HC Deb 11 March 1889 vol 333 cc1368-70

asked the Secretary to the Treasury: Is it true that, by the system of drainage charges put in force by the Board of Works, a landlord, named Christopher Reynolds, of Abbeylara, county Longford, has been deprived, without compensation, of the whole of the small property owned by him; is it the fact that, without giving Mr. Reynolds any previous notice of a charge, he was served in 1881 by the Board of Works with a final award for the Upper Inny Drainage, amounting to £20 15s. 6d. per annum, although the total Government valuation of the land is only £12 10s.; can any explanation of this levy be given, and of the failure to service notice of it on the owner; is there any precedent in the history of the Board of Works for a levy of nearly double the valuation for drainage of lands, and is this founded on their estimate of the improvement effected by the drainage; is he aware that the tenant of the lands went into the Land Court, and got the fair rent fixed against Mr. Reynolds at £20, and that the Chief Commissioners, on account of the drainage charge, raised the fair rent to £24, and expressed their amazement at the action of the Board of Works; did Mr. Reynolds, finding himself unable to get anything out of the land through drainage charge and taxes, leave payment of the charge go by default; did the Attorney General thereupon proceed against him at suit of the Board of Works; is he aware that the County Court Judge expressed his regret at being compelled to make a decree in favour of the Board of Works, which must rob Mr. Reynolds of his little property; did the Board thereupon appoint Colonel Dopping as Receiver over the lands, and thereby deprive Mr. Reynolds of his only means of support; was this action by the Board sanctioned by the Government; and, what security will landlords or tenants have against similar treatment if the three Government Drainage Bills become law, and is it the Board of Works which would carry them into effect?


The drainage scheme in question was carried out with money advanced by Government by the Drainage Board of the district, consisting of local proprietors, and on its completion an award was made by the Board of Works under the Drainage and Improvement of Lands (Ireland) Act, 1863, by which 62 acres I rood and 6 perches of the lands of Derragh, the property of Mr. C. Reynolds (and now in the possession of Peter Early, judicial tenant, at a rent of £24) was charged with £16 17s. 6d. per annum, to repay £337 10s. 8d., the proportion of expenditure due on his holding; (2) The annual instalment payable under award is £16 17s. 6d., none of which has been paid by Mr. Reynolds, though his tenant had paid him up to May 1887, and was processed for rent to May 1888; (3) The Board was compelled by the Act, on the completion of the works, to make the award, and they published the requisite notices of lodgment of draft award; (4) The award is not founded on the Board's Estimate of the improvements effected by the Drainage, but on the sum expended by the Drainage Board under the supervision of their own Engineer. The original Estimate made by the Proprietors for the entire district was £41,691 12s. 2d., while the actual expenditure, including interest, was £86,553 12s.; (5) The County Court Judge fixed the rent at £20, which the Commissioners increased on appeal to £24. The Board are not aware of any expression of opinion made by the Land Commissioners; (6) Mr. Reynolds paid the Board nothing; (7) Decrees were, therefore, taken out in the County Courts, and Returns of nulia bona made. The Board had no option then but to proceed for a Receiver and sale; (8) There is no record of any such statement being made, a decree could not affect the property; (9) and (10) Colonel Dopping as a District Receiver was appointed by the Law Judge; (11) The drainage of the district was, as I have already explained, carried out, not by the Board of Works, but by the proprietors in the district. The Barrow and Bann Drainages will be carried out by a Board locally elected. The Shannon works alone will be carried out by the Board of Works, the charges to be imposed being primarily assented to by all who have to pay them.


I gather that the substance of the answers is that a particular landlord has had his property confiscated for no fault of his own, and that the Government do not intend to grant any compensation.


The Board of Works have simply carried out a duty imposed upon them by Act of Parliament.


As the hon. Gentleman is unable to say that the Treasury will make compensation, I beg to give notice that I will call attention to the extraordinary facts of this case upon the Vote for the Board of Works.