THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
, in moving for certain Returns, said, that some few years ago he moved for a Return of the number of sales which took place under what are popularly called the Bright Clauses of the Irish Land Act, and he now wished to have the Return carried down to the present day, if their Lordships had no objection to make the proposal. In moving for the Return, he would only say that he trusted that Her Majesty's Government would give the subject the most serious attention. He remembered very well when the Cabinet of Mr. Gladstone brought forward the Irish Land Act, they were in some trepidation as to the way in which the Bright Clauses would be received in their Lordship's House, because those clauses proposed, that the State should lend money to persons to buy land with, and he was pleased to hear the noble Mar- 665 quess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) on that occasion, state very strongly that it was a matter of public policy to make as many landowners in Ireland as possible. He quite agreed with his noble Friend; but he was afraid that those clauses had not worked so well in increasing the number of landowners as had been anticipated. It was said that this was owing to the expense of making purchases under those clauses. At all events, the Irish Church Commissioners had done more in the same direction. No fewer than 5,000 tenants had become landowners by means of the facilities afforded by those Commissioners. He thought it of great importance that the Government should devise a system by which, on a large scale, the Irish tenants might become owners of land by purchase, because he observed that all the Land Bills being introduced from other quarters were for enabling tenants to acquire land without going through the formality of paving for it.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
As reference has been made to Mr. Bright's Clauses having become inoperative on account of the expense, I may be excused if I remind the House that when the Act was being passed, I pointed out that if precautions were not taken, those clauses would be inoperative, because the practice of one public Department would probably be like that of another; and the office of Woods and Forests, in a case I know of, had charged 7s. worth of land, with £2 odd shillings costs of conveyance, and such costs would prevent any tenants from purchasing under these clauses. I then moved an Amendment, with a view to reducing the expenses; but my noble Friend (the Earl of Kimberley) opposed it, and said that—Rules would be framed by the Privy Council in Ireland, and they would, no doubt, take care to provide for this."—[3 Hansard, ccii. 1454.]As a matter of curiosity, I should like to know whether my noble Friend ever took any steps in this sense, or whether, as was probable, he never thought any more about it, after giving this answer?
§ Motion agreed to.
§ I. Return (in continuation of No. 238, 1876,) showing (1) in Provinces, and (2) in Counties, the Landed Estates held either in fee, fee farm, for lives renewable for ever, or for terms of years of which sixty shall have been unexpired, 666 sold in one or more lots in the Landed Estates Court for each of the years ending respectively 31st December 1876, 1877, and 1878, giving the following particulars in each of the foregoing periods:
- (3) The name of the estate;
- (4) The cost of sale;
- (5) The tenure of each lot;
- (6) The number of each lot;
- (7) The acreage (statute measure) of each lot;
- (8) The profit rent;
- (9) The Poor Law valuation of each lot as set out in the rental filed in the Landed Estates Court;
- (10) The amount of purchase money;
- (11) The number of years purchase;
§ II. Return, in Provinces and Counties, of Estates sold during the years 1876, 1877, and 1878 in one or more lots in the Landed Estates Court under Part III. of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, in which charging orders have been made in favour of the Board of Works, giving in each case the same particulars as in Return No. I.:
§ Ordered to be laid before the House.—(The Duke of Argyll.)