HC Deb 26 March 1914 vol 60 cc522-7

asked the Chief Secretary if he will state, when the vendor of an estate consents, through his solicitor in specified events, to sell under Section 6 of the Land Act of 1903, and those events have arisen, and he sells under a different Section, whether the Estates Commissioners allow him to exclude tenants who would be included under Section 6; and whether they will allow this to be done on the estate of Mr. Shaen Carter, near Killucan?


The Estates Commissioners are not aware of any case such as that referred to in the first part of the question. As regards the particular estate referred to, it is not offered for sale to the Commissioners under Section 6 of the Act of 1903, but has been sold by the owner to the tenants under the direct sale proceedings of that Act.


asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether the Estates Commissioners allow a vendor of an estate to exclude from the sale a tenant willing to complete in accordance with the vendor's own agreement written direct to the tenant, and help the vendor to get either a higher price or the old rent; when the vendor, after recovering the old rent for several years, admits the tenant's contention by reverting to his first agreement, do the Commissioners still allow him to exclude the holding from the sale unless the tenant abandons his right to be dealt with like his fellow tenants as from the date when they signed and he was willing to sign; under what Section this is allowed; and whether the Commissioners will allow a holding to be excluded in these circumstances on the Shaen Carter estate, near Killucan?


Where agreements signed by the parties have been lodged with the Estates Commissioners for the purchase of holdings on estates, the subject of direct sale proceedings under the Irish Land Acts, it is not the practice of the Commissioners to allow the vendor to exclude any of such holdings from the sale. Pending the vesting of the lands, or the dismissal of the agreements by the Commissioners, the tenants pay interest on the agreed prices in the agreements and are not liable for rent. As regards the Shaen Carter estate, purchase agreements signed by all the tenants, with the exception of two, have been lodged, and in these cases the Commissioners have inspected the holdings, and have informed the vendor of the prices they would be prepared to advance if purchase agreements are lodged. The tenants have refused to purchase at such prices, and until they sign agreements they cannot be included in the sale. The Commissioners have no power to compel either the tenants to purchase or the vendor to sell these holdings, or to interfere as regards any promise which it is alleged the vendor may have made to the tenants to sell at lower prices. It is open to the tenants to take such legal proceedings as they may be advised to require specific performance of any such promise.


asked whether there are any rules or regulations of the Irish Land Commission or the Estates Commissioners regulating the distribution of Grants, the receipt of rents, and the payments to or by the inspectors or other members of the outdoor staff of these Departments; and, if not, what the practice of these Departments has been in the past in reference to these matters?


There are no statutory rules or regulations dealing with the matters referred to in the question, but Departmental Rules have been laid down for the guidance of the officers of the Land Commission. When Grants for improvements are sanctioned by the Estates Commissioners the work whenever possible is carried out by contract and payment is made therefor from the head office of the Land Commission upon the certificate of the inspector concerned that the work has been satisfactorily done. In other cases in which the expenditure of the Grants is necessarily entrusted to the inspectors, receipts for all moneys expended are obtained by those officers, who certify in each case that the money has been expended for the purpose authorised and furnish the receipts as vouchers to headquarters. Rents and other incomings from estates on the Commissioners' hands pending resale are paid into bank to the Commissioners' credit upon receivable orders issued from the head office, save in exceptional cases in which the inspector is specially authorised to receive and account for such rents. All accounts and vouchers in respect of both expenditure and income are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General.


In regard to this case can the right hon. Gentleman say he is prepared to lay these Departmental Rules on the Table for the information of Members?


I would sooner wait until the case to which the hon. Member refers is thoroughly investigated.


asked the Chief Secretary whether he is aware that the recent storms have damaged the lands of Douglas, county Kerry; whether, seeing that the Land Commission should but did not compel the former landlord to put and keep the banks in repair, as he was bound to do by agreement signed at the time of purchase, the Land Commission will take steps to have the bank repaired immediately and compensation given to the tenants for their losses during the past twelve months; and whether an inspector will be sent to report on the present condition of the bank and tenants' losses?


As I have already informed the hon. Member, the vendors have been called upon to put the embankment into a proper state of repair, and the Land Commission understand that steps have been taken to this end. The Land Commission have no funds out of which to compensate tenant-purchasers for any loss they may have sustained through the flooding of their lands, but the question of this bank is at present under consideration in connection with the present sales, and the Commissioners look forward to the satisfactory settlement of the whole matter at an early date.

15. Mr. J. P. FARRELL

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether any decision has yet been arrived at by the Estates Commissioners as to the untenanted lands of Culnagore, on the estate of Colonel Gregg, parish of Newtown Cashel, county Longford; and, if not, when a scheme of division will be undertaken?


The Estates Commissioners cannot identify any portion of the lands of Culnagore, on the estate of Colonel Gregg, as being the subject of proceedings for sale to them; but the owner has arranged for the sale direct to the tenants on the property of some untenanted lands at Collum, in his occupation. The Commissioners are also in negotiation for the purchase of some 35 acres of the lands at Derrydarragh.

16. Mr. J. P. FARRELL

asked the Chief Secretary whether, in order to meet the wishes of a number of tenants of uneconomic holdings in Abbeylara, North Longford, he will ask the Estates Commissioners to direct another inspection of the untenanted lands of Coolcraff, which the landlord, Mr. James W. Bond, D.L., expressed his desire to sell for division amongst the people?


As the hon. Member has already been informed, the Estates Commissioners have had an inspection made of the lands referred to, and have intimated to the owner the sum they would be prepared to advance if formal proceedings are instituted for the sale of the lands to them under the Land Purchase Acts. Up to the present the owner has not instituted such proceedings. The Commissioners are not prepared to have a further inspection made.


Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Commissioners to press soon for an answer?


Well, I will see.

17. Mr. J. P. FARRELL

asked the Chief Secretary whether he has yet received the decision of the Estates Commissioners as to the acquirement of the lands of the Ballymulvey estate of Colonel Shuldham for the benefit of the town tenants of Ballymahon,, who for nearly a century have had the right of grazing on these lands, of which they are now threatened to be deprived?


The Estates Commissioners have approached the owner with a view to the acquisition of these lands, and the matter is at present the subject of negotiation.


asked what is the cause of the delay that occurs in the Land Registry of Ireland in dealing with the registration of transfers of registered land lodged for registration; and if some steps can be taken to expedite the completion of the registration in such cases?


There is no avoidable delay in the Land Registry of Ireland in dealing with transfers of registered land. Owing to the limited accommodation, it has not been possible to make the necessary increase in the staff of that Department. A new building has been constructed, and will, it is hoped, be ready for occupation next month, when all possible steps will be taken by increase and reorganisation of the staff to expedite the completion of the registration of dealings.


asked whether the case of Mrs. Sara Moriarty, formerly of Minard Dingle, was considered and recognised as an evicted tenant; whether, after several applications made by her during the past five years, nothing whatever beyond vague promises has been done for her; whether, seeing that her case is a bonâ fide case and that her son is a trained agriculturist, the Estates Commissioners will be asked to deal seriously and finally with this case?


Mrs. Moriarty made application to the Estates Commissioners for reinstatement in a holding on the estate of Lord Ventry, county Kerry, from which her mother had been evicted, and under the Evicted Tenants Act the Commissioners published a notice in the "Dublin Gazette" that they proposed to acquire the holding under that Act. The Commissioners did not, however, proceed further in the matter on being informed by the Congested Districts Board that that Department were negotiating for the purchase of this estate, which the Board have since acquired, and that the farm was required for the enlargement of small holdings in the neighbourhood. Mrs. Moriarty has been informed that her application will be considered in the allotment of untenanted land as acquired by the Commissioners. They have no farm at present available, but when they are in a position to allot her one they will communicate with her.


May I ask, as this case has been going on for five or six years, when may we expect to have the question settled?


I am afraid I cannot answer that question. It is most desirable she should get a farm as soon as possible.


Do the Commissioners say that during the last six years they have not sufficient land?


They thought she was to get this farm, but the Congested Districts Board stepped in and bought the land for another purpose.


asked the Chief Secretary if the Estates Commissioners will reconsider the case of Thomas Moore, an evicted tenant on the Lansdowne Estate, Queen's County, who refused a holding offered him by the Commissioners, as he is now willing to accept a holding from the Commissioners?


The reply is in the affirmative.

24. Mr. O'MALLEY

asked the Chief Secretary whether the Duane and Graham estates, near Letterfrack, Connemara, have yet been acquired by the Congested Districts Board; and, if not, will he state when they are likely to be acquired?


The estates referred to have not been acquired by the Congested Districts Board, and they cannot say when it is likely that the purchase of these properties will be completed.

25. Mr. O'MALLEY

asked the Chief Secretary whether the whole or only a part of the Twining estate, Cleggan, Connemara, is offered to the Congested Districts Board for purchase; and whether, in view of the necessities of the tenants on this estate, he will advise the Congested Districts Board to acquire the entire estate at the earliest opportunity?


The whole of the estate referred to has been offered for sale to the Congested Districts Board, and the question of purchase is under consideration.