HC Deb 18 April 1907 vol 172 cc1167-8
MR. J. MACVEAGH (Down, S.)

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney-General for Ireland whether his attention has been called to the fact that certain landowners at Carrickfergus, county Antrim, are endeavouring to arrange the purchase of the head-rents paid to the town Commissioners of Carrickfergus; whether he is aware that these lands ware vested by Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth in the town commissioners, and were inalienable; that under the Charter the occupiers or leaseholders cannot lease, let, or sell the lands without the sanction of the council; and whether inquiries will be made to ascertain if these are Crown lands or municipal or private property.


I am informed by the town clerk of Carrickfergus that one application only has been received from a landowner at Carrickfergus for the purchase of head rents payable to the town commissioners. The offer was ultimately refused. The lands are vested in the town commissioners by Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth confirmed by Charters of 7th James I. and 10th James 1., but I understand the Charters contain no restriction upon alienation. The former corporation made grants for ever, and leases for long terms of years which did contain clauses restricting alienation, but the urban, district council in whom the lands are now vested have been advised by counsel that such clauses when contained in fee-farm grants are inoperative and void. They are, I believe, valid when contained in leases for terms of years, except so far as they are affected by the terms of the Land Act, 1903. I do not see any necessity for an inquiry into the matter, as it has not been suggested that the town commissioners are in any way acting contrary to their duties towards the public.