§ MR. O'DONNELL
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether his attention has been directed to the letter of Mr. Bence Jones in the "Standard" of Tuesday, complaining of the excessive legal expenses incumbent upon even the most necessitous applicants to the Land Courts; whether the Government is aware that the services of a solicitor can only be secured by a payment of from£3 to£5 for the first stage of the tenant's case, and that the fee charged by valuators, whose evidence is so necessary in all contested claims, varies from£3 to£10 a day; whether this outlay is incurred even though the block in the Land Court leaves the tenant without a hearing of his case for an indefinite period of time; and, whether the Government will propose any remedy?
I have obtained certain information on this matter, and the state of the case is this. The statement is that there has never 34 been anything like the pains taken, or, I may say, the pecuniary sacrifice made, in order to cheapen litigation which have been taken by the Commissioners under the Land Act. The Commissioners have laid down a scale of fees to be paid to solicitors for work done in Court; but, of course, they cannot control payments which parties may think fit to make to their solicitors for work not directly done in Court. They have likewise thrown no difficulty whatever in the way of those tenants who may be disposed to conduct their own cases. There is no impediment thrown in their way with regard to valuators. The Commissioners state that there is a good deal of exaggeration about the fees, as they believe, that are paid by tenants to valuators. What they have to say is, in the first place, that they do not require a litigant to employ a valuator; and, in the second place, they do everything in their power to supply the place of valuators by making the personal inspection of the holding in every case they have to decide.