HC Deb 10 March 1892 vol 2 cc519-20
MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the following remarks in the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General upon the account of the Irish Land Commission in respect of Church Temporalities in Ireland, dated 4th January, 1892:— The arrears on the collection rentals show an increase as compared with the same Return for 1889–90. For that year the arrears due at its close averaged 29.1 per cent. of the total amount receivable, while for 1890–91 the percentage rose to 31.9. In the following cases there is even a larger growth of arrear shown: (1) Renewable leaseholds (including fines and other tenures); (2) mortgage account (convertible leaseholds) interest. I called the attention of the Land Commissioners to these classes of receipts, and to the increase of amounts uncollected at the close of the year; but their reply with reference thereto did not appear to me of a satisfactory character. What was the average number of years' purchase of the rental in these cases of arrear; and whether he will lay upon the Table similar particulars concerning them with respect to localities, vendors, purchasers' accounts, &c. as are prescribed in Section 33 of "The Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1891," with respect to purchases under its provisions?


The Comptroller and Auditor General reports that the arrears on the collection rental of the Irish Church Fund bore a higher proportion to the total amount collectible on the 31st March, 1891, than on the same day in the previous year. I think that in this Report it has been oven-looked that the rental column on which the percentage has been calculated by the Auditor General includes, besides rental proper, capital sums paid in redemption of income. These capital sums vary from year to year, and the proper course is to deduct them from the total amount collectible, and then, if you like,, to measure the arrears by the proportion which these arrears bear to the true income of the Fund. Measured by this test, the arrears bear exactly the same proportion to the income in both years. The actual amount of arrears has decreased. The Comptroller and Auditor General notes also an increase of arrears on two special heads—namely, (1.) Renewable Lease holds, and, (2.) Mortgage accounts in respect of Convertible Leaseholds. The first item represents the income of unsold Church property of various kinds.. It is small in amount, being only £1,762 in 1890–1. The sources of it are scattered and difficult to collect, but the arrears have only increased by £200. The second represents the charge of renewable leases, which, under an Act of William IV., have been converted into perpetuities. The collectible amount in this case also is small, and the increase in the arrears only £200. There is nothing significant in either of these two cases, and neither of these two heads are in any way connected with or analogous to purchases under the Land Act. They represent perpetuities, and therefore there is no question of "number of years' purchase." It will be evident, therefore, that with regard to them I cannot give account of sales which have not taken place; and as regards the account of the Church Temporalities, I have stated that there is no increase in the percentage of arrears, whilst there is a decrease in the actual amount.