§ Order read for the consideration of the Lords' Amendments.
THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. Bryce, Aberdeen, S.)
said these Amendments divided themselves into three classes. The first were Amendments of a purely drafting character which should not cause any trouble. They were improvements to the Bill and would make it free from ambiguity. The second class of Amendments were machinery. When the Bill left the House there were certain parts which did not contain all the provisions for carrying out the main points of the Bill in detail, and certain provisions 1532 in the nature of machinery were introduced in the House of Lords. These Amendments, taking them all in all, were of importance to the Bill, and would enable it to work with the least possible friction. The third class were Amendments of substance, and he was sorry to say that with scarcely any exception they seemed to him to be regrettable and unfortunate. They were Amendments which would impair the operation of the Bill. He did not think it possible, if the House adhered to the views it expressed on Report, to accept those Amendments en bloc. Some of them would be sufficient to defeat the main object of the Bill. The Government, in another place, did their best to resist the Amendments, and anything that was accepted was agreed to only for the sake of averting greater evil, and was in the nature of a compromise. The Government had done their best to save some of the vital features of the Bill, and if they had not succeeded it had not been the fault of those who represented them in the House of Lords. They had now to consider how they were to deal with the Bill in the form in which it had come back. They were very anxious that the Bill should be passed and that a measure of justice, so long hoped for and so long delayed, should, if possible, be given to the people of Ireland. They, therefore, reluctantly proposed to ask the House to agree to two Amendments which did not commend themselves to their minds and which they believed would impair the value of the Bill. One of these Amendments directed the court to take an account of the time during which the improvements had been enjoyed by the tenant, an Amendment, which, if it were not superfluous, was certainly deleterious. The other was the recasting of the clause providing compensation for disturbance, which had been put in a different form and one likely to work less equitably than that in which it left the House of Commons. These Amendments he should ask the House to accept if they could. There were two other Amendments which he could not ask the House to accept which appeared to strike at the very root of the Bill—one applying to Clause 1 and one to Clause 6, which in the view of the Government destroyed the application of the leading fundamental principles of the Bill. One declared that the operation of the Bill 1533 should not be retrospective, that the provision for making compensation for improvements should not apply to any improvement made before the passing of the Act. To accept that would destroy all the interest of existing tenants in the improvements which they had executed, and it would baulk the hopes which they had been led to entertain that their improvement would not have been made for the landlord's benefit alone, but that the landlord would be required to give compensation for them. That proposition was affirmed by large majorities in the House of Commons, and in respect of the Amendment which had been made he was obliged to ask the House to disagree with the House of Lords. The Amendment to Clause 6 would have the effect of destroying the value of that clause or at any rate of greatly reducing its value. It proposed to limit the amount to be received in respect of compensation for disturbance to three years rent of the premises; where the rent was low that might be altogether inadequate compensation to the tenant for the loss and expense he incurred in having to quit. On these two vital Amendments the Government proposed to stand firm, and having said that he would have no more to say before they approached the consideration of each Amendment in detail.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Lords' Amendments be now considered."
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
thought the course the right hon. Gentleman had taken in giving the House a general outline of what the Government intended to do was a most convenient one. It would also be convenient if he were to tell the House in a few words what the Irish Party thought about the matter. Of course the Bill was now a Government measure and had been largely recast by the Government, but the fact still remained that it had been introduced by a private Member. The view the Party took was that the Bill as it had come back from the Lords was absolutely worthless. If it was a question of accepting the measure with the Lords' Amendments or of rejecting it, he had no hesitation in saying that he and h is friends would prefer that the Bill should be lost. The Government by 1534 their conduct of the Bill in the Common went upon the lines of accepting as far as possible suggestions and Amendments from Members upon his own side of the House; but they had also accepted and put in the Bill several Amendments before it went to the Lords which did not commend themselves to him and his colleagues. They thought, however, under the circumstances it would be wise for his friends and himself to give the Government a free hand up to a certain point. In the House of Lords the Government proceeded in the same way, and accepted a number of Amendments which he thought were of a most injurious character. The Chief Secretary had told the House that the Government only accepted such Amendments because they were forced to do so in order to stave off other proposals of a still more injurious character. He recognised the difficulty, but he wished to emphasise the fact that the Government had accepted from the opponents of the Bill in both Houses a very large number of Amendments which he and his friends considered injurious. He understood that the right hon. Gentleman proposed to accept a still greater number of Amendments. He did not believe there was a single Amendment made in the other House which was not restrictive in its character and harmful in its effect, and if he had his way he would not accept a single one of them. The right hon. Gentleman, however, was proposing another course. He proposed to accept Amendments of a most serious nature in order to save the general principles of the Bill. He proposed to accept an Amendment providing that the Court should take into consideration the number of years during which the improvement had been enjoyed by the tenant. The National Members considered that was a very serious Amendment and one for which they could not be responsible. Again, the right hon. Gentleman proposed to accept a new clause providing compensation for disturbance which had been inserted in lieu of the clause agreed to by the House of Commons.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman's interruption. Continuing, he said these 1535 were very serious and far-reaching concessions. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman hoped that by going to the length he had done, he would disarm the hostility of the House of Lords and carry the remnant of the Bill through. That was a matter the right hon. Gentleman must decide for himself, but it such was really his thought he (Mr. Redmond) and his friends would not stand in his way. Even with reference to the Amendments which seemed most objectionable they were prepared not to stand in the way. There were, however, two other Amendments made by the House of Lords of such a character that they could not have been entertained or even listened to for one moment in the lower House or by his Party. He was glad that the right hon. Gentleman proposed to stand firm in regard to those. The first Amendment, viz., that to Clause 1, took away the retrospective character of the Bill, and if that were agreed to the Bill might just as well be thrown into the waste-paper basket. Without it the Bill would not only be worthless, "but its passage would do a distinct injury to town tenants in Ireland. He presumed he might take the statement of the Chief Secretary on that point to amount to this—that the Government agreed with the view that he was putting forward, and that they would not in any circumstances accept that Amendment. He had therefore come to the conclusion that on that point there was no difference between hon. Members from Ireland and the Government, and that if it came to a question of taking the Bill with that Amendment in it or dropping it, they would drop it. He understood that the Government had agreed to accept the new compensation for disturbance clause instead of their own one, but subject to a reservation. The new clause of the Lords had by the last two or three words been made absolutely ridiculous and futile, because the last words of the clause now were, "provided that such compensation for goodwill shall in no case exceed three years rent of a holding." By what extraordinary confusion of mind did any noble Lord come to the conclusion that rent was a measure of the value of goodwill? Anyone who was acquainted with the towns of Ireland—he supposed the same 1536 was true in this country and in Scotland—would know that the rent of premises in those cases was very low and that there were many business establishments in small towns in Ireland where the rent might be only £10 or £20. In. the case of a big country shop the rent might be £30 a year. But the man who by his own capital and enterprise had built a business in those places and had created a valuable goodwill might be making a profit of £200, £300, or £500 a year. Under the operation of this Bill as amended by the Lords if the Landlord unreasonably and without good and Sufficient cause evicted such a man from the premises he would be able to get by way of compensation for disturbance for his goodwill only three years rent, say £30, £40, or £50, while his profits arising from the goodwill probably amounted to hundreds per annum. He gathered from the Chief Secretary that upon this point he was in agreement with the Nationalist Members
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said he gathered, also that if the Lords insisted upon that Amendment the right hon. Gentleman would not give way in another place, but would rather sacrifice the Bill than allow it to be so mutilated. His chief difference with the right hon. Gentleman amounted to this, that he, apparently in the guilelessness and goodness of his nature thought it was possible at the eleventh hour to induce noble Lords to act a little reasonably and to take those obnoxious Amendments out of the Bill. He was afraid noble Lords would do nothing of the kind. he thought all the right hon. Gentleman's concessions on other points, instead of inducing them to be reasonable would have a contrary effect, that the more he conceded to them by accepting their other Amendments the less likely they were to be reasonable. That remained, however, to be put to the test, and he would not stand in the way of the test being applied. And he would end as he began, by saying that if either one or other of the two defects to which he had alluded remained in the Bill he certainly would use every exertion he could to prevent its passing into law.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
said the course taken by the Chief Secretary marked the difficulty they were in through not having in their hands earlier a copy of the Amendments. A copy had just that moment reached him, and the House had listened to two important speeches—one from the Chief Secretary and the other from the Leader of the Nationalist. Party—both of whom spoke with probably equal authority on this subject. Not having the advantages of the Amendments before them they must submit to the difficulty and do the best they could. The Chief Secretary had dwelt on the Amendments generally. He himself only proposed to say a word on one or two of them. The right hon. Gentleman had said that this was a Bill of urgent and vital importance. That being the case it was a little remarkable that it was a Bill brought in by a private Member and only adopted by the Government at the last moment. The Government themselves had been compelled to amend it considerably both in this House and in the other. The right hon. Gentleman must be aware that the Bill was unlike any other Irish Bill connected with the land question. The whole method, principle, and practice of the Bill was applicable to the same class of property in England. Therefore it was obvious that hon. Members representing English constituencies must think it their business to take a very considerable interest in the debates on the Amendments. As to the retrospective character of the Bill, no doubt there was the strongest feeling among those who were not Irish Members on the Opposition side of the House that the proposal was a very dangerous precedent. The Irish land legislation which had hitherto been passed was no precedent for this particular case, and obviously it could not be a precedent for legislation of a similar character in England because there was no analogy between the conditions in the two countries in regard to agricultural tenancies. Although the circumstances in regard to town tenancies in England and Ireland were not identical, undoubtedly if the proposals contained in this Bill were passed with the consent of the official Opposition it would be held 1538 afterwards as a precedent justifying similar action in regard to England, and that would interfere with the freedom of action of his hon. friends. Under these circumstances, while there would be no desire to unduly prolong discussion or to interfere with the passage of the Bill, the Chief Secretary must expect that some of his hon. friends would look at the retrospective aspect of the question not from the Irish point of view but from the point of view of legislation which might afterwards be proposed in regard to the rest of the country.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Lords' Amendment, "In page 1, line 9, after the word 'made' to insert the words 'subsequent to the date of the passing of this Act,"read a second time.
§ THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. Cherry, Liverpool Exchange)
moved that the House disagree in said Amendment. As the hon. and learned Member for Waterford had stated, this was a vital Amendment. Every Member from Ireland knew that it affected thousands of owners of property. There were at the present day in all the towns of Ireland hundreds of cases where the tenants had put up valuable improvements upon the land which they held as tenants from year to year or on short term leases. That property was legally and technically the landlords' property; He thought the House would agree with him when he said that in equity and fair play it was the tenants' property.
§ MR. CHERRY
said the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London disagreed but he thought that the vast majority of the House would agree. It had been said that the Government had no precedent for the course they were taking in this case. There were only two instances in which Parliament had dealt with the question of compensation for improvements, and in both cases the Acts had been made retrospective. The first was the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1870 dealing with agricultural improvements. 1539 That Act dealt with improvements made before its passing, and he did not think there was one person in Ireland now who would say that the Act was unjust in giving to the tenant the value of the improvements he had made. That Act had been in operation for thirty-five years, and since then Parliament, instead of restricting its retrospective operation had extended it. Hon. Members were aware that by the legislation for fixing fair rents passed in 1881, 1887 and 1896, the principle of compensation for improvements was extended, and the tenant was declared to be exempt from rent in respect of improvements. When in 1896 an alteration was made in the law of compensation for improvements the right which was limited to some extent in 1870 was made more general. As to English legislation, in 1883 the Agricultural Holdings Act extended in a certain degree the right of compensation which had been given thirteen years before. That Act was also retrospective. It seemed therefore that there was ample reason for adhering to a principle which was very valuable. The Government had introduced into this Bill qualifications and provisos in favour of the landlord which were not in the Act of 1870 which would prevent a scintilla of injustice being done to him. The first [sub-section of the second clause distinctly provided that the tenant of a holding was not to be entitled to any compensation in respect of any improvement if the landlord had made a reasonable offer to continue the tenancy. The result was that no landlord could be compelled to pay for improvements against his will. If he had to pay it would be his own voluntary act, and if the tenant remained in occupation he would not be asked to pay a penny. The Bill distinctly provided that the landlord was only to be asked to pay for the actual value of what he got. It was necessary that the tenant should show that the letting value of the holding had been increased by the improvement. The Government proposed to accept the Amendment providing that the amount of the compensation was never to exceed the capitalised value of the increase in the letting value. Surely if the landlord in future was to get the increase in the rent in respect of money expended by the 1540 tenant there was and could be no injustice in asking him to pay for what he had actually received in value. He did not believe there were many landlords in Ireland who were not anxious to compensate their tenants for improvements made by them which increased the letting value of their property, or who desired to take for nothing the property created by another. Two years ago a friend of his, a landlord, an Orangeman, and a strong Conservative, owned the whole property in a village, including a shop. The rent of that shop was £1 year. He asked his friend on what terms the shop was held, and he replied, from year to year. The tenant had made considerable improvements on the premises and added a building to them. He said to his friend, "Why don't you take the shop from the tenant who only pays £1 a year rent, when you could get £30 or £40 a year from somebody else?" The answer at once was—"Surely, no honest man would do that." He thought there were a great number of landlords in Ireland who would agree with that gentleman. All that this Bill provided was that no landlord, good or bad, should be allowed to appropriate, without compensation, the improvements made by his tenant. He maintained that the Lords' Amendment was an unreasonable one, and he asked the House to disagree with it.
Motion made, and Question proposed. "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—(Mr. Cherry.)
§ SIR E. CARSON (Dublin University)
said he could assure the House that he was not going over the old controversial grounds at considerable length; but he wished to deal with some of the observations of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General for Ireland. This was really the one substantial Amendment which was made in another place. [Nationalist cries of "No."] So far as he could see no substantial alteration had been affecting the principle of the Bill at all. What he would like to point out was that the Bill as amended by the Lords would alter the relations of landlords and tenants in Ireland even as 1541 regarded existing contracts. The Amendment they proposed in the House of Commons was that existing contracts should be exempted from the Bill. The extent to which the House of Lords had gone was not to exempt existing contracts. They allowed existing contracts to be affected by the Bill, but what they said was that those contracts were only affected in relation to improvements made after the passing of the Bill. He submitted that the Bill was on the face of it an absolute justification of what the House of Lords had done as regards improvements made before the passing of the Bill. The whole Bill was taken up with safeguards which the House of Commons had thought necessary to impose with regard to claims for improvements made after the passing of the Bill. Why were these safeguards put into the Bill? Because the House thought it would be unfair that the landlord should be mulcted as regards improvements unless he had inserted safeguards taking care that in reality he was not being called upon to pay money in respect of improvements not made by the existing tenant. If all these safeguards were necessary as regards present improvements why ought the House to compel the landlord to pay for past improvements in respect of which not a single one of these safeguards could be applied, because at the time the improvements were made there was a different law? Of course it was impossible that the landlord should be able through having been given notice, or by taking any steps at the Court, or by registration, or by the preservation of evidence respecting the improvements, now to test the righteousness of the claims made or the necessity for the improvements. He contended that in the Bill itself there was justification for what the Lords had done. As the safeguards contained in the measure could not be applied to improvements made before the Bill was passed, it was obvious that those improvements could not come within its purview. The Attorney-General for Ireland had said that it was a very hard thing that a tenant who had made an improvement should be turned out at the end of the lease without being compensated. But that was not in the Bill. If a man had a lease of a house of 1542 which three years were yet to run and the remainder of the lease was bought by another man without the latter paying a single penny to his predecessor for the improvements he had made, under this Bill that man would be enabled to claim not what he gave for the three remaining years of the lease, but for every improvement that had been made on the premises for the last fifty or 100 years. He could understand the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General for Ireland putting down an Amendment to make the Bill retrospective to the tenant who had made the improvements and arguing that that was just to the tenant, but he could not see that a man who had bought the remainder of the lease of a house or shop with his eyes open should be compensated for improvements which he had never made or paid for. If they were to go into the actual moral root of this matter no argument that could be set up would modify the action of the House of Lords. He could conceive of another case in which there might be justification for giving compensation by this ex post facto legislation. He thought that if this Bill passed it would be a hardship on tenants who had done much in making structural alterations to which the landlord was an assenting party; but that was not the Bill as it stood. If the landlord were to claim the improvements without compensation at the end of the lease that would be giving him a present of something for which there was no justification or moral right. The right hon. and learned Attorney-General for Ireland had gone into the old story of the Act of 1870. He thought the House had worn that subject threadbare.
§ SIR E. CARSON
said he had, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman had evidently not done him the courtesy of listening to his speech. He maintained that the whole of the provisions of the Act of 1870 were made in consequence of the land hunger in Ireland where tenants would take farms on almost any conditions. But where was the house hunger in Ireland? If one walked through 1543 the streets of the towns and villages of Ireland he would find that the hunger was on the part not of the tenants for houses, but of the landlords to get tenants for the houses. He admitted that in England, at all events in parts of London, they had to pay higher rents than they had any right to do, but that was because they had to live there. He pressed upon the Government that they should accept this Amendment in some form or another, and if they could not adopt it in its present shape they might do so with some modification. He did not want to prolong the discussion but he must say that he did not think the Government should reject the Lords' proposal without trying to meet the other House in some way. There ought in his opinion to be some safeguard in regard to the tenants' claims which might be in some cases made under unjustifiable circumstances.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin County, N.)
said that like the right hon. Gentleman he did not desire to prolong the discussion. He did not think it could be usefully carried on, because everything that could be said upon it had been said ad nauseam, especially in the Committee upstairs. As, however, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman touched the vital principle of the Bill, as one who had had a considerable part in the preparation of the measure he hoped he might be permitted to say a word or two. He admitted that if what the right hon. Gentleman had said were the case, there would be no justification for this Bill; but he denied the statement that there was no analogy between the case of the Irish tenants for whom provision was made in 1870 and 1881 and the tenants of houses for whom provision was made in this Bill. A great part of the case of the agricultural tenants in Ireland was that they were not free agents in contracting with their landlords, and on that basis Parliament passed those Land Acts of which they had heard so much. It was on the assumption which they in Ireland knew to be absolutely well founded, that there was no freedom of contract between the tenants in the towns of Ireland and the landlords that this Bill was proposed. The right hon. Gentleman did not know perhaps 1544 quite so much as some of them did about the conditions under which the town tenants in Ireland obtained possession of their premises, but he could tell him from his own absolute knowledge, and he thought every Irish Member might make the same statement truthfully, that while there were many persons who lived in houses who were quite independent of their landlords, there were scores of business men, small traders living in other houses, who were absolutely as unable to contract freely with their landlords as the agricultural tenants were with theirs, and it was because of that notorious fact which could not be denied that this Bill was proposed and justified. One would imagine that what was proposed was something monstrous and unheard of; he had heard it described in the House of Lords as confiscation. The Bill proposed that a man who made an improvement should get compensation for it. If that were the only proposition that had to be made on the subject some exception might be taken to the provision; but what were the conditions which must be fulfilled before any compensation at all could be given? The improvement must be at the date of the claim an actually existing improvement, and must add at the date of the claim a value to the landlord's property which the landlord never possessed before. Why should not the landlord pay for a thing which he never owned before and which was left to him by his tenant on quitting? The improvement, moreover, must be suitable to the holding, and must not diminish the value of any other part of the landlord's property; and it was expressly stated that every benefit which the tenant had received in the course of his tenancy from his landlord, whether in the shape of low rent or any other benefit whatever, was to be taken into account against the tenant; and if that were not enough the Government, in order to meet objections which had been raised by they Opposition, had added such a number of other exceptions that a town tenant rending the Bill would probably come to the conclusion that the first and second clauses provided simply for a number of cases in which he would not get compensation at all. It looked rather like a Bill for not giving him compensation, so 1545 hedged round was it with restrictions and limitations, all he believed unnecessarily imported into the Bill and all tending very materially to diminish its value. He really could not understand how any human being with a sense of justice could describe it as confiscatory legislation. What went on at present was confiscation of the tenant's property by the landlord, and it was that which the Bill sought to prevent. When the right hon. Member for Dublin University said they had provided sufficient legislation in regard to future improvements, he replied that the limit of possibility had stopped them from applying the provisions relating to future improvements to past improvements. Surely the question, however, was whether any injustice was done by the actual provision applying to past improvements. If a landlord had got property which he had not erected or paid for, why should he not pay for it when he got a higher rent in consequence of it? If they would say boldly that because of his unrestrained power in the past the landlord should pocket the benefit of the tenant's improvements, he could understand it, but he could not understand these finicking arguments which really did not go to the substance of the question at all, but were simply used for the purpose of clouding the issue. The issue was plain and straight. It was whether or not a man who got an increased rent by reason of an improvement that he did not make should pay for it. If he was not to pay for it the Bill might as well be dropped, because they could not go to the people of Ireland and say they had accepted such a compromise.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said he desired to say a few words, for the simple reason that he and his colleague from West Clare spoke for a district in which there were an exceptionally large number of urban areas affected by this Bill or any Bill on this subject. He thought he was speaking with the authority of many of those who had been interested in the town tenants movement when he said that the Amendments introduced into this Bill by the House of Lords, particularly the one under discussion, if retained would make the Bill entirely worthless. 1546 It was a most extraordinary state of affairs that at the beginning of a new century a Bill desired by all classes and all the tenants in Ireland and having as many Conservative as Liberal supporters should be dismissed in half an hour and flung back in their faces by gentlemen about whom he did not wish to speak in a disrespectful fashion just; then and there, but who certainly did not represent anybody. The Bill was not concerned altogether with the idea of mitigating cases of hardship in the future, but it and the agitation of which it was the outcome had resulted from hard cases which existed at the present time. It was absurd to say that they should pass an Act of Parliament which would give no relief whatever to those who were suffering grievances at the present time by reason of landlords being in possession of property which belonged to the men who made the improvements. If the Lords' Amendment were accepted a great injustice would be done to the town tenants. He was glad to see that the Government were standing by their proposal, and if this Amendment was insisted upon in another place it would intensify the feeling of the town tenants in Ireland and a better and stronger Bill would later be passed. He could not help reflecting that the same course might be followed in regard to this Bill as was followed in the case of land legislation in Ireland. Bill after Bill in that case was rejected, with the result that a measure of a far more drastic and far reaching character had finally to be adopted.
§ MR. BARRIE (Londonderry, N.)
said, as one of those who had considerable sympathy with this measure, that, modified as the Bill had been in its passage through this House, and altered as it had been by the House of Lords, it had been materially improved. But he regretted that the House of Lords had so altered it as to insert the words, the House was now dealing with. This measure was undoubtedly called for in Ireland owing to the action of certain landlords in that country. As modified it would, in his opinion, do no harm to good landlords and only be a measure' of justice to those whose action had brought it about. He could not 1547 quite agree with those with whom he usually acted and voted in the view they had taken in the matter. He considered the Amendments made in this House with regard to the compensation clause completely safeguarded the landlords against an unreasonable award for compensation. That safeguard was further strengthened on the Report stage, and therefore he hoped it would not be necessary to divide on this question, and that they would find the House of Lords willing to delete this Amendment in order that the Bill might be placed on the Statute-book.
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said he was sorry he could not agree with his hon. friend. This, he thought, was one of the most serious Amendments that had been introduced this session, and in view of the fact that the Chief Secretary had said that this Act might be applied to England—
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he would not argue that now, but he thought if the right hon. Gentleman looked up the Committee stage of this Bill in the Debates he would find that he had. He took a very serious view of this matter, and was afraid he would have to go to a division upon it. It had been said that because the father of a man had taken a piece of land at £1 a year and had put a house upon it, the landlord should not raise the rent; but he submitted that in most cases the man and his father before him, who had had the use of that house and the land for thirty or forty years, had been recouped over and over again. To say that a landlord was not to raise the rent under such circumstances was against every principle of business and would put an end to all prosperity in the country. He was certain whether this Bill passed or not a more drastic measure would be proposed in the future to extend it, and under all the circumstances he trusted that the House would divide upon what he considered was one of the most serious questions ever brought before the House.
§ MR. GWYNN (Galway City)
said that if a vote was taken upon this matter all Members representing Ireland, save about 5 per cent., would be found voting in favour of it. It was a matter which concerned, not London, but the small towns throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. Whatever the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University might say about land hunger, there was certainly a great scarcity of houses in many parts of Ireland. He desired to associate himself with all that had been said by his hon. friends on this matter, and to say with regard to the allegation that this was a measure of confiscation that all they were confiscating was the right of the confiscator to confiscate. It had been objected that the man whom the landlord would have to compensate was very often the man who had not made the improvement but who had taken over the holding since. He could see a very natural objection on the part of anyone to pay a man for what he had not done, but the incoming tenant would in most cases have taken over the lease and paid for the improvement in the shape of a higher rent. All he could say was that if this measure was thrown out in another place all the Irish representatives would wonder whether it was possible ever to get valuable legislation for Ireland.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
said he desired to associate himself in a very few words with the sentiments which had fallen from the hon. Member for North Derry. He had held for many years past what were called rather advanced views in connection with the question of town tenants. He had over and over again made pledges on the platform which he had always been prepared to fulfil in the House of Commons. He admitted that the clause dealt with one of the most difficult problems with which they were faced. Those opposed to the retrospective proposal forgot that the condition of affairs in Ireland was often totally different from the condition of affairs in England and Scotland. For his part he would confine the Bill to small towns, because in the large towns they could leave the natural ebb and flow of supply and demand to meet the conditions. If, as 1549 he believed, the principle of compensation was really accepted by every Irish Member he thought it should apply to the past as well as to the future. There was very much less likelihood of bogus claims being made for compensation by men who never contemplated the passing of this Act than by men who might make improvements with the deliberate object of getting compensation He thought, therefore, it was much safer to admit compensation for past improvements than for future improvements and, therefore, he supported the Government in this matter.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG (Antrim, S.)
said he was very much obliged to his hon. friend the Member for North Londonderry for the way in which he said he had to differ from some of his colleagues. He could assure his hon. friend he was equally sorry. But in every well-regulated family there were apt to be differences, and this was one of the cases in point. It would not however, make any difference to them in their relations. Having said that, he still held as strongly as ever that the retrospective action of this clause would inflict a very grave injury on landlords, and was quite uncalled for. Further than that, if it were left out, the Bill would still contain a great deal for which tenants would be very thankful, and which would very materially improve their position. He regretted very much the position the Chief Secretary had taken up with reference to this Amendment. It seemed to him there was ample room for compromise on this in conjunction with the sixth Clause. Whilst he was as strongly as ever opposed to its retrospective action, rather than lose the Bill altogether, he and he believed other Members sitting on the Opposition Benches would go some distance in allowing the Bill to be retrospective for a specified number of years. If the Chief Secretary had suggested to the House that this Amendment should be amended in the direction of allowing the Bill to be retrospective for five years, or even possibly for seven or ten years, all the reasonable objections of those hon. Members who were opposed to its retrospective action would be removed. He regretted very much the Chief Secre- 1550 tary had not taken that course. As the right hon. Gentleman had said that the Government would drop the Bill if the Lords did not withdraw the Amendment the clearest and best way to come to an issue on the point was to divide on the Amendment. He thought it was highly probable the Lords would insist on the Amendment. He would be very sorry to see the Bill dropped, because it simply meant that they would have to fight the whole question over again. Of course they were quite ready to do that, but he would be sorry after three successive Bills had been introduced into the House of Commons that what he admitted were the wants of a large number of town tenants in Ireland should be still unsupplied. He thought that with a little give and take on this subject of retrospective action, the object aimed at could be perfectly well achieved under the present Bill. But apparently that was not going to happen, so that the sooner they got to a division on this clause the better.
said the hon. Member who had just spoken had expressed his regret if the Bill should not pass. If the hon. Gentleman felt there were any danger of the Bill being lost he had a very simple way of prolonging its life, and that was to vote with the Government. He was sure the hon. Member's moral weight, coupled with that of the other Ulster Members who had spoken in support of the Government in resisting the Lords' Amendments, would have very great weight and effect in another place. The hon. Member had spoken of give and take. He (Mr. Bryce) thought they had given a great deal in the Bill, and they proposed to give more, but they could not give way on vital matters. There were only a few arguments used in the debate which he need refer to. He never thought to have to wish that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University should be in another place.
said he did not wish it for any reason except one, namely, that if it had been the case the Bill would have come back in a much better form. The 1551 right hon. Gentleman had stated a number of cases in which he admitted there was a case for retrospective action, and doubtless he would have called the attention of the House of Lords to those cases, so that they could have discriminated between the cases in which they thought compensation should and those in which it should not be given. He did not mean to say that there should not be some qualifications, but they had not had any put before them. He believed the cases affected would be exceedingly few. The right hon. Gentleman knew that as a rule in the small Irish towns the son lived where the father lived and improvements were made by predecessors who were not only predecessors in title but predecessors in family. The right hon. Gentleman had also regretted the fact that the Government, in making provision for the future, that there should be proper safeguards in regard to making of improvements against the landlord's wish, could not make provision for the past. But they had left it to a tribunal which was sure to take account of everything. The County Court Judge would look at all the circumstances under which the improvement was made, and he would do substantial justice between the parties. The hon. Member for the City of London had repeated the charge he had often made that the Bill would be made a precedent for England. The Bill was not in any sense a precedent for England, though he personally should have no objection to seeing some of its provisions applied to England. Any one who looked back on Irish legislation for the last thirty-five years, however, would find that the same thing had been said of every such measure. Let every pot or every tenant stand on its own bottom, and let them legislate for Ireland as circumstances required and for England as circumstancss required. Lastly, let him call attention to the very important fact which had come out in the debate as to the feeling that existed among Irish Members of all parties. They had the hon. Members for North Down and North Derry and probably other Ulster Members all supporting the Government, and they had a certain amount of qualified sympathy from the hon. Member who spoke last. These Ulster Members knew where the shoe pinched and that there was a 1552 strong feeling on the question among the tenants of Ireland. They knew more about the small Irish towns than did the hon. Member for the City of London. There never was a Bill more carefully and more scrupulously safe-guarded than this Bill, and he confidently hoped that the House if forced to take a division would send the Bill back with the full weight of its approval, because it was a measure which would remove long standing grievances in Ireland.
§ VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH (Maidstone)
said it was a matter of great regret to him, when it appeared they were all agreed on the principle of this Bill that compensation should be given to the tenants for improvements, that for one provision the whole Bill should be dropped. He had no wish to say there were not hard cases in Ireland. They had heard a great deal about Lord Clanricarde, and there were other landlords whom he was not there for a moment to defend, but he did not know why a multitude of landlords should be made to suffer an injustice because a few landlords did not study their tenants and the community. He sincerely hoped the House of Lords would insist upon this Amendment. They did not regard the House of Lords as a legislative body in the same sense as the House of Commons. They looked upon the Upper Chamber more as a body to check hasty legislation.
§ VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH
hoped the spirit of compromise which the Chief Secretary had shown would enable him to reconsider the position he had taken up.
§ VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH
said he regretted when they were all agreed that the tenant should be paid for improvements that the other benefits should be lost for the sake of this one object.
§ MR. VERNEY (Buckinghamshire, N.)
said the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London had stated that they 1553 had no right to do a wrong thing to meet one or two hard cases. In his opinion this Bill did the right thing to meet many hard cases. The measure ought to be retrospective because it had to deal with accumulative acts of injustice. If the Bill was not made retrospective it would not touch the accumulated injustices. He wished to associate himself with those who had spoken against the Lords' Amendment, and he could assure the Irish representatives that there was a vast amount of sympathy with this measure amongst the English Members. He did not deny that there were objectionable landlords in Ireland, but what astonished him was that the best landlords should associate themselves with acts which pertained only to the Worst landlords.
§ MR. SLOAN (Belfast, S.)
congratulated the hon. Member for South Antrim on the consistent attitude he had taken up during the whole course of this Bill. No one who had listened to his speeches could help admiring his consistency. The hon. Member had stated that he represented the landlords. He certainly did not represent the people of the North of Ireland who were suffering from what this Bill would relieve them of. There were exceptions to the rule he was aware, but good landlords did not want this Amendment and bad landlords ought not to have it. For that reason be thought the Chief Secretary had
§ taken the proper course and those who differed with hon. Members below the gangway, both politically and religiously, were in complete agreement on this question. In his constituency of South Belfast 34,000 tenants would benefit under this clause, and he denied the statement of the hon. Member for North Belfast that it was not required. Whether or not the House of Lords accepted the attitude of the Commons on this question he was prepared to say that from his experience of the situation in the North of Ireland the people were quite prepared to enter into the fight with more energy and eagerness than they did before in order to have the Bill as it ought to be. When legislation of this kind was brought forward in Ireland and supported by all representatives with very few exceptions it was very hard that hon. Gentlemen with such large political experience as the hon. Member for the City of London should get up and oppose them. They in Ireland believed this was a good Bill, and they had the best reason to know. He heartily endorsed the attitude of the Government and associated himself with the Irish representatives in their refusal to accept this particular Amendment which would make the Bill null and void.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 265; Noes, 36. (Division List No. 501.)1557
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Berridge, T. H. D.||Channing, Sir Francis Allston|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford||Cheetham, John Frederick|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Aldan, Percy||Bilson, Alfred||Churchill, Winston Spencer|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Black, Alexander Wm. (Banff)||Clancy, John Joseph|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Boland, John||Clarke, C. Goddard|
|Ambrose, Robert||Boulton, A. C. F. (Ramsey)||Cleland, J. W.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. HerbertHenry||Bramsdon, T. A.||Clough, William|
|Astbury, John Meir||Branch, James||Clynes, J. R.|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Brigg, John||Cobbold, Felix Thornley|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Brodie, H. C.||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Brooke, Stopford||Condon, Thomas Joseph|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Bryce, Rt. Hn. James (Aberdeen||Cooper, G. J.|
|Barnard, E. B.||Bryce, J. A. (Inverness Burghs)||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd|
|Barnes, G. N.||Burke, E. Haviland-||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Cory, Clifford John|
|Beauchamp, E.||Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Cbas.||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.|
|Beaumont, Hn. W. C. B. (Hexham||Byles, William Pollard||Cowan, W. H.|
|Bell, Richard||Cameron, Robert||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)|
|Bellairs, Garylon||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Cremer, William Randal|
|Been, Sir J. Williams (Devonp'rt||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Crombie, John William|
|Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S. Geo.||Causton, Rt. Hn. RichardKnight||Crosfield, A. H.|
|Crossley, William J.||Lehmann, R. C.||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Rowlands, J.|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St.Pancras, N||Lough, Thomas||Runciman, Walter|
|Dolan, Charles Joseph||Lundon, W.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lupton, Arnold||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Scott, A. H. (Ashton underLyne)|
|Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall||Lynch, H. B.||Sears, J. E.|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs||Seaverns, J. H.|
|Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Seddon, J.|
|Elibank, Master of||M'Arthur, William||Selly, Major J. B.|
|Everett, R. Lacey||M'Crae, George||Shackleton, David James|
|Faber, G. H. (Boston)||M'Kean, John||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Fenwick, Charles||M'Kenna, Reginald||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B.|
|Ferens, T. R.||M'Killop, W.||Sheehy, David|
|Ffrench, Peter||M'Kicking, Major G.||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Findlay, Alexander||Maddison, Frederick||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Mallet, Charles E.||Snowden, P.|
|Gilhooly, James||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Gill, A. H.||Markham, Arthur Basil||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Ginnell, L.||Marnham, F. J.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert Jn.||Massie, J.||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Glover, Thomas||Meagher, Michael||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Micklem, Nathaniel||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Gooch, George Peabody||Molteno, Percy Alport||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Grant, Corrie||Montagu, E. S.||Sullivan, Donal|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Summerbell, T.|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Morley, Rt. Hon. John||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Morse, L. L.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Hall, Frederick||Murphy, John||Thorne, William|
|Halpin, J.||Napier, T. B.||Tomkinson, James|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Nicholson, Chas. N.(Doncast'r||Toulmin, George|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Nolan, Joseph||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Ure, Alexander|
|Harwood, George||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid||Verney, F. W.|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Hedges, A. Paget||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wallace, Robert|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Grady, J.||Walters, John Tudor|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||O'Malley, William||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Mara, James||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton|
|Hibart, Sir Robert||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wardle, George J.|
|Hodge, John||Paul, Herbert||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Hogan, Michael||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Pollard, Dr.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Hooper, A. G.||Power, Patrick Joseph||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh Central)||Watt, H. Anderson|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Radford, G. H.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Hudson, Walter||Rainy, A. Rolland||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Idris, T. H. W.||Raphael, Herbert H.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Reddy, M.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Jenkins, S.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford||Whitley, J. H. (Haliax)|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Redmond, William (Clare)||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea||Rees, J. D.||Williamson, A.|
|Jowett, F. W.||Rendall, Athelstan||Wilson, Hn. C. H. W. (Hull, W.)|
|Kearley, Hudson, E.||Richards.T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Richardson, A.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee)||Tellers for the Ayes.—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Herbert Lewis.|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Robertson. Sir G. Scott (Bradf'd|
|Lambert, George||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Robinson, S.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex F.||Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Carlile, E. Hildred|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Bowles, G. Stewart||Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)|
|Chance, Frederick William||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., Fareham||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||Liddell, Henry||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Pell, Arthur||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||Tellers for the Noes—Viscount Castlereagh and Sir Frederick Banbury.|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Hervey, F. W. F. (Bury S. Edm'ds||Smith, Abel H.(Hertford, East)|
|Hunt, Rowland||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col. W.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Lords' Amendment, "In page 1, line 13, after the word 'landlord' to insert the words, 'Provided always that the sum to be awarded as compensation for any improvement shall in no case exceed the capitalised value of such addition to the letting value of such holding as the Court shall determine to be the direct result of such improvement,'" read a second time.
in moving that the House agree with the said Amendment, stated that it really carried oat the intention of the Government. He did not think it made any difference to the Bill beyond rendering more explicit what was in the Bill before.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth, agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—(Mr. Bryce.)
§ MR. CLANCY
said he desired to protest against the Amendment on the ground that it was of a limiting and restricting character. He did not think it worth while to take a division upon it.
§ Lords' Amendment, "In page 1, line 20, after the word 'consideration' to insert the words, 'the time during which the tenant may have enjoyed the advantage of the improvement and," read a second time.
§ MR. CHERRY
said the Government agreed to this Amendment very reluctantly. They were most unwilling to accept it. They thought it was unnecessary because the landlord was only asked to pay the value of the improvement at the time that he got it, and the Government thought it was not just that the time 1558 during which the tenant had enjoyed the improvement should be twice taken into account. In the first place, it was taken into account in reducing the value of the improvement, and, in the second place, further deduction might be made in respect of the period of time during which the tenant had had the enjoyment of the improvement. If an improvement was worth £500 when it was originally made, and after twenty years it had decreased in value by £200, the Government's view was that the landlord should have to pay £300. The Lords' Amendment had directed the Court to take into account, not only the diminished value of the improvement, but also the time during which the tenant had enjoyed it. They wished, however, to make every concession they could in order to get the Bill passed. They were adhering to the vital points, and they were willing to come to an arrangement on the others.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—(Mr. Cherry.)
§ MR. CLANCY
said he entirely disgreed with the action of the Government in this matter. The Amendment diminished the value of the clause, and he did not think any defence could be made of it. It was not only unnecessary, but absolutely unjust. The time during which the improvements had existed would have to be taken into consideration when the Court came to inquire into their age and condition. In addition to that it was now proposed by the Government, in conjunction with the House of Lords, that the time during which the tenant had enjoyed his own property should also to taken into account against him. In his opinion that 1559 meant that the consideration of time would be taken into account twice over. A similar provision was actually inserted in the Land Act of 1870, and it was a remarkable fact that in 1896 the Unionist Government repealed it. It was no longer the law in Ireland when rent was being fixed that the time during which a man had enjoyed his own property should be taken into consideration. The idea of making a man pay for what was his own seemed to him the most absurd thing that could be imagined. In pursuance of the policy which his hon. and learned friend the Member for Waterford had announced the Nationalist Members protested in the Strongest possible manner against the Amendment, but they did not intend to divide the House upon it.
§ MR. BYLES (Salford, N.)
expressed agreement with the observations of his hon. friend who had just spoken. He did so as an English Member, who hoped that this Bill would be a precedent for English legislation on the same lines. The only reason given by the Attorney-General for Ireland in asking the House to agree to the Amendment was that the Government wanted to agree as far as possible With the Lords' Amendments. He himself wished to disagree with as many as possible of the Lords' Amendments on this and all other Bills. He would support his hon. friend if he divided the House in opposing the Amendment.
§ MR. JOHN O'CONNOR (Kildare, N.)
said he desired to enforce the protest of his hon. friend against the acceptance of this Amendment. He did not think any protest could be too strong against the surrender in this matter on the part of the Government. He was surprised that the Attorney-General for Ireland had been a party to it.
§ MR. CHERRY
I did not say that I approved of the Amendment. I entirely disapprove of it. I asked the House to agree to the Amendment only as a Concession to the Lords.
§ MR. JOHN O'CONNOR
said that the people of Ireland must be subjected to injustice in order that concessions might 1560 be made to those who sat in another place. That was a wrong principle in legislation. The vicious principle contained in the decision in the case of Adams v. Dunseath had worked evil since 1881. The principle had been denounced by those who were party to the judgment, but that very principle was applied in this Amendment. The hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London had stated tint this Bill would be made the basis of further legislation. He might inform the hon. Member that when the Land Act of 1881 was introduced the Irish Members declared that it was insufficient. All the Land Acts which had been passed since then were due to the fact that the representations of the Irish Members were entirely disregarded by this House. Now the House was asked to follow that bad example. The value of house property in the towns and villages of Ireland was largely due to the industry and spirit of the occupiers, but he deplored the fact there had not been that extension of buildings which could have been desired. That was the reason why these tenants ought to be compensated and the Bill ought to be made retrospective. He repeated the protest of his hon. friend and thought that the surrender of the Government on the point could not be condemned too strongly.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
thought there was no denying the fact that the House was engaged in a somewhat ridiculous proceeding with regard to this Amendment. The Government had declared that they entirely disapproved of the Amendment and no doubt the majority of the House disapproved of it, and yet they were pressed to agree to it. That was a ridiculous proceeding from one point of view. At the same time the Government had taken up the position. The Chief Secretary while conceding these Amendments to the Lords had expressed the sanguine hope that the Government would be able to induce them to give way on two important points. He was not able to share the hopes of the Chief Secretary, for he did not believe the Lords would give way. In his opinion, when the Bill went back to the Lords, they would again reject these two important points respecting retrospective action and compensation for disturbance. 1561 He would say, however, that if that were done, neither the Government nor the Irish Party nor the House of Commons would be committed to these particular Amendments. They would be perfectly free to face these points in the next measure brought before Parliament, and the Government would, on their own declaration, be bound in the future to stand by what they thought right. That being so, as a mere question of tactics he had no objection to the course suggested by the Government. But it must be on the clear understanding that he and his Party had registered their entire disapproval of the Lords' Amendments. The House of Commons was consenting to pay blackmail, but if it were found that that was no use, they would be exempt in future from any responsibility for the principle of this and other Amendments. He wished the Government clearly to understand that he and his friends expected them to stand by the important points in the House of Lords and not to give way any further in the smallest degree. They had gone to the fullest length they could, and he should regard it as a breach of faith if the Government in the House of Lords make any further concessions whatever.
said that most assuredly the Government were not committed to any approval of this Amendment. On the contrary they wholly objected to it. They thought it entirely wrong, and if there was any legislation next year on this question they would not be committed to accept the Amendment or the principle of it. But they continued to hope that the House of Lords would listen to words of reason and justice on this matter, and he wanted to give them a last chance to reconsider their position.
§ Lords' Amendments, "In page 2, lines 6 and 7, leave out the words 'made either before or after the passing of this Act'; in lines 13 and, 14 leave out the words 'whether before or after the passing of this Act'; and lines 17 and 18 leave out the words 'whether before or after the passing of this Act,'" read a second time.1562
proposed that the House should disagree to these three Amendments as they were all consequential on the rejection by the House of the first Amendment.
§ Lords' Amendment, "In page 2, line 19, after the word 'consideration,' to insert the words 'including a building lease,'" read a second time, and agreed to.
§ Lords' Amendment, "In page 2, lines 20 to 23, to leave out sub-section (5)," read a second time.
said he might explain to the House that this Amendment was agreed to in this House because at that time they had made the clause retrospective in its action. But after the action of the Lords in regard to that matter they must disagree now with the Lords' Amendment.
§ Consequential Lords' Amendments to the Amendment, in page 2, line 27, disagreed to.
§ Lords' Amendment, "In page 2, line 27, to leave out the word 'or' and insert the word 'and," the next Amendment, read a second time, and agreed to.
§ Consequential Lords' Amendments to the Amendment, in page 3, line 13, agreed to.
§ Lords' Amendment, "In page 3, line 13, to leave out the words 'made after the passing of this Act," the next Amendment, read a second time, and disagreed to.
§ Lords' Amendment, "In page 4, line 7, to leave out from the beginning of the clause to the word 'in' in line 16, and insert the words '(1) Where the landlord without good and sufficient cause, terminates or refuses to grant a renewal of the tenancy, or it is proved that an increase 1563 of rent id demanded from the tenant as the result of improvements which have been effected at the cost of such tenant, and for which he has not, either directly or indirectly, received an equivalent from the landlord, and such demand results in the tenant quitting the holding, the tenant upon quitting the holding shall, in addition to the compensation (if any) to which he may be entitled in respect of improvements, and notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary, be entitled to compensation for the loss of goodwill and the expense which, by reason of his quitting the holding, he sustains or incurs upon or in connection with the removal of his goods, implements, produce, or stock: Provided that such compensation shall in no case exceed three years rent of the holding," read a second time.
§ MR. CHERRY
moved that the House agree with the Lords' Amendment except in regard to the last provision, viz., "provided that such compensation shall in no case exceed three years rent of the holding." He explained that in the Bill as originally introduced the clause provided for compensation for disturbance on a scale based upon the tenant's rent. The Government on the Second Reading expressed approval of that clause, but modified it so as to make the compensation payable for capricious or unjust disturbance. On his Motion a clause was introduced in Committee giving compensation in all cases where the landlord unreasonably and without good and sufficient cause disturbed or refused to grant a renewal of the tenancy, but it was then considered unwise to lay down any rule whereby the amount of the compensation should be fixed. The Government came to the conclusion that it would be impossible to do so. It was absolutely impossible to think of any principle that would apply to all cases. It was therefore left to the discretion of the Court that had to adjudicate the claim to say in any particular circumstances what amount the tenant ought to receive. That was the effect of the clause when it left the House of Commons. The House of Lords rejected that clause, however, and inserted a new clause. Although the Government preferred their own 1564 clause they were anxious to concede to the Lords as much as possible so long as the vital principles of the Bill were preserved. Therefore they agreed to the Amendment with the omission he had indicated. The rent of the holding could in, no way be the measure of the amount of compensation to be paid. The rent might be high and the compensation low and vice versa. A house might be used for business purposes and be rented at £100, and in the event of the landlord turning the tenant out that tenant might be able to get suitable premises quite close and thus his business be uninjured. In that case the only claim he could justly make would be for the cost of the removal. Obviously three times the rent, viz., £300, would be an entirely excessive amount. On the other hand a plot of land might be rented at £1 and the tenant might put up a valuable erection on that plot and establish a business. If the landlord turned him out nobody could say that three times the rent, or £3, would be the measure of the compensation that should be paid the tenant. The business might have been bringing in four or five hundred pounds a year, which might all be lost through the removal. It was quite obvious that the measure of compensation for disturbance must be assessed on the value of the good-will as well as on other considerations. Yet in the case he had put, under the clause as amended by the other House the total amount of compensation would be £3. It was obvious that the measure of compensation ought to be the value of the improvement, and it ought to be left to the Court to determine the amount.
§ Amendment proposed to the Lords' Amendment—
§ "To leave out the words 'Provided that such compensation shall in no case exceed three year rent of the holding."—(Mr. Cherry.)
§ Question "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Lords' Amendment," put, and negatived.
§ Lords' Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
§ Lords Amendment "in page 4, line 23, to leave out 'partly for business purposes,' and insert 'to a substantial extent for trade or business purposes, and which are held (a) under tenancies from year to year created after the passing of this Act, or (b) under leases made after the passing of this Act for terms of less than thirty-one years, or for a life or lives, or (c) under contracts of tenancy existing at i the passing of this Act where the rent of the holding is under one hundred pounds per annum,"read a second time.
§ MR. CHERRY
moved that the House should agree with the Lords in the Amendment. Although it looked rather formidable on the Paper, its only effect was to exclude from the operation of the Bill leases made for more than thirty-one years. The Government thought that that was a reasonable proposal.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—(Mr. Cherry.)
§ Lords Amendment, "in page 5, line 13, to leave out 'except where otherwise expressly provided,"read a second time.
§ Lords Amendments, "in page 5, line 26, after the word 'Act' to insert the words '(3) Any rules under this section shall be made after consultation with, or notice of consultation sent to, the President of the Incorporated Law-Society of Ireland"; "in lines 27 to 32, to leave out 1566 sub-section (3)"; read a second time and agreed to.
§ Lords Amendment'—
§ "In page 5, after Clause 10 insert Clause A. "A. (1)—Any person aggrieved by any determination of the county court under this Act may appeal either—(a) to the judge of Assize or a judge of the High Court, as the case may be, in accordance with the provisions of the County Courts (Ireland) Acts, 1851 to 1889, relating to appeals in the case of ordinary civil bills; or (b) to the Court of Appeal in accordance with rules of the Supreme Court: Provided that if in any proceedings appeals are taken both to the judge of Assize of a judge of the High Court and to the Court of Appeal, the appeals shall be heard togeter by such judge, and a further appeal may be taken from his determination to the Court of Appeal in accordance with rules of the Supreme Court,"—read a second time.
said that this Amendment might involve some questions of difficulty, but there was something to be said for it and he suggested that they should agree with it.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—(Mr. Bryce.)
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said they were placed in a very peculiar position by this proposal. It was thought by some of his hon. friends that the appeal should be to a judge of Assize, but on consideration, it was considered better to have the appeals to the Court of Appeal, and that view was adopted by the Government. Even on those Benches however, there was difference of opinion, as some thought the tribunal should be the Court of Appeal, and the others thought the best tribunal was the judge of Assize. This proposal of the House of Lords was to provide an alternative proposal, and gave an appeal either to one or the other. He did not under those circumstances see how they could get out of the double appeal. He thought the House of Lords would have done better to have left the provision as they had settled it.
§ Lords Amendment, "in page 6, after Clause 11, to insert Clauses B, C, and D:—B. Capital money arising under the Settled Land Act, 1882, may be applied 1567 in payment of any moneys expended and costs incurred by a landlord under, or in pursuance of this Act in or about the execution of any improvement, as for an improvement authorised by the said Settled Land Act; and such money may also be applied in discharge of any charge created on a holding under or in pursuance of this Act in respect of any such improvement as aforesaid, as in discharge of an in cumbrance authorised by the said Settled Land Act to be discharged out of such capital money. C. Where the landlord is a person entitled to receive the rents and profits of any holding as trustee, or in any character otherwise than for his own benefit, the amount due from such landlord in respect of compensation under this Act shall be charged and recovered as follows, and not otherwise (that is to say)—(1) The amount so due shall not be recoverable personally against such landlord, nor shall he be under any liability to pay such amount, but the same shall be a charge on and recoverable against the holding only; (2) Such landlord shall, either before or after having paid to the tenant the amount due to him, be entitled to obtain from the County Court a charge on the holding to the amount of the sum required to be paid or which has been paid, as the case may be, to the tenant. (3) If such landlord neglect, or fail within one month after the tenant has quited his holding, to pay to the tenant the amount due to him, then after the expiration of such one month the tenant shall be entitled to obtain from the County Court in favour of himself, his executors, administrators, and assigns, a charge on the holding to the amount of the sum due to him, and of all costs properly incurred by him in obtaining the charge or in raising the amount due there under. (4) The Court shall, on proof of the tenant's title to have a charge made in his favour, make an order charging the holding with payment of the amount of the charge, including costs, in like manner and form as in case of a charge which a landlord is entitled to obtain. D. Any company now or hereafter incorporated by Parliament and having power to advance money for the improvement of land, may take an assignment of any charge made by a County Court under the provisions of this Act, upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon between such com- 1568 pany and the person entitled to such charge; and such company may assign any charge so acquired by them to any person or persons whomsoever",—read a second time.
said that this clause merely contained the machinery to enable some expenditure which might arise under the Act to be met. It did not, however, affect any principle, and he moved that they should agree with the Lords.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—(Mr. Bryce.)
§ MR. CLANCY
said it was difficult to estimate the effect of a clause like this on reading it for the first time. But he had no concern with it as it affected the landlords' interests, and it was for the landlords to take care of themselves. He would like to ask whether he was right in thinking that the provision was for the recovery of compensation only in the case of a landlord who was a trustee or a limited owner.
§ MR. CHERRY
said he understood that if a landlord was a trustee or a limited owner, the tenant was entitled to recover compensation in the same way as if he were a freeholder. It really was to assist the tenant.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
asked if the clause was merely to provide how the money was to be paid in the case of settled estates and did not concern the interest of the tenants.
§ Lords Amendment, "In page 6, lines 4 and 5, to leave out the words 'clubs for social and athletic purposes"; read a second time.1569
§ Lords Amendment, "In page 6, line 5, after the word 'building,' to insert the words, 'situate in urban districts, towns, or villages and"; read a second time.
§ MR. CHERRY
moved that the House should agree with the Lords in this Amendment, but said he did so unwillingly, as he had done in previous cases. The Amendment would, however, affect but a small number of cases. If a blacksmith or other person put up a small shop away from a town or village he was excluded. As the cases were very few in number, however, they thought it best to accept the Amendment. As originally moved it applied the Act only to cities and towns, but they endeavoured in the Lords to extend it by including villages.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That this House do agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.—(Mr. Cherry.)
§ MR. CLANCY
thought the clause was open to objection from every point of view, especially in view of the fact that it would lead to perpetual litigation upon the question of what was a town and what was a village. The cases which were excluded seemed to him very hard ones indeed.
said that if it was any satisfaction to the hon. and learned Member, he regretted the Amendment as much as he did, but he was afraid they were under the hard necessity of accepting it. He believed, however, that there were very few collections of houses which would be excluded. In a book which he had a village was described as a collection of houses in a rural district sufficient to constitute a hamlet, and thus hamlet was made equivalent to a village. Therefore very few houses would be sufficient to constitute a village, and any injustice which would be done would not be very large. He had no alternative, however, but to accept the Amendment.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said before this Bill left the House he desired to say a few words upon it. They had realised that afternoon that they had been occupying a somewhat ridiculous position. They had reserved their opinion upon a number of these points in order to facilitate the action of the Chief Secretary in attempting to persuade the House of Lords to reconsider some of their Amendments. He and his hon. friends were now going away to Ireland, and he wished the Government clearly to understand that they expected them to insist upon these important points in the House of Lords and not to give way further, even in the smallest particular. They had gone as far as they could, and he should regard it as a breach of faith if the right hon. Gentleman made any further concession to the House of Lords.
§ Committee nominated of Mr. Attorney-General for Ireland, Mr. Bryce, Mr. Clancy, Mr. John O'Connor, and Mr. Whiteley.
§ Three to be the quorum.
§ To withdraw immediately.—(Mr. Bryce.)
§ Motion put, and agreed to.