HC Deb 15 July 1887 vol 317 cc941-3
MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

asked Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the decision just given by the Land Commissioners at Ballymoney, County Antrim, and referred to in The Northern Whig of the 12th instant, under which it has been held that a tenant who sublets a garden or allotment to a labourer is not "in bonâ fide occupation of his holding," and not entitled, therefore, to the advantages of the Act of 1881; whether this decision of the Sub-Commissioners is based upon a Judgment given in the Superior Courts; and, whether the Government will introduce a clause in the Irish Land Law Bill now before the House to amend the law in this respect?


I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the recent decisions of the Land Commission, to the effect that a tenant who has sub-let a labourer's cottage on his holding, and cannot prove express consent from his landlord, is disentitled to have a fair rent fixed under "The Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881," and, in particular, to the Judgment of Mr. Commissioner Greer, given at Ballymoney on the 11th July instant, in which he stated that he was constrained to dismiss a number of tenants' applications owing to their having allowed the cottages on their holdings, together with small gardens or patches of land for manuring, to be occupied by labourers; whether that interpretation of the Statute was objected to by Mr. Greer's lay colleagues, as being opposed to the general policy of the Land Laws, and to the Ulster tenant right custom, and calculated to deprive the majority of Ulster tenants of the benefits of the Act; and, whether the Government will introduce a clause into the Irish Land Law Bill now before Parliament, to remedy the evils complained of? the hon. Baronet also inquired, whether this decision would not be most injurious to labourers, as it would mean their dismissal by farmers in order to get under the Irish Land Law Act?


, in reply, said, he had not been able to get exact information as to the cases referred to, as the decision had not yet been returned to the Land Commission. His only acquaintance with the decisions referred to was derived from the Questions. If this had been unauthorized sub-letting, it deprived the tenant, under the Act of 1881, which limited the benefits to tenants in occupation, excluded middlemen, and distinctly prohibited sub-letting. But if a tenant sub-let with the consent of his landlord, expressed or implied, he was deemed to be in occupation of the holding, notwithstanding that sub-letting. If hon. Members brought forward Amendments on the subject to the new Irish Land Law Bill the Government would give them the most careful consideration.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)

mentioned the case of a widow who had occupied a farm of half an acre for 20 years, and who had been deprived of the benefits of the Act of 1881 for having in her house a labourer who paid 6d. a week.


intimated that he would put down an Amendment to the Irish Land Law Bill, with a view to amend the law in this respect.