HL Deb 15 June 1871 vol 207 cc46-8

rose to ask their Lordships to give a first reading to a short Bill which had for its object to remove certain doubts that had arisen with regard to the effect of a certain portion of the Irish Land Act passed last year. The occasion of this Bill had arisen out of certain observations which on Tuesday evening last had been imputed to the learned Lord Justice of Appeal of the Land Court. However, after the contradiction given to the language reported to have been used, he would not refer to it in detail. The two questions which had been raised with reference to the Act were these:—First, it had been doubted whether the rights intended and supposed to be given by the Act to tenants by the Ulster tenant-right had been really and effectually secured to them by the wording of the Act; and, secondly, whether in the case of property sold in the Landed Estates Court, and subject to these tenant-rights, the rights of the tenant might not be jeopardized and lost altogether by the effect of the conveyance by the Court, unless these rights were specifically noticed and reserved on the face of the conveyance. Now, as to the former question, there could not be the least doubt that the Act intended to secure these rights to the tenants; and, moreover, claims were made under the Act very frequently, they had been repeatedly adjudicated upon, and if any person thought the Act failed in securing the rights of tenants, it was only necessary to appeal from one of those decisions in order to set the matter at rest. There had been no appeal challenging the efficacy of the Act in that respect, and he saw no necessity for legislation. The other question, however, was more diffi- cult—it was an important question to consider what effect a conveyance by the Landed Estates Court might have upon the rights of occupying tenants. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack remarked the other night that there was a difficulty in the way of legislation, as there might be an appeal to this House from the recent decision. Now, if an appeal could settle the matter, he (Lord Cairns) should prefer, though at the risk of some delay and expense, to await it; but it was really one which no appeal would decide. What had happened was this:—A considerable property in the North of Ireland being about to be sold, preparations were made in the Landed Estates Court for advertising it, and for stating I he rights and encumbrances to which it was subject. Some of the tenants applied to the Court, not as litigants, but asking the Judges, in their administrative capacity, to place on the particulars of sale and in the conveyance some notice of their rights. The Judges conceiving this to be unnecessary, and their rights to be sufficiently secure, the tenants carried the matter to the Court of Appeal, where both the Judges sustained the decision of the Landed Estates Court. They did so, however, on different grounds, the Lord Chancellor thinking that the rights were sufficiently secured, while Lord Justice Christian doubted whether they could be enforced, and apparently thought the Landed Estates Court could take no cognizance of them. Now, in case of an appeal to this Court, their Lordships might think the decision of the Landed Estates Court was correct, and yet a purchaser might afterwards contend that under the Landed Estates Court Act the property was free from all claims not stated in the conveyance. Without expressing his own opinion on the matter, the doubt was obviously a reasonable one, which it was desirable to remove by a short declaratory Act before any vested rights had been created which it might be difficult to deal with. He would not re-open the controversy as to the Act itself. Many of their Lordships had a great repugnance to it at first, while the objections of some were removed or lessened by the alterations it received in this House; but they would, he was sure, be unanimous in thinking that whatever rights were thereby given to tenants, should not be endangered by the accident of a particular property being sold in the Landed Estates Court without any reference to such rights on the face of the conveyance. In truth, it would be impossible to specify them in detail in every conveyance, as they depended on a variety of circumstances, and it was therefore desirable to enact that they should not be affected by such omission. It was important to landlords as well as to tenants that when estates came to be sold, they should not be disposed of with any uncertainty as to the charges upon them. He therefore asked their Lordships to give a first reading to a Bill enacting that in the case of any proceedings under the Landed Estates Court Act the rights of tenants under the Act of last Session should remain valid, although they might not be specified or referred to in the conveyance. The noble and learned Lord then presented a Bill to amend the Landlord and Tenant. (Ireland) Act, 1870.


thanked his noble and learned Friend for introducing the Bill. After what had occurred it was desirable that all doubt should be removed, and the sooner this was done the better. On the part of the Government he should be happy to assist in passing the Bill as speedily as possible.

Bill read 1a; to be printed; and to be read 2a To-morrow. (No 185.)