HC Deb 20 July 1896 vol 43 cc232-7

The Land Law Acts shall apply and he deemed to have always applied in the case of tenancies created by a limited owner or by a mortgagor or mortgagee in possession, where no fine or premium was received, and the tenancies shall not be or be deemed to have been determined (except in the case of fraud or collusion or a letting at a gross undervalue) by the cesser of the interest or possession of such limited owner, mortgagor, or mortgagee, and the person entitled on such cesser to receive the rent of the holding shall stand in the relation of landlord to the tenant of the holding, and have the rights and be subject to the obligations of landlord accordingly.

*MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL moved, after the words "in the case of tenancies," to insert the words "created by a Judge or Master of the High Court or the Lord Chancellor in a lunacy matter." There were estates which a mortgagee had brought into Court, and which were often under the management of a receiver for many years. Then there was the case of an owner being lunatic. In such cases the Court of Chancery frequently let the holdings from year to year, and it would be very hard upon a tenant who had held a yearly tenancy for years if he were unable to get a judicial rent fixed.


said that he must object to the Amendment for the reason that the clause was designed to meet the cases of holdings granted by limited owners, and that holdings created by the action of the Court were not contemplated by it. It would be most unjust if an owner who had been a lunatic, but had recovered his senses, should find that he had been deprived of his property for ever by the action of the Court of Chancery in granting these yearly tenancies.


said he thought the Court of Chancery was a court of equity, but it seemed to him that the Government wished it to be the means of rack-renting hind. The sole object of the Amendment was to secure that land under the Court of Chancery should be let at a fair rent, like the other land of the country. There was no reason why the Court should be exempt from the operation of the Land Law Acts. The Amendment provided that ordinary agricultural land let to tenants should have a fair rent fixed in respect of it. It was a monstrous doctrine that the one department of Irish land in which this doctrine should be set up was the Court which was supposed to administer equity to all parties There were a great many of those holdings. They were highly let, having been put up to competition by the Court in order that competition rents might be got for them; and it was those holdings that the Government, on mere technical grounds, proposed to exclude from the benefits of the Land Act.


said the reason why those tenants were excluded from the Land Courts was because the lettings made by the Court were necessarily for a temporary purpose only. All tenants who were tenants at the time the estate was brought into Court had the right to have fair rents fixed. But where the Court had taken possession, for certain reasons, of the landlord's property—as in the case of a landlord becoming a lunatic, which was not a surprising thing in Ireland—[laughter]—and a Receiver was appointed, the Court would be utterly powerless to make a letting to a tenant without putting it out of its power to resume possession of the holding in the event of a sale of the estate. A more ridiculous notion of the way in which the Courts should exercise their powers could not be conceived. The Courts would be entirely paralysed.


said that not one of the tenancies contemplated by the Amendment could have been in existence for less than 15 years, and that could not be regarded as a temporary letting. There was no reason why the tenant who obtained his interest from the mortgagee in possession 15 years ago should be admitted, while the tenant who obtained his interest from the Court in foreclosure proceedings should be excluded.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

*MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL moved to omit the words "where no fine or premium was received." What difference did it make in principle whether a fine or premium was or was not received? Why should the tenant suffer because, when he was taking out his lease or otherwise, he paid money to his landlord? That was rather a reason why he should be regarded with indulgence.


said the reason for those words was to prevent the limited owner from making a letting in prejudice of the remainder-man, and thus doing the latter the greatest possible injustice.


asked why the tenant should be placed at a disadvantage.


said what the words in question did was this—they punished the tenant because the limited owner had committed a fraud of which the tenant was perfectly ignorant.


pointed out that hitherto tenancies created by a tenant for life had only been binding so long as the tenant for life lived, and not upon those who came after, because they had no part in the creation of the tenancy. What was the reason these words were put in here? In order that he might not be induced by the obtaining of the fine to do anything to the detriment of the remainder-man. There was another reason. It was all very well to say that the rent was fixed, but the hon. Member forgot that the rent might be fixed during the tenure of the tenant for life, and the remainder-man might have no voice whatever in the fixing of the fair rent.


supported the Amendment.


said that the only exception made here was in the case where a fine had been paid. All the other cases were cases that were to be admitted to the benefit of the Act. The tenant, in addition to the injustice of having to pay the fine to the limited owner, was now to be excluded from the benefit of the Act.


said that hon. Members had lost sight of the injustice to the remainder-man. If the Amendment were adopted the remainder-man, when he came into possession, would be compelled to receive the tenancy created by the limited owner at the lower rent, which was the consequence of the transaction between the tenant and the limited owner. The remainder-man would have to take on the tenant at a rent much less than he would have been entitled to, probably, if no fine had been paid.


said that the Land Commission had expressly held that a fine could not be taken into consideration in fixing the rent. The fair way of dealing with this matter was to put in a clause that a fine should not be taken into consideration in fixing a fair rent. It was a monstrous thing that, merely because a tenant had, in ignorance, paid a fine, it should be made a ground for excluding him from the benefit of the Act.


said there seemed to be a difference of opinion as to the law on this point, and could not the Government, therefore, say that on the Report stage they would take into consideration the eminently reasonable suggestion of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, and if the law was as he had stated, insert a special provision to the effect that where a fine had been paid it should not be taken into consideration?


considered that where a limited owner took a fine, and the tenant had a rent fixed against the limited owner, it would be a great injustice that the fine should not be taken into consideration.


Is it not a greater injustice to take the farm from him and deny him the right to have a fair rent fixed?


remarked that he was not at all convinced by any of the arguments he had heard from the right hon. Gentleman. Still, as he was perfectly aware what the result of a Division would be, when the Front Bench and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway happened to agree, he would not occupy the time of the Committee by taking a Division, but would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. [Cries of "No!" from the Irish Benches.]

Amendment negatived.

MR. GERALD BALFOUR moved to add at the end of the clause:— (2) This section shall not apply to a tenancy in a holding which at the date of the letting was demesne land where the application of the Land Law Acts to the tenancy would materially diminish the value as a residence of the mansion house situate on and theretofore occupied with the demesne.


would not have objected to the Amendment had it stopped at the words "demesne land," but he protested strongly against the remaining words, which were extremely unfair. He therefore moved to omit all the words after "land."

THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY moved: "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again."


protested. He and his Friends were willing to go on and finish the clause. [Cheers.]

Motion put, and agreed to.