HC Deb 25 January 1878 vol 237 cc491-507

Order for Second Reading read.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,


proceeded to move the second reading of the Bill, which, he said, had been so many times before the House that it was unnecessary for him to enter into any lengthened explanation of its provisions. The Bill was drawn entirely within the lines of the Act of 1870, and since its first introduction the principles which it contained had been admitted in more than one measure. The custom of tenant-right was one of very old standing. For two centuries and a-half the Ulster tenant-right had been existent in the North of Ireland, and its extension under the Act of 1870, though denounced at first as spoliation of the landlords, had been productive of the most satisfactory results. The tenants were able to lay out their capital without the fear of its being lost. The effect of that had been to increase rents, improve the value of land, and promote the welfare and happiness of the tenantry. He desired to extend to the whole of Ireland the security possessed by the tenant farmers of the North; and, having explained the sections of his Bill fully on previous occasions, he would not detain the House further, but would merely move that the Bill be read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Sharman Crawford.)


expressed himself at a loss to know how the success of the Bill of 1870 could furnish an argument in favour of the present Bill, the prin- ciple of which was altogether different. So far from proceeding on the principle that the Ulster tenant-right custom was to be admitted in cases where it was proved to exist, the Bill unsettled all that had been done by the Act of 1870. It proceeded upon the principle that it should be assumed, not that the general Ulster custom existed, but that the particular right defined in the Bill existed, unless the landlord could establish to the contrary. The Bill would establish an arbitrary and novel custom, altogether opposed to the interest of the landlord. It would tie the hands of the landlord; for while the existence of the custom was to be presumed, he would be wholly debarred from disproving the presumption.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,


said, another objection to the Bill was that it would enable a tenant, if he were about to be ejected or otherwise disturbed in his possession, or if he was desirous of quitting his holding, to sell his so-called right; and thus the landlord would have thrust upon him tenants not of his own choosing and whom he might consider very undesirable. It was true that the tenant to whom the holding was sold must be one to whom the landlord could not reasonably object; but why was he to be placed in a position not only of objecting to a tenant, but of supporting his objection as a reasonable one before some tribunal? It was true that in different parts of England assignments of leases might be freely made, but in most cases of agricultural holdings there was complete restriction in that respect placed upon the tenant. To impose restrictions unnecessarily upon freedom of contract was, in the highest degree, unphilosophical, and opposed to the first principles of political economy. The Bill as it stood presented features of a novel character in an attempt at legislation. A Bill similar to this was rejected two years ago by a decisive majority, and he hoped this one embodying as it did a principle, which, if carried out, involved a policy of confiscation and general interference with freedom of contract, and which would set an evil precedent, would also be rejected by a large majority. He moved that the Bill be read a second time on that day six months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Alfred Marten.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


said, he thought that the Bill had hardly had the attention it deserved from the Members of Parliament for Ireland. They had had two attempts at a count-out, and he only saw three hon. Members from the North of Ireland take part in the effort to avert this premature termination of the discussion. Was there anything of a confiscating or revolutionary policy in the Bill? He thought not. Its first object was to set up and confirm the Ulster custom. That custom was not a legal custom before the Land Act of Mr. Gladstone, and one of the leading objects of that Act was to give it a legal status. But when that Act was discussed in the Courts of Law in Ireland, it was hold that the words of the Act did not give the custom the validity intended by its framers, and the first object of the Bill was to cure the defect, and. to carry out the intention of the Act of 1870. Its object was therefore by no means so alarming as it had seemed to the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge (Mr. Marten). The arguments of the hon. and learned Member on this point were indeed inconsistent, for while in one breath he had described the custom as one easy of proof, in another he had spoken of it as so vague as not to be the basis of legal right. If there were, as he believed there were, estates on which tenant-right had never existed, it would be easy for a landlord to prove this. No injustice would, therefore, be done him by this Bill. The second part of the measure related to the valuation of the land for rent as between landlord and tenant. Well, that principle was recognized by the Land Act, which provided that if a landlord desired to turn out his tenant the tenant should receive compensation for his holding, a Court of Law determining on the fairness of the rent. That was intended to check capricious eviction, and if it had failed to produce that effect, the Legislature ought to make better provision. The hon. and learned Member seemed to hope that they would that night hear the last of this Bill. But he could assure him that in that respect his expectations would be disappointed. The tenants of the North of Ireland would never fail to receive the assistance of hon. Members from the South of Ireland in maintaining the excellent institution of tenant-right. He hoped the House would recognize the justice of the moderate demand of the hon. Member for Down (Mr. Crawford) and give the Bill a second reading.


observed that while liberty of assignment might be of great use, if not carried too far, the present Bill was far from fair as between landlord and tenant. Totally irrespective of the rights of the landlord, a tenant was to be empowered to offer for sale his interest in the tenancy to anyone he chose; and this was nothing less than confiscation of the property of the so-called landlord, to whom it was no protection that he could offer a "reasonable objection," the nature of which was undefined. The Bill was an attempt to take away from the landlord the last remnant of right that had been left to him. It was an interference with freedom of contract between man and man, which had worked so well for our grandfathers, who were surely not all fools, and its operation would do much to diminish friendly feeling between landlords and tenants whose relations were satisfactorily defined by written agreements, and produce a state of things which at the present moment could hardly be foreseen to its full extent.


said, he supported the second reading of the Bill, which, as a settlement of the question of tenant-right, was looked forward to with great interest in Ulster. The prosperity of Ulster depended very much upon the matter being satisfactorily settled. He supposed no Irish Member could be found courageous enough to move the rejection of the Bill, and therefore the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge (Mr. Marten) had been selected to do so. This, together with the two attempts that had been made to count out the House, spoke volumes in favour of the Bill. It was fair and moderate what was asked, that the burden of proof should rest upon the landlord, and not be left to the tenant to prove that the custom of tenant-right existed or not. As to leaseholds, tenants were now in a worse position than they were prior to the Act of 1870; for, owing to that Act being so ill-defined, some Judges gave decision in one way and some in another. Then, as to free sale, the Act of 1870 admitted that the tenant had a right in his property. If so, why should he not get full value for his property in whatever way he wished to sell it? The result of "office rules" and restrictions were that a poor farm on which no money had been expended would bring an equal price with that upon which a large amount had been expended. He knew farms in Ulster valued at £20 to £30 an acre owing to the tenants improvements; but if the tenant wished to sell he would only obtain £10 an acre, and in many cases only £5. If the farmers were to invest their money in land instead of putting it in savings banks as they did at present, there must be some improvement in the land laws of Ulster; for they knew that if they now invested their money in land there was an increase of rent upon their own improvements. There was not a single Conservative Member from Ulster but knew the importance of tenant-right, and that it was a question of absorbing interest. The hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse) observed that the tenants wanted to sell the rights of the landlord. The farmers of Ulster had no anxiety to interfere with the rights of the landlord. They wished to be able to sell their own rights. The improvements upon property and farms in Ulster were not effected by the landlords. They did not spend 1s. upon their properties. At the Election of 1874 every Ulster Member knew it was the chief question that was debated. In the addresses of every Ulster Member the question of tenant-right was put first, and some of the Members who sit on that side of the House were so anxious to make their position secure that they issued a second address. But where were the Ulster Members to-night? Not one of them was present to fulfil their pledges of 1874 except the hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. Macartney); but the time was coming when they would be called to account for their unredeemed pledges. He believed that at the next General Election the tenant farmers would show their appreciation of their conduct in having now upon a question of great importance deserted them and their interests.


thought it was only fair that the onus of proof as to the nonexistence of the custom of tenant-right should be thrown on the landlord. The question whether tenant-right subsisted during a lease or was destroyed by it would be settled by this Bill. The presumption of law was that the lease extinguished tenant-right. Many tenants when asked by some sharp landlord's agent whether they would not like a lease, never dreamt that by taking it they gave up their tenant-right, and his hon. Friend proposed that the mere existence of a lease should not be legal evidence that the tenant-right had been given up. The Bill also provided that if there was any particular limitation on the right of the tenant to sell his tenant-right, the burden of proof should fall upon the landlord. That was equitable, while the provision which required that for the future no contract should sweep away the tenant-right, unless such contract was in writing, was only an extension of the Statute of Frauds. With respect to compensation for improvements, the Bill dealt with the practical working of the Act of 1870. The intention of that Act was perfectly plain—that the tenant should be entitled to compensation for improvements, and that that right could only be abolished under certain conditions. But on this point legal quibbles had been raised, and any change in the tenure and any change in the rent, even from pounds to guineas, was held to deprive the right of the tenant to compensation. This Bill provided that no such quibbles should deprive the tenant of his right; and, believing it was an honest attempt to carry out the intention of the Act of 1870, he should cordially support it, and he hoped it would meet with the approval of the House.


trusted that the Bill would be read a second time. He regretted that some additions had been made to the provisions of the measure of 1874 and 1875, as those additions might make the second reading more difficult; but he held that the main provisions of this Bill, which were those which the tenants in Ulster were most anxious to obtain, might be accepted without sacrificing the just rights of the landlord. Those main provisions he took to be the obtaining of tenant-right at the expiration of a lease, the power to sell the tenant-right at the fair market value, and, in cases of dispute as to tenant-right, the throwing of the burden of proof on the landlord. He thought it would be wise to read the Bill a second time, and that the passing of the measure would produce increased contentment and loyalty throughout Ireland. If there were any objections to the Bill, they might be brought forward in Committee, when it could be amended.


said, that if the Government opposed this Bill, they would find that some of their most ardent supporters would vote against them. He understood, for instance, that the hon. Member who had last spoken had been elected as a champion of tenant-right in its fullest sense. The hon. Members for Ulster were in favour of tenant-right there, and he supposed that when the same hon. Members came to vote for similar rights in the South and South-west of Ireland, they would be in favour of giving the tenants there the tenant-right of Ulster. That custom in Ulster meant that the tenant had rights as assured as those of the landlord; but the question could not be dealt with properly from a purely English point of view. It was necessary to remember that when James I. formed the Plantation of Ulster he stipulated for perpetuity of tenure for the tenants, and in the North of Ireland for many years there were very few cases of hardship, the sturdy Ulsterman being, better able to defend himself than the simpler and more pliable Celt, and tenant-right was never interfered with; but the Land Act of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) gave to an unscrupulous landlord an unsuspected power of getting out of his obligations. Hence the necessity for this Bill. The hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) had wished to introduce the Ulster custom into parts of the country where it had not previously existed; but he had found it impossible to engraft an old practice on new circumstances—a failure which was, however, no reason for not reverting to the old law that a tenant should remain undisturbed so long as he paid rent and submitted from time to time to a reasonable increase of it. He trusted that the measure now before the House would become law—as of a Land Bill especially it might be said, vires acquirit eundo. The constant discussion of the land laws was leading people to think that everybody had a right to the land, and they were beginning to adopt the philosophers' view—at any rate of the type of John Stuart Mill. If reasonable demands, such as the Bill contained, were not conceded, wild views would take root, and do much mischief, and the longer a reform was postponed the more unpalatable it would ultimately become.


opposed the Bill as an old enemy, the object of which was to hand over to the tenant rights which he had never possessed, and which had not been known in the South of Ireland. He did not like the Bill when first he saw it, and he liked it no more now. He objected to the measure, because he believed it held out a direct premium to tenants to raise disputes with their landlords. The only clause of the Bill which he could cordially support was that which provided that it should extend to no other country.


said, that although he was perfectly unpledged with regard to this Bill, he should vote for the second reading, because he regarded its two leading provisions as reasonable—? namely, that which shifted the onus of proof from the tenant to the landlord, and that which did away with the rule, acted upon by some Judges, that at the termination of his lease the tenant should not have the advantage of the same Ulster custom as he would if he held only from year to year. The main provisions of the Bill were requisite, and their enactment would put an end to a great deal of ill-feeling in Ireland. Its provisions would not violate any rule or principle of justice, and because he believed it to be the wish of every landlord -and tenant in the North of Ireland to settle the question at issue on these principles he should support the Bill.


thought it unfortunate that so few of those hon. Members for Ulster counties were now present who, from their own personal experience, could have supplied to their Friends on the opposite benches much of the information that seemed to be so sadly wanted Several objections had been stated which could not possibly have been raised by hon. Members acquainted with the subject, because they were founded on an entire misapprehension as to the nature of the Ulster tenant-right custom that had been legalized by the Land Act. For example, the effect of the most important clause in the Bill now before the House—namely, the second — had been entirely misunderstood by both his hon. and learned Friends opposite. The enactment of that clause would not extend or alter in the very least the right which an Ulster tenant had this moment, wherever the custom existed, even in its most restricted form. The landlord could not now raise the rent as much as he pleased, nor object to a purchaser of the tenant's interest, without showing reasonable grounds for doing so. The reason was obvious. If he could increase the rent ad libitum, or object to any and every purchaser, he might thus destroy those rights which had been brought within the protection of the law, and which were entitled to that protection just as much as his own. Too much had been made of the varieties of form which this Ulster custom assumed on different estates. Whatever might be the regulations of rent-offices as to the sale, they all agreed in this—indeed, such regulations implied it—that there was a right of sale in the occupying tenant. Now, the principle of the Bill before the House was simply this—that, as the Land Act had declared that the tenant-right custom, that is to say the qualified right of sale already described, was prevalent throughout the Province of Ulster, and as it was notorious that this declaration was in accordance with the fact, it should in every case be presumed that the holding was subject to the custom; but, of course, only prima facie, and until the contrary was proved. In other words, the Bill proposed to throw the burthen of proof, in accordance with common sense and common justice, on the man who denied rather than on the man who affirmed a custom, the prevalence of which had been recognized by law; to make the presumption in favour of what was general rather than what was exceptional; in favour of the weaker rather than the stronger party; and in favour of the tenant, who could not have that access to evidence which the landlord had. The hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt), in introducing his Land Tenure Bill two years ago, had stated, that if the landlords of Ireland had been actuated by a desire to carry out the intentions of the Legislature, as embodied in the Land Act, there would probably have been no necessity for him to propose that somewhat sweeping measure. He (Mr. Law) must say he feared there was solid ground for that complaint. "Difficulties have arisen," as this Bill recited, in carrying into effect the provisions of the Land Act for enforcing the Ulster tenant-right custom. Much of the difficulty was attributable to the feeling which now appeared unhappily to actuate some landlords and induced them, when any land claims were made, to put their tenants at arm's length, obliging them to prove everything, no matter how notorious; whilst they, assisted by ingenious lawyers, took advantage of all the impediments thus placed in the tenants' way. For his own part, he sincerely desired to see the best possible feeling between landlords and tenants. He thought, however, that the landlords, speaking generally, had displayed much less than their usual prudence in not frankly accepting the Act as it was, and abstaining from all attempts to obstruct any of its provisions. Of late the Chairmen or Judges of the Land Courts had spoken of the altered demeanour of landlords and their agents since 1870. For example, the Chairman of one Ulster county had publicly stated that when he first presided there, he was constantly told that the tenant-right practically settled all controversies; so that if he observed upon the number of ejectments, the answer was sure to be—" Oh, you must not be startled by that, we arrange everything here by means of the tenant-right; "whereas now since 1870 he had found the very existence of tenant-right as constantly denied, and the tenants put to proof of the custom that was before not only admitted, but put forward by those representing the landlords as the excuse and explanation of everything. Again, the Chairman of another Ulster county, giving judgment lately in a land case, had said that, whilst from the large estates and old proprietors, he had not had much difficulty placed in his way, assistance being given him by the production of the office books and otherwise; yet, to quote his words—" In the case of recent purchases, and with new proprietors, particularly of small estates, I almost invariably find efforts made to baffle and render nugatory the Land Act of 1870." Considering, then, the exist- once of this state of things, and the increasing difficulties arising from the breaking-up of largo estates by sale and from the lapse of time, he (Mr. Law) thought this proposal of his hon. Friend was perfectly just and reasonable. With respect to the clause dealing with leasehold tenant-right, the propriety of that had been so often admitted—-even by hon. Members opposite—that he should say nothing more than this, that it seemed hardly fair to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Marten) to put him forward to move the rejection of the Bill without giving him some more accurate information on that and other parts of the measure. There was, however, a clause which required more particular notice—namely, the proposed abolition of "office rules," as they were called, purporting to prescribe the price of tenant-right or otherwise regulating the sale. He (Mr. Law) had before contended, and must still contend, that such restrictions were as indefensible in principle as they had always been notoriously disregarded in practice, and should therefore be declared inoperative. The Legislature had in effect provided that the Ulster tenant's interest in his holding should be regarded as a legal interest, and that interest was chiefly a right of sale. It must, then, be obvious that arbitrary restrictions of the price to a sum far less than the real value of the thing to be sold, must be unjust as well as futile. Accordingly, even before 1870, however the landlord or agent of an estate on which these office rules had been imposed might affect to ignore the fact, they as well as everybody else knew that on every sale the full price was paid; the only difference being that, instead of the whole of it passing through the office, only the "regulation" price was so paid, the rest being paid elsewhere. So much, indeed, was this recognized, that if the landlord of one of these "regulation" estates himself took up a holding from the tenant, he paid the fair market price of the tenant right, or was regarded as having acted unfairly and in violation of the custom. Would hon. Members allow him (Mr. Law) to illustrate this by an analogous case with which they were all familiar? They would recollect that a great many years ago "regulation prices" were fixed by the proper authorities for commissions in the Army. It was, on the one hand, made a criminal offence for any officer to give or take more than the sum prescribed by the War Office; and, on the other hand, it was required that the officer selling, and the officer buying, and their commanding officer also, should all make declarations "on their honour" that this sum had not been exceeded. Well we knew he w far these statutory and official attempts were successful. Notwithstanding the formidable checks referred to, the full competition price or value of the commission was in fact paid. The military authorities affected to ignore the practice just as these "regulation" landlords or agents in Ulster affected to ignore what was notorious to all the world; and the end of the matter was, that when the sale of commissions was wholly abolished, and Parliament came to determine what compensation should be given to existing officers who had themselves purchased, that compensation was based not on the restricted or regulation price of the War Office, but on the full market price that had been paid, though such payment had been in fact illegal and even criminal according to the law of the land. He (Mr. Law) submitted that the Ulster tenants were at least equally well entitled to have these futile restrictions on the price of their interests declared to be invalid. Again, with respect to the attempts to prevent sale of the tenant-right by auction, it had been strongly urged, and with great show of reason, that this was, generally speaking, useless, as it no doubt was irritating, where such regulation was attempted. It, of course, hampered and impeded the tenant in his efforts to get the full market price for his interest; but he often, as it seemed, managed to get it in the end, though after much needless delay and needless trouble. In such cases—as he (Mr. Law) had been informed—the matter was arranged by leaving a sheet of paper or a book open on a desk for a week or a month if necessary, in which anyone who desired to bid wrote down his name, and the amount he would give, calling in, of course, frequently to see if his offer had been exceeded, and, if so, increasing it accordingly. The result, then, was said to be that in the end the farm was sold, whilst the landlord got nothing by his interference, beyond the certainty that he had vexed, and annoyed his tenants. But, however this might be, he (Mr. Law) could not for a moment admit that the proposal to let the tenant sell by auction if he liked, furnished any sufficient ground for the total rejection of the Bill. There was now but one other provision on which he wished to say a word. It was the clause to facilitate the ascertainment of a fair rent, when that alone was in controversy between the parties. Whether it was tenant-right as in Ulster, or the right to be paid for improvements there or elsewhere, it was plain that this interest vested by law in the tenant ought to be protected against encroachment on the occasion of any revision of the rent. All were agreed on that. Now, in almost every case in which the landlord served a notice to quit, it was only for the purpose of getting the tenant to agree to an increase of the rent. Accordingly, the notice to quit was accompanied by another notice explaining its real object, and thus the parties were at issue. But suppose that they honestly differed as to what the new rent should be, the end of it now was that they came before the Chairman of the county—the landlord with his ejectment, and the tenant with his land claim. Sometimes the controversy was then settled at the last moment either between themselves or by a reference to arbitration; but otherwise the case must go on in the ordinary way, and the landlord be obliged to evict a tenant he did not want to evict, and besides that probably have to pay a substantial amount of compensation, which the tenant would gladly have foregone if he could only have remained on in his farm at a fair rent. For the Chairman had now no jurisdiction to determine this, the only real controversy between the parties. And yet, strange to say, though he could not determine it for them, he must determine it for himself before he could decide whether the tenant was entitled to compensation; for this, in the case supposed, depended on whether the rent demanded by the landlord was a "fair rent" or not. The provision, then, of this Bill, which he (Mr. Law) was now considering, sought the enable the parties, if they so desired, to submit this question of rent directly to the Chairman for his decision. It would interfere in no way with the landlord's power of serving notice to quit, and putting out the tenant if he liked; but would save him from the disagreeable necessity of being obliged to proceed as if for eviction when he did not desire it. He (Mr. Law) would not further try the patience of hon. Members, but content himself with saying he considered the main objects of the measure good, and for that reason should give it his support; whilst he hoped that the Conservative Ulster Members, if they appeared at all, would vote for and not as before against the Bill.


expressed his intention of supporting the Bill; but was afraid it would fail to do as much good as those who wished to see it pass anticipated. A bad landlord, after it passed, would still have the power of being a bad landlord. He suggested that the Bill should contain a definition of the Ulster tenant-right, which should be legalized throughout the whole of Ireland. He would recommend the Government to accept the principle of the measure, and then amend it in Committee.


said, he hoped the House would not consent to the second reading. When the Irish Land Act of 1870 was brought in, it was understood that that Act would for some years to come settle the question with which it dealt. Under this Bill all the relations between landlord and tenant would be so upset that, in all probability, the conditions between the landlord and tenant in England would be also unsettled. He regretted, therefore, that so important a question as that should now have been raised, and he was sorry also that so few English Members on his own side should be found here to express their opinions upon the matter. Considering how much attention Parliament had given to the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland so recently as the year 1870, he thought they ought not to venture so soon afterwards to disturb a question which they had understood had been set at rest for some considerable time.


supported the Bill, remarking that many of the best class of tenants who had a legal interest in their farms had lost their tenant-right by their inability to prove that right; and he thought it was the duty of that House to amend the Land Act of 1870, which, although it was one of the greatest benefits ever conferred upon Ireland, did not go far enough in placing safeguards against an undue rising of the rent by the landlord. It ought to be made the legal presumption that in all the farms of Ulster that tenant-right existed which was known to exist in nearly every case. To accomplish that object was one of the chief objects of this Bill. He trusted that all hon. Members from the North of Ireland, whether Conservative or Liberal, would vote for the Bill.


said, he thought the Bill embodied a principle of immense advantage to the tenant farmers of Ulster, and therefore he should cordially support the second reading.


said, it was thought when the Land Act of 1870 was passed, that some kind of finality had been arrived at, but now the question at issue was again re-opened. For his own part, he deprecated an annual disturbance of the arrangement then come to. It was acknowledged that in the main the landlords were willing to treat their tenants well; but if they wished to grant some advantage to their tenants they were discouraged from doing so by the prospect of fresh laws relating to land. It was, therefore, highly desirable to get rid of the irritation produced by incessant new legislation. He was glad to hear, on legal authority, that the present Bill did not deal with anything out of Ulster.


said, he could not help thinking that some of the arguments which had been urged in favour of the Bill were of a very peculiar character, and especially that of the hon. Member for Cavan; who, although he did not regard the measure as a good one, urged hon. Members to vote for it, because it would take the wind out of the sails of hon. Gentlemen of the Whig persuasion. For his own part, he did not mean to say that there was not in the Bill some things which he approved, and others which he thought might be discussed; but then there was in it so many clauses so much open, in his opinion, to objection, that he thought he would be wrong in advising the House to assent to the second reading. The present, he might add, was the fourth Session in which it had been discussed, and in 1875 it had been thrown out in a full House of 450 Members by a majority of two to one, and the Leader of the Opposition, who on that occasion voted for it, pointed out that there were considerable objections to three of the six clauses, of which it then consisted, and those objections were applicable as it now stood. The usages that made up the Ulster right were various and diverse, so much so that he believed there was not a single hon. Member for Ulster in the House who would say that there were not 100 or even 200 different usages in Ulster, and it seemed to him a strange proposal to make, that a part of the country subject to no usage whatever should be assumed to be subject to the strongest of all usages which prevailed anywhere, and that the landlord should be under the necessity of proving the contrary. Again, it was a very startling proposition to lay down, that the tenant should not only have the power of selling his holding, but of selling it by auction practically independently of the landlord. Could there be anything more repugnant to the very essence of Ulster tenant-right, one of the conditions of which was that the landlord should have a substantial power of selecting or approving a tenant? As to the limitation of price, it seemed to him' not very unreasonable that a landlord, desiring to have solvent tenants, should be able to say that he would only take tenants who would not give more than three, or five, or six years' purchase, as it might be. There was a clause in the Bill for giving additional facilities to tenants for the purchase of their holdings. The present was obviously an inconvenient time for the discussion of that proposal after the re-appointment of a Committee yesterday, which would have the subject under their consideration. When that Committee had reported, he had no doubt the House would deal satisfactorily with their recommendations. The Bill would, moreover, hamper and destroy the operation of that kindly feeling which existed in many cases between the landlord and the tenant. He had no intention of going into details, but nearly every speaker-had called attention to the 3rd clause of the Bill. He was not prepared to say that the subject of leasehold tenant-right did not deserve most favourable consideration. There was a Bill dealing separately with it, and when that' Bill came before the House, hon. Members would have a clear and satisfactory opportunity of giving expression to their wishes on that branch of the law, free from the objections to which the present measure was subject. While he admitted that there were portions of the Bill to which he could not object and others which might fairly be discussed, he could not advise the House to give it a second reading.


in reply, stated that the auctions to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman so strongly objected had been repeatedly carried out in the North of Ireland, and that no evil results had attended the practice.

Question put.

The House divided: —Ayes 66; Noes 85: Majority 19.—(Div. List, No. 4.)

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Second Reading put off for six months.