§ Order of the Day for the consideration of the Commons' Amendments to Lords' Amendments, and Commons' reasons for disagreeing to certain of the Lords' Amendments, read. Moved, "That the said Amendments and reasons be now considered."
§ Motion made.
*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE)
said that, before asking their Lordships 683 to consider these Amendments, he desired to say one or two words to the House. The time had come when it was their duty to consider these Amendments, not in detail, but in regard to their collective importance, and in regard to their bearing on the Parliamentary situation with which the House was confronted. The Bill during its passage through the House underwent very considerable alteration. He, of course, excluded from consideration those minor changes usually spoken of as drafting Amendments, and even changes which might be spoken of as of second and third rate importance. But in matters which were of first-rate importance the Bill underwent very material transformation. Some of these Amendments were accepted by the Government in deference to the suggestions made to the Government by noble Lords from Ireland; others were imposed upon them by the big battalions which the Duke of Abercorn and the Marquess of Londonderry brought into action in a manner which, he must say, commanded his admiration and envy. He wished to refer for a moment to one or two Amendments. First of all, the Government had, in consequence of the Motion carried by Lord Templetown, greatly altered the first section of the Bill. He always understood, from what passed both in and outside the House, that what noble Lords from Ireland used to speak of as "the elaboration of the record" was a matter to which they attached the greatest possible importance. ["Hear, hear!"] That Amendment was carried against the Government. The Government opposed it, not on grounds of principle, but because they apprehended that the change in the law might have the effect of greatly overweighting the officials of the Land Commission. But when the Amendment had been carried they did their best, in cooperation with noble Lords from Ireland, to put it into a thoroughly workable and efficient shape, and in that shape he hoped it had now a place in the Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] In the next place, there was an Amendment put on the Paper by the Government in regard to the law as to turbary and other easements. That, again, was a question to which noble Lords from Ireland attached the utmost moment. He 684 remembered hearing the clause described by a critic of the Bill as, if not the most important provision in the Measure, certainly contained in it the most irritating provision. The Government had altered that provision completely, and it now was in a shape which, he believed, amply protected the tenant from the injustice of being rented on a privilege which was not effectually secured to him without occasioning any undue interference with the rights of the landlord. There was a third clause in the Bill to which he would refer in this connection—the clause which dealt with the sales of estates by vesting order. That clause, forming as it did part of the purchase provisions of the Bill, was emphatically condemned by noble Lords behind him on the ground that it was likely by its operation to kill purchase. That clause had been completely altered, and they had accepted provisions in lieu of it prepared and introduced by Lord Londonderry. All these altered provisions in the Bill had come back from the House of Commons, he would not say verbally and literally intact, but at all events without any material modification. He passed from them to those clauses of the Bill which might be regarded as still under discussion between the two Houses. They were (excluding points of secondary importance) four in number. There was the Amendment of Lord Cloncurry for maintaining the £50 limit in the case of grazing farms, the Amendment of Lord Macnaghten dealing with the question of appeals from the Land Judge to the Court of Appeal, and there was a third Amendment due to the same noble and learned Lord dealing with the question of town parks. Last, but not least, there was the important Amendment introduced by Lord Inchiquin dealing with the occupation interest of the tenant. Now, of these four Amendments only one had been definitely put aside by the House of Commons. One, the Amendment with regard to appeals from the Land Judge, had been substantially accepted with slight, and he believed necessary, alterations, which they would, no doubt, presently discuss. The Amendment with regard to town parks had not been accepted by the House of Commons. The clause which 685 their Lordships removed from the Bill had been restored, but it had been restored with words which, he hoped, went some distance, at all events, towards meeting the points raised by the author of the Amendment. The remaining Amendment with regard to occupation interest, had, it was true, been rejected by the other House, but it had been rejected under very peculiar and exceptional circumstances, which certainly did not seem to point to irreconcilable difference between the two Houses. This was how they stood. Summing the matter up, he thought they might say that, although the majority of the House had not succeeded in obtaining all it desired, it had certainly achieved a great deal. He was certainly not going to be guilty of the indiscretion of lecturing noble Lords from Ireland or their Lordships' House. He knew that his noble Friends from Ireland would believe that he was speaking sincerely to them when he said that if he was not able to entirely agree with them, he was able to understand their feelings with regard to this legislation. [Cheers.] They represented a class which had suffered much under the land legislation of the last few years. He himself was certainly not a friend of that legislation. But the Statutes were on the Statute Book, and he conceived it was their duty to accept them loyally and make the best they could of them. This Bill might possibly contain imperfections. It certainly contained a number of valuable clauses, and he would earnestly entreat noble Lords from Ireland not to look at the imperfections through a magnifying glass, or to turn their blind eye to the telescope when looking at the provisions which they and he certainly regarded as valuable. With regard to their Lordships' House, he yielded to no Member of it in his jealousy for its reputation. But before they asserted their rights let them consider well whether the occasion was one to push those rights to an extremity. This Bill admittedly contained much that was valuable. It had occupied a large portion of Parliamentary time, and he could not believe that that House would wreck it merely because in two or three of its clauses it failed entirely to satisfy the majority of their Lordships.
THE DUKE OF ABEBCORN
assured the noble Marquess who had just spoken 686 that in contesting certain provisions of the Bill they had not been actuated by any private motives of their own, but were only working on behalf of those whom they considered it was their duty to protect as far as lay in their power. The noble Marquess had delivered a little lecture to them, and hoped they would not turn a blind eye to the telescope in looking at the various clauses in the Bill. They had no intention of doing that in any way. They were only anxious in the course they had taken to improve the personal condition of the tenant of Ireland, and to make his legal status a satisfactory one, but they were also bound to protect as far as possible the interests of those who had property in Ireland, and to endeavour to provide by legislation that those privileges which they now possessed should not unnecessarily be taken away. The noble Marquess stated that considerable Amendments had been granted by the Government to the demand of the Irish landowners. When those Amendments came to be analysed, he thought the House would find that they were not large in point of number. The first was the Amendment that was moved by Lord Templetown, the second that relating to turbary, and the third the one which had reference to the vesting order and purchase. With regard to the last-named, it had always been the object of the Irish landowners to promote purchase, which was stated by the Government to be the main purpose of this Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] Every noble Lord connected with Ireland must acknowledge the desirability of purchase being carried out to the fullest possible extent. But he maintained that it had been effectually shown that the provisions of the Bill were not so beneficial for the purposes of purchase as the Government imagined, and it was on the ground alone of helping the Government to carry out those objects that the Irish landlords proposed those Amendments which had now been accepted. ["Hear, hear!"] On the other hand, they had given up one very important Amendment with regard to £50 holdings. ["Hear, hear!"] It was only because they desired that the Bill should pass through their Lordships' House that they had acceded to 687 dropping this Amendment. With reference to the Amendment connected with the question of occupation, he believed the Government were going to accept a proposal which originated with the landowners of the country. But whether that was the case or not he hoped, in common with all his Friends sitting behind him, that this Bill would pass into law. [Cheers.] If it did and fulfilled those hopes which the Government entertained, he trusted that for many years to come it might be a final settlement of the Land Question in Ireland. [Cheers.]
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
did not know that any further remarks were necessary from him, but as he and his noble Friend had been accused, with their brother landlords in Ireland, of being desirous of wrecking the Bill, he wished to associate himself most heartily with what had fallen from the noble Duke, and to endorse, on behalf of those who worked under him, their desire and hope that that night would see this Bill placed on the Statute-book of Parliament. [Cheers.] He knew it was a popular idea that they on that side of the House from Ireland represented the landlord interest and the landlord interest only. With that idea he at once joined issue. They might represent the landlord interest, but they represented an interest of greater magnitude and importance than even the interests of individual landlords. There was hardly any profession or industry in Ireland that was not more or less bound up with the landed interest, and in representing the landowners of Ireland, and consequently the landowning interests, he maintained that they represented the interests of the vast body of the community of Ireland. [Cheers.] Any one who stated that this Measure had been opposed by the landlords in that House because they were merely defending their own interests, stated that which was absolutely untrue. [Cheers.] The landlord interest had only attempted to defend the landowning interest, with which the great industries of Ireland were connected and bound up, and they had endeavoured to send down to another place a Bill which did not attack the rights of property of any one. ["Hear, hear!"] Had such a Measure been introduced in the first 688 instance he could assure their Lordships, on behalf of the Irish landowners, that it would have passed absolutely unchanged. The noble Marquess had congratulated the Duke of Abercorn on the manner in which he had brought up his battalions, and had rather expressed a wish that he could have paraded his own battalions in the same manner. Why could he not? Because the ordinary followers of the Prime Minister would not, he believed, assemble in their battalions to support a Bill attacking the rights of property in Ireland. He thought their abstention proved beyond all doubt that they did not intend to support the landlords of Ireland because they were landlords, but because representing the landlords in that House, they represented the landowning interests with which all the great interests in Ireland were identified. ["Hear, hear!"] The noble Marquess dealt with the various stages of this Measure as it went and as it returned from another place. He had referred to Clause 1, which was altered by the noble Marquess himself on account of the division which, he ventured to say, he unnecessarily forced upon them. They merely demanded that the Sub-Commissioners should give their reasons for the extraordinary reductions which they had been in the habit of making. As far as he could gather, the reason why the noble Marquess forced that Division was because he considered the Sub-Commissioners would be overburdened by giving the details and reasons of these reductions. But these particulars were already in the possession of the Sub-Commissioners, and on the case being carried to the Court of Appeal these details—which were in the pockets of the Sub-Commissioners at the time—would be produced. Consequently he entirely repudiated the statement that the suggestion he made as to details being given would cause overwork to the Sub-Commissioners. ["Hear, hear!"] On the question of turbary the Government themselves realised that their proposals were so impossible and absolutely injurious that they withdrew their own and inserted another clause. He maintained, therefore, that there was no concession. Again, as to the vesting orders, in omitting the clause in the Bill and accepting the clause he drafted in its 689 stead, he contended that the Government had also made no concession. Their object was to promote purchase; but if Clause 30 had been allowed to remain in the condition in which it originally stood it would have absolutely killed the system of purchase. His noble Friend had stated that, on behalf of the Irish landowners, he had determined to accept the decision of the House of Commons and not press the question of the £50 limit He entirely endorsed, as he always did, any action of his noble Friend; but he maintained that in making that concession to the Government the landowning classes of Ireland had been guilty of a renunciation of principle. ["Hear, hear!"] The principle of the Act of 1881 was to exclude any one whose farm was rated at over £50. Mr. Gladstone gave reasons for that exclusion, which were endorsed by Mr. Parnell, and consequently the Government sought to infringe the Land Act of 1881 while they told the House that their only object by this Bill was to elucidate the Land Act of 1881, and, if possible, amend its glaring imperfections. ["Hear, hear!"] But so strongly did they from Ireland feel that they would not wreck the Bill that they had sacrificed their principles to the wishes of the Front Bench below him. ["Hear!"] The mere facts of the concession they had made on this important point proved beyond all doubt their anxious desire to see a Land Bill carried into law during the present Session. ["Hear, hear!"] There was one point on which, he confessed, they all felt very strongly, and that was with reference to the question of town parks. He was not going into that question now, but he confessed he had hoped the Government would have seen their way to accepting the very small alteration which they had proposed. The alteration, which was almost a verbal one, was one which they really took from Mr. Timothy Healy. How far Mr. Timothy Healy guided the counsels of Her Majesty's present Government he was at a loss to say; but when he read that Mr. Timothy Healy did not object to the word "farmer," he certainly thought that, at any rate, the Government would not object. He trusted that in this case of, he maintained, simple justice, the Government would see it was their 690 bounden duty to meet their just demand in the way that Mr. Timothy Healy proposed to do. The question was so small that he could not imagine for a moment that a responsible, he was almost going to say a sane, Government would run the risk of wrecking their Bill for such a trifle as this. He appealed to the noble Marquess to accept the Amendment of his noble and learned Friend, Lord Macnaghten. They must insist on the alteration, and, if a Division was forced upon them, it would be their duty, in the interests of all classes of the community in connection with towns, to follow his noble and learned Friend into the Lobby. ["Hear, hear!"] He did not say one word with regard to the question of appeal which had been accepted. He did not think the Government could have done less than accept such a proposal. They in that House, again, made great concessions, and gave up the question of principle simply to show their Lordships how anxious they were to enable them to pass this Bill. The noble Marquess had told them that he did not consider this a perfect Bill—in fact, he thought he said it was a very imperfect one. It was an imperfect one; but it was absolutely perfect compared with what it was when it came up to their Lordships' House. [Cheers.] A more ill-considered, a more ill-drafted Bill, he ventured to say, their Lordships had never had the opportunity of dealing with. ["Hear, hear!"] They had endeavoured to remedy the defects that had appeared in the Bill in another place, and they had done so with moderation and common sense. They had been actuated by but one desire, and that was to send to Ireland a Bill which they knew was necessary; but a Bill which would injure no one, and confer benefits on a good number. At the present moment it might confer benefits, and they had tried to minimise the injury. They asked their Lordships to believe that, in criticising this Bill, they did not do so in regard to their own interests, but with regard to the interests of Ireland. If the Government of the country had simply watched over the interests of all classes of the community in Ireland and had consulted all those who were experts in matters connected with Irish land, and had not placed themselves more or less under the yoke 691 of one Party in the House of Commons, they would have had a Bill to send down to another place which would have given universal satisfaction not only to their Lordships, but to the Members of the other House. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
moved, "That their Lordships do agree with the Commons' Amendment to the Lords' Amendment in Clause 1, page 1, line 8."
§ Motion agreed to.
On the Lords' Amendment to Clause 1, page 3, line 4—
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 "—
§ with which the Commons disagreed,
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said this Amendment was inserted in that House at the instance of Lord Inchiquin. It was not accepted in another place, and he submitted that their Lordships should not insist upon their Amendment. It was, he thought, open to the preliminary objection that, instead of diminishing the obscurity of this particularly obscure part of the subject, it added to that obscurity. The Government objected to it on the ground that it certainly suggested to the mind of many that, in fixing a fair rent, the Court was to proceed upon the assumption that no such thing as the occupation interest of the tenant existed. They believed that that was an assumption which was contrary to the existing law, and certainly contrary to the eighth section of the Land Act of 1881, which expressly directed the Court to have regard to the interests of the landlord and tenant respectively. What was the tenant's interest? It was, in the first place, he apprehended, his interest in his improvements, and, in the next place, it was the right conferred upon him by the Act of 1881 to remain in occupation of his holding so long as he complied with the statutory conditions, and to get that holding at a rent which was not the competitive rent of the farm. That was an interpretation which, he believed, had been generally accepted by high authorities of different political complexions. He noticed that upon a recent 692 occasion Mr. Carson, who carried great weight in the counsels of the Irish landlords, stated that he conceived the occupation right of the tenantto be the right of the sitting tenant to have a fair rent fixed, and the right to have his improvements excluded from the calculation in the fixing of that rent. Therefore, what the tenant had was the difference between the competitive rent and what the Sub-Commissioners were pleased to call a fair rent. Now, these rights would still be reserved to the tenant under the clause as amended by the Lords.It was interesting to compare the language used by Mr. Carson with that used by Mr. Gladstone when the Act of 1881 was passing through Parliament. Mr. Gladstone then said:—We are bound to point to the tenant's interest. Now, no one can say, I think, that there has been eny reticence on the part of the Government as to what the interest of the tenant is. My right hon. and learned friend the Attorney General for Ireland said most truly that if you were to admit this doctrine of deduction it would be a deduction from the top market rent, and not from the fair rent. Now, supposing the case of a top market rent in Ireland, what does that include as a general rule? In the first place, it includes annual payment for the value of the tenant's improvements, and that is the first and the greatest element of legitimate tenant-right. In the second place, it includes the excess which is found in open biddings for holdings in Ireland, in consequence of the scarcity of land as compared with the demand for it. Just as in buying a curiosity in this country, simply because the article is rare, the buyer will go far beyond the intrinsic value in the price he gives; so, under the necessity of a much sterner order in Ireland in bidding for land, the bidder is ready to give more than he really ought to give, or can properly afford to give—and that excess in bidding for the land, owing to the scarcity of land in Ireland, is the second and remaining element of tenant-right.It was a little remarkable that, when the authorities on both sides were so well agreed as to what the intentions of the law should be, they should find so much difficulty in giving effect to its intentions in words. They believed that the existing law was very much to the effect thus laid down on the one hand by Mr. Carson, and in 1881 by Mr. Gladstone. The noble Lord who moved the Amendment had, however, suggested to their Lordships that the action of the Courts had been to give to the tenant and to take away from the landlord, in the guise of occupation right, something in addition to 693 that difference between a competitive rent and the fair rent of the sitting tenant. The representatives of Her Majesty's Government in the House of Commons, while unable to accept the words proposed by the noble Lord, endeavoured to the best of their ability to find other words which would have the effect of rendering impossible an abuse of the kind to which the arguments of the noble Lord pointed. Those words, he believed, were not received with favour by either side of the House, and an attempt was made to discover other words which might be successful in carrying out the common object which apparently both sides of the House had in view. Owing to an accident, the matter was decided before any alternative words could be laid before the House by the Government. They had considered this point very anxiously. They doubted extremely whether the present state of the law admitted the risk which the noble Lord and others apprehended, but they were perfectly ready to do what they could to guard against such a risk if it did exist. During the last few hours innumerable attempts had been made to discover some formula sufficient for the purpose, and at the same time not calculated to take away from the tenants the rights which belonged to them under the existing land laws of Ireland. There had been placed in his hands a formula which he believed found favour with noble Lords from Ireland, and which, to the best of his belief, was not open to objection. The Government would not have proposed those words themselves, but they regarded them as certainly harmless, and they hoped that they might have the effect of reassuring his noble Friends, and of dissipating those apprehensions by which they had been so much influenced. He would read the words to which he referred. They were—In assessing the fair rent of any holding no deduction shall he made except such deductions as shall he specified and accounted for in the said schedule, and are in accordance with the provisions of the Land Law Acts.The Government proposed that these words should be placed in the Bill at the point where the Amendment of the noble Lord behind him was when it left that House. [Cheers.] He moved that those words be added.
said that, as the author of the Amendment which it was now attempted to alter, he might be permitted to say a few words. He might state at once, in order that the House might be informed as to the opinion of himself and those who had acted with him in the matter, that they were ready to accept the proposal which had just been made by the noble Marquess, and that he did not propose to ask their Lordships to insist on the clause which he moved in Committee. ["Hear, hear!"] But, as his motives seemed to have been somewhat misunderstood in that and also in the other House, he desired to offer some explanation. The idea and belief of himself and of others who had acted with him was that it was entirely outside the law of 1881 to take this occupation interest into account. The noble Marquess had stated that that was not the opinion of the Government, and he would state at once why they had consented to accept the Amendment now submitted. It was simply this—that the very question of the occupation interest of the tenant had never been settled in the Courts of law, and that under the clause as now put into the Bill it would be absolutely necessary, in any case in which the occupation interest was taken account of in fixing the rent, that it should be mentioned in the schedule, and therefore it would be possible for any case arising under the Act to be taken at once to the Court of Appeal to have the matter settled. What led them to accept the Amendment was that they were confident that the Court of Appeal would not allow this occupation interest to be considered. The noble Marquess had quoted the words used by Mr. Gladstone in the Act of 1881, and he made out from the words that the interest of the landlord and tenant were respectively to be taken into consideration, and that this occupation interest was to be considered. Their opinion was that the Land Act certainly gave the sitting tenant certain rights and powers. It gave four rights. The tenant's interest comprised several elements, the first of which was the right to get a fair rent fixed; the second was the right as a sitting tenant to have his improvements exempted from the rent; the third was the right of free sale; and the fourth was the right to continued 695 occupation subject to statutory conditions. Now it had been made out by some of the Judges in Ireland that there was another right introduced over and above those he had stated—namely, that of some interest which had never been defined and which could not be defined. They had asked the Government over and over again to define the thing, and it had been found impossible to do so, and therefore his object was to make it clear that they were not to take that interest into consideration. Then he said that if the Government were not going to allow his clause they should, at any rate, define what they were going to allow. What did they do in the House of Commons? They introduced an addition to this proposition, that when once the occupation interest had been taken into consideration it was not to be taken into consideration again. Of course, that was begging the question. That was the very point he wanted to avoid. It was saying that the occupation interest was to be taken into consideration, but was not to be taken into consideration twice. That was just the very point to which he could not have acceded, and therefore it was necessary that this point should be cleared up, and especially so when he called their Lordships' attention to the evidence of Mr. Justice Bewley. In his evidence before the Land Committee, Mr. Justice Bewley distinctly said that this occupation interest had been taken into account, but that the law had never been laid down on the point up till now, and he was not aware that a case had ever been brought before the Courts. It was perfectly simple why it had never been brought before the Courts, for the simple reason that it could not be until some case could be got at. The Commissioners, in fixing the rents, had never given them the particulars that they would now got under the Bill, and therefore they had never been able to take the point before the Judges of Appeal. Their Lordships had now done what Lord Templetown, and those who supported him, were anxious to have done—namely, decided that this important point should be put into the schedule in order that they might get at it, and what the noble Marquess had just done was to provide that this occupation interest, if it was charged, should also go into the schedule, so that they 696 might have some ground to go upon when they took the matter before the Court of Appeal. They were all so confident of the result that he did not want to trouble their Lordships any further. It was not their intention, and had never been his intention, to abstract anything from the Act of 1881. But what they said was that the occupation interest did not exist, and was not in the Act of 1881, and they wanted to make that point clear. It was with that view that he had moved the Amendment that stood in his name, and which he had intended to adhere to if some compromise or some arrangement had not been come to. With this explanation he was glad to say he could agree with the Government Amendment.
§ Motion to amend the Commons' Amendment agreed to.
§ Several drafting Amendments having been agreed to,
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said the next Amendment was that of the Commons to their Lordships' Amendment in regard to the valuation of grazing farms. This matter had been so frequently discussed in that House that he thought he should be needlessly taking up the time of the House by reiterating arguments with which their Lordships were perfectly familiar. The able speech delivered by the noble Duke behind him in Committee contained all that could be said upon the subject. He feared the difference of opinion between the two Houses was distinct upon this particular Amendment, and he had simply to move that, under the circumstances, their Lordships did not insist on their Amendment.
§ *LORD CLONCURRY
said that, as his name had been prominently associated with the Amendment now before the House, he would ask permission to say a few words. The noble Duke (the Duke of Devonshire) had laid stress on the speech of the Chief Secretary at Leeds last autumn. As an Irishman, he looked upon that speech as a friendly and conciliatory speech, and as a Unionist he felt bound by all the promises contained in it. But he contended that from the beginning to the end of the speech there was no allusion to the question of repudiation of 697 contracts—["Hear, hear!"]—and that was the only point on which he ventured to urge the Amendment on the House. More recently the Chief Secretary and the First Lord of the Treasury had said they were aware of some cases of hardship which could arise under the existing law. He would he delighted if any case of hardship were removed, but he asked the right hon. Gentlemen whether they were quite sure that in removing the cases of hardship they had in view they would not impose still greater hardship on the other side. ["Hear, hear!" Since the Land Act of 1870 was passed owners of land, especially in the three southern provinces, had held large quantities of land in their own occupation. Those lands they had laid down to permanent pasture, and then the men whom the Government chose to say were bonâ fide tenants, but whom he called cattle jobbers, had gone to the owners with the Act of 1870 fully present to their minds and asked for grass or pasture land on a definite contract for a limited number of years. It was to prevent grave injustice being perpetrated that he called attention to the matter. As the House knew, he and his Friends did not intend to insist on the Amendment, but he hoped the Lord Chancellor for Ireland would be able to see his way to safeguard a species of injustice which could arise. While agreeing with the action of the Commons, he would suggest that the following proviso might be inserted:—Provided that where the Court is of opinion that the letting was made subject to the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1870, the Court should consider the application as if 50 were inserted in this section instead of 100.That would allow the Court to maintain cases under the old law if they thought it right to do so. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ Question, "That the House do not insist upon their Amendment," put and agreed to.
VISCOUNT DE VESCI
asked that some reply be given to the appeal of Lord Cloncurry as to the insertion of the proviso he had read.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD HALSBURY)
said that that would be contrary to order, as they had not insisted upon the Amendment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
assured the noble Lord that that was a difficulty which he also experienced. It would, however, be irregular to go back.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
pointed out that Lord Cloncurry suggested the addition of a proviso, and asked the noble Marquess whether he would accept it or not?
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said he had not seen the proviso before it was read out by the noble Lord. It would be absolutely impossible for him, on a point of this kind, to accept, on the spur of the moment, an Amendment which apparently ran counter to the House of Commons' Amendment and with which their Lordships had agreed.
House agreed with the Commons in respect of other Amendments.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said the Commons disagreed to the Amendments made by their Lordships in Clause 5, page 4, lines 38, 39 and 40, and he moved, "That the House do not insist upon their Amendment."
§ Motion agreed to.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
moved, "That the House agree to the Commons' Amendment to the Lords' Amendment at line 9, page 5, omitting the words 'provided that,' and inserting after 'rent' the words 'when made.'"
§ Motion agreed to.
§ On the question, "That Clause 5 be omitted,"
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said their Lordships agreed to leave out the clause, but the Commons disagreed with the omission. The clause had reference to town parks, and the effect of it was to admit to the benefit of the Land Acts a tenant, although his holding might be within the town park zone, if that holding was not required for the development of the town or for the accommodation of the inhabitants, and if it were let or used as an ordinary farm, whether of grass, or tillage, or 699 mixed. The Government considered that that was a reasonable provision to make, and they believed that the intention of the law was in accordance with their proposal, and that the decision of the Court of Appeal, though no doubt perfectly sound in point of law, was opposed to the intention of the clause. The House of Commons had restored the clause, but added to it words which had been prepared with the object of meeting, if possible, the difficulty raised by Lord Macnaghten, who apprehended that the effect of the clause might be to admit to the benefit of the Land Acts persons who were not, in the proper sense of the words, tenants of ordinary farm land. It was proposed to add the words—Provided that this section shall not entitle a person to have a fair rent fixed who is not bonâ fide using the holding as an ordinary farm.He understood it was the desire of the noble and learned Lord to attach the disqualification from admission to the benefits of the Land Acts, not to the farm but to the particular person who happened to occupy the farm; in other words, that the person who was engaged in trade or business should, from the fact that that was his vocation, be precluded from the benefit of the Land Acts, even though his farm were an ordinary farm in the common acceptance of the word. His objection to that proposal was that it was entirely contrary to the principle upon which they had hitherto proceeded in discriminating between those farms which should be entitled to the benefit of the Land Acts and those which should not. At this moment, if a farm outside the town park zone was held by a tradesman, by a parish priest, or by a squire, and could be described as an ordinary farm, the occupant of it could go into Court and get a fair rent fixed. That was, in their opinion, a principle to which they should adhere. If they adopted the principle which he understood was advocated by the noble and learned Lord, the principle of saying to a particular individual, "You shall not get a fair rent, whatever be the character of your holding, because you yourself follow, not the profession of a farmer, but some other profession," it seemed to him they would be landed in these contradictions—that the farm 700 might at one time come under the Land Acts and at another might find itself outside, from the accident that in the meanwhile it had passed from a person who was engaged in trade to a farmer; or, vice versa. The Government saw no other solution of the difficulty but that of adhering to the accepted principle, adding at the same time to the clause the words which he had read to the House, in order to make it emphatically clear that it was only where the farm was a bonâ fide farm that the occupant should have the right to apply to the Court for a fair rent.
§ LORD MACNAGHTEN
said that when the clause was before their Lordships on a former occasion, he stated that, in his opinion, it would entirely destroy town parks. He did not say, as the noble Marquess seemed to have understood, that it would admit some persons who ought not to be admitted. He had asked for some answer to his argument, and he had received none. He thought some reason would be given by the Commons in rejecting this Amendment; but, singularly enough, on this Amendment alone no reasons were given by the Commons for disagreeing with the Lords. That was, he supposed, because no reasons could be found. Certainly no lawyer had contradicted his statement that the clause as it came from the Commons would entirely destroy town parks. Now, the object of the Act of 1887 was undoubtedly that any bonâ fide farmer, although he happened to have a town park, if it were let and used as an ordinary farm, should be admitted to the Land Act. Undoubtedly the words added to the Act of 1887 by the House of Lords made that point unmistakable; and they were interpreted by the Court of Appeal precisely in the sense in which they were intended to be interpreted. It was said, however, that certain persons were excluded who were using the town park as an ordinary pasture farm. He did not know what an ordinary pastoral farm of one acre was. ["Hear, hear!"] Mr. Justice Bewley, in his evidence before the Morley Committee, said that there were persons who were intended to be introduced by the Act of 1887 who had been, by some accident, excluded. There neither were nor could be any such persons; but the House of Commons 701 had taken a different view. Well, he submitted to the voice of the House of Commons, and he did not quarrel with their restoring the words which came up to the House of Lords in the first instance. But he would ask their Lordships to pause before accepting the proviso which the Commons had added. As he understood from the speech of the Chief Secretary, it was a part, not the whole, of the enactment of 1887. There was nothing more dangerous than to re-enact a small portion of a former statute. How was it to be construed by the Judges? What on earth were they to do? If Parliament thought it right to re-enact a shred and patch of the Act of 1887, was that to be of greater value than those portions of the former Act which had not been re-enacted? The proviso was—That this section shall not entitle a person to have a fair rent fixed who is not bonâ fide using the holding as an ordinary farm.That looked very like an invitation to a mala fide farmer to use his town park as a bonâ fide farm. ["Hear, hear!"] Now, the Amendment which he proposed was very simple. It was to insert in the proviso the word "a" before "bonâ fide" and the word "farmer" after "bonâ fide." In support of this Amendment he would quote the evidence of Mr. Justice Bewley, at whose suggestion the Amendment which had been carried in the Commons was originally proposed. Mr. Justice Bewley said that he thought that the word "agricultural" had been used by a mistake—and in that he was wrong—and he proposed that it should be amended by adding the words "or pastoral" after the word "agricultural." Then he added—I do not see any reason for including town parks generally within the purview of the Act, and my grounds for so thinking, whether right or wrong, are these:—I must assume now that the Act has been amended so that every bonâ fide farmer, whether his farm is used for tillage or for pasture, though his farm would otherwise be a town park, is taken within the Act—that is to say, that the word 'agricultural' is removed, and it includes any holding that is let or used for farming purposes. But now take the ordinary case of a town park. These small holdings outside towns are held to a large extent by shopkeepers and others residing in the town, and no doubt they are a very great convenience to them; but at the same time, these people who have these small holdings are not in any sense 702 farmers—they do not make their livelihood by the land. One of the principal uses of these small town parks is to graze their milch cows on. I do not think that the Land Commission, or any tribunal of the kind, ought to deal with anything except with purely agricultural holdings or pasture holdings. For instance, some of these shopkeepers living in the town will have a small plot outside—a town park—for which they will pay a rent; others, on the other hand, will not hire land, so to speak, but will take grazing from some farmer, and they will send out their cows backwards and forwards to those lands, paying so much a head. I see no more reason in policy why the Legislature should interfere to fix the rent which the man pays for his bit of land than it should interfere to fix the rent which the other man pays for his grazing. As I said, all these people admittedly ex con cessis are not farmers. For instance, the keeper of the local hotel or public-house, the butcher, the local solicitor, the doctor, and so forth, all have their little plots outside; and, although, no doubt, it would be very beneficial to them to have their land cheap, I do not think it is the same kind of thing as making provision for the agricultural tenants of Ireland.He would ask their Lordships to act on the view of Mr. Justice Bewley. These shopkeepers were not bonâ fide farmers, and very often town parks were allotted to a particular house. But now the noble Marquess said that so long as the occupier cultivated the town park as an ordinary farm it was no longer to be a town park. No, and it never would be again. [Cheers.] It was a direct invitation to the mala fide farmer. It would be a most mischievous provision. It would destroy the whole benefit of town parks, and soon there would be none left in the whole of Ireland. The local solicitor or shopkeeper had nothing to do but to treat his holding as an ordinary farm, and then he was free from this restriction, and could put into his pocket the full value, and more than the fee-simple value of the farm, and no one would ever again be able to use it for the accommodation of the people. [Cheers.] That was a very weighty opinion of Mr. Justice Bewley's, and he entirely agreed with it. A more important witness was his noble Friend the Marquess of Lansdowne, who, speaking in the House on August 6, said:—The fault of the Act of 1887 was that the word agriculture was construed in a restricted sense.703 The result was, his noble Friend went on to say, that a holding within what he called "a town park zone," andheld by a bonâ fide farmer living in the town, and used principally as a dairy farm or for grazing, was excluded from a fair rent."This distinction," continued his noble Friend, "seemed an unreasonable one." He quite agreed. He never thought there was such a person, but if there were he was quite prepared to admit him to the benefits of the Land Act. But he must be what his noble Friend called him, "a bonâ fide farmer." Then there was another authority, not so great as his noble Friend, but still an authority who had great influence at present—though what position Mr. Timothy Healy, to whom he referred, occupied with the present Government he did not know. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] Mr. Carson had argued in the other House that a certain man who occupied one of those town parks was not a farmer because he was a lawyer. "If that was the point taken," said Mr. Timothy Healy,then it was met by the Amendment of the First Lord of the Treasury, which provided that the section should only apply to the case of a bonâ fide farmer.The whole grievance throughout was that they were excluding from the benefit of the Land Act, not the shopkeeper or the attorney who happened to be cultivating a town park after the manner of an ordinary farmer, but the bonâ fide farmer. Then, admit the bonâ fide farmer to the benefit of the Land Act; but restrict it to the bonâ fide farmer, or there would not be a town park left in Ireland. ["Hear, hear!"] Another witness he would call in his favour was Lord Justice FitzGibbon, who, perhaps, had more experience of the vast amount of litigation that had been caused by the use of inaccurate language in the Act of 1881 than any other Judge. Lord Justice FitzGibbon said, in reply to a question before the Morley Committee:—If, instead of using the words 'not agricultural or pastoral,' we could only find the words 'bonâ fide farmer' to describe the tenant who is to be admitted, it would relieve us of a great many of these questions.He, too, thought it would. But if their Lordships adopted the Amendment of 704 the Commons, which he frankly told them he did not understand, they would be accepting an absolutely illusory proviso which, in his humble judgment, would give rise to unlimited litigation. [Cheers.]
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said he hoped their Lordships would not refuse to listen to an English lawyer, although he did not profess to claim any authority beyond that of any other lawyer who applied his mind to the language of the old Land Act and the Bill now before the House. He hoped their Lordships would also give him credit for being in hearty sympathy with his noble Friends who owned land in Ireland, and that in saying what he was about to say he spoke of his conception of the law, as it would be affected by the Amendment of his noble and learned Friend, without any reference to his position as a Member of Her Majesty's Government. It was, in the first place, most important that their Lordships should carry in their minds the language of the Act of 1887 which gave rise to this question of town parks. It said:—A holding shall not be deemed to constitute a town park, though within the definition of a town park under Section 58 of the Land Act of 1881, if it is let and used as an ordinary agricultural farm, and may in the opinion of the Court be included in the operation of the last-mentioned Act without substantially interfering with the improvement or development of the town to which it belongs, or the accommodation of the inhabitants thereof.Their Lordships would observe that the holding must be let and used as an ordinary agricultural farm, and that nothing whatever was said about the occupation of the holder of the farm. The first observation that was to be made on the Amendment before the House was that for the first time it sought to disqualify the holder of such a farm from the benefit of the Land Act because he followed some other occupation besides the holding of that particular farm. If his noble Friend intended that to be the operation of the section, the most straightforward mode of effecting that operation would be to say:—Provided that no holder of a farm who has any other occupation shall be entitled to come within the benefits of the section.["Hear, hear!"] If that was what was meant, why was it not plainly 705 stated? Indeed, he had hopes that that was not the object of the Amendment until, listening in another place yesterday, to arguments on the subject, he heard his very learned and distinguished Friend, Mr. Carson, emphasize the fact that a person in possession of one of those farms was a solicitor—a fact which appeared to him to be absolutely irrelevant, having in mind the language of the section of the Act of 1887. If the Amendment were introduced it would open up a flood of litigation to which many lawyers would look forward with considerable interest, for the position the Courts would then have to decide was "What is a bonâ fide farmer?" and, forsooth, "Is he less a bonâ fide farmer because he has some other occupation?" He trusted that their Lordships would not let loose such a flood of litigation upon the Land Courts of Ireland. But he doubted very much whether the acceptance of the Amendment would help his noble Friend. Speaking for himself as a lawyer, if he might be permitted to do so, he should hold, when he looked at the Act of 1887 and the provisions contained therein, that the meaning was that he should be a farmer in respect of that particular piece of land. But he was aware of the fact that others took a different view, and that was a question which would have to be litigated all through Ireland—not whether it was let as an ordinary agricultural farm, but whether, as a matter of fact, he was the person who was entitled to hold it. He hoped the House would not be led into launching such a mass of litigation on the Land Courts in Ireland, and, under colour of making an Amendment, depriving a great number of persons of rights already in their possession. "Ordinary agricultural farm" might be either tillage or pasture, and was not intended to be confined to tillage. He earnestly entreated noble Lords to look what the effect of the words would be, and to see the object underlying the words, before they introduced a matter which would raise a question for the Courts, not whether the holding was within the contemplation of the Act, not whether it was let or used as an agricultural farm, but whether A B, the occupier, followed any other vocation in life than that of a bonâ fide farmer. [Cheers.]
THE EARL OF MAYO
said that, surely, butchers, bakers and solicitors were not bonâ fide farmers? What was understood in Ireland by a bonâ fide farmer was a man who earned his livelihood entirely by farming.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
said he hoped the Lord Chancellor would not think him guilty of presumption if he said that he had taken an entirely English view of town parks. He had had no practical experience of them, and had not any real knowledge as to what the use of town parks was. He had dealt with town parks as if they were land in connection with a house.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
said he understood the Lord Chancellor suggested that town parks should be, farms in connection with a house. Town parks were merely accommodation land, and were let to an individual simply in connection with his business, which might be that of a butcher or dairyman. But the town park had nothing to do with farming, and consequently what he desired was that a line should be drawn between the man who used accommodation land for farming purposes and the man who used it solely for accommodation ground. If it were laid down that town parks were farms, irretrievable damage, would be done to the town in the neighbourhood of the land. Town parks were of enormous benefit to the inhabitants of a town, and it did not follow that they were always let to the same individual. But if once they were included in this Bill they at once made the owner the permanent holder of the land from an agricultural point of view, and it was no use to anyone in connection with the town except that individual himself. Lord Macnaghten was an authority on town parks. He had told the House—and he believed his opinion was endorsed by Mr. Carson—that if this clause stood in the Bill they would abolish the whole of the town parks in Ireland, and no one knew what injury would be done if that took place. When the question was discussed in the House of Commons the Chief Secretary had not one word to say in defence of his action. He should like to hear from Lord Ashbourne why he refused to allow to be 707 introduced into the clause words to the effect that he must be a bonâ fide farmer who was to farm town parks, and as such to be admitted to the benefits of the Act. Some Member of the Government connected with Ireland should give a valid reason why they proposed to omit the words.
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
asked what was the definition of a bonâ fide farmer? In the case that had been mentioned so often—that of a man who was both a farmer and a solicitor—was the Court to decide whether he was a sham solicitor but a bonâ fide farmer, or a bonâ fide solicitor but a sham farmer? [Laughter and "Hear, hear!"]
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND (Lord ASHBOURNE)
said he heard with great astonishment his noble and learned Friend Lord Macnaghten say that if the Amendment were passed, the death-knell of town parks in Ireland would be sounded. He never heard anything to him more incomprehensible. Before the Act of 1887 every form of town park was in use—some agricultural, some pastoral—and no one found the slightest difficulty in deciding whether they were all agricultural or all pastoral. What the Act of 1887 said was that inside a town park zone there were tracts of ground, and if let and used, not as town parks, but ordinary farms, they were to be treated as ordinary farms if they satisfied the ordinary conditions. If that was so, how the moderate extension proposed of the Act of 1887 was to kill town parks was a thing he could not for the life of him understand. Lord Dunraven had asked a question which it was almost impossible to answer—namely, what was the meaning of a bonâ fide farmer? In the mass of litigation which would be inaugurated by his noble and learned Friend a very possible construction might be that suggested by the Lord Chancellor for England—that a bonâ fide farmer was one who bonâ fide farmed a particular tract of land used by him under the Land Act of 1887 as amended by this Bill.
§ LORD CASTLETOWN
said he should like to know what the position would be of a man, who was a butcher in a village, who had accommodation land to the extent of five or six acres within the purview of a town park and bad a large 708 farm outside. Would that man be a bonâ fide farmer, a man owning accommodation land, or a butcher? Practically he was all three. Lord Macnaghten desired to preserve for the advantage of the town the accommodation land which surrounded the town, and to make it clear that that man, a butcher, who was a bonâ fide farmer three or four miles from a town, was not a bonâ fide farmer of accommodation land let for fattening cattle for six months or so. They had to follow custom in Ireland in an Act dealing with Ireland. Therefore he would suggest that Lord Macnaghten should press his Motion to a Division, because the words made it clear that a man such as he had referred to would not be a bonâ fide farmer of accommodation land.
§ The House divided on the Question "That this House agree to the Commons' Amendment to re-insert Clause 5."
|Halsbury, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Waldegrave, E. [TELLER.]|
|Devonshire, D. (L. President.)||Yarborough, E.|
|Cross, V. (L. Privy Seal.)||Bridport, V.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Peterborough, L. Bp.|
|St. Asaph, L. Bp.|
|Grafton, D.||Salisbury, L. Bp.|
|Rutland, D.||Winchester, L. Bp.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Addington, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Ampthill, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Armstrong, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Steward.)||Balfour, L.|
|Lathom, E. (L. Chamberlian.)||Burton, L.|
|Churchill, L. [TELLER.]|
|Albemarle, E.||Colchester, L.|
|Carnwath, E.||Colville of Culross, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||De Ramsey, L.|
|Coventry, E.||Emly, L.|
|Dudley, E.||Glenesk, L.|
|Dundonald, E.||Harris, L.|
|Howe, E.||Hothfield, L.|
|Morley, E.||Iveagh, L.|
|Onslow, E.||James, L.|
|Scarbrough, E.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount Earl.)|
|Spencer, E.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Stamford, E.||Lawrence, L.|
|Lingen, L.||Robartes, L.|
|Manners of Haddon, L. (M. Granby.)||Rothschild, L.|
|Monk Bretton, L.||Scarsdale, L.|
|Montagu of Beaulieu, L.||Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)|
|Monteagle of Brandon, L.|
|Plunket, L.||Thring, L.|
|Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)||Wantage, L.|
|Rathmore, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Rayleigh, L.||Wrottesley, L.|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.||De L'Isle and Dudley. L.|
|de Vesci, L. (V. de Vesci.)|
|Caledon, E.||Dunalley, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Dunleath, L.|
|Essex, E.||Ebury, L.|
|Ferrers, E.||Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)|
|Hillsborough, E. (M. Downshire.)||Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)|
|Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)|
|Ilchester, E.||Harlech, L.|
|Lanesborough, E.||Howth, L. (E. Howth.)|
|Lucan, E.||Inchiquin, L.|
|Mayo, E. [TELLER.]||Kilmaine, L.|
|Partarlington, E.||Leconfield, L.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Macnaghten, L.|
|Rosse, E.||Massy, L.|
|Suffolk and Berkshire, E.||Mendip, L. (V. Clifden.)|
|Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)|
|Monck, L. (V. Monck.)|
|Verulam, E.||Muskerry, L.|
|Bangor, V.||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Annaly, L.||Rathdonnell, L.|
|Ardilaun, L.||Rossmore, L.|
|Bagot, L.||Sherborne, L.|
|Bateman, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Botreaux, L. (E. Loudown.)|
|Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)|
|Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort.)||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)|
|Castletown, L. [TELLER.]||Talbot de Malahide, L.|
|Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|Clonbrock, L.||Willoughby de Eresby, L.|
|De Freyne, L.|
§ Clause 5 accordingly re-inserted.
§ Remaining Commons' Amendments on page 4, 5, 6, 7, and consequential Amendment on page 8 (Clauses 6 to 9 inclusive), agreed to.710
On Lords' Amendment, Clause 39, line 22, after "mentioned," insert—
Subject to the prescribed rules any person aggrieved by any Order of the Band Judge made under this section may apply to the Court of Appeal to re-hear the matter, and the matter shall be re-heard accordingly—
§ LORD MACNAGHTEN
said he would just like to say one word upon this Amendment. When he proposed this Amendment it was said to him by his noble and learned Friend that this would encourage appeals without number and without risk. He saw that in the Commons House they put in some words about the security for costs. The words he would have suggested would have been these—limiting the appeal or the re-hearing "with the leave of the Land Judge or the Court of Appeal." He thought that would get rid of all frivolous appeals. He thought that was better. The security for costs might operate very harshly on a poor tenant, and it might also operate very harshly on a poor landlord. He thought that the object of his noble and learned Friend and that of himself was exactly the same, which was to put an end to frivolous appeals, and he thought the words he had suggested would carry that out.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND
said that in the Landed Estates Court Act, there was a section which dealt with appeals, enabling a deposit for costs to be provided. He thought it would be desirable to keep that. The words suggested by his noble and learned Friend were, he thought, extremely useful and good words, and he would be very glad if the noble Marquess in charge of the Bill could see his way to introduce the words.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
moved "That the House do amend the Commons' Amendment by inserting the words 'with the leave of the Land Judge or the Court of Appeal."'
§ Motion agreed to.
Lords Amendment, Clause 47,—
Page 28, line 39, leave out from ('where') to the end of the sub-section, and insert ('a tenant would, if this Act had been in force at the passing of the Band Law (Ireland) Act, 1881, be now a present tenant, and either the landlord
has not, since the said decision, resumed possession of the holding, or if he resumed the tenant has redeemed, the tenant shall he deemed a present tenant for the purpose of any such application').
The Commons propose to amend the Amendment in page 28, line 39, by leaving out the words ('said decision') and inserting ('passing of the said Act or the thirty-first day of December one thousand eight hundred and eighty-two, as the case may be '), and by inserting after ('redeemed') ('or been reinstated in his former tenancy').
§ Motion agreed to.