§ MR. FLYNN
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he is aware that 150 ejectment decrees have been issued at the last Cork Quarter Sessions against the tenantry of the Ponsonby estate, near Youghal, and that the eviction of a large number of families is threatened for a near day; and, in view of the fact that a large number of tenants were evicted in 1887, that, in March 1888, 57 eviction notices, under the seventh section of the Land Act 1887, were served on the tenants, and that Mr. Horace Townsend, the agent, has stated, in a letter recently made public, that the rents of many of the holdings are 40 per cent too high, will the Government authorise the employment of the forces of the Crown for the purpose of carrying out those evictions. I have also to ask the Chief Secretary if he is aware that on the 17th ultimo Mr. D. B. Sullivan, Q.C., on behalf of the 1013 tenants, offered Mr. Ponsonby, the landlord, in public Court, to leave the fixing of fair rents to the County Court Judge, and to leave the other questions (arrears and re-instatement of tenants) to arbitration; and, in view of the threatened evictions on this estate, will he use his influence to effect an arrangement, so as to obviate the necessity for evictions on a large scale?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I understand that 49 ejectment decrees were obtained at the last Fermoy Quarter Sessions and some 90 others at the Wicklow Assizes against tenants on the Ponsonby estate. I understand that a letter has been published purporting to be a copy of one written by Mr. Horace Townsend, in which he expresses the opinion that on a particular portion of the Ponsonby estate acreable reductions might be made by the Land Commission from £1 per acre to 12s. or 13s. I am, however, informed, in the first place, that Mr. Townsend only saw a portion of the estate, and that the average rental of that portion was not £1 per acre, as Mr. Townsend appeared to have supposed, but was under 15s. per acre. If the terms offered by the landlord of 20 per cent reduction had been accepted it would have reduced these rents to a sum less than that which Mr. Townsend is reported to have said might be settled by the Land Commission. Mr. Ponsonby has offered to leave the fixing of the fair rents to the Land Commission, and to reduce the arrears in each case by whatever reduction might be made by them in the rents, and it would seem that no fairer offer could be made by any landlord.
§ MR. FLYNN
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in the letter in question, Mr. Townsend states that he considers the agent should have given a larger allowance than 20 per cent; and, whether, in view of the strong statements contained in that letter, some representations ought not to be made which would have the effect of delaying the threatened evictions?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Mr. Townsend seems only to have gone over a small portion of the estate, and he appears to have been mistaken as to what the rent of that portion was.