§ MR. DALY
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can approximately state how much it has cost Ireland, from 1881 657 to 1896, or during the first judicial term, to fix fair rents in that country; whether he is aware that dissatisfaction exists among the tenant farmers of Ireland owing to the general increase in rent by the chief Land Commissioners in cases appealed from the decisions of the Sub-Commission Courts; and whether, considering the expensive method of fixing rents in Ireland, he will advise the Government to bring in a Bill next Session of Parliament to enable the tenant farmers of Ireland to become owners in fee of their holdings?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
No separate accounts have been kept of the cost of fixing fair rents in Ireland, either by the Land Commissioners or by the different county courts. Both the Commissioners and the county courts have various other duties to discharge in addition to the fixing of judicial rents, and it would be impossible to give the expenditure entailed by the fixing of fair rents alone. I may, however, state that during the period from the passing of the Land Act of 1881 to the 31st March, 1897, the total amount appropriated out of moneys voted by Parliament for the salaries and expenses of the office of the Land Commission, together with the salaries of the judicial and other Commissioners, which are charged on the Consolidated Fund, was about £1,473,753. I have no evidence before me that the fact is as alleged in the second paragraph, but I should certainly anticipate from experience that any increase of rent would cause dissatisfaction among tenants, and that any reduction of rent would similarly cause dissatisfaction among landlords. The answer to the third paragraph is in the negative.