§ MR. GINNELL
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he is aware of the opinion prevalent in Ireland that the judicial rents fixed since the enactment of the Land Act of 1903 have been fixed regardless of the tenants' occupation interest, regardless of depreciation in quality and price of produce, and regardless of the increased cost of labour, and that this has been done for the purpose of discouraging recourse to the courts and forcing embarrassed tenants to purchase at 1136 exorbitant prices; whether he will institute an inquiry into the grounds for this opinion, and as part of such inquiry have the Harlech property in Westmeath, on which rents have recently been fixed, again inspected by four practical farmers, impartially chosen; and whether he will find a remedy, legislative or administrative, for any injustice disclosed by the inquiry.
I am informed by the Land Commission that they are aware of no such opinion as is mentioned in the Question, beyond the opinions perhaps natural and unavoidable, prevalent among litigants who have been disappointed at the results of the proceedings they have taken. Such dissatisfaction may exist both among tenants and landlords. The Land Commission add that it is not the case as stated, that since the Act of 1903, judicial rents have been fixed regardless of the present quality and price of produce, and of the cost of labour. The Lay Assistant Commissioners and Assessors have knowledge and experience of all such matters, and the Courts which fix judicial rents carefully consider the evidence upon these points which is frequently produced. It has been judicially decided that no deduction is to be made on account of the tenant's occupation interest beyond his interest in the improvements in his holding. In the case of the Harlech Estate I am informed that out of seventeen cases in which judicial rents have been fixed during the past two years, an appeal was taken in one case only, and in that case the decision of the Sub-Commission was confirmed. Parliament has placed the determination of rents in the hands of the Land Commission, and I am not aware that, even if I have power to direct the enquiry suggested, grounds justifying such a stop have been shown to exist.
§ MR. KILBRIDE (Kildare, S.)
asked for a return showing the percentages of reduction before and after 1903.