divided into fundamental and incidental or separable rights. The confusion of these had led to much of the misapprehension of the nature of this section of the Bill. No legislation ought to disturb fundamental rights, and any attempt in that direction pointed to a state of anarchy and confusion; such a disturbance of fixed rights would sap the very basis of modern civilization. Separable rights were those which incidentally attached to property, through the legislation of a particular time, and such rights were continually being interfered with by Parliament. Among other instances of such interference might he mention the extension of the county franchise, which depreciated the value formerly attaching to small plots of freehold property, which, when offered for sale, were usually recommended on the ground that they conferred a county vote. The right of alienation, and therefore unrestricted right to evict was an incidental right of property. The section imposed a fine on alienation. It provided that the landlord should not capriciously evict without paying a fine. With regard to the question whether a fine on alienation was a proper subject of legislation, he might refer to Continental law to show how universal such fines were. Then as to ancient English law on this subject. The state of things after the Conquest—["Oh, oh!"]—Hon. Gentlemen said "Oh, oh!" but they must recollect that this was a question of principle. He asserted, without fear of contradiction from any lawyer, that the right of alienation was a donation of the Legislature. It did not exist in the ancient law of England. It had been gradually conferred, and that by legislative interference. But property in land did exist without the existence of this right. In early times there was no such right at all. No man could then alienate his land, with some trifling exceptions, without the consent of the superior lord and paying a fine. ["Question!"] It was quite the question; because the proposition was to agree to 38 a clause which contained a restriction on alienation. In the time of Charles II. these fines on alienation were abolished at the expense of the nation. He denied, however, that the operation of the clause was retrospective. If they put on the landlord a fine because he gave a notice to evict, this was future, and not past. If a landlord would capriciously, and without just cause, evict a tenant from his holding, this was a future, not a past act. The Bill had been called retrospective, but it was not really so. It simply proposed the payment by the landlord of a fine to a tenant whom he had capriciously evicted. If it were said that the tenant had entered into a contract by which he was not to receive condensation, the answer was, that the Bill was founded on the theory that the present system was not fair towards the tenant who was not in a position to contract; and it was quite clear to him that the section in question, or this portion of it, was not really an attack on the fundamental rights of property, and did not necessarily impair the value of property. But even if it did, it was not a question of taking away the property of the landlord, but only of taking away from him the right to resort to capricious evictions. The Amendment of the hon. Gentleman behind him (Mr. Sinclair Aytoun) really struck at the whole principle of the Bill, and its acceptance would be tantamount to the rejection of the measure itself.
§ MR. BRUEN
said, he was of opinion that a law which obliged him to pay a fine of one-third the value of his land must be calculated to diminish the value of that land. Believing that this clause was an unprecedented interference with the rights of property, he should have preferred to vote in favour of negativing the clause altogether. The argument of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, that this clause was actually calculated to increase the value of property, was, to his mind, incomprehensible. The case of Ulster, in his opinion, showed that the value of land depended upon the wealth of the population and the extent of the manufactures.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
said, that if the Bill was to have any good effect it must deal satisfactorily with the cases of 428,000 tenancies-at-will; but this would be impossible if the Amendment now proposed were acceded to. If the Go- 39 vernment were to yield on this point they might as well burn the Bill at once
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ DR. BALL
said, he rose to propose in Clause 3, page 4, line 21, after sub section 3, to insert the following sub section (4):—No tenant of a holding exclusively pastora shall be entitled to any compensation under this section; and the tenant of a holding partly agricultural and partly pastoral shall be entitled to be compensated under this section only in respect of the agricultural portion of his holding.He had no particular anxiety that the object he had in view should be accomplished by means of these words. He had found the words in the Interpretation Clause of the Bill, where the term "pastoral," which was entirely new to the law, as, indeed, was the term "agricultural" also, occurred. But the Bill had made a distinction between "agricultural" and "pastoral" in the Interpretation Clause; and, as he was of opinion that the language of the Bill ought, if possible, to be adopted, otherwise it might be said the object in view was different, he had made use of the words. Every Irish Member understood what he meant by his Amendment, and the majority of them were in favour of it. His object was, that compensation for disturbance should not be given to those great holders of grass farms, whose business partook more of the nature of mercantile speculation than of farming. Some of these persons paid £1,000 a year or more, and were immeasurably richer than the landlords from whom they took the lands. His hon. Friend the Member for Ennis (Mr. Stacpoole) had an Amendment exactly similar, though expressed in different words, to be moved in line 25. There were in his hon. Friend's Amendment qualifications about residence; but what he (Dr. Ball) meant was large grazing farms. He should be quite content that the Government should undertake to word the Amendment; but he most earnestly pressed on the Committee the propriety of passing some provision of the kind. Nothing was more absurd than that large graziers, who made no improvement whatever in the land, should be entitled to compensation. It would really 40 amount to an oppression of the landlord. He begged to move the Amendment.
§ MR. STACPOOLE
said, he agreed in every word that had fallen from his right hon. Friend (Dr. Ball). It was a monstrous thing that landlords should be asked to give compensation for disturbance on great grazing farms which the tenants from year to year could not possibly improve. In his county there were what were called winter age farms. The soil was rocky; but the farms were most valuable for the pasturage of cattle in winter. He would be quite ready to leave the matter in the hands of the Government.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, that the Government had already informed the Committee that they were ready to make the Amendment in question, and he would repeat the pledge now, only he would prefer to do it in another way, and to bring up carefully considered words, probably in the Exemption Clause.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
said, he approved the object in view, but urged that there should be a limit with regard to the farms to which the Amendment was to apply.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the Government were not desirous of carrying the effect of this clause beyond the point they thought absolutely necessary; and they believed they were meeting the requirements of the case, and the opinions of many Gentlemen of great weight in the House, by proposing words, the effect of which would be to limit the application of the clause to tenants below the line of £100 value. Holdings above that value were occupied by farmers so independent that they were able to take care of themselves, so that it was not necessary to make the clause retrospective as far as those tenants were concerned. They would, however, enjoy the protection given under Clause 4. He begged to move in page 4, line 22, after "holding," to insert—Valued under the Acts relating to the valuation of rateable property in Ireland at an annual value of not more than £100, and.
§ MR. CHARLEY
said, he could not but admire the ingenuity with which the right hon. Gentleman had appropriated 41 the Amendment that he (Mr. Charley) had placed on the Paper before Easter, and he only regretted that the Government had changed his figure of £50 to £100. As he could not move his Amendment as a substantive Motion, he would move it as an Amendment to the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman. An extraordinary right was conferred by this clause upon the Irish tenant—a right which no English or Scotch tenant enjoyed, or was ever likely to enjoy. The tenant, in effect, was to put nothing into the soil, and yet he was to take something out of it—a singular reversal of the old maxim—Ex nihilo nihil fit. Compensation for improvements stood upon an entirely different footing—the tenant put something into the land and took something out of it. The hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Jessel) had said that a landlord's right to the exclusive possession of his land was one of the fundamental rights of property; but could a landlord be said to have an exclusive right to the possession of his laud when a tenant could hold it rent free for seven years? The hon. Member had compared compensation for loss of occupancy to fines on alienation; but they were paid by the tenant to the landlord, while this was paid by the landlord to the tenant. He contended that there was no reason why the clause should not draw the line at £50 for existing tenancies. In future tenancies the landlords could protect themselves. There was the more reason for the adoption of the figures £50, seeing that the right hon. Gentleman opposite had given Notice on the 10th clause—which excepted tenants of a holding of not less than £100 annual value from the power to claim compensation if they had contracted with their landlord not to make any such claim—to leave out £100 and insert £50. If the limit was to be drawn at £50 in the one case he could see no reason why it should be fixed at £100 in the other; and he therefore moved, in the proposed Amendment, to leave out "£100," and insert "£50."
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
said, he regretted very much the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chichester Fortescue) had just moved. He failed to see the necessity for, or the justice of, an arrangement by which future tenants would be entitled to compensation for eviction, although 42 their holdings were above £100 annual value, whereas present tenants of the same class were not to be entitled to it.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. DOWSE)
said, the hon. and learned Member for Salford (Mr. Charley) had done his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland some injustice in supposing that he had been under any obligation to the hon. Gentleman for the words of his Amendment. The fact was, that so far had his right hon. Friend been from any servile copying of the hon. Member's Amendment, that he had gone to the 10th clause, from which the hon. Member had also copied the words of his Amendment. With regard to the substantial question involved in the Amendment, he trusted the Government would be supported in their proposal. As his right hon. Friend had explained, they were convinced that persons with holdings valued at £100—which was equivalent to a rent of £120 or £130—not only were well able to look after their own interests, but often were really more independent than the landlords themselves. Such persons would, therefore, be wisely excluded from the retrospective operation of the clause. It would be a different thing, however, to draw the limit at £50, because that would exclude a large number of tenants who had every right to enjoy the benefit of the clause. With regard to the proposed limitation, in the cases in which freedom of contract was involved, the Amendment of which his right hon. Friend had given Notice on the 10th clause, substituting £50 for £100, rested upon a wholly different basis.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, that while objecting to both of the Amendments, he should feel obliged to support, as the lesser evil, that of the Government. Both were, in his opinion, unjust; but the Amendment of the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Charley) would exclude from the operation of the clause about 80,000 of the Irish tenants, whereas that of the Government would not exclude more than 30,000. He entirely failed to understand why a tenant whose holding was of £100 annual value should be deprived of his right to compensation; nor could he admit that tenants of that description were always able sufficiently to protect themselves from the wrong and injustice consequent upon improper eviction. In some instances, indeed, the in- 43 justice in such cases was even greater than in others.
§ Amendment (Mr. Charley) negatived.
§ Amendment (Mr. C. Fortescue) agreed to.
§ MR. PIM
said, he had to propose an Amendment of which he had given Notice—namely, in page 4, line 23, to leave out, "at the time of the passing of this Act," and insert "at any time between the first day of January one thousand eight hundred and seventy and the passing of this Act." The object he had in view was to meet the case of those tenants who might be evicted from their holdings in anticipation of the passing of this Bill. There was a provision in the 15th section of the Irish Church Act of last Session, securing compensation to curates employed at any time after the 1st of January, 1869, and he wished to see that precedent followed in the present Bill as regarded agricultural tenants in Ireland. In the county of Mayo and in other parts of the country some landlords had provoked resentment and disturbance by serving their tenants with notices to quit and turning them out of their holdings, and this was done in order to deprive these tenants of the benefits of the present legislation. He thought it the duty of the House to see that those persons who had thus produced so much bad feeling should not be allowed to benefit by the wrongs they had inflicted. The hon. Member then moved the Amendment.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, he should support the Amendment. He had listened with great pleasure to the speech made by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) that evening. It was a complete answer to the wild fears entertained by the landlords who had not what would amount to a tenth part of his territorial possessions. The noble Marquess had raised a laugh in some quarters by saying that after the passing of this Bill things would remain precisely as they were now. He understood the noble Lord's meaning, which was that the Bill would not interfere with the good landlord. There were many good landlords in Ireland, and landlords of that character could do more for their tenants than could be effected by any legislation. He rose to corroborate what had been said by his hon. Friend the Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim). He himself had seen a notice to quit which had been served on a solvent 44 tenant who had paid his rent for the last half-year. Some short time ago it was stated that a certain landlord had served notices to quit on his tenants. That allegation was denied point-blank by the gentleman's law agent; but he had seen a letter in which the same landlord was reported to have said—"Thank God, we still have the power to evict!"
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
said, they had all seen a circular which had been issued by Mr. D'Arcy Irvine, a gentleman holding property in the North of Ireland. He had served notice on every one of his tenants, and lately all his tenants had been assembled together, with the view, he supposed, of an arrangement being made which would relieve the landlord from any liabilities which this Bill imposed. It was said that Mr. D'Arcy Irvine was an eccentric man; but a landlord in the county of Roscommon who was not eccentric, and who, though not in the House of Commons, stood high in the Liberal party, had served a notice which he thus explained in a letter accompanying it—"I am necessitated, by a clause introduced in the Land Bill, to send you the notice you will receive." He had seen two of those letters.
§ MR. W. H. GREGORY
said, the apprehensions of his hon. Friend the Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim) and his hon. Friend the Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) were not justified. It was clear that the notices to which they referred would not come into operation before the passing of this Bill.
§ CAPTAIN ARCHDALL
said, it was perfectly true Mr. D'Arcy Irvine did not always act in the wisest manner; but he had spent as much as any man in that House in improving his estate. Certainly, when the Bill was brought in, he served notice on his tenants; but he felt quite satisfied that Mr. Irvine had not the least intention of disturbing any of them. The meeting referred to by the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) was a voluntary one, got up by the tenants for the purpose of expressing their confidence in their landlord. [Laughter.] Some of the hon. Gentlemen who laughed had not as much land as would sod a lark; but Mr. Irvine's tenants had every confidence in him. It was not likely they would have met to enter into an agreement detrimental to 45 themselves. As regarded the Amendment, he did not think it necessary to say anything about it, because he presumed the Government would not accede to it.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
said, he hoped the Government would accede to the Amendment. Tenancies in respect to which notices had been served last September expired in March, and many others expired on the 1st of May, even though the tenants might still be in occupation. He ventured to say there were at least 100 of such cases, and if the Amendment were not adopted, not one of them would come within the provisions of the Bill. If the Amendment were not adopted the Bill would protect the bad landlord who was determined to get possession of his property, but not the good landlord who patiently awaited the consequences of legislation.
§ MR. BRUEN
said, he would remind the House that all these statements were ex parte. He was opposed to the Amendment, though he had no interest in it one way or the other; for during the last three or four years he had only served notice to quit on one tenant, and the man said, Pay me my improvements, and I will give up the land to-morrow. He (Mr. Bruen) paid him his improvements, and the man gave up the land. An official Report stated that notices to quit had been served for seven reasons, one of which was the anticipation of legislation; and he said that the Government ought to reserve their decision until that assertion had been substantiated.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the Government were not able to agree to the Amendment; but they did not endorse the views of the hon. Member for Fermanagh (Captain Archdall). Recent occurrences in Ireland rendered it natural that an effort should be made to protect tenants from improper attempts which appeared to have been made on the part of a small number of landlords to deprive their tenants of the benefits of the legislation upon which Parliament was engaged; but, at present, the information upon the subject was very imperfect; and if such a provision as this were introduced it should be done with due deliberation and a perfect knowledge of the facts of the case, and only upon grounds which would be sufficient to justify it. For these reasons 46 he would ask the hon. Member (Mr. Pim) to withdraw the Amendment, and leave it to the Government to consider whether it was necessary to introduce such a provision. He thought the danger apprehended was not so great as at first sight it appeared to be, because it did not arise from notices to quit given last September, with which the Committee could not attempt to deal, and which, if they existed at all, must be few in number; but the danger apprehended arose from notices given in March, with the view of escaping the provisions of this Bill; and as they could not expire before next September, when the Bill would be passed, if it passed at all, the notices would have no effect, and would make no difference whatever to the existing tenancies with which the Committee had to deal. That removed the greater part of the danger apprehended, and it reduced the question before the Committee to one of very narrow limits. If it should be necessary hereafter to consider the point that was raised, the Government would be prepared to consider it; but he did not think the danger was one of any magnitude.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
said, the clause made no provision for the tenant who might have a middleman between himself and the superior landlord. He would therefore move, in page 4, line 24, after "landlord," to insert "or of any person claiming by superior title."
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he did not at all deny that the Amendment raised a question of importance and difficulty, which had engaged the attention of the Government in framing the Bill. They had to consider whether it was possible to apply the provisions of the Bill to the cases of existing leaseholders, and they came to the conclusion that it was not. It was possible that cases of hardship such as tad occurred before now might occur again, in spite of the provisions of the Bill, although he hoped, they would not; but the Government came to the conclusion that it would not be wise to interfere with existing leases in this respect, by imposing upon the superior landlord an obligation as against the sub-tenant, with whom he had now no relation whatever, and who had been 47 placed upon the land without his consent. The Government came to the conclusion that it would not be right to give the sub-tenant a claim in this ease as against the superior landlord. The Amendment might have been moved in another form by proposing to omit from the clause the word "immediate." The Government had come to the conclusion that, as a sub-tenant would have a claim against his immediate landlord, and as such sub-tenant was placed upon the land without the privity or consent of the superior landlord, it would be going too far to recognize a claim against the latter, the presence of the tenant upon the land being often, in the cases supposed, not for his interest, but contrary to his wishes and intentions. In such a measure it was impossible to guard against all cases of hardship that might possibly arise, and the Government had felt that they could not apply the provisions of this Bill to such cases as had been referred to by the hon. Member (Sir John Gray).
§ LORD ELCHO
said, it amused him to hear the Chief Secretary for Ireland apologizing for the Government not having included in their Bill a clause giving compensation in cases in which a landlord had let his property to one tenant who, without his consent, handed it over to some one else, such subletting having been, according to the Chief Secretary's own admission, very injurious to the property.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
said, he had consented to move an Amendment, at the instance of two or three landlords, who were of opinion that it was absolutely necessary for them to have the power of contracting themselves out of the operation of the Bill. The Bill enacted that—Any contract made by a tenant by virtue of which he is deprived of his right to make any claim, which he would otherwise be entitled to make under this section, shall, so far as relates to such claim, be void.He proposed to add the words—Save where the contract for such tenancy shall be for the term of thirty-three years or upwards, in which case the tenant may enter into a contract under lease, and deprive himself of all his rights under the Bill.That was the proposition of many landlords and agents, and he believed it would be accepted by the tenants. He 48 did not wish to press this Amendment, but simply to put it before the House.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he had given Notice of an Amendment which would limit to contracts, made before the passing of the Act the enactment that any contract made by a tenant, by virtue of which he would be deprived of his rights to make any claim which he would otherwise be entitled to make under this section, should, so far as it related to such a claim, be void. But since then many modifications had been effected in the Bill, which had mitigated many of its features, though he must candidly say they did not remove his objections to the policy of the Government. It would be right and wise on the part of the Committee to express an opinion on the general question; but taking into consideration the Division which had been taken that night, and had indirectly dealt with the subject of his Amendment, he should not, on the present occasion, take the opinion of the Committee on the point, but would reserve to himself the right to do so at a more favourable opportunity.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment proposed, in page 4, line 29, after "void," to insert—
This provision shall remain in force for twenty years, from the first day of January one thousand eight hundred and seventy-one, and thereafter until Parliament shall otherwise determine."—(Mr. Chichester Fortescue.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
said, he rose to move a proviso to the effect that land not subject to the Ulster, or to any other usage, might be registered, and thereby placed under the provisions of a permissive Parliamentary tenant - right. Where the landlord and tenant of such land could not agree as to the rent of the land, the Court might determine the proper rent at intervals of 14 years. The tenant of such land might assign his entire interest, but not sublet or subdivide his holding. Such tenant, if about to be evicted, might sell his interest in the holding. Any successor in title of the landlord might purchase it. His Amendment would, he held, give the landlords, under certain conditions, the right to make free contracts with their tenants. The Bill as it stood prevented landlords from so doing; but many landlords were anxious to enter 49 into free contracts with their tenants on proper terms. The Government, however, in giving power to contract, thought there should be some provision to prevent hardship or oppression. The Amendment which stood in his name was in accordance with many of the provisions of the Bill which had already been passed, and which permitted alternative arrangements. He objected to the Bill as it was framed; but as a large majority of hon. Members had decided that the Bill must be adopted in its present form, he was anxious that any imposition which he brought forward should be in perfect conformity with the existing provisions of the Bill. The Government properly said that if the tenants were left free to contract themselves out of the Bill, all a landlord would have to do would be to make a frightful example of one of his tenants, and then the others would be obliged to accept any terms he liked to impose. As a body, Irish landlords were kind and generous; the fault lay not with them, but with the law which encouraged a bad and oppressive landlord to take advantage of it. The proposition he was now making did not emanate from an individual Member; it was the result of a joint consultation of landlords and tenants, and was attested by a document, now in the hands of the Government, and signed by 35 Irish Members, who, excluding Ulster, represented 17 of the other counties. They felt that under the Bill constant irritation, litigation, ill-will, and all uncharitableness might result; and they wished that landlords and tenants should be permitted to enter into private arrangements under the clauses he proposed, and so to bring the two classes into perfect harmony. They contended that the landlord had a right to expect from his tenant a fair rent for his land, and to require that the tenant should not be bound to divide, to sublet, or to waste the land; but so long as the tenant paid his rent and abstained from these things, they thought that he ought not to be evictable by law. They asked also that there should be some simple and inexpensive Court to act as arbitrator between them in case of any dispute arising, or their being unable to come to a mutual agreement as to terms. He knew it might be contended by right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench that his proposal, if carried, would amount to giving continuancy of occu- 50 pancy; but his answer was that, practically, no less than 361,158 out of 652,000 and odd holdings in Ireland were to have security of tenure given them by the provisions of the Bill as it stood. The fact, too, that so many persons representing property had signed the Memorial to which he had called the attention of the Committee, asking the House to make the arrangement which he was advocating, was a sufficient answer to the argument that it would interfere with the rights of property. It was not sought in any way to interfere with those rights. All that was required was, that the tenant should be permitted to live on in peace, and providing he was an improving tenant, and did not allow his holding to fall into a state of dilapidation, that he should be allowed to sell his interest in his farm without taking anything out of the pocket of the landlord. What evidence was there that this Bill had been accepted by the people of Ireland. ["Divide!"] He hoped hon. Gentlemen would take time to consult those Reports, and would also consider how many Petitions had been presented to Parliament in favour of the Bill as it now stood. ["Divide!"] He did not think that the question could be properly discussed on that occasion, and would therefore move that the Chairman should report Progress.
§ MR. W. H. GREGORY
said, that this proposition was of extreme importance, and had been approved by a large number of Irish Members. He had received many letters from Ireland asking him to support it; but it would be impossible to discuss it properly on the present occasion, as it was arranged that other business should be taken at a certain hour. Under these circumstances, he would recommend his hon. Friend (Sir John Gray) to embody his proposal in a separate clause, and bring it forward on some future day, when it might be discussed in all its details.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, that the hon. Gentleman (Sir John Gray), after saying that the Bill had not been accepted in Ireland, had spoken of Reports and Petitions which had been presented to the House. Interruptions occurred at this part of the hon. Gentleman's speech; but he thought that a Member of such weight and authority in Ireland ought to be allowed,to go on and show why the Bill had not been accepted.
said, it had been arranged that this should be a short discussion; but he saw no reason why it should be still further shortened. He suggested that his hon. Friend the Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) should finish his argument. ["No, no!"]
§ MR. BAGWELL
said, he would call attention to the fact that 35 Irish Members were in favour of the proposal, which was of great importance. He thought that, in justice to the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray), to the subject, and to the Government, the discussion ought to be postponed.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
said, he would adopt the suggestion which had been made to him, and finish that part of his argument which related to Petitions. There had been only one solitary Petition presented in favour of the Bill, and that Petition was signed by one individual. This discussion was so important, and so many hon. Gentlemen desired to take part in it, that he must press his Motion to report Progress.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.