HC Deb 06 August 1888 vol 329 cc1702-4
MR. M'CARTAN (Down, S.)

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether he is aware that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland has served a writ of summons on his tenant, Mr. Hugh Ferguson, Chairman of the New tow nards Board of Guardians, for recovery of one and a-half years' old rent up to May 1 last, notwithstanding that Mr. Ferguson is entitled to the benefit of the fair rent from May, 1887, and that the Lord Lieutenant's County Down tenantry usually paid their rents only once a year, and were never called upon to pay a half year's rent; whether Mr. Ferguson offered to pay his rent less a reduction similar to that given to Mr. John Boyd, a tenant on the same estate, and his offer was replied to by the service of a writ of summons for the recovery of the old rent; whether, on the County Down estates of the Marquess of Down-shire, Baron Trevor, Colonel Fordo, Lord Annesley, and the Lord Lieutenant, upwards of 1,200 applications to fix fair rents were made before November 1, 1887, thus entitling the tenants to the benefit of the fair rents from May 1, 1887; whether he is aware that these landlords have since then exacted payment of the old rents; whether, in County Down alone, upwards of 3,000 of these applications made before November 1 last are still unheard, and the general practice has been to exact the old rents from the tenants; whether on the estate of Mr. Joseph Harvey, County Wexford, decrees were obtained by the landlord at Ross County Court for recovery of the year's old rent, besides costs, in cases where the tenants were entitled to the benefit of the fair rent for the entire year; whether, on the estate of Elizabeth Maybury, in County Cork, Patrick Moroney, of Goggin's Hill, Ballinhassig, whose rent is £116, and gross Poor Law valuation £58, made application to the Land Commission to fix his fair rent on September 24 last, which entitled him to the benefit of the fair rent for the year running from March 25, 1887; whether a writ of summons was served on the tenant on May 11 last for the year's old rent due on March 25 last; whether an offer to pay a fair rent on account pending the fixing of a fair rent was rejected by the landlord; whether notice to have judgment marked on June 11 last was served on the tenant; whether, notwithstanding the production of doctors' certificates, and affidavits made by his wife, his solicitor, and the parish priest who attended him, that the tenant was dangerously ill and unfit to make affidavit to defend the action, judgment for the whole rent and enormous costs was obtained against the tenant, who died a few days afterwards; and, what relief he proposes to give to the tenants in these cases, and in hundreds of similar cases which can be supplied to him, where landlords are stringently exacting payment of the old rents?


(who replied) said: I understand that it is the case that Mr. Ferguson received last month a writ of summons for one and a-half years' rent, he having refused to pay the years' rent to November, 1887, unless it was reduced to 14s. an acre, making it about £37 instead of about £62 a-year. The agent offered to reduce it to £1 an acre, which would be £53 a-year. He further pointed out that he required payment of one year's rent, only the additional half-year having been included as a matter of form; and that, as Mr. Ferguson must be well aware, there was no analogy between his case and Boyd's, the latter's land being of much poorer quality. With regard to Paragraphs 3, 4, and 5, it is stated that there are about 993 fair rent applications which were made on the estates of the land owners named prior to November 1, 1887, together with many others on other estates in the County Down, which have yet to be heard. The old rents are being generally collected, though not in all cases, on the understanding that when the judicial rent has been fixed, the tenants shall be refunded the amount of any deduction made. On the estate of Mr. Harvey two tenants who had applied to have judicial rents fixed, and whose cases have not yet been heard, were applied to for a half-year's rent to September 29, 1887. They took no notice of the application. The landlord then obtained decrees against them for the year's rent to March 25, 1888, the County Court Judge ordering the half-year's rent to September to be fixed in May, and the half-year to March in October next. The landlord gave these tenants 15 per cent reduction on the half-year's rent so paid in May, and he states that he did not charge them with costs. With regard to Paragraphs 7 and 11, there does not appear to have been any tenant named Patrick Moroney on Mrs. Maybury's estate; but, assuming that it relates to the case of Patrick Loomey (now deceased), it appears that a writ of summons had been issued against him while the hearing of the application made by him in September last to have a judicial rent fixed was still pending. The widow is not aware that judgment, with costs, was obtained—if so, her solicitor has not informed her. She is of opinion that the case will come before the Land Commission to fix a fair rent. As regards the last paragraph of the Question, I have to point out that the Act of last year makes the reduction of rent retrospective, and entitles the tenant to deduct from the accruing rent any sums paid by him in excess of the reduced rent.