§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
asked Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to a decision of Mr. Edward Greer, Chairman of the County Down Sub-Commission, delivered at Antrim on Monday last, whereby he dismissed the fair rent application of a leaseholder, named Edward Nelson, who is a tenant on the estate of Sir Richard Wallace; whether Mr. Greer held, on the authority of "Donoughmore v. Forrest," that the assignee of a lease which contains a clause against alienation, even though he had been accepted as tenant by the landlord many years ago, is not entitled to the privileges of the Land Act of 1887 unless the lessor or landlord had, by endorsement in writing, consented to the alienation; whether it is a fact that upwards of 75 per cent of the agricultural leases in Ulster contain covenants against alienation, and that the practice generally followed on the assignment of leaseholds there was merely to enter the name of the assignee in the rent-book as the new tenant, and give him the rent receipts in his own name; whether he is aware that, if this narrow interpretation be put on the word "lessee" in "The Irish Land Act, 1887," more than half of the leaseholders in Ulster will be debarred from having fair rents fixed; and, whether, considering the importance of the subject, and the danger with which these leaseholders are threatened, the Government will take steps to have the benefit of the fair rent clause secured to all the leaseholders to whom it was intended to apply?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
(who replied) said: I do not think the grievance is of so far-reaching a character as the hon. Member seems to suggest; but I think it is, or it may become, a real one. The Government have had their attention drawn to the matter, and have prepared a clause which would meet the difficulty. Since doing so I have been informed that the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) proposes to ask leave to bring in a Bill for a similar purpose. I shall be glad to confer with the hon. Member for South Tyrone, and to consider whether the ob- 1055 ject could best be attained by his Bill, by a Government Bill, or by a new clause in the Land Commission Bill. Of course, it must be distinctly understood that the Government cannot consent to any amendment in the Leasehold Clauses of the Act of last year; except one which will carry more perfectly into effect what was universally understood to be the intention of the Government which brought in the measure and of the Legislature that passed it.
§ MR. DILLON
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will bring in a separate Bill, and not tie up its fate with his Land Commission Bill.