HC Deb 16 November 1882 vol 274 cc1553-4

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, in view of the difficulties which have arisen in the working of the Arrears Act, the Government will pass a Bill this Session extending the time of payment of the year's rent due 1st November, 1881, from November 30th to March 1st next.


Before the Prime Minister answers the Question, perhaps he will permit me to ask him another with regard to the Arrears Act. A large number of settlements under the Arrears Act have been impeded in the case of tenants who can prove their inability to pay antecedent arrears, but who are unable to pay the costs of proceedings in ejectment, or for the recovery of such arrears taken by the landlords; and I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can see his way to recommend the enactment of provisions by which an order may be made for the payment of such costs out of the Church Funds where a tenant proves his inability to pay?


I think probably it would be better that the hon. Member should be good enough to give Notice of that Question. The matter he has opened is one of considerable difficulty, on which I would rather speak with an opportunity of considering what I have to say. In answer to my hon. Friend behind (Mr. Dickson), I am bound to say that it would be unsatisfactory to encourage a hope that the Government will be engaged before the termination of the present Session in legislation upon any subject; and it would be extremely difficult, if we were to admit legislation on one subject, to shut out legislation on other subjects. On the other hand, we are perfectly aware how very unhappy and unfortunate it would be if the benevolent and wise intentions of Par- liament towards that portion of the people of Ireland who had been involved in arrears were to be frustrated from want of time or any avoidable cause; and we shall, therefore, do our best to prevent such a result. But I am able to say—speaking upon the authority of an Order of the Land Commission, dated only on Monday—that they have hopes, by the employment of a larger number of investigators, of being able to dispose of all the business before them in the course of the present month. On that subject, however, either my right hon. Friend (Mr. Trevelyan) or myself will be prepared to give a further and more definite reply in the course of three or four days.