§ Clause 1 (Sale of tenancies).
MR. H. R. BRAND
said, the object of the Amendment he was about to move was to give a chance to future generations in Ireland of adopting a better and sounder system of land tenure. In using this phrase of the Secretary of State for India, he should, had the noble Lord been in his place, have made an appeal to him to support this Amendment, because, after carefully considering the Bill, he had not been able to discover that it contained any provision for the future of the kind indicated. He had frequently noticed that when Amendments to Government measures were moved by hon. Members sitting on those Benches, they were objected to, on the ground that they were at variance with the principle of the Bill, and would be fatal to it. Hon. Members, therefore, who moved such Amendments were exposed to a certain amount of odium. But it would be 1696 found that his proposal was not contrary to the principles of the Bill. He contended that it was consonant with them, and with the opinions of Ministers; and he would say that had it been in his view contrary to the principles of the Bill, that Amendment would not have been proposed by him. Even at that time, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland could show him that the Amendment was contrary to the principles of the Bill, he should not be inclined to press it; because he had stated, on the second reading, his anxiety that the Bill should become law, and he had certainly no desire now to prevent it. There was, however, a verbal inaccuracy in the Amendment, as it stood on the Paper, which would have to be corrected. The Amendment on the Paper read thus—"Leave out 'for the time being of every,' and insert 'of every present tenancy.'" It ought to have been, first—"Leave out 'for the time being;' and, second, insert after 'every' the word 'present.'" The clause, if the alterations were adopted, would then read as follows:—"The tenant of every present tenancy to which this Act applies may sell, &c." He thought he could show that there was a radical distinction between existing tenancies and tenancies which would be created afresh. To the present tenant there attached a certain claim in respect of the improvements which he might have effected, and sometimes for the reclamation of waste land and bogs. But no claim of that kind could possibly attach to a tenant who came in after the termination of a present tenancy. He would have had no connection with the land previously, and could have no claim of any kind except that which existed by reason of his contract of tenure. The claim which attached to present tenancies, he believed, had been generally admitted; and although he would not then discuss the character of the tenant's interest, them was no doubt that the Act of 1870 did create in tile tenancies outside Ulster a greater value than existed prior to the passing of that Act; and, that being the case, the present Bill endeavoured to establish this right on a firm basis, and, with the view of establishing it, gave the tenants of Ireland the power to sell their tenancies at the best price they could get for them. Whoever drafted this Bill must 1697 have been a most astute and intelligent person, for he found, on account of the order in which it was arranged, it was impossible to criticize with advantage that portion of it which related to free sale. It was clear that the clause relating to free sale was bound up with Clause 7. Looking from the point of view of the tenant's interest, he saw very great objections to the principle of free sale; but, as the tenants had asked for that power, they would get it. But from the point of view of the owner's interest, he saw no insuperable objection to the principle of free sale, so long as the owner had access to the Court, and care was taken that the rent should not be estimated with reference to the price paid for that portion of the tenant right which was exclusive of the value of the tenant's improvements. But how could one know what might become of Clause 7? If he were quite certain that the Government would take care that the competition value for mere possession of the farm should not be considered by the Court in determining the rent, then from the point of view of the interest of the landlord, he should not care what a man gave for the farm when he came in. The right of sale, under the provisions of this section, was given by direct enactment, because it was denied that any such thing existed as freedom of contract between owner and occupier in Ireland. He wished to point out that this inequality would be greatly redressed by the purchase clauses of the Bill; and, as far as he was concerned, he should vote for any reasonable extension of those clauses, because he was strongly in favour of increasing the number of farmer proprietors in Ireland. Hon. Members opposite must feel, as well as he did, that no success would attend the creation of a numerous peasant proprietary; and that, in order to insure success, the farms must be of a certain size. He did not think any man could get on as a farmer with less than 20 acres of land. Notwithstanding this view, he hoped to receive some support from hon. Members who followed the bon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), because they must know very well that the new owners would meet with great disadvantages from the operation of this clause. Some of them, for instance, after coming into possession of their holdings, might have occasion, through illness or some other rea- 1698 son, to let their holdings; but if the Bill remained as it now stood, they Would not be able to do so without creating in the lessee a joint proprietary interest with themselves. Having admitted the right of the present tenant to an interest in the farm, it followed that the present tenant had an interest which he ought to be able to sell. Was the same claim to be vested in the future tenant? Surely it would be acknowledged that land which was free and unincumbered with tenant right was in a different position from land which was subject to claims in respect of tenant right; and, therefore, he had to ask three questions. What was the claim of the present tenant? How long would the present tenancies exist? And what was the nature and character of the claim of the future tenant—that was to say, of the man who came in after the determination of the present tenancy? Now, the claim of the present tenant was avowedly based on the fact that he had increased and, in some cases, created the productiveness of the soil, and that in some cases he and his predecessors in title had continuously resided on the land. That being the claim of the present tenant, how long would such tenancies exist? Turning to the 45th clause of the Bill, which was a very peculiar one, he found these words—A tenancy to which this Act applies shall be deemed to have determined whenever it is sold in consequence of a breach by the tenant of a statutory condition, or, in the case of a tenancy not subject to statutory conditions, of an act or default on the part of a tenant which would, in a tenancy subject to such conditions, have constituted a breach thereof.Supposing, therefore, a tenant had committed a breach of any statutory condition—for instance, supposing he had not paid his rent, and upon notice given by the landlord he elected to sell his tenancy—the tenancy would thus be detertermined. He had a question to ask upon that point. If the tenant sold to a third party after breach of statutory condition, would he sell a tenancy of a less value than that which he himself possessed? In his opinion, a breach of statutory condition ought not to occasion a determination of the tenancy. If this were the case, present tenancies might exist for a very long period of time, seeing that the holders of such tenancies had a right to devise or alienate them, and his Amendment would only effect 1699 tenancies upon which the tenant right had become merged in the fee simple. What, then, would be the position of the future tenant? He would have no claim in respect of labour, because he had never put a spade into the ground, and he would have no claim for improvements, because he had not made any; and yet, according to the Bill, the very day he came in he could sell his interest. But what was it that he could sell? Then, if the landlord let at a low rent, he would secure himself in that case by exacting a heavy premium, and the tenant would be rack-rented. It was evident that, whatever they might do by Act of Parliament, they could not in future prevent the owner from getting his full value for the hire of his land, and they could not prevent the tenant having to pay the equivalent of the full commercial value of the land. That state of things, which the Bill would perpetuate, could hardly be good for Ireland. He put it to the hon. Member for the City of Cork whether tenants who purchased their interest from the landlord would like the operation of this clause? He regretted the Prime Minister was not in his place, because he wished to quote the words of the right hon. Gentleman for the purpose of strengthening his argument. The right hon. Gentleman, in speaking against perpetuity of tenure—and the words applied to the necessity which would exist for every future tenant in Ireland having to pay a premium on coming in—said—If I am only to let it to a perpetuity man, I can only let it to that class of men who are prepared to cultivate the soil and to pay me the price of the permanent possession. The strange position in which we should then find ourselves would be that all that active and energetic class which does not require any permanent estate in the land, but exists by the intelligent and profitable application of capital to fanning purposes, would be absolutely proscribed. You would not anywhere let a man in to put a spade or a plough into the ground unless he was able to purchase the perpetual estate.Such, then, was the position in which he maintained Ireland would find herself by the operation of this Bill, not for a short period, but in perpetuity. There were only two objections against his proposal. One was, that it would establish two classes of tenants in Ireland; and the other, that there would be a grievance felt by one class because it did not enjoy the same advantages as were possessed by the other, To this 1700 he answered—first, that under this Bill there would be present tenants enjoying the right of going into Court to have their rent fixed; and secondly, that the other tenants who would not have that right would come in under contract. The second objection was, that as all tenants holding under leases would become future tenants, if the Amendment were carried they would be excluded from the operation of the Bill. To this, he replied that there were strong arguments in favour of leases being included within the provisions of the Bill; and for his own part he would like to see the Commission have power to apply the measure to such leases as they might think desirable. He hoped he had now sufficiently explained the Amendment he had to propose. His object was to raise the question whether there should be a permanent restriction upon agricultural industry in Ireland, or whether an opportunity should be given to the industrious and thrifty labourer to take a farm without having to pay a heavy price for the goodwill. Let the Bill pass in its present form, and the labourer's back would be broken by the necessity of obtaining capital for the payment of the premium for going into occupation. In conclusion, he appealed to those hon. Members who did not wish to see industry hampered, nor to perpetuate a system which would have the effect of rack-renting every future tenant in Ireland, to vote for the Amendment which he now begged to move.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 7, to leave out the words "for the time being," and insert after "every" the word "present."—(Mr. H. R. Brand.)
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
said, that the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. H. R. Brand) wished to facilitate the acquisition of farms by persons who had not at present got any. Now, with respect to lands in Ireland, they were either in the hands of present tenants or in the hands of the landlords; and it must, of course, be admitted that there was no possibility of unprovided farmers getting hold of lands in the possession of the present tenants without buying them. If, then, the future tenant paid for his farm, he presumed he must be allowed to sell it. The farms that were in the hands of the landlords were open to the entire population of the country who had not got 1701 farms, but wanted them, and the landlords, he supposed, would charge a full rent. He did not like rack-renting. The practice was, indeed, grossly unjust as applied to occupying tenants, who had already an interest in their farms; but the case of persons who had not got farms raised wholly different considerations. From the statements which had been made, one would suppose that the moment an incoming tenant got possession he would want to sell. But that was an entire fallacy, for the very last thing which any Irish tenant, present or future, would think of doing when he got possession of a farm was to sell it. He bought it because he wanted to invest his capital in it, and because it offered the most profitable way of using the labour of his family. Putting aside the difficulty which lay in the way of his hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand) of providing money for those persons who wanted farms which were now in the possession of others, and must be paid for, he pointed out that where a landlord bought up the tenancy, and re-let the farm, the new tenant would have to pay, he presumed, fair value for it, either in the shape of a full rent, or, if less than a full rent was charged, by payment of a fine to the landlord. In the latter case, at all events, it would, he thought, be obvious that such future tenant, getting his farm at a low rent by payment of a fine to the landlord, should be allowed to sell his tenant right. It would be grossly unjust to prevent his doing so. Another class of cases might arise—a present tenant might be unable to pay his rent, and be forced to sell by threatened eviction. That class of cases was regulated by Clause 45, under which a present tenancy, thus compulsorily sold, would become a future tenancy. But here, again, after the forced sale and purchase of the tenancy by a person who thereupon became a future tenant, it would be plainly inequitable—nay, he might say dishonest—to preclude such a future tenant from selling the tenancy he had thus been tempted to buy. But there were other, and, as it seemed to him, powerful reasons against this exclusion of future tenants. What was wanted in Ireland was that the land should be improved—better drained, better cultivated—and that there should be better farm-buildings and cottages. By what process, then, was this duty to be performed? There were about 1702 500,000 small tenancies spread over Ireland, and it was plain that the necessities of the case forbade the landlords making the desired improvements. Then the tenants must have the security afforded by the Bill, or they would not do it either. For every reason, he thought it would be exceedingly impolitic to deprive the future tenant of the power of sale. To enact this would do no good to anyone; but it would cause a vast amount of mischief, not only by discouraging improvements, but also by creating discontent and renewed agitation on the part of the constantly-increasing class of future tenants. Her Majesty's Government did not expect the Act would operate for all time; but they hoped it would have some durability. If they were to leave every tenant who came into a holding after the Bill passed without the security afforded by the provisions for sale of his tenancy, in 10 or 20 years' time there would, as a matter of course, be fresh clamour on the part of those future tenants when they saw that the value of their holdings, with their improvements, was left practically unprotected. Her Majesty's Government felt they would not be justified in accepting an Amendment which would deprive future tenants of the right of sale conferred by the Bill, and leave them, in consequence, without the inducement necessary for the improvement and proper cultivation of the soil.
MR. H. R. BRAND
asked, whether, if a present tenant sold to a future tenant, the landlord would be able to raise the rent immediately upon the purchaser entering?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
said, the 3rd clause dealt with the raising of the rent on a future tenancy at any time after the initial rent had been fixed.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stroud raised an issue of very great importance, and one which had to a considerable extent been acknowledged by the Attorney General for Ireland. It was, whether this Bill did or did not confer perpetuity of tenure? Or, in other words, as the question was raised by the hon. Member for Stroud, "was this right of sale to be conferred on existing tenants alone, or was it to be conferred on the successors of those existing tenants?" He perfectly admitted that the present tenant should have the right of sale.
MR. H. R. BRAND
said, the hon. Member had not exactly understood his Amendment, which limited the right of free sale to the present tenants and their descendants, so that it should not extend to future tenants succeeding them.
§ MR. GREGORY
admitted that the present tenant should have the right to sell; but he wanted to ascertain the effect of this on future tenants. In fact, who were future tenants? Were they to exercise the same rights which were conferred by this Bill on present tenants? As he understood the Bill, the present tenant had the right to go to the Court and obtain a lease at a fixed rent for 15 years, and that the power of selling was conferred on his successors. Was the Court to carry on the title to his successors? If that were so, he apprehended that the Bill gave perpetuity of tenure. Did the Government mean to confer this? Because, if they did, that perpetuity of tenure would be at once stopped by the Amendment. Before the Committee proceeded further, he thought this point should receive a satisfactory explanation.
§ MAJOR O'BEIRNE
said, he was connected with several properties where the right of sale existed, and it had been found to be thoroughly beneficial, both to the landlords and the tenants, whenever it had been exercised. As to the objection that the farmer paid such a high price for his tenant right that it allowed him to realize no profit from the holding, that was a pure delusion. Seeing that free sale of tenant right was established by the Bill, he thought the Government were bound to buy up the estates of those persons who bought them in the Irish Estates Courts since 1870. There was another question upon which he wished to have an explanation—namely, with regard to the statutory term of 15 years for the letting of land. If a landlord put a tenant into a farm for a time, was it compulsory upon him to make the term 15 years? If he could not put any tenant into a farm under statutory conditions for less than 15 years, what would the landlord have to do who wished to let his land for three or four years only? No landlord would be content to take a tenant whom he only wanted for a few years if he was to be compelled to buy him out afterwards. It would, therefore, be a great objection to the Bill if it were found that no landlord would be allowed to let his land for 1704 less than 15 years. A landlord ought to be allowed to let his land for any period that suited him, whether it was three, six, 10, or 15 years. If the Irish people had the management of their own land to-morrow, they would not tolerate a restriction such as this, and it would certainly not be tolerated in any other country in Europe. In every country where a proprietor had his own land under his own management, and desired to lease it, he only let it for a period which suited his own convenience. ruder these circumstances, he thought that that part of the Bill which required a landlord to let his land for no less a period than 15 years was unsatisfactory, and should be amended.
§ MR. PELL
understood the questions raised to be these. What would happen in the case of a tenant possessing himself of a freehold, and becoming the solo possessor of the land? And what would happen where the landlord had possessed himself of the right of occupation, and had all the interest of the farm? He understood that the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand) wished to obtain an answer from the Law Officers of the Crown upon these points. He (Mr. Pell) wished to know if it would be possible, in the event of the landlord leasing land, after having become possessed of the tenant right—in such a case as the case of pastoral land turned into arable land, and in the event of the landlord wishing to put in a new tenant, and the new tenant going out in the course of a few years—would it be possible to make any demand upon the landlord for the rights of the tenant on giving up the farm? In point of fact, what would such a tenant have to sell? What he wished to get at was this. Of course, the tenant would be compensated for any improvements he had himself made, however short a time he might have been upon the holding; but would he be entitled to compensation for disturbance in respect of having been the tenant of the land for a period of, say, one or two years? How would he differ, or in what different position would he be, from the tenant who had bought the right of occupancy from the tenant who preceded him, and had not taken the tenancy direct from the landlord?
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE
was glad that the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) had quite understood the Amendment of the 1705 hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand). He said that, because he did not think his hon. Friend the Member for East Sussex (Mr. Gregory), who preceded him, had quite seen the object of the Amendment. The object of the Amendment moved by his hon. Friend was to ascertain more clearly what was to be the position of the future tenant—how the future tenancy was to be formed under the Bill. A future tenancy might arise, as the Attorney General for Ireland had pointed out, when the tenant right had been merged in the purchase on the part of the landlord; or it might arise immediately after the passing of the Bill, in the case of land itself at this moment in the hands of the landlord. There was a third way in which it might arise practically under Clause 45, when a tenancy was determined in the manner mentioned in that clause. Now, he would put aside for a moment the case of Clause 45, because that clause was a most difficult and intricate one, and it seemed to him that it would have to be considered, on the whole, on its own merits. It was a very large question, indeed, as to how far it was desirable or right that a tenancy should be held to have actually, altogether, and entirely determined by the acts of the tenant there mentioned. This was a concession which he made, without pledging himself to any private opinion, to certain hon. Members on that side of the House, whose views were I strong on the side of the tenant. He preferred at this moment, however, not to take the case of Clause 45, but rather to fall back upon the two cases which occurred more immediately—the case of land unlet at this moment; and the case of such parts of the landlord's demense as were on his hands at this moment, and where the landlord had exercised his right of pre-emption under the Bill. His hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand) wanted to ascertain what would be the legal position of the future tenant in the other two cases—that was to say, whether he could in any sense be considered the representative of any goodwill ho had purchased, or of any improvements that might have passed to him. It was argued that there was no privity between him and any other tenant, and, therefore, that he could have no claim in respect of the goodwill and improvements. Then, how could it be argued that he was endowed 1706 with the right of free sale, which, undoubtedly, had at its root and its origin a connection between these two circumstances—namely, improvements made by the tenant, coupled with that tradiditional feeling about the occupation of land which in England was called goodwill, and in Ulster was known by the name of tenant right? The Attorney General for Ireland said that in that case the landlord would charge an initial rent up to the full competition or rack rent value of the land; and, further, that the tenant would have nothing whatever to sell. His (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice's) own impression was, that if the Attorney General for Ireland and the future tenant could be closeted together now, and the imaginary future tenant were told this, he would be very much astonished and would strongly demur to the position taken by the Attorney General for Ireland. But that was not all. The right hon. and learned Gentleman went on to argue that if, in the exercise of his right, the tenant executed improvements which he would have the right to sell; and then he said—by implication, although not in actual words—that the good will or tenant right which existed in the present tenant would, with the fluxion of time, revive in the future tenant, and that that interest of the future tenant would be inadequately protected by compensation for disturbance under the Land Act of 1870. He assumed that the argument of the Attorney General for Ireland was good; but he wished to point out that it took the right hon. and learned Gentleman a great deal farther, because if it was good that the whole of the tenant right would be actually revived in the future tenant, then in that case he was bound to give to the landlord that protection of the intervention of the Court which the House had been expressly told by the right hon. and learned Gentleman on a previous occasion was the protection of the landlord against the tenant right eating out the rent. There would be tenant right forming and growing, and therefore they were bound to give the landlord protection against that tenant right gradually eating out his rent. Consequently, if the argument of the Attorney General for Ireland was good, it was good for a great deal more than the right hon. and learned Gentleman was willing to grant. It was an argument, not against the Amendment of 1707 the hon. Member for Stroud, but in favour of including future tenancies in Clause 7 of the Bill. In the debate on the second reading, he (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) had pointed out that the Government were caught between two stools. The conclusions arrived at by Lord Bessborough's Commission were perfectly logical. They were in favour of extending the protection of the Court, and giving free sale and fixity of tenure to future tenancies. The Report of the O'Conor Don was also coherent and logical, when he said that it was only fair the present tenant should have his rights protected. But the O'Conor Don argued that the future tenant was not in the same position, and therefore he put the future tenant on one side of the line and the present tenant on the other. But the Government did neither the one thing nor the other. They had invented a class of future tenants, and had given them some of the privileges of the Bill but not all, and had placed the landlord in reality in a worse position as against the future tenants than in regard to present tenants. He was aware that in one sense these arguments, whether on one side or the other, were not of very great importance, because the number of future tenants, for a considerable time, would be very small. He was perfectly convinced, for the reasons he had given on the second reading of the Bill, that it would be a very long time indeed before there were future tenants. They would probably have to pass several more Land Bills; and, no doubt, this question would be swallowed up in the general vortex of the Land Question. But he was discussing the Bill in the presumption that it was going to be a permanent settlement of the question; and, in that light, he must say that he thought the arguments of his hon. Friend had not been adequately analyzed, and that the present Bill either went too far or not far enough.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
was sorry to find such an Amendment coming from the other side of the House. He could understand it if it came from that (the Opposition) side, because he thought if t were passed it would be fatal to the Bill. If they were to allow this power to be only given to the present tenant, as proposed by the Amendment, it would destroy all the benefit which the people of Ireland expected to get in the future 1708 from this legislation. The Amendment said quite plainly that the Bill should apply only to present tenancies; whereas, as he understood the Bill, it was to apply to every tenant. Consequently, if the Amendment were accepted, it would destroy the usefulness of the Bill in one of its main principles; and all the Government could say under the circumstances was—"Save me from my friends!" He was somewhat astonished to find that the Amendment which most vitally affected the principles of the Bill came from the other side of the House. Those who were in earnest in wishing to settle the Land Question would, undoubtedly, oppose the Amendment, and support the Bill.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
thought it desirable that the House should be perfectly clear as to what the object of the Amendment was. There was no doubt that without this Amendment the 1st clause of the Bill would apply to present and future tenants. The object of the Amendment, therefore, was to strike out from the 1st clause the Proviso as to future tenancies, and to restrict it to present tenancies. Now, the questions that were asked in reference to this proposal were these. "Suppose," said the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand) and the noble Lord the Member for Calne (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice)—"suppose land is in the landowners' hands"—for that was the way it was understood in Ireland—"suppose land is in hand, either through not having been let by the owner, or by the owner having purchased from the tenant the interest of the tenant in that land. What is the position of that owner letting such land after this Bill passes and so creating a future tenancy; and what is the position of the future tenant?" There was an old proverb, which he believed to be a correct one, and one that prevailed pretty much throughout the transactions of life—namely, that "the proof of the pudding was in the eating." Accordingly, these questions might be solved by reference to facts. He would take a case, which was not an imaginery one, but one that really existed; because he thought that hypothetical cases and imaginery arguments did not tend very much to advance the practical question. He would take as an illustration the case in Ulster of a landlord who had bought up the interest of his tenant, and thus 1709 had the land in hand to let.. He found in the evidence taken by the Bessborough Commission, at Question 4,461, in the evidence of a gentleman named McIlroy, an auctioneer largely connected with land transactions in the North of Ireland, a statement made as to what would be the effect there in such a state of things—Do you mean to say," asked Mr. Kavanagh, "that if the fee simple and the tenant right were put up together, that the price obtained would give 64 years' purchase for the two?The answer was—The question is a peculiar one, because the two interests are never put up together.In answer to Question 4,462, he says—I remember one case, but it is not exactly parallel. The landlord had bought the tenant right of a farm. I sold the tenant right of that farm on behalf of that landlord, and I sold it at a very high rate of purchase—I believe 20 or 24 years' purchase. He had the fee simple remaining still, and it would have brought its own price; the tenant right brought its own price, and if the fee simple had been sold it would have brought its own price too.Therefore, in a case where the landlord bought up the tenant right, and kept the land "in hand," he could, after this Bill passed, adopt one of two courses. Having the land discharged of all obligations to any tenant, he could, as to a future tenant, put a full rent upon it; or, if he preferred it—and he probably would—he could take a fine, or what is virtually the same thing, sell the tenant right to the incoming tenant, and keep the rent of his farm on a level with the rents in the district. He could do exactly what the landlord did in the case Mr. McIlroy spoke of, and take a fine from the tenant equivalent to the tenant right he had paid for, and let the land at a low rent. It amounted to precisely the same thing. Such, then, would be the position and power of a landlord, who, after this Bill passed, let land in his own hands to a future tenant. The hon. Member for Stroud and the noble Lord the Member for Calne then said—"Suppose the tenant was to leave the farm next year, is he still to have the right to sell?" Certainly he was; and over and above this fine, if he had paid one, if he had made any improvements in the farm, and had done his best to improve the condition of it—his right of occupancy, his good will in his holding, would have a saleable value more or less. He might repeat one observation 1710 which had already been made, that the last thing in the world an Irish tenant would do was to leave his farm as long as he could hold by it, and, so far from taking a farm and desiring to sell it the next day, he would be far more likely to look out for additional land; but if he did want to sell, he had a saleable goodwill commanding a money value. The more a farm was capable of improvement, the greater the value to which the tenant's goodwill or tenant right might be increased, so that the tenant who bought the goodwill of a farm had a direct interest in increasing its value, and bought with that object. He had already referred to a case which occurred in the North of Ireland; he would now mention one which occurred not far from his own home in the Province of Munster, where it was said, but said inaccurately, that no tenant right, and nothing equivalent to tenant right, existed. In Munster, just as in every other part of Ireland, the tenant on taking a farm took the power of improving it and increasing the value of his occupation right in it; and if he remained there one year or 100 years it was only a question of degree what was the value of his right of occupation in the goodwill of his farm, and that depended on its condition and the improvements he effected upon it. In the Barony of Duhallow there was a farm the valuation of which was £54 a-year. Hon. Members would be aware that, in the opinion of the Commissioners, Griffith's valuation might be taken all round at 33 per cent below the fair letting value of a farm. ["No, no!"] An hon. Member said "No, no!" and he took it for granted that he had not read the Evidence of Mr. Ball Greene, the Commissioner of Valuation. He (the Solicitor General for Ireland) had read that Evidence, and he would rather trust to the Commissioner, who was a gentleman of experience, than to the denial of the hon. Member. This farm, valued at £54, was let at £80, which was a fair and reasonable letting rent. The proprietor was satisfied with it, and the trustees who succeeded to the management of the estate, after the death of the proprietor, were also satisfied with it. Yet could the Committee imagine for a moment what the interest was which the tenant had made in that farm? The man who held it sold his interest in it for £500. 1711 They would find the case mentioned in the evidence of Mr. Jeremiah Hegarty, at page 531 of the Report of the Richmond Commission. He was asked—What did you give the £500 for:—For the interest in the land; for the goodwill of the outgoing tenant. I suppose when you gave £500 for this farm, you thought you were buying what was worth the money?The answer was—I looked upon it in that way. Then I should like to know how you made the calculation?—I made the calculation that the land was capable of being vastly improved; I made a calculation of what it would be able to produce when I bought it, and what the interest upon the money would be in its present condition, and in an improved condition, after the expenditure of a considerable sum of money. There were no buildings upon it when I took it, and I expended £500. or £600 on buildings. If you were able to expend all that amount of money—£500 in purchasing the farm, and £500 or £600 on buildings—was not the runt of £80 a-year a low rent?—It was a fair tenantable rent. The valuation was only £54.The Committee had there pretty good evidence as to what a tenant in Munster coming in and buying the goodwill in a farm could do. He could make a farm worth only £80 a-year rent worth his while to pay £500 for the tenant right of it, and to spend £600 in improving it—making about £1,100 in all. Of course, the tenant made the property more valuable for every interested in it; and what reason could there be for not selling the goodwill of a farm to a man who would make it fructify for the benefit both of himself and of the landlord? [Colonel MAKINS: What was the acreage?] He apprehended that was wholly beside the question; the value of a thing was what it would bring. It was perfectly immaterial what the acreage was. The question was, what was its value? Perhaps some hon. Members were not aware that there were mountains in Ireland which would not bring 2d. an acre as rent, and yet might be, and had been, made good land by tenants' labour and expenditure. It was not a question of acreage at all, but a question of value. Well, then, when land in the owner's hands was let after this Bill was passed to a future tenant, what possible objection could in reason be made to his selling at any time his goodwill, or tenant right, or right of occupation, whatever you chose to call it, and which it was the interest of the tenant, or of the purchaser from the tenant, daily to make more valuable by improving the farm? The next question put by the hon. Mem- 1712 ber for Stroud and the noble Lord the Member for Calne was, what would be the position of a tenant under Section 45 of the Bill? He would be a "future tenant." A present tenancy might be determined and turned into a future tenancy, but it might continue. There were instances, he believed, particularly in the county of Gloucester, of farms being occupied by the same family for 300 or 400 years without any lease at all—merely yearly tenancies. Why should not the same thing exist in Ireland? A "present tenancy," no matter into whose hands the tenancy went, so long as it existed, and was continued by transmission, was, and it would have, all the advantages of a present tenancy. The future tenants would be persons who, if the present tenancy was broken, would come in, and their condition would be similar to such cases as he had already mentioned of farms held "in hand." A future tenant, roughly speaking in a word, would have all the advantages and privileges of the present tenant, with the sole exception, as the Bill now stood, that he could not go to the Court to get a fair rent fixed under the 7th Section of the Bill. He believed he had now fairly answered all the questions that had been put.
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, he was disposed to support the Amendment. The hon. Member (Mr. Brand) proposed to exclude future tenancies from the operation of the clause, and for very good reasons. As he (Mr. Plunket) understood the effect of the clause, it would be almost impossible for any landlord to get quit of the saleable tenant's interest in his property. Of course, to hon. Gentleman who were in favour of enforcing the landlords of Ireland to keep land in their own hands, or to part with it altogether, or to take upon their property tenants who would always be able to sell their interest for the best price they could get, the Amendment would be a very bad one. They were only to incur and encourage this peculiar provision of land tenure in Ireland under great and pressing necessity, and for temporary purposes. He could foresee the temptation to the landlords to charge as high rents as possible. He could not understand the ground upon which the right of free sale was to be extended to future tenancies; but he saw considerable practical inconvenience in doing so.
said, it was well the Committee should be aware of the importance the Government attached to this Amendment. The Bill had been introduced with the intention of asking the Committee to consider with care all fair Amendments, but not to admit any new Amendment which would give the measure a new character. He could not say too explicitly that in their view the admission of the present Amendment would give a now character to the Bill. They could not, under any circumstances, be parties to depriving any future tenancies of the right of free sale. That, he begged, might be understood as clearly as possible, because the Government considered that if, on the one hand, they declined to accept the large mass of Amendments essentially altering the Bill in the sense of extending and enlarging its provisions, they were, at least, bound by every consideration of honesty and principle to resist Amendments which would go to narrow the Bill, and that was the principle upon which they meant to act. There were three great changes introduced into the law by this Bill. One was that they abolished virtually, and they would be prepared to abolish directly, the limitation which the Land Act imposed upon the right of assignment. The right of assignment being established, that assignment was the tenant right, which tenant right, being in itself agreeable to the law of land tenure, happened from the circumstances of Ireland to bear in that country a peculiar value, and to wear a character there of which it was not usually possesseda—a character of which it was certainly not possessed in this country. That change was one which, in his belief, and in its essence, had been made by the Land Bill of 1870 had the Bill been permitted to continue in the shape in which it was sent from this House. But it was not permitted so to continue; most unfortunately, influences at work "elsewhere" forbade the tenant to assign. And he was sorry to find the noble Lord the Member for Calne (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice), with whom this was not the first time they had boon unable to agree upon very important matters in Ireland, disposed to ridicule the Bill beforehand. He wished he had hearth the noble Lord lament time course taken by the House of Lords in 1870, and lament that these limitations were imposed, for he did not hesitate to express his dis- 1714 tinct opinion that if it had not been for that most unfortunate prohibition of the right to assign, the probability was that nine-tenths of the necessity under which they now laid for a new Land Bill for Ireland would not have existed. The second great change to be introduced into the law was the provision of a system which they hoped might be a self-acting system to check arbitrary increases of rent-not to prevent increases of rent, but to check them. The third great change was the power of appeal to a Court for fixing a judicial rent. He had been very unfortunate in explaining himself on this Bill to the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite; but he hoped he had made it quite clear that that which was viewed by them as exceptional and extraordinary in the Bill was the power of going into Court. There was not one word in any speech uttered from this Bench upon the Bill that had ever sustained the idea under which the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Plunket) seemed to labour—namely, that the introduction of the principle of free tenant right was looked upon by the Government as an exceptional and temporary change in the Land Law of Ireland. They stood upon it on its merits; they maintained that it had stood the proof of experience. It was shown by experience to be beneficial to the landlord not less than to the tenant; and they, holding that view, could hardly be expected to propose it as a temporary measure. They hoped that as it had worked in Ulster—he would not say to exactly the same extent, and if the Bill passed as it now stood it could not reach the same extent; and he meant by the same extent the exceptional price in certain cases—they hoped that that which had proved so beneficial in Ulster, and which had been attested in Ulster as to its benefit to the interest of the landlord by the far greater increase of rents in Ulster than in any other part of Ireland—they hoped that that principle which was ineradicably planted in Irish instincts and Irish traditions would exist and flourish as a permanent part of the Land Law of Ireland. Although he was not present during the early part of the debate, he understood the cases to be tried were those of the demesne lands and of the landlords who had bought up their tenant rights. Why were they to try a great and fundamental part of the Bill upon 1715 cases thoroughly exceptional? There was not one case in a thousand of all the holdings that were likely to be in Ireland that would fall under either of those categories. If his hon. Friend thought that the case of a landlord who had bought up the tenant right required a special provision, let him move such a provision. It was clear that if a landlord had bought up the tenant right he ought to have what he had bought, and there was no doubt he would have it. He apprehended there was not the smallest doubt he would have it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Plunket) attempted to show that the landlord might be tempted. to charge the highest competition rent, and, instead of acknowledging that answer as perfect for the purpose for which it was given—namely, to show that the landlord's interest was secure—turned round and said he would rack rent the tenants. The answer to that was that it remained in the hands of the landlord to charge, if he pleased, the highest competition rent. If he did not like to do that, then let him get from the tenant whom he had introduced the best price he could for the tenant right. That was what the Bill would allow him to do, and consequently there was not the slightest semblance of interference with the right of the landlord. But then it was said it was very wrong to give the power of sale. The Landlord could sell to the tenant, and the tenant ought to be allowed to sell in his turn. The case of a landlord not wishing that the tenant should sell the tenant right to a party independent of him was provided for, because they had given the landlord the pre-emption. Tim landlord, therefore, was fenced round in all his rights. If his hon. Friend (Mr. Brand) wanted more protection, let him propose something that had reference only to the cases where the landlord had purchased the tenant right. But now, in the same way in regard to the demesne lands, let the landlord fix whatever rent he pleased, and let him put on the land whatever else it was worth in the shape of tenant right. These were exceptional cases; and if there was a necessity they might deal with them by exceptional provisions; but his hon. Friend came down and said—" No; on account of these exceptional cases I will limit the right to sell to present tenancies." Now, let them consider what 1716 that meant. There were 600,000 and odd tenant farmers in Ireland who would be invested by the law with this right to sell; but by degrees all these tenancies would become future tenancies. The future tenancies would buy from the present tenancies. ["How?"] The first tenant of the future tenancies would have to buy from the last tenant of the present tenancies. [Mr. H. R. BRAND: Under what clause?] It was under the clause in which the Amendment had been moved. Well, were the future tenants to purchase from the present tenants, and then be deprived of the right of sale?
MR. H. R. BRAND
said, that was not the object of his Amendment. He should think tenancies purchased from the present tenants were continuations of the present tenancies.
said, the future tenancies would come in by purchasing the holdings from the present tenancies, and the Committee were going to give the holders of present tenancies the power to sell the tenant right, and that was a thing which would bring a price in the market. If anyone came into the holdings as future tenants they must come in by purchase, and the proposal now was that they should have no right to sell. [Mr. BRAND: No.] His hon. Friend said "No." Well, then, let him alter Lis Amendment, because, as it now stood, it confined the right of sale expressly to the present tenancies.
MR. H. R. BRAND
said, he apprehended that all persons purchasing from present tenants would be present tenants themselves. The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing the Bill, said the modes in which land could pass from a present to a future tenant were if there be a breach of covenant or eviction. The occupier, after the land had passed back into the hands of the landlord, would be a future tenant.
said, that was quite true, and that was the only way in which there could be future tenancies. The sale of the tenant right might be compulsory, and the succession of tenants might be broken. But the incoming tenant would have to pay, and the Committee were now invited by his hon. Friend to say that that man, having been induced to buy, should be permitted to sell. The Government would rather break up the Bill altogether than accept such an Amendment; and, in their opinion, that would be 1717 most unfortunate. They desired Parliament to enact what, in the main and in ordinary circumstances, would be a good Land Bill for Ireland, and they were convinced there could be no good Land Bill for Ireland if it be framed in defiance of the bust usages of the country. The best usage of the country was that which had prevailed in Ulster, where the tenant and the landlord had flourished most. That usage, as they now had it reported to them by their Commissioners, prevailed over all the country in a constantly increasing degree; there was no county in which it was not found, and it was nothing but the artificial prohibition inserted in the 13th clause of the Land Act which prevented it being universal in Ireland. They desired that the Land Law of Ireland should work harmoniously, and it was a fundamental principle of the Bill that the right of sale should be enjoyed by generation after generation.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, he could not regard the question as a complicated one. In his mind the Amendment was simple, and the considerations which should guide them to a conclusion were clear. The Amendment drew a distinction between present and future tenancies, and it proposed to leave the whole of the 1st clause of the Bill untouched in reference to present tenancies, the definition of which he did not think had been very clearly presented to the House by the Prime Minister. Although it might be reasonable, having regard to the present circumstances of agricultural affairs in Ireland, to deal exceptionally with present tenancies, no such urgency or necessity could be suggested in reference to the future tenants. The Prime Minister, in introducing the Bill, in his speech on the second reading, and in subsequent speeches, had pointed out that his object had been to interfere with the existing laws of freedom of contract and demand and supply as little as the present grave exigencies would permit. That being so, even if the 1st clause, instead of being amended was altogether struck out, future tenants would, under ordinary circumstances, have power to sell and to assign; so that the Amendment was merely dealing with a special right which, under the existing section, was given for the special purpose of the Act. What, then, were future tenants? Present tenancies meant what nine out of ten men would consider 1718 future tenancies; and therefore it was necessary to have clearly defined the difference between future tenants according to our ordinary modes of speech, and future tenants according to the technical mode under this Bill, for it was only to the technical class of future tenants under the definition clauses of the Bill that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stroud was directed. Present tenancies comprised, under the Definition Clause, not only every existing tenant, but also every person who might for generations occupy those tenancies in any form of continuity of title. That showed that the Amendment left untouched, within which he would call the equity of the Bill, all present tenancies and all persons who for generations might stand in the shoes of the present tenants. What class were excluded? Those who might under certain clear and settled conditions become the holders and owners of what the Bill called technically future tenancies. Those he would call, roughly, three. A landlord could make a future tenancy by letting out some of the land now in his own hands. Was it reasonable that that landlord, clothed with absolute dominion in his property, if at any time after the passing of the Bill be chose to make a new contract, should be bound by the terms of the Act, and not be left to the operation of the ordinary Common Law? That he thought unreasonable. Then he would suppose that a landlord, instead of letting out some of the land in his own hands, acquired by purchase possession of a farm, and let the farm again—what was the equity of a future tenant in that case? Why should the landlord be saddled with the special section in this Bill, instead of being left under the ordinary Common Law, which had hitherto been considered sufficient? Then there was the case of a future tenancy created by a breach of the statutory conditions by an existing tenant. This was not a time for much consideration for landlords he was aware; but he would venture to ask why if an existing tenant, who was given all the vast equities under this Bill, who could not be evicted except for a breach of certain statutory conditions, the keeping of which was but the simplest regard for ordinary good husbandry, lost a tenancy by such a violation, the future tenant should come in over the bones of the broken conditions, and stand in a better position than all the other future 1719 tenants? What was the sole answer of the Prime Minister to that? He picked up the usual incidental suggestion about the House of Lords, and said if something had not happened "somewhere" this Bill would be necessary, and that if something which had been introduced by the House of Lords in another Bill had not been introduced, this Bill might not have been necessary. That kind of statement had been heard on several occasions; it had been traced to its source, and would not stand close examination. He was glad to know that the House of Lords had not hesitated to produce a Return which would indicate the smallness of the changes made by that House, and which would show whether those changes had made this Bill necessary. The Prime Minister stated that the landlord had the remedy in his own hands. What was the meaning of that? He would take it that the landlord in possession of his land let a farm at full competition rent. Then there was nothing to sell; and, in other words, the worse the landlord the more certain it was that he would be secure from the operation of this Bill. Then the Prime Minister said the landlord might let at a moderate rent and with a full fine. In other words, he might let it at full value and laugh at the tenant; so that the only person who suffered was the good landlord who took a moderate rent without a fine. The Amendment was, of course, an important one—he quite concurred with the Prime Minister in that—but he could not regard it as being of that overwhelming importance suggested. It was, however, entitled to support, and he hoped it would be accepted.
§ MR. SHAW
thought it very interesting to see the great sympathy which was shown by hon. Members opposite for the future tenants; but he would suggest to them that the best way of showing that sympathy would be to urge the Government to raise the future tenant in all respects to the position of the present tenant. They gave advantages to the present tenant which they would deny to the future tenant; but he did not think the hon. Member who moved the Amendment agreed in that view. He (Mr. Shaw) differed entirely from the statement of the right hon. and learned Member (Mr. Gibson) as to the number of instances in Ireland of the two particular cases referred to. Instances of 1720 landlords buying back their land and re-letting it were very few; and supposing that in future they did so, would they put up buildings and offices? Nothing of the kind. They would let the land to the incoming tenants just as it was, and, as a general rule, the tenants would have to lay out money on the land; but by tins Amendment they would be denied the right to sell the property they had created. How many cases wore there of landlords who distinguished tenant right in that way? There were landlords who did not allow their tenants to deal with each other; but the number of cases in which landlords bought up the tenant right was very small. The object of the Amendment was to minimize the effect of the Bill. He did not speak on behalf of Members of the House; but he thought he might speak as knowing the opinions of Members and of the people of Ireland. The Prime Minister had said this Bill was the least way in which the Land Question could be settled, and he believed that was the fact; and that if in any way the House minimized the effects of the Bill, it would be his duty, and the duty of those who felt with him, as representing the Irish people, to treat the Bill as a lapsed Bill. He believed some of his hon. Friends opposite thought that even as it was the Bill would hardly satisfy the people of Ireland; but they were willing, if the Government passed it with certain Amendments, to accept it and give it a trial. But the House must not think they could play with this question or with this Bill. They had never been brought face to face with a more important crisis. They might minimize the Bill by this or other Amendments; but did they suppose that the Irish Representatives, knowing the wants of the people, could possibly go on with the Bill and aid its further progress? That was perfectly impossible, and they would have to oppose the Bill; and then the House would see what would be the state of things in the coming winter. They could not evict the whole nation, and, speaking from his own knowledge of the state of feeling in the South and in the North of Ireland, he believed that if this question was not settled quickly and wisely, there would be a state of things in Ireland that would make the strongest heart tremble. They were in the face of an agitation which would probably shake 1721 the institutions they revered and the Empire they loved. He felt deeply on the subject; he had worked hard upon it, and he was convinced that this Bill was the minimum Bill which would satisfy the people; and he hoped hon. Members would not by Amendments give excuse for dissatisfaction, and make the Bill useless and worthless.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
would offer no opinion as to the intention of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment; but he would show him what the effect of the Amendment must be in minimizing the benefits of the Bill. The Amendment was perfectly logical, and he could understand such an Amendment coming from an hon. Member who believed that the Bill was about to do something vicious, absurd, and mischievous, and who desired that it should be limited in point of time and narrowed in its scope; but those who believed that it was going to be a great and healing measure, could not but regard the Amendment with jealousy. There had been a good deal of incredulity when the Prime Minister said the future tenant might purchase, and therefore why should he not sell? He could give many cases in which the incoming tenant might be a purchaser from the outgoing tenant. Such a tenant was a future tenant if he purchased from an outgoing tenant, who sold because he had not paid his rent; and if he purchased, why should he not sell? Then there was the case of the tenant who was compelled to sell because he had persistently committed waste. The man who purchased from him was a future tenant, and why should he be prevented from selling when he had the right to buy? A third class was that of the tenant who had refused to allow the landlord to exercise his right to mines, and was compelled to sell. The man who bought of him, and who, perhaps, paid him £2,000 for his interest, became a future tenant, and yet the Amendment would prohibit his selling. That was something like a reductio ad absurdum. Another case was that of a man who was compelled to sell because he had sub-let or sub-divided his holding without permission, and the man who purchased from him became a future tenant. His construction of the future tenant was borne out by the Interpretation Clause. A future tenant might also come in where a man took a holding which the 1722 landlord had himself been working, and in which there was no existing tenancy. He did not believe the hon. Member for Stroud had in his mind the danger to which he (Mr. Sullivan) had called attention. The right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin had drawn attention to the great advantage it would be to landlords to be able to do what they liked in future. With some knowledge of how the Act of 1870 had worked, he would warn the Committee to beware of the hidden danger in that direction. The Amendment would put a premium on the clearing of farms in Ireland; and the moment the landlords were given a reward for using in a severe way all the powers of clearing the farms, there would be a new crop of evils. According to the Interpretation Clause tenancy meant the tenant's interest in his holding and the interest of his successors, and the rent of the tenancy meant the rent for the time being payable. But future tenancy meant any tenancy beginning after the passing of the Bill. Any person who held under an unbroken continuity was a present tenant for generations to come; but if the continuity was severed by any of the modes provided in the Bill the continuity ceased, and the future tenancy began. He appealed to the hon. Member to consider whether it was fair to forbid a purchaser the right to sell?
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
thought there was no very wide difference between the Government and hon. Members on that side of the House; but he considered the Amendment would go further than would be consistent with the intention of the Mover, and it was possible that the Bill as it stood might go rather further than the Government intended. Still, he thought the Prime Minister had, to some extent, met the hon. Member when he said he would consider favourably any alteration which affected this particular clause in regard to landlords who had bought up the tenant right. That was really the whole question. In various ways the landlord might take up the land and not be willing to let the tenant buy the tenant right from him. The Prime Minister was evidently of opinion, and, no doubt, he had had vast experience on this subject, that free sale was a cherished custom and practice in Ireland. That, however, was not so. No doubt free sale, so far as it existed, was an Irish custom, 1723 for it was not met with anywhere else; but it was not practised all over Ireland, and they would have under this Bill, as they had had under the Act of 1870, the landlords fighting and struggling against it because they hated it, and believed that it was thoroughly bad and economically unsound. Within the last few days they had had a marvellous proof of its unsoundness, in a Return issued with reference to the number of ejectments. In Ulster they were four times more numerous than in Leinster, three times more numerous than in Munster, and twice as numerous as in Connaught. In Ulster they were 1,200, as against 300 in Leinster. What could be the meaning of that if this free sale was a panacea for everything, as the Prime Minister believed it to be? This state of things must arise from one of two causes—either that free sale did not offer that security for rent which, in some quarters, it was alleged to offer, or that the tenant had paid such a high price for the goodwill that he was unable to cultivate his land properly and pay the rent to the landlord. He did not believe that landlords were all going to run away if the Bill passed; but he had no doubt they would struggle against free sale as hard as they had done before, for the reason that they believed it to be unsound. There was another aspect in which the matter might be viewed. The landlord might succeed to the tenancy of his own land on intestacy of the tenant, or might come into possession through breach of the statutory conditions on the part of the tenant, or might buy up the tenant right. He might get hold of the land and hold it in his own hand, and farm it and improve it. Then such a landlord, hating tenant right, might say to an incoming tenant—" I could make you pay me a sum as tenant right; but I will not do anything of the kind, as I believe the principle to be unsound. I believe the capital you should give me should be put into the land. I will charge you a certain rent and, as long as you pay that, you shall be my tenant." He would ask did they want, by this Bill, to give to these tenants—and he was sure the cases he had described would not be uncommon—absolutely the same rights that they would give to future tenants who paid directly for their tenant right? He hoped the Prime Minister would be able to exclude these tenants from the Bill—in tact, the right hon. Gentleman 1724 had partly intimated to the hon. Member for Stroud that he would do so.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he could not vote for the Amendment, which had been brought forward to remove a cause of alarm; but he must confess that the explanation they had heard from the right hon. Gentleman had alarmed him in another way. He had been under the belief that, after the passing of the Bill, future tenants would be a rare class—that they would only exist when the landlord had obtained possession of the property free from tenant right. In tins case, it seemed, the Prime Minister was not unwilling to make some concession, and he (Sir George Campbell) had himself thought that something should be done in that respect. But he now understood from the right hon. Gentleman, that the future tenants would be a large and a growing class; and, therefore, that a large number of tenants would undergo a degradation into a lower class. That, it seemed to him, would be a great evil. They had frequently heard of the evils of divided property. This measure, he had hoped, would tend to put an end to the division of property; he had thought that a higher class of tenants would be the result, and that these tenants would eventually buy out the landlords in some way and become the owners of the soil. When the landlord had got rid of all tenant right, or when the tenant had become the landlord himself, they would have a clear and complete owner, and they would no longer have this intermediate stage described as a modus vivendi. This process of degradation, however, would defeat that process of gradually terming a complete ownership at which he, for one, hoped the Bill aimed. First class tenants would be gradually degraded into second class, and every landlord who had acquired a complete property in his land would be prohibited from introducing the English or Scotch system of tenancy. This seemed to him to be not so much a question of the rights of landlords as one of public policy. Did they wish to make it impossible for the landlord, however completely he had become the owner of his land, to let a farm on the English or Scotch system? He trusted the Prime Minister would have this matter, as to the definition of future tenancies, cleared up, so that the evil he had described might be avoided.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, it was an extraordinary thing, but it was nevertheless the fact, that the further they went into this Bill the more difficult it was to understand. He had understood that one of the Government principles of the measure was fixity of tenure. That was absolutely denied by the Prime Minister, because the right hon. Gentleman stated, and stated distinctly, that he hoped, in no very long time, to see a large number of new tenancies created. How could these new tenancies be created? Why, in three ways, as had been shown by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand). By the landlord parting with his demesne lands; by the landlord's buying up the tenancy and letting another tenant have that property; and, under Clause 4, where, according to the statutory conditions of the Bill, the tenants would have the right to compensation for disturbance, and new tenants would be created. But what he objected to was that, in fact, notwithstanding all that had been said by the Prime Minister, the Bill would give perpetuity of tenure, because no one having parted with his land could get rid of his tenant unless he did something that came under Clause 4. That was the whole question, and he could not for the life of him see how the conditions of Clause 4 would be broken. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) shook his head. The Prime Minister's head had, certainly, been set going this evening; but perhaps he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) would be able to find out something which would somewhat change its motion. As he understood the Bill, a tenant could only be got rid of if he did something which was a breach of the statutory conditions of the measure. That had been clearly explained by the hon. and learned Member for Meath (Mr. A. M. Sullivan); and he would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that to give a man who had been got rid of for a breach of the conditions of Clause 4 the right of free sale or compensation for disturbance was putting a premium upon bad farming. That was the one thing they wished to get rid of, and that was the one thing they would perpetuate by the conditions of this measure. The hon. and learned Member for Meath had enumerated the conditions under Clause 4. The firs 1726 three were the most important—namely, non-payment of rent, bad farming, and persistent waste by dilapidation of buildings, &c., which was quite as detrimental to the holding as bad farming. Well, the tenant who failed in these conditions had no right to free sale; therefore, he held that the proposal of the hon. Member for Stroud was a sound one, and one which ought to commend itself to the judgment of the Committee. They would be doing nothing unjust to future tenants by accepting it. It was the tenant's own fault if he could not sell that which he had. He only forfeited it by doing that which he had no business to do under the Bill; and if he had forfeited, he had no right to be able to sell, and the Committee had no right to confer on him the power. There was one thing he was glad to hear the Prime Minister say—namely, that he would take into consideration the two classes mentioned by his hon. Friend. He (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had an Amendment on the Paper himself, but he believed this of the hon. Member for Stroud to be a sound one; therefore, he should support it.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir FARRER HERSCHELL)
said, he would trouble the Committee with very few observations; but as he thought there was some misapprehension in the mind of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, it was only right that he should correct him at once. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that the Bill created complete perpetuity of tenure, and that it was only through a breach of the statutory conditions that a tenant could be got rid of. But it should be remembered that this Amendment dealt with the distinction between present and future tenancies. This Bill did not create perpetuity of tenure with respect to future tenancies. [Sir WALTER B. BARTTELOT: Present tenancies.] The hon. and gallant Member said "present tenancies;" but the Amendment dealt with the distinction between present and future tenancies. They were not dealing with the position of present tenancies, but the reasons for excluding future tenancies from the provisions of the Bill. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) had said that the creation of future tenancies was a remote and improbable contingency. Well, if that were so, it could not be such a very 1727 serious matter if they were dealt with in the same way as present tenancies. He did not think it, however, such a remote and improbable contingency, because there were various ways provided in the Bill by which future tenancies might come into existence. Every piece of land let for the first time after the passing of this Bill would be a future tenancy. Whore the land was now under lease and the tenant after the expiration of the lease entered into a new arrangement with the landlord; where the tenant did not comply with the statutory obligations; and where, after the expiration of 15 years from the passing of the Act, the landlord exercised his right of pre-emption and again let the land—in all these cases future tenancies would be created. Therefore, before long many of these tenancies might exist, and, consequently, the creation of future tenancies was not such a remote and improbable contingency. In one way or another these tenancies were very likely to grow up in Ireland. Then arose the question how they were to deal with these tenancies. He agreed that it they regarded the provisions of this section as bad in themselves, as simply intended to deal with a temporary difficulty—an evil which they must submit to for that purpose—there might be something in the argument of those who had condemned the application of this section to future tenancies. But when they might have future tenancies at so early a date as after the passing of the Bill, it was a very serious and dangerous policy to raise great difficulties with regard to them. But the Government did not think that this right of sale was an evil thing in itself; and he ventured to say, that if they carefully weighed the evidence taken before the Land Commissioners, the balance of evidence would be found to be the other way. [Sir WALTER B. BARTTELOT: As to present tenancies.] He did not care whether as to present or future tenancies. What he was contending was that the power of the tenant to sell his tenant right, and so realize the value of such improvement as he himself had created, was all that the provision came to. ["No, no!"] Well, he thought it was unquestionably the case, and he would prove it in a minute. He would appeal to hon. Members who understood the Ulster Custom whether the creation of improvements was not one of the great 1728 elements which entered into the sale of the tenant right? He did not say it was the only element; but it was a great one beyond all question. But they proposed, with regard to the future tenant, not to allow him any right as to that element or any other element. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members said "No!" but he was quite sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin would confirm what he had said. Whether it was the sale of the improvements which the tenant had made, or anything else, if they carried this Amendment it was quite clear they would prevent the sale of those improvements at all. There could not be any doubt about that. Let them take the case which had already been put. Take the case where a future tenancy arose in any of the methods he had described. Suppose the landlord to be in possession of the land, and suppose that he, having the tenant right in his own hand, let the land to a tenant, receiving from him the sum he had paid for the tenant right, or, having had the land in his own hands, the value of the improvements he had effected, they proposed by the Amendment to prevent the incoming tenant from selling the tenant right he had bought. Suppose, on the other hand, the landlord let the land at the full competition rent, they might say the tenant had nothing to sell. That might be true when rue man entered into possession; but he might very soon make something to sell—he might improve it and make it much more valuable, but they would deny him the right of realizing the value of his improvements. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members said "No!" The Government had been accused of making the Bill obscure; but, he must say, that this was about as plain as anything he could conceive. They would deprive the tenant of the value of his improvements. ["No, no!"] Then if they would tell him how the man was to sell, when they had said "You are not to sell," he should be content. There was a third case. Suppose the land was let at a moderate rout, the landlord could raise it if there was any attempt to sell the tenant right, and deprive him of his due. Therefore, the right of free sale did not damnify the landlord, and, he contended, the experience of the province of Ulster proved that that was the case. Let them take this case. 1729 Suppose the tenant was compelled to sell his tenant right under the provisions of this Bill, it was out of the price of the tenant right that the landlord was to be paid the arrears of rent, if there were any; and if there had been any damage by breach of covenant, as, for instance, by waste, compensation was to come out of the price of the tenant right. And yet they said that the man who had provided the funds out of which the landlord was to get the amount of damage was not to sell his right. That would be the operation if the Amendment were carried. He did not propose to detain the Committee further. He had endeavoured to put forward these things as clearly as he could, and, if it was found that there were likely to be cases of exceptional hardship—where the clause would work oppressively—it might be amended. But, in a wholesale manner, to deprive future tenants of the right of free sale, would have a most prejudicial effect. Experience showed that if there was anything which tended to prevent undue fiction where a difficulty arose as to payment of rent, or as to the tenant right of the occupier—cases of which kind were, unfortunately, so common in Ireland—it was a fair concession of this right of free sale.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
rose for the purpose of asking the Government for an explanation on one or two points which arose naturally out of the speech of the Prime Minister, and which he did not understand to have been cleared up since the right hon. Gentleman had spoken. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to oppose the Amendment on the ground that he thought it desirable to establish the right of assignment—that was to say, the principle of tenant right—for generation after generation in Ireland for the future. And he grounded that policy on two assumptions. First, he said that in nearly every case the future tenant would have bought his holding; and, in the second place, he said that the Ulster Custom had been eminently successful in Ireland. It had, however, been pointed out by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) that the right of pre-emption which the Bill gave to the landlord would largely prevent the future tenant from becoming the proprietor of his holding. Many landlords in Ulster, differing from the right hon. Gentleman in his view of the right of assignment—and he (Mr. 1730 Chaplin) quite admitted it was a matter open to argument—disapproved of the principle of tenant right altogether. He knew many cases where large sacrifices had been made by the landlords for the purpose of getting rid of the custom. Let them take the case of a landlord who exercised his right of pre-emption, and did not choose to charge the future tenant with an excess rent—what was to be his position? Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to tell them that, under circumstances such as these, it was absolutely necessary for the welfare of the tenant, just for the landlord, and for the future benefit of Ireland, that the tenant was always to have the right of selling something which he had never bought? The right hon. Gentleman referred to Ulster, and argued before the Committee as though the case of that Province was identical with the case of the rest of Ireland where tenant right did not exist. Surely he must have forgotten that the Ulster tenant had always bought when he entered a farm, which was very different from the case of a man who entered on tenant right without paying anything for it at all. He would cite against the right hon. Gentleman an authority as high as himself, who disapproved of the extension of the Ulster Custom to the rest of Ireland. This authority, when it was argued that the extension of the Ulster Custom to the rest of Ireland was open to re-consideration, said—I must say that the extension of the Ulster Custom to the rest of Ireland does appear a manifest violation of the principles of justice, and to be impossible, if we mean to respect those principles.And then he went on, a little bit further, to say this—But when you talk of extending the custom to other parts of Ireland, you speak of a change which would alter the terms which, in those other parts of Ireland, have already been agreed upon between landlord and tenant; and, therefore, if you gave, in such a case, to the tenant the value of the custom existing elsewhere, you would be just taking so much from the landlord and giving it to the tenant."—[3 Hansard, cxcix. 1666–7.]The authority who made this statement was the Lord High Chancellor of England. This being the view of, perhaps, one of the right hon. Gentleman's most distinguished Colleagues, he hoped he would not think he was going beyond his right in asking for some explanation on this point. He had understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that but for 1731 the alterations which were made in "another place" in the Act of 1870, nine-tenths of the present legislation would have been rendered unnecessary. The Prime Minister, however, on another occasion, had used the following words, which were very inconsistent with the statement to which he alluded:—Defects have been developed in that Act which have seriously marred the completeness of its operation. Some of these defects, undoubtedly, …. are clue to the changes which the Bill underwent after it had left this House. But others of them, I am bound to say, were involved in the original construction of the measure, and even if it had passed into law in the same state as it passed this House, it would not have been completely adequate for its purpose."—[3 Hansard, cclx. 893.]This was rather different from what the right hon. Gentleman had said to-night—namely, that nine-tenths of the necessity for the present legislation would not have arisen but for the changes made in the Act of 1870.
MR. H. R. BRAND
said, his Amendment would only affect cases where the landlord had bought up the tenant right, and, if he understood the right hon. Gentlemen aright, he had made a concession in this respect. He was prepared to consider the case where the landlord had purchased the tenant right; and he was prepared, therefore, to give the landlord the power to let his land without conferring on the tenant the right of free sale. ["No, no!"] That, he thought, was the interpretation to be put upon the right hon. Gentleman's speech. If he (Mr. Brand) was correct, he would have no objection in withdrawing his Amendment, on the understanding that the Prime Minister would accept an Amendment in the same direction later on.
What I said was this, that, in my opinion, my right hon. Friend near me had pointed out that the landlord was perfectly and absolutely protected in cases where he had bought up the tenant right. ["No, no!"] I beg pardon, but I am stating what I know to be the case. At the same time, the cases where the landlords buy up the tenant right are extremely few, and I should be loth to quarrel with my hon. Friend (Mr. Brand) as to limited cases of this kind. I do not know what form the proposal would take; but, without binding myself, I should look favourably on any proposal to carry out my hon. Friend's object.
§ MR. W. FOWLER
wished to mention one other case, not mentioned by the Primo Minister. Let them take the case of a man owning a lot of waste land, and making it fit to be farmed by good tenants. That was a case very well known in some parts of Ireland, and it was well worth the consideration of the Prime Minister. The landlord would have bought up the tenant right, or it would never have existed, his own money having brought about all the improvements. He hoped the hon. Member would press the Amendment to a division.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I think we ought clearly to understand the position in which we shall leave this subject. Do we understand that the Government decidedly promise to accept an Amendment on this question? ["No, no!"] Then, as I understand it, the hon. Member for Stroud is going to withdraw his Amendment without making provision for the classes he desires to protect. The object of the hon. Member for Stroud is to Meet certain cases in which the future tenants might come in, not by purchase from the present tenant, but under certain circumstances, such as the landlord letting the demesne which he has held, or cases in which the landlord, having bought up the tenant right, afterwards wished to relet. As I understood the Prime Minister, he suggested that these cases might be met in the future by Amendments; but we wish to know are they really to be met, or is the matter to stand over in an indefinite way without any promise or understanding at all; and, if so, is the hon. Member for Stroud content with that condition of affairs? It seems to me that the hon. Member made out a case which is one very deserving of consideration—a case which we know does arise in Ireland. I suppose every hon. Member who has friends in Ireland can point to cases where that is so—where the landlord has thought it to be the best way to manage his estate never to allow a tenant right to arise, and in which he has made sacrifices of money which he might have received as arrears of rent had he allowed the incoming tenant to pay the outgoing tenant. I understand that you desire to protect 1733 the landlords who wish to carry on their estates on that principle under the operation of this Bill. The Amendment is given up; but we should have a clear understanding as to what is to be put in its place.
MR. H. R. BRAND
said, there was an Amendment lower down standing in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Meath (Mr. A. M. Sullivan); and if that was agreed to, he (Mr. Brand) proposed to bring up a clause excluding the cases mentioned. He understood from the Prime Minister that that Amendment would be favourably considered by the Government, although they could not commit themselves to a promise to accept it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The hon. Member must trust to the Chairman for calling an Amendment in its right place. The hon. Gentleman who rose will presently find himself fully protected.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
said, his was merely a verbal Amendment. If they looked at the clause they would see that the word "tenancy" was used twice, and in each case in a different sense.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 7, leave out "tenancy," and insert "holding."—(Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ DR. COMMINS
said, he intended to move the omission Of the words "to which this Act applies," in order to substitute the words "not hereinafter specially excepted." The Amendment would add nothing to the meaning of the Bill as the Committee understood it. He believed the intention of the Bill was that it should apply to every tenancy not specially excepted, but that was not expressed. It might naturally be expected that somewhere in the Bill there would be an enumeration of the tenancies to which the Bill applied; but no where in the Bill did such an enumeration exist of the tenancies to which the Act would 1734 apply. If they went carefully through the Bill they would find that, at all events, it would greatly puzzle a nonprofessional person, and, he believed, even a professional man, to understand what the tenancies were that were intended. He could only find two or three clauses which specially applied the Act to any particular class of tenancies; and unless this Amendment were inserted it would be doubtful whether the Act would apply at all to one class which was, probably, the largest class in Ireland. Take the tenancies implied in Clause 3. Before the landlord demanded an increase of rent it might be asked whether or not the Act applied to tenancies where the tenant was satisfied with the rent and the landlord was satisfied with the tenancy? If the landlord made no demand, he believed the Act would not apply to the tenancy at all; and, therefore, such tenancy would not be one that would fall within the present section, and the tenant would have no right to sell the holding. To prevent such a doubt existing which might afterwards lead to endless litigation, and mar the effect of the Act, he suggested to add the words—" Every tenancy not specially excepted from the provisions of this Act."
In page 1, line 7, to leave out the words "to which this Act applies," and insert "not hereinafter specially excepted from the provisions of this Act."—(Dr. Commins.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
I am not quite sure of the necessity of these words; but, on the whole, I think that they tend to make the matter clearer. They do not alter the meaning and intention of the clause.
§ MR. WARTON
thought the Amendment might be slightly improved by omitting the last words. "Not hereinafter specially excepted" would be quite enough.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. WARTON
moved, as an Amendment to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Roscommon (Dr. Commins), to omit the words "from the provisions of this Act."
§ Amendment proposed, to omit from the proposed Amendment the words "from the provisions of this Act."—(Mr. Warton.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Amendment."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
thought the adoption of the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton) might have the effect of introducing an unnecessary ambiguity.
§ MR. GIBSON
thought it would be better to defer the consideration of the proposal of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Warton) until they came to the exceptions at the end of the Bill. If the matter had not by that time been made quite clear, it could be further considered.
§ Amendment to proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. RAMSAY
said, he understood that the Prime Minister intended to report Progress at 12 o'clock; and as that hour had almost been reached, and the Amendment he (Mr. Ramsay) intended to propose would require a lengthened explanation, he would move to report Progress.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Ramsay.)
said, the time at the disposal of the Committee had been so dreadfully cut into in the early part of the evening that he was in hopes his hon. Friend would not have taken off another slice at the end of the evening. If his hon. Friend would kindly state his case before the Committee reported Progress it might be useful.
§ MR. GIBSON
thought the Amendment of the hon. Member for Falkirk (Mr. Ramsay) was capable of being moved in a very short time and in a very few sentences; but it must necessarily lead to some discussion.
§ MR. GIBSON
thought that, under all the circumstances, it would perhaps be most convenient that the hon. Member should open the day with the Amendment.
§ MR. HEALY
understood that the Government had accepted the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon (Dr. Commins). He thought they ought to go a step further, and include the ordinary tenancies under the Act. The ordinary tenants, as the Bill was now drawn, did not get a single bit of benefit from it, and he saw no reason why they should be restricted. He had himself an Amendment to move, the object of which was to apply this clause, subject to any such conditions as were in the Act declared to be statutory conditions. His point was, that if they only accepted the hon. Member for Roscommon's Amendment they would still exclude tenants who were under ordinary conditions. If the Bill stood as it was drawn, ordinary tenants would get no benefit from it; but it would take away the few benefits from them which they now possessed.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
asked if the noble Lord the Secretary to the Treasury intended to proceed that night with his Motion in regard to the Business of the House?
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
said, he should oppose the Motion for reporting Progress, unless the noble Lord gave a pledge that he would not bring the Motion on at that hour of the morning. It was simply playing with the House to attempt to subvert the ordinary Rules of the House at that hour of the night.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
wished to point out, with all respect, that the question of reporting Progress had a great deal to do with the Business that was to be taken afterwards. It was understood that Progress was to be reported at 12 o'clock, because the Prime Minister was anxious to ask for a Vote of Credit; but it was not understood 1737 that they were to report Progress to enable the Government to bring on the question of going into Committee of Supply on Mondays compulsorily without an opportunity being afforded for discussing any previous Motion.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
said, the noble Lord need be under no alarm; he would not proceed with the Motion of which he had given Notice.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.