§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the letter of Colonel Jesse Lloyd which appeared in the Times of the 10th instant, and whether it is a fact as stated in that letter, that the Sub-Commissioners are bound by nothing, and that private instructions are sent to them from headquarters directing the reductions which are to be made, and that since January last they have been instructed to give reductions averaging all round about 33 per cent; whether it is a fact that the recent decisions of the Sub-Commissioners show by far the highest percentage of reductions yet given; whether it is true that the Poor Law valuation is disregarded in fixing judicial rents; whether the statements in Colonel Lloyd's letter as to costs awarded in case of appeal and as regards the taxation of costs are correct, and if he can state what the rules and practice of the Land Commission are in this matter; whether it is a fact that 25,000 appeals are pending in the Court of the Land Commission; and of those appeals what percentage do the appeals bear to the cases heard in the Sub-Commission Courts and the County Courts respectively?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The Land Commissioners report that it is not the fact that the Assistant Commissioners are bound by nothing. They are bound in every case which comes before them to inspect the holdings, to mark out the boundaries and classifications of land in the holdings on the Ordnance map. They are also bound, on a form drawn up by the Chief Commissioners, to set out in detail every circumstance of the holding which can affect the question of the judicial rent. A copy of the Report so filled up can be obtained by either party on payment of a fee of one shilling. There is no foundation whatever for the statement that private instructions are sent to the Sub-Commissions from head-quarters directing the reductions which are to be made. Neither is it the fact that since January they have been instructed to give reductions averaging 33 per cent. The 415 amount of judicial rent to be fixed is a matter altogether for the discretion of the Assistant Commissioners forming each Sub-Commission. No suggestion even has ever been made to them on this subject by the Chief Commissioners. It is not a fact that the recent decisions of the Sub-Commissions show by far the highest percentage of reduction yet given. A statement as to the Poor Law valuation is always required, but that valuation is so uneven that, in the Commissioners' opinion, it rarely affords a guide to the present value of land. The statements as to the circumstances under which a landlord becomes liable for costs of appeals brought by him are correct, but it should also be stated that under the same circumstances the tenant appealing becomes similarly liable to costs. The rule is as follows:—When the landlord appeals, if the judicial rent be affirmed, tenant entitled to costs; if the judicial rent be reduced, tenant entitled to costs; if the judicial rent be increased, but former rent not restored, each party abides his own costs; if the former rent be restored, tenant pays costs. When the tenant appeals, if the judicial rent be affirmed, landlord entitled to costs; if the judicial rent be increased, landlord entitled to costs; if the judicial rent be reduced, each party abides his own costs. When landlord and tenant both appeal, save in special cases, each party abides his own costs. The statement as to the taxation of costs is not correct. The several items of charge in such bills of costs are as a rule fixed charges, varying in proportion to the amount of the judicial rent. The bills are in the first instance sent to the officer of the Commission to settle, but, if either party is dissatisfied, he can require to have the bill taxed in his presence on notice. It is not the fact that 25,000 appeals are pending. There are 6,277 appeals pending from the decisions of the Assistant Commissioners, and 1,012 from those of the County Courts. The appeals so pending from the decisions of the Assistant Commissioners and County Courts are 5.1 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively of the cases heard by the respective tribunals, allowing for appeals already heard.