§ Order of the day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, "That the House do now resolve itself into the said Committee."—(Lord Denman.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
My Lords, before your Lordships accept the Motion which has just been moved I should like to ask your indulgence, while I say a few words on this Bill. A short time ago I received from the cities of Belfast and Londonderry a very important deputation headed by an ex-Lord Mayor and representing no less than 7,000 property owners in those two important cities. The great majority of 4 those represented were small owners who had invested their savings in this town property. These men view with considerable apprehension the compensation clause of this Bill, for as working men they are not in a position to pay heavy compensation should it be demanded of them by out-going tenants. It may be asked, and very justly, why have I not placed an Amendment on the Paper to Clause 1. I am bound to confess that my friends from Belfast and Londonderry did not anticipate that the Committee stage of the Bill in your Lordships' House would be reached so soon. They have, therefore, asked me to express their views to-day in order to bring them under your Lordships' notice. They have asked me to point out that it has been the custom in the case of these houses, however small, to keep them in repair, and, owing to the fact that the supply of houses has been greater than the demand, when the lease has come to an end the tenant has never been required to pay any fine. On the contrary, his lease has been renewed on the same terms as before, the owner being satisfied in the possession of a good tenant. Therefore it is a novelty to them that they should be asked to pay compensation at the expiration of the lease, and they look with apprehension on this clause. It is felt also by those who represent Belfast that if there were anything of this kind, prohibiting, so to speak, or making difficult, the investment of money on these lines, it would most materially retard the development of the city. I ask your Lordships to consider the opposition of the small owners to this clause before the next stage.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (The Earl of Crewe)
My Lords, we do not at all complain of the noble Marquess' having mentioned these points, which I am sure are points of substance, at this stage of the Bill, and when he places his Amendments on the Paper we will, of course, give them all possible consideration. Perhaps I might say on that subject that a certain degree of inconvenience has been I think caused by the fact that none of the Amendments on this Bill have appeared until this morning. I may remind your Lordships that the inconvenience is particularly felt when no Minister actually in charge of the Department concerned sits in this 5 House. Therefore I think my noble friend and I must apologise beforehand for any shortcomings that we may exhibit in debate, owing to our not having had long to consider the Amendments.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
I only received my copy of the Amendments at three o'clock this afternoon, and then I had to telephone for it.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
Mine never reached me at all, so far as the one sent to my house was concerned. I received one, however, at my office.
THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE
I am sure we are very sorry if the noble Earl feels inconvenience from the fact that our Amendments were not put down earlier, but the same thing applies to the Government Amendments, which we have now seen for the first time.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee (according to Order).
§ Clause 1:—
moved an Amendment limiting the operation of the clause to improvements made "subsequent to the date of the passing of this Act." He said there were several points in the Bill to which exception might be taken, as would be seen from the Amendments on the Paper. The one to which he wished to direct their Lordships' attention at this moment was perhaps one of the most important in the Bill. It was occasioned by the retrospective effect of Clause 1. By that clause, as it stood, any town tenant on quitting his holding, might claim compensation from his landlord for any improvement executed by himself or his predecessor in title. He wished to draw their Lordships' attention to Clause 3 of the Bill. In the case of a tenant executing improvements after the passing of this Bill, he had first to serve notice on his landlord, accompanied by a plan or specification of the improvement he intended to execute. The landlord then had three months 6 given to him to make an objection to the improvement, and the tenant could only obtain compensation in respect of that improvement if the landlord's objection had been over-ruled by the county court. Further, there was a provision in sub-section (2) of Clause 3 which enabled the landlord to bar the claim of the tenant for compensation by executing the improvement himself. If it had been found necessary, he thought very properly, to safeguard the rights of the landlord in regard to any improvements executed subsequent to the passing of the Bill, it was surely most unreasonable that a landlord should be called upon to pay compensation under totally different conditions. He would like the Committee to take into consideration the circumstances connected with such an improvement. The tenant had made the improvement, being perfectly aware that as the law then stood he could obtain no compensation for it from his landlord. He had made it evidently believing that it would pay him to do so, and that from the improvement such benefit would accrue to him during the remainder of his tenure as would recoup him for the expenditure incurred. He had, therefore, made the improvement with his eyes open and knowingly at his own expense. The result of this was that if his calculation had been a just one and he had received the corresponding benefit from the improvement, it was quite clear he had no claim to further compensation, and it would be most unjust to extract it; and, if he had not got that benefit, he had made a miscalculation, and had not added to the letting value of his holding, and was not entitled to compensation. This was not only a case of large towns and cities, and wealthy landlords and tenants. The Bill extended, they had every reason to believe, to all towns in Ireland; with the exception of the word "town," in the title of the Bill there was no definition of how far it might go. In any event it must extend to the smaller towns of Ireland, and it was the case that in those smaller towns the largest proportion— he had heard it put at 80 or 90 per cent.—of town landlords were small people, people who had put by a little money and invested it in house property. In the case of such a claim for improvements the litigation which would ensue would be most detrimental to their interests, and if the claims were successfully enforced, the 7 result would, in many cases, be absolute ruin. He trusted, therefore, that their Lordships would see the injustice of the retrospective effect of the Bill, and would accept his Amendment.
In page 1, line 9, after the word 'made' to insert the words 'subsequent to the date of the passing of this Act."—(Lord Clonbrock.)
THE EARL OF MAYO
supported the Amendment, and said the retrospective part of the clause might result in tenants claiming for improvements which were made two or three generations ago. He asked their Lordships to consider what would be the effect of that. There would be a long vista of law suits before them, and there was no doubt that attorneys in country towns would reap an enormous benefit from this litigation. The bricks and mortar would remain, but most of the value of the bricks and mortar would be in the country attorney's hands by the time all the compensation law suits had been settled. As his noble friend had said, in the future, as the Bill stood, the landlord would have a voice as to the propriety of intended improvements. If the Government recognised the principle in one case, why did they not recognise it in the other? The Government could not alter the law as regarded household property in Ireland without admitting that the principle should be extended to England. if the principle was admitted for Ireland, why should it not be extended to England? He would like to see some of the countenances of noble Lords from England if they were faced with a Bill that gave a tenant the right to claim compensation for improvements that he had made, say, in London. He was sure their Lordships were not in the least prepared to apply the principle to England, and he failed, as an Irishman, to see why, in those circumstances, it should be applied to Ireland. He disliked very much this sort of experimental legislation being tried on Ireland. If it did not suit, then there had to be amending Bills, and they were landed in litigation and trouble for many years. It was very curious what effect the retrospective part of this Clause would have upon a body in Ireland which was mainly Nationalist, and Nationalist of a very pronounced type. He alluded to the Corporation of Dublin. The Bill 8 hit the Corporation of Dublin rather hard. The corporation owned valuable and improving town property in Crafton Street and College Green, and also at Marino and Clontarf outside Dublin. This property represented a secured rental of over £30,000 per annum, and it was the main security for the corporation loan. If this clause passed as it stood, these tenants would all rush into court and claim compensation for improvements in respect of which, when they took the leases, they had not the slightest chance of obtaining any compensation whatsoever. What would be the result? The property would be depreciated and the security would be gone. The Dublin Corporation had already borrowed almost up to the hilt. The effect would be that the ratepayers would have to suffer. He quoted this instance as showing that the Nationalist Party had forged a two-edged sword. This was one of the many curious anomalies in the Bill. He hoped their Lordships would support his noble friend in striking out the words from Clause 1 which made the tenant's right to compensation for improvements retrospective.
also supported the Amendment. He said there were several other persons besides landlords who would be hit by the Bill. He referred to insurance companies, reversion societies, and other public bodies. These corporations were large holders of ground rents which they had purchased on the basis of a calculation that at the expiration of their terms they would be entitled to the absolute reversion free of all compensation of any kind. If the clause as it stood was allowed to remain, they would have to pay for compensation for improvements which at the time they purchased the ground rents they probably paid for. Mortgagees also would find that their securities were very much diminished in value, and the result would be that they would either call in their money or require an increased interest, either of which courses of action would be a great hardship to the landlord. The class of persons for whom he would most urgently plead were those poor people who had invested their savings in house property. They were, as he understood, and he had it on good authority, 80 or 90 per cent. of the total number of holders of house 9 property of Ireland. These poor people would be utterly ruined if they had to meet the demands of their tenants for compensation, and in their interest he earnestly hoped their Lordships would pass the Amendment.
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
questioned whether the Amendment was really necessary, or whether it would be necessary if other Amendments on the Paper were accepted by the Committee. As he took it, the retrospective character of the Bill was given to it by definite words. He had an Amendment on the Paper, and there was a similar Amendment in the names of other noble Lords, to leave out the words "made either before or after the passing of this Act. "If that Amendment were carried, the Amendment their Lordships were now discussing would be unnecessary, and it would look odd if in one clause the words "subsequent to the date of the passing of this Bill" were specially inserted when the whole of the Bill would have no retrospective action.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
said the noble Earl who had just spoken need not be apprehensive on this point, for if it seemed proper to their Lordships to accept Lord Clonbrock's Amendment, the other Amendments, to which Lord Dunraven had referred, would be purely consequential thereon.
did not think the noble Lords who had spoken were quite justified in all the arguments they had brought to bear against the retrospective action of the clause. For instance, Lord Mayo foresaw claims for compensation going back two or three generations; but the noble Lord would find that, by a later sub-section, the retrospective action of the clause was limited to twenty years, except in the case of permanent buildings. The noble Earl also wont on to speak about the condition of houses in London. He did not himself know very much about the conditions of leases and tenancies in London, but he heard a distinguished Member of another place say the other day that in his opinion these conditions were a scandal and a disgrace to any civilised country, and the right hon. Gentleman who made that remark was one who was sometimes quoted by noble 10 Lords opposite—Sir Edward Carson. He did not, however, wish to labour this point. He was very glad to hear one remark which fell from Lord Clonbrock, that the smallest hamlet must be included under the Bill. He hoped that his noble friend would remember this when they came to consider a later Amendment standing in the name of Lord Pembroke, who desired to limit the action of the Bill to towns.
I said I supposed it extended to small towns. I did not say it extended to the smallest hamlet.
agreed that the Bill extended to every house or non-agricultural holding in Ireland. His point was that he hoped noble Lords would remember this, and support him when he had to resist later on the Amendment standing in the name of Lord Pembroke. Lord Clonbrock had made some rather sweeping assertions with regard to the retrospective action of the Bill. He had criticised it as unjust and unreasonable. Following a noble Lord who was so conversant with Irish affairs, he (Lord Denman) spoke with duesubmission; but it seemed to him that the unfairness and unreasonableness lay rather in the denial of this principle than in its application. After all, why should a man who made an improvement in the year 1907 get compensation, whereas a man would get no compensation for an improvement made in the year 1906? He would take the case of two houses adjoining each other in a terrace. Possibly some of their Lordships were familiar with terraces in the suburbs of small towns, which resembled each other almost monotonously. He would take two houses exactly alike. The tenant in the first had made an improvement already. Next year another man took the adjoining house and made exactly the same improvement at exactly the same cost. In the first case, the tenant would get no compensation whatever, although he might have been a tenant for several years, but in the second case the man would get compensation. That did not appear to him to be a very fair proceeding. In arguing upon this point one could not 11 afford to overlook the question of precedent. There were several precedents where the principle of retrospection had been introduced into both English and Irish Acts of Parliament. In Irish Acts there was the precedent of the Land Act of 1870, and, to go further back, the Land Act of 1860; and as an English precedent he would quote the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1883, which was retrospective for ten years with regard to certain particular provisions. It had been asserted in some quarters that the effect of the retrospective application of the Bill as it stood at present was to break contracts. He did not think that was the case. The Act of 1887, introduced and passed by the Government of noble Lords opposite, did break contracts; that was to say, a man could have the terms of his lease revised. A man who had a holding on a lease at £150 a year could go to the Court and say that the rent was excessive, and the Court had power to reduce that rent. That Act, therefore, broke the terms of the lease, and in that sense it certainly broke a contract. But this Bill did nothing of the kind. It added an advantage to the tenant which he did not possess before He would cite in this respect what was not a precedent, but certainly an analogy, in the English Ground Game Act of 1880, in which the tenant also received an advantage which he had not before and which was retrospective in this way. A distinguished Member of the other House had on one occasion, at all events, expressed himself in favour of the retrospective action of this Bill. He referred to the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, Mr. Walter Long. Speaking at Kingstown in January, Mr. Walter Long said—I am the holder of one of these tenancies myself. I have a house that I hold from a great landlord. I have spent money on this house, and I should like to get this compensation.Therefore, he thought it was clear that, when Mr. Walter Long used those words, he was in favour of the retrospective action of this clause. Under this particular provision it was hoped to remedy a distinct grievance in Ireland. He understood that in parts of the country, particularly in the county towns and in country districts, the Irish tenant in the past had not displayed the businesslike qualities which tenants in England displayed. The custom had been for a 12 man to hold his tenancy from year to year, and to trust very much to the consideration of his landlord. It was very hard on that man if the holding was sold to a bad landlord and his improvements were confiscated. He had already called the attention of the House to the fact that the retrospective character of the Bill was limited under sub-section (5) of Clause 2 to twenty years. That provision was introduced, as an Amendment, by the late Solicitor-General, Mr. Campbell, in another place, if not in that identical form, at all events practically in that form, and it was accepted by the Attorney-General as the result of an agreement between both Front Benches. Naturally, if their Lordships inserted the Amendment now before the House, that agreement would be valueless. He had nothing more to say, except that it was difficult for him to argue these questions, which required an intimate I knowledge of Irish legislation, across the floor of the House, and he asked noble Lords, especially on his side of the House, to consider that if he had not made out as strong a case for the retrospective action of the clause as noble Lords opposite had made against it, it was not due to any inherent weakness of the case he had to present, but to his unfamiliarity with Irish legislation.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
said the noble I Lord in charge of the Bill need make no I apology for the way in which he had dealt with the first Amendment. The reasons for declining to accept it he had very clearly stated. He was sure that on the Opposition side of the House the noble Lord would get full consideration for every argument he adduced. This Amendment, like all Amendments, had to be looked at from the point of view of common sense. The application of the principle in this Bill to towns was a distinct novelty. They were familiar with them in agricultural affairs, but not in matters relating to towns. This was a new departure. He was prepared to stand by the Second Reading that had been given to the Bill, and would be glad to welcome any improvements that would arise to tenants under the Bill. They were agreed up to a certain point. It was quite right, in reference to all improvements made with full knowledge of the law, that future tenants should be dealt with adequately, 13 justly, and generously under the Bill; but when parties in the past had acted with their eyes open and with full knowledge of the law and of its obligations, they had no claim to compensation. In reference to future improvements it was provided that the tenant must give notice to the landlord, and if the parties could not arrive at an arrangement it was to be left to the Court to decide the proper thing to be done. That went to show that when this legislation was adopted and became law it was necessary, in reference to the future, to make careful provision to see that no injustice was done on either side. Was it, therefore, reasonable to apply lightly this legislation to the past? Improvements that had been made in the past must have been made without the slightest knowledge that the occupier could ever found a claim upon them apart from contract; and the case for now suddenly springing ex post facto upon the landlord a demand that he should pay for improvements made behind his back and without notice to him obviously rested on entirely different grounds from those to be applied to improvements made with his knowledge and after notice in accordance with the terms of this Bill. The noble Lord had asked why a tenant who had made improvements in 1907 should be better off than a tenant who had made them the year before. Simply because they were made in 1907 with the full knowledge of the change in the law. The noble Lord had said, at the close of his remarks, that sub-section (5) was put in after a discussion with Mr. Campbell, the Attorney-General for Ireland in the late Government and a perfect master of this question. If the Bill was to remain as it stood, that clause should be retained. If the Bill was retrospective, sub-section (5) was a proper provision to put in so that there should be some limitation; but it would not be consistent with the adoption of the Amendment moved by Lord Clonbrock. He was not sure that the wide consequences of this legislation were at all realised. He believed it would have a very serious effect on all classes and all parties in Ireland. It had been truly said that the Corporation of Dublin owned vast property, representing thousands of pounds a year. That corporation would be very seriously affected by this Bill, and possibly would have to pay a great deal of compensation. That 14 would very seriously affect their income and the security for their loans. The same observation applied, he thought, to Waterford. The corporation there had very considerable property, and if that property were brought within the scope of this Bill it was quite obvious that that corporation would be affected in the same way. For aught he knew, there were many other towns in Ireland similarly situated. Owners of property of every class would find themselves very seriously affected if the Bill passed in its present form. He thought there was great force in the Amendment moved by his noble friend, and he hoped it would receive at their Lordships' hands very favourable consideration.
*LORD ZOUCHE of HARYNG-WORTH
said the Bill appeared to apply to all sorts of leases, whether short or long. It would apply to a ninety-nine years lease just asmuch as to one for a shorter period. He thought there was very much to be said against a measure of this sort applying in its retrospective character to a long lease, because in the case of a ninety-nine years lease the whole system was really one of give and take.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
Does not the point which the noble Lord is discussing arise on sub-section (2) of Clause 1, in which the Court is directed to take into account the rent at which the holding is held? I believe there is another Amendment which takes into consideration the question of time, which is the point the noble Lord is now arguing.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (The Earl of ONSLOW)
The Amendment which your Lordships are discussing is whether this Bill should be retrospective or not. The Amendment does not in any way raise the question of leases.
*LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNGWORTH
said his point was that the retrospective action in the case of a long lease was certainly out of place, whatever might be said in regard to leases of short character. Clause 4 provided that, where in the case of any holding there were several persons standing in the relation to each other of landlord and tenant, the 15 provisions set out should apply. Claims for compensation of a sweeping character might be made going back a great many years. There was some idea that if compensation for improvements was recovered against a mesne landlord, he might pass it on, so to speak, to the next man. A sort of game of hunt the slipper would ensue, which would be sure to entail endless difficulty and complication. It would be difficult to adjust all these varying tenancies and to prevent injustice being done. He hoped their Lordships would support the Amendment now before the Committee and remove this great, and, as he thought, unworkable difficulty from a Bill for which, in other respects, there was much to be said.
*THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
thought that as the Committee were, on this Amendment, going to decide the general question whether the Bill was to be retrospective or not, it would be convenient if he gave his reasons now why he objected to the retrospective character of the Bill. He saw great force in the arguments that had been used from the Opposition side of the House as to the injurious effect which would be produced in the case of great corporations if the provisions of the Bill were made retrospective, but he confessed that his main objection consisted in what seemed to him the plain fact that if the Bill was retrospective it would practically take away from a man valuable property to which he was legally entitled without giving him any compensation whatever. He would not go into the question whether it was fair or unfair that these property owners in towns should have these legal rights. It was quite sufficient for him that they possessed them. He based his objection to the retrospective provision on the ground that no man should be deprived of property to which he was legally entitled without receiving adequate compensation. This was not a mere sentimental enjoyment of proprietary rights. The property in question was definite property easily expressible in terms of money. He believed that considerable hardship would be felt if the Bill was not retrospective, on the part of holders of comparatively short leases. He regretted that any hardship should accrue to them, and if it 16 had been possible in depriving the owner of the rights that he now enjoyed to compensate him for them, he would have preferred that the Bill should be left retrospective. But that seemed to him to be impossible. At any rate it was not anywhere suggested; and it was on the main ground that a man ought not without compensation to be deprived of property to which he was legally entitled that he objected to the retrospective character of the Bill. But he had special reasons also in respect to this particular Bill. This Bill would apply to yearly tenancies in all small towns all over Ireland. There really was no very great difference between the small owners of property in such towns and villages and their immediate neighbours who were occupiers of agricultural holdings who had purchased or who would purchase their holdings. Their Lordships knew that, as the result of recent legislation, thousands of occupying tenants had acquired and were acquiring proprietary rights. They were securing the freehold of their properties, and, subject only to certain restrictions necessary for the security of the State, the property was their own to do what they liked with. The future of those people and the security of the State for the money it lent depended on the successful manner in which they conducted their business, and the success of their business operations would depend very largely upon their outlay of capital in the shape of intelligence, muscle, and money; and he could imagine nothing more likely to restrict these people in laying out their capital than that they should get the smallest inkling of suspicion that, for any reason whatever, Parliament might in the future interfere with and take away from them the property which Parliament had now legally given to them. He believed that the retrospective principle whereby Parliament would deprive men of property without giving any compensation to them would have a disastrous effect upon a vast number of tenants who were now becoming owners of their own farms. It was also for that reason, but chiefly on the main ground he had mentioned, that he did not think a man should without compensation be deprived of property which was legally his, that he objected to the retrospective character of the Bill and supported the Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
My Lords, as regards the main question as to whether or not this Bill should be retrospective in its action I might first say, on the technical point raised by the noble Earl Lord Dunraven when he rose for the first time, that it seems to me that if this is to be done at all it ought to be done in the way suggested by Lord Dunraven and not in the way suggested by Lord Clonbrock. The proper way, as it seems to me, to effect this object, which I hope will not be effected, is to leave out all the words in the course of the Bill which allude in any way to what may have taken place before the passing of the Act. If that were done, I take it that under the ordinary rules of construction no improvements could be affected but those which were executed after the passing of the Act. That, however, is a merely technical point. My noble friend behind me dealt very fully, and I am sure your Lordships opposite will agree very well, with all the points which are raised under this Clause. He pointed out, with great force as it seemed to me, that this is really not a novel proposition. It has been applied in both of the great Irish Land Acts, and it has also been applied, rather remarkably, I think, in the English Agricultural Holdings Act of 1883. There it was distinctly laid down that in certain cases improvements which had been made without the consent of the landlord had to be paid for after the Act came into operation, even though the improvements had been executed before. The noble Lord who moved this Amendment advanced an argument which has been developed by other noble Lords, that it is not reasonable to do this because the tenants who made these improvements before the passing of the Act would have done so with their eyes open and with the knowledge that under no circumstances could they get any kind of compensation for them. The noble Lord knows his countrymen better than I do, and it maybe the case that every Irishman before laying out a few pounds enters into an elaborate calculation as to whether he has complete and permanent security for that outlay; but my impression is that a great many of the people who made these improve- 18 ments have done so with a sort of general trust in the kindly dealings of Providence, and in the belief that they would be allowed to enjoy their improvements so long as the improvements had anything left in them, and that although their legal security might not be very good, they had a moral security in the fact that their landlords would be too good-natured to remove them, and by removing them confiscate their improvements. It certainly seems to me that on that ground there exists a very considerable moral claim on the part of these people for the Bill's being made retrospective. Lord Dunboyne dwelt upon the hardship that would be felt by people who had invested in ground rents and by mortgagees through having their security diminished. I am bound to say that a security on ground rents which is enforced and increased by the fact that the people who own the ground are to have the opportunity at some future time of confiscating the tenants'improvements does not appear to me to be a very moral kind of security, and even if it disappears I for one should see its disappearance without any regret. If people advance money on the security of ground rents or on mortgage, it should be on the value of the site or the letting value of the site, and it ought not to need this bolstering up by the possibility, if I may use a popular expression, of collaring the improvements made by other people. I do not deny that the broadly retrospective character of this Bill is in some degree an unusual proposition, but we think that the cases of hardship which it is intended to meet are also unusual; and it is fenced round, as your Lordships will notice when you look at the further provisions of the Bill, by a number of precautions. It is not within a man's power to lay out a lot of money foolishly on making some ornamental addition to the house, to leave the house, and then turn round to the landlord and require him to pay for those improvements. It has to be clearly proved that the letting value of the holding has been increased by the improvements, and how the fairness of that can be disputed I confess passes my comprehension. I see that the noble and learned Lord opposite, Lord Ashbourne, has an Amendment on the 19 Paper intended still further to safeguard the landlord as regards the sum to be awarded for compensation. We should certainly be disposed, if the noble and learned Lord would agree to reject Lord Clonbrock's Amendment, to regard his Amendment as a very reasonable addition to the Bill. Lord Zouche seemed to regard the retrospective character of the Bill as especially dangerous in view of the fact that it applies to leases for long periods; but I must ask the noble Lord to consider that there again must be borne in mind the fact that it is only the unexhausted improvement which has to be paid for. In the first place, the very great majority, I should have thought almost all, of the buildings on long term leases, ninety-nine years and the like, are the subject of a contract between the landlord and the builder who erects the houses, and consequently, by sub-section (4) of Clause 2, no possible claim for compensation for any improvements could be raised so far as the houses are concerned.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
Yes, so I am advised. For instance, it would exclude all building leases of the character which could be carried out under the Settled Lands Act, with which, of course, the noble and learned Lord is perfectly familiar. I do not say that if additions of a valuable character were made by a tenant to houses built under these leases he would not be able to claim compensation. It appears to me that it would be perfectly right and reasonable that he should. The noble Earl Lord Dunraven dreaded the effect this provision would have upon tenant purchasers under the Land Purchase Act. I am afraid I was not able to follow his argument very closely, but I confess I do not see how the fact that this Bill is retrospective in character can raise any more fears in their minds than might conceivably be raised by the passing of the Bill at all. I can imagine the use of the argument, although I do not think it is one which ought to weigh with noble Lords, that any legislation of this kind might—unreasonably, as I think—cause a certain nervousness 20 to arise in the mind of tenant purchasers, but I cannot see that its retrospective character would add to those fears. We are, therefore, unable to accept the Amendment, and if it is persisted in we shall be compelled to divide against it.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I think your Lordships will not differ from me when I say that a proposal of this kind, a proposal to make this sort of legislation retrospective implies that the burden of proof rests with those who recommend it to Parliament. Surely it is not right to make such legislation retrospective unless it can be clearly established that public interest requires such a step. Now, has any case been made out this evening to show that it is necessary for the public welfare that this provision of the Bill should apply to past improvements? It is clearly not necessary in order to encourage people henceforth to improve the condition of these Irish towns. It may be necessary to put the clause in the Bill to give that encouragement, but it is certainly not necessary to make it retrospective for that purpose. Then, is it necessary in justice to the tenants who have already made such improvements? It has been pointed out that these tenants made their improvements with no expectation that they would receive compensation, and it has not been suggested by anyone that they made the improvements under duress or coercion on the part of their landlords. The noble Earl made rather a singular appeal, an appeal ad miseri-cordiam, founded upon what he described as the notorious improvidence of Irish tenants in matters of this kind. Noble Lords who are familiar with Ireland will tell us, perhaps, whether in their experience an Irishman is not generally a pretty shrewd and close bargainer when his pocket is concerned. At any rate, I do not think we can quite afford to accept the noble Earl's picture. There is another very important reason for which I think a distinction should be drawn between improvements made before and after the Act. In the case of improvements made after the Act certain very necessary safeguards are provided in the Bill. Notice has to be given to the 21 landlord. He has an opportunity of objecting, and he also has an opportunity of making the improvement himself. It is quite obvious that you cannot give those safeguards in the case of an improvement made years ago before this legislation took place. We have had this proposal justified on the ground of old precedents. We are told that the Land Acts broke contracts and were retrospective in their operation. We all know that that is the case, and we protested against those Acts on that ground at the time when they were before Parliament. But if those Acts were agreed to, and agreed to reluctantly, it was because we were constantly told that the agricultural tenants in Ireland were helpless people who could not be trusted to make bargains on their own behalf, and it was for that reason that in the first Land Act an exception was made in the case of what were described as English managed estates and also, I think, in the case of holdings above a certain valuation. At any rate, that legislation was resorted to on the ground that the condition and state of those small Irish tenants was so exceptional that they required the special protection of the law. It really cannot be alleged that what was true of those tenants is also true now of the class of people who build houses in Irish towns. Therefore I cannot allow myself to be influenced by the argument founded on precedent, and if my noble friend goes to a division I shall certainly vote with him.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (The Marquess of RIPON)
My Lords, I am afraid I hold what your Lordships will consider rather extreme opinions on this subject. It seems to me, if a man makes improvements in the house he occupies, that when his tenure comes to an end upon any ground, and those improvements enable the landlord to let the house for a higher
§ sum than it was let for before, there is a moral obligation on the owner to compensate the man for giving him that advantage. I am the owner of house property as well as of landed property, and I have always endeavoured to act towards my tenants on that principle. I should be ashamed if I did not do so. I am bound to say, therefore, that I give my full and cordial support to this part of the Bill. As your Lordships will observe, it is only in the case of improvements which, when the tenure terminates, add to the letting value of the house, and from which therefore the owner can obtain an advantage by getting a higher rent, that the Bill would apply. To my mind it is perfectly just and right that that obligation should be enforced. Your Lordships have had before you a variety of precedents for the retrospective application of Acts of this kind, and one of those was that of the Land Act of 1870. I should like to ask my noble friend opposite how he voted upon that occasion. The Land Act of 1870 was passed when my noble friend did not sit on the same side of the House as he does now, and I confess I should be surprised if I found that my noble friend had voted against that Act of that occasion.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
said that all owners were not in the position of the noble Marquess who had just spoken. A large number of working men had invested their savings in property which would be affected by the Bill, and were not in a position to pay compensation.
§ On Question, "That the words 'subsequent to the date of the passing of this Act,' be there inserted," their Lordships divided: —Contents, 123; Not-Contents, 29.23
|Bedford, D.||Zetland, M.||Darnley, E.|
|Devonshire, D.||Dartrey, E.|
|Somerset, D.||Bradford, E.||Derby, E.|
|Wellington, D||Camperdown, E.||Devon, E.|
|Cathcart, E.||Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch|
|Ailesbury, M.||Cawdor, E.||and Queensberry.)|
|Hertford, M.||Clarendon, E.||Feversham, E.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Coventry, E.||Fortescue, E|
|Salisbury, M.||Dartmouth, E.||Innes, E. (D. Roxburghe.)|
|Lauderdale, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)|
|Lichfield, E.||Atkinson, L.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and|
|Lonsdale, E.||Avebury, L||Mount-Earl.)|
|Lucan, E.||Balfour, L.||Kenyon, L.|
|Mayo, E. [Teller.]||Balinhard, L. (E. Southesk.)||Kilmaine, L.|
|Morley, E.||Barrymore, L.||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)|
|Northbrook, E.||Biddulph, L.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Blythswood, L.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Orford, E.||Borthwick, L.||Lawrence. L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E.||Botreaux, L. (E. Loudoun.)||Leith of Fyvie, L.|
|Plymouth, E.||Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)||Manners, L.|
|Radnor, E.||Burton, L.||Massy, L.|
|Romney, E.||Calthorpe, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Shaftesbury, E.||Carew, L.||Mowbray, L.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)||Newlands, L.|
|Waldegrave, E.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)||Newton, L.|
|Wicklow, E.||Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Clinton, L.||Poltimore, L.|
|Clonbrock, L.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Bridport V.||Colchester, L.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Churchill, V.||Dawney, L. (V. Downe.)||Rathdonnell, L.|
|Falkland, V.||De Freyne, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Falmouth, V,||De Mauley, L||Robertson, L.|
|Hill, V.||Deramore, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Douglas, L. (E. Home.)||Sanderson, L.|
|Knutsford, V.||Dunalley, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Llandaff, V.||Dunboyne, L||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde)|
|St. Aldwyn, V.||Dunleath, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E.|
|Gerard, L||Sudley, L. (E. Arran.) [Teller.]|
|Abinger, L.||Grey de Ruthyn, L.||Talbot de Malahide, L.|
|Addington, L.||Hastings, L.||Ventry, L.|
|Alington, L.||Heneage, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Inverclyde, L||Wolverton, L|
|Ardilaun, L.||Kenlis, L. (M. Headfort.)||Zouche of Haryngworth, L|
|Crewe, E. (L. President.)||Courtney of Penwith, L.||Hamilton of Dalzell, L.|
|Denman, L.||Haversham, L|
|Ripon, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and||Headley, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Emly, L.||Mendip, L. (V. Clifden.)|
|Craven, E.||Eversley, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Farrer, L.||Pirrie, L.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Fitzmaurice, L.||Ribblesdale, L. [Teller.]|
|Glantawe, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Selby, V.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.)||Sefton. L. (E. Setfon.)|
|Colebrooke, L.||Grimthorpe, L.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
moved the addition of a proviso that the sum to be awarded as compensation for an improvement should not exceed the capitalised value of such addition to the letting value of the holding as the Court should determine to be the direct result of the improvement. He said he understood from what had been stated in the other House by the Chief Secretary that the Government were prepared to accept his Amendment.
In page 1, line 13, after the word 'landlord,' to insert the words 'provided always that
the sum to be awarded as compensation for any improvement shall, in no case, exceed the capitalised value of such addition to the etting value of such holding as the Court shall determine to be the direct result of such improvement."—(Lord Ashbourne.)
The noble and learned Lord will see that there is an Amendment standing in my name which is very much in the same sense as his. But possibly he prefers his own Amendment to mine.
In that case I may say at once that if the noble and learned Lord insists on his Amendment we shall not resist it.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
proposed the insertion of words providing that in awarding compensation for improvements the Court should take into consideration the length of time during which the tenant had enjoyed the advantage of his improvements. This, he said, would be in accordance with the Land Act of 1870, which the Government had put forward as the precedent for this Bill. In the Land Act of 1870, which was very germane in many ways to this measure, there were three considerations which had to be taken into account in assessing the compensation due to a tenant for improvements on quitting his holding. Two of these were included in the present measure, which provided that the Court, in awarding compensation to the tenant in respect of such improvements, might, in reduction of the tenant's claim—take into consideration the rent at which such holding had been held, and any benefits which the tenant may have received from his landlord in consideration expressly or impliedly of the improvements made.For some unexplained reason the other consideration had not been included, and the object of his Amendment was to rectify the omission. It was only fair, if a tenant enjoyed for a great many years the advantage of the improvements, that the whole cost of the improvements should not be thrown upon the landlord. The Amendment he was now moving was brought forward by the Solicitor-General for Ireland during the discussion on the Town Tenants Bill of 1905 in another place, and it was also brought forward during the passage of this Bill through the other House. It might be argued that in the Land Act of 1896 it was laid down that the mere enjoyment by the tenant of any improvement was not to be taken into consideration unless it could be shown that the rent of the holding was fixed, reduced, or abated, or after the improvement was made allowed to remain unaltered in order to recoup the tenant for his expenditure of capital and labour in making the improvement. But in the 26 Act of 1896 this consideration applied expressly to the fixing of a fair rent on a holding which a tenant had no intention of quitting. On the other hand, this consideration in the present Bill only applied to compensation being given to a tenant on quitting his holding. It was, therefore, an entirely different thing. Great importance was attached to his Amendment in Ireland by a very large number of those interested in land tenure, and he hoped His Majesty's Government would see their way to accept it. There was another reason why his Amendment should be accepted, and it was that it covered the question of wear and tear. Wear and tear might be said to be already covered in Clause 1, but there was no harm in making doubly sure. It was logically fair that a man should not be compelled to pay after nineteen years use for an improvement of a perishable nature at the same rate as if it had been made only a year previously.
In page 1, line 20, after the word 'consideration,' to insert the words 'the time during which the tenant may have enjoyed the advantage of the improvements, and."—(The Earl of Arran.)
said the Amendment did not seem to him to be one of very great importance. It was considered in Grand Committee in the House of Commons before the Government had adopted the Bill, and was rejected by a majority of twenty when twenty-three only voted. The Government objected to the Amendment on the ground that it was unnecessary, because its object was attained by the words already in the clause directing the Court to take into consideration the rent at which the holding had been held—And any benefits which the tenant may have received from his landlord in consideration expressly or impliedly of the improvement made.Surely the length of time of a tenancy was a benefit such as the Court would take into consideration. Therefore he submitted that the point was already provided for in the Bill. The noble Earl had quoted the Land Act of 1870 in his favour, but the Committee had just divided against a principle which 27 was in that Act. It was hardly fair for the noble Earl to take the precedent of the Land Act of 1870 when it suited him and to deride it when it did not suit him. He would also point out that the time during which the tenant might have enjoyed the improvement was not a matter which affected the landlord. All that the landlord was asked to pay for was the actual benefit which he derived from the improvement. This was not a matter of very great importance upon which in their judgment it would be necessary to divide the Committee, but he trusted the noble Earl would not press the Amendment.
THE EARL OF MEATH
asked whether in the case of a middleman who had allowed houses to lapse into absolute disrepair so that no tenant would take them, and who threw himself therefore on the head landlord and gave up his tenancy, there could be any claim against the head landlord for improvements which had been made possibly hundreds of years before.
said the point raised came under Clause 4 of the Bill, which he thought dealt pretty clearly with it.
§ Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 2:—
§ Consequential Amendments agreed to.
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
moved to leave out sub-section (5), which ran—A tenant shall not be entitled to claim compensation for any improvement made before 28 the passing of this Act, except permanent buildings, unless made within twenty years before the date of such claim.He said this was a consequential Amendment upon the first to which the Committee had agreed.
In page 2, lines 20 to 23, to leave out sub-section (5)."—(The Earl of Dunraven.)
§ Consequential Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 3:—
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
had an Amendment to sub-section (2). That sub-section ran—Provided always that the landlord may, at any time after receiving the tenant's notice, or during the hearing by the Court, or after the decision of the Court, undertake to execute the improvement himself, and may execute the same in a reasonable and proper manner, and charge the tenant with a sum not exceeding five pounds per centum per annum on the outlay incurred in executing the improvement, or at the election of the tenant not exceeding such annual sum payable for a period of twenty-five years as will repay such outlay in the said period with interest at the rate of three pounds per centum per annum, such annual sum to be recoverable as rent.The object of the Amendment was to insert, before the last seven words of the sub-section, the words, "five pounds per centum or other." As the sub-section read, an option was given to the landlord to carry out the improvements which had been decided upon at his own expense and charge the tenant 5 per cent. on the money he had expended, or, as an alternative, the tenant might require him to charge such a sum as would repay him within twenty-five years at interest of 3 per cent., such interest to be recovered as rent. By his Amendment power would be given to enable the 5 per cent. to be recovered as rent in the same way as the 3 per cent.
In page 3, line 11, after the word 'such,' to insert the words "five pounds per centum or other."—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)
said he was informed that an Amendment of the character proposed by the noble Lord would remedy a defect in the clause. But the words which the noble Lord proposed were in themselves not quite clear. He suggested to Lord Oranmore that instead of the words, "any such annual sum," the words, "any annual sum charged against a tenant under this sub-section" should be inserted.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In the last line of the sub-section, to leave out the words 'such annual sum,' and to insert the words 'any annual sum charged against a tenant under this sub-section."—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)
§ Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 4 agreed to.
§ Clause 5:—
*THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE
moved to substitute for the first and governing sub-section of the Bill the clause relating to compensation for disturbance which had been inserted by the Government in the English Land Tenure Bill. To this clause he proposed to add the proviso that compensation should in no case exceed one year's rent of the holding. He said the clause was a remarkable one for this reason: there had been many Town Tenants Bills brought in, but never before had a compensation for disturbance clause been introduced into such a Bill. The clause as it stood would undoubtedly involve a system of rent-fixing for houses, although, on the admission of Mr. Bryce, such a system would be unjust and unworkable. What would be the operation of the clause as it stood? As he was advised from Ireland it would fall among the duties of the Court to decide whether the rent was 30 reasonable or not. That obviously resulted in the Court saying what a reasonable rent was, and there they had the germ of rent-fixing at once. It was admitted on all sides that that system was a disastrous one. They knew its effect from their experience of agricultural tenancies in Ireland, and it was only being got rid of at great loss to the State, though he might add that the State was not paying as much as it ought to pay for the blundering legislation of noble Lords opposite in 1881. He knew that the Government denied the proposition he was putting forward, and that the Chief Secretary had stated in the House of Commons that it was not intended that rent-fixing should be construed as coming under this clause. That was very cold comfort because it was well known that the intentions of the framers of Acts were not taken into account when the Acts came to be construed; and, though he acknowledged that the Government had stated quite frankly that they did not intend that rent should be construed as part and parcel of an onerous condition, he confessed he would have felt more easy on the subject had they put down an Amendment at this stage to make that clear. As noble Lords on the Opposition side of the House were advised, rent would be so construed. His Amendment, with two slight exceptions, was taken from the English Land Tenure Bill now before Parliament. The tenure of farms in England, was, he understood, practically the same as tenure of houses in Ireland. He was speaking, of course, of the system under which negotiations took place betwen the landlord and the tenant. The method of lease-making was practically the same. The Government showed that they believed this when they adopted the English Land Tenure Bill Clause for an Irish House Tenure Bill. But the Land Tenure Bill Clause as it was adopted by the Government had been thrown overboard. It was found not to hold water, and the English Land Tenure Bill had been brought to the same condition as regards compensation for disturbance as he now sought to bring this Bill, with two exceptions. Their Lordships would notice towards the end of his proposed Amendment the word "removal." In the 31 English clause the words "sale or" were inserted before "removal." He had omitted those words in his Amendment, because obviously it would be unreasonable that a landlord should be liable to compensate a tenant for the sale of his stock if he preferred to sell it, instead of moving it thirty or forty yards across the street. The landlord might be forced to take a large quantity of perishable goods, and this would obviously be a most unreasonable obligation. The only other difference between his proposed new clause and the clause in the Land Tenure Bill was the proviso at the end—provided that such compensation shall in no case exceed one year's rent of the holding.It was only fair that there should be some limit to the claims which might be made. He had blushingly adopted this child which by right belonged to the Government, and he hoped they would therefore see their way to accept it and to welcome their own child back into their arms.
In page 4, line 7, to leave out from '(1),' to the end of line 15, and insert the words 'where the landlord, without good and sufficient cause, and for reasons inconsistent with good estate management, terminates or refuses to grant a renewal of the tenancy, or it is proved that an increase of rent is demanded from the tenant as the result of improvements which have been effected at the cost of such tenant, and for which he has not, either directly or indirectly, received an equivalent from the landlord, and such demand results in the tenant quitting the holding, the tenant upon quitting the holding shall, in addition to the compensation (if any) to which he may be entitled in respect of improvements, and notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary, be entitled to compensation for the loss or expense, which the tenant, by reason of his quitting the holding, sustains or incurs upon or in connection with the removal of his goods, implements, produce, or stock: provided that such compensation shall in no case exceed one year's rent of the holding."—(The Earl of Donoughmore.)
said that he was in the unenviable position of being between the devil and the deep sea, for while the noble Earl proposed to remodel the clause another noble Lord on the Opposition side of the House proposed to move its omission. He denied that the principle of rent-fixing was introduced, although the tenant who was capriciously evicted would have a claim to compensation. Dealing with the noble Earl's 32 proposed clause, he singled out certain phrases to show that a technical meaning was applied to certain words applicable to agricultural holdings, while the clause in the Bill dealt with business premises and the goodwill of the tenant. Words would have to be inserted in the proposed clause, therefore, to make it clear that compensation was to be paid for the loss of goodwill. The noble Lord was proceeding to read words which he suggested should be inserted, when
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
interposed, and said that in order to avoid a complicated discussion it would be better if the Government either adopted the proposed clause and put down Amendments to improve it or opposed its insertion at the present stage.
§ VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN
said it would be hard on the Committee to ask it to accept the changes suggested by the Government without an opportunity of further consideration bring allowed. It would be very difficult to insert the Government Amendment sat that stage. He thought the best course would be to insert Lord Donoughmore's Amendment now and to further consider the points raised by the Government on Report.
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
hoped the Government would not adopt that course. It appeared to him that the clause in the Bill was a better one for the purpose aimed at than the clause proposed to be substituted. The clause in the Bill was an attempt to protect shopkeepers in their business against totally unreasonable conditions sought to be imposed by the landlord, and so onerous as to amount practically to an eviction. He did not see how any adequate protection could be given to business premises unless compensation was granted for the loss the tenant sustained through the unreasonable conduct of the landlord, who might be, after all, actuated by a feeling of malice, and who might wish to turn the tenant out under terms which might make it impossible for the shopkeeper to remain. It would be easier to amend the clause as it stood than to amend the clause of the noble Earl.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I am sorry that noble Lords opposite were not placed in possession of the Amendments which my noble friend behind me desired to move to the Amendment as it stands on the Paper, but we again recur to the fact that we have not had very much time to consider the Amendments. I think the difficulty has in some degree arisen owing to the fact that the noble Earl who has moved the Amendment has shown an absolute adherence to the words of the Land Tenure Bill, which I will not describe as servile, because that is a word which is not liked, but which seems to me to partake somewhat of the nature of slavery. As regards the point that was raised by the noble Earl who has just sat down, we were disposed to accept the form of words of the noble Earl really in order to make it absolutely clear that we were anxious to avoid any suspicion whatever that anything like rent-fixing was intended by this clause, and so far as the noble Earl's words made that clear we were prepared to accept them, but with the important qualifications mentioned by my noble friend. In the first place, as regards the matter of goodwill, goodwill is not mentioned in this clause of the Land Tenure Bill, and for the very good reason that where goodwill exists on a farm it is because the estate is a well-managed one. I am speaking, of course, of our English land system. The goodwill of a farm in England is created by the act of the landlord. As regards town tenancies, shops and places of business, there may be a substantial goodwill created by the act of the tenant, and the Government do not consider that one year's rent would be sufficient compensation in respect of that goodwill. Under the Act of 1870 seven years rent could be given as compensation. That, I quite agree, might be excessive here, but you have a precedent of a different kind in the Land Clauses Act, under which three years rent may be given. If noble Lords opposite will accept three years as the figure I think we may be able to come to terms on that point. With regard to the course to be pursued, I am in full agreement with the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn, that it would be better to take the words of the noble Earl as they stand, on the clear understanding that we only agree 34 to do so conditionally on the insertion of some such words as my noble friend has suggested. I hope, therefore, noble Lords opposite will unite with us in resisting the proposal by Lord Ridley to reject the clause altogether.
§ *THE EARL OF LEITRIM
moved to leave out "partly" and to insert "mainly" in the second sub-section, which ran—This section shall apply only to houses, shops, and other buildings occupied wholly or partly for business purposes.He said the Amendment was one of a drafting nature. The word "partly" might bring in any house in which the owner used one room or even a desk for business purposes.
In page 4, line 23, to leave out the word 'partly,' and insert the word 'mainly."—(The Earl of Leitrim.)
differed from the noble Earl in his statement that the Amendment was of a drafting nature. He thought it was an Amendment of some substance. If the word "mainly" was introduced instead of "partly" there were many cases where distinct hardship would ensue. There was the case where a family occupied a house and supported themselves out of the profits of a small shop on the ground floor. In that case if the word "mainly" was introduced they would be taking away from those people any possibility of compensation. By the Amendment the provision whereby a modest amount of compensation might be obtained for disturbance would be rendered nugatory. He hoped therefore that the Amendment would not be pressed.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
agreed with the noble Lord in charge of the Bill that the Amendment was not merely a drafting one. It was put down by Lord Leitrim with the intention of covering what was thought to be a possible inconvenience in interpreting the Bill. He thought that in the application of the clause it was unfortunate that the word "trade" did not appear. The noble Earl was not 35 wedded, he was sure, to the word "mainly." It had been suggested that "substantially" would be the best word, but it was certain that the use of the word "partly" would lead to difficulty and embarrassment. He did not look upon the matter as of first-class importance, but he thought it required consideration, and that the word suggested by his noble friend, or some analogous word, would improve the clause.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I need hardly say that we are anxious to meet noble Lords opposite where we can, but we think the word "mainly" would be open to the rather severe criticism which my noble friend passed on it and that it might cause certain cases to be omitted where there would be a very real claim for compensation. On the other hand, I quite admit that it is necessary that the business occupation should be one of a substantial character, and I think it is possible that some alternative phrase may be found between now and Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Moved, "That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
opposed the clause. For his part, he objected to the clause in any shape, for he was unable to understand on what principle it was based. Hitherto, no doubt, they had had Acts of a special character dealing with Irish property, but they had all been justified on the ground of some special circumstances affecting the particular class of property to which they applied. But in this case there was no justification of that kind. He could see no reason whatever why the ordinary long building lease should come under the Bill at all. He did not think that that made the Bill, or this particular clause, any more; desirable, but he thought that when they were asked to make this particular exception to the Bill, there should be some real grounds advanced for making the change. He would not trouble their Lordships with further reasons, which were very familiar to them from previous debates on the subject. What he did utter a serious protest against was this principle of compensation for disturbance in any shape or form.
§ * LORD BARRYMORE,
in opposing I the clause, said it seemed to him that it was absolutely bad from beginning to end. It was introducing a new principle with regard to legislation upon town holdings, and not only a new, but an absolutely bad and unsound I principle. This was not a mere Irish Bill. The Town Holdings Committee which sat in the year 1889 and for three years onwards found that there was substantially no difference between the tenure of houses in Ireland and in English towns. That was to say, it was perfectly clear that the Bill now going through their Lordships' House would serve, when it passed, and as it passed, as a model, or, at any rate, if not a model, as the irreducible minimum of a Bill which should be passed for England and Scotland hereafter. Precedents had been mentioned by Lord Denman with regard to the Act of 1870, and reference had been made to the inclusion in that Act of a clause giving compensation for disturbance. The noble Marquess opposite asked his noble friend below him whether he did or did I not vote for that Bill. He admitted that he himself was in the House of Commons at that time, and being young, guileless, and simple, he believed what he heard from those who led the Government of the day, that there was no danger whatever in passing that clause giving compensation for disturbance, because it was a principle which could not possibly be carried further. Years had passed. They knew what had happened; they knew that from that had arisen all the difficulties and troubles of Irish land legislation. They knew how that seed that was sown then became afterwards the three F's, until at last they had come to an intolerable position, when all these millions of money had been advanced to wind up the concern. But he submitted that there was really no analogy between houses in towns and land. Their Lordships would probably think very lightly of his opinion, but he would like to quote the opinion of a very distinguished member of the Cabinet, Mr. John Morley, when a Bill similar to the present measure was brought into the House of Commons in the year 1886. Mr. Morley said that—Houses were not like land, because no limit was fixed by nature for houses. The extent of house accommodation was, to use the hated 37 words of political economy, simply a matter of supply and demand.…Under no circumstances could it be said, in relation to house property, that the occupier or tenant had created the subject-matter in the sense in which all admitted that the Irish tenant, in a great portion of Ireland, at any rate, had created the subject-matter of his holding.…The manifest reason why contracts not to claim for improvements were declared void under the Act of 1870 was because the tenant was supposed, and justly supposed, to have no real freedom. Although that was true of agricultural holdings, it was only true, if true at all, in a very modified degree in the case of a house in a town; because if a man was turned out of a house in a town he would still have a fair chance of getting some other house.…He was told that in Dublin, for example, there were only too many houses.…He thought Mr. Morley was quite good enough for him to quote. The analogy between the compensation for disturbance clause and the necessity for it in the Act of 1870 did not justify, or create a precedent for, introducing it into a Bill such as that now before the House. It would undoubtedly establish dual ownership, and they might have the mischief in towns that they had in the country. He did not know what support his noble friend and himself might have from that side of the House in resisting that clause, but he hoped that at any rate from His Majesty's Government they might have some. He remembered some years ago, in the House I of Commons, listening with rapt attention to a noble friend of his who was now Under-Secretary for War, when he successfully fought a similar Bill to this, and he had listened with great attention and pleasure to the speeches made by the Attorney-General for Ireland and the Chief Secretary for Ireland the other day when they both announced—and announced not only for themselves but for the Government of which they were members—that they would have nothing to do with compensation for disturbance. He thought the principle was so dangerous a one that he sincerely regretted that there should be any question of introducing it into this Bill.
§ VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN
said that the change proposed to be made by the omission of the clause emboldened him to address a few observations to their Lordships upon the present position of the clause. The noble Lord who had just sat down ap- 38 peared to find in this clause the germ, and something more than the germ, of fixity of tenure, of compensation for disturbance, and of fair rents. He must confess he found nothing of the kind in the clause as it now stood. His noble friend Lord Ridley considered that in the words of the Bill as it came to their Lordships' House something of that kind, at any rate, might be found. But he thought it was impossible to find it in the clause as it now stood. There was not even compensation for disturbance, in the ordinary sense of the term, in that clause; because compensation was to be limited and defined as that which the tenant lost simply by removal. The noble Lord opposite desired to insert "goodwill," no doubt, but, as the clause now stood, it was simply confined to loss by removal, and he could not see how any of the terrible consequences which had been alluded to by Lord Barrymore could result from the clause. But there was something more. This same clause had yet to be discussed in the English Land Tenure Bill. He did not know what Amendments would be made in it, or in what shape it would emerge; but his noble friend Lord Donoughmore had already said that in whatever shape the Bill emerged, he proposed to amend the clause to meet any changes made. Their Lordships had passed the Second Reading of two Bills—the Land Tenure Bill and this Bill. It certainly would not be denied that this clause was one of the most important in this Bill, and it certainly was by far the most important in the Land Tenure Bill. Their Lordships had accepted the Second Reading of both Bills. It appeared to him that if this clause were now to be rejected, either in the present Bill or in the Land Tenure Bill, what was done on the Second Reading would practically be negatived. He hoped their Lordships would not take any such course, and if his noble friend who proposed the omission of the clause asked why this proposal should be made with reference to business and trade premises in towns, he would venture to say, in spite of the quotation which Lord Barrymore had made from Mr. John Morley, that to his mind it was more necessary in towns than in the country. His noble friend had quoted some words from Mr. John Morley to the 39 purport that if a man was evicted from a farm he could not get a farm anywhere else, but that if a man was evicted from a shop he could get another shop. So far as his experience went, if a man should be evicted from a farm he had no difficulty, in the part of England to which he belonged, in getting another farm as soon as he wished. But how about a tradesman in a market town? If a tradesman in a market town was turned out of a shop in the centre of that town, could he easily get a similar shop, equally well situated for the purpose of carrying on his business? He thought the hardship in such a case was greater than in the case of a farm tenant, and therefore he was quite unable to support the excision of a clause which he certainly should not be prepared to vote against as applicable to farm tenants in England. Under these circumstances he hoped their Lordships would not go to a division on this question.
*THE EARL OF MAYO
said there was a little secret history in regard to this clause which nobody had mentioned at all. The real truth of the matter was that the clause in the original Bill was denounced, stock, lock, and barrel, by the Chief Secretary and by the Attorney-General in the House of Commons. Then what happened? There was that little incident down at Loughrea, and Ward was evicted. There was a siege, the police in great numbers were called to Loughrea, and then Sir Antony Macdonnell, the Under-Secretary for Ireland, was sent down bearing the olive branch of peace, gilded with hints of legislation. If he had said "promises," he knew he should be called upon at once to retract that word, so he had used the word "hints." No doubt Sir Antony Macdonnell had hinted at legislation. What was the result? The result was that there was peace. And another result was that suddenly the Government became immensely enamoured of compensation for disturbance. That was the real history of this clause, and they could not shirk that little secret history which everybody had avoided in the most palpable manner. They were now asked to adopt a clause which was in the English Land Tenure Bill. Perhaps that was the best way of getting out of the difficulty, but it did not commend itself to him as an Irishman, because English methods, speaking 40 broadly, frequently did not go down very well in Ireland. However, when the Report stage came on they would see what the Government were prepared to do with regard to this clause; and there fore for these reasons he would not vote for the excision of the clause, because he felt there was something in the point with regard to goodwill, if that goodwill was entirely confined to trade and business premises.
§ Clauses 6, 7, and 8 agreed to.
§ Clause 9:—
§ *LORD BARRYMORE,
in moving the omission of Clause 9, said that it was a clause which prohibited contracting out. The Bill as it stood surely went sufficiently far in the direction of an attack on freedom of contract, without its being necessary to pass this clause, and absolutely to prohibit it. It had been the old law; it had always worked well, and it was based on sound principles This was an entirely new principle as regards tenure in towns, and it was simply an instance of grandmotherly legislation which the late Sir William Harcourt used so much to deplore and to attack. If tenants were not permitted to contract themselves out, landlords would inevitably have to demand higher rents so as to protect themselves against all sorts of claims and all sorts of litigation which were sure to ensue; or else they would have to grant lettings for only short terms, so that they might in that way get outside the provisions of the Bill. The probability was that if the clause was passed as it stood it would do more harm than good to the tenants. He would remind their Lordships, as they had been reminded before, that the immediate landlords were often small, poor men and women—people who had by industry saved a little bit of money which they had put into house property, whilst their tenants were very often far better to do, and far better able, from every point of view, to take care of themselves than the landlords were. It should never be forgotten that, although this Bill would attack, and to some extent injure, large landlords, the great mass of immediate landlords were small, poorish people 41 who would suffer under this Bill, and against whom claims for compensation would be made. Tenants in Irish towns were well able to take care of themselves there was not the slightest fear of their not being able to make bargains with their landlords, and it was far better that the old law of freedom of contract between them should remain. The Bill did not apply simply to small tenants in small towns; it applied to the big tenants in big towns. It applied to banks and insurance offices and people of that kind, in towns like Dublin and Belfast; it applied to every house throughout the country, whether large or small—in the country and in the towns. He instanced the houses in Merrion Square or Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin—his noble and learned friends alongside him who inhabited those houses were surely capable of taking care of themselves in their dealings with a landlord, without the protection of such a Bill as this. And what would happen in other cases? A gentleman would let his house—it might be to the Lord-Lieutenant, it might be to the General Commanding the Forces, as was the case at the present moment in an instance which he had in his mind. Were those gentlemen to be supposed to be incapable of looking after themselves, and was it necessary to put in a clause such as this to forbid their contracting out of the Act? It seemed to him that it was a very mischievous provision, and he hoped the clause would be omitted.
said he was surprised to hear the noble Lord say that, in his opinion, this Bill damaged, and did harm to, the poor people in Ireland. That was very strange, because it was admitted that there was a unanimity of feeling in Ireland in favour of the Bill. That was admitted even by Mr. Walter Long, speaking at Kingstown, on the occasion to which he had already alluded. There was ample precedent, both in English and in Irish Acts, for such a clause as this, in order to prevent contracting out. In the Irish Acts of both 1870 and 1881, it occurred in regard to tenancies below a certain value; it occurred in the English Agricultural Holdings Act of 1883: and it also occurred in the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1897, the Tithe Act of 1901, and the Licensing Act of 1904. The 42 last three of those measures, he would venture to remind their Lordships, were passed by the Government of noble Lord opposite. He trusted, therefore, that they would not support the noble Lord in his proposal for the rejection of the clause. He would also venture to point out that, in another part of the Bill, although it did not amount to contracting cut, considerable protection was given to the landlord. By sub-section (3) of Clause 2 it was provided that the tenant might agree with the landlord to make no improvement at all, and he submitted that that was a measure of contracting out, although not actually contracting out of the Bill. The Government attached very great importance to this clause, and if noble Lords pressed the Amendment they would be obliged to divide the Committee against it.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I am inclined to admit that there is something to be said for some clause of this kind, because it seems to me that if you go the length of imposing upon the parties provisions of the kind contained in this Bill, you really are doing so on the assumption throughout that you cannot leave them to themselves to make these arrangements, and that therefore it is impossible to leave the door entirely open to everybody to elude the provisions of the Bill. The defect of this clause seems to me to be that it is an indiscriminate clause, and applies to all kinds of town tenants, big and little. I should have been inclined to suggest to my noble friend opposite not so much that he should withdraw this clause, as that he should consider whether its operation might not be limited by restricting that operation to the ease of poor tenants and tenants who had not obtained protection by a lease for a certain number of years sufficient to secure their interest. It is really ridiculous to say to the occupiers of large and valuable houses, in the best part of Dublin, "You shall not make a contract with the ground landlord of your house;" but if the operation of the clause could be restricted in some such manner as I have suggested, I think it would be more deserving of the favourable consideration of your Lordships.
§ THE EARL OR CREWE
was glad that the noble Marquess who had just sat 43 down recognised that the main reason for inserting a clause of this kind was the same which had operated in causing preceding Governments to insert similar clauses in other Bills. The fact was that there were certain eases where contracts were nominally free, but, owing to the existence of various circumstances, they could not be regarded as really perfectly free. It was those contracts which were liable to be entered into by direct or indirect compulsion, to quote the words of the Bill, which the words were intended to meet. Was it really necessary to do what the noble Marquess opposite would wish them to do—to put in words explicitly excepting other cases? The noble Lord would see that if the Court was of opinion that the contract was of a reasonable character and was entered into without any kind of compulsion, the contract would undoubtedly be allowed to stand. Their Lordships would appreciate that supposing a great business firm like Messrs. Guinness & Son entered into a contract with a landlord to acquire some land, and at the same time desired to contract themselves out of the provisions of the Bill, and the landlord agreed, it was perfectly clear the Court would not hold that such a firm was likely to suffer either direct or indirect compulsion and the clause would be allowed to stand; and it appeared to him to be exceedingly difficult to find any limiting words to exclude cases which he quite admitted might reasonably be excluded without excluding other cases under which some sort of duress might be laid upon the weaker parties. He thought that as the clause stood, with the option of the Court to decide upon the merits of the claim, the cases which the noble Marquess had in mind were quite safeguarded.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
said there was no doubt that the closing words of the section just referred to were very important and left to the Court the power of saying that compensation should be given if it came to the conclusion that a tenant had entered into a contract by direct or indirect compulsion. The noble Earl had given the very extreme case of the great firm of Guinness, but he did not think any Court would hold that a man of ordinary wealth and 44 substance was coerced, or came in any way under compulsion. The closing words of the clause were of importance, and no doubt should speak for themselves, but there was also a great deal in the suggestion made by the noble Lord who opposed the clause. It might be that his noble friend would be satisfied to leave the matter until the Report stage and see whether the Government were likely to meet his views.
§ LORD ATKINSON
said that if the noble Lord would refer to the latter part of Clause 9 he would see that in order that a contract might be held to be valid it must fulfil two conditions—first, it must be reasonable, and secondly, it must not have been brought about by direct or indirect compulsion. To take the analogy to which the noble Lord had referred, if Messrs. Guinness entered into a contract with regard to taking a house, that contract might be set aside if it were held to be unreasonable, although, of course, the suggestion of indirect compulsion in such a case would be absurd.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
pointed out that the noble Lord had overlooked the words, "with regard to the circumstances of the case." Those words made a very material difference.
§ *LORD BARRYMORE
said that under the circumstances he would withdraw his opposition for the present, but would reserve the right of bringing the matter up again upon the Report stage of the Bill.
§ Clause 10:—
§ Drafting Amendment agreed to.
in moving an Amendment giving the right to appeal from any determination of the County Court, and making the enactments in the County Court (Ireland) Acts, 1851 to 1889, relating to appeals in the case of ordinary civil Bill, to apply, said that as the Bill stood, the appeal was direct to the Court of Appeal. He proposed as an alternative to that, that the appellant should have the right of appeal to the Judge of Assize. The great 45 advantage of that would be that the Judge of Assize would rehear the case, and that he would have all the witnesses before him; he would be able to judge by their manner and otherwise of the truthfulness of their evidence, and to come to a proper and right conclusion upon the facts. It would also be a very much cheaper tribunal than the Court of Appeal, because the Court would come to the litigants instead of the litigants having to go to the Courts in Dublin. In the case of the appeal given by the Bill to the Court of Appeal, the Court of Appeal would have to take the evidence from the note—not always a very full or accurate one—of the Court Judge.
said that if the noble Lord would forgive him interrupting for one moment, it might save time. His Majesty's Government quite accepted the sense of both the noble Lord's Amendments, although they were not able to bind themselves to the exact words.
said that in that event he would simply move both the Amendments which stood in his name.
In page 5, line 26, after the word 'Act' to insert the following new subsection: '(3) An appeal may be taken from any determination of the County Court under this Act, and the enactments in the County Court (Ireland) Acts, 1851 to 1889, relating to appeals in the case of ordinary civil Bill, shall apply accordingly.
In line 27, after the word 'appeal' to insert the words 'at the election of the party appealing."—(Lord Dunboyne.)
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
suggested that the words "at the election of the party appealing" might perhaps be more conveniently inserted after the word "shall" than after the word "appeal."
said that he had had a very short time in which to prepare the Amendments, and that they were not perhaps so accurately phrased as might be desired.
§ Clause 10, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 11 agreed to.46
§ Clause 12:—
THE EARL OF MAYO,
in moving the exemption of "clubs for social and athletic purposes" from the holdings to which the Bill was to apply, said he desired in the first place to mention that the clause was inserted after the Opposition in the Lower House had ceased to debate the matter. Further it was, he believed, put in by Mr. Glendinning in the early hours of the morning, and therefore it was not debated in any way whatever. He wished to draw attention to the fact that if a football club had leased a piece of ground near a town and had put up a stand upon that ground, it would no doubt add to the letting value of the ground, but when the landlord wished to resume the possession of the land for building sites at the expiration of the lease, the football stand would be utterly worthless. He therefore thought it would be as well if the words "clubs for social and athletic purposes" were left out. He hoped His Majesty's Government would see the force of what he had put before them, and agree to the omission he proposed, because a club of that sort was only a very superficial sort of structure, and there was no reason why there should be compensation for an improvement of that sort, which really, after all, was not in the true sense of the term an improvement at all.
In page 6, lines 4 and 5, to leave out the words 'clubs for social and athletic purposes."—(The Earl of Mayo.)
said that this was a comparatively small point, but, speaking on behalf of the Government, he would rather not have the words omitted. There might be cases—and he understood that there had been a case recently—in which the proprietors of a club had spent a good deal of money in improving the premises, resulting in great benefit to the neighbourhood, and attracting a great number of visitors to it. It seemed a little hard that the landlord should confiscate all those improvements to the direct loss of the proprietors of the club, or possibly to the detriment of the neighbourhood. As he had intimated, it was not a very important point, but the 47 Government would desire, if the Committee would allow them to do so, to retain the words in the Bill.
§ *THE EARL OF PEMBROKE,
in moving to insert words restricting the operation of the measure to buildings situated in towns, said that the Amendment standing in his name was a not unimportant one. They had been studying the Bill for some time, but he did not know whether their Lordships had noticed one point which struck him, namely, that the title of the Bill was "Town Tenants (Ireland) Bill," but that in no part of the Bill, until they came to the last clause, was the word "town" mentioned at all. That was rather curious; the Bill as it stood, as far as he could make out, might apply to any house, cottage, farmhouse, or building in any part of the country, and surely they had had of recent years enough legislation in connection with houses situate in agricultural districts to entitle them to a little freedom from further legislative attempts on the part of the present or any other Government. He quite admitted that it was somewhat difficult to define what a town was. Possibly that was the reason why His Majesty's Government had not put in the words which he now proposed to insert. Several suggestions had been made as to what was the proper definition of a town, one suggestion being to take a town of so many inhabitants. That would be obviously absurd in the present Bill, which was really meant to benefit all houses situate in all towns. Another alternative was that it should be confined to buildings situate in boroughs or towns defined by the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1888. But that, again, would exclude the six county boroughs, and he thought that they might dismiss that suggestion. The third suggested alternative was that it should be confined to buildings situated within an urban district as defined by the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, Section 22, sub-section (1). That Amendment had been put down for the Report stage by the Right Hon. James Campbell in another place, but had not been reached when the Bill was practically closured. That suggestion would also exclude the six county boroughs, though it would include 48 seventy or eighty towns and townships. He thought, therefore, that on the whole it would be wiser to have a limit, leaving it to the discretion and common sense of the Court to decide as to what constituted a house situate in a town. Of course they might work backwards from the Land Act of l870. Their Lordships would remember that under the Act of 1870 decisions were given as to town parks in connection with proceedings under the Irish Agricultural Land Act. In that case the question whether a holding was or was not a town park depended upon its proximity to a town, and the Court had to decide in that case what a town was. If they were able to decide that question in one case, why not in another? He thought it would be most important, especially for those who owned property outside a town, that they should not be subjected to the same penalties to which, he was afraid, those who owned houses in a town were to be subjected. He to asked their Lordships to reflect very carefully how dangerous this Bill might be, not only to Ireland, but in the future to England also, if some such words as he had suggested were not inserted. He begged to move.
In page 6, line 5, after the word 'buildings,' to insert the words 'situate in towns and."—(The Earl of Pembroke.)
agreed that this was a very important Amendment indeed, and it was one which the Government felt obliged strenuously to resist. The noble Earl had himself dealt with one objection which would be obvious to anyone—namely, the definition of a town. That must lead to a great deal of litigation. It must obviously be very hard to define what a town was, but the whole object of this Bill, or one of its chief objects, was that it should apply to the small towns, and, should he say, to the larger villages. in Ireland. Under the proposed Amendment the whole of these would go out of the Bill, and it was to a large extent with, the object of including those that the Bill was introduced. The noble Earl had said, rightly, to his mind, that the title of the Bill was not an appropriate one. There was a great deal of truth in that statement, but if the objection of the noble Earl only went to the title 49 he could assure him he would see that it was altered, if, on his part, the noble Earl would agree to withdraw this particular Amendment. The measure had been more accurately described, he thought, in this House by his noble friend Lord Donoughmore as a House Tenancies Bill, or some such title as that, but, at any rate, the Government would not quarrel with the title of the Bill if the mover of the Amendment would forego his desire to make this very serious alteration in its provisions. After all, it was not only in the case of very small cottages isolated in the country that they hoped the provisions of the Bill would apply. In the case, for example, of a blacksmith's shop at crossroads, it would be very hard that that shop should not be able to obtain compensation for improvements under the Bill. The same would apply to the case of a public-house at crossroads. A public-house was a very useful thing, and it was very hard that that, too, should be excluded from reaping the advantages of this Bill. He could say much more on, the subject, but he trusted that he had said sufficient to show that the Government attributed considerable importance to the matter, and if the noble Earl pressed it, they would feel obliged to divide the Committee upon it, and no doubt, also, it would be a subject of discussion when the Bill went down to another place.
§ THE EARL OF PEMBROKE
was sorry that he could not accept the rather one-sided bargain which had been offered him. In the few words which the noble Lord had addressed to the Committee, he had indicated all sorts of new fields over which this Bill would extend. He still considered that, as, in the proceedings under the Land Act of 1870, the Court had then been able to give decisions upon the question of what constituted a town park—decisions varying according to the circumstances of the case—so the Court would be able to make it clear in the present case as to who was a town tenant, and who was not. In the interest of all proprietors, both in Ireland and in England, he must press the Amendment.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
said he would like to know exactly what the noble Lord had in his mind on the subject of the 50 application of this Bill. Whoever was the original draftsman of the Bill must have had prominently in his mind the idea of a town, because the title was "Town Tenants (Ireland) Bill," and, as he understood, it was the object of his noble friend, Lord Pembroke, to give reality to that title and to conform the Bill to what was apparently the governing idea when the Bill was drafted. Various matters had been suggested by his noble friend which would limit the definition, and there were certain Acts of Parliament which would exclude a great many towns. The noble Lord (Lord Denman) had to a certain extent met the difficulty by putting to his noble friend a very wily suggestion, which, however, he had made to him in vain, as to county towns and villages. But what did he suggest putting in to qualify the wide diversity of houses and buildings which might be in a bog, or anywhere in the world, and not in any village—it might be on the favourite cross-roads of which the noble Lord had spoken. He did not think it was convenient to leave a Town Improvements Bill unfettered or unlimited by any reference to any aggregation of houses—hamlet, village, or county town—of course that might mean a large town—and there ought to be something to indicate that the title of town was still regarded as a matter that would to a certain extent govern the application of the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
quite admitted that the title of the Bill, as it had come to the House, laid His Majesty's Government open to a certain amount of criticism in that, as it had appeared all through, it was not intended only to apply to what would be roughly understood as a town. The noble and learned Lord who had just sat down had spoken of it as a Town Improvement Bill. He thought it had been evident all through that it was not intended to be of an urban character; it was intended to apply not merely to any aggregation of houses in particular which might be defined, but he should have said, speaking broadly, that it would apply to any house in Ireland which was not connected in any way with an agricultural holding.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
thought it clear that it was not intended to apply to agricultural holdings—at least, as he was advised.
§ *The Marquess of LANSDOWNE
I think the point is one which requires to be guarded. The Bill as now drawn, as is quite clear from what has been said by the noble Lord who is in charge of it, is very wide indeed in its scope. What I hope the noble Lord will consent to do is to consider the matter between now and the next stage of the Bill with a view to putting in words to meet our point. He has told us very fairly that in his view the Bill should only apply to urban premises.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
said he did not confine it to urban premises—he had explicitly said so—but he certainly did not understand that what the noble and learned Lord had seemed to hint at was possible—namely, that it should apply to agricultural holdings.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I dare say there is not much difference between what the noble Earl intends and what we desire, but we must have something more than intention to go upon. I therefore hope that the noble Earl will accept my learned friend's words for the present, and consider between now and the Report stage whether they cannot be improved upon.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
said that under the circumstances the noble Marquess had mentioned the Government would not divide the Committee against the words proposed, but they must not be taken in any way as agreeing to a restriction to places of an urban character—to towns in the conventional sense—of the provisions of the Bill. But they were quite content to let the matter stand over until the Report stage.
§ Clause 12, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 13:—
in moving to leave out lines 21, 22, and 23, on page 6, said that this was merely a drafting Amendment.
In page 6, to leave out lines 21, 22, and 23."—(Lord Denman.)
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
said he quite accepted the statement of the noble Lord that he was proceeding under the advice of his capable draughtsman, but as he had understood from the noble Lord earlier that it was intended that the Bill should not include building leases, he assumed that they would be covered by a lease made for a valuable consideration. That was what he would expect, and what would be reasonable. But what was the idea in the draughtsman's mind for the exclusion of all these? It was like the "town" in the title of the Bill.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 13 agreed to.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
THE EARL OF MAYO
said that with regard to the date when the Bill was to come into operation, 1st January, 1907, seemed rather soon.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
said that the noble Lord had not put down any Amendment to that effect. The date in the Bill was January, 1907.
THE EARL OF MAYO
We shall move an Amendment on the Report stage.
Standing Committee negatived. The Report of Amendments to be received on Friday next, and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 234.)