§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee (on recommitment) read.
§ VISCOUNT CANNING moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
said, this Bill came before their Lordships only as a part of a general system of legislation respecting real property in Ireland, involving very peculiar principles, which he took upon himself to say their Lordships ought not lightly to sanction. With regard to the relations of landlord and tenant, he should be most willing at all times to sanction the application to Ireland of those principles which prevailed in this country; but this measure involved provisions of a very unprecedented kind, and which, to say the least, would require grave consideration. The only defence of this Bill that he had heard was, that it was to be entirely inoperative—a defence not very creditable to its framers; it proposed to improve land by drainage with borrowed money; but unless the borrowing powers were made really effective, which they were not, it was not likely the Bill would be operative. This, however, was no reason, but the reverse, for passing a measure which it was admitted would be practically nugatory. But though inoperative for good purposes, it might, nevertheless, be operative for necessities. Experience had taught him to apprehend danger from Bills of this description. He remembered that when the Million Act for drainage was introduced into Parliament, in 1846, it was proved that it could not be operative, because it was so framed as not to admit of raising loans. Yet it was passed; and what happened? They were told that the non-execution of the Act, arising from the omission of any provision for lands under settlement, was not the fault and blunder of its framers, but was conclusive evidence of the want of energy, patriotism, and public spirit on the part of the landed proprietors of Ireland. Because they could not do that which the defect of the law made impossible, they were told upon high official and written authority, laid before Parliament, that they were to blame, and not the Bill. Now, he was quite sure that a similar failure would be the result of the 1296 present measure. But let it be supposed that it would be acted on, the objections to the Bill would be still more glaring. Their Lordships would not for a moment consent to the extension of certain provisions of this Bill to England and Scotland—and why should they sanction them in respect of Ireland? By the fifth clause any occupying tenant, without any limitation as to the extent of land he occupied, or the amount of his beneficial interest, if he was in possession of a lease two of the lives in which were unexpired, however aged they might be, was placed in an extraordinary position, for it enabled him to incur heavy responsibilities, not for himself, but for others, strangers to the whole proceeding, or even dissenting from it. Now, if the tenant were authorised to mortgage or pledge his own interest for the improvement of the land he occupied, he (Lord Monteagle) would not object. But what was done by this Bill went to constitute him the owner. The Bill enabled him to apply for loans in the character and in the position of the statutable owner; and to create a debt, not binding only on himself or his interest only, but binding on the owner and on the interest of the reversioner, who might be no party to the contract, and who might even disapprove of it; but upon whom, notwithstanding such dissent, there was cast for twenty-four years an onerous contract; for the instalments for repayment of principal and interest were made a first charge upon the land, and deteriorated the value of the inheritance to that extent. Was this just? Was this a principle their Lordships would be willing to apply to this country—ought it to be applied to any country? Let them permit the tenant to pledge his own interest, if he will, or the landlord's interest, with consent of the landlord; but do not let them create out of the occupying leaseholders a class of owners claiming distinct rights, and acting for themselves, if not to the exclusion of the owner, at least to the abridgment of his interests. It was to this principle he mainly objected as inconsistent with sense and justice. The Bill further enacted that the occupier, in making application, should be bound to give notice to his immediate lessor, and when he had given notice to such immediate landlord of his intention, and he had satisfied the Commissioners of Public Works that such notice had been given, the Commissioners of Public Works—officers of the Crown holding their places during plea- 1297 sure, and not responsible judicially, were authorised, if they should require it, to ask for the consent of the landlord. This should be made imperative, and it should embrace the owner of the inheritance as well as the immediate lessor, who were far from being in all cases identical. This was not a principle by which the real property of any country should be regulated. Parliament had no right to bind any man to a pecuniary contract, except with his own consent. This Bill, however, was, as he had stated, only part of a great corpus juris on the subject of landlord and tenant. Their Lordships had as yet only got before them one out of four Bills introduced on the subject of the law of landlord and tenant, three others being still before the Commons; and he would therefore ask his noble Friend (Viscount Canning) to postpone this measure till they had received the other Bills from the other House, in order that the whole might be sent before a Select Committee of that House, as had been done in the other House of Parliament. On the grounds he had relied on, he might have moved that the Bill be negatived at its present stage; but he thought it more prudent and more conducive to the interests of sound legislation to propose a postponement merely. He would move, therefore, that the House resolve itself into Committee on the Bill that day month, in order to admit of taking the course he had recommended.
§ Amendment moved to leave out ("now") and insert ("this day month").
The EARL of DONOUGHMORE
differed from the noble Lord in his opposition to this measure. The other Bills to which be had referred were not likely to pass this Session, and, therefore, it would be a waste of time to wait for them. This Bill had nothing to do with those other measures, though it happened to be brought in at the same time with them by the late Attorney General. This measure was identical in its provisions with the Act of 1847, commonly called the Land Improvement Act, which had worked so admirably in Ireland, and had given such general satisfaction. Under that Act advances were made from the public purse in return for an annuity at 6½ per cent, payable half-yearly for twenty-two years, for the improvement of landed property by drainage, &c, in Ireland. This Act had worked so well, and effected so much good, that it was most desirable to renew it; but as it was not proper, for many rea- 1298 sons, that any further money should be advanced from the public purse, the pre-sent Bill proposed to empower the requisite sums to be raised from private parties. The 5th Clause of the Bill contained this provision—that the Bill with this exception was the same as the Act of 1847. Therefore there was no new principle in question, and if objection was to be made, it should have been made to the Act of 1847. In seeking to improve the soil of Ireland, which was admitted to be the great object of the Legislature in passing the Act of 1847, their Lordships should afford all the encouragement in their power to the tenant-farmers, for it was by that class, speaking generally, that all great agricultural improvements had been effected. Who had fertilised the stiff clay lands of England? The tenant-farmer. Who had converted the barren pastures of the Lothians into the richest corn fields in the kingdom? The tenant-farmer. Let it not be said that the Legislature passed only Acts intended to benefit the landlord, and was afraid to trust the tenant-farmer. True, there were in Ireland some tenants who might abuse the trust reposed in them, but there was daily rising in that country a class of men worthy of confidence. This class was formed of men independent in circumstances, and possessed of knowledge and intelligence, and to them, aided by the landlords, we must look for the improvement of the country. Regretting to differ from many of his countrymen on this question, he nevertheless felt it his duty to give his cordial support to the Bill.
The EARL of LUCAN
contended that tenant-right, which he described as a most mischievous and communistic principle, was involved in the present Bill, and he could not consent to give his sanction to the passing of such a measure. With respect to the arguments which had been adduced as to the Act of 1847, he declined to adopt the legislation of that year of famine as applicable to the circumstances of Ireland in the present time. The Bill of 1847 was passed to enable a public Board to give employment to the redundant population, and under it 700,000 persons were employed and supported for a considerable time. It was found, however, that no public Board could superintend such extensive operations, and a subsequent Bill gave to the landowners the means of improving their land and employing the labour of the country. He believed the 1299 present Bill had been allowed to escape the notice and attention of the House of Commons; and all that was now asked of their Lordships was the very modest request to allow the Bill to be postponed for one month, until the other Bills should come up from the House of Commons, when they would have an opportunity of considering the principles involved in the whole of them, and their mutual bearing upon each other.
The EARL of WICKLOW
differed from the noble Earl who had last spoken with regard to the proposition of Lord Mont-eagle, considering it so unreasonable that he trusted his noble Friend who had charge of the Bill would decline to comply with it. What was the fact? Session after Session noble Lords were constantly rising in that House, and complaining that they sat there with nothing to do until the dog-days arrived; and yet when a Bill came up from the other House for their consideration, it was at once proposed to adjourn it until a period when they knew it would be utterly impossible thoroughly to consider it. The measure was recommended to their Lordships on its own merits, and had no connexion with the other Bills referred to by the noble Lord who moved the Amendment. It was true that the Bill was introduced by the late Attorney General for Ireland under the Earl of Derby's Administration, who also introduced the four other Bills which had reference to the landlord and tenant question; but that was all the connexion between them. This Bill stood on its own merits. The Bill itself was a well-digested measure, though at the same time he objected to the Amendment proposed to be inserted by the noble Lord who had taken charge of it. Unless the fifth clause were materially altered, he feared the Bill would not have any operation in the borrowing of money, though it would have considerable operation with tenants for life in employing their own money. With regard to the machinery of the Bill, it was the same as that which which was contained in the Act of 1847, and to which no objection was raised. The noble Earl who spoke last was mistaken in supposing that the Act of 1847 was framed with reference solely to the exigencies of the famine period. On the contrary, it was one of three measures applicable to England, Scotland, and Ireland, by which Sir Robert Peel endeavoured to make the landed interest compensation for the injury inflicted by the repeal of the corn laws. 1300 Approving highly of the Bill, as he did, his approbation, however, did not extend to the Amendment introduced into it by the present Government. It was unreasonable to invest any public Board with power to determine that tenants should make improvements against the will of the landlords; it would be far better to give the power directly to the tenant, or to withhold it; but, whilst thinking so, he could not consent to the Motion of Lord Monteagle for postponement.
The EARL of EGLINTOUN
said, that this Bill did not pass through the Select Committee appointed to investigate the Tenant-right Bills before Parliament last Session, because it did not come within the category of a Tenant-right Bill. He was privy to the framing of the Bill, and it had been approved of by the late Irish Government, and the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) at the head of the late Government; but he certainly had never considered it as a Tenant-right Bill. The only relation which this Bill bore to the others which the late Attorney General for Ireland had brought in last Session, was, that they were all brought in by the same person. This was an exact counterpart of the Bill of 1847, which, by universal consent, had worked remarkably well, with the exception of the few words which had been introduced by the noble Viscount (Viscount Canning), which, in his opinion, would be inoperative. He did not wish to taunt the noble Earl (the Earl of Lucan) either with opposing or supporting the Bill of 1847; but if the Bill of 1847 had worked so well, what reason had he for objecting to this Bill, which was framed upon precisely the same grounds? He had been informed by Mr. Griffiths, that, whenever money was sought to be borrowed under that Bill, he had thought it his duty to obtain the consent of the landlords. With regard to the much-objected to Clause 5, he believed that the term "ownership," which appeared to alarm the minds of so many noble Lords, was merely a nominal term. This Bill nominally put persons in the position of owners to enable them to avail themselves of the advantages which it conferred on them. At all events he did not think there was sufficient danger in adopting the clause to prevent him from giving his cordial support to the Bill.
§ LORD BEAUMONT
felt some apology was necessary for making any observations upon a Bill that was not likely ever to be extended to England, and which must, 1301 therefore, be regarded as a measure that affected Irish Members exclusively, and ought in consequence to be submitted to their judgment alone. If they approved of the scheme, he would not oppose the Bill, which might be considered somewhat as a private arrangement. Still he must express the strong objection he felt against its principles—first, because they invaded the rights of property; and, secondly, because in the present transition state of Ireland they must prove singularly injurious. The Bill placed tenants for life and tenants generally in the position of owners, and gave to occupiers rights which could only belong to those in whom the soil was vested. It actually took away from the latter the power of managing the land, and placed it in the hands of a public Board. By this Bill the lessee was no longer bound by the terms of his lease, but might deal with the land as though he was possessed in fee-simple; while the real owner of the fee-simple was obliged to deal with his property, improve it or waste it, as certain commissioners, in their wisdom, thought advisable. It was no doubt very proper that trustees should be appointed in the case of minors and lunatics; but surely the landowners of Ireland were not all to be regarded as belonging to one of those classes or the other. Reference had been made to the Act of 1847; but, as had been said, that referred to public money, and the State was bound to see that the funds so lent were not irretrievably lost. The present Bill, however, proposed to deal with the ordinary transactions between man and man with respect to borrowing money, and there was no pretence whatever for the intervention of a Board. No doubt it would be an excellent thing for tenants to invest their capital under the Bill, for it would be just the same as purchasing an annuity upon the security of another man's property. Their Lordships might depend upon it, that if they passed these Bills, interfering with the ordinary relations of landlord and tenant, they would be doing a serious injury to Ireland, for they would prevent men of capital from going over to that country, by exciting a fear that unnecessary burdens would be placed upon the land, rendering it an unfit object for investment. So much for the principle of the Bill. If he went into its details he thought he should be able to show that, for a "well-digested measure," it was as full of faults as any Bill that had ever come up to their Lordships' House; but for the 1302 present he would only protest against it altogether.
The EARL of GLENGALL
also opposed the Bill, considering that nothing could possibly be more objectionable than to leave to a public Board the power of arbitrating between the landlord and tenant. True, a similar measure was passed in 1847; but it should be remembered that they were then dealing with public money, and that, therefore, supervision and management by a public Board was absolutely necessary. But he could not forget that a vast deal of money was expended under the Drainage Act in the most reckless and scandalous manner. He approved of the suggestion of Lord Monteagle for postponing the Bill until the others came up from the House of Commons, when they might take the whole, consider them side by side, and see how they were likely to work together. The Tenants' Compensation Bill, the Leasing Powers Bill, and another Bill, all of which were to come up to this House, were every one of them most materially connected with the present measure. The Bill before their Lordships gave to the landlords the power of compelling a tenant who had a lease to effect improvements, or to lay an increased amount of rent upon him if he failed to do so. What did the Tenants' Compensation Bill do? Why, it conferred a similar power on the landlord. The provisions of this Bill were inconsistent with those of the Leasing Powers Bill. Great abuses would probably creep in under the present Bill, and receivers, who were in general attorneys, would have power to create heavy charges upon the property over which they were placed. It might, no doubt, be said that the matter could be brought before the Master; but their Lordships could have very little idea of the way things were managed by interested parties before the Master. He submitted that they should wait until they had the three Bills before them, and should consider them all together.
§ VISCOUNT CANNING
apprehended that in dealing with a thing so substantial as land, what was a principle in 1847 was equally a principle in 1853. The noble Lord on the cross benches (Lord Monteagle) spoke of the Act of 1847 as one which had worked well in the time for which it was passed, but which was now inoperative. That, however, was far from being the fact; for the Act of 1847 was still in operation, and of the 2,000,000l. advanced between 1847 and 1850, 500,000l. was 1303 at this moment unappropriated. Again, a statement was made in reference to the Act of 1847, that that Act was no model or guide in this instance, because the money borrowed under it had not been taken advantage of by tenants. Now, every day they heard of a part of this money being appropriated upon the same principles on which their Lordships were asked to agree to this Bill. He would read an extract from a letter he had received that very morning from Mr. Griffiths. It was in these words:—"In reply to your communication, I beg to say there have been a considerable number of loans of small amounts made to tenant-farmers holding under short leases for lives, under the Land Improvement Act, and that in every case the landlord approved of the loan being made." With reference to the suggestion that this Bill should be postponed until all the other Bills referring to the same subject should come before the House, and then all referred to the same Committee, he would remind their Lordships that that was not the course followed in the House of Commons. There it was never suggested that this Bill should have its progress stayed until the other four Bills were in such a state that they should be considered together. The truth was, except that they bore the names of the same Gentlemen on their back, he saw no other reason for referring the Bills in question to the same Committee. It had been said that this Bill had passed unobserved through the House of Commons; but this was not the fact, for the Bill was very fully discussed in Committee; and there were two clauses in it which owed their existence to Amendments made in that House, and not passed until after considerable discussion. The noble Lord behind him (Lord Beaumont) said he would not desire to be placed in a better position than that of being a tenant of property in Ireland under this Bill, inasmuch as he (Lord Beaumont) would have, for the security of his improvements, an annuity, though a terminable one, at the expense of the landlord. The noble Lord could not have read the clause, or he would not have come to such a conclusion: the person who derived the immediate benefit from the land was the person who would have to pay 7½ per cent as interest on the money advanced; the tenant would receive no money from the landlord. The last objection he should notice was one which fell from the noble Earl who spoke last (the 1304 Earl of Glengall)—namely, the alleged inconsistency between this Bill and the Leasing Powers Bill. Now, the Leasing Powers Bill was only just out of a Committee in the other House of Parliament, and since then he had not seen it, so that he could not speak authoritatively upon that point. He could not, however, believe that alleged inconsistencies, of which their Lordships had no means of judging, would deter them from pursuing what was the natural course under such circumstances, and from going into Committee upon this Bill.
The MARQUESS of CLANRICARDE
said, they had been told in the course of the discussion, that the Act of 1847 was not yet expired; and if that was so, he would ask if it would not be much better to stick to that Act when it was proposed to raise money this way? For himself, he saw no reason whatever for violating in Ireland the great principles on which landed property rested in this country. Much good had been effected by the establishment of the Encumbered Estates Court, us well as some hardship; and he was very glad that that tribunal was constituted, in the horrible circumstances under which Ireland was placed at the time of its formation; but, he asked, would any man now suggest that such a court should remain a permanent institution for dealing with the landed property of England, Ireland, and Scotland? That great improvements had resulted from such an institution in the transfer of landed property, he was ready to admit; but to say that a tribunal which had its origin in a season of calamity should remain as a permanent institution, he thought would be an unwise and mischievous policy. He had been greatly struck by the manner in which tenant-right had been mentioned in connexion with this Bill. Their Lordships were called upon by the Bill to give one man the power of charging and creating an annuity upon another man's property. The Commissioners, upon the application of a tenant who had a lease for life, or upon the lives of others, might, without the consent of the landlord, and even without the landlord's knowledge, if they thought fit, allow that tenant to create this annuity chargeable upon another man's property. This was a very serious matter. A noble Lord had asked, had not all the great improvements in the land of Great Britain been made by tenant-farmers and occupiers? He (the Marquess of Clanricarde) denied that that was so. That noble Lord had 1305 cited the Lothians in proof of that assertion; but he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) would ask what were the conditions under which the land had been improved in the Lothians? Why, those improvements had been made by tenants holding under leases for nineteen and twenty-one years. He would say, then, let the improvement of the land in Ireland depend on the same conditions as those on which the great agricultural improvements in England and Scotland and many parts of the Continent depended, and not upon exceptional legislation, as contemplated by the Bill before their Lordships. He objected all the more to the Bill, because it was connected with others that were coming up from the Lower House of the most serious character. He objected to the principle of the Bill. He should not be such a stickler for the principle involved in the question, if he thought the Bill would produce any great improvement in Ireland; but he did not see anything in its provisions which would excuse the breach which it effected in the law relating to real property in that country. The measure either was or had been connected with other Bills which were coming up to their Lordships' House, and which were of the utmost importance; and his belief was that property would not be safe, if the Legislature went on teaching to the tenantry of Ireland that they had rights other than those they legally possessed by their contract with the landlords. That appeared to him contrary to all those principles of sound legislation under which England and Scotland had obtained the best system of agriculture extant.
§ The EARL of DERBY
My Lords, if I thought the Bill at all involved the question just suggested by the noble Marquess opposite, namely, that by its adoption tenants would imagine that they had a permanent vested interest in land beyond that which they are entitled to by their contract, I should be one of the last persons to ask your Lordships to agree to any legislative enactment sanctioning such a principle; but, entertaining the opinions which I do, and certainly knowing that the intentions of the framers of the Bill are totally opposed to any such views, and believing there is nothing in the provisions of the Bill which will justify the arguments of the noble Marquess, I confess it is to me a subject of very great regret that there should be any indication on the part of any of your Lordships connected with Ireland to take a view of this question which is so 1306 widely different—I will not say from the opinion of the majority, but I will venture to say—from the almost unanimous opinion of the representatives of Ireland in the other House of Parliament. There are many connected with Ireland in that House who are as warmly opposed as I am, or as the noble Marquess can be, to the principle of what is commonly called tenant right, or rather those undefined claims on the part of tenants which go under the name of tenant right, and who believe that the best prospect we have of effectually putting down those unreasonable and unfounded claims is to pass a measure like the present, and the others introduced by my right hon. and learned Friend the late Attorney General for Ireland, where by due encouragement will be given to improving tenants, without any undue violation of the rights of landed property. Now, was there in the House of Commons a dissentient voice with regard to the principle of the main details of the Bill? It was not hurried through the House of Commons; it was deliberately discussed in Committee; and when the other Bills, involving more important considerations, with regard to which there was a difference of opinion, were referred to a Select Committee, the House of Commons unanimously thought it unnecessary to refer this Bill to a Select Committee; but with the concurrence of all the Irish Members—and when they did concur their concurrence was marvellous—this Bill was sent up to the House of Lords, without considering whether it was necessarily connected with the principles involved in the other Bills. The noble Marquess says—"Why don't you deal with Ireland precisely in the same way as you deal with England and Scotland? Why do you not leave to the enterprise and activity of industrious tenants and enterprising landlords that which has already accomplished so much in the sands of Norfolk and the wild waste lands of Scotland?" Why, so far as the rights of property are concerned, the advocates of this measure do not propose to deal, with respect to Ireland, on any different principle. But what is it that has produced these improvements in England and Scotland? It is not the difference of the law in those countries, but it is that, with a lease of twenty-one years, the tenant in England and Scotland has the necessary capital to effect improvements, while in Ireland he is not possessed of the necessary capital; and that observation, I am afraid, in many cases is equally applicable to landlords in Ireland. It is not the 1307 durability of the term, or the certainty or uncertainty of obtaining a return for the outlay; but if you do not give facilities to Ireland, which you do not find it necessary to give to England and Scotland, the tenant will have no means of making any outlay, however certain he may be of receiving back his money. The object of this Bill is to enable the landlord or tenant, within a definite fixed period of considerable duration, to obtain on advantageous terms that capital which of his own he has not. Hitherto that capital has been advanced from the public funds, and it has been found, that, to a very considerable extent, the money borrowed, whether by landlords or by tenants—that a very large proportion of the money advanced from the public funds under the provisions of the Bill of 1847, subject to the conditions of the Bill, and under the control of the Commissioners who exercise control under the Bill—has had a most miraculous effect in regard to the improvement of land, and has returned great profit to the persons who borrowed the money, notwithstanding the high rate of interest which they paid. Some noble Lord has said that there is a difference between the Acts of 1847 and 1853—that what was quite right in 1847 is not consequently right in 1853. I readily admit that between the circumstances of 1847 and 1853 there is a material difference with regard to the position of landlords and tenants—a considerable alteration of the circumstances of the country; that the pres sure is not so great for the immediate outlay of money for the purpose of keeping the people in life as it was in the year 1847. But I believe the noble Marquess on the cross benches is the last person to say that there is not abundant room for the outlay of capital in Ireland beyond that which is at present at the disposal of either landlord or tenant. Then comes another question. If there is such an opportunity for the advantageous application of a large amount of capital which it is not in the power of either landlord or tenant to obtain at present—if it be right for the State to abstain from perpetually continuing to advance money from the public funds—and if private capitalists can be found willing to lend money upon terms advantageous to them and beneficial to the borrower, whether he be landlord or tenant—I confess I cannot see why the principle adopted in 1847 is not equally applicable to 1853, although the necessity for raising money is not so great for the purpose of keeping the people alive in 1308 that year as it was in 1847. But, with regard to the alleged infringement of the rights of property, or with regard to the power given to landlords and tenants, or with regard to the policy of advancing money to be repaid by instalments in the course of twenty-two years—if all those principles are bad in 1853, they were bad in 1847, and if they were good in 1847 they are equally good in 1853; and however you may condemn and sneer at the phraseology and language of this Bill, it is something to say in favour of any Act of Parliament, that it has been in operation for a period of six years, and that under its operation the evils which were anticipated during its administration did not arise, and that the practical benefits it produced had been proved to result to an enormous extent. But to what extent are we infringing on the rights of property by this Bill? You are proposing to give permission in the first place to tenants for life, or to those who have an interest in land for their own lives. You are proposing to enable them to raise money which they shall be able to pay off by themselves or by their successors in the space of twenty-two years, on a charge not only sufficient to keep clown the rate of interest, but to pay off annually some of the principal. Now, this is not a new principle; it is not new as applied to Ireland, or even to England and Scotland. Take the case of drainage, for example. How many Bills have you passed enabling tenants for life in possession to raise a sum of money which is to be paid off in the period of twenty-two years, without asking the consent of the reversioner or the remainderman? If you admit the principle of giving the tenant in possession a right to lay that burden for the improvement of the land, in which he has only a life interest, not only on himself, but on those who are to succeed him, who may not contemplate making any such improvements, I think you will find it very difficult to draw a distinction in principle between such a tenant for life, and those having such an interest in the land as is contemplated by this Bill. I admit that the principle, in the first instance, is this—that the object of the Bill is, that, in ordinary cases, the title of the tenant in possession shall be sufficiently long to overlap the whole period during which the repayments are to extend. If the person applying should be a tenant paying rent, and should have an amount of interest in the land equivalent to twenty- 1309 five years unexpired, consequently, during the continuance of his lease, the whole of the incumbrance would he paid off, and the landlord would have no liability left upon him, except some unforeseen event occurred by which the tenant was dispossessed. Supposing such a state of circumstances to occur, what happens? Supposing the tenant has gone on for fifteen years, and he is dispossessed at that period; he has paid not only interest upon the money borrowed for fifteen years, but he has paid 15–22nd parts of the whole capital sunk in the improvements of the land, and the landlord comes into possession of the full benefit of all the outlay of the tenant's capital for fifteen years out of the twenty-two. But my noble Friend on the cross benches (Lord Monteagle) has said there may be a case in which the tenant's interest is that of two lives, and they may be two very old lives, and in that case you give the tenant an inducement to make an outlay in the first instance for which the term of his lease is not a sufficient warrant. Now that is equally applicable to a tenant for life, who may be seventy-five or eighty years of age, who might borrow, or lease for twenty-one years, and that lease would be equally binding on his successor; so that the objection would equally apply to the case of a tenant for life, and a tenant in possession as an occupier paying rent. But let me ask my noble Friend this question. He says no tenant will borrow money under this Bill. If so, the application of this principle will not lead to those serious consequences anticipated by my noble Friend. I am afraid very few tenants will borrow. I can only say for myself that, while my tenants are disposed to borrow money from the Government, and pay 7.l 10s. a year, and as long as they are prepared to lay that money out, subject to the supervision, and sanction, and control, of the Board of Works, I shall be exceedingly indebted to any of them who shall do so. I shall agree, with very great pleasure, to any proposition that may be made and sanctioned by the Board of Works, for the application of the tenant's capital to my land. It has also been said that there may be cases where the tenant may be so unwise as to make an outlay upon the land occupied by him, though during the remainder of his term of occupation that outlay cannot be repaid to him. But what inducement will there be if the tenant's interest is really so short as is supposed?—what reason is there to 1310 anticipate that the tenant will be so unwise as to make application to lay out his money upon land, from which he is likely to be so soon removed?—to be removed, perhaps in two or three years, without a claim upon the estate, leaving his capital behind him? It has been argued that this is the mode in which the tenant may leave an annuity to his own relations charged upon the land. Now, that is not so; for the tenant's interest—both his interest in the money and his interest in the land—ceases altogether from the moment he ceases to occupy under the original lease. No doubt there is another proposition, which has been applied to other Bills, and perhaps might be applied under this Bill—that while the tenant for life might lend out his own personalty to the owner of the estate, and he might derive from that estate a benefit, it must be borne in mind that the man who borrows the money has no term beyond his own occupancy; the man who lends his money may leave an annuity, if the person in occupation has the power to raise the money. My Lords, I contend that the whole object of this Bill is to give facilities to the landlord, or the tenant having a long duration of interest in the land, to raise money under competent authority, for the purpose of effecting improvements, under circumstances in which the absence of capita], or the power of raising it under ordinary circumstances, may be applied. Believing that this is an object of great interest to Ireland; believing that the principle of the Bill is that which has already been found to work so well there; and believing that this Bill, be it right or be it wrong, has been framed under the authority of the most competent man in Ireland—under the authority of that learned and excellent man, in whose praise I cannot speak too highly, who did me the favour to accept from me the seals of the Irish Chancellorship—under his authority, and that of my right hon. Friend the late Attorney General for Ireland—when I consider that this Bill has been matured under the direction of men of the highest legal and political authority; when I know that the adoption of this Bill is looked forward to almost unanimously by every representative of every county and most of the boroughs of Ireland—I think it will be a matter of the most serious regret if you should unhappily refuse to go on with this Bill in consequence of some fanciful connexion which you believe you can trace between it and other Bills, which, however 1311 to a certain extent they may be connected together, involve principles not only widely different, but totally at variance with, and contradictory to, the principle contained in this Bill. My Lords, I do hope your Lordships will go into Committee on this Bill, and there deliberately consider it, and see if there are any of its details that require modification or improvement; and I trust you will not accept the proposition of my noble Friend on the cross benches, which, moderate as it is, I hold to be fatal to the passing of this Bill, being in point of fact equivalent to the rejection of the measure now under your Lordships' consideration.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
said, he did not wish his Motion to be considered one for the rejection of the Bill. The object of his proposition was to have time allowed for the consideration of the measure, and not for the purpose suggested by the noble Earl. He thought the object in view would be attained by a postponement for a month; but possibly the postponement of it for a shorter period might lead to the attainment of the same object. He had made an admission that where the tenant had already borrowed he had borrowed with the consent and approval of the landlord, and to that he made no objection. That was a just and moderate principle, because the parties interested in the matter both joined in consenting to the outlay. If they went into Committee, he proposed to introduce words to the effect that the action of the Bill should be with the consent of the landlord.
§ The EARL of DERBY
begged to state that he did not mean to say that his noble Friend's object was to obtain in a covert way the rejection of the Bill. What he meant to convey was, that the reference of the Bill to a Select Committee would practically have the effect, because it might lead to the indefinite postponement of it.
§ On Question, that ("now") stand part of the Motion, their Lordships divided:—
§ Content 35; Not Content 8: Majority 27.
§ Resolved in the Affirmative; House in Committee accordingly.
The MARQUESS of CLANRICARDE
objected to the powers of inspection given by the Bill, on the ground that they were not sufficient. He thought the money should only be furnished according as it was necessary to expend it; and that the Commissioners should only allow it to be advanced from time to time.
The EARL of WICKLOW
thought the 1312 apprehensions of his noble Friend were unfounded. Whatever sum wa3 borrowed, no charge whatever could be created on the land, except by the authority of the Commissioners, they not only being responsible for the work itself, but that a fair charge should be made for it.
§ Clause agreed to. Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
§ On Clause 4,
§ LORD ST. LEONARDS
suggested that the wording of the clause should be made more precise. It provided that a man should be entitled to borrow who held a life estate in the land, or possessed it for a term of years. Now this latter expression might mean two or three years, and he would propose that the term should be specified, say, for a term not less than twenty-five years. The clause also related to the power of a reversioner to borrow in the event of the tenant in possession declining to do so. There were cases in which it had been necessary to adopt an exceptional rule for Ireland; but it should be their object, as far as it was possible, to make the law regulating property eventually the same in both countries, and not to do anything to perpetuate that exceptional system. He thought, therefore, that in this measure they should specify the number of years for which it should be in operation, and would suggest a postponement of the further consideration of it, in order that some arrangement to that end might be made.
§ VISCOUNT CANNING
was ready to assent to the proposition of his noble and learned Friend, but was not prepared at that moment to specify any particular number of years. He would postpone the consideration of the clause to a future day, when he would be able to state the number of years the Government proposed the Bill should be in operation, in case it should be passed.
§ Clause postponed.
§ On Clause 5, providing who shall be deemed owners,
The EARL of GLENGALL
observed, that in no other measure was a mortgagee in possession deemed to be the owner of the property, as was provided in this clause.
§ The EARL of DERBY
suggested that the House should either now resume, or that they should go regularly through the clauses of the Bill.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
pressed on the House the necessity of continuing the discussion, in order that their Lordships 1313 might ascertain upon what points of the Bill a difference of opinion existed.
§ LORD BEAUMONT
then moved an Amendment in the clause, to leave out in the 11th line the words "mortgagees in possession or receipt of rents to be considered as owners," the object being to except such from the provisions of the Act.
§ On the Question, "That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the Bill," their Lordships divided:—Content 14; Not Content 9: Majority 5.
§ LORD BEAUMONT
then moved an Amendment, to the effect that persons in reversion or remainder might undertake improvements for the purposes of the Act.
§ Amendment agreed to, and clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ On Clause 5, which enacts, "That any person seised or possessed of any interest under a lease, reserving the rent for two or more lives in being at the time of the application," &c,
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
proposed an Amendment. At the commencement of the clause, after the words "any person seised or possessed of any land under any lease, reserving rent for two or more lives in being at the time of the application hereinafter mentioned," he proposed to insert the words, "which lives, by the computation of the Commissioners of Public Works, shall be equal to twenty-five years' purchase at least."
The LORD CHANCELLOR
asked what means the Commissioners had of obtaining a knowledge of the value of the lives?
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
thought they would have sufficient means of ascertaining for themselves; but the natural course would be to refer to the actuaries.
The LORD CHANCELLOR
did not object to the principle, but doubted whether the computation should be left to the Commissioners.
§ Amendment withdrawn.
§ Upon an objection by Lord MONTEAGLE to the general scope of the clause, on the ground that it would permit breaches of covenants, which had been inserted in leases to prevent the subdivision of land,
§ The DUKE of NEWCASTLE
stated, that all the details of this measure were identical with the provisions of the Act of 1847, and the only difference was that it authorised the borrowing money of private parties instead of out of the public purse. 1314 He deprecated any minor alterations of the Bill. The course should be either to reject the Bill altogether, or to make such alterations only as the difference in the mode of borrowing the money suggested a difference in legislation.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
moved an Amendment, to the effect that the Commissioners of Public Works should not be empowered to authorise the execution of works, in certain cases, without the consent of the landlord.
§ VISCOUNT CANNING
opposed the Amendment, on the ground that it was unnecessary. The Commissioners of Pub-He Works had not hitherto authorised the execution of works without the consent of the landlord, and it was not probable that they would depart from the rule.
§ On Question, their Lordships divided:—Content 7; Not Content 13: Majority 6.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clauses up to 24 agreed to.
§ On Clause 25, giving power to the Commissioners to sanction the alterations of plans in cases were they shall think fit, and to authorise an increased expenditure of one-fifth of the original estimate,
The EARL of DONOUGHMORE
proposed the omission of the words "of one-fifth," and the insertion in lieu of them of the words of "one-tenth."
§ On Question, their Lordships divided:—Content 10; Not Content 13: Majority 3.
§ Remaining Clauses agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ House adjourned till To-morrow.