§ MR. M'CARTAN (Down, S.)
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with reference to the case of Mr. Hugh Ferguson, Chairman of the Newtownards Farmers' Association, whom the Lord Lieutenant is proceeding against by writ of summons for the recovery of the old rent, pending the fixing of his fair rent, Whether he is aware that Mr. Ferguson offered to leave his question of rent to the arbitration of the Lord Lieutenant's estate valuator, and another person appointed by the tenant, and this offer was rejected; whether he can now state what relief he proposes to give to Mr. Ferguson, to the tenants on the Downshire Estate, and to the hundreds of other tenants who are still called upon to pay the old rents while entitled to the benefits of the fair rents; and, whether he is aware that, in some cases where the tenants have appealed against the decision of the Sub-Commissioners, the landlords have since served notices of eviction in order to deprive the tenants of their right to appear before the Land Commission on appeal?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
I have no knowledge of the matters of fact referred to in this Question. But the existing law affords ample relief against any case of possible hardship; inasmuch as the Court before which the proceedings against the tenant would come has full power, if it sees that the case is one calling for the exercise of that power, to direct the stay of all proceedings pending the hearing of the fair rent applications. As to the last paragraph of the Question, it is the case that a tenant cannot evade the obligation of paying a judicial rent fixed by the Sub-Commissioners merely by lodging an appeal. The tenant can put a stop to any ejectment proceedings by paying his judicial rent. If the lodging of an appeal were to operate to suspend the payment of 1845 rent, and were to deprive the landlord of all means of enforcing it, it is probable that the number of appeals would be equal to the number of decisions of the Sub-Commissioners.
§ MR. M'CARTAN
asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman had made any inquiry as to the first paragraph; and, also, whether he was aware that landlords had exacted, and were exacting, the old rents, pending the hearing of applications to have fair rents fixed; and, also, what the right hon. Gentleman meant by asking him on a previous occasion to supply him with the names of such cases?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not gather that any tenant is being evicted for non-payment of the old rent. None or very few such cases have come under my notice. If the hon. Member can supply a case of a tenant actually turned out of his holding for non-payment of the old unabated rent I shall be glad to consider it.