HL Deb 30 July 1908 vol 193 cc1680-2

Commons' Amendment considered (according to order).

Commons' Amendment—"In page 1, line 13, to leave out from the word 'commission' to the end of the clause."


I dare say your Lordships will remember that this was a somewhat important Amendment moved by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, which caused a considerable difference of opinion in your Lordships' House, which was not confined to one side. The case involved is where a tenant consents in writing to a compulsory acquisition of land by the Estates Commissioners; it was provided in the Bill that he should sign in the presence of two witnesses, and it was added that the consent should be filed as a record in the office of the Land Commission. That Amendment was inserted at the instance of Lord Atkinson, who added that notice of such filing should be given to the landlord and inserted in two successive issues of a newspaper; further, that such consent should not be acted upon if the landlord interested in or having a claim on the land should satisfy the Judicial Commissioner that the tenant had been compelled to give consent by unlawful means. That is the Amendment with which the Commons have disagreed, and I am in hopes that your Lordships will not insist on your Amendment, because in another place, when my right hon. friend moved to disagree with it he was supported in the strongest terms by Mr. Long on behalf of the Opposition. Nobody will dispute Mr. Long's experience in dealing with Ireland, and when he went so far as to say that he considered this Amendment made the Bill practically useless it must be taken as an expression of opinion by one who is qualified to speak from experience. Our argument was —and it was the argument, no doubt, which appealed to Mr. Long—that the process would be so long and troublesome, and possibly so expensive, that the purpose of the Bill, which is generally admitted to be a reasonable one, would be very seriously interfered with in these particular cases. I hope, therefore, your Lordships will agree not to insist upon this Amendment.

Moved, "That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment."—(The Earl of Crewe.)


Your Lordships may perhaps remember that when this Bill was before us I expressed great doubts as to the value of the second part of the Amendment inserted by your Lordships' House, so much so that I was unable to vote with my noble friend who moved it. I think the Bill as it came to us at first was much too loosely drawn, and that the Amendment made by this House, as it was accepted by the other House, has very materially improved the Bill. It requires that the consent of the tenant should be given with proper formality and in a manner which, to a certain extent, would preclude fraudulent consent being given; but the latter part of the clause I look upon in a different light. I cannot bring myself to believe that anything would be gained by allowing the landlord to set in motion the very cumbersome machinery provided by the second part of the clause. The remedy would be one of extremely doubtful value to him, and it would be open to the great drawback that it would lead to an amount of litigation which could not fail to have a very bad effect in the country and in the neighbourhood. It is also to be borne in mind that the proposal was objected to by a number of the tenants most concerned in this particular matter. Under these circumstances I earnestly hope that your Lordships' House will not insist upon your Amendment, or, at any rate, will not insist upon the whole of the Amendment, but will be content with that portion which has been accepted by the House of Commons.


After what has fallen from my noble friend on the front bench I feel it would be useless to press this Amendment on the House, but I should like to point out that this Amendment, moved by Lord Atkinson, was not so much directed in the interests of the landlord—at least in the opinion of most of those who supported him—as against intimidation practised in the district. We do not think it likely that intimidation is going to cease, taking into consideration the present policy of His Majesty's Government in Ireland, but at least it might be made more difficult, and though the people who are practising intimidation might gain their point in the end there would be considerable delay about, and additional publicity would be given to the existing state of things. The Amendment would not affect the tenant who was ready to go in consideration of the pecuniary advantages offered to him. On the other hand those in the neighbourhood who wished to remain would be to a limited extent protected from exposure to intimidation by the process indicated in the last sentence of the clause. It would be perhaps more of a protest against intimidation than anything else, but it might have had some effect.

On Question, agreed to.