§ Further Proceeding on Consideration, as amended, resumed.
§ Clause 4 (Incidents of tenancy subject to statutory conditions).
§ On Motion of MT. ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND, Amendment made, in page 5, line 28, by leaving out "such," and after "right," insert "conferred by this subsection."
§ Amendment proposed, in page 5, line 29, to leave out sub-section (6).—(Mr. Healy.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1930
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
moved, in sub-section 6, to omit the words "without the consent of the landlord." He said that during the discussion of the clause in Committee the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Givan) described the public-houses in many of the rural districts of Ireland as being centres of drunkenness and ruin; and as the object of the Bill was to attempt to make some improvement in the wretched condition of large numbers of the people, he did not think that the opening of new public-houses should be under the control of the landlord. If public-houses were good, they ought not to be prohibited; if they were bad, their establishment ought not to be dependent upon such a contingency.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 5, line 29, to leave out the words "without the consent of his landlord."—(Sir Wilfrid Lawson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. WARTON
said, he wished to remind the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) that the point under consideration did not involve the question of so-called temperance at all, but of the landlord's rights; and he did not think the occasion was one on which the eccentric ideas entertained on the subject by the hon. Member for Carlisle had any connection with the matter under discussion. The hon. Baronet had no right to assume that on the Opposition side of the House his opinions on the subject were in any degree shared. He (Mr. Warton) should support the sub-section as it stood.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
said, he could not accept the Amendment, which had no value at all in the direction aimed at by the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson).
§ MR. BIGGAR
dissented from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland. He should support the hon. Baronet if he proceeded to a division.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. CAINE
said, that though he generally supported his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) he could not do so on this occasion. He would have had great pleasure in supporting a prohibitory Liquor Bill for Ire- 1931 land, if the hon. Baronet had brought it forward; but he objected to dealing with the liquor traffic under the guise of a Land Bill, and he would advise his hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment.
opposed the Amendment, observing that it was a monstrous attempt to turn the Land Bill into a Liquor Bill.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 5, line 36, to leave out the words "holding or of the estate."ߞ(Mr. Biggar.)
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
moved the insertion of a provision in the clause, in order to include among the reasonable purposes permitting resumption of the holding, the making of grants or leases of sites for churches or other places of religious worship, schools, dispensaries, or clergymen and schoolmasters' residences.
In page 5, line 37, after the word "allotments," to insert the words "or for the purpose of making gratuitously, or for a nominal consideration, grants or leases of sites for churches or other places of religious worship, schools, or schoolmasters' residences."—(Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. WARTON
expressed a hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland would include in his Amendment the words "churches, hospitals, and schools," in fulfilment of the pledge given by the Premier in reply to the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) on the 2nd of July last. He (Mr. Warton) made at the time a note of the promise in the following terms:—"W. E. G.'s promise to Gorst. Schools, churches, and hospitals."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
said, in that case, he would propose that the Amendment should run thus:—Or for the purpose of making grants or leases of sites for churches or other places of religious worship, schools, dispensaries, or clergymen's or schoolmasters' residences.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
commented on the additions to the original proposal, 1932 and on their acceptance by the Government. He thought it would be better to leave such matters to the discretion of the Court.
thought the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) always associated dispensaries with the Poor Law system. It was to be hoped, however, that self-supporting dispensaries might be established in Ireland, and might prosper. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman meant to include in his Amendment every kind of philanthropic purpose, the provision for dispensaries ought not to be omitted.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
On Motion of Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND, Amendment made in page 5, line 37, after the word "allotments," by inserting the words—
Or for the purpose of making grants or leases of sites for churches or other places of religious worship, schools, dispensaries, or clergymen's or schoolmasters' residences;
and, in line 41, leave out "as being," and insert "holding."
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 5 (Repeal of part of s. 3 of Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, and enactment of new scale).
§ On Motion of Mr. WARTON, Amendment made, in page 6, line 32, by leaving out "one hundred pounds or upwards," and inserting "above one hundred pounds"; and in page 7, line 3, by leaving out "highest," and inserting "higher."
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
moved the insertion of the following words:—A flax scutching mill shall not he deemed unsuitable to the holding on which it is erected by reason only that it is available for the purposes beyond those of the holding on which it is situate.The Amendment had been introduced to meet cases in the North of Ireland where small scutching mills had been erected, in which work was often done for other holdings also.
In page 7, line 27, to insert as a separate paragraph the words:—"A flax scutching mill shall not he deemed to be unsuitable to the holding on which it is erected by reason only that it is available for purposes beyond those of the holding on which it is situate."—(Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MAJOR NOLAN
thought the Amendment ought to be made available for mills in general, otherwise the Amendment would practically only apply to Ulster.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, this was a very serious Amendment, on principle, as it was, in effect, an attempt to go behind and extend the definition of improvement in the Land Act of 1870. The definition then given was, that an improvement was anything which increased the letting value of the holding and was suitable to such holding. But under the terms of the Amendment now proposed a very substantial injustice might possibly be inflicted, for a landlord might be called upon to pay heavy compensation for an utterly unsuitable improvement. The landlord of five acres might be made to pay compensation in respect of a mill large enough to supply the wants of a whole barony or a holding of 1,000 acres. The mill might have been a failure, and the landlord, on resuming possession, might be called upon to recoup to a tenant the losses arising from an unsuccessful commercial speculation. He failed to perceive the equity of the proposal, and thought some few further words ought to be introduced into the Amendment directing the Court to exclude from their consideration any claims made against landlords for extravagant sums expended on machinery in scutching mills. There could be no harm in allowing the tenant to erect a mill at his own expense and handing it over to his successor; but it would not be reasonable or fair to make a landlord who had taken no part in the transaction bear the expense of improvements which might be entirely unsuited to the dimensions of the tenant's holding. The Amendment should, if it were possible, be confined to small scutching mills, or else to those in the Province of Ulster.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir FARRER HERSCHELL)
submitted that, as 1934 the clause was framed, there was no danger in it at all, and that there was no ground for the apprehensions of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Gibson). A tenant who could not prove that his improvements were suitable to his holding would be excluded from participating in the benefits conferred by the section of the Bill at present under consideration. As to the suggestion that the operation of the provision should be confined to Ulster, it was true that the number of scutching mills outside Ulster was infinitesimal; but if it was just to introduce this Amendment into the Bill in reference to Ulster, surely it must also be just to extend its application to other parts of Ireland.
§ MR. TOTTENHAM
said, it was amusing to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman on the Treasury Bench talking about a thing which, it was quite evident, he knew nothing about. There was not, he (Mr. Tottenham) believed, a single holding in Ireland so large that a scutching mill could be suitable to it alone. Every mill of the kind was erected for the use of more holdings than one, and was therefore put up for purposes of profit. If the Amendment were carried it would be quite possible for the tenant of a small quantity of laud to erect one of these mills as a speculation, and, if the flax trade should be unprosperous, to leave the holding and make his landlord pay for his unprofitable speculation.
§ MR. GIVAN
observed, in answer to the hon. Member (Mr. Tottenham), that there were 1,100 scutching mills. He was of opinion that the Amendment ought to be agreed to, so that small farmers might be encouraged to erect mills on their holdings. If the contrary view should prevail, the flax trade in Ulster would inevitably deteriorate. He cordially supported the Amendment, and deprecated so much discussion on so small a point.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he could not agree to the suggestion of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Stanley). The flax industry had already spread beyond Ulster, and if encouraged it might spread to a still greater extent. It would be a hardship to those small farmers who had put up 1935 small flax scutching mills for their own benefit, if, because their neighbours got the use of them, it was to be deemed unsuitable.
§ SIR HERVEY BRUCE
said, it would be equally unfair to allow a farmer on a very small holding to erect a scutching mill and to give him, the right of calling upon the landlord to pay for its erection. A tenant of his own had erected a mill of this kind, and, finding it unprofitable, had applied to him to take it off his hands.
§ MR. SHAW
hoped the right conferred by the Amendment would not be confined to tenants in Ulster. In the South and West of the County of Cork flax was largely grown, and it was also grown in other parts of Ireland. He supported the Amendment, for he held that it was the duty of the Legislature to encourage that industry.
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, that it would be unjust to make the landlord pay compensation to the tenant for a flax mill which was principally valuable for purposes beyond those of the holding. He thought it was only reasonable that a landlord should decline to pay the cost of an enterprize which was simply designed for the benefit of people with whom he might have no connection.
§ MR. MACFARLANE
said, that, on the same principle, he could not help thinking it would be equally unjust to prevent a tenant from working a neighbour's flax mill.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
urged the Government, before accepting Amendments, to look at their effect over the whole of Ireland, instead of in particular localities. He opposed the Amendment as it stood, on the ground that if an exception to the clause were made in favour of the scutch mills, exceptions should also be made in favour of flour mills and saw mills. A scutch mill was as much a manufactory as a flour mill, and if the Amendment was introduced at all, it should not be made locally applicable to Ulster, but extended to the tuck mills in the West of Ireland.
§ VISCOUNT FOLKESTONE
inquired whether the Amendment was in Order, seeing that a few nights ago an Amendment relating to highways was ruled to be out of Order by the Chairman of Committees.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, he would remind the noble Viscount that the powers 1936 of the House in regard to Amendments were much greater than those of the Committee. It was in the power of the House to deal with the present Amendment as it thought fit.
§ MR. DAWSON
hoped the Amendment would be accepted, and that a similar provision would be made for the growing woollen trade of Ireland.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 182; Noes 99: Majority 83.—(Div. List, No. 335.)
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 7 (Determination by Court of rent of present tenancies).
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
moved, in page 7, line 30, after the word "tenancy," to insert the words—In a holding rated under the Acts relating to the valuation of property in Ireland at less than one hundred pounds, and.The noble Lord said, the object of the Amendment was to exclude from the operation of the clause which dealt with judicial rents all tenancies of more than £100 annual value. He did not think it would be possible to show that the Amendment was contrary to the spirit of the Act. If it were, he, for one, would never have proposed it. Nothing could be a greater mistake than to appear to give to the tenants with one hand what was taken away with the other. But there were only 13,000 tenants out of a total of more than 600,000 to whom the Amendment would apply, and besides that, these tenants would not, by the Amendment, be deprived of the right of free sale given in Clause 1. He simply moved it as a question of principle. He wished to point out that his Amendment was not identical, by any means, with the Amendment of the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage). It would be in the recollection of the House that, at a later stage of the Bill, the Government adopted a very important Amendment with regard to leases. They adopted an Amendment under which the tenants of all leases, irrespective of their duration, irrespective of all value of the holding, at the expiration of the lease would become, not future tenants, but present tenants. It was not his wish to enter into any details of the discussion of that question; but the House could not fail to see how very important a point it 1937 was, and it justified him in bringing forward this Amendment, because those leaseholders who were mainly affected by the Amendment adopted at a late stage by the Government were not altogether, without exception, that very large class who were aimed at by his Amendment. It seemed to him an extreme thing to say that a man of large capital who had gone over to Ireland only yesterday from England or Scotland for the purpose of speculating in agriculture should, at the expiration of that term which he, as a pure matter of contract, entered into, be treated exactly in the same manner as some poor cottier tenant in Galway or in Mayo, who, for generations previously, had lived on the soil, had tilled the soil, had built upon it accommodation, whether good or bad, had made whatever improvements were on the soil, and who was the representative of former generations of occupants. If he were asked to describe the Bill in a word, he should say, on the whole, this was a Bill for better or for worse, whether they liked it or not, which established a rude sort of copy-hold tenure in Ireland. Call it fixity of tenure, call it continuity of tenure, call it continuity of occupation, call it durability of tenure, call it whatever they liked, there was no doubt whatever that this Bill in its principles resembled that tenure with which they were familiar as copyhold. He was prepared, so far as it affected small tenants in Ireland, not only to accept the Bill, but to accept it willingly. And he meant to say, further, upon this question, he was not a convert of yesterday. But he had always contended that, with regard to large tenants above a certain amount, be it £50, £100, or £150, they ought to draw a broad distinction between them and small tenants. Small tenants were creatures of custom which the law had not hitherto recognized, but which ought to have been recognized; but large tenants were not creatures of custom, but creatures of contract; and any legislation which was to be durable should proceed, not upon arbitrary lines, but upon a recognition of facts. He believed that he was right in saying that when the late Mr. Butt first occupied himself in drawing up a Land Bill, he himself recognized this distinction by introducing an exception similar to the one which he (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) was now 1938 about to bring before the House. It was not on the legal knowledge, or on the acumen and ability of the late Mr. Butt, that he relied alone to found arguments for his Amendment. As he had stated, he founded them upon the merits of the case. The Land Act of 1870 and this Bill itself were full of distinctions. In the clause relating to arrears they would find this distinction between small tenants and large tenants recognized. Benefits were confined to tenants below £30. Why? Because, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, tenants below £30 were a small and helpless class. He might remind the House that in the Compensation for Disturbance Bill of last year, in the same way a limit of value was recognized. But, above all, there was on record the 3rd section of the Act of 1870. There was the provision relating to tenants above £100, with regard to compensation for disturbance, which was the prototype of his own Amendment And not only was that clause upon record, and in the hands of hon. Members, but they had speeches upon record of the then Chief Secretary for Ireland and the then Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Serjeant Dowse). He believed that there never had been two persons in Parliament with better knowledge of Ireland and more intimate acquaintance with the Land Question in all its various phases than Lord Carlingford and that learned Gentleman. When Lord Carlingford used the words he (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) was going to quote he was Mr. Chichester Fortescue. He said, with regard to tenants of above the line of £100 value, that—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 so far as those tenants were concerned."—[3 Hansard, cci. 40.]The then Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Dowse), rising in his place to make a reply, said—They (the Government) 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."—[Ibid., 42.]If those words were good then, they were good now. What had happened in Ireland since 1870 to make that class 1939 of tenants who were then so independent and so free, and even more able to take care of themselves than their landlords were, to reduce them to the same helpless and miserable position which was occupied by those small holders whose misfortune appealed to the hearts of everyone? The plain truth was that those men were not less independent, but more independent. Many of them had taken a very prominent part in recent agitation; he was convinced that many of them, being acute and calculating, had seen in the agitation which had been in no manner occasioned or justified by their misfortunes a good opportunity of benefiting themselves. And although it was, perhaps, perfectly natural and fair for them to do so, yet the House had to look at that matter from the point of view of sound legislation, and to ask itself whether, considering that the whole of that Bill was by the confession of the Government exceptional legislation, it was desirable to make the field of that exceptional legislation one inch broader than was absolutely necessary? He (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) had said that, in regard to the small tenants, he willingly accepted the Bill as being necessary owing to the exceptional circumstances of Ireland. But he did not believe, and he challenged anyone to show, that the arguments which applied to these small and unfortunate tenants could by any power of human wit be tortured into arguments for bringing the large independent farmers, holding farms rated at £100, paying a rent equivalent to £120 or £130, and owning the capital which ex hypothesi they possessed—for without it they would not hold those farms—within the purview of that legislation. Why were they to treat grown up men as if they were helpless babes—to treat men who were perfectly able to look after their own interests as if they were unable to take care of themselves. It was because he believed they were quite capable of taking care of themselves, and that although this legislation was necessary, it was legislation which they should watch most carefully—it was because he believed that they lived in times when there was a tendency in both of the political Parties in the State to widen unduly the sphere of legislation, to imagine that there was no wrong or evil which could not be im- 1940 mediately redressed by legislation, to limit the field of contract, of Free Trade, and of all those great principles which had made the greatness of England—aye, and the greatness of the Liberal Party—it was because he believed those things that he had placed his Amendment on the Paper. It was because he believed that some of those hon. Gentlemen who sat in that part of the House (below the Ministerial Gangway), with whom he often had the pleasure of acting, were especially in danger of adopting those ideas which struck, in his judgment, at many of the main principles of the very Party to which they belonged, that he had unhesitatingly put that Amendment on the Paper, and that he invited support for it—he cared not from what quarter of the House—because he felt that the grounds on which it was based rose altogether above Party considerations, and were those which were consonant to, and coincident with, the soundest principles of legislation and political economy. The noble Lord concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
In page 7, line 30, after the word "tenancy," to insert the words "in a holding rated under the Acts relating to the valuation of property in Ireland at less than one hundred pounds and."—(Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. LALOR
, in opposing the Amendment, said, that the House ought to be careful whether, by its adoption, they would not be holding out to landlords a premium to get rid of small tenants and put large tenants in their place. He saw no sufficient reason why hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House should have any objection to those large tenants coming under the superintendence of the Land Commission. If they paid a fair rent there could be no reason for exempting them from the operation of the Bill.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
, in replying to the noble Lord (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) remarked that under copy-hold there was no possibility of variation of rent, as under the Bill; and dealing with the main argument for the Amendment—that the larger tenants did not require the care and protection 1941 of the Legislature, said, such an argument had no weight with him (Mr. Arnold), for he regarded the matter affecting the tenants solely as a question of public policy. If one tenant had a property in his holding, another tenant might have a similar property; and, therefore, what was applicable to one class of tenants should be applicable to all. He denied that he had supported the Bill because he held that any class of tenants required the protection of the Legislature. He supported the Bill because its provisions were in accordance with public policy, and because the tenants of Ireland had an interest in their holdings which, one and all, required the protection and award of that House. He could not understand why sound legislation should begin at £100. Sound legislation was altogether apart from various sums of money, and it must proceed altogether upon principle; and it was a distinct and intelligible principle that every tenant in Ireland should have the advantages to be conferred by the Bill. The question whether the Amendment applied to 13,000 tenants, more or less, had really nothing to do with the subject. Questions relating to the ownership and occupation of land were important and deserving the concern of the Legislature, because the ownership of land was a monopoly, and must be so under any circumstances, and the regulation of monopolies was certainly the business of the Legislature. For that reason, it came under the purview of the Legislature in regard to this Bill, and there was neither rhyme nor reason in the Amendment of the noble Lord. Its effect would be to promote consolidation of holdings, and to nullify this useful and valuable measure; and, therefore, he felt bound to oppose it. He confidently hoped Her Majesty's Government would not consent to its adoption, for he could not conceive anything more disastrous to the principles of the legislation upon which they had been engaged for the last one or two months than that this Amendment should be accepted.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that the argument of the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken (Mr. Arnold) was, that it was a matter of public policy that the tenant should be protected, no matter what capital he might possess, and no matter what his ability to make a fair 1942 bargain with his landlord. They had now an avowal from the other side of the House that it was a matter of public policy that the principle of protection broadly applied to capital and to industry generally should be asserted by Parliament. [Mr. ARTHUR ARNOLD: I said investments.] Well, that was a most refreshing view of the case, for he (Mr. Smith) understood that capital was invested when it was applied to the production of machinery, to the building of a mill, to the acquisition of the raw material, and to all those stages which were necessary to produce an article ultimately to be sold. In like manner, capital was applied in agriculture to the payment of rent, to manures, to labour, to the waiting for the harvest, and the realization of the fruits of the earth. Now, they were told that protection was necessary in order that the proper results of the application of capital might be realized by the investor, and that no amount of capital, no amount of independence, no amount of ability to make a bargain was to justify a departure from that principle. But if that principle was to be applied to land, it must also be applied to a great many other things. If it applied to land in Ireland, it must be applied to land in England and Scotland, to manufactures such as existed in Lancashire, to wages, to all the circumstances and conditions of life, as to which they had hitherto been accustomed to enter into free contract. If that were the position taken by the House, if there were to be a new departure, let it be expressed fully and accepted frankly; but, for his own part, he had not lost faith in freedom of contract, whenever it was possible to have it. There might be some excuse for departing from the principle in the case of those wretched tenants for whom expulsion from their holdings might mean expatriation. But all the strength and vigour of Irishmen would be withdrawn if the House were to say that in no circumstances was freedom of contract to be maintained; and he was certain that serious damage would be done to the interests of the whole country if that principle was laid down by the Government.
said, that, so far as he understood the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. H. Smith), it was a speech against this Bill. 1943 His main argument was that if they dealt with land in the way proposed they must apply the same principle to a great many other things—that they must apply the same principles to land in England and Scotland as were applied to land in Ireland. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman in that sense was rather out of date. What were the broad premisses of the right hon. Gentleman, objecting to this interference with free contract in the case of the land of Ireland, compared with the narrowness of the conclusion for which he was going to vote? Having laid down these great principles, the right hon. Gentleman thought he would satisfy them by excluding from the benefit of the most important provision of the Act 12,000 tenants out of 600,000. Now, he (Mr. Gladstone) did not believe that the application of those principles in Ireland would bring about their application in England; nor, if they were applied in England, did he think that either his noble Friend (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) nor the right hon. Gentleman opposite would succeed in excluding the large farmers from their operation. They would not endure it for a moment. He must say he was disappointed at the appearance of the Amendment at that stage of the Bill. It was an evasion of the scope and provisions of the Bill which he had no hesitation in saying he could not contemplate accepting—indeed, the Government would carry their resistance to it to whatever point they might deem expedient—because they could not draw a broad distinction between the tenant above and the tenant below the line indicated. If Ireland were a country in which there were no tenancies between £50 and £100, he could understand the breadth of the distinction; but the fault of the Amendment was that it drew a very narrow distinction. His noble Friend had quoted the authority of Mr. Butt; but he had never heard a more unfortunate citation. In point of fact, Mr. Butt, though as a private individual, when he drew the Bill, he was inclined to exclude tenants above a certain limit of valuation, when he came into contact with other minds, and drew nearer to the point of responsible action, was obliged to consider, not what he himself preferred, but what it was wise to propose. Then it was that that eminent statesman and lawyer had to cast over- 1944 board the suggested distinction, and was compelled to introduce into the Bill all values alike. And yet, ignoring that fact, his noble Friend had used that very argument which Mr. Butt had found it best to reject as a practical provision. Then his noble Friend had quoted, or had rather misquoted, the Act of 1870. It was quite true that, as regarded existing tenantry under that Act, the scale of compensation did not apply to farms above £100; but, in principle, the occupiers of farms above that limit were entitled to compensation as much as those below it. Again, no recommendation of the kind suggested had been made to the Government by any of the bodies who were appointed by authority, and who were entitled to speak with authority on the question now before the House. It was not recommended either by the Bessborough, or by the Majority and Minority Commissions of the Duke of Richmond. That he considered a very serious objection to the Amendment, because, he apprehended, all of these Gentlemen considered the matter, and could not fail to be struck, by the wide investigations which they made, with the material differences between the position of the poorer and the richer tenant. Whatever estimate they took, and whatever experience they had, of those differences, none of them founded upon them the conclusion the House was now invited to draw—namely, to exclude tenants above a certain limit from the benefit of the Bill—a conclusion which, if embodied in the Bill, would, from its excluding 2½ per cent, and those the very men who were alone capable of doing so, make its working difficult, if not impossible. The Government did not intend to proceed on that principle. They had, however, made other careful and elaborate provisions in the Bill for securing at least a fair place to freedom of contract. ["Oh, oh!"] Would the Gentlemen who indulged in those sneers think the Government were adhering to the principles of the Bill if, instead of the provisions which left it to the free choice of the Irish tenant as to whether he should go into the Court, they were to introduce a clause to bring every holding in Ireland under the jurisdiction of the Court? With regard, therefore, to the Amendment, the Government had determined that they would not be parties, even on 1945 the persuasion of the noble Lord, to the creation of invidious and dangerous exceptions and distinctions in Ireland. In the original framing of the Act they sought to avoid that difficulty. In the course of discussion the fact was brought under their notice that, under the Bill in its original form, there might grow a creation of future tenancies. They at once recognized that as a fault in the Bill, and said nothing should grow out of proceedings anterior to the passing of the Act except present tenancies. They thought that if they were to have a Bill of the kind, it was folly carried to a very high degree not to give to the people of Ireland, one and all, a fair start in this matter. If, then, they were to give a fair start to the tenants in this matter, they must avoid bringing him under this taint of exception, and endeavour to make it equal in its application from the first, equal in power and privilege. And though he fully granted that they might say that plea of necessity was less strong in regard to the larger tenants, yet he said that the plea of policy, which they could not exclude from view, was stronger still, because the larger tenants whom they would exclude were the men who, by their education, influence, solidity, and position, would become in every case a centre of agitation against the Act, and would endeavour to reduce to a minimum, if they could not annihilate, the chances of its success. These were the considerations of policy, prudence, and equity, which led him to hope that the House would not listen to any persuasion to induce it to bring into the Bill a provision which, in their view, so far as they could judge, was directly opposed to the lines on which they had proceeded in the course of these discussions—a provision which would be most dangerous to the general aim and design of the measure, and one which had not been recommended by any of the authorities, differing, as they did, in politics, that had investigated the Irish Land Question, and given their advice as to the course to be taken in practical legislation.
§ MR. H. R. BRAND
said, he regretted exceedingly that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had not been able to accept the Amendment of his noble Friend (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice), because, in so doing, the right 1946 hon. Gentleman would have satisfied a great many hon. Members who were supporters of the Government, without in the least degree injuring the Bill which was now under the consideration of the House. What were the arguments which the right hon. Gentleman had used in opposing the Amendment? He must say that he had been very much surprised at the vigour of the language used by the right hon. Gentleman, seeing how very small and insignificant would be the effect of the Amendment on the working of the Land Bill. The Prime Minister said it would be impossible to exclude the class of large farmers from this kind of legislation; but, in point of fact, the House had already provided in the Bill one exclusion of the class of large farmers from the operation of the measure. The 16th clause, as far as regarded the future letting of land, provided that the farmer holding land valued under the Acts relating to the valuation of property at £150 and upwards should be able to contract himself out of the operation of the Act. The question he had, therefore, to put was this—Why should it be held that the man who was able to make a contract with the owner of his holding in the year 1884 was not to be considered to have made a reasonable contract with his landlord in 1878 or 1879? The right hon. Gentleman also declared that the large tenants would be the men who would prevent the working of the Bill, and who would agitate for the application of the principles of the measure to their own case. "They will be the centres of agitation" were the words used by the right hon. Gentleman, and he declined to make any dangerous and invidious distinctions in Ireland. But he (Mr. Brand) would ask again whether there were not such distinctions in the Bill itself already—whether there were not distinctions made in the Bill between the present and the future tenant? He would ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind that the Amendment of his noble Friend only placed the large tenants in the position of future tenants under the Bill, so that if this language was deserved, as applied to the Amendment of his noble Friend, it was equally applicable to the case of the future tenant under the Bill. There was only one other point in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to 1947 which he would allude. The right hon. Gentleman complained that the noble Lord the Member for Calne had quoted the Act of 1870 to show that by it tenants of upwards of £100 value were excluded from preferring a claim to compensation for disturbance, and had pointed out that tenants in future of more than £100 in value had a claim, under that Act, to compensation for disturbance. But the right hon. Gentleman failed to remind the House that in that Act there was a clause which gave to tenants holding a farm of more than £50 value the right of contracting themselves out of the Act. What he (Mr. Brand) held in regard to the Amendment was this. As far as regarded the future letting of the land, there was no doubt the 16th clause of the Bill sufficiently met the case; but, as regarded present tenants, every contract they might have entered into with their landlords was overridden by the Bill, and he could not understand how anyone could infer that a large tenant in Ireland would be so foolish as to exercise his right of contract so as to deprive himself of the advantage of the qualified fixity of tenure which was given to him in this Bill. Therefore, as far as regarded present tenancies which might last for ever, this right of contract was of very little use indeed. He confessed that he was unable to understand the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold). His hon. Friend said that he did not support the Bill on the ground that it was necessary to protect the weakness of the Irish tenant. In that case, why had his hon. Friend voted for the second reading of the Bill? If it was to be defended on any ground—and certainly the only ground upon which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had defended it, who acknowledged it to be a necessary evil—the only ground on which it could possibly be justified was that it was necessary to protect and defend the men who needed protection in making their contracts. Of course, they had heard the argument on the other side as to the consolidation of farms; but he would ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to explain how it would be possible for a landlord under the Bill forcibly to consolidate his holdings. It would be necessary, in the first place, that the contiguous farms should fall in, and that they should fall 1948 in together within a very short space of time. He could understand the objection of hon. Gentlemen opposite to consolidation. He admitted that under the Amendment it would be possible for the landlord to offer a very high premium to a certain number of tenants to go out with money in their pockets and better their position elsewhere. But the miseries of these poor men in Ireland was the food on which the Land League throve. If they were to go out with money in their pockets, and in order to better their condition, there would be no chance for agitation and no profit for agitators. As far as regarded the figure mentioned in the Amendment of his noble Friend, he did not attach any importance to it whatever. Let them make it what they liked, and state what figure they would, what he contended for was the principle of the Amendment—namely, that it was necessary in this matter to place some limit in the clause; that there were certain men in such a position of independence and strength that they were able to take care of themselves and make their own bargains. There was another point he hoped the House would bear in mind—namely, that this was no proposal to interfere with the right of the tenant to sell his interest. It did not in the least affect the right of the tenant under the 1st clause of the Bill, although even there a distinction might be drawn. He was glad that his noble Friend had placed his Amendment on the 7th clause, because he (Mr. Brand) had foreseen very clearly that it was impossible to touch the 1st clause and to minimize the tenant's interest without mutilating the Bill; and in supporting the Amendment he had no desire to act in a spirit of hostility towards the measure itself. He had found himself unable to vote for the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage), on the ground that that Amendment was not only impracticable, but unjust, because, having voted for the second reading of the Bill, he had admitted the principle that every tenant in Ireland had a right of occupancy, the right to which was exclusive of the value of his improvements; and it would be unjust to prevent him from selling his interest because he was the tenant of an English-managed estate. Then those who thought the value of the interest was affected came to the question whe- 1949 ther they should oppose the Amendment or fall back upon the question of compensation. He felt that it would have been impossible to raise the question of compensation directly, because it was impossible to prove that the landlords suffered any monetary loss; and although it was raised indirectly, he thought his hon. Friend in charge of that Amendment was perfectly justified in withdrawing it, because, after the speeches from the Treasury Bench and from the Front Opposition Bench, it was perfectly clear that it failed to meet general support. He believed the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) made what was called a "slashing attack" on his hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding (Sir John Ramsden) for withdrawing that Amendment. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock had so often burnt his fingers in withdrawing the chestnuts out of the fire that he would probably not have been disinclined to see the hon. Baronet a sufferer from the same course. But in regard to the present Amendment, he (Mr. Brand) believed it would mitigate some of the evils which were likely to arise in Ireland under the Bill. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister to believe the statement that this was a friendly Amendment to the Bill. [Cries of "Oh!"] He could understand the sneers of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Nevertheless, he still contended that it was a friendly Amendment, because, as he had said before, he did not take his stand on the figure named by his noble Friend, whether it were £100, £150, or £200. It was an Amendment that would affect very few tenancies in Ireland. What they wanted the right hon. Gentleman to admit was that there should be a guiding principle governing the action of the Legislature in interfering between landlord and tenant, or between any other class, in the contracts which they might make, and that the position of the parties—the independence of the parties—should be some evidence of their ability to make contracts with their landlords. He would only add that, as far as regarded the Bill, it must be supported on the ground that it was necessary for the protection of the weakest of the tenants. ["No!"] The interference with free contract which the Bill involved had never been proposed, except on cer- 1950 tain grounds, either for the prevention of fraud, as was the case in the Truck Acts; for the good of public morals and health, as was the case in regard to the Sanitary Act; or for the protection of the weak, such as the women and children who were legislated for in the Factory Acts. That was the only ground on which they could defend this legislation; and, therefore, as it was necessary, owing to the weakness of the small Irish tenants to protect them, the House should accept the Amendment on that principle, or else there was no reason why the provisions of the Bill should not be applied to every tenancy in England and Scotland, as well as in Ireland. Indeed, he could not understand why, if an Irish tenant of £1,000 a-year was obliged to go to the Court to have his rent fixed, they should not have a similar Court in Northumberland or Yorkshire. It was with deep regret that he found himself obliged to support the Amendment, because, in supporting it, he found that he was opposing Her Majesty's Government. All that he could say was that he did it from a sense of duty. There were some hon. Members in that House who had been threatened by some obscure individuals for expressing their opinion in favour of a sound public policy long acted upon by the Liberal Party. He believed that the Association to which he referred, and which had made itself somewhat notorious by issuing a very imprudent Manifesto, had for its President a Member of that House. ["Name!"] All he would say was that he hoped when that hon. Gentleman went back to a well-earned holiday he would tell his friends that in the House of Commons there was still a desire to preserve the cherished rights of every section of the Liberal Party, and of every Member of it—namely, freedom of opinion and liberty of speech.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said, the greater part of the speech they had just heard had nothing to do with the question before the House. If the Manifesto to which the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand) referred came from obscure individuals, he did not see that there was any necessity for taking notice of it. The Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Calne (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) appealed distinctly to hon. Members below the Gangway. 1951 The hon. Member who had just spoken said decidedly that if the Government would accept the Amendment many of their supporters would be much pleased and gratified; and he (Mr. Collings), therefore, thought it high time for hon. Members who sat below the Gangway to state plainly that they, at least, would be seriously disappointed if the Government gave way and agreed to the Amendment. In order to clear the ground, he took it that the supporters of the Amendment put out of sight altogether the number of tenants in Ireland who would be affected by the adoption of the Amendment. It was said that they would number only 13,000; but this number represented a rental of more than £1,250,000 per annum. The hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand) had also stated that a proposal, similar in principle to that which was contained in the Amendment, had already been included in the 16th clause of the Bill. He (Mr. Collings) thought the reference was most unfortunate, because, if he remembered rightly, that was a case in which the tenant, of his own free will, contracted himself out of the Bill if he chose. Therefore, that was quite another matter, and did not justify the conclusions which the hon. Member drew. The noble Lord who moved the Amendment stated that it would not interfere with the right of free sale; but if it did not interfere with the right of free sale it would interfere very much with the price which would be received from the sale. It seemed to him that the noble Lord was enamoured of free contract, but only in cases in which the freedom was all on one side. He (Mr. Collings) very much regretted that the proposition now before the House had been made. They had spent week after week in labour over the Bill, such as, he thought, was almost unparalleled in Parliamentary experience, and now they had reached almost the last stage of the measure, an Amendment was brought forward, not to modify the Bill in any way, but, as far as a considerable number of persons were affected by it, it would absolutely destroy the benefits of the measure—namely, to every tenant in Ireland, at this moment, who was rented at £100 and upwards. Consequently, a large number of tenants who had been anxiously expecting the Bill would, if the Amendment was passed, find them- 1952 selves deprived of the advantages of the Court and all the power of fixing fair rents. He called that destruction, and not modification; and, so far as the question of principle was concerned, why should they stop at £100? Why not go down to £50, and even lower than that? If a fair rent was necessary for a farmer who paid £90, why should it not be equally necessary for one who paid £110? He took it that the noble Lord was of opinion that a fair rent was not necessary when a tenant paid a rent of £100 or upwards. The Bill, for the first time, established a tribunal in Ireland for the settlement of disputed accounts between landlord and tenant; and yet the proposition of the noble Lord was, that a certain number of the Irish tenants should have no part in that settlement. Besides, the Amendment offered an inducement to the landlord to consolidate his holdings. It must be borne in mind that the advantages of being out of the Bill might be so great to the landlord as to induce him to make very great sacrifices for the purpose of securing consolidation and to pay a very high price for it, if he could secure such a result. If the Amendment had come from the Opposition, no one would have been astonished at it; but it would have been looked upon as perfectly natural. It would have been in accordance with the course they had uniformly and consistently taken in regard to the Bill, and it was with very great regret that he saw such an Amendment coming from the Liberal Benches, which were supposed to support the Bill and Her Majesty's Government. He had very little fear that the Amendment would be carried; but the danger was that it gave hints and suggestions which might increase the difficulties that would surround the measure in "another place." To his mind, it would be far better to oppose the Bill directly, and to vote for its rejection, rather than to give it what he would call these "stabs in the back." The hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand) said it was a friendly Amendment; but if so Her Majesty's Government might hope to be saved from their friends. The Prime Minister made a promise when the Bill was first introduced—namely, that the measure, being the least that Ireland could accept, he would not consent to any muti- 1953 lation of it. Up to the present moment, the right hon. Gentleman had redeemed that promise in a manner almost unprecedented on any previous occasion. The Bill came out of Committee, after having undergone an opposition of a most unusual character, almost precisely as it went in. He trusted that the Prime Minister would on this occasion put down his foot with more than his customary strength and determination. Hon. Members below the Gangway, on that (the Liberal) side of the House, asked this of the right hon. Gentleman, because hitherto they had supported the Government staunchly, and had avoided interfering with the progress of the Bill by talking about it. Many of them had been prepared to propose Amendments; but they had remembered what the right hon. Gentleman told them—that if the ship were too heavily laden it would probably become impossible to bring it into port, and had, therefore, refrained from moving their Amendments. He trusted that Her Majesty's Government would in the most unmistakeable manner show their determination not to allow the Bill to be mutilated or stabbed in the back by its friends.
§ MR. CARTWRIGHT
, who spoke amid great interruption, said, he had listened to all the discussion that had taken place; and he thought that all the arguments were in favour of the Amendment moved by the noble Lord the Member for Calne (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice). He could not admit, even after the powerful speech that had been delivered by the Prime Minister, that the Amendment was in the slightest degree contrary to the spirit of the Bill. His main reason for saying that was that one of the cardinal features which distinguished the Bill as originally presented to the House was the distinction which it drew between present and future tenants; and, therefore, the Amendment contained nothing that was foreign to the principle of the measure. There was another argument which induced him to support the Amendment which had not hitherto been referred to, and it was this—that inducements should be offered to the tenants to acquire the ownership of land in Ireland; so that, in the end, a kind of yeomanry such as that which existed in this country might be created. As explained by the right 1954 hon Gentleman the Prime Minister, the Bill had been brought forward in consequence of the exceptional condition of Ireland, and upon that ground he (Mr. Cartwright) had supported the measure. He had supported it in every provision he believed to be right; but he did not understand that they were called upon to extend protection to everyone, whatever his financial condition might be. Nor was it necessary that they should adopt the principle of protection without limit; and for those reasons he intended to vote in support of the Amendment.
§ MR. CALLAN
remarked, that he would not have taken part in the debate if it were not for the assertion of the noble Lord who moved the Amendment (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) in regard to the late Mr. Isaac Butt. He (Mr. Callan) and other hon. Members had endeavoured to correct the inaccuracies of the noble Lord; but the noble Lord, nevertheless, persisted in his assertion. What was it that the noble Lord had said? With that self-confidence which generally characterized him, the noble Lord asserted that Mr. Butt had introduced a Land Bill from the benefits of which the large farmers were excluded. The noble Lord went further, and wantonly introduced the name of a gentleman, Mr. Robertson, of the county of Kildare, who, although a Scotchman, was as honourable and as useful a member of society as the noble Lord. Mr. Robertson was a large farmer, and a generous and kindly employer, and he had become, like many emigrants, more Irish than the Irish themselves. Adverting to Mr. Butt's Bill, the noble Lord personally taunted the Government with having changed their front since 1870; and, in support of his assertion, the noble Lord quoted Lord Carlingford and Mr. Dowse. Mr. Dowse was now upon the Bench, and Lord Carlingford had been relegated to "another place," so that neither of them, at the present moment, could be looked upon as representing Irish opinion. The noble Lord said the Bill of Mr. Butt did not include the large farmers.
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
said, the representation of the hon. Member (Mr. Callan) was not anything like what he did say. What he said was this—and he had obtained his information from hon. Members better acquainted with the history of Mr. Butt's 1955 Bill than the hon. Member—namely, that in the first draft of the Bill tenants of £100 and upwards were excluded.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he was quite certain that it could not be the hon. Member who sat next to the noble Lord who was his authority on the subject. It so happened that he (Mr. Callan) was Mr. Butt's amanuensis in drafting the Bill in question, and he would inform the House what the real facts were. Mr. Butt, in 1875 and in 1876, brought in Bills which did not exclude the large farmers; but in 1877, instead of enlarging the scope of the Bill, he altered it, and excluded all grazing farms rated at more than £50 a-year, and also all grazing farms on which the tenant did not reside. The noble Lord's informant must have misled him. But although the Bill of 1877 did not include grazing farms of £50 and upwards, and although it excluded all grazing farms on which the tenant did not reside, he found among the list of Members who voted against that Bill the name of the noble Lord the Member for Calne, who, nevertheless, had voted for the second reading of the present Bill. Many things had happened since then. The state of Ireland had altogether changed; and he would recommend the noble Lord, when he again introduced the name of Mr. Butt in order to sanction any argument against the Irish tenants, to take care that he was accurate in regard to his facts, and that he did not depend for his information upon some third person whose name he studiously concealed.
§ LORD EDWARD CAVENDISH
said, he would not occupy the time of the House for more than a single moment. He feared that he could not lay claim to having given a very cordial support to the Bill, because he had had grave doubts about it, owing to the interference it proposed with freedom of contract. But the Bill would pass, and he took it that, in a great degree, whether it proved to be of advantage to Ireland or not would depend very much on the spirit in which it was passed. He believed the Amendment now before the House would do very much indeed to destroy the benefits to be derived from the passing of the measure. The Prime Minister considered it his duty to send the Bill as a message of peace to Ireland, and it was desirable that it should be sent with a good grace. Although, 1956 perhaps, it was not for him to say so, he believed there were many who sat on that side of the House whose objections to the measure had been materially diminished, not only by the extraordinary ability with which the right hon. Gentleman had conducted the Bill, but also by the mastery of all its details which he had exhibited, and which made them all feel the fullest confidence that the right hon. Gentleman had thoroughly mastered the whole matter. Therefore, although the noble Lord the Member for Calne (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) might have good reasons for the Amendment he had moved, it was, nevertheless, one which he (Lord Edward Cavendish) could not support.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 205; Noes 241: Majority 36.1959
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|Hill, A. S.||Schreiber, C.|
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|Cowan, J.||Lawson, Sir W.|
|Cropper, J.||Laycock, R.|
|Cross, J. K.||Lea, T.|
|Crum, A.||Leahy, J.|
|Cunliffe, Sir R. A.||Leake, R.|
|Daly, J.||Leamy, E.|
|Davey, H.||Leatham, E. A.|
|Davies, R.||Leatham, W. H.|
|Davies, W.||Leeman, J. J.|
|Dawson, C.||Lefevre, right hon. G.|
|Dilke, A. W.||J. S.|
|Dilke, Sir C. W.||Macfarlane, D. H.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Mackintosh, C. F.|
|Dodds, J.||M'Arthur, A.|
|Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.||M'Carthy, J.|
|Duckham, T.||M'Clure, Sir T.|
|Earp, T.||M'Coan, J. C.|
|Edwards, H.||M'Kenna, Sir J. N.|
|Edwards, P.||M'Laren, J.|
|Egerton, Adm. hon. F.||Magniac, C.|
|Errington, G.||Mappin, F. T.|
|Marijoribanks, Sir D. C||Rogers, J. E. T.|
|Marjoribanks, E.||Roundell, C. S.|
|Martin, R. B.||Russell, G. W. E.|
|Marum, E. M.||Russell, Lord A.|
|Mason, H.||Rylands, P.|
|Milbank, F. A.||Shaw, W.|
|Molloy, B. C.||Smith, E.|
|Monk, C. J.||Smithwick, J. F.|
|Moore, A.||Smyth, P. J.|
|Morgan, rt. hn. G. O.||Spencer, hon. C. R.|
|Mundella, rt. hon. A. J||Stanley, hon. E. L.|
|Noel, E.||Stanton, W. J.|
|Nolan, Major J. P.||Stewart, J.|
|O'Beirne, Major F.||Storey, S.|
|O'Brien, Sir P.||Story-Maskelyne, M. H.|
|O'Connor, A.||Stuart, H. V.|
|O'Connor, T. P.||Sullivan, A. M.|
|O'Conor, D. M.||Sullivan, T. D.|
|O'Donnell, F. H.||Summers, W.|
|O'Donoghue, The||Synan, E. J.|
|O'Gorman Mahon, Col The||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Taylor, P. A.|
|O'Kelly, J.||Tennant, C.|
|O'Shaughnessy, R.||Thomasson, J. P.|
|O'Shea, W. H.||Thompson, T. C.|
|Otway, A.||Tillett, J. H.|
|Paget, T. T.||Vivian, A. P.|
|Palmer, C. M.||Walter, J.|
|Palmer, G.||Waugh, E.|
|Palmer, J. H.||Wedderburn, Sir D.|
|Parker, C. S.||Whitbread, S.|
|Parnell, C. S.||Wiggin, H.|
|Pease, A.||Williams, S. C. E.|
|Pender, J.||Williamson, S.|
|Playfair, rt. hon. L.||Willis, W.|
|Powell, W. R. H.||Wills, W. H.|
|Power, R.||Willyams, E. W. B.|
|Price, Sir R. G.||Wilson, C. H.|
|Pugh, L. P.||Wilson, I.|
|Pulley, J.||Wilson, Sir M.|
|Rathbone, W.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Redmond, J. E.||Woodall, W.|
|Reid, R. T.|
|Richard, H.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Richardson, T.||Kensington, Lord|
In page 7, line 31, after the word "applies," to insert the words "after having given the prescribed notice to the landlord."—(Mr. Warton.)
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.
§ On the Motion of Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND, Amendment made in page 7, line 35, by leaving out the word "his," and substituting the word "the."
In page 7, line 37, to leave out the word "interest," in order to insert the word "interests,"—(Mr. Warton,)
§ Question, "That the word 'interest' stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.1960
§ On the Motion of Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND, Amendment made in page 8, line 8, by leaving out "after," and inserting "from the rent day next succeeding the day on which."
In page 8, line 9, to leave out the word "determination," in order to insert the word decision,"—(Mr. Warton,)
§ Question, "That the word 'determination' stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
On the Motion of Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND, Amendment made in page 8, line 21, by inserting as a separate paragraph—
Provided also, that such application for resumption may be entertained by the Court, if it is satisfied that before the passing of this Act, the reversion expectant on the determination of a lease of the holding was purchased by the landlord or his predecessors in title with a view of letting or otherwise disposing of the land for building purposes on the determination of such lease, and that it is bonâ fide required by him for such purpose.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 8, line 27, to leave out the words "and not by the tenant."—(Mr. Warton.)
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ SIR THOMAS BATESON
said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had stated not long ago that he was not aware of any case in which the landlords in Ulster had purchased the tenant right and relet the holding. Sir George Young had also written a letter to The Times stating the same thing. Now, if both those Gentlemen held that view, it was not at all surprising that the Prime Minister should have also stated that he had not heard of even one case of the kind. This Bill was framed and ready to be launched towards the end of March last; it was introduced to Parliament on the 7th April, and in the beginning of June, seven weeks afterwards, the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland, the Prime Minister, and hon. Gentlemen opposite were not aware of a case in which the Ulster tenant right had been purchased by the landlord. The Prime Minister had challenged him (Sir Thomas Bateson) to produce cases of the kind; and, in response to that appeal, he 1961 had within a short time furnished the right hon. Gentleman with 18 cases which he had verified, and was prepared to substantiate. He had, moreover, informed the right hon. Gentleman that he had a list of 200 cases besides, and that if he would depute some person to investigate them, every facility and assistance should be afforded on his part. The right hon. Gentleman, however, did not avail himself of that offer. Irrespective of the Ulster cases, there were 14 similar cases in the Province of Leinster, where Dr. Edge had purchased up a tenant right analogous to the Ulster Custom; and the House would be surprised to hear that amongst the 200 cases to which he had previously referred there were 65 relating to the county which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland himself represented. He had no doubt that had the right hon. and learned Gentleman visited his constituents with the regularity that was usual with other Members of Parliament in the case of their constituencies, he would not have made the statement that he was not aware of any case of the tenant right having been bought up by the landlord, seeing that by simply writing to a limited number of friends he (Sir Thomas Bateson) had ascertained that there were 65 cases of the kind in the right hon. and learned Gentleman's own county. In sub-section 4 of the clause under notice, the Court was empowered to disallow any claim which might be put forward where the landlord had made the improvements and maintained them. All he wanted was that they should give the same power to the Court in the case where the landlord had purchased up the buildings and improvements in Ulster and in other parts of Ireland. He could not see what difference there was between a landlord himself making improvements and erecting buildings, or his buying them from someone else. He (Sir Thomas Bateson) had rented a piece of land in London, and had built a house on it, whilst his next-door neighbour had bought his house from the person who had built it. Surely the position of the one was identical with that of the other. Putting aside the proprietors in the Province of Leinster, who had bought up the tenant right custom and the improvements of their tenants, he would now only refer to the 1962 Ulster cases. He was sorry the Prime Minister was not in his place; but the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Law) was in the House, and he, no doubt, would say—"Oh, in Ulster, where the landlords have purchased up the tenant right, we give them the same power and privileges, and we put them in identically the same position as tenants outside Ulster." But was that so? He (Sir Thomas Bateson) maintained—without intending to be disrespectful—that this was mere special pleading. Had the landlords in Leinster, as a rule, purchased up the whole of the tenants' interest? They had not, although, no doubt, in many cases they had done so. Let them take the case of the Duke of Devonshire's property. On it the landlord had done all the improvements, and the tenants were, practically, English tenants. There were other cases where the landlords had done half the improvements, and others, again, where the whole of them had been effected by the tenants. Therefore, where Ulster landlords had purchased up the whole of the improvements, and had re-let the tenancies to other tenants, it could not be said that those tenants were put in exactly the same position as tenants in Leinster or in Munster. As he had already said, the Bill gave power to exclude tenancies where the landlords had made all the improvements. In Queen's County, on Dr. Edge's property, there were 14 such cases, and there were many others in Leinster; and, he asked, why should they not put the proprietors of these holdings who had invested their money in this way in the same position as the Duke of Devonshire and the great absentee proprietors? He failed to see how the Government could, logically, refuse this Amendment. The Government, he maintained, were on the horns of a dilemma. If sub-section 4 was right, they were bound to accept the Amendment; but if it was wrong, in common justice they ought to strike it out of the Bill. But he doubted very much whether the great proprietors, whose estates were managed on the English system, would be satisfied to have it struck out of the Bill. He said, and said deliberately, that if that House perpetrated a grievous injustice like this, with much more reason and equity might the Democratic Party introduce, at no 1963 distant date, a measure to give fixity of tenure to the householders on the London properties of the great Whig magnates, the Duke of Bedford, Lord Portman, and the Duke of Westminster, upon which every shilling of outlay had been made by the tenants. The Representatives in that House of these three leviathan proprietors had been steadily supporting all the most confiscatory provisions of this Bill; but let them beware lest their turn might come next, and should it come, he, for one, would not pity them.
In page 8, line 27, after the word "tenant," to insert the words "or that the Ulster tenant right custom, or the benefit of any usage corresponding to such custom, has been purchased or acquired by the landlord or his predecessors in title, and that no permanent improvements have since said purchase been effected by the tenant."—(Sir Thomas Bateson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
said, the Government could not accept the Amendment of the hon. Baronet. Take the case where a landlord had bought up the tenant right—that was to say, the tenancy, and had relet the holding, which was a thing which occurred all over Ireland. No one denied that where the landlord in Ulster had bought up the tenant right he got possession of the land, and relet it if he thought fit; but, having bought the improvements and relet the land with those improvements on it, it might fairly be supposed that he had taken good care to charge a higher rent. It was hardly credible that the landlords who had bought up the tenant right, including all existing improvements, would still relet the land at the former rent. Then if there were no houses built, or no land reclaimed, and the new tenant put his capital into the holding, he needed protection as much as did the man who had erected buildings or reclaimed land. He had hoard instances of the kind referred to by the hon. Baronet mentioned before; but, although the improvements were set forth, in no case was the new rent specified. The landlord would surely not be so foolish as to invest his money in purchasing up the possession of the land and then relet it at the old rent. The tenant required protection against 1964 an unfair rent, even though the tenant right might have been bought up. Nay, even where he had made no permanent improvements, the farm would still be his home, and he was entitled to security against an exorbitant rent.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
could not agree with the arguments just used by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland. The point was that the new tenant coming in should have money to cultivate his farm properly. His hon. Friend moved an Amendment dealing with cases where the landlord had bought up the tenant right, and the rent was a fair one. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, however, always supposed that the rent would be an unfair one. His hon. Friend assumed that the rents were fair and reasonable, especially on the large properties. The proposal before the House was a most reasonable one, that where the buildings on the holding belonged to the landlord, and the landlord had purchased up the tenant right, the Court might, if it thought fit—the Amendment did not say "the Court shall"—absolve him from the necessity of appearing before it to have the rent fixed.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, that, if he understood the argument of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, it amounted to this—that in every case where the landlord had bought up the tenant right of any particular holding, and had relet that holding, he had relet it at an increased rent. He (Lord George Hamilton), however, understood his hon. Friend (Sir Thomas Bateson) to say that there were many cases where the landlord had bought up the tenant right and relet without charging an increased rent. ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen who said "No!" did not live in the North of Ireland, and he was of opinion that there were many cases of the kind he had thus described. If the landlords had raised the rents, it was not necessary to make provision for them; but if they had not, they should deal with them as his hon. Friend proposed. If the Amendment were not accepted, there was only one possible means by which these landlords could protect themselves, and that was by taking the first opportunity they could of raising the rent, so that the new tenants might not derive all the 1965 advantage from the improvements they had purchased. He was very sorry Her Majesty's Government could not accept the Amendment.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
noticed that the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) had not spoken of cases within his own knowledge where the landlords had bought up the tenant right and had relet, without charging an increased rent. No doubt, the House would have accepted the statement if the noble Lord had stated the facts as having come within his own observation. The House ought not to waste time in discussing the case of a class of landlords who, with all respect to the hon. Baronet (Sir Thomas Bateson), were a class up in a balloon. He had never before heard of them, and did not believe they existed.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, the hon. and learned Member (Mr. A. M. Sullivan) had no particular means of knowing what occurred in the North of Ireland. His hon. Friend (Sir Thomas Bateson), who was unable, by the Rules of the House, to speak again, assured him that there were many cases of the kind referred to capable of being verified, and he offered to furnish particulars of them to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland. There were many landlords in Ulster, he believed, who had, under express provisions of the Act of 1870, purchased up the tenant right by paying a substantial sum of money, and many had purchased under certain conditions, although he had no greater personal knowledge of these matters than had the hon. and learned Member for Meath (Mr. A. M. Sullivan). It would be in the last degree unfair to such landlords if they were to be put in the position of other landlords who had not spent 1s., and if they were not to have the chance of being paid back the money they had expended, or if they were not to be excluded from this provision of the Bill. They were not excluded in any shape from the 1st section as to free sale. If the Amendment was refused, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Law) would be unable to point out any single clause under which the landlord, who had purchased the tenant right, could be put back into the position he originally occupied.
§ Question put, and negatived.1966
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he hoped the House would not ask him to move his Amendment as to absentees at that late hour of the night, but would agree to the adjournment of the debate. The Amendment would raise a very important question. He had been precluded from moving it in Committee.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
As we have to meet at 12 o'clock to-morrow, perhaps the request of the hon. Member is not unreasonable.
§ Further Proceeding on Consideration, as amended, deferred till To-morrow.