§ MR. AINSWORTH (Argyllshire)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider the advisability of amending the Land Purchase (Ireland) Act by authorising the Treasury to issue scrip bearing interest at 3 per cent., and redeemable at par, during a term of years at the option of the Treasury, in lieu of cash, as may seem desirable.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. ASQUITH, Fifeshire, E.)
It was a cardinal principle of the Land Act of 1903 that future advances for land purchase should be made in cash, not in securities. It was the purpose of the Act to provide such facilities and inducements as would stimulate purchase transactions, which were flagging under the earlier Acts. The undertaking to provide the advance in cash was one of these inducements. How effective they have been may be judged by the rapid growth in the applications for advances after the passing of the Act, also by the fact that in the first three years of the operation of the Act over 21,000,000 of Guaranteed Two-and-Three-Quarters per Cent. stock were issued, as compared with an issue of about 13,500,000 of the old Guaranteed and stock in twelve years from 1891 to 1903. I do not suppose that my hon. friend wishes to urge upon the Government a measure for retarding the progress which was welcomed by all parties in 1903. It is clear that such must be the effect of making the advances in securities instead of cash, unless landowners are prepared to accept a 3 per cent. security as the equivalent of the same amount in cash. I am not aware of any evidence to show that there is a disposition to accept such terms. Another obstacle to the acceptance of the hon. Member's proposal would be that the tenant's purchase annuity, which is fixed at 3¼ per cent. on the amount or the advance, would take some twenty years longer to redeem the loan if the rate of interest were increased from 2¾ to 3 per cent.†See (4) Debates, clxvii., 1733.
§ MR. MOORE (Armagh, N.)
asked whether further advances were to be made for the purposes of the Act in the present year.
§ MR. ASQUITH
If the hon. Member refers to a fresh issue of stock, I cannot say. The funds produced by the last issue are by no means exhausted yet.