HC Deb 12 May 1891 vol 353 cc578-628

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 6.

(4.30.) MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)

, in whose name stood the first Amendment on the Paper, proposing an addition to the clause to the effect that the amount to be advanced for the purchase of holdings above £30 value should not exceed such proportion of the amount available in a county as the Land Commission might fix, and that in no county should the proportion fixed exceed one-fifth of the amount available, said: With the view of saving time, I wish to ask whether the Chief Secretary will undertake to make effectual his Amendment dealing with this question, which it has been admitted must be dealt with. In that case I do not propose to press the Amendment. It is a matter which will, perhaps, be best dealt with when we reach the new clauses, and I shall then be prepared to go into it.

Amendment proposed, In page 7, line 40, after Sub-section (4), to add—" The amount to be advanced under this Act for the purchase in any county of holdings of which the annual value exceeds thirty pounds shall not exceed such proportion of the whole amount available under this Act for the purchase of holdings in that county as the Land Commission may fix, having regard to the relative number of holdings of an annual value over and under that amount in the several counties. The proportion so fixed for holdings of an annual value of more than thirty pounds shall not in any county exceed one-fifth of the whole amount available under this Act: Provided that, if the Land Commission certify that it is, in their opinion, expedient so to do, for the purpose of purchasing whole estates or large portions of estates, they may increase the said proportion in any specified county or counties, so however that it do not in any case exceed one-third. The Land Commission, in considering applications for advances for the purchase in any county of holdings of which the annual value exceeds thirty pounds, shall have regard to the amount at their disposal for the purchase of such holdings, and to the requirements, whether immediate or prospective, of the several estates in that county. An advance under the said Acts for the purchase of any holding shall not exceed twenty years' purchase of the annual value of the holding as defined in this Act."—(Mr. Rathbone.)


In answer to the appeal of the hon. Member, I wish to say that I am obliged to him for the consideration he has shown for the progress of the Bill, I think it would be inexpedient that the Amendment on the Paper should be pressed now, because the Government cannot accept it in its present form, and there would be considerable inconvenience in discussing it before we have the figures I have promised to produce. I hope to produce the figures before the new clauses are reached, and I think the best course will be to defer the discussion until that stage.


Will a full opportunity then be afforded for discussing the question?


It would be out of my power to limit any discussion the hon. Member may think it right to enter into.


I think we ought to have a thorough understanding that a full opportunity will be afforded.


It is a matter which must rest entirely with the hon. Member himself. There is an Amendment down in my name, and if he is not satisfied with it he can move to amend it.

(4.33.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will bring the question before the House in the shape of a new clause. I wish to take this opportunity of expressing my recognition of the conciliatory manner in which the Chief Secretary has endeavoured to deal with the matter.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

What we want to know is whether it is really intended that the discussion on the Bill shall cease by a certain date.


Order, order That is not the subject before the Committee.

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to give a more specific answer before we decide whether we should proceed with the discussion of this Amendment or not.


The Committee must be aware of the extraordinary difficulty there is in dealing with these agricultural statistics; and I do not see why I should be pressed to give pledges which after all would afford no guidance to the Committee.


Will the right hon. Gentleman bring up a new clause?


I have every intention of doing so; but it is in the power of any hon. Member to move a new clause.


I beg to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move the Amendment which stands on the paper in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid). I think that a tenant who becomes an annuitant ought to start with a clean slate, all the arrears being wiped off.

Amendment proposed, In page 7, line 40, at end, to add—"An advance shall not be made under the Land Purchase Acts for the purchase—

  1. (1.) of any holding except upon condition that, in consideration of such advance, the holding is vested in the tenant free from any further payment or promise of payment, and that the tenant is discharged from all arrears of rent and all claims whatsoever by the landlord in respect of the said holding prior to the date of the vesting order; or
  2. (2.) of any holding unless the Land Commission is satisfied that the terms of purchase between landlord and tenant are fair and reasonable."—(Mr. Labouchere.)


This point as to the wiping out of arrears was dealt with in Section 3 of the Ashbourne Act of 1888. I think that everything is provided for by that section.

DR. KENNY (Cork, S.)

I am afraid that the Act of 1888 will afford no security. The object of the Amendment is to protect tenants against being sued for arrears of rent. I am not quite certain that the Amendment will have the desired effect, but I think there ought to be some provision to render arrears irrecoverable after purchase.

MR. M. HEALY (Cork)

I think the words of the Act are insufficient, for they would not cover the case in which the tenant had given a promissory note to cover the arrears. The landlord, though estopped from suing for the arrears, could sue on the promissory note. It is a very common thing in Ireland to give promissory notes [Colonel WARING: No.] The hon. and gallant Member is mistaken, and the Act of 1888 does not provide for such a case. I hope the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland will say that this abuse will be put a stop to.


I hope before the right hon. and learned Gentleman answers the question the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. M. Healy) will give specific instances of abuses.


It would considerably undermine the security of the sale if the tenant were to remain bound to pay not only the annuity, but promissory notes given in respect of arrears of rent. I would ask hon. Members to examine the Report of the Committee on the Estates of the Irish Societies, and particularly the evidence concerning the transactions of the Drapers Company. Before that Committee ample evidence was given in regard to the exaction of promissory notes and the recovery of such notes from the tenants after the sale had been completed. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will confirm me in this, that a promissory note given by a tenant to the landlord for arrears prior to the sale is not held subsequently to be a liability affecting the tenant. I say that if this Amendment is not accepted the evident intention of Parliament will be defeated, that intention being that the signing of the agreement for sale by the tenant should discharge him of all liability for arrears, the object being to take it out of the landlord's power to extort more money from the tenant by virtue of any document signed before the completion of the transaction. This Amendment will stop the loophole through which that object might be defeated. It appears to me that the Government are thinking of the interests of the landlords and disregarding the security of the State. If you allow a farm to be sold on the basis of a certain value, and if the Land Commission sanction the sale because in their judgment the holding constitutes good security for the money advanced, and if the tenant at the same time is to be held to be liable in succeeding years not only to pay the annuity, but also to pay off promissory notes respecting liabilities incurred to the landlord before the sale and of the existence of which the Land Commission was not made aware, to what extent may not your security become imperilled! Why, the tenant may become liable every year to pay the landlord a sum exceeding the amount of his annuity. How then could he be expected to keep up his payments to the State? I urge the Government to accept this Amendment in the interests of the security of the State.


It appears to me that the Legislature has done a great deal, and probably all that could be done by Act of Parliament to prevent the tenant purchaser being over-burdened with liabilities. Under Section 30 of the Act of 1888 it is provided that the tenant when he buys under the Act shall be discharged of all liabilities between landlord and tenant affecting the holding and existing at the date of the agreement for sale. Not only are arrears of rent cancelled, but also all other liabilities affecting the holding, and I take it that even if a promissory note were given in respect of liabilities which had been cancelled. There would be no consideration for it.


But suppose the note has been discounted.


That is another matter altogether. I say that as between the parties there is a statutory cancelling of entire obligations in regard to the holding, I doubt the Legislature can go beyond that. As to the possibility of the note having been discounted the Government cannot provide for all such possibilities.


Yes you can.


Would the hon. Member have a note which has been discounted rendered null?


Null as against the party who gives it, but not as against the landlord who endorses it.


It seems to me that it would be extremely difficult for the Legislature to go beyond the provisions of Section 30.

(4.46.) SIR C. RUSSELL (Hackney, S.)

No doubt the Legislature did intend by that section that the tenant-purchaser should start clear, but I must confess it seems doubtful whether a case such as I intend to cite, might not arise and which the section would not meet. There are two conditions of cancellation named in this clause. It is to be a liability affecting the holding and it is to include rent-arrears existing at the date of the agreement for sale. But suppose that before the agreement for sale is signed the landlord says to the tenant: "I will acquit you of all rent-arrears in consideration of your giving me a promissory note," and that he adds some nominal consideration. Would such a note be voided by the operation of this section? Or suppose, again, as suggested, that the note is endorsed to a third party. I understand that both the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant and the Attorney General for Ireland desire that tenants shall be free from such liability, and I do, therefore, urge them to reconsider the matter. Would it not be possible to make such a note void as against the maker of the note?


Surely the hon. Member does not suggest that we should make the note void?


Yes, as against the maker, but not as against the landlord who has chosen to put it in circulation.


The hon. and learned Gentleman proposes to introduce an entirely new principle into the law with regard to promissory notes. However, as there is no difference between the objects aimed at by the Government and by hon. Members opposite, I will undertake to consider what can be done.

(4.50.) MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)

I think my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton may accept the assurance of the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he will consider the best means of securing the end we have in view. At present I may point out there is nothing to prevent the holder of such a promissory note obtaining judgment against the tenant-purchaser, so that practically the former will remain liable for arrears existing prior to the agreement for sale. The Act of 1888 certainly did not contemplate permitting such a state of things.


After the explanation of the Government I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. MORTON (Peterborough)

Does that apply to the second part of the Amendment?


Order, order!

(4.53.) MR. M. HEALY

The Government have devised an elaborate series of checks and counter-checks to prevent the State being at a loss, but I will venture to suggest in one line, a clause which will enable them to dispense with those checks. My suggestion is that an advance shall not be made under the Land Pur- chase Acts to such an amount that the resulting purchase annuity will exceed the fair rent of the holding purchased. I do not know what view the Government take of this Amendment, but I imagine the right hon. Gentleman would have some difficulty in defending a proposal which would have the effect of permitting advances which left the holding subject to an unfair rent. Yet, that would necessarily be the logical consequence of refusing the Amendment which I now submit for the consideration of the Committee. I ask now, is it or is it not the intention of the Government that the purchase annuity may exceed the fair rent of the holding? Upon the answer to that depends the fate of my Amendment. Under existing Acts there have been cases in which the tenants, instead of getting advantage from the purchase transaction, have been saddled with a purchase annuity in excess of the rent they originally paid. The attention of the right hon. Gentleman has again and again been called to such cases on the Waterford estate. Lord Waterford induced certain tenants at rates which involved annuities in excess of the judicial rents originally paid. The consequence was that the tenants could not keep up their payments, they were sold up by the Land Commission, and the Marquess of Waterford being the purchaser has regained possession of the holdings. I may explain in regard to the Amendment that the term fair rent means fair rent as defined in the existing Land Act, and in estimating the amount it would be the duty of the Land Commission to exclude the value of the tenants' improvements. It ought to be the duty of the Land Commission not merely to see that the State is safeguarded, but that the tenant also is fairly treated, and this can only be secured by means of my Amendment.

Amendment proposed, In page 7, line 40, at the end of the Clause to add the words, "An advance shall not he made under the Land Purchase Acts to such an amount that the resulting purchase annuity would exceed the fair rent of the holding purchased."—(Mr. Maurice Healy.)

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

(5.0.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I think that the Amendment would not effect the object either of securing the repayment of the annuity or that the tenant should not buy what is really his own share in the dual ownership. These I take to be its two purposes. I would remind the Committee that the amount in question might in some cases be much, too high, and in others too low; that would depend on the number of years'" purchase. There are cases in which the tenants' interest is worth 20, 30, or even 40 years' purchase of the landlords' interest, and surely in such a case 25 years' purchase on the gross rent of the holding would leave an ample margin of security. Under the Bill, as at present, drawn, beneficial leases can be sold, but the Amendment will exclude those. The hon. Member says it would be unfair to ask the tenant to pay more by way of purchase annuity than the fair rent of' the holding. Will he go a step further and say that under no circumstances shall the tenant sell in the open market his share in the holding for a sum, the interest on which is more than the fair rent of it? If he did that he would entirely destroy free sale. I cannot agree to this Amendment, which would introduce in some cases too high a limit and. in others too low a limit.

(5.4.) MR. SEXTON

I am at a loss to discover the relevancy of the right hon. Gentleman's argument. I think the Amendment is a most reasonable one. It simply suggests that the purchase annuity which the tenant will have to pay shall not be greater than the rent which he has to pay before this measure-was passed for his relief. Where in the world is the parallel between that case and the case of the tenant selling his own interest? In land purchase in Ireland in the past we have always had a certain amount of relationship between the avowed intention of the Government and the means of giving effect to it. Now in this Bill the avowed object of the Government is to improve the agrarian situation in, Ireland, and free the tenant from the, pressure now inflicted on him. This Amendment would go far to securing that end; and I, therefore, greatly regret that the right hon. Gentleman will not accept it. By refusing it he shows a desire to allow the landlords of Ireland free play in extorting as much as they can from the tenants.


I, too, fail to see what the right hon. Gentleman's arguments have to do with this Amendment. Does he think it desirable to have a repetition of the cases which occurred on the Marquess of Waterford's estate? If he wants the annuities paid punctually, it would be wise to accept the Amendment. If the Land Commission is allowed to sanction advances, which, instead of bettering the condition of the tenant will make it worse, he will throw a heavy burden on it and on the State as well. I regret very much that the right hon. Gentleman will not accept an Amendment, the expediency of which he has not confuted by argument.

(5.10.) MR. MORTON

I should like to draw attention to a Return which shows how money advanced for land purchase is wasted. It is astonishing what the landlords in some cases get out of these transactions. In one case there was an advance of £2,360. The tenant defaulted, and the holding was sold for, £175. In other cases the figures were respectively £1,042 and £155; £2,257 and £190. Holdings on the Marquess of Waterford's estate were absolutely sold for about one-twentieth part of the money advanced.

(5.12.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 106; Noes 151.—(Div. List, No. 212.)

(5.23.) MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)

I beg to move the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for North Longford. In the case of certain purchasers, the landlords have made contracts reserving game. I see that the Government accept the Amendment; so I shall only move it.

Amendment proposed, in page 7, line 40, at the end of the Clause, to add the words— No advance shall be made under the Land Purchase Acts for the purchase of any holding where the landlord reserves any rights or easements concerning or affecting the land."—(Mr. Knox.)

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


We cannot accept that Amendment.


I am afraid there has been a misunderstanding. I thought the Attorney General for Ireland accepted it.


No, Sir; I only said that of course "reserves" was the proper word in the Amendment, and not "recovers," as it appeared on the Notice Paper.


Very well. But I see no reason why it should not be accepted. If the landlord reserves the game it may be a source of constant dispute between him and the tenants. I know one case in my own constituency where such a dispute has been going on for over 20 years; and there are numerous cases where great difficulties have arisen on this ground. Landlords will not get game in any case, for it is a well-known fact all over the world that small holders do not like anybody else getting the game except themselves, and they generally do not let anybody else get it. Whatever reservations a landlord may put into his contract, there will be no game left for him to get. In the interests of peace, I venture to think that this Amendment should be accepted. There may be other reservations in some cases which may be still worse, especially on a grazing holding. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of the great difficulties that have been felt in the Highlands, where game rights are reserved.

(5.26.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I think the hon. Gentleman will see there is nothing in the spirit or principle of the Bill contrary to the landlord reserving game rights. There are portions of Ireland where the fishing and sporting-rights are of great value, and, in my opinion, an attempt to destroy these will do injury not to the wealthy or landlord classes, but to the community at large. I should be very sorry to do any such injury. I do not know whether landlords think it worth while to make such reservations, but in some cases there will be a general gain both to the landlords and tenants, and to the general community, to whom the fishing or shooting are a source of natural wealth. I do not see why we should stop these by putting artificial restrictions in the Bill.


I do not know whether or not it has been the practice to have the permanent reservation of game or sporting rights under the Purchase Acts, but I think it most undesirable and inexpedient. If it has been the practice, then the purchasing owner has been deprived of the enjoyment of the rights associated with the freehold land. I do not know whether it can be done in England by law, and I do not think it has ever obtained in point of practice. At any rate, I do not think it ought to be allowed, and if it has been permitted under the Ashbourne Acts it ought to be prevented under this Act.

(5.29.) MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)

It has been the case that under the Ashbourne Acts rights of fishing and sporting have not infrequently been reserved by landlords. The whole object of the Bill is to get rid of dual ownership and of friction between landlord and tenant, and yet you go out of your way to preserve to the landlord aright which gives rise to friction and trouble not only in Ireland but in England. Nothing could be more suicidal. If you reserve game rights you will have a number of gamekeepers prancing round the place and trampling down the crops; and then the landlords sitting as Magistrates will be issuing summonses against these tenants and fining them 20s. or 40s. You will keep the district in a state of friction, which this Bill is intended to prevent. It was stated by the Chief Secretary that the natural wealth of the country is largely dependent upon game.


In parts.


I fully admit that. But if this Bill be meant only to preserve game, let us understand that. I understood it was a Bill to improve the position of agricultural tenants. Now you have got enormous tracts of uncultivated heather land, and if you give the fee simple to tenants and get them to cultivate it, every purchase they so make interferes with the game and lessens the value of the shooting. I do not quite understand the reasons why the right hon. Gentleman objects to this Amendment, but I confess to my mind the real reason appears to me that the London Times has published a series of articles warning him to expect certain pains and penalties for himself and his party if he accepts any Amendments, however reasonable, that we may propose. He is not to consider whether an Amendment is reasonable or not, but his sole duty is to force this Bill through the House without Amendment. If that is his policy, he ought to say so frankly.


I should say so, if it were.


Then why does he not say so?


Because it is not.


He says it is not his policy. If it is not, then I want to know why he has objected to every Amendment moved from these Benches. I say that that is the policy which he has been carrying out in this House, and which has led to the delay and waste of time in carrying this Bill. Amendments have been moved not affecting the principle of this measure, but on matters of detail to facilitate its working; and to all these the right hon. Gentleman has offered an opposition based upon the principles of philosophic considerations or some such things. That is why we have been unable to get the Bill through the House; and in resisting Amendments of this character the right hon. Gentleman shows himself the first obstructor.

(5.35.) MR. A. E. GATHORNE-HARDY (Sussex, East Grinstead)

I think the House will agree that as a general rule it would not be desirable that sporting or similar rights should be dissociated from the holding of the land, but there is a point in the interests of the tenants which hon. Members have not considered. The purchase is voluntary and not compulsory, and it may well happen that the landlord may have a difficulty in selling the whole of his land, and that only one small tenant is desirous to purchase. Supposing one particular holding is to be purchased, I think hon. Members opposite will agree that the reservation may rightly be of advantage, and that its prohibition would be defeating their own objects, as the restriction would practically deprive the tenant of the opportunity to purchase, for the landlord would necessarily not wish to interfere with what may be a sporting right of considerable value.

SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

Fishing in rivers is not a necessary adjunct to the land, and might well be dissociated from it; but the rights of sporting in Ireland would not be worth very much under any circumstances. It therefore seems to me that this Amendment is desirable as a matter of public policy and of justice to the State which advances this money. If the landlord is enabled to retain all kinds of servitude over the land undoubtedly that will immensely detract from the security. I am somewhat surprised that the Chief Secretary should resist this Amendment, because he, as a Scotchman, knows the great complications in Scotland which have arisen because of dual ownership of most objectionable kinds, in which the land belongs to one man and the minerals, or the shooting, or the grazing belong to others. These superior rights will be a continual cause of quarrel and disturbance, and will immensely detract from the security given to the State.


I do not think the hon. Member sees where his own arguments would lead him. Here are sporting rights which are valuable, especially when held on a large estate. Are you going to take these away from the landlord without paying him anything, or do you suggest that you should advance money for the purchase of sporting rights to enable the Irish tenant to become a sportsman? In the latter case you will advance money on a security which is destroyed by the cutting up of the sporting rights. If you pass an Amendment of this kind, is it not quite obvious that you compel the landlord to part without a fair consideration with that which is a valuable commodity, or else you advance money to the tenant for the purpose of purchasing these sporting rights? I do not think the House means either of these alternatives; and under these circumstances I think you ought to leave it to voluntary arrangement between the landlord and tenant whether or not these sporting rights should be preserved.


I assert most positively that there is no estate in Ireland or elsewhere which consists of small holdings where the sporting rights, apart from the right of fishing in rivers, is worth anything at all.


The hon. Gentleman is quite in error.

(5.40. MR. M. J. KENNY

The Act of 1881 only recognised the legal position of the tenant's interest, and specifically reserved certain rights to the landlord; but you now propose to go further and to confer an estate in fee simple on the occupying tenant, at the same time reserving from him the sporting rights. I think it is the first time on record in this or any other country where you have such a state of things; and I should like to know how the Chief Secretary or the Attorney General for Ireland propose to logically defend their position. I hope that the discretion at present vested in the Land Commission will be taken away, and that in future they will not be able to sanction a sale where the landlord reserves his sporting or other rights.


I would like to give the Committee one instance mentioned to me by an Irish gentleman, to show how injuriously this Amendment would operate by destroying sporting rights. He gave me his own case. He has grazing farms, which only bring him in £20 a year; and the sporting rights are worth £300 a year. Therefore this Amendment would preclude the possibility of a landlord selling to his tenants in such a case.


I should be sorry if this Amendment should be discussed purely as a question of sporting rights. There are a great many other rights annexed to a holding in Ireland which are very much more important. I mean the taking of sand, rights to seaweed, rights of turbary, rights to quarries, rights sometimes to mines and minerals, all of which are covered by this Amendment. No question has given rise to greater trouble between landlords and tenants or between tenants themselves, than the question of turbary. The late Colonel King Harman, formerly a Member of this House, got into trouble with his tenants on this question; and it was charged that when the Land Commission cut down their rents the landlords in Ireland proceeded to recoup themselves by putting on, in the shape of turf rents, what had been taken off the ordinary rents. Is a landlord, after selling his estate, to be continued in a position that he can still draw a new rent from his tenants? Take the question of quarries. I have known a case where the land purchase transaction failed, because the landlord persisted in the determination to reserve the quarry from the tenant. I think it is very undesirable, where a landlord has arranged to sell his property to his tenants and to part with dominion over it, that he should be continued in a position to reserve his feudal rights. They were offensive enough when annexed to the land, but when vested in an individual who has no interest in the land, they will be still more offensive. Then the question of seaweed is a matter of very great importance to holdings on the coasts, for there the tenant must have seaweed if he is to be able to work his land. Really it would seem as if the Government were determined, though they profess that this Bill is brought forward in the interests of law and order, and ail the rest of it, to keep alive all the matters in Ireland most certain to create conflict between landlord and tenant.

(5.46.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I have two remarks to make in reply to the hon. and learned Member. His own Party proposes an Amendment to reserve the whole of the mineral rights to the State, and surely that is a dual ownership of a much worse form. The second observation is that in the case of seaweed, it is the business of the Land Commission to see before they advance the money that the rights of the tenant in this respect are preserved.


I admit that as regards fishing in rivers there is not much difficulty, for a tenant has not a right to the middle of the stream; but in the case of game there would only be exceptional cases of difficulty, and in the vast majority I venture to think it would only be a source of constant dispute between landlord and tenant.

(5.48.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 103; Noes 160.—(Div. List,. No. 213.)

(6.0.) MR. KNOX

I beg to move that— No advance exceeding the value of the interest of the landlord in any holding shall be made under the Land Purchase Acts for the purchase of the holding. Several times in the course of the discussion it has occurred to the Chief Secretary to use the argument that nothing unfair can be done because the Land Commission may be relied upon to see that nothing unfair is done. Some hon. Members opposite have assumed that it is already the law that the Land Commission are bound to see that the price given by the tenant is a fair price for what the tenant is buying. As a matter of fact, at present, the Land Commission have no power or authority to assess the value of the interests in the holding. If 20 years' purchase is given, and if of that 20 years' purchase 10 belong to the tenant and 10 to the landlord, the Land Commission can advance 17, 19, or even 20 years' purchase, though they know they are advancing a great deal more than the landlord's interest is worth. In the Government Bill of last year the phrase used was "the landlord's interest in the holding." The draughtsman has left that phrase out of this Bill, and I suppose not merely for the sake of brevity. I am reminded that in one case, at the request of the hon. Member for West Belfast, it has been inserted in this year's Bill. But we want something more than a mere phrase. We want a distinct direction to the Land Commission that they must not advance more to the tenant than the fair value of that which the tenant is buying. The House is sanctioning a great scheme of land purchase, because it believes that by the scheme tenants will be able to buy the landlords' interest, and dual ownership will cease in Ireland. Surely the State should not advance money for what the tenant is not buying. What is the use of advancing public money in order to enable the tenant to buy what is his own already? The Chief Secretary will probably say we must not prevent free contract, but we know that 10 years ago the Legislature declared that the ordinary contract between landlord and tenant in Ireland was not free. I venture to think that my Amendment is a just one in the interest of the State and of the purchaser.

Amendment proposed, At the end of the Clause to add the words "No advance exceeding the value of the interest of the landlord in any holding shall he made under the Land Purchase Acts for the purchase of the holding,"— (Mr. Knox.)

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


I have some interest in the views held by the hon. Member for two reasons. First of all, the hon. Member represents the county in which I live, and in which the hon. Gentleman does not live; and, secondly, the hon. Gentleman has taken a very remarkable course upon the question of land purchase. I remember the hon. Gentleman's maiden speech. In that speech he condemned land purchase altogether, but at the very moment he was selling his own estate under the Ashbourne Act.


It is absolutely contrary to the fact. I did not condemn land purchase altogether. I carefully avoided doing so. I condemned a particular scheme.


It is a curious thing that the hon. Member is the only Member of Parliament who has up to the present sold his property to his tenants, and levanted to the other side of the water. The hon. Member said that according to his Amendment it will be the duty of the Commissioners to determine what is the real property that a landlord has in a holding, and I gathered from the hon. Member's speech that the property the landlord owns in a farm will depend upon what the tenant has paid for the tenant right. The hon. Member knows perfectly well that in many cases the tenant right exceeds considerably the interest of the landlord. I think the Committee will, therefore, see that the Amendment is absolutely absurd. I trust the Chief Secretary will not be cajoled by even the eloquence of the hon. Member into accepting the Amendment.

(6.9.) MR. SEXTON

It appears to me the hon. and gallant Gentleman has been more rash than usual. He has argued that because the value of the interest of the tenant may be worth more than the fee simple, the interest of the landlord will be worth nothing.


According to the hon. Member.


I cannot allow that my hon. Friend's argument can justly be so construed. There are two values in a holding. The value of the tenant right may be greater than the value of the interest of the landlord, and yet the value of the interest of the landlord may also be substantial The hon. and gallant Gentleman has said the Amendment is absurd, but I was not aware that it was ever supposed to be absurd to apply to any contract the test of whether the property purchased was worth the price given. If the Chief Secretary were as anxious to protect the State, of whose interests he is for the moment the guardian, as he is to put money into the pockets of the landlords, he would not hesitate for one moment to accept this Amendment; because in addition to the one line of fortifications with which he has surrounded the State, a second line would be thereby created which could not be overpassed. If the Government were to direct the Commission to inquire: Is the thing sold by the landlord fairly worth the price given for it? it would be absolutely impossible that any default should arise.

(6.15.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I am not able to accept this Amendment, which would throw on the Land Commission an entirely new duty, and one which is not in consonance with the functions they at present discharge. They can estimate the value of a holding, but they have hitherto never had anything to do with estimating the value of the respective interests of landlord and tenant in any holding. That this interest varies greatly is shown by the fact that in some instances 20 and even 25 years' purchase of the rental is considered to fairly represent the landlord's interest, whereas in other cases it is said that 10 or 12 years is sufficient. This Amendment, in fact, is an attempt to introduce a new policy as to these transactions. The Committee have to choose between two policies—one which allows the landlord and tenant to settle between themselves what the selling price should be, and the other which is shadowed forth in the Amendment, and which would set up a tribunal to settle the price. I believe the first is the better policy. If, as the hon. Member suggests, the Land Commission are to control the price and see that the tenant does not pay too much, this control ought to be bi-lateral, and the Land Commission ought to see that the landlord does not get too little. It has been assumed that all the pressure is on the tenant to buy, but owing to the general state of the country, or the particular circumstances of an estate, the pressure in many cases-might be on the landlord to sell. The best policy is to leave the landlord and tenant to settle the price between themselves.

(6.20.) MR. M. HEALY

I am not at all convinced by the arguments used by the right hon. Gentleman. It is admitted that there are two policies open in connection with this legislation—one, the policy of protecting the Irish tenants from oppression and extortion, and the other, that of leaving them at the mercy of their landlords. The latter is the policy of the right hon. Gentleman, who has dealt with this Amendment as he has dealt with many others, as a mere matter of dialectics, as if Irish politics could be discussed without reference to what is going on in Ireland. He tells us this Amendment cannot be accepted because it is one-sided—that it purports to protect the tenant. whereas it ought also to protect the landlord; but I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that there is an Act known as the Coercion Act, which, in our view, affords quite sufficient protection to the landed interest. If he would drop the Coercion Act and let the Irish tenants combine as the landlords do, there would be some reason in his argument for the necessity of protecting both parties. As it is, it is notorious that the Irish tenants have bought at too high prices. We do not pretend that this Amendment would cover every conceivable case; but we say it would do an act of justice which ought to ensure its acceptance. All the Amendment says is that the Commission shall not advance more than the value of the landlord's interest, and I trust the Committee will see the desirability of passing it.

(6.24.) MR. KNOX

The hon. and gallant Memb3r for Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), whom I have the honour to claim as a constituent, has thought fit to make a personal attack on me, an attack which is not particularly relevant to the Amendment; but as he has gone into the subject of his personal history and mine, I think he might have gone still further, and have reminded the House of the time when he, as yet unknown in the Orange Lodges, was Member for the constituency I have now the honour to represent, and in that capacity supported the principle of tenant right on the hustings. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has attacked me because I have sold my land under the Land Purchase Act. If I had at any time opposed land purchase, I admit that my conduct would have been inconsistent; but I have never condemned land purchase; on the contrary, I have constantly tried as I am trying now by this Amendment to facilitate land purchase on fair terms. I might even go so far as to retort on the hon. and gallant Member that, as I understand, he does not wish to sell his land, and yet is now supporting a measure of land purchase. If, therefore, it comes to consistency, I am at least as consistent as he. The hon. and gallant Member says it is very difficult to assess the tenant's interest. I admit that, and I further admit that the tenant often gives more for the interest in his holding than that interest is really worth. We know what the jealousies of two neighbouring farmers may lead to, and that owing to this, in many parts of Ireland, the tenant right is sold for a great deal more than it is worth; but although it is difficult to estimate in all cases the value of the tenant's interest, the Courts have, in many cases, made these estimates under the Land Act of 1881, the Commission has to estimate what that interest is worth; and there is an express provision that the amount of purchase money shall be considered. What we now ask is that the Commission shall do the same in respect of the landlord's interests.

(6.29.) The Committee divided:—Ayes-90; Noes 153.—(Div. List, No. 214.)

(6.44.) MR. KEAY (Elgin and Nairn)

I now beg to move to insert the following-provision:— An advance shall not be made under the Land Purchase Acts, as amended by this Act, for the purchase — (a.) Of any holding where a judicial rent has not been fixed, or has been fixed prior to the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-six, unless the tenant has first applied to the Land Commission to determine the annual value, and the annual value has been so determined. The object of this is to secure that purchasers of holdings may have their values fixed by judicial authority. I desire simply to make compulsory that which the Bill itself renders permissive. I consider that under the beautiful system of voluntary sale and purchase which is a cardinal feature of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill what will happen will be this—when the parties come together the tenant will say: "I have no judicial rent fixed, and you are asking too large a price. I will go to the Land Commission and get them to settle the annual value." "No," will say the landlord, "if you don't waive your claim to go to the Land Commission I will refuse to sell." I say we can prevent the landlord taking up that attitude if we insert an Amendment of this kind. The wholesale inflation of prices which will take place if this Amendment is not inserted will be not only a grave danger to the British taxpayer, but a grave danger and ruination to the Irish tenant. The easiest way to elucidate the position is to look at the Return of defaulters which has been presented to the House by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. The Return teaches us a lesson which, I think, we cannot afford to disregard. Whilst the average price paid for holdings bought under the Ashbourne Act has been a little over 17 years' purchase of the Poor Law valuation, the Return shows that in? the case of estates to the value of £35,000, in regard to which the purchasers have made default, the price charged has been on an average no less than 25 year' purchase. Let me give some of the cases. Samuel O'Neill was made to buy at 30 ½ years' purchase, and the result was that, while as we all know the present judicial rents in Ireland are, as a rule, fixed at something like 20 per cent. below the Poor Law valuation—the Poor Law valuation of this man's holding was £77, and he became saddled with an annuity to the State of no less than £94. Then there is the case of James Aherne, who bought at 32 years' purchase, and had his Poor Law valuation of £32 a year changed into an instalment of £41. Bernard Dooling bought at 37⅓ years' purchase, and his Poor Law valuation of £36 was changed into an annuity of £48. James Fitzgerald bought at 37½ years' purchase. His Poor Law valuation was £79 a year, and his judicial rent, I think, would have come down to something like £65. He did not get a judicial rent fixed, but bought instead, and his Poor Law valuation of £79 became an instalment of no less than £120.


Mr. Courtney, I rise to order. The hon. Member is quite misquoting the Return. The amount due was £120, but that is much more than one year's instalment.


I think the hon. Gentleman will find when he looks at the Return that I am right. I do not know if I said 37½ years' purchase of the rent. If so, I was wrong. It is 37½ years' purchase of the Poor Law valuation.


It is not even that.


Then the hon. and gallant Gentleman will be able to correct me later. I say that Fitzgerald was made to buy at 37½ years' purchase of the Poor Law valuation of his estate—that valuation being £79—and became liable for an instalment of £120 a year. In another case the tenant bought at 38 years' purchase of his Poor Law valuation, which was £26 5s. He had saddled on him an instalment of no less than £40 a year. I may say that Fitzgerald struggled on paying the intolerable instalment of £120 a year, but succumbed in the third year. I need not say another word to show what a damning proof this is that the whole of the pecuniary benefit of British credit had gone into the landlords' pockets in these cases, and both the British taxpayer and the Irish tenant have been left most thoroughly out in the cold. I find that in the £35,000 worth of holdings of which I have been speaking. The pecuniary boon of British credit has been given to somebody amounting to no less than £78,000 during the 49 years. Who has got that boon? The whole of it has been capitalised in the pockets of the landlords in the shape of the enormous purchase price with which they have run away. I beg to move my Amendment.

Amendment proposed, In page 7, line 40, at the end of the Clause to add the words, "An advance shall not be made under the Land Purchase Act, as amended by this Act, for the purchase — (a) Of any holding where a judicial rent has not been fixed, or has been fixed, prior to the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-six, unless the tenant has first applied to the Land Commission to determine the annual value, and the annual value has been so determined."— (Mr. Keay.)

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

(6.59.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I think the hon. Member has been wise in concealing under a judicious anonymity the fact that he is the author of the Amendment. [The Amendment appeared on the Notice Paper without any name attached to it.] The hon. Gentleman has given us what he calls facts and figures from the Return on the Table. He has based his argument on what, no doubt, is the fact — that in certain cases in County Cork a very large number of years' purchase of the Poor Law valuation was given to the farmers, and he has calmly argued that therefore far too high a price was given to the landlord. This is not the first time the hon. member has spoken of 38 years' Poor Law valuation of a farm being given by one unfortunate tenant purchaser. Surely the hon. Member ought to be aware of the elementary fact that in regard to particular holdings in the South of Ireland the Poor Law valuation is a most imperfect guide to the annual value. In the cases quoted, the 37 or 38 years' purchase was simply about 18 years' purchase of the annual value in one case and 20 years' purchase in another. What is the value of an argument based upon such data as the hon. Member has given? It is not worth while dragging the Committee through what the hon. Member has been pleased to describe as his facts and figures. Even if we were to accept the Amendment which has been put upon the Paper, we should obviously not be taking a single step towards carrying out the object that the hon. Gentleman himself has in view. Assuming the annual value of the holding to be fixed in some such manner as that suggested, there would be no more security that the tenant would not give too high a price for his holding. The hon. Member alluded to the provision by which we direct that, for certain purposes, the annual value shall be fixed by the Commissioners. That has no connection whatever with the bargain the tenant makes with the landlord, but solely determines the amount the tenant shall pay during the first five years. If a revaluation of the annual value of every holding were to be made, nothing would be done to carry out the object which the hon. Member has in view, and which he has thought fit to support by the very exaggerated statement and the very curious figures he has put before the Committee.

(7.4.) MR. SEXTON

The right hon. Gentleman has deliberately and obstinately ignored the annual value as a factor in determining the price of the holding. He has told us over and over again that the Irish tenant thinks only of how much will the annuity be less than the rent. The ultimate question for the tenant is, no doubt, how much less than the present rent will the annuity be? but there is hardly a peasant in Ireland who does not understand that the solu- tion of that question depends on the solution of two others—namely, what is the annual value, and what is the number of years' purchase? I think my hon. Friend the Member for Elgin has not led the Committee astray nor wasted any time in directing our minds to the question of the annual value. I cannot share the indignation which the right hon. Gentleman sought to excite against my hon. Friend in reference to the suggestion that the Poor Law valuation should be considered as a factor in the matter. I know that the Poor Law valuation is lower in reference to farms in the South than to holdings in the North. But anyone who has paid attention to the subject will be aware that any transaction where a tenant purchased at 38½ years' purchase of the Poor Law valuation was one of such a character that it is not surprising that at the end of two or three years the tenant utterly broke down. I am not going to set up the Poor Law valuation as a standard of value; but at the same time I say it is an indicator of the value. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman does not countenance the idea that where the rent was fixed before 1886 the tenants should have a right to apply to the Land Commission. I think myself the idea is well worth consideration, because it can hardly be denied that rents fixed before 1886 did not represent the annual value. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, with reference to Clause 17, which provides that where a judicial rent has not been fixed a purchaser shall have a right of applying to the Land Commission to fix the annual value—in what way is the provision to be carried out? Is the same process to be gone through as in the case of a tenant who wants his fair rent fixed? Will there be a hearing before the Land Commission, with costly and elaborate proceedings? I would suggest that it should be a summary process that could be carried out without expense. The Inspector who examined into the question of the security might at the same time determine what should be the annual value.

(7.12.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

; The views of the hon. Gentleman on that point do not seem to be at all in discord with those of the Government. Of course we are not on Clause 17 now, but I may indicate to him that our idea is that as the determination of the annual value will affect only one person, it might be done by a very rough and ready process, and it is by such a process we intend to proceed. If this is not provided for in the clause it can easily be amended.


I hope by this time the right hon. Gentleman has been able to verify the figures he said I had quoted in an extraordinary manner. The extraordinary thing about them seems to be their correctness, as no further reference has been made to them by the right hon. Gentleman or the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Waring). I took the Ashbourne purchases and pointed out that the whole of those purchases taken together amounted to about 17 years' purchase of the Poor Law valuation. I showed that the defaulting tenants had been made to pay a purchase price of from 25 years to 38 years' purchase of the valuation.

(7.15.) MR. CHANCE

There is one argument that strikes me as having some force in it. Tenants whose rents have been fixed at a high standard will be compelled to repay the money advanced to them at a very rapid rate, whereas those who are able to pay 20 years' purchase get the benefit of the money for a far longer period. It would be highly desirable to my mind to have a uniform standard. I admit that as far as equality of treatment is concerned it is all the same whether you make the nominal annual value high or low, as long as the standard is uniform.


The object of this Amendment is to protect the tenants. The right hon. Gentleman's answer is: "It is unnecessary to protect the tenants, because we do not suffer if they are robbed." I am putting it in other words, but that is the meaning. What a remarkable Bill this is when the right hon. Gentleman has to defend one of its clauses by saying, "We have no objection to what the parties do, because any loss will fall on someone else."


Let the hon. Gentleman make his own speech and not put into my mouth words which have not the slightest resemblance to or connection with the argument I used.


Well, that is how I understood his argument. No doubt it was my stupidity.

(7.20.) The Committee divided: — Ayes 67 ; Noes 107.—(Div. List, No. 215.)

(7.31.) MR. KEAY

I now propose to move the insertion of the following Amendment:— No advance shall be made under the Land Purchase Acts for the purchase of land by, or from a person, or the assignees, or successors in title of a person from whom the said land has previously been purchased under the said Acts. I substitute this for the Amendment I have placed on the Paper, because, whilst it will carry out my object, I am assured it will better carry out that of Irish Members around me. This Bill is intended to be a perpetual Land Purchase Bill. All its main provisions contemplate its going on to an indefinite extent in point of time and amount. As it stands, it will be competent, apparently, for any successors of the present landlords, and for their successors again and again to use British credit for the purpose of selling and re-selling the same land. The Government have always told us that their principal reason for bringing forward this Bill is a political one. They have told us practically that the existing Irish landlords are such a bad lot that it is well worth while paying through the nose for the purpose of inducing them to give up the soil. That political object certainly will be served when the present generation of landlords have disappeared; and yet this Bill will allow the purchase operations to go on to' an indefinite extent between the new tenant purchasers, one after another. The Government must admit that their political considerations cease to operate when the present landlords are expropriated. My Amendment simply provides that when a purchase has taken place through the operation of British credit the process cannot be repeated by any of the representatives or assignees of the same party.

Amendment proposed, In page 7, line 40, at end of Clause, to add, "No advance shall be made under the Land Purchase Acts for the purchase of land by or from a person, or the assignees or successors in title of a person from whom the said land has previously been purchased under the said Acts."—(Mr. Keay.)

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

(7.37.) MR. CHANCE

I almost hope the Government will accept these words. They merely provide that a person once paid out of the Land Purchase Fund for a holding shall not be able to repeat the operation in regard to the same holding. Suppose a landlord sells to a tenant and gets possession again, he will not, under this Amendment, be able to put another tenant in and sell to him under the Act, so as to get paid twice over for the same land. I think the Amendment carries out the object of every Member of the Committee, and also of the Government.


The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down as well as the mover of the Amendment, will see that the result of the Amendment would be to ear-mark certain portions of Ireland as portions over which henceforth the operations of this Act shall not run. ["No!"] Let us suppose that land is sold under one of these Acts, that the annuity has not been paid, or for some reason or other the land has reverted to the landlord. The landlord has repaid the whole of the money, and desires to re-sell the land to some other tenant. Suppose that the holding is amalgamated with some other holding, and the two become one farm—the whole farm cannot be sold. I fail to see what object would be gained by adopting the present proposition.


I would be perfectly willing to add "Until the whole or any part of the advance has been repaid."


I do not know whether it would then read properly. Perhaps the best plan would be to bring the matter up on Report.


Report is a distant stage.

(7.43.) MR. SEXTON

While the right hon. Gentleman is drawing up words, perhaps I may be allowed to say it is something new to me to hear that money which is advanced for the purpose of getting rid of dual ownership may be again applied within the term of 49 years; it opens up an altogether new vista to me, and I doubt whether it can properly be brought within the scope of the scheme. The tenant purchaser fails to pay his instalments and is put out of the holding, and the holding is sold for the debt to the State. The landlord buys in the holding, satisfies the State some way or other with regard to the balance of the annuity, and then it appears you contemplate allowing the landlord to sell the holding again. There is another thing to be mentioned. You cannot issue more Stock in any county than 25 times the share of the county in the Guarantee Fund. It is perfectly evident that the people who will want to avail themselves of this Purchase Act will be more numerous than the number who can possibly come within the operation of the Act, and if you allow the same farm to be sold twice in 49 years it is plain the second sale will affect the issue of Stock. The effect will be to shut out some farmer, because two sales of one farm have been allowed.


I think the Committee would be ill-advised to allow an Amendment of this kind to-pass before it has been seen in print.


The Amendment was written by me an hour and a half ago. I sent a copy of it to the Attorney General for Ireland. I surely am not to be damnified because the right hon. and learned Gentleman has unfortunately been compelled to leave the House.


The Amendment could not have been accepted in the form in which the hon. Gentleman sent it to the Attorney General. It has since been modified, and I think in the new form my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Waring) will see there is no objection to it. In reply to the remarks of the hon. Member for West Belfast, I may say there is nothing in the Bill which allows a man to sell land to a person who is not a tenant. The second tenant may be a most deserving person, and I do not see why he should be prevented from buying. The Amendment, as modified, would read— An advance shall not be made under the Land Purchase Act for the purchase of any holding for the purchase of which, or any part of which, land stock has been issued under this Act, or an advance already made under the Land Purchase Act until the entire purchase annuity has been repaid. That would prevent land being resold and being the subject of a new annuity before the old annuity has been disposed of. I think that is fair, and I recommend the Committee to adopt it.


I beg to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, In page 7, line 40, at end of the Clause, to add "An advance shall not be made under the Land Purchase Act for the purchase of any holding for the purchase of which, or any part of which, land stock has been issued under this Act, or an advance already made under the Land Purchase Act until the entire purchase annuity has been repaid."—(Mr. Keay.)

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

(7.52.) MR. SEXTON

I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on a financial point. When the whole of the annuity has been repaid the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be in a position to purchase and to cancel the Stock on which the original purchase has been transacted. We are dealing with the second purchase of the same holding. A county is entitled to receive a certain amount of Stock. Will not a county's share of Stock be affected by a second purchase?


Arrangements must be made by which Stock that has been redeemed shall not be re-lent to the county.


I think it is necessary that such an important statement should be embodied in the Bill.


I think there are provisions in the Bill by which the object is attained, but I will look carefully into the matter.

Question put, and agreed to.

(7.55.) MR. RATHBONE

I wish to move to add to the clause the words— An advance under the said Acts for the purchase of any holding shall not exceed 20 years' purchase of the annual value of the holding as defined in this Act. This was a valuable provision in the Bill of last year. If a tenancy is sold at more than 20 years' purchase, that of itself is evidence that it is not necessary for this country to enter into any liability on account of it. I think the Amendment would impose a proper check, and I hope the Government will assent to it.

Amendment proposed, in page 7, to add after the words last added— An advance under the said Acts for the purchase of any holding shall not exceed 20 years' purchase of the annual value of the holding as defined in this Act.—(Mr. Rathbone.)

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


As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Bill of last year contained words of a precisely similar import, but they have been omitted from this Bill, and I think on the whole wisely. They met last year with a great deal of hostile criticism. They were supposed by the friends of the tenants to indicate that everybody ought to give 20 years' purchase, and by the friends of the landlord to imply that nobody should give less. There is something to be said for the proposal, but on the whole I am inclined to think it would cause a great deal more friction and dissatisfaction than it would prove of advantage to those whom it is intended to serve.

Question put, and negatived.

Question "That Clause 6, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Clause 7.

Amendment proposed, in page 8, line 20, after the words "out of," to insert the words "the Land Purchase Account, and if need be."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)

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

(8.0.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 80; Noes 42.—(Div. List, No. 216.)

Amendment proposed, in page 8, line 32, before "section," to insert "the payment directed by."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)

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

(8.10.) MR. SEXTON

We are not disposed to allow any Amendments to be moved in silence; and as we are scarcely aware what point has been reached, we must insist that every Amendment is made the subject of explanation. Perhaps some explanation will be offered upon this point.


It is simply a drafting Amendment to make the intention clear. The Act of 1888 in the 1st section directs that certain payments are to be made in the financial year, and this carries out our intention, that payment directed by Section 1 of the Probate Duties (Scotland and Ireland) Act, 1888, shall be made as if the Guarantee Fund under this Act were substituted for the Local Taxation (Ire- land) Account. The following Amendment is a consequential one.

Question put, and agreed to.

Consequential Amendment, in line 33, to leave out "construed," and insert "made."—(Mr. A.J. Balfour.)

Agreed to.

(8.12.) MR. SEXTON

At an earlier stage of our proceedings we had occasion to refer to Sub-section 8, and I still think that the provision made for adjustment in the sub-section is far too wide and general— The Treasury may cause such adjustments to he made between the Sinking Fund, inclusive of the purchasers' insurance money, the Land Purchase Account, the Guarantee Fund, and the Reserve Fund, and such payments to be made from one account or fund, or one portion of an account or fund, to another, and sums to he placed to such credit, and such securities to be sold or bought as may appear to them necessary for the purpose of carrying into effect this Act or the regulations. Now, in a hard matter of figures and facts there ought to be no need of appearance." I would sustitute for this language the words "as may be necessary." The Treasury should be laid under the obligation to do what is necessary, and we do not want the introduction of this appearance of necessity. Then, again, this remuneration clause does not exhaust the list of accounts and funds; it is defective in two particulars—it does not include the Consolidated Fund. Various funds are named, but the big brother of the group, the Consolidated Fund, is left out, though as necessary a part of the adjustment as any other. This fund will have to advance money, and will have to be recouped from the other funds, and, therefore, it is necessary the Consolidated Fund should be inserted. Another account in the long series is omitted—the Guarantee Deposit. Of course, it is understood that sometimes the Land Purchase Account will have to be replenished from the Guarantee Deposit, and, therefore, adjustment will be necessary. In the first place, I move the insertion of the Consolidated Fund before the Sinking Fund.

Amendment proposed, in page 8, line 40, after the word "between," to insert the words "the Consolidated Fund.—(Mr. Sexton.)

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

(8.14.) MR. GOSCHEN

We cannot accept these words, nor are they necessary. Everything in regard to this fund is precisely laid down, and the rules are absolute. No new machinery is provided, and the Treasury have to make no adjustment so far as the Consolidated Fund is concerned. I do not quite apprehend the hon. Member's point in regard to the Guarantee Deposit. My right hon. and learned Friend will explain that. As regards the third point raised by the hon. Member, I think we must adhere to the words "as may appear to them" for the purpose of carrying the Act into effect, otherwise we put upon them the burden of proof that it was absolutely indispensable. The Treasury must have power to make a certain number of adjustments, and a certain amount of latitude must be left to the Treasury in the matter.


The right hon. Gentleman has failed to appreciate the force of my observations. You will have to make adjustments; why object to say so? The Consolidated Fund will advance money to the Land Purchase Account, and possibly for the Guarantee Fund, and this money will have to be paid back. What is the use of raising here a sort of financial fetish, and speaking of the impossibility of making any adjustment when we know that the adjustment will have to be made? What is the sacredness of the Consolidated Fund? I think it is an amendment really in the interest of the Treasury and the Consolidated Fund. The Consolidated Fund is called upon to make advances, and the only meaning of the sub-section is that such money must be paid back. I never before heard of a Chancellor of the Exchequer's objection to such a precaution.


A temporary advance may be made; but if ever such an advance is made, it must be paid back out of the Guarantee Fund; there is no further adjustment.


That is adjustment.


But the expression "adjustment" would possibly cover more than is intended by the Act. As a matter of fact, the Consolidated Fund is, as the hon. Member says, a sort of fetish; it has a character almost sacred in our financial system. We cannot introduce any elasticity in dealing with the Consolidated Fund. Everyone who has had any experience of Treasury finance will agree with me that rules in regard to the fund must be absolute.

(8.18.) MR. SEXTON

I do not think the Amendment would import any elasticity that is not provided in the Bill. The sub-section provides that there shall be such adjustment as may be, or as may appear to be, necessary for the several funds for the purpose of carrying the Act into effect. The Act makes it quite clear what may or may not be done. The Consolidated Fund may advance sums to other funds, and the other funds must pay the amount back. It is idle to argue that the Consolidated Fund would be damnified. What difference could be made? The sub-section has an enumeration of funds, and the enumeration is defective unless the Consolidated Fund is included, and the insertion will not permit any adjustment other than that contemplated in the Bill.


Earlier in the debate the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised to consider a provision enabling tenants to redeem their annuities. Does he intend to insert a provision to that effect? If it was inserted, would it render any Amendment necessary for the adjustment of the Consolidated. Fund?


My answer to the second question is in the negative. We have nothing to do with the Consolidated Fund; we stand by what we have said before. The question does not arise on this point; the Consolidated Fund stands quite outside.


Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to convey that he will introduce a separate clause on the subject of giving purchasers power of redemption of their annuities?


I can give no final pledge. I regard the suggestion with favour, but I can give no absolute pledge. The matter shall have full attention on the Report stage.

(8.25.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 38; Noes 76.— (Div. List, No. 217.)

(8.35.) MR. SEXTON

I beg to move to omit the words "inclusive of" in line 40. It is evident the insurance money will always have to be earmarked and available for the purpose of relief of distress apart from the purposes of the Sinking Fund. I observe that the insurance money when referred to in the sub-section shall be referred to in language less equivocal and less open to the fear that it has been merged in the Sinking Fund; indeed, I think it would be well to speak of it as an Insurance Account.

Amendment proposed, in page 8, line 40, to leave out the words "inclusive of."—(Mr. Sexton.)


It is true that the insurance money goes to the Sinking Fund, to be there invested. If everything goes well it will not be called on by the tenant, but he will have the benefit of it in the later years of the term. If there ever is occasion, a necessary adjustment between the two funds will be made.


In the first instance, the insurance money is to be paid into the Sinking Fund, there to accumulate in case of any special call upon it; if any tenant is unable, through no fault of his own, to pay his half-yearly instalment, it may be paid for him. In such case the insurance money will have to be taken out of the Sinking Fund. What I want is that there shall be an account which shall clearly show the insurance money paid by each person, how much has accumulated, and what has been drawn out and applied to the purpose of any special need.


I cannot undertake, dealing with a Treasury clause, to agree to the insertion of words, but I will consult with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and if it is thought desirable to insert words, I will bring them up on Report.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. (8.40.)

(9.20.) MR. SEXTON

I beg to move, as a further Amendment to this clause, the insertion of the words "a guarantee deposit account" after the words "guarantee fund," in page 8, line 41. My object in moving this Amendment is that as soon as the landlord's money comes into the guarantee deposit account you may forthwith take that money without going to any other source.


I see no objection to the insertion of words to carry out the object of the hon. Member. There is no general guarantee deposit account, but I see no objection to specifying the guarantee deposit.


I should like to ask the Attorney General for Ireland to state exactly the order in which the Guarantee Fund is to be called upon. At present there is no distinct provision as to the point at which the guarantee deposit becomes liable. Is it not desirable that there should be some distinct arrangement as to the point at which the guarantee deposit shall become liable? My hon. Friend has suggested a point, i.e., that at which the rate becomes leviable. How can it be said that the guarantee deposit should be called upon before you call for a levy on the county? Before you do either, the cash portion of the guarantee must be exhausted.


I do not propose to press the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I submit that the last three words of the paragraph are unnecessary. I take it that the object of the sub-section is to enable the Treasury from time to time by adjustment of the several accounts conveniently to carry out the regulations referred to. The regulations themselves will only be subsidiary to the Act, and if these words are retained it appears to me that it will be in the power of the Treasury to make other regulations which may define new purposes or extend the purposes already defined. I think it will be quite sufficient, as power is given, to make such adjustment as will enable the Treasury to carry out the purposes of the Act without giving additional or unlimited powers.

Amendment proposed, in page 9, line 4, to leave out the words "or the regulations."—(Mr. Sexton.)

(9.31.) MR. GOSCHEN

I think the hon. Member, if he examines the section dealing with the rules, will see that they are to be submitted to Parliament, and therefore no change can be made in the purposes of the Bill without the knowledge of the House; I do not think we can leave out the words "or regulations," for they will enable the Treasury to make adjustments between different counties, which it will be very necessary to do sometimes.


I am not satisfied as to what these regulations are. I think the words would be far less objectionable if something were added showing their connection to Section 9, which deals with,matters of a purely financial nature necessary for controlling the Land Purchase Account.


I do not think there could be any objection to that, except that it would be necessary to go a little beyond that and insert "or regulations made under sections of this Act, empowering the Treasury to make the same."


That is just the point. You speak of regulations in this subsection, you speak of rules in Section 9, and you allude to regulations elsewhere. That makes it very embarrassing.


It would be most unwise to limit the sub-section to Section 9. But we will undertake that the words shall not be so vague, and shall have reference to the special sections in the Act which refer to finance.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I wish to insert words in this clause which will make more clear, what is, no doubt, intended by the Act. I do not think the Amendment will be objected to.

Amendment proposed, in page 9, line 12, after "shall," to insert" until otherwise inserted in pursuance of the Land Purchase Acts."—(Colonel Waring.)

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


I accept the Amendment.

(9.38.) MR. CHANCE

Will this authorise the investment of the guarantee deposit in matters authorised under the Acts of 1885 and 1888? The reason I ask is this: Under those Acts the guarantee deposit may be invested in mortgages on land, and this involves the lapse of a considerable period before the money can be released. I have an Amendment which I intend to move—if I am not ruled out of Order—that no deposit shall be invested in land mortgages. I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not allow such a monstrous thing as that to be done. Let me point out that if it is invested in land it may be necessary to go to the Court of Chancery before it can be released, and the delay may extend over four or five years, while another set of sales may be involved before a penny can be got out of the guarantee deposit. Suppose, for instance, it is invested on the mortgage of a landed estate in a county where the funds authorised to be advanced under this Act have been exhausted, and where, consequently, no advance could be made for the purchase of any holding. You will in that case be unable to release a penny of the money, unless you can get some Insurance Company or private land speculator to advance the necessary amount. I cannot imagine anything more calculated to prevent the working of the Act. I, therefore, hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will indicate the intention of the Government not to allow the investment of the deposit in mortgages on either English or Irish land.

(9.42.) MR. MADDEN

So recently as in the Act of 1887, under the 10th clause it was provided that the guarantee deposit might, on the application of the person by whom the deposit was made, be invested by the Land Commission in any security in which Trustees are by law allowed to invest. The hon. Member is correct in stating that mortgages on land are thus included. But let me point out that this is a matter which rests in the discretion of the Land Commission, and that they would not be at all likely to invest in such a security, because it would not be immediately available. I do not think the question arises on the Amendment now before the Committee, which amounts to this, that however the money is invested in the interest shall go to the depositor. That is obviously just. It was the intention of the Act of 1887, and it is the intention of this Act.

(9.44.) MR. CHANCE

There is not a single syllable to show that the question of the nature of the investment is to be left within the absolute discretion of the Land Purchase Commission. I think, however, there will be no objection to the Amendment if words are added, "as amended by this Act." Otherwise, I may be precluded from proposing the Amendment to which I referred just now.

Amendment proposed, to proposed Amendment, to insert at the end the words, "as amended by this Act."

Question, "That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment," put, and agreed to.

Amendment, as amended, proposed,

(9.46.) MR. M. HEALY

I think this Amendment raises definitely the question whether under the enlarged scheme of land purchase the Land Commissioners should be given full discretion as to the class of investment.


Order, order! That does not arise on this Amendment. It is dealt with in an independent section.

Amendment agreed to.


I have now to move another Amendment, as follows:— In page 9, after line 13, to add—"(11.) In the course of any sale proceedings if it shall appear to the Land Commission that any crown rent, quit rent, tithe rent-charge, land improvement charge, or other Government charge, including probate duty or any instalment or instalments of succession duty, are payable or redeemable out of the purchase money, and may be paid or redeemed without injury to, and without waiting to ascertain the priority of any other charge, the Land Commission may, on the application of the landlord, order the payment or redemption of said charge, by transferring to the proper party or department stock to the nominal amount payable in respect thereof, or pending payment may transfer to the separate account of said charge stock to the nominal amount thereof, and, until such payment or redemption, the interest on said stock shall be paid to the department entitled to the annual payment in respect of said charge.


Order, order! This Amendment the hon. and gallant member should bring in as a separate clause.


I have now to move an addition to the clause, to the effect that if any Consolidated Annuities bearing interest at a less rate than £2 15s. per cent. are given in exchange for any guaranteed Land Stock, the amount of the difference between such interest and £2 15s. per cent. shall form part of the county percentage, and shall be paid to it accordingly.

Amendment proposed, In page 9, line 13, at the end of the Clause, to add the words, "If any consolidated annuities bearing interest at a less rate than two pounds fifteen shillings per cent. be given in exchange for any guaranteed land stock under sub-section (2) of this section, the amount of the difference between such interest, and interest at the rate of two pounds fifteen shillings per cent. shall form part of the county per- centage, and shall be paid and applied accordingly."—[Mr. Sexton.)

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

(9.52.) MR. GOSCHEN

We are unable to accept this Amendment. The National Debt Commissioners must take their chance as regards profit and loss on this transaction, and they ought not to be thus fettered. The amount involved would be very small indeed.


This difference of a ½ per cent. is not beneath notice, for under the Bill there will be very large transactions. I think it rather shabby on the part of a rich country like England to retain this ½ per cent. and I shall take the sense of the Committee on the matter.


I understand the reason of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for rejecting the Amendment to be his desire to make the Sinking Fund yield as much as previous Chancellors of the Exchequer had calculated; in fact, it seems this Stock must be invested in order to make both ends meet. But surely the right hon. Gentleman should bear the loss due to his predecessor's miscalculations, and not throw it on Ireland.


I do not think it will be so easy to invest at 2 ¾ per cent., as the hon. Member suggests. Of course the operation will be limited to Irish Land Stock.

(9.56.) MR. CHANCE

Let me point out that the Land Commissioners, if the Stock is not at par, may go into the market, and buy it up and extinguish it. If they do that at a profit why should the profit not go into the fund?


But if it cannot be bought to give 2¾ per cent. the Sinking Fund will suffer. On some transactions there will be a gain, and on others a loss, but the balance either way will be very small at the end of 49 years.


Of course, but why should not the ultimate profit go into the Land Purchase Account? Why should the National Debt Commissioners have it? Surely it would be only fair that the Purchase Account should receive it.


The policy of land purchase will be greatly embarrassed if any considerable portion of the Land Stock is transferred to other Stock, and the tenants of Ireland see that while they are charged 4 per cent., only 2½ goes to the landlords, instead of 2¾ They will want the Purchase Fund to receive the ½ per cent.

(10.0.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 25; Noes 128.—(Div. List, No. 218.)

(10.13.) MR. CHANCE

I beg to move to add at the end of the clause the following words:— The purchase of a sum of Guaranteed Land Stock in the names of the National Debt Commissioners by a person indebted to the Land Commissioners shall be a good discharge of the debt to the extent of the nominal value of the Stock so charged. I should be willing to add, "subject to the rules to be made under this Act." I understand that the Chancellor of the Exchequer looks favourably on the proposal.

Amendment proposed, In page 9, to add at the end of the Clause "The purchase of a sum of Guaranteed Land Stock in the names of the National Debt Commissioners by a person indebted to the Land Commissioners shall be a good discharge of the debt to the extent of the nominal value of the Stock so charged."—[Mr. Chance.)

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


I have already informed the Committee that in our opinion such a proposal would be just in principle, but it may be a matter of some delicacy so far as the regulations are concerned. I will, however, undertake that, the Government will bring up a clause to carry out the policy which underlies the Amendment.


I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment, and I am perfectly satisfied with the pledge the right hon. Gentleman has given.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

(10.16.) MR. SEXTON

I wish to move some words in the nature of a proviso at the end of the clause. I should have liked to move them in connection with Sub-section 5, but the way in which that sub-section was dealt with made it difficult to do so. The sub-section provides that the cash portion of the Guarantee Fund may be used for temporary advances and other purposes connected with the administration of the Act. That opens up a very serious prospect, unless the words be qualified. It is extremely important that the money which is to be paid over for local purposes should be paid at the appointed time, for schools and other local services, and the Government previously gave a promise that it should not be taken for the purposes of the Act unless a charge had actually arisen. My Amendment provides that the cash portion of the Guarantee Fund shall not be used for temporary advances to the Land Purchase Account, or for other current purposes connected with the administration of the Act, except where default has happened, and a charge has actually arisen.

Amendment proposed, In page 9, to add at end of the Clause, "The cash portion of the Guarantee Fund shall not be used for temporary advances to the Land Purchase Account, or for other current purposes connected with the administration of this Act in such manner as to retard the application in ordinary course of the sums included in such portions for local purposes for which such sums are intended." —(Mr. Sexton.)

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

(10.19.) MR. GOSCHEN

I think hon. Gentlemen will see that amid the shower of Amendments which occupy the attention of the Government it is very difficult at the same time to clear up all the points which we have left behind us, and this is one of these points to which the hon. Gentleman has called attention. We will undertake to reconsider the drafting of Sub-section 5, and to make it in accordance with the policy we have accepted on the subject of the non-derangement of local finance.


Will the right hon. Gentleman explain what is the purpose of Sub - section 5. The Chief Secretary has explained a temporary order as distinguished from a permanent order under which the various funds are to be applied. I have always understood that the first fund to come upon was the Consolidated Fund. That fund is usually large enough to bear whatever advances are necessary. Why should it be necessary to take sums out of the Guarantee and Reserve Funds for purposes for which the Consolidated Fund is in the first place applicable?


I must confess that there seems some point in the observations just made by my hon. and learned Friend. If the sub-section operates at all it operates in derogation of the pledge already given. But the Government have given so many pledges that it would be well if we had an official record of them, so that we might see they were carried out.


I think the hon. Gentleman's memory is sufficiently accurate.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

(10.23.) MR. KNOX

I think I owe an apology to the Committee for not having put this Amendment on the Paper; bat I had no idea we should get so far as this clause to-night. I have to move to insert at the end of line 13— Regulations as to investment in and sale of Government Stock made under the Savings Bank Act, 1880, may include provisions for the investment in and sale of Guaranteed Stock at the request of any depositor in the Post Office Savings Bank, and such regulations may provide for the—


Order! That is not relevant to this clause. The hon. Gentleman wishes to make this Land Stock available for Post Office Savings Bank purposes. That must be done by a separate clause.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Clause 7, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

(10.25.) MR. SEXTON

It would have been well if this clause, dealing with matters of such vast importance to such large numbers of people, had been drawn in such a form that its intent and force were apparent to the ordinary Member of Parliament. I trust the Law Officers of the Crown will not think us obtrusive if we appeal to them to throw some light on the somewhat unique method of expression, which is observed in the drafting of the clause. The first sub-section provides that— The Guaranteed Land Stock shall from time to time, as required for the purposes of this Act, be created by the Treasury, and issued by the Land Commission in the prescribed manner, and the National Debt Act, 1870, shall, but without creating any further charge on the Consolidated Fund, apply to the stock as if it were described in the 1st Schedule of that Act. If the provision simply were that the Act of 1870 shall apply to the Stock as described in the 1st Schedule of that Act, one could understand it; but the qualification introduced here, that the application of the Act shall not create any further charge on the Consolidated Fund in reference to the. Stock, puzzles the ordinary Parliamentary critic. In the 3rd sub-section provision is made for the consolidation of the Stock and the commencement of the dividends on Stock issued for an advance and for the payment of interest. Such interest shall he paid out of the Consolidated Fund as if it were part of the dividends. It is evident a broken period between the issue of the Stock and the sale of the land and the date at which the first dividend shall accrue, is contemplated. I have not discovered the machinery by which the interest for the broken period is to be obtained from the purchaser. Another sub-section provides that the purchaser's insurance money shall be paid to the National Debt Commissioners, who are to apply and invest the same in manner prescribed. This insurance money discharges an important function for the tenant purchaser. The primary object is to shorten the annuity term. It will accumulate at interest to the end of each year, and be deducted from the principal at the end of 18 years. It is desirable that the purchaser should be informed as early as possible of the amount and extent to which his capital is affected. But there is no provision here that he shall be so informed; the Commissioners may keep that knowledge to themselves. I should be glad to see within the four corners of the Bill a provision that the operations of the National Debt Commissioners, both general and individual, should be communicated to those interested.

(10.33.) MR. CHANCE

There are two small matters to which I should like to draw the attention of the Chief Secretary. In the first place, I think particular gale days ought to be mentioned, that should be uniform or convenient to each locality. The first payment becomes due six months after the cash is paid over under the old system, or after the Stock has been issued under the new system. It will be convenient that the payments in a county should be made on one day. The interest on dividends is payable in June and December, with a provision for the interest during the broken period, and I would suggest that Sub-section 3 might very well be supplemented in another part of the Bill by a clause enacting that the broken period system should apply to the tenant purchasers as well, so that the Commissioners may have two gale days in the year, in May and in November, and not be hunting all over the country for rent all the year round. Further, I would refer to the adoption of the Section of the Act of 1887, and the provision for the investment of the guarantee deposit, and I may just remark on the inexpediency and unwisdom of locking up money that may be required at any moment in a security so difficult of realisation as Irish land.

(10.38.) MR. GOSCHEN

The mention in the clause of the National Debt Act has reference solely to formalities which have to be observed in dealing with Consols. It is said that notice ought to be given to the tenants of the proceedings of the National Debt Commissioners with regard to the Sinking Fund. Every such information will be given. Returns may be moved for in the ordinary way; but it will be the duty of the Government to present Returns showing the precise state of the funds, how they have been progressing, and what is the general state of the various accounts. The House may rely upon the Treasury giving every information.


The point with regard to gale days was appreciated in 1887, when it was provided that the annuities should be payable on the 1st of May and the 1st of November. In framing the present Bill the dividends were made payable in June and December, so that there should be an interval of a month between the two operations. I hope and expect from past experience, that this arrangement will render it un necessary to draw on the Guarantee Fund or the Consolidated Fund, to any appreciable extent. The other point in regard to investments does not properly arise on this clause, but I may say that. the Land Commissioners can, under the Statute, exercise discretion as to the in vestment of guarantee deposits.

Question put, and agreed to,

Clause 8.

(10.45.) MR. M. J. KENNY

This clause proposes to extend to certain counties of cities, and counties of towns, the liability which is extended to counties. The 1st Schedule includes the towns of Kilkenny, Carrickfergus, Galway, Drogheda, and Waterford. Now we have not made any objection to the principle of a Guarantee Fund, but we have consistently and persistently objected to providing an unsuitable and unfair Guarantee Fund, and nothing can be more unfair and unsuitable than to saddle upon urban communities the liabilities of purely rural districts, not only without their consent, but in such a manner as will make it impossible for them to derive any advantage from the arrangement. Of course, in the case of a county it can reasonably be advanced that although their securities are pledged without their consent, yet the persons living within those districts do derive some advantage from this. But that is not the case with cities and towns like these. The population of Kilkenny is over 15,000, of Galway about 20,000, of Drogheda 14,000, and of Waterford, I should say, 28,000. These places are all urban districts just as much as Derry, Limerick or Cork; and I do not see how logically you can exclude the one group and include the other. I think it is extremely desirable that all urban districts which are under the management of separate Local Authorities, whether Corporations or Town Commissioners, should be excluded from any liability under the guarantee portion of the Act. It is monstrous to propose that a city like Waterford, which cannot by any possibility derive the slightest advantage from the operation of the Bill, should have its local rates impounded and be liable to seizure for default of farmers outside, who may live at the far end of the county and do all their business with Cork. The same observation applies to Carrickfergus, a town which will derive no advantage from the Bill. The farmers of the county of Antrim carry on their trade to a greater extent with Belfast. I think the security of the State will be fully met by conferring the liability to the rural communities, and therefore I move the omission of Sub-section 2.

Amendment proposed, in page 9, line 18, "to leave out Sub-section(2.)."—(Mr. Kenny.)

Question proposed, "That Sub-section (2) stand part of the Clause."

(10.53.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

Of course wherever a line is drawn some cases of grievance will be created; but I do not think that the towns enumerated can declare that their prosperity is quite independent of the agricultural community in the neighbouring counties. It is not unjust, therefore, to make them responsible in part for that which will bring so much benefit and prosperity to the rural inhabitants, with whom they are associated more or less closely.


The right hon. Gentleman says it is difficult to draw a line that will not give rise to complaint; but the fact is there is a line drawn already on which the right hon. Gentleman's proposal encroaches. The towns which are not counties or cities themselves are now rated by the County Authorities, and are liable to pay the Grand Jury cess. But there are other towns which are counties of cities, and these it is unfair to bring under the general county rates. My hon. Friend has referred to Waterford, and can anything be more unfair than to make Waterford liable for the default of tenants who live in the neighbourhood of Ballyduff, where the business relations of farmers are with Cork? Why should a distinction in this respect be made between Waterford and Cork? The right hon. Gentleman divides the counties into two classes, and as regards one of them, the inhabitants are to be liable for the defaults of the adjoining counties, while the second will not be so liable. I would point out that the existing law draws a fair line of demarcation.

(11.5.) MR.SEXTON

It seems to me that we cannot debate this part of the Bill with the necessary particularity until we come to the Schedules. I am at a loss to discover upon what principle the right hon. Gentleman has proceeded in including and excluding towns. I fail to see what valid distinction can be drawn between the cities and towns included in counties, and the cities and towns to which the Act is not to apply. The City of Waterford is very hardly treated in being placed amongst the included towns. I do not know any city of the same size which contains within itself so many energies and peculiar outlets for industry as Waterford. It is as wholly divorced from dependence on rural industry as any of the cities which the right hon. Gentleman has chosen to exempt. Unequal treatment is shown in the manner in which the cities have been separated in the two Schedules, and the cities in the 2nd Schedule stand in a position of extraordinary advantage as compared with the cities in the 1st Schedule. I invite the Chief Secretary to consider whether some modification of this treatment might not be made by which the rural portion of the population of those cities might be allowed to hypothecate their part of the urban funds.


I have taken out the figures, and the Committee will see there is as much justification for the line which the Government has drawn as there ever can be for any line drawn between two classes of the community which have much in common. It is true that many of the towns included in the Bill have industries of a purely urban character; but even Belfast and Dublin cannot be considered as being wholly divorced from the interests of the agricultural community in which they find themselves placed. Nevertheless, I think that if we are to include any towns at all within the purview of the Bill the Government have chosen the best line. I find the population of the excluded cities under this Bill is: Londonderry, 59,000; Limerick, 48,000; Belfast, 208,000; Cork, 104,000; Dublin, 273,000. If I come to the included cities I find that Waterford is almost identical with Londonderry—just 59,000; Carrickfergus, 10,000; Kilkenny, 15,000; Drogheda, 14,000; and Galway, 90,000. The only point of contact is between Waterford and Londonderry. The hon. Gentleman suggests we should exclude the five cities we have included. I do not think that would be expedient in the interests of the rural population with whom we are specially concerned. By excluding them we would diminish the amount of the Guarantee Fund at the disposal of the rural community, and by so much diminish the benefit which the Act was intended to confer on the counties concerned. I admit that it is impossible to defend any line on the ground that there are no cases on each side which might possibly, by plausible argument, be transferred to the other side; still I think the line is drawn, on the whole, at the best point, and I should be sorry to see the Bill limited in its operation by any exclusion such as the hon. Gentleman suggests.


I fail to see that the right hon. Gentleman has given any reason for having drawn a line on one side of Waterford and on the other side of Londonderry, which are places of almost similar population. They are both seaports 'and largely engaged in shipping. I venture to submit that there is really no justification for including these five towns within the scope of the Bill.

(11.30.) MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)

I wish to ask for a little information on a point of Order. I do not wish to interfere in the discussion, but for the information of the Committee I want to know whether in the clause we are now discussing as to whether the county cities and county towns specified in the 1st Schedule of the Act are to come under its operations, it is proper to discuss the merits of individual places? That can be done when we come to the Schedule itself, but the question is, ought we to have two discussions on that point?


Also on a point of Order. How can the Committee determine the question raised by this Amendment except by dealing with specified places?


Order, order! It is a question of detail. The point is whether the Schedule of the Ashbourne Acts shall be adopted in this Bill, and it is impossible now to discuss the general characteristics of each city or town.

SIR. G. TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

I think it is rather unfortunate, owing to the somewhat arbitrary character which certain towns and cities in Ireland have acquired, that this question has been raised exactly in this shape. If there had been some sort of local control granted there might have been good reason for the clause, but as it is, it seems to be mere chance whether towns and cities are or are not drawn within the purview of the clause. The scheme which includes Waterford in and excludes Londonderry from the county can commend itself to none. I do not see why two towns, each with a population of 29,000 or 30,000, should be treated so differently. Some principle, such as that adopted in the English Local Government Act, might well be accepted here. Municipal boroughs should be recognised, and if certain towns are to be excluded from the risks and advantages of the Bill they should be municipal boroughs above a certain population. I would suggest a limit of 15,000 or 20,000, and we might take the opinion of the Committee.


I agree with the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, but think that all municipal boroughs should stand out of the operation of the Bill, unless they wish to come in.


The suggested Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork has reference to the Schedule, and when this Schedule comes on for discussion I shall be prepared to consider the Amendment.

(11.35.) MR. M. J. KENNY

The Chief Secretary has not met the arguments which I advanced against the inclusion of these towns and cities within the operation of the Bill. Cork, Limerick, and Derry are excluded, while their municipal boundaries extend three or four miles into purely agricultural districts. I want to know why the farmers living in the outskirts of these cities—some thousands in number—are to be altogether excluded from the benefits of the Bill?


I wish to refer particularly to the case of the City of Cork. Its boundaries run eight miles beyond the city proper, and the rural population number 20,000. Yet they are wholly excluded from the Bill. In this clause the right hon. Gentleman has divided the towns of Ireland into two classes in a most arbitrary fashion. I maintain that the exclusions have not been so carefully considered as they ought to have been, and I, too, would advocate a system of excluding or including certain cities by a certain limit of population.


Will the Chief Secretary make a declaration as to the power to be given to the Municipal Authority in the cities specified?

(11.42.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 129; Noes 71. — (Div. List, No. 219.)

(11.54.) MR. SEXTON

In moving the next Amendment, I merely wish to say that I think it would only be fair to give the discretion it proposes.

Amendment proposed, In page 9, line 30, after the word "transferred," to insert the words "Provided that, if the Town Council or Town Commissioners of any such county of a city or county of a town shall by Resolution passed in the prescribed manner so declare, this Act shall not apply to such county of a city or county of a town."—(Mr. Sexton.)

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

(11.55.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I have not, unfortunately, the exact figures indicating the share of the Guarantee Fund contributed by each city; but the question raised by the Amendment is not one upon which I feel very strongly. I think it is more a matter for the counties to decide. We can hardly hope to finish the discussion on this to-night, and perhaps it would be as well to defer saying anything definite upon it.


Very well. I move to report Progress.

(11.56.) Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.