HC Deb 26 April 1888 vol 325 cc715-9

Bill considered in Committee. (In the Committee.)

Clause 1 (Certain assignments made without consent in writing to be valid).

MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)

said, in this Bill the Committee would recognize an honest attempt to mitigate some of the defects that had appeared in the Land Act for Ireland passed last year. There could be no doubt that as time went on other defects in the Bill, which were well known in Ireland, would be recognized in that House. The Amendments to the clause of which he had given Notice extended the scope considerably, but they had been carefully considered in consultation with those who thoroughly understood the matter. In consideration of the limited time at the disposal of the Committee, he would content himself with simply moving the first Amendment, and would await the observations of the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) thereon.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 7, after "assignment," insert the words "alienation, sale, sub-letting, or subdivision."—(Mr. J. E. Ellis.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said, the Amendment raised matter of considerable substance. The Bill was not objected to by the Government, inasmuch as it reopened none of the principles settled by the legislation of 1881 and 1887. But the Amendment went behind the settlement of both those Acts, neither of which admitted to the benefit of the Act sub-tenancies granted in violation of contract. On this ground the Government could not possibly accept the Amendment, and he must ask the hon. Member to withdraw it, because the Government had accepted the Bill only on the understanding that such questions should not he re-opened.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

said, he recognized the spirit in which the hon. Member for Rushcliffe had spoken; but he was bound by the undertaking on the second reading that the question alone of assignment should be dealt with.


said, he recognized that the situation had certainly been considerably altered since he placed his Amendment on the Paper by an Amendment of the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. M'Cartan) that somewhat covered the ground of his Amendment. He would, therefore, ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On the Motion of Mr. T. W. RUSSELL, the following Amendment made:—In page 1, line 10, to leave out the word "such," and insert the word "any."

Amendment proposed, In page 1, line 10, after the word "assignment," insert the words "or in cases where the interest under the lease has passed to an assignee under a contract for purchase, and the lessor has accepted the purchaser as tenant, or has given his consent to the purchase."—(Mr. Lea.) Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. M'CARTAN (Down, S.)

said, he desired to express his obligation to the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottingham (Mr. J. E. Ellis) for withdrawing his Amendment in favour of that which he (Mr. M'Cartan) had put on the Paper. It was consistent with the part he took in Irish affairs. The Amendment was designed to meet the common case of an assignment of lease, where no assignment in writing had been made, but where the assignee was simply given possession of the holding, and was accepted as tenant by the landlord, and when under the Act the tenant would be out of Court. He would only mention that the attention of the Government was first drawn to the point by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), who put a question to the hon. and learned Solicitor General on the subject before the Easter Recess.

Amendment proposed, In page 1, at end, add, "For the purposes of this Act the term 'assignment' shall include an equitable assignment, and the term 'lessee' in Section 1 of 'The Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1887,' shall include persons equitably entitled to the interest of the lessee."—(Mr. M'Cartan.) Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On the Motion of Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL for IRELAND, the following Amendment made:—In. page 1, line 18, after "1860," add— Provided always, That any person claiming to be lessee under any lease, and whose claims shall have been allowed by the Court under this section, and his executors, administrators, and assigns, shall be estopped in any proceedings whatever from denying that such person was assignee of such lease at the time when his claim was allowed. Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 (Short title) agreed to.


said, in refraining from moving the new clause, of which he had given Notice in the face of the opposition expressed by the Government, he did not for a single moment accept the statement that the matter was closed by the legislation of 1881 and 1887. He wished to make himself perfectly clear, that he did not admit that the Land Question was by any means closed.

Amendment proposed, after Clause 1, insert the following new Clause:— (Definition.) The term 'lessee' shall include any present lessee, sub-lessee, or tenant of the lands included in the lease, or any portion of them, where such lessee, sub-lessee, or tenant is or has been in bonâ fide occupancy of his holding with the knowledge and sanction of the head landlord, or sub-landlord, or his agent. The term 'assignment' shall include any assignment under seal, or any contract or transfer, by way of sub-lease or otherwise, whereby the entire, or substantially the entire, interests in any term is passed in law or equity."—(Mr. T. W. Russell.) Question proposed, "That the said Clause be there inserted."

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, In page 1, at end, add "and it shall apply to all applications of leaseholders made since the passing of 'The Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1887.' "—(Mr. Clancy.)


said, he had no objection to the substance of the Amendment, but the drafting would not quite carry out the intention the hon. Member had in view. If the hon. Member would accept the language he proposed (and which he read), it would be more specific, and meet more directly the case of leaseholders whose applications had been already refused before the Bill before the Committee had become law.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, to insert the following as a new Clause:— (2.) "The disallowance before the passing of this Act, on the ground aforesaid, of an application made to the court under the first section of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1887, shall not be a bar to the making of another like application by a person claiming to be a lessee.


said, the words standing on the Paper were more simple and plainer to the lay mind, whatever they might be to the legal mind.


said, he would recommend the hon. Member to accept the words of the hon. and learned Solicitor General. He admitted that legal drafting was a matter of mystery and admiration; but it would be well to trust to the drafting of one of the most eminent property lawyers in Ireland.


said, he was unable clearly to follow the words, but would the hon. and learned Solicitor General say, did it make the Act retrospective?


said, he could assure the hon. Member that his proposal completely and absolutely met the case of a lessee whose application had been refused before the passing of the Act on the ground of the technical defect which the Bill was intended to cure, and that it directly met the class of cases which were only indirectly met by the Amendment of the hon. Member.


said, if the hon. Member accepted the assurance that the words expressed the meaning more correctly in a legally-binding manner, though they did not commend themselves to the ordinary mind, and hon. Members who had Amendments to the like effect, there was no reason why the discussion should be protracted.

MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)

said, he felt some doubt whether the words defined both applications that had been made, and should be made before and after the passing of the Act.


said, he would accept the assurance of the hon. and learned Solicitor General, and withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. On the Motion of Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND, New Clause (Disallowance of application not to bar a subsequent claim) read a second time, and added to the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended, be reported."—(Mr. T. W. Russell.)


said, it would be as well, so that all might be satisfied with the new clause, to have the Bill reprinted before the Report stage.


said, there would not be the slightest objection to that, if there was a general desire.


said, it was desirable to fix Report for that day, because, as the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. M'Cartan) was well aware, proceedings were pending that made time important in the North of Ireland.

MR. M'CARTAN (Down S.)

said, he did not know that there was sufficient reason why the Bill should not be reprinted.

MR. FLYNN (Cork)

said, the matter was of equal importance to all parts of Ireland.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.