HC Deb 07 June 1904 vol 135 cc930-1
MR. O'DOHERTY (Donegal, N.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that, in the pending sale of the Irish estates of the Honourable the Irish Society, offers of sale have been made to non-agricultural tenants within the county borough of Londonderry, and to the owners of villa residences outside the city, whereas in many cases outside the county borough the society have refused to sell to agricultural tenants their holdings; and whether, considering that the Irish Society are merely trustees for the citizens of Londonderry and surrounding districts, the Estates Commissioners will consult the Londonderry Corporation and the Londonderry County Council, as representing the beneficiaries, before sanctioning the sale of the estate, or any part thereof, or, in the alternative, will he appoint a Committee of this House to see that the objects of the trust created by charter are duly carried out, and that the beneficiaries do not suffer any loss by the pending sale.


The local rumours and apprehensions on which this Question is evidently based are, as in many other cases, totally devoid of foundation. I am informed by the Irish Society that it has offered to sell to every agricultural tenant on these estates. The terms offered and accepted were identical in the case of every agricultural holding, except on some seven holdings in close proximity to the city of Londonderry. No similar offers have been made to non-agricultural tenants within the city boundary. The question whether the agreements made by the Society with their tenants come within the scope of the Act in all such cases will be for the consideration of the Estates Commissioners. The issue of the usual notices by the Commissioners before vesting the estate will afford all parties interested therein an opportunity for making any application they may be advised. I wish, however, to guard myself from admitting that the property of the Irish Society is bound by any trusts for any specific purpose which could be inferred in a Court of law or which prevents the Society from selling to its tenants on terms of which it approves. The reply to the concluding inquiry is in the negative.


Did not a Select Committee of this House decide that the Irish Society were only trustees?


I am not aware; but that does not preclude their selling the property to tenants under the terms of the Land Act of last session.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

Does the Land Act of last session apply to villa residences?


The hon. Member is as familiar with the terms of the Act as I am.