HC Deb 16 July 1896 vol 42 cc1692-8

(1.) Where an application is made to the court to fix a fair rent for a holding, the court shall ascertain whether any improvements on the holding—

  1. (a) if claimed by the tenant have been made wholly or partly by or at the cost of the tenant without his having been paid or otherwise compensated by the landlord; and
  2. (b) if claimed by the landlord have been made wholly or partly by or at the cost of the landlord;
and shall record any improvements so made which they consider to be capable of accurate record, and that record shall be admissible in evidence on its mere production from the proper custody.

(2.) No rent shall be allowed or made payable in respect of an improvement made by the tenant on a holding, by reason only of the work constituting such improvement not being suitable to the holding.

(3.) In fixing the fair rent for a holding where it appears to the court that, after an allowance by way of interest has been made to the tenant on account of the present value of an improvement, such allowance falls short of the return equitably due to the tenant in respect of any benefit to the holding from such improvement, the court shall make such further allowance to, as having regard to the nature of the improvement and the interests of the landlord and tenant respectively, and considering all the circumstances, the court may deem just.

(4.) For the purpose of an application to fix a fair rent, a tenant shall not be deemed to have been paid or compensated for any improvement not coming within the provisions of any contract, except to the extent to which, in the opinion of the court, any money or money's worth has been given by the landlord in respect of the improvement.

(5.) A contract by a tenant not to claim on quitting his holding compensation for an improvement made by him, if money or money's worth was not given in respect of the entering into that contract, shall not authorise the allowance of any rent in respect of any improvement.

(6.) Section four of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, shall not authorise the allowance of any rent in respect of any improvement, provided that rent may be allowed in respect of an improvement made by the tenant—

  1. (a) if made in pursuance of a contract for which money or money's worth was given; or
  2. (b) if made twenty years before the passing of the said Act, and not being a permanent building or reclamation of waste land, and if the said section four would but for the passing of this Act have been applicable to the holding.

(7.) For the purpose of this section, money or money's worth shall be held to have been given where from all the circumstances of the case the court are of opinion that the rent was reduced or abated, or that the land was let to a particular tenant at a lower rent than he would otherwise have paid;

Provided that where the tenant of a holding had, before the passing of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, made improvements on a holding held by him under a tenancy existing at that passing, the court, in determining whether and to what extent money or money's worth has been given in respect of such improvements, shall take into consideration the time during which the tenant enjoyed the advantage of the improvements, the rent of the holding, and any benefit received by the tenant from his landlord in consideration, expressly or impliedly, of the improvements so made, but as regards improvements whenever made, neithen the letting of the land on lease or otherwise, nor the mere enjoyment of any improvemont, shall of itself, apart from other considerations, he held to be money or money's worth.

(8.) Sub-sections two and four of Section live of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, shall not have effect in the case of applications to fix a fair rent.


rose and said that, as the Committee was aware, this clause had gone through so many changes that at the present time it was not easy for the Committee to discover exactly what was the form the Government desired it to take. The difficulty had been got over more or less effectually by the clause being printed on a separate paper, as it would stand supposing it were adopted in the form the Government now desired to see it. But, on the whole, he thought it would be the most convenient course, if the Committee consented, that they should negative the clause at the present moment and bring it up at the end of the Bill in the form of a new clause with all the Government Amendments to it. He thought that would be an advantage, and he hoped the Committee would assent to the course he had suggested.


put the Question, "That Clause 4 stand part of the Bill."


said he was sorry to have to dissent from the view expressed by his right hon. Friend. This was, no doubt, the most important clause in the whole Bill; and it depended largely on the form the clause took what attitude they were bound to take towards the Bill as a whole. If they postponed the consideration of the clause to the end of the Bill, it might then assume a shape which, when presented to them, would cause them to reject the Bill altogether. He hoped that would not be so, because he desired to see the Bill pass. He admitted the difficulty of considering a clause which only appeared on the Paper that morning, and he would suggest that the best thing would be to report progress, so that they might consider the matter. The Committee would see, from the observations of his right hon. Friend, that the Government had not absolutely made up their mind as to the final form the clause was to take. He hoped the Leader of the House would consent to report progress.


thought he ought to remind the hon. and gallant Member that as he had put the Question—namely, that Clause 4 stand part of the Bill—it would not be in the province of the Committee to consider Amendments to the Clause. If a new clause came up, of course an opportunity would be afforded to move Amendments.


did not understand that the Chairman put the Motion that Clause 4 stand part of the Bill.


said hon. Members would recollect that the Leader of the House suggested that Clause 4 should be negatived in its present shape in order that it might be reintroduced in an amended form, and he gathered from the general sense of the House—[cries of "No, no!" from below the Ministerial gangway]—that that proposal commended itself to the acceptance of the House. Hon. Members would recollect that he paused a little before he put the Question. [Cries of "Oh!"] He saw that if he did put that Question Amendments could not be moved unless the Motion were withdrawn. If the Motion were withdrawn the clause would be open to amendment.


said the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh had stated that, in order to shape his attitude he wanted to see what shape the clause would take. That afforded him an opportunity of saying that he would like to see what shape the other clauses of the Bill were going to take before he made up his mind. If they got entangled in a long series of discussions on the purchase clauses, he hoped they would be allowed at once to approach the consideration or Clause 4 by the dropping of the intervening clauses.


was bound to say he considered that the course proposed by the Leader of the House was most extraordinary. What was the history of the clause? It appeared in the Bill. After a certain number of weeks a new clause was put on the Paper. That clause was withdrawn. This morning there was circulated a fourth version of the 4th Clause, and now to-night they were told that this important clause—this organic clause—had better be discussed at the end of the Bill. Surely so extraordinary a course had never before been taken in the House. The obvious course was to report progress, so that, if the Government really knew what the clause was going to be, hon. Members would have several days to consider the clause. They had heard no reason whatever from the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury why this extraordinary proposal should have been sprung upon the Committee, and he must protest against the course that had been taken.


thought the right hon. Gentleman himself would admit that the course he had taken approached rather closely to sharp practice. Nobody had had the least hint throughout the night of the intention of the Government, and now, at a moment's notice, it was very difficult to estimate the bearings of the proposal. The probability seemed to be that the Committee would get entangled in the discussion of the numerous clauses which must come before Clause 4, and would eventually find themselves in this position, that the most important clause in the Bill was withdrawn from the consideration of the House. The Committee ought to have some assurance that full discussion would be given to this clause. For his part he humbly confessed that he felt considerable difficulty in deciding what course to pursue. He would have been inclined to move to report progress, but if the Chairman did not take the view of the point of Order which was taken by him and his Friends, there would be no use in reporting progress. He contended that the whole situation ought to be reconsidered, and he would ask the Chairman to say whether he was in order in putting the question that Clause 4 stand part of the Bill.


said that he had perhaps acted irregularly in putting the question that the clause stand part of the Bill. The reason why he did it was because he gathered from the manner in which the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury was received, generally in silence and in some parts of the House with approval, that the Committee generally approved of the course proposed. Therefore, he took what was an irregular course. The only way of reinstating the situation was that the First Lord of the Treasury should withdraw his motion and that he (the Chairman) should commit the further irregularity of withdrawing the question he had put.


said that, if the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh had remained silent, his view would have been different; but the hon. and gallant Gentleman had stated that it was his wish to oppose the Government in this matter. In whatever direction the hon. and gallant Gentleman steered, he should steer in the contrary direction.


considered that the course which had been suggested by the First Lord of the Treasury, although it had come upon them by surprise, would be the wisest to adopt.


remarked that it was suggested, if this clause were postponed, that the Government might then find themselves face to face with it in a form they did not like. He had never concealed from the House that it was really only by something approaching consent that a clause like Clause 4 could pass at all, and if any large section of the House were going at this or a later stage to set themselves against the clause in its present or in any other form it was obvious that it could not possibly pass during the present Session. His hon. and gallant Friend need therefore be under no apprehension that any of the serious consequences which he appeared to anticipate were likely to occur. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman's fears were illusory, look at the obvious and undeniable convenience of the course the Government proposed. He was not going to justify—although he thought justification would be easy—the various transformations the clause had undergone, but the result would be, if they were to set to work upon Clause 4 as printed in the Bill, and put it gradually, by amendment and discussion, into the shape of Clause 4 as it appeared upon the loose sheet, that which was in any case a difficult task would be rendered doubly and trebly difficult. He therefore asked his hon. and gallant Friend, and, if he might, he would appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were anxious that the Bill should pass, to assent to the course which the Government had advanced in the interests of business. ["Hear, hear!"] Everybody must recognise that the path of the Bill was a difficult one, and when the Government asked hon. Members to adopt a plan by which that path could be smoothed, the least they could ask the House to do was to consent to the course which had been suggested. ["Hear, hear!"]


did not gather from the right hon. Gentleman what had happened to cause this extraordinary change.


It is not extraordinary. It is simply putting one clause at the end.


said the right hon. Gentleman had admitted that this clause was the most difficult in the Bill, and could not be passed unless there was a considerable amount of agreement upon its merits. But what was to happen if, after they had passed all the other clauses of the Bill, they then came to what was now Clause 4 and found this agreement unattainable? What reason was there why agreement should be less attainable on Monday or Tuesday than at the end of the Bill? ["Hear, hear!"] The Government had decided substantially what the position of the clause was to be, and why should the discussion not take place upon it now? That was the only chance of making sure the time of the Committee should not be wasted. ["Hear, hear!"] All would depend, as the right hon. Gentleman said, upon this clause being assented to; but what reasons were there why it should not be assented to at the end of the discussion, which would not be equally strong next Monday? He did not think any reason had been given for taking the course suggested, and the fact that such a suggestion had been made showed the extremely unsatisfactory state of mind the Government must still be in on this important and organic part of the Bill. [Cheers.]


considered the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury made it perfectly manifest that the Government intended to drop Clause 4 altogether. [Cheers and Ministerial cries of "No!"] He complained that a motion of this character should be suddenly sprung upon the Committee without notice.

And, it being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.