HC Deb 30 June 1891 vol 354 cc1934-6

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1.

(12.0.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

Of this Bill, which is one of importance, we had no explanation on the Second Reading, and I think on this first clause we may ask for a brief statement of the essential principle and scope of the measure, which concerns, or may concern, a large number of tenant farmers and occupiers.


I gladly accede to the hon. Member's request. There has been in Ireland for nearly two centuries a general system of registration of deeds somewhat similar to that existing in the County of Middlesex. That system has worked well, but it is too expensive and cumbrous a system for small properties, such as have recently been created and are expected to be created in still greater numbers under the Land Purchase Act. Short leases and tenancies from year to year are excluded from the operation of the system, but the moment a tenant purchases the fee simple it is brought within the provisions of the registration law. I may, without egotism, claim to have some acquaintance with this question. At a very early period of my professional career I wrote a book on the subject of registration, and I have given a great deal of attention to it. I have served on a Royal Commission, and I, have been examined as a witness before a Committee of this House on this question. The result of my study and of my practical experience is that it would be an incalculable disaster to purchasing tenants if they were loft under the present system of registration, the expense of which is altogether disproportionate to the requirements of the owners of 10, 20, or even 50-acre holdings. The object of this Bill is to develop and localise throughout Ireland a system of registration of titles, as distinguished from registration of assurances, similar to that which has been in operation with great success in the Colonies. My proposal is to absorb the present system of recording of titles into a general system of registration, compulsory as regards tenant-purchasers, but optional as regards others, and to localise it by having an office at a moderate distance from every holding. There will be a central office in Dublin, presided over by the very able gentleman who is now Recorder of Titles, and carried on under the control of the Land Judge. If any question or difficulty arises locally it will be referred to the central office. The expense of carrying out the Bill will be extremely trifling. The Ashbourne Act of 1885 contains a clause under which the Commission is bound to send down a copy of each vesting order to the Clerk of the Peace for the purpose of local registration. It was evidently intended to supplement that Act by a system of local registration, but from that time to this no such system has been established. I have made this proposal; the matter has now been before the public for three Sessions, and has been canvassed by the legal profession; and I believe the principle of the proposal has been generally accepted, and the details of the Bill now before the Committee have met with general acceptance.

(12.7.) MR. SEXTON

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for the statement he has been good enough to make. Everyone in Ireland knows that he is the most competent man in the House to deal with the question. We believe that his Bill deals with a necessary purpose in a useful way.

Clause agreed to.


The question of registering land below high-water mark is very complicated. Will the right hon. Gentleman take care that the cost of registering such land will not be greater than that of registering other land?



Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Thursday.