§ (1.) Where the court fix a fair rent for a holding, the court shall ascertain and record in the form of a schedule, unless both landlord and tenant shall otherwise request—
- (a) the annual sum which should be the fair rent of the holding on the assumption that all improvements thereon were made or acquired by the landlord;
- (b) the condition of the holding and the buildings thereon;
- (c) the improvements made by the tenant wholly or partly by or at his cost, and with respect to each such improvement—
- (i) the nature, character, and present capital value thereof, and the increased letting value due thereto;
- (ii) the date (so near as can be ascertained) at which the same was made; and
- (iii) the deduction from the rent made on account thereof;
- (d) the extent (if any) to which the landlord has paid or compensated the tenant in respect of each such improvement;
- (e) the improvements made wholly or partly by or at the cost of, or acquired by, the landlord;
- (f) such other matters in relation to the holding as may be prescribed; and
- (g) the fair rent of the holding;
§ (2.) No rent shall be allowed or made payable in respect of an improvement made by the tenant on a holding by reason only of the work constituting such improvement not being suitable to the holding.
§ (3.) For the purpose of the Land Law Acts, a tenant shall be deemed to have been fully paid or compensated for every improvement made by him in pursuance of a contract entered into for valuable consideration.
§ (4.) For the purpose of the Land Law Acts, a tenant shall not be deemed to have been paid or compensated for any improvement not made in pursuance of a contract entered into for valuable consideration, except to the extent to which the court, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, are of opinion that valuable consideration has been given by the landlord in respect of the improvement.
§ (5.) A contract by a tenant not to claim, on quitting his holding, compensation for any improvement made by him, shall not authorise the allowance of any rent in respect of any improvement except to the extent to which the court, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, are of opinion that valuable consideration has been given by the landlord in respect of the entering into that contract.
§ (6.) Section four of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, shall not authorise the allowance of any rent in respect of any improvement, provided that rent may be allowed in respect of an improvement made by the tenant, if made twenty years before the passing of the said Act, and not being a permanent building or reclamation of waste land.
§ (7.) For the purpose of this section valuable consideration shall not be held to have been given by reason of the mere letting of the land on lease or otherwise or the mere enjoyment by the tenant of any improvement where the rent of the holding was not fixed, reduced, abated, or, after the improvement was made, allowed to remain unaltered with the object of recouping the tenant for his expenditure of capital and labour in making the improvement; and in the case of an improvement made in pursuance of a contract entered into for valuable consideration, such object shall be implied where not expressed.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE)
said, before his noble Friends Lord Mont-eagle and the Ear) of Winchilsea moved 1564 the Amendments standing in their names, he would venture to make a suggestion to them, and that was that their Amendments should stand over for consideration at a subsequent stage of the Bill. The Amendments were both of them of extreme importance—[cheers]—and dealt with vital points in this part of the Measure. Both proposals had only been in the hands of the Government since that morning, and he thought they might fairly ask for a few hours, at all events, in which to consider them upon their merits, and also with reference to their consistency with the other provisions of the Bill. Both Amendments contained an entirely new feature—namely, that in the second and subsequent applications to the Court for the determination of a fair rent, the Court was to take as its point of departure the fair rent fixed at the time of the first hearing, and that basis was only to be altered with reference to the fluctuation of prices in the meanwhile, and with reference to the landlord's improvements and certain other matters. Neither Amendment could possibly be accepted without material alteration, and he did not think it would be possible for the Government to accept as a basis for the second and subsequent determination of a fair rent the fair rent fixed upon the first application to the Court. They were assured by the highest authorities that the fair rents fixed during the first two or three years after the passing of the Land Act, when there was an immense pressure of work upon the Court, were fixed under circumstances which would render it virtually impossible that those rents should be regarded as a proper basis for the fixing of subsequent fair rents. He made that reservation in fairness to the two noble Lords, and he trusted they would agree to the Amendments being considered at a subsequent stage. ["Hear, hear!"]
confessed there was some ground for the appeal of the noble Marquess, but he might perhaps be allowed to say that he thought that noble Lords from Ireland had some ground of complaint that they had been driven somewhat into a corner. [Cheers.] He was quite prepared to accede to the suggestion on condition that the Government would approach the consideration of these Amendments with a perfectly 1565 open mind, and no advantage be taken of him and his noble Friend to the detriment of their proposals.
§ * THE EARL OF WINCHILSEA
observed that, as his Amendment came at the end of the clause, he would ask to be allowed to reserve his decision until he had an opportunity of communicating with his noble Friends.
*VISCOUNT TEMPLETOWN moved an Amendment providing that when the Court fixed a fair rent for a holding they should ascertain and record, in the form of a schedule,
The several classes of land found upon the holding, marking each class on a map, and showing in respect of each class the estimated area thereof, and the sum which should he the fair rent thereof (per acre or per class), on the assumption that all improvements thereon were made or acquired by the landlord.
The noble Lord explained that the whole of his Amendments to Clause 1 were based on the assumption that if a man's property was to be taken from him he was at least entitled to an account. ["Hear, hear!"] The noble Marquess, in introducing the Bill to the House, explained that what it proposed to do was to clear up the law where it was believed to be possible to do so, to deal with some hard cases which the experience of the last few years had brought to light, and, lastly, to remove some obstacles which had hitherto impeded the progress of land purchase legislation. He hoped, from the speech of the noble Marquess and that of Lord Ashbourne, he might conclude that there was a willingness on the part of the Government to give due weight to all reasonable Amendments. ["Hear, hear!"] The Amendments he had put down were designed to improve the Bill, to safeguard property, and to make the Bill a workable Bill. His proposals had been carefully checked by the best Irish expert opinion on the question of land valuation and the practical working of the fixing of judicial rents under the Act of 1881. Surely, in protecting the rights of property of the present landlords, they were equally protecting those of the future owners of land in Ireland—namely, the tenants who wish to buy that which, if Parliament destroyed the rights of property, would be perfectly useless to them or anyone else. ["Hear, hear!"] Lord Ashbourne said the present Bill did not harm the land-
lord, and that its object was to amend, as far as possible, the mistakes of the Act of 1881. That being so, he proposed to show that the Bill could be amended in such a manner as to do away with some injustices that generally fell on the landlord. The great blot in the Act of 1881 was that it did not define a fair rent or the manner in which the Commissioners were to arrive at a fair rent. In 1864 no less an authority than Dr. Longfield pointed out, in his notes on valuation as edited by Lord Dufferin in his Book of Irish Emigration and the Tenure of Land in Ireland, the great difficulty in fixing a rent. This was what he said:—
What is most generally proposed is, that every tenant should be entitled to a valuation of his farm, and to hold his land forever at a rent to be determined by such valuation. Nothing can be more unjust than to substitute a valuation for a contract, but the injustice is not manifest at first sight, for the words appear fair. Why, it is said, should any tenant he required to pay more than the fair value for his farm? But every one who has any experience knows that nothing can be more uncertain and undetermined than the valuation of land. It is not uncommon to see two valuators differing enormously in their estimates, and yet neither suffering in reputation as if he had made a discreditable mistake. In this case all the mistakes would be made in favour of the tenant. If any mistake were made against him the remedy would be in his own hands, as he would not take the land; but indeed no such mistake would be made, for there would be a constant leaning in favour of the tenant. It is certain that the value as fixed under any tenant-right measure would be loss than half the fair rent which a solvent tenant would willingly pay for the land. It is obvious that as soon as the possession of land ceased to be a subject of contract by mutual agreement, the valuators would have no average market value to refer to, and would form their estimates on the wildest principles.
Was not this exactly what had taken place under the fixing of the rent under the Act of 1881? The Report of Minutes of Evidence of the Select Committee of the House of Lords, Paragraph 17 up to and including Paragraph 23, dealt very fully with the views arrived at by the Committee. At that period and at that time they were most anxious that fixed principles and rules should be laid down. In Paragraph 17 they say:—
There is much reason to conclude that in some of the Sub-commissions, where reductions have been largest, a simple arithmetical process
has been adopted for reducing the rents, by adding two, three or four varying estimates of the value together, and dividing by the number of such estimates. Examples of this will be found in the evidence of Smith, Baldwin, and Gray.
In paragraph 18 it was said:—
The judicial settlement of rents under the Land Act was recommended to Parliament mainly to meet the cases, said to be comparatively rare and exceptional, in which land was over-rented or rack-rented in Ireland; but it would seem that in the arbitrary process of reduction which has been adopted, a landlord who has unduly raised the rent of his land, fares the best, for the reductions do not, as a rule, appear to be sensibly greater on estates high rented than on estates low rented.—(Atkinson, Bird, Belmore, Thompson, and Johnson.)
Paragraph 20 stated:—
Much dissatisfaction appears to be felt as to the manner in which these valuations take place.—(Gray and Smith.) The lands have frequently been visited at a time when, by reason of weather or floods, no proper inspection could be made.—(Bird and Sankey.) Formal evidence is given in Court, but much is or may be, afterwards said upon the ground in the way of statement and assertion.
In paragraph 21 they said:—
Complaint is also made that there is no sufficient record showing what improvements have been proved to have been made by the tenant, and have been allowed for as affecting the rent. The Committee, in their first Report, expressed an opinion that some record should he made of such tenant's improvements as was proved in evidence; and they stated that they had hoard with satisfaction that the Commissioners had, since the commencement of the Inquiry, adopted a rule for the purpose of meeting this complaint, and that the Sub-Commissioners would, henceforward, be required to specify the improvements made by the tenant. The Committee regret to find from the evidence of Mr. Baldwin that the form adopted by the Commissioners in order to meet this complaint has proved useless; and they must express again their strong opinion that the respective interests of landlord and tenant cannot he properly dealt with, and the settlement of judicial rents cannot he placed upon a satisfactory basis, unless there was a Report to that effect.
It was reported that Lord Salisbury, in 1883, said:—
There is not a word about the gross barbarism of reducing existing rents and tearing up existing contracts.
The noble and learned Lord Fitzgerald said that if it were any defects in the Irish Land Act and if there was a want of definition with respect to fair rent, and if the Sub-Commissioners had been led into error in consequence, this House ought to take the share of the blame because it did not attempt to guide them.
The noble Marquess of Salisbury further said:—
I think the noble and learned Lord forgets the circumstances under which the House accepted the Land Act. I remember them well. Personally I was anxious to make an effort to introduce a definition of fair rent into the Bill, but I was always strongly discouraged by the unanimous voice of those Irish landlords whom I consulted; they said the Government have promised us, they have assured us that this Bill will make no change in the great mass of rents in Ireland, that it will only interfere with those rack renters whom we do not desire to protect, and therefore we think that it would be very unfortunate if any words were introduced which would have the effect of distorting a measure which they assure us will leave us harmless.
And, his Lordship added, this is what the Cabinet, speaking through Mr. Bright's mouth said:—
My view of the operations of that particular clause is that the rents of Ireland will in nine cases out of ten be fixed as they are now.
What I wish to point out is that you cannot affix to the House of Lords any moral responsibility for having accepted this disastrous Act when they were led into a false and a deluded idea as to the effects of that Act by the assurance of the Government itself.
Since this speech was made by Lord Salisbury 12 years had passed, and he was now in the position of being able to carry out what he was then anxious to do. It had been found that the forecast of the then Liberal Government had been totally erroneous. Again, Mr. Morley, in 1894, in the Land Acts Committee, stated that he considered the Lords Committee was quite right in asking for definite and full information as regarded fixing rent. Going back over the last 30 years they saw the predictions of the best authorities as to what would happen verified, and in the experience of the past and present lay the best indications of how to amend the Land Act of 1881. He did not know that he could do better, having shown the general consensus of opinion since 1864 that full reasons should be supplied by Sub-Commissioners on fixing judicial rents, and in view of the fact that the Act was to amend the evils of the Act of 1881, and to deal with hard cases than to show them at least one evil under the Act, and give them one hard case that had occurred under the existing procedure. He would not trouble their Lordships with full details again of the three cases he gave them on the 17th ult., but only
give one case shortly. It was the case of Brown, landlord, Hughes, tenant. The rent in 1861 was £13 4s. 6d. for a term of 12 years. It was raised to £14 4s. 6d. at the expiration of that term, with the tenant's consent. The rent fixed under the Act of 1881 was £11. It was revised this year and reduced to £6. This was for 9 acres of mixed land, on which there were no buildings and practically no improvements. This was the present position of the landlord, who was a poor man and whose father purchased 11 acres, of which this holding formed part, in 1858 for £216, subject to a yearly rent to Trinity College of £5 8s. 2d. For this outlay he had at present the two acres of land he described as boggy, and 11s. 2d. per annum, while the tenant, who paid nothing at all, had got 9 acres of land at a rent of £6, being £3 10s. under the Government valuation, and he could sell the same in the open market before the second fixing at say £10 an acre, equal to £90; and after this last fixing, say at £15 an acre, or say £135, and he was told that land in that neighbourhood had fetched as much as £23 an acre for tenant-right. Therefore, they saw that the landlord, who in this ease sunk his savings, had lost by the process of the Act of 1881 practically all his capital, though his liability to pay the rent to Trinity College remains the same, while the tenant, who paid nothing, had acquired a sum which represented about 66 per cent. of the landlord's property, and this for no improvement or money outlay on his part. Was this what it was intended the Act of 1881 should do? If not, surely the Government would admit that such a state of things should be amended, and he failed to see that the Bill before them dealt with this. A question arose at this point: "Is it the Act or the Administration of the Act of 1881 that is accountable, and has it arisen from no defined principle being laid down, and that the Commissioners had no standard of value to go by and formed their estimates on the wildest principles?" On that occasion he would only deal with the procedure under the Act, while saying that if Parliament was a party to the transfer from one man to another, in this case of 66 per cent. of his property, it seemed to him that a clear case for compensa-
tion was made out, because "agricultural depression" could not be relied upon to account for the loss, seeing that the rent of the incoming tenant would, at 5 per cent. on outlay for purchase money, not for any improvements, or money outlay of the original tenant, bring the rent up to £13 10s—the original rent as mutually agreed upon in 1861, and proving thereby that "fair rent" and "free sale" were impossible concurrently, and proving also that under the Land Acts "fair rents," except for the sitting tenant, could not be fixed so long as free sale existed. It might be well to mention here that rents generally were not raised in Ireland during the years of high prices from 1865 to 1878, as shown by the schedules published by the Irish Commission, when increases of rent could only be proved in about seven per cent. of the cases adjudicated upon. How did the Bill rectify this glaring injustice? In every other arrangement where the Government have considered it necessary to take from one man for the benefit of the community, compensation had always been awarded, and Dr. Longfield, on page 308 of "Irish Emigration and the Tenure of Land in Ireland," in dealing with this question, following up the quotation as regarded valuation already alluded to, put the case in this way:—
While no class of persons would derive any advantage from the proposed change, it may be fairly asked why should the landlords be robbed of their clear rights for the benefit, not of any class, but of the individuals merely who happen at present to be the occupying tenants? If the landlords are to be robbed it should be done for the benefit of the community at large, and not of any individuals; least of all the individuals who alone would benefit by the proceeding.
And it might be asked, why should the landlord be robbed for a special individual? The noble and learned Lord asked the other night, where was the landlord affected by this Bill? He would ask, where were the existing injustices removed in this Bill? There was one point which took this question out of being merely a landlords' question. The reductions of rent in Ireland affected the taxpayers of this country in this way. If rents were to be reduced 30 per cent. for the next 15 years in Ireland, that meant, at £3,000,000 a year, that £45,000,000 of taxable property was to be wiped out. Had not the taxpayers
of the United Kingdom a right to an account of where it was gone? The value of the Amendments which he had the honour to propose depended absolutely upon the schedule being so framed and abided by in all fixing of rents that the rent should not either be reduced or increased in respect of anything which did not appear in the schedule. He asked if, under the Land Act of 1881, their property was liable to be taken from them, and who could dispute that that was the case, had they not even the right left to them to ask for an account? He felt so strongly on this point as a matter of bare justice that he hoped Her Majesty's Government might see their way to grant the Amendments, so that any appeal to their Lordships' sense in the matter might be unnecessary.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said he had considerable sympathy with the object the noble Lord had in putting down his Amendments. The noble Lord desired to obtain from the Court of the Land Commission a fuller and more detailed record of the method by which it arrived at its conclusions. In the Bill the Government had attempted to achieve something in this direction. For instance, the first clause contained directions to the Court entirely different from any which it had yet received, directions which compelled the Court to disclose a large number of the particulars by which it was guided in arriving at its decisions. But the noble Lord desired to go a great deal further. He wished the Court to be directed to mark the different classes of land upon a map, and to assign to the different areas, according to their class, the rent which the Court desired to put upon them. In another Amendment the noble Lord desired that what was known as the pink paper, which was now issued by a rule of the Commissioners' Court, should be embodied in the Act of Parliament, and made part of the record. The Government had anxiously considered these proposals, and the conclusion at which they were constrained to arrive was that, if they asked for all of these things, they would absolutely overburden the Court of the Land Commission with minute work of a kind which it would not be able to undertake, unless at a 1572 very great cost of time and trouble, and by means of a very large and expensive addition to the staff of the Commission. They were strongly dissuaded from imposing on the Court such minute duties as those proposed. If in other ways they were able to meet the wishes of the noble Lord, and to supply the parties engaged in the proceedings with even fuller information than that which would be given to them under the Bill, they would gladly consider proposals to that effect. It seemed to him perfectly reasonable that the schedule to which the noble Lord referred, and the maps which the Sub-Commissioners already filled up on the occasions when they inspected the holdings should be made a part of the record and should be accessible to the parties. It might even be arranged that anyone desiring a copy of those documents should be allowed to obtain it on payment of a moderate fee; but he confessed he did not see his way on behalf of the Government to accept the proposal of the noble Lord as it stood on the Paper.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
said there was a fault at the root of the whole valuation. On the great majority of estates with small holdings, say, of 10 acres, there were 10 fields. It was impossible to expect anyone to go through all the valuations.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
said he heard with regret the reply of the noble Marquess. The request of his noble Friend was one of a very simple and ordinary character.["Hear, hear!"] On the Second Reading of the Bill he stated, and he repeated now, that it was not just to the landowning classes that there should be some elaborate statement made by the Sub-Commissioners giving their reasons for the extraordinary reductions which had recently taken place. [Cheers.] It, perhaps, might be said by the Sub-Commissioners that those great reductions had been granted because there had been a great decrease in certain products on which the existence of the farms depended. If that be the case let them know it. The Irish landlords had not the slightest objection to granting reductions as large as English landlords had granted where those reductions were necessary—["Hear, hear!"]—but what 1573 they did complain of was that reductions were forced upon them which they maintained were unnecessary, and for which no reason whatever was given. [Cheers.] They asked for no concession at the hands of the Government, but simply for such information as could not be honestly and fairly denied. The noble Marquess could not, he told them, accede to the request, because he considered he would overburden the Sub-Commissioners with work. They could not accept that as an explanation. ["Hear, hear!"] Were the landowning classes of Ireland to be ruined in order that the Sub-Commissoners might not be overworked? [Cheers.] The reductions had been enormous in certain parts of Ireland. The other day he ventured to prove that agriculture was not depressed in Ireland as it was in England. He proved that, although there was a slight decrease in certain products on certain farms in certain parts of Ireland there was an increase in other products. He maintained that the decrease of the products to which he alluded was nothing like the decrease that had taken place in the products in certain parts of England, and yet the compulsory reductions, for which no reason whatever was given by the Sub-Commissioners in Ireland were as large as the reductions in England. The average rent per acre on his property was not more that 16s. The farms were all worked on the five-course system, and therefore on a 50-acre farm the white crops would be 20 acres, green crops 10 acres, hay crop 10 acres, and the grass crop 10 acres. For a 50-acre farm the tenant paid a rent of £40, and the gross earnings would be £430, therefore the ratio of the rent was less than one-tenth of the whole earnings of the farm. Why should the whole of the reduction be placed on the one-tenth? He maintained that there was not that depression in Ireland which there had been in England, and no one would say that in a case of this kind the tenant was over-rented. If a farm did become vacant there was enormous competition to get it, and the tenant-right paid was higher than it had been for years past. ["Hear, hear!"] Why did he weary them with these details? If a tenant of his took him into Court—and he was 1574 happy to say that had not occurred—he maintained that he had a right to ask the Sub-Commissioners to tell him why he reduced the rent. [Cheers.] What would anyone say if a tradesman sent in an account without giving the items? Of course payment would be refused absolutely. Why should a landlord's rent be reduced without giving him the items? This condition of prosperity was not confined to Ulster. Recently a farm in Tipperary, of 30 acres, at £26 per annum, was sold for the enormous sum of £620. Did that look like deterioration? Would the landlord in Essex or Lincolnshire not gladly accept 23 years' purchase? They were told that these particulars could not be supplied because the Sub-Commissioners were overburdened, but this was an excuse they could not accept. He regarded this clause, next to purchase, as the keystone of the Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] They had a right to know why these reductions were made, because they maintained that the condition of Ireland did not require them. If the condition of Ireland was agriculturally as serious as some parts of England they would not say a word, for Irish landlords, who had been always generous in the past, would be generous in the future. He hoped his noble Friend would divide the Committee, and that their Lordships would almost unanimously follow him into the Lobby. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ LORD MACNAGHTEN
quoted the evidence of Mr. Greer, Sub-Commissioner, who was appointed in 1881, and who at Mr. Morley's Committee, in reply to Mr. T. W. Russell, said he could not see why particulars should not be given in the pink paper of the amount allowed for improvements. Mr. Greer saw no objection to the giving of every information to both landlord and tenant. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND (LORD ASHBOURNE)
said that as time progressed after the Act of 1881 it was found just and reasonable to give particulars, and now the pink paper gave an enormous amount of information. His noble Friend had quoted Mr. Greer, who had said that there was no objection to the giving of information, he thought, as to the particular item of improvements.
§ LORD MACNAGHTEN
No, no; every information for the use of the landlord and tenant. The special question related only to improvements. [Cheers.]
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND
said that the particular information referred to by Mr. Greer related to improvements; but, in addition to that, there was a great mass of information given in the pink paper. No Bill, however, could suggest an exhaustive statement, and the Amendment would render necessary a great enlargement of the staff and cause, it might be, great delay. It was not desirable to increase the number of Sub-Commissioners more than was absolutely necessary. With every sympathy with giving information, and with every desire to make the evidence accessible, he could not but say that if the Amendment were pressed it would lead, not only to expense, but to serious delay in investigation and in giving decisions, and would result, not in a breakdown of the machinery, but in great and serious complications in its working.
§ THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
said that as an English Peer he was not dependent on Irish rents, but he thought the proposal of the noble Viscount a most reasonable one. It was quite indefensible, when they were depriving people of any right of appeal on questions of value in regard to their property, to enter into the question of whether this would add a little more expense or cause a little more delay. That might be called a pettifogging objection. It was not contended that it was impossible to form a fair and strict schedule, nor had they to consider whether a few more Sub-Commissioners might be created or not. The real difficulty was that they had no security that Sub-Commissioners might not be appointed in the future by a Government which might take a very extreme view of these questions, and that they might practically, by a silent revolution, deprive the landlords of the whole of their property. [Cheers.] There could be no objection to both parties knowing distinctly what the Sub-Commissioners took into account in fixing a fair rent. He had heard that some of the Sub-Commissioners were actually allowing, as a set-off against the rent, the value of the tenant-right. They had 1576 a strong case in asking for fair and complete details.
THE EARL OF MAYO
said it had been objected that this proposal would increase the number of Sub-Commissioners and cause delay, but there was not the least difficulty in getting any amount of Sub-Commissioners in Ireland. The pink schedule gave the classes of land only, and they wanted the value put opposite.
§ * THE EARL OF WINCHILSEA
said the reasons given by the noble Lords below were unsatisfactory and inadequate. They could only conclude that the real ground on which they refused this request was because they had no reasons to give. The landlords of Ireland, until they were furnished with the reasons they asked for, would remain, he thought, under the impression that the way in which the Commissioners arrived at their decisions was simply by a process of the wildest guesses.
said he was a supporter of this Bill, but he did not think the Government had made out a sufficiently strong case on this particular point. He could understand that there was a great deal to be said for the old system of the Act of 1881, but if they once departed from that, and asked the Sub-Commissioners to give reasons, surely those reasons should be as full and accurate as possible. The arguments as regarded expense and delay did not seem to him to be a sufficient answer.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
did not think it was fair to charge them with having met the suggestion of noble Lords behind with anything like a blank non possumus. They had done nothing of the kind. In the first place, in the Bill itself they had provided that the Court should give a great deal of that information which noble Lords were so anxious to obtain. Besides this there was the pink paper, which was a very full document, and he was informed that the parties in cases of this kind could already obtain access to the map used by the Sub-Commissioners and to the pink paper on payment of a shilling. They had objected to imposing as an obligation on the Sub-Commissioners the duty of giving to both parties this mass of minute information, not because they 1577 were afraid of overworking them, but because it would be necessary in that ease to largely increase the number of these officials. The noble Lords said they could get any number of Sub-Commissioners, but was he sure that they would all be men whom he would like to employ to fix fair rents on his property? He was assured that the changes which they were now making in the Bill would already involve a very considerable increase in the number of the Sub-Commissioners, and, beyond all question, if the proposal were adopted in its entirety, they would have to make a further increase. That was the reason why they regarded the proposal with suspicion.
* VISCOUNT POWERSCOURT
said they knew what the Sub-Commissioners were under the former Act, and that was why they were so anxious in regard to this question.
THE DUKE OF ABERCORN
said the Government were willing to give the House a great deal of the information they sought; why, then, should they not give them the whole of that information? He thought their demand was a very reasonable one. Apparently this was a question of £ s. d., but the Government did not consider the question of £ s. d. with regard to the reductions of the landlords' rents. They only asked for absolute and full particulars with regard to the fixing and reduction of rents, and they thought they ought to have them at the hands of the present Government.
§ The House divided:—
|Grafton, D.||Bristol, M.|
|Newcastle, D.||Northampton, M.|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.)||Annesley, E.|
|Belmore, E.||Ebury, L.|
|Caledon, E.||Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne)|
|Dartrey, E.||Fingall, E. (E. Fingall.)|
|De La Warr, E.||Grinstead, E. (E. Enniskillen.)|
|de Montalt, E.|
|Effingham, E.||Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)|
|Essex, E.||Harlech, L.|
|Ferrers, E.||Headley, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Howth, L. (E. Howth.)|
|Haddington, E.||Inchiquin, L.|
|Hardwicke, E.||Iveagh, L.|
|Hillsborough, E. (M. Downshire.)||Kenmare, E. (E. Kenmare.)|
|Huntingdon, E.||Kenry, E (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)|
|Kilmorey, E.||Kenyon, L.|
|Lanesborough, E.||Kesteven, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Kilmaine, E.|
|Mayo, E. [TELLER.]||Leconfield, L.|
|Portarlington, E.||Macnaghten, E.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Massy, L.|
|Romney, E.||Mendip, L. (V. Clifden.)|
|Rosse, E.||Methuen, L.|
|Rosslyn, E.||Middleton, L.|
|Sandwich, E.||Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)|
|Suffolk and Berkshire, E.||Monck, L. (V. Monck.)|
|Temple, E.||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Monteagle of Brandon, L|
|Verulam, E.||Muskerry, E.|
|Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.||O'Neill, L.|
|Bangor, V.||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Falmouth, V.||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Powerscourt, V.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Templetown, V.||Plunket, L.|
|Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Ampthill, L.||Rathdonnell, L.|
|Annaly, L.||Rathmore, L|
|Ardilaun, L.||Rossmore, L.|
|Bolton, L.||Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)|
|Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)||Seaton, L.|
|Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)||Sherborne, L.|
|Calthorpo, L.||Shute, E. (V. Barrington.)|
|Carew, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort.)||Sinclair, L.|
|Castletown, L [TELLER.]||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)||Stalbridge, L.|
|Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Clarina, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Clifton, E. (E. Darnley.)|
|Clonbrock, L.||Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)|
|Cloncurry, E.||Suffield, E.|
|Colchester, L.||Swansea, L.|
|Connemara, L.||Talbot de Malabide, L.|
|Crofton, L.||Templemore, L.|
|De Freyne, L.||Tollemache, L.|
|de Ros, L.||Tyrone, E. (M. Waterford)|
|de Vesci, L. (V. de Vesci)|
|Deramore, L.||Ventry L.|
|Digby, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|Dunalley, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Dunleath, L.||Wynford, E.|
|Halsbury, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Burghclere, L.|
|Devonshire, D. (L. President.)||Churchill, L. [TELLER.]|
|Cross, V. (L. Privy Seal.)||Emly, L.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Harris, L.|
|Bedford, D.||Hersehell, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Hylton, L.|
|Exeter, M.||James, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Kensington, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Steward.)||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Lathom, L. (L. Chamberlain.)||Manners, L.|
|Monk Bretton, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Monkswell, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Pirbright, L.|
|Coventry, E.||Playfair, L.|
|Cowper, E.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Dartmouth, E.||Rayleigh, L.|
|Dudley, E.||Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)|
|Jersey, E.||Rothschild, L.|
|Morley, E.||Rowton, L.|
|Saint Germans, E.||Sackville, L.|
|Selborne, E.||Save and Sele, L.|
|Spencer, E.||Stanmore, L.|
|Stamford, E.||Thring, L.|
|Waldegrave, E. [TELLER.]||Tredegar, L.|
|Llandaff, V.||Wandsworth, L.|
|Oxenbridge, V.||Wantage, L.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Welby, E.|
|Balfour, L.||Windsor, L.|
|Belper, L.||Wolverton, L.|
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ *VISCOUNT TEMPLETOWN moved, in paragraph (a), Sub-section (1), after the word "all," to insert the words "buildings and."
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said that he would like to ask the noble Lord whether he thought it worth while to press the Amendment, which the Government certainly could not accept. The word "improvements" in the Bill already included "buildings." If the word "buildings" were used in the way proposed by the Amendment it might lead to confusion as to what was included in the word "improvements."
said that after the explanation of the noble Marquess he did not wish to press his Amendment any further.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
, in whose name Amendments stood upon the 1580 Paper, after the word "improvements," in the same paragraph, to insert the word "made," and after the word "thereon," to insert the words "before the passing of this Act," said that these Amendments were merely consequential on his first Amendment, and therefore he would not move them.
*VISCOUNT TEMPLETOWN moved, in paragraph (a), Sub-section (1), to insert, after the word "landlord," the words—
the fair rent so declared shall be the sum which in the opinion of the Court a solvent tenant would pay, one year with another, during a statutory term, for the same holding if the holding were in the landlord's hands, and in proper condition.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said he was afraid that this was an Amendment that he could not possibly accept. He believed that it was almost universally admitted by Irish landlords and their friends that a fair rent was something less than the value of the farm would be if it were in the hands of the landlord. It was the difference between the fair rent and the competition rent which left room for the occupation interest of the tenant. If the Amendment were accepted, it would vitally alter the whole foundation upon which the fixing of a fair rent was to proceed.
* VISCOUNT TEMPLETOWN
asked whether the noble Marquess could consent to omit altogether the word "fair" in application to rent?
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said that he could not adopt the suggestion of the noble Lord, which would render it necessary to make many alterations in the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD CASTLETOWN moved, in paragraph (b), Sub-section (1), after the word "condition," to insert the words "as to cultivation, deterioration, or otherwise." His object in moving the Amendment was to make clear and define the meaning of the word "condition," and of helping good husbandry. It would be a great advantage if the Sub-Commissioners, when they came upon a farm, were empowered to determine whether it had been well cultivated or had purposely been allowed to 1581 deteriorate in order that a low rent might be fixed. He was sorry to say that in some cases that had come to his knowledge the land had been carefully prepared for the visit of the Sub-Commissioner. In one case on his own estate a tenant had had the audacity to inform his agent, in reply to his remonstrance as to the condition of the farm, that the Sub-Commissioner was coming to fix a fair rent, and that he was preparing the land for his visit. In another case a farm had been meadowed for nine years on the understanding that a fair rent would be fixed. The unfortunate landlord purchased the tenant-right from the tenant at a high figure, because it was contiguous to his demesne, and had to lay out a lot of money in improving the place. In another case a curious system of deterioration was carried out. A tenant allowed a grass farm of 100 acres to become overrun with rabbits, and it became valueless. He then went into Court, and when the Sub-Commissioners saw the farm they brought down the rent considerably; but the moment the fair rent was fixed the tenant killed off all the rabbits. [Laughter.] He thought his Amendment, if accepted, would tend to stimulate good husbandry.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said chat the intention of the sub-section was that the Court should report on the condition of the holding in regard to its treatment by the tenant. But if the noble Lord thought the sub-section would be improved by his Amendment, the Government had no objection to its acceptance.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE moved, in Paragraph (c), Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "by the tenant," and after the words "or partly by" to insert the words "the tenant."
§ Amendment agreed to.
*VISCOUNT TEMPLETOWN moved, in Paragraph (i), Sub-section (1), after the word "character" to insert the word "cost." The paragraph moved would then read:—
(i) the nature, character, cost and present capital value thereof, and the increased letting value due thereto.
The object of the Amendment was to obtain a little further information.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
thought the Amendment would be unworkable. It might be impossible to ascertain by any means, or from anybody, what the original cost of improvements was in many cases.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *VISCOUNT TEMPLETOWN moved in Paragraph (f) Sub-section (1), after the word "may" to insert the words "have been taken into account in fixing the fair rent thereof, or as may."
§ Amendment agreed to.
*VISCOUNT TEMPLETOWN moved, in Paragraph (f), Sub-section (1), to insert after the word "prescribed"—
from time to time, including all such particulars as are set forth in the form in the Second schedule to this Act (so far as such particulars are not inconsistent with the other provisions of this section), such form being a copy of the form (commonly known as the 'Pink Schedule ') which the Assistant Commissioners have for some time previous to the passing of this Act been required by the Land Commission to fill up when fixing the fair rent of a holding.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said the point involved in this Amendment had already been discussed at considerable length on the previous Amendment of the noble Lord. The Government remained of the same opinion, but, if the noble Lord persisted with the Amendment, they would not go to a Division.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE moved, in Sub-section (3), after the words "Land Law Acts," to insert the words, "as amended by this Act."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE moved, in Sub-section (4), after the words "Land Law Acts," to insert the words, "as amended by this Act."
§ Amendment agreed to.
*LORD INCHIQUIN moved, after Subsection (7), to insert the following new sub-section:—
(8) No deduction shall be made from the fair rent named in this section by reason of the mere right of occupation vested in the tenant.
The object of the Amendment was to prevent Sub-Commissioners taking into account the goodwill that might be created on the farm. The reductions which had been made in the rent by the Sub-Commissioners, especially in cases which had recently come into Court, could only be accounted for by supposing that the goodwill was taken into account by the Sub-Commissioners. This difficulty was foreseen during the discussions on the Act of 1881, but Mr. Gladstone declared in the House of Commons:—
this was an idea which the Government had always emphatically denied—namely, that the value of the tenant-right in the holding was to be deducted from the rent otherwise due to the landlord.
In spite of that declaration, the tenant's interest was taken into account in the fixing of the fair rent. A Sub-Commissioner was asked before the Morley Committee whether, in fixing a fair rent, there was any deduction made for the tenant's interest? "Oh, yes," he replied, "it affects the amount of the fair rent materially;" and he went on to say:—
by most Sub-Commissioners in fixing rent, whether inside or outside Ulster, that right is recognised generally.
Words should be inserted in the Bill to make it clear that the tenant's interest was not to be taken into account. Otherwise, suppose a fair rent fixed on a holding was £100 a year and a tenant came in having paid £500, and the reduction on account of the tenant's right was £25, that would bring his rent down to £75. It was clear that if, during the judicial term, or at the end of it, some other tenant were to buy from him and give another £500, the Commissioners would have to take into account the question of £1,000 having been paid; and no less than £50 would be deducted from the landlord's rent. Thereby he would only receive £50 instead of the fair rent of £100. This appeared to be simply a question of bringing about, by degrees—sometimes slow, sometimes rapid—the "prairie value "of which they heard so much. It could not possibly go on without it. So he thought he had just reason for asking the House to insert words which would make it clear that the occupation interest or tenant-right should not be
taken into consideration in fixing the fair rent.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said he believed the point the noble Lord wished to guard against was really guarded against already. The fair rent, as he had before observed, was notoriously something less than the full competitive or market rent, and it was the difference between these two rents which left room for the occupation interest of the tenant. The matter rested not only upon the practice of the Courts and the obiter dicta of legal authorities, but upon more solid ground still, because Section 8 of the Land Act of 1881—a section which was inserted in that House—seemed to him to meet the point raised by the noble Lord. "The amount of money or money's worth that may have been paid or given for the tenancy of any holding by the tenant or his predecessors in title shall not of itself, apart from other considerations, be deemed to be ground for reducing or increasing the rent of the holding." With those words in the Statute-book it was superfluous to amend the Bill by introducing what was, after all, a very controversial and puzzling point in the terms the noble Lord had proposed.
§ LORD MACNAGHTEN
asked how the point could be controversial and puzzling, when Lord Lansdowne said the purpose of the Amendment was safeguarded in other Acts. He agreed that it was so safeguarded, but that was no objection to inserting in this Act plain words which everyone could understand. They had it on evidence that some of the Sub-Commissioners had done the very thing the noble Lord said they ought not to do. Unless it were provided against in the Bill, they would fall into the same lamentable error again. ["Hear!"]
* LORD INCHIQUIN
said he could not see the force of the argument that the tenant-right was made up of the difference between the letting value of land in the landlord's and tenant's hands. All through the south of Ireland there was no such thing as tenant-right before the Act of 1881, which gave the right. On his own estate the claim of tenant-right was guarded against. To say that the landlord should not get fair rent because there was some other right intervening was quite wrong. The landlord claimed fair rent irrespective of what was given by 1585 the tenant. The other day on his estate as much as 20 years' purchase was given for tenant-right. Enormous sums had been given for it, and if it was to be considered by the Sub-Commissioners it was clear how the large reductions of rent came about. The other day on his estate a large farm came up for revision. A judicial rent had already been fixed. The farm was originally valued at £500 a year. This was reduced to £445 in 1881. Although no improvement had been made by the tenant the rent had recently been reduced another £100, or 23 or 24 per cent. In both cases there would be an appeal.
§ * VISCOUNT MIDLETON
agreed with the noble Lord who had just spoken. He himself knew cases in which tenant-right had not been allowed in any circumstances. The Sub-Commissioners fixed £300 as the value of the tenant-right of a man who had only been in occupation four years, who paid nothing to enter on that portion of his holding, had done nothing beyond the ordinary husbandry, who had not drained or who fenced the land, but had simply the right of occupancy which accrued to him three years before the Act of 1881 was passed, and for the fact that he was actually on the land the Sub-Commissioners fixed £300—six years' rent at £50—as the value of the tenant-right, although they were well aware that on that particular estate tenant-right had never before been allowed or asked for.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ *LORD ARDILAUN moved, in Subsection (8), to insert the word "one" after "Sub-sections." He explained that Sub-section 5 of the Land Act of 1870 changed the presumption with regard to improvements in favour of the tenant, excepting six cases, the first of which, alone he proposed to retain—when such an improvement had been made previous to the time at which the holding in reference to which the claim was made was conveyed on actual sale to the landlord or those through whom he derived his title.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said the Amendment was a sound one, but it would require further amendment. In line 6, after "1870," he would propose to insert the words "and Sub 1586 section (1) of the same section in the case of sales after the passing of the Landlord and Tenant Act," 1870.
§ Amendment agreed to—
§ And words "and Sub-section (1) of the same section in the case of sales after the passing of the Act" of 1870, inserted.
§ Both Amendments agreed to; Clause 1, as amended, ordered to stand.
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN moved the insertion of the following clause after Clause 1:—
2.—(1.) At any time, on an application by the tenant to hare a fair rent fixed, after the required particulars have been ascertained and recorded in accordance with Section one, the landlord and tenant may agree together for the purchase by the landlord of the improvements made wholly or partly by or at the cost of the tenant, and the Land Commission shall, immediately on proof that the agreed price has been paid to the tenant, make a vesting order vesting the said improvements in the landlord, and from the date of such vesting order the fair rent of the holding shall be the rent recorded in the schedule under Section one, Sub-section one, clause(a).
(2.) The Land Commission shall, on the application of the landlord for the purpose of carrying out such purchase as aforesaid, advance and pay to the tenant such agreed price, not exceeding in amount the capital value of the said improvements, after deducting the extent (if any) to which the landlord has paid or compensated the tenant in respect of such improvements, as recorded in accordance with Section one, and the amount so advanced shall be a debt due from the landlord and shall be a first charge on the holding.
(3.) Such advance shall be repaid to the Land Commission by an annuity calculated in the same way as a purchase annuity under the Land Purchase Acts as amended by this Act, and the provisions of the said Acts as amended by this Act shall so far as they are applicable apply as if a purchase under this section were a purchase under the said Acts.
(4.) The amount of such annuity shall be paid to the Land Commission half-yearly by the tenant and shall be deducted by him from the amount of his rent due to the landlord.
(5) All advances made by the Land Commission under this section shall be made from the surplus of the Irish Church Fund.
The noble Lord said the object of the clause was to endeavour to hasten that happy time when Ireland would be
relieved from the system of no ownership or dual ownership which now oppressed her. In his opinion that system had entirely paralysed the industry and effort of both landlord and tenant and discouraged them from improvements of the soil, and he thought their Lordships would agree with him that the sooner they returned to a sounder system of tenure the better for Ireland. The natural and the best way by which that could be accomplished was by encouraging occupiers to buy holdings, but up to the present, occupying tenants had not shown any very vehement desire to acquire the freehold of their holdings. Purchase had been, comparatively speaking, a failure, and he could see no reason in logic or common sense why the assistance of the State in the matter of purchase should be confined to only one of the parties. It was, in his opinion, best that the tenant should buy. But they must have regard to the condition the country might be in when the present occupiers bad become owners, and when, of course, as must inevitably happen, the land would begin to accumulate in the hands of the comparatively few again, and another landlord class must arise. Whether it would be for the benefit of the country or not, he did not intend to prophecy. Judging by past experience, he thought it must be admitted that the class of landlords who were likely to arise from occupiers would not be more beneficial to the country than the class of men who had hitherto been owners of the soil. In a matter of this kind they must look to the distant future. He believed that in the interest of the country it was desirable, and it was the duty of any Government to take every legitimate and proper means to retain as many as possible of the present landlord class of Ireland in that country. He believed it would be absolutely essential for the welfare of the country whenever self-government—in the sense they understood it in England—was applied to Ireland, and as purchase extended and the land accumulated, that, at any rate, a considerable number of the present landlords and their descendants should remain in the country. Why, under these circumstances, should the Bill not give equal facility to the landlords to buy the tenant's improvements that it gave to the tenant to buy the
landlord's interest? Surely it would be to the advantage of the tenant. At present, if the tenants required capital they could only obtain it by borrowing at a high rate of interest on their security, or by selling their interest and leaving the country. He did not want them to be obliged to sell and leave the country, and he did not want them to embarrass themselves by borrowing money at a ruinous rate of interest. If this clause were accepted, if a tenant did not want to buy the landlord's interest and did not want to sell his own interest and go, it was possible he might agree with the landlord that the latter might buy up his (the tenant's) improvements, by which the tenant would obtain ready money, which would be useful to him in stocking his land and in the ordinary business of husbandry. It would in that way benefit the tenant. It would also benefit the landlord to the extent that it would relieve him from the incubus of the present system of no-ownership that obtained in Ireland. Practically, the whole interest would be his; it would be entirely so after the instalments were paid, and that would be greatly to his advantage and benefit. He did not pretend to believe that if the clause were accepted it would be largely operative; it would be adopted, perhaps, only in the case of estates that were managed and administered after the English fashion and custom. But, at any rate, it would deprive the tenant of nothing, it would leave all his present privileges and advantages intact; it would finance him if he required capital for the management of his holding, and, what was more important, it would do something definite towards extricating the country from the intolerable mess into which it had been plunged by attempting to institute a system of tenure not founded on logic, common sense, or sound views of political economy. He had stated that the advances to be made by the Land Commission should be made from the surplus of the Irish Church Fund. He had not the slightest idea whether there was any surplus. But obviously this was a mere prous fraud, and he had simply followed the precedent set in the Act of 1887. Of course, the proper words, as regarded the money, would be inserted by the other House. His object was that, whatever money
was available for the purpose of purchase should be available for enabling the landlord to acquire the tenant's improvements in the same way as it was available to the tenant to buy up the landlord's interest. He begged to move the clause.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said the noble Lord had presented his scheme in a very attractive mode, and no doubt many of their Lordships would agree with him in wishing they could accelerate the time when the present confusion of ownership of Irish land should have ceased to exist. He was not quite sure whether this proposal would affect that object, because the tenant would still be left with a saleable interest in his holding, or, in other words, there would still be a dual ownership of land. He did not, however, desire to argue the clause upon its merits, but would merely put it to the noble Lord whether it was desirable to introduce this proposal, which was an entirely novel one, into the Bill at this stage of the Session? It was a proposal to advance money, not as it was now advanced, for the purchase of the land out and out, but for the purchase of a comparatively limited interest in the land—namely, the interest represented by the improvements made by the tenant. For that purpose the noble Lord depended upon the Irish Church Fund, but he had himself told them, with great candour, that the financial basis of his scheme was something like a "pious fraud." He was afraid there would be little chance of carrying so intricate a proposal to a successful issue, and he hoped the noble Lord would be content with having raised the matter in Parliament.
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
would not press his Amendment after what the noble Marquess had said. At the same time he ventured to express the hope that when this question had to be considered by Parliament again—as it infallibly would have to be before very long—whatever Government might then be in power would very seriously consider whether it was not advisable to assist the landlord to buy up the tenants' improvements in the same way that they assisted the tenants to buy the landlords' interest, in order that they might approach as near as possible to real 1590 ownership at the earliest possible moment.
§ Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
*LORD INCHIQUIN moved to insert the following clause after Clause 1:—
Any enactment prohibiting the resumption of a holding or part of a holding until the expiration of the first statutory term in a tenancy shall apply only where the term began before the commencement of this Act.
This clause, he said, was in the Bill in the House of Commons, but for some reason was withdrawn by the Government. He considered the clause was an important one and ought not to be allowed to drop. Under the Land Act of 1881, a special provision was made that, under certain circumstances and for certain purposes, the landlord should, by applying to the Land Commission, be allowed to resume possession of a holding. That gave the landlord the right to apply in certain circumstances. He might point out the importance of this right, as for instance the resumption of the land for the purposes of planting, or for the purpose of a water scheme required for some town or for any purposes of that kind, where it might be of the greatest importance that the land should be able to be resumed. When the Act of 1881 was in the House, a special clause was put in afterwards, he believed in the House of Commons, under which it was provided that for the first term of 15 years the landlord should not have the right which was given to him under the Act of 1881, and that therefore he could not resume during the first 15 years under any circumstances for any purpose, the land in the way the Act proposed to give him, but at the end of 15 years he could do so. It would be quite clear that in many cases where the tenant had not taken out a judicial lease, he might bar the landlord completely from making any improvements at once by asking the Court to grant him a judicial lease. The object of his Amendment was simply to prevent that and to make it clear that what Parliament really meant was that during the first term of 15 years this power should not be exercised for certain reasons which
were given at the time. His proposition was simply that the land could be resumed for those special purposes and no more, and he thought their Lordships would agree, on looking over the special purposes for which this power was given, that they were not unreasonable and that it was a power which should still be given.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said the noble Lord was correct in saying that this clause, or one virtually identical with it, was in the Bill when it was first introduced in the House of Commons. It was struck out because the Government held that it was mainly justified in connection with certain proposals which they had made in reference to town parks, and that this machinery for the resumption of land was particularly useful in the case of lands of that description. But he was bound to say that he thought there was a good deal to be said in favour of the clause on its merits, and they accepted the Amendment of the noble Lord. [Cheers.]
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
*THE EARL OF WINCHTLSEA moved to insert the following clause:—
2. 'Whore the Court have once fixed a fair rent for a holding, no further revision of rent shall take place at the end of the first or any subsequent judicial term except in relation to—
(1) He has executed without compensation before the commencement of the first statutory term; and
(2) Has not already been taken into account in fixing a fair rent.
And in the event of a revision being made, the Court shall send by post to each party a certified statement showing how the fair rent has been arrived at.
He would address himself first to the appeal of the noble Marquess in charge of the Bill as to whether it would be possible to defer the consideration of this Clause to another stage of the Bill. He need not say that he had considered that appeal very carefully and in consultation with his noble Friends behind him.
He was very glad to hear that the Government considered the Amendment one of great importance, and that they were not disposed to oppose a non possumus to it. But many of his noble Friends, who also, attached very great importance to the clause, and who were anxious to see it at the earliest possible moment, take its place in the Bill, were of opinion that it would be a very unfortunate thing to defer the consideration of an important Amendment like that to the Report Stage, especially at the time of the Session at which they had arrived. Of course, if the Government could give him any pledge that they would accept the principle of the clause, he should not be inclined to press the matter now, but he did not understand that the Government was in a position at the present moment to give any such definite pledge, In that case he thought it would be better to take the discussion now. The Government said, and it was quite true, that they had had very little time to consider this clause, but he thought the Debate which would probably follow could not fail to be of service to the Government in making up their minds as to whether they would accept it. He should not have ventured to propose an Amendment of so much gravity as this had it not been at the request of a considerable body of his noble Friends behind him, and from the knowledge that it was supported by many of those who had the best reasons for being well-acquainted with all matters concerning land valuation in Ireland. On the Second Beading of the Bill he ventured to point out what was, in his opinion, an extremely grave omission, and that was that the Bill contained nothing to correct a defect in the Act of 1881, which was that no principle whatever was laid down to guide the Sub-Commissioners in arriving at their decisions in reducing rents. Although it was perfectly true, as was said by the noble and learned Lord below him, that it was the duty of the Government loyally to administer the existing law, surely it was equally the duty of the Administration to propose Amendments to that law when it was found to work unjustly, more especially in a Bill which was introduced to Parliament with the very object, as he understood, of amending defects in preceding legislation on this
very point. He thought the question was whether the Act of 1881 really did require amending in this one particular. In the first place he thought it was scarcely likely that a body of men such as the Sub-Commissioners, even if they were of very much higher knowledge and standing than they were, could safely be entrusted with these enormous powers for any length of time without any principles being laid down whatever to guide them. He might point out that in the case of Griffiths' Valuation the most careful principles were laid down for the guidance of the valuations, and the principles laid down were always with a view to price. But they were not left to theory in this matter, because the actual reductions of rent which had taken place at the beginning of the second statutory term, had been from 30 to 40 and even more per cent., and there had been no attempt whatever that he had seen, either in the public press or in the House, to justify those reductions on any principle whatever. When his noble Friend near him raised the point, as he did, he thought on the 19th of July, by a question addressed to the Government as to whether they could inform him on what principle those reductions were made, the answer of the Government was that those persons held judicial positions and that the Executive could not interfere with them. That, he thought, was the view taken by the noble and learned Lord immediately below him (the Lord Chancellor), but he also invited his noble Friend, if he did not like the law, to amend it. It was precisely that invitation of which they were now taking advantage. He thought that, in the existing state of the law, it was no wonder that the landlords felt that, unless some control could be imposed upon the Sub Commissioners, they would be able, under their existing powers, to take away the greater part, if not the whole, of the residue of their property. The noble Marquess (Lansdowne) was reduced to saying, when he introduced the Bill, that he understood there was a rule of thumb by which the Sub-Commissioners decided the cases. The fate of unsuccessful combatants in the Colisseum was also decided by rule of thumb, but in this case the landlords were
placed in this position;—that the thumb was always turned down. They were never treated to a rise in rents. It was always assumed that a revision of rents necessarily meant a reduction of rents. The Act of 1881 was introduced to meet a special and exceptional set of cases. A special and exceptional tribunal was set up, armed with special and exceptional powers, and really what they were authorised and instituted for amounted to something like a revolution in the tenure of land in Ireland. A revolution might be a necessity—now and then it was—but it did not follow that it was either expedient, or right, or possible to have a revolution every fifteen years. But that was precisely the position in which they were placed if the powers of the Sub Commissioners were not checked, but were suffered to go on as they were left under the Act of 1881 He thought the Legislature did not contemplate that the powers conferred upon the Sub-Commissioners originally under the Act of 1881 should be exercised to the full every fifteen years, or that they should be empowered every fifteen years to go into the whole set of circumstances which was brought before them in 1881. He admitted that in 1881 it would have been extremely difficult to lay down any principles for the guidance of the Commissioners. The circumstances were exceptional, and they gave the Commissioners powers and trusted to them to exercise them honestly. But that was a very different thing to prolonging and making permanent powers of that kind without any principle to guide the people who exercised them. He was surprised to hear the noble Marquess say it would be impossible to take the rents, as fixed by the Land Court in 1881, as constituting a fair rent for the first statutory term. They were fairly entitled to assume that the Sub-Commissioners of that day did their duty as they were commanded to do by the Legislature—that they took into account all the exceptional circumstances referred to them, and that the rent at which they arrived was a fair rent. It was perfectly impossible to suppose that questions such as climate, aspect, soil, proximity to markets, roads, water supply, could be reconsidered every 15
years. The rent was reduced once for all in consideration of those circumstances, and he thought that on future occasions they must take it those circumstances remained very much as they were. Therefore, they could and ought now to narrow very considerably the issue which was originally entrusted to the Commissioners. It was evident to him that there was only one circumstance which ought to be regarded in subsequent revisions—if they took the first revision as having been fairly made—and that was an altered ability of the tenant to pay the rent, owing to circumstances out of his own control. On what must that altered ability depend? It must depend on the rise or fall, if any, in the price of produce grown on the holding, and on the rise or fall, if any, in the cost of production. Now, what would be the advantages which would follow from the application of the simple principle recommended in his Amendment? In the first place, they would get rid once and for all of all those complications they had been discussing under Clause 1, because they would not arise under any second or subsequent alteration of rent; and, in the second place, they would get a solid basis on which the Commissioners could arrive at their decisions, and on which the landowners and tenants, if agreed, could appeal against them. In addition, they would get a self-acting principle, in virtue of which he believed the landlord and tenant would be able to settle their own rents between themselves without allowing the Sub-Commissioners to go on to the land again, and without the expense of again appealing to the Court. The advantages to the landlord were obvious, because he would be secure against any arbitrary alteration of the rent, and he would even have the chance, which at present he was practically debarred from, of an increase in the rent, supposing a rise in prices occurred which would justify such an increase. But it was when they came to regard the advantages which would accrue to the tenant that he thought the case was more remarkable still. ["Hear, hear!"] A fair reduction of rent in Ireland benefited both the sitting and the incoming tenant. By a fair reduction he meant a reduction really made on the decreased ability of the tenant to pay the rent. Such a reduc-
tion as that did not add to the value of the tenant-right, but an unfair or arbitrary reduction of rent was really given at the expense of every succeeding tenant. Suppose a man who paid a rent of, £10, and was able to sell his tenant-right for £200, had a visit from the Sub-Commissioner who reduced his rent from £10 to £5. That would immediately add £100 to the value of the tenant-right, and the incoming tenant, who had to pay the extra £100, would, he was assured, in nine cases out of ten, have to borrow the £100 at a very exorbitant interest. He would obtain, it was true, a reduction of £5, but he would have to pay at least £10 a year for the loan. Furthermore, this principle, if adopted, would absolutely secure to the tenant the whole value of any improvement he might make on the holding. If a holding grew five quarters of oats to the acre, but the tenant, by his own husbandry, intelligence, and capital, increased the yield to eight quarters an acre, the three extra quarters would be absolutely and entirely his own. One further advantage would ensue upon the adoption of the principle he advocated, namely, the saving of litigation and irritation throughout the country, and the promotion of the purchase of holdings by the tenants. There was one other point which would recommend itself to the noble Marquess, and that was that it would very considerably lighten the labours of the Sub-Commissioners, because they would be able to abstain altogether from going on the land. The method of working the clause would be a fairly simple one. Of course the average of the years preceding the statutory term would be taken in the same way as was done in the case of the tithe rent-charge, in order to determine the rise or fall, if any. It would be easy in practice, although no doubt there would be a good deal of work to be got through first in scheduling and classifying the farms; but he understood the Land Commissioners were now compiling very valuable and interesting statistics with regard to prices, which would be available as a means of reference if the clause should pass. Bach farm would be scheduled according to the produce grown upon it, and the reduction could then be determined almost automatically. It would, no doubt, be interesting
to their Lordships if he gave one or two authorities in support of his proposals. Griffiths' valuation, which was so often appealed to, and laid down careful principles, was based entirely on prices. In the next place, their own Act of 1887 was based on this principle, and if he was not mistaken the Chief Secretary proposed, in the very Bill now before the House, and subsequently dropped, a clause which contemplated a periodical division of rents based on prices. But, if the Government told him they were not able to take any steps without consulting with the Nationalist members for Ireland, he should be able to satisfy them that Archbishop Walsh and the great Irish leader—for he was a great leader—Mr. Parnell were in favour of this principle, which was asserted years ago in the dispute which arose between Captain Nolan and some of his Irish tenants. He thought, therefore, that if the Government saw their way to accept the Amendment, they need not fear anything but support from the Nationalist Members. He thought he had succeeded in showing that the Act of 1881 laid down no principle for the guidance of the Sub-Commissioners; in the second place, that such a principle was urgently needed at the present time; and, further, that the adoption of such a principle would be followed by great advantages. He trusted, therefore, that it might commend itself to the judgment of the Government. If he might say one word personally, he would mention that he had no personal interest in the matter, because he did not own an acre of land in Ireland. Nor could the Government regard such an Amendment, coming from himself, as a hostile Amendment, for when he was in the other House he gave proofs of his devotion to the Unionist cause, as perhaps the noble Marquess (Salisbury) might remember. He hoped the responsibility of rejecting this proposal would be left with the House of Commons—a proposal which appeared to him a just, fair and reasonable settlement of this very difficult problem.
confessed that the case for the Amendment was so strong that he ventured to believe that the Government would accept it. He considered that the noble Earl had even understated his own case. The noble Earl had pointed out the advantages which would accrue to 1598 the landlords, and he spoke of the reductions which had recently taken place, and that under the Act of 1881 the reductions were of an arbitrary character. The advantage of the system proposed would be as great, if not greater, for the tenant than for the landlord; for the sitting tenant as well as for the incoming tenant. If he were a tenant, while he hoped he should not deteriorate the farm, he should hesitate before improving it, for they all knew that in the vast majority of cases the valuers were influenced by the land as they saw it. The rent fixed would be higher in proportion as the land was better farmed. Therefore, he said without hesitation that this clause was, if possible, of more interest to the tenant than to the farmer. Then, another matter referred to by the noble Lord, in which he heartily concurred, was the effect which it would have in promoting settlements out of Court. In the interest of landlords and tenants, therefore, he cordially and earnestly recommended the clause to the attention of the House.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
regretted that the noble Lord had not acceded to his suggestion that time should be given to the Government to consider this matter, but in common prudence, if the Amendment was pressed to a Division, they should have to say not-content. The clause involved a serious and far-reaching disturbance of the present law. As to the reference to the proposal originally in the Bill on this subject, he reminded the Committte that it was a proposal for a voluntary arrangement which landlord and tenant might adopt if they pleased. This clause proposed a compulsory arrangement which would bind everyone. He was not sure that the noble Lord was consistent: he told them that the fair rents fixed by the Land Courts were unjust rents, but it was those very rents he had asked them to take as a basis. That was not a logical position to take.
THE DUKE OF ABERCORN
hoped the noble Lord would listen to the appeal of the noble Marquess. They had listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Lord, but it appeared to him that the scheme had not sufficiently developed itself, and required more consideration. Moreover, he did not think the principles contained in the clause would coincide with those of the Bill.
§ LORD MACNAGHTEN
thought the admirable and lucid speech of the noble Lord amply justified the course he had taken in bringing the matter before their Lordships. He did not, however, think they should be asked to make up their minds on the subject on the spur of the moment, but they felt at the same time now deeply they were indebted to him for the assistance he had given them.
§ * THE EARL OF WINCHILSEA
said that after the appeals which had been addressed to him he did not think it would be fair to press the matter to a Division. He would, therefore, content himself with the assurance that this matter would be very carefully considered. He asked leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn; clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 2,—