§ MR. SEXTON
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If his attention has been drawn to the circumstances of the series of evictions (some executed and others now proceeding) at the suit of Wybrants Olphant, a landlord in the county Donegal; whether, in numerous cases, families have been evicted for non-payment of one year's rent with costs; whether, in one case, the year's rent due was £1 2s., while the costs added to this debt by the proceedings of the landlord were £3 17s. 4d., and, in other cases, the costs bore a similar proportion to the rent; whether these tenants had applied to the Land Commission to have fair rents fixed, but their cases had not been reached up to the date of the evictions, and the evictions took place in consequence of non-payment of the old rents, the justice of which was the question pending before the Land Court; and, whether the Government, in cases where tenants have applied to the Land Courts to have fair rents fixed, will devise some means to 228 protect said tenants against eviction while their cases are pending in the Land Courts?
Sir, in answer to this Question, relating as it does to an Irish subject, I derive my information on it from the Irish Office. Evictions have taken place on the estate which is mentioned in the Question, and most of the persons evicted were evicted in consequence of owing two years' rent. The ejectments previously, in April last, were chiefly for sums from £2 4s. to £6. There was one case at £1, and another at £1 2s.; while in other cases the sums were considerably larger, one being £10 and one £50. With regard to the costs mentioned by the hon. Member, they did not vary in the exact proportion stated in the Question. They ranged from £2 10s. to £3 18s., and it certainly did happen that where the rent was £1 2s. the costs were £2 15s. A number of tenants on the estate applied in January last to have a fair rent fixed, and those cases were pending before the Donegal Sub-Commission. The Land Commissioners understoood that evidence has been taken; but that the lands have not yet been visited for inspection by the Sub-Commissioners. The Land Commission have no knowledge that any of the persons evicted were amongst those whose cases were pending before the Court of Sub-Commissioners, and further time to ascertain the facts of these cases will have to be taken, inasmuch as the district is very remote. It is a distance of 15 miles from the nearest telegraph station, and worse still, the telegraph communication is at present interrupted. In answer to the further Question of the hon. Member, I may say that the Land Commissioners have taken notice, very property, that under the 13th section of the Irish Land Act, where proceedings shall have been taken to evict a holding for non-payment of rent whilst an application for settlement is pending, that the Court has power to suspend those proceedings for eviction until a judicial rent is fixed.