HC Deb 30 August 1909 vol 10 cc10-2

asked the Attorney-General for Ireland if he is aware that the costs of making title to plots acquired by rural district councils, under the Labourers Acts, are wholly disproportionate to the value of the lands so acquired, and that the Local Registration of Title Acts, instead of reducing the costs, has increased them, particularly in cases where the purchasing tenant who had neglected to discharge the equities is dead and legal personal representation has not been raised; and will he consider the advisability of introducing legislation which will relieve local authorities in Ireland from liability to pay the entire cost of making titles to holdings, portions of which have been acquired by them, and will throw upon the council the liability for a part of the legal expenses proportionate to the value of the portion of the holding so acquired?


I am aware that in occasional cases of the nature referred to by the hon. Member the costs of making title to plots under the Labourers Acts are somewhat out of proportion to the value of the plots to be acquired. With regard to the second part of the question, I may point out that under Sections 21 and 22 of the Labourers Act, 1906, the registration is made free from rights and equities, and no registration fees are charged. In the case of a purchasing tenant who has died and neglected to discharge the equities, the difficulty is that unless representation is taken out to his estate, there would be no one capable of giving the statutory receipt or other instrument transferring the lands. Of course, if default is made in taking out representation, the Rural District Council can lodge the amount of the compensation in court in accordance with Section 11 (8) of the Labourers Act, 1906, and the costs of taking out representation of the estate would then be a matter within the discretion of the court. The course suggested in the last part of the question is one which, I fear, would be attended with many difficulties. When the Labourers Act of 1906 was before the House, the then Chief Secretary, Mr. Bryce, did all in his power to introduce provisions for the purpose of lessening the cost of showing title, and I fear it would be impossible to do more by legislation than has been done by that Act. The hon. Member must bear in mind that in most cases the cost of proving title to a portion of a farm, however small, is exactly the same as for the whole farm.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the case he referred to it will deprive the labourers of getting cottages?


I do not think it does deprive them of getting cottages, but the way to avoid that would be for the guardians to take plots for people whose title-is simple.


Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it an unreasonable: thing that in a case where the representation is to be raised, say, on a £5,000 estate, the costs should be thrown upon the local body for acquiring a plot worth £10.


Yes; but I pointed out in my answer there is a course open to the guardians of lodging the money in court, and in this case the cost of the representation would be at the discretion of the court.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of any single property in Ireland where the title is simple?


Oh, yes, Sir.