HC Deb 01 July 1898 vol 60 cc786-8
MR. DALY (Monaghan, S.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state in how many cases the Chief Land Commissioners at Dundalk last week raised and lowered the rents respectively in cases heard from the Shirley estate, county Monaghan; whether the Chief Land Commissioners viewed the farms in question; and, if not, how did they come to a decision in fixing an appeal rent; whether he can say if the court valuer heard any evidence from either landlord or tenant; and, if not, how did he arrive at his award; what experience had this court valuer of valuing land before getting this appointment; whether he can state if the court valuer's award was acted upon in every case heard at Dundalk; and whether he will advise the Government this Session to make any change in the method of fixing fair rents in Ireland before the Chief Land Commission Court?


There were 24 appeals from this estate disposed of by the Land Commissioners at their recent sitting at Dundalk. In 11 of these cases the rents fixed by the assistant commissioners were confirmed, in 12 cases they were increased, and in one case the rent was reduced. The Commissioners did not view the farms mentioned. They decided the cases in the ordinary way after hearing the evidence adduced on both aides, and after considering the schedule of particulars recorded by the Sub-Commission and the report made by the court valuers. The court valuers did not hear any evidence, nor did they make any award. They carefully examined each holding and reported their opinion of the fair letting value of each holding and the particulars of each improvement appearing to exist thereon, so far as could be ascertained from their examination thereof. Both of the court valuers in the cases referred to acted for several years on Sub-Commissions before they were selected to act as court valuers; and previously to their appointment as assistant commissioners they were extensively engaged in farming. As already stated, the court valuers did not make any award, nor did they report what the fair rent of each holding should be. The reply to the last paragraph is in the negative.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

The right honourable Gentleman has not stated if the court valuers' award was acted upon in every case heard at Dundalk.


I have stated that they made no award whatever, so that it could not have been acted upon.


I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether he is aware that Mr. Commissioner O'Brien, when giving judgment at Dundalk last week in Land Court Appeals from the Shirley estate, county Monaghan, stated that the fair rent should be £140, and not £171, as fixed by the Sub-Commissioners, on the farm of Mr. Henry Withrington; whether he is aware that Mr. Commissioner O'Brien based his judgment on the Report of the Fry Commission; and whether he will have the case of Mr. Withrington reviewed, with the view of fixing the rent of his farm at £140 for the next 15 years?


By the courtesy of the honourable Member, I have been furnished with a newspaper report of the judgment of Mr. Commissioner O'Brien. I cannot say whether the report is accurate or not. In the course of his judgment Mr. O'Brien appears to have made some reference to the report of the Fry Commission, though I cannot believe that any Land Commissioner would base a judicial judgment, not on the facts of any particular case and the law applicable to them, but on the Report of a Royal Commission, as suggested in the second paragraph. I have no power whatever to have the decision of the Land Commissioner reviewed, as requested in the third paragraph.