§ As amended (by the Standing Committee), considered.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)
moved the omission of Clause 1, which confers on a tenant to which the Bill applies the right to compensation for1 improvements. There was nothing in the' clause to limit the proposal in the Bill, to tenants in towns. The first few lines said—"Subject to the provisions of this Act, a tenant of a holding to which this Act applies may, on quitting his holding, be entitled to claim, in the prescribed manner, compensation to be paid by the lantzzrd in respect of all improvements on his holding made by him or his predecessors in title, which have added to the letting value of the holding.He had always understood a holding to be a farm in the country and not a house in a town. It was most important in all Acts of Parliament that there should be no loophole on which an action could be founded and law expenses incurred. That was the reason why the clause should be left out in order, perhaps, that one more clear might be inserted; He objected to the clause also because it was retrospective. He argued that it was contrary to all sound principles of contract to enact that where an agreement had been freely entered into between two parties the bargain should be altered solely to the advantage of one of the parties. That seemed to him to be an infringement of all justice and an act which on his side of the House they would do their best to prevent. Another part of the clause said that the Court, in awarding compensation to the tenant in respect of improvements—May, in reduction of the tenant's claim, take into consideration the rent at which suoh holding bad been held, and any benefits which the tenant may have received from his landlord in consideration expressly or impliedly of the improvements made.He did not understand the clause, and he was not sure that anybody else did. It seemed to have been drafted for the purpose of making work for lawyers and for adding to the expenses of the tenants and the equally unfortunate landlords. He begged to move.
§ MR. HERBERT ROBERTSON (Hackney, S.)
, in seconding the Amendment, said this Bill seemed to him to be one of the most pernicious that could be directed against the interests of the owners of town holdings in Ireland. As showing the unfair way in which the Bill would work, he instanced the case of a tenant who had built a billiard room at the back of his house. Supposing a man wished to buy a house to which a billiard room had been added, according to the scheme of this Bill, not only would he have to pay for the actual cost of the billiard room, but something in addition—the increased value of the house caused by the building of the billiard room.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin County, N.)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put"; but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ MR. HERBERT ROBERTSON
said that what he wanted was to get the important principle contained in this clause settled once for all. [Interruption from the IRISH Benches.] Hon. Members did not seem to appreciate the point.
§ MR. HERBERT ROBERTSON
said that if hon. Gentlemen were anxious to Gome to a division he was perfectly willing foi them to do so. He therefore seconded the Amendment to leave out Clause?.
In page 1, line 5, to leave out Clause 1."— (Sir Frederick Banbury.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'Subject to the provisions of this Act a tenant' stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. CLANCY
said that the Bill had been carried on the Second Reading by a large majority and it had been thoroughly threshed out in the Standing Committee. Without further remark he invited the House to reject the Amendment.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL (Greenwich)
said that this clause furnished a remarkable illustration of the value of a principle which was often derided, but which had a very real foundation in fact, the principle of resisting what was called the thin edge of the wedge. In 1870 Mr. Gladstone passed a Bill to give compensation to agricultural tenants in Ireland for improvements.
§ MR.T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said that the Irish tenants were not in the same position as English tenants.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
admitted that the Irish agricultural tenants were in a very special position, and that was why Parliament was asked to intervene on their behalf; but that was no reason why the precedent should be followed and compensation be given to a wholly different class of tenants.
§ And, it being Midnight, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed to-morrow.