HC Deb 23 July 1891 vol 356 cc200-3

As amended, considered.

(12.2.) MR. SEXTON

Clause 2 provides— That the Land Commission before purchasing any bog shall be satisfied that they will ultimately realise by means of the bog an amount sufficient to repay the purchase-money with interest at the rate of 3⅛ per cent. per annum. In the Land Purchase Bill, to which this is a pendant, the rate of interest is 3 per cent. Will the right hon. Gentleman accept the suggestion that the same rate should be inserted here?


I regret that I cannot meet the hon. Member in this-Three and one-eighth is the lowest rate at which public loans are made, even in cases such as loans under the Housing of Working Classes Act, 1890, where special arrangements are made for security. In this case, as the hon. Member must admit, there is a greater risk to the Exchequer than in the Land Bill, for there is no security but the bog itself. The Treasury have gone very far in accepting the proposal of the hon. Gentleman at all, and we cannot agree to any lower terms. The matter is a small one I know, and will not affect the purchase, but we must adhere to the principle.


No time is fixed for the payment of the money, and I propose to fix a moderate term—15 years—limiting to that extent the discretion to the Land Commission.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 8, after the word "interest," to insert the words "at three per cent. in not less than fifteen years."—(Mr. Sexton.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

*(12.5.) MR. GOSCHEN

I am sorry again to have to refuse assent to the hon. Member's proposal. It may be that the security may not remain in existence for 15 years. It will be a security which will be diminishing year by year while the loan remains. We have not said that the loan must be paid off in a given number of years, because we think it is better to leave this to the discretion of the Commission, who I do not think will exercise that discretion in a harsh manner.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


It seems of little use moving Amendments. I should have thought the right hon. Gentleman would have consented to insert a minimum number of years within which the loan should not be recovered. I now move the next Amendment. I presume it is not intended that the Treasury should make a profit out of the transaction; and when the Treasury is fully recouped I propose that the proceeds of the sale shall be divided between the tenants or purchasers who have made the payments in respect of such bog.

Amendment proposed, In page 2, line 12, after the word "same," to insert the words "and the proceeds of such sale shall be divided between the tenants or purchasers who have made payments in respect of such bog under section 2 of this Act in proportion to the total amount of such payments, and shall be paid accordingly."—(Mr. Sexton.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


I would point out that it would be for the advantage of the Treasury that this should be inserted. It will improve the security, because it will be an inducement to tenants to take care of the bog.

*(12.7.) MR. GOSCHEN

Here again I think if hon. Members will study the contents of the Bill they will see that this would not be an equitable arrangement, having regard to the risk the Exchequer undertakes. It would amount to this: that for any loss that might accrue the Exchequer would be responsible, but in any gain the tenants would share. In five out of six cases there might be a loss, and yet the gain in the other case would be divisible among the purchasers. Those who have paid for the turf or the turbary rights will have got all they are entitled to, and will have no rights in the bog when it is exhausted. Any profit there may happen to be should go to the settlement of the general transaction, and this, I think, is only fair. We had grave doubts whether we ought to allow the Land Commission to enter into these transactions at all.

(12.10.) SIR E. HARLAND (Belfast, N.)

I recommend the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to accede to the proposed terms. If he does I am sure he will find a complicated balancing of the accounts after the turf has been sold. Those who have bought the turf will claim to have a right to one-half of the amount of the spent bog.


I think the hon. Gentleman would be much better occupied if he left questions of this kind, which do not affect the constituency he represents, to those concerned. Heaven knows we find it difficult enough to deal with the Government without the hon. Member endeavouring to further stiffen their backs against the miserable and impoverished people in the West of Ireland!


It is only due to my right hon. Friend to say that he has met the requests of the Irish Government in this matter with great liberality, seeing that the demands made upon him by that Department from time to time are of a very considerable character. I do not think it is very generous on the part of Irish Members to press my right hon. Friend to go to a point which none of his predecessors have gone.


I do not see, when the tenant purchasers get what they purchase, why at the end of a certain time they should get any more. This is not a question for the West of Ireland alone: it is a question for the whole of Ireland. Why should the Government make a present of the spent bog to the men who are able to buy their land?

SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)

The hon. and learned Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) forgets that this is not a matter which affects the people of Belfast only, but in reality it affects the taxpayers of the whole Kingdom. I cannot help thinking that the Government have acted very generously.

Question put, and negatived.

Amendments made.

Bill read the third time, and passed.