HC Deb 16 January 1913 vol 46 cc2232-7

asked the Chief Secretary whether he is aware that upon the Segrave estate, Woodlaun, county Galway, there are twenty-five tenants whose holdings average about six acres each, the average number of divisions into-which each holding is divided is about five, and in some cases there is a distance of a quarter of a mile between each division; whether those tenants are surrounded on the south, east, and west by grass lands, and on the north by undrained cut-away bog; whether, by agreement and without going into Court, the landlord conferred a tenant-right of the grass lands to grazing tenants; and whether he will have this matter inquired into by the Estates Commissioners and see that those tenants shall not be deprived of the lands to which they are entitled?


This estate is the subject of proceedings for sale by the owner to the Estates Commissioners under Section 6 of the Irish Land Act, 1903, and when the Commissioners are dealing with it in order of priority they will fully consider the matters referred to by the hon. Member.

19. Captain O'NEILL

asked the Chief Secretary whether, in view of the fact that, under the Irish Land Act, minerals which are not being actually worked at the time of sale, held by Judge Wylie to be the date of the purchase agreement, go to the Land Commission, with 25 per cent, to the landlord if developed, he is aware that during the considerable number of years intervening before the vesting order, neither the landlord nor the Land Commission can develop the minerals, which is obviously a disadvantage to the State, the landlord, and the community, preventing, as it does, the spending of capital in the district and the giving of employment; whether he will introduce into the expected Irish Land Bill provisions rectifying this state of affairs, whereby the landlord will be enabled to work or lease minerals on his estate subsequent to the date of the purchase agreements, and that, provided that such minerals shall be worked or in process of development at the date of the vesting order, they shall not be vested in the Land Commission, but shall remain the property of the vendor, as would have been the case if they were being worked at the date of the purchase agreement; and what course can he suggest for immediate adoption pending the introduction of the new Land Bill?


I am aware of the difficulty to which the hon. and gallant Member refers, but I do not think that the point is of very general importance, or that it is one which could be dealt with in the coming Land Bill.

Captain O'NEILL

As the right hon. Gentleman has acknowledged the importance of this, surely he does not wish to pass it off and say that no attention shall be paid to such minerals: do I understand him to imply that?


No, but all I can promise is that all matters which might well deserve consideration will be treated of in the coming Land Bill.

21. Mr. J. P. FARRELL

asked whether the Estates Commisssioners are taking steps to acquire the untenanted lands of Tully, Asnagh, and Ardagullion, on the estate of Mr. James W. Bond, D.L., county Longford; whether any inspection with a view to an offer has yet been made; and, if not, when it is proposed to commence these negotiations?


The reply to the first two paragraphs of the question is in the negative. The lands are not the subject of proceedings for sale before the Estates Commissioners, and they understand that the owner is not willing to sell.


Has the owner been communicated with by the Estates Commissioners in reference to this question?


They must have done so, because they have knowledge that he is not willing to sell.

27. Mr. LYNCH

asked the Chief Secretary what is the exact position of affairs with regard to the Kinlea farm, West Clare; whether, in view of the fact that years have elapsed since a definite promise was given that the property would be acquired by the Congested Districts Board, he can explain the reason for the delay in dealing with it; and whether, in view of the facts that it is a small property, that the expectant tenants are in a state of poverty, and that the existence of this question has been a continual source of irritation to the people of the neighbourhood as well as a cause of expense to the whole county, he will look into the matter with the view of coming to a definite settlement?


The Congested Districts Board made an amended offer in February last for the Vesey Fitzgerald estate which includes the farm referred to. The offer was not accepted, and the Board have decided to issue a final offer under Section 60 of the Irish Land Act, 1909.


Can some expedition not be made in this small matter in order to clear up a distressing case?


Small matters have to be inquired into, and matters proceeded with in order. We will do the best we can.

29. Mr. MOLLOY

asked the Chief Secretary why the Estates Commissioners have refused the application of Michael Connolly for a holding of land in lieu of the one (now in the possession of other tenants) from which his father, Michael Connolly, deceased, was evicted in May, 1891, situate at Banagole, county Carlow, on the estate of Mr. W. F. Burton; is he aware that at the time of the eviction the value of the tenant's crops, which were appropriated by the landlord, was far in excess of the rent for non-payment of which the eviction took place; that the widow and children subsequently suffered poverty and hardship; and, the necessary notices of application having been served within the prescribed time by the widow, now deceased, will he ask the Commissioners to reconsider the case with a view to providing Connolly, as the representative of the family, with a holding in Car-low county or elsewhere?


The holding at one time held by Connolly's father is in the occupation of other tenants, and the Estates Commissioners have no power, even if they wished to do so, to comply with Connolly's application for reinstatement. They are not prepared to provide him with a holding elsewhere.

30. Mr. MOLLOY

asked the Chief Secretary if he can state when, approximately, the Estates Commissioners hope to be able to allot holdings to the ten evicted tenants or representatives of evicted tenants in county Carlow whose cases have been noted for consideration in the allotment of untenanted land; and will he ask the Commissioners to deal with the cases as soon as possible, having regard to the fact that the applicants are willing to take holdings either in Carlow or the adjoining counties?


There are now eight county Carlow evicted tenants whose applications for reinstatement have been provisionally noted for consideration in the allotment of untenanted land and who have not yet been provided with holdings. The Estates Commissioners cannot at present say when they will be in a position to provide holdings for these applicants, but their cases will be dealt with as soon as practicable.

31. Mr. MOLLOY

asked upon what grounds the Estates Commissioners have decided to take no action in the cases of eighty-five applications from persons seeking reinstatement in holdings in county Carlow as evicted tenants or representatives of evicted tenants?


The principles on which the Estates Commissioners act in dealing with applications received from persons seeking reinstatement as evicted tenants are fully explained in their special Report on Evicted Tenants, presented to Parliament in 1907, to which I would refer the hon. Member (Cd. 3570).

34. Mr. DUFFY

asked the Chief Secretary whether he is aware that Mr. John A. O'Flaherty is, and has been for many years past, a resident of Armidale, New South Wales, Australia; is he aware that, in the list of tenants set out on the estate of Mrs. Dora Creagh, Frenchfort, Oranmore, county Galway, the name of Mr. J. A. O'Flaherty is included; have the Estates Commissioners received an undertaking from Mr. O'Flaherty from his home in New South Wales to purchase the farm of Frenchfort in the congested area of Oranmore, county Galway; have they made inquiries into the bona fides of this application; are they aware that Mr. O'Flaherty is a middleman who signed the agreement to purchase this untenanted land on the 4th January, 1909, over the heads of four tenants, namely, Miss Lucy O'Reilly, Thomas O'Connor, Thomas Fahy, and Richard St. George, bond fide tenants on the estate; and, before the sum of £950 is advanced to a gentleman in New South Wales to acquire a farm in county Galway, will he make inquiry of the Estates Commissioners as to whether such a class of beneficiary was ever contemplated under the Land Acts of 1903 and 1909?


This estate was originally the subject of proceedings for sale under the Irish Land Act, 1903, direct by the owner to the tenants, but at the request of the Estates Commissioners the owner consented to sell the property to them for resale to the tenants under Section 6 of that Act. John A. O'Flaherty was tenant of some eighty acres, and as such signed an agreement to purchase this holding in the direct sale proceedings. When these proceedings were altered to a sale to the Commissioners he and other tenants signed undertakings to purchase their respective holdings which have since been vested in them. The cases of the sub-tenants on O'Flaherty's holding were fully considered by the Commissioners who could not see their way to declare the parcels in their occupation to be separate holdings for the purposes of sale, and the entire holding was vested in O'Flaherty subject to the sub-tenancies. The Commissioners understand that he was in Australia at the time of the sale, but he was in legal possession of the holding, and entitled to purchase it under the Land Purchase Acts.

35. Mr. LYNCH

asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) whether he has received communications from various public bodies in West Clare, asking that the Vandeleur demesne may be divided among uneconomic tenants in accordance with the terms of the Land Act of 1909; and whether, considering that it is at present being let under the system which that Land Act was intended to abolish, he will make arrangements for handing it over to the Estates Commissioners to deal with?

Mr. T. W. RUSSELL (Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture, Ireland)

I have received two resolutions from public bodies in West Clare in the sense suggested by the hon. Member. The Vandeleur demesne was acquired as a centre for forestry operations, and the Department has no power to alienate it to any other purpose. The answer to the last paragraph of the question is in the negative.


Would it not be possible for the Department to make it over to the Estates Commissioners?


No such transfer can take place.


Why, having been bought by the Department is the estate not used for the purposes for which it was bought?


The work is proceeding, and land not being planted is being let temporarily.