§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 3a"—(The Lord Chancellor of Ireland.)
§ THE EARL OF WEMYSS
said, that some Conservative Members of the House of Commons were very anxious to know who were to be the Commissioners under this Bill. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord in charge of the Bill was in a position to state who the Members of the Commission were to be? With regard to the Bill itself, he believed that it followed naturally from the evil precedent already set by the Irish Land Act, and would affect not only Ireland, but all parts of the United Kingdom, and both lands in the country and property in towns.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND (Lord ASHBOURNE)
said, that the names of the new Commissioners would be given when the House of Commons had settled the term of office and the salaries which it was proposed they should have; and the Government would have greater knowledge when the Bill was in a more forward state. At present he was quite unable to answer the Question of the noble Earl. He had no doubt that there were hundreds—he might say thousands—of persons wandering about Ireland each and all of the opinion that they were the men best suited for the post.
§ THE EARL OF POWIS
said, that the powers given to a public body to purchase properties with a view to their sub-division would prejudice the position of the holders of head rents, who would have to recover those head rents in small driblets, instead, as at present, from one person. The mortgagee could call up his money when threatened by sub-division; not so the owner of a head rent.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND
said, that the Bill did not change the existing law as to security, and it left the question of rent-charge where it now was. No man was bound to do anything under the Bill unless he pleased, and it was to his interest so to do. He could not insert a clause giving compulsory power for the redemption of rent-charges, because it would introduce 1776 a new principle, and other classes besides their Lordships would have thought that their interests had been sacrificed.
THE EARL OF MILLTOWN
said, he thought that the Bill made a very considerable change in the law, and that great difficulty would be experienced in the future in collecting head rents. The Judges and the general public in Ireland had set their faces against the exercise of the power of Distress, which for all practical purposes had ceased to exist; and the only remedy an unfortunate head-rent landlord now had was to proceed against each of his under tenants by the slow process of the law, instead of being paid, as at present, by the lessee of the property, the one responsible person, and by whom the rent was regularly paid.
§ LORD FITZGERALD
said, he wished, before the Bill left the House, to warn his noble and learned Friend that, in his opinion, the proposed appropriation of the Irish Church Surplus Fund to the purposes of the Bill was objectionable in principle and dangerous in its probable consequences—in fact, it might endanger the whole Bill in "another place." The Bill departed from the principle which had hitherto been adopted of applying the Surplus, which now amounted to £750,000, to the purposes of distress and education in Ireland. He questioned whether the departure was a wise one. He made these observations in no spirit of hostility to the Bill, and simply with a desire to direct his noble and learned Friend's attention to the points he had raised.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND
said, he had to thank his noble and learned Friend who had taken such an interest in the Bill for his friendly attitude towards it in all its stages. The observations which his noble and learned Friend had now made in reference to the Church Surplus would, of course, receive his close and anxious attention. He was glad he was relieved from dealing with the financial aspect of the subject, and that he was able to hand over to his noble Friend who represented the Treasury the pleasure of considering that question in detail. The Irish Church Surplus was utilized, of course, in the Bill, but not extravagantly. He thought there were sufficient safeguards. In his judgment, there would be no substantial loss to the fund under the operations of 1777 the Bill; but further consideration would be given to this question by the eminent authorities who were concerned with the finances of the country.
§ The Queen's Consent signified; Bill read 3ª; Amendments made; Bill pasted, and sent to the Commons.
§ House adjourned at Seven o'clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Eleven o'clock.