§ House again in Committee (according to order).
§ [THE EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]
*LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD moved the insertion of a new clause after Clause 14. He apologised for a mistake in the printing of the proposed new clause on the Notice Paper, and said it should read as follows—
No advance shall be made under the Land Purchase Acts to the owner of a congested estate not situated in a congested districts county unless such estate has been brought by the Land Commission under section six of the Act of 1903.
§ He said that no congested estate at the present time could be perfectly or efficiently improved unless the Estates Commissioners had the full powers which Section 12 of the Act of 1903 conferred upon them. He was dealing now with congestion outside the scheduled or congested districts, not with congestion under the Congested Districts Board. In order to effectively improve an estate possessing congested holdings, it was absolutely essential that the whole of the internal arrangements of the holdings should in most cases be altered. In congested holdings, as their Lordships well knew, much of the land was in detached plots and much of it was separated from the nucleus of the holdings. The essential part of the work of improvement was the consolidation of holdings, bringing the various parts together, and in such a way consolidating the holdings as nearly as possible within a ring fence. That could 814 only be done if the authority dealing with congestion had the powers which Section 12 of the Act of 1903 conferred on the Congested Districts Board. If a landlord sold a congested estate to his tenant the tenants thereupon became the owners of their several holdings, and it was impossible to effect any improvement except with the consent of all the tenants concerned—a consent which the Estates Commissioners had, up to date, found it practically impossible to obtain.
§ If their Lordships would consult the recent Report of the Estates Commissioners, they would find that from the beginning of the operation of this Act—namely, from November 1, 1903—to March 31 last, the Estates Commissioners were only able to deal with twenty cases of congestion. The result was that, of course, outside the scheduled districts the congestion had continued; estates had changed hands, and congestion had been perpetuated in all those estates which had been so sold. The object of his Amendment was to enable the congestion to be relieved, and in order to enable the Estates Commissioners to do that he proposed that all congested estates should in future be sold to the Estates Commissioners under Section 6 of the Act of 1903; that no longer direct sales should take place between landlord and tenant of these congested estates. He trusted he had made it clear that if a direct sale between landlord and tenant took place no power conferred upon the Estates Commissioners to spend money on these estates would be effectual for the object in view, because it would be necessary before the Commissioners could effectually interfere that they should obtain the consent of every individual tenant on the estate to place the whole of their holdings in hotch-potch, as it were, and let the Commissioners deal with them as they pleased. That was practically impossible to expect, once a sale was completed; so that if their Lordships did not accept the proposal he made they would perpetuate congestion everywhere outside the scheduled areas. Within the congested areas the Congested Districts Board had the power which he claimed now for the Estates Commissioners.
§ Landlords would naturally ask themselves, "Are we to accept the prices which the Estates Commissioners offer us for our estates? Are we to have no appeal 815 from the price or against the arrangement proposed by the Estates Commissioners?" That was provided for in the second portion of his plan, which they would come to later; in such a case there should be a tribunal to which a landlord could appeal in the event of his being dissatisfied with the price offered him by the Estates Commissioners. They might say that that was compulsion. He admitted at once that the tribunal was common to the proposals which he now made and the proposals which might be made under a system of so-called compulsion, but he did not apply the word "compulsion" necessarily to his scheme. It was giving the landlords an opportunity, if they disagreed with the Estates Commissioners, of having the matter submitted to an impartial arbitration. Every landlord in Ireland, with few exceptions, was anxious to sell his property, provided he could get a fair and equitable price. It was a question of price with most Irish landlords, and he was anxious that the price to be given to them in order to settle once for all this great question should not only be fair but generous. Where there were two parties to a transaction, one anxious to buy and the other anxious to sell, the ordinary common sense procedure was to refer the matter in issue between them to the arbitrament of an impartial, intelligent, and competent arbitrator. That course was adopted in commercial transactions, and he did not see why it should not also be applicable to matters connected with Irish land. Proof in support of his proposals could be found in the evidence given before the Dudley Commission, but he preferred to submit this matter to the judgment of their Lordships on the plain issue. If their Lordships, however, did not adopt this plan, the relief of congestion outside the congested districts became a matter of impossibility. It would be for them to determine whether that congestion outside the scheduled districts was to continue a scanda to every observer or whether they would take advantage of this proposal. It might not be all that their Lordships wished, but at all events they might suggest such an improvement in the proposal as would give effect to the purpose he had in view.
In Part II of the Bill, to insert the following new clause:
'15.—(1) No advance shall be made under the Laud Purchase Acts to the owner of a congested estate not situated in a congested districts county
unless such estate has been brought by the Land Commission under Section 6 of the Act of 1903.'"—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I was rather waiting to hear what noble Lords opposite would say about this Amendment, because although I appreciate the object which my noble friend Lord MacDonnell has in view, there is no doubt that this Amendment considerably stiffens the clauses of the Bill. The proposal is that no direct sale shall take place in any part of an estate which is described as a congested estate under the definition of the Act of 1903. The noble Lord spoke of a congested estate as consisting of congested holdings, but, of course, there may be a great number of holdings on an estate of this kind which are not congested, and it certainly does seem a strong order, although the noble Lord may be right in thinking it necessary, entirely to abolish direct sales in cases of estates of that kind. I may also remind my noble friend that though there is much to be said for his Amendment, I think it could not possibly be applied to pending agreements.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I am advised that it does as it stands, but that, of course, would be a matter, if necessary, of a small alteration. The only other point on this first Amendment to which I ought to allude—although I do so with some diffidence when it comes to correcting the drafting of an Amendment drawn by my noble friend Lord MacDonnell—is his alteration of the words "tenant of a holding in" to "the owner of." That means that advances are made to the owners of estates by the Estates Commissioners; but advances are made to the persons who buy from the owner, and I think therefore that will require some alteration.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURI said he did not like to let the opportunity pass without saying a word in support of Lord MacDonnell's Amendment. There was a great deal to be said for this Amendment. He could take noble Lords to places in Ireland and show them cases where owing to the fact that the estates had been sold direct from landlord to tenant congestion was stereotyped for ever, and it had passed out of the possibilities of any Board like the Congested Districts Board to deal with it. The same thing really applied outside the congested districts, as Lord MacDonnell had pointed out. Of course, there were difficulties. His noble friend proposed to extend this to the whole of Ireland. He also saw a difficulty in understanding exactly what "congested estate" might mean in the rest of Ireland. Though he thought there was a great deal to be said for this Amendment, at the same time he did not suppose that his noble friend would press it when he saw that noble Lords were not quite prepared to accept it in the form in which he had presented it to the House.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ *LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD moved another Amendment to follow Clause 14. He said the last proposal he made had reference to the relief of congestion outside the scheduled areas. This proposal dealt with the relief of congestion within the scheduled areas, because that congestion could not possibly be relieved unless the untenanted land necessary for migration and for the enlargement of holdings was secured. This proposal substantially meant that in the province of Connaught untenanted land should be earmarked for the purposes of the Congested Districts Board. It was clearly proved in the evidence given before the Dudley Commission that there was not in the province of Connaught sufficient land to relieve the congestion in the existing scheduled areas, and the strongest evidence was brought before the Commission to show that day by day the stock of available land was being reduced and was passing into the hands of other than the congested people. He had the honour of being a member of that Commission, and the Commission came to the unanimous conclusion that if the relief of congestion was to be anything substantial, or to be anything more than a mere name, it was necessary to take immediate steps to forestall the further sale and 818 disposal of grass lands in the province of Connaught. It was a question of whether their Lordships were going to relieve congestion, or whether they were going to allow the land to get into the hands of the landless men. That was a point in which he had ventured in the Minute which he wrote to ask for a decision from the Government. It was a very difficult matter upon which to come to a decision; the decision had not been come to in the Bill as it stood, and he proposed this provision therefore with a view of challenging a decision on that point. If no decision was come to and if matters went on as they were, it would be better at once to say that the relief of congestion was a pious opinion which could not possibly be carried out in a practical way. In this instance also his drafting might be defective, but he trusted he had made his meaning clear. The grass lands in Connaught ought to be earmarked for the relief of congestion. In securing that land he thought the poor people who had small holdings in the neighbourhood, either on the land itself or in the immediate neighbourhood, ought to be the first to be helped. They had always been looking upon those lands, and if they were not satisfied it would be difficult to bring migrants into the neighbourhood. If they did not secure those grass lands now, it would be much better if they said "We will not go on any longer with the relief of congestion." They might spend money in Connaught on local industries or improving small holdings, and so on. That money, no doubt, would be well spent for the time, but it would not relieve congestion. A few years hence the same trouble would recur, and they would be faced with this difficulty in an even larger degree than now. On their Lordships' decision rested the question whether or not the relief of congestion in Connaught was or was not to be successful.
In Part II of the Bill to insert the following new clause:—
'(2) No advance shall be made otherwise than on behalf of the Congested Districts Board under the Land Purchase Acts for the purchase of untenanted land situated in an administrative county which contains a congested county unless the Land Commission are satisfied that the land is not needed for the relief of congestion in such administrative counties. This subsection shall not apply to demesne and home farm land.'"—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
As my noble friend Lord MacDonnell has stated, his 819 second Amendment opens up a question of the first importance, but I should like to put it to him whether his object could not be better met by an attempt to amend Clause 55 which deals with the disposition of parcels of land. The object which he desires to achieve is to limit the class of persons to whom this land may be sold, and I should have thought that his Amendment would come in more appropriately in some other form on the clause which deals with those matters, rather than on the question of making advances under the Land Purchase Act.
§ LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD
If the noble Earl prefers, I will withdraw the Amendment now, and bring it up on Clause 55.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 15:
§ 15.—(1) No advance exceeding the sum of three thousand pounds shall be sanctioned under the Land Purchase Acts to any tenant in pursuance of an agreement for the purchase of a holding entered into after the passing of this Act unless—
- (a) the tenant resides on the holding, or such holding is ordinarily used with the holding on which the tenant resides; or
- (b) a substantial portion of the holding has been tilled in each of the five years next preceding the date of the agreement
§ (2) A person shall be deemed to reside on a holding within the meaning of this section if he occupies a house in the immediate neighbourhood for the purpose of working or managing the holding.
§ (3) Section two of the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Amendment Act, 1888, and subsection (4) of section one of the Act of 1903, shall cease to have effect save as regards advances in pursuance of purchase agreements entered into before the passing of this Act.
§ LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE moved to omit from paragraph (a) the words "the tenant resides on the holding, or." He said that this was the first of a series of Amendments which stood in his name. He had in addition put down at the end an Amendment to leave out the clause altogether in case the Government were unable to meet him in any way or the question of privilege was again raised with reference to this matter. The Amendments which he proposed ought to commend themselves not only to the noble Earl, but also to the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, because they aimed at 820 increasing the discretionary powers of the Estates Commissioners. That was an object which the noble Earl and the Lord Chancellor had very much at heart. They had both twitted noble Lords on that side of the House with not placing sufficient confidence in the Estates commissioners, but noble Lords opposite did not quite understand the attitude of noble Lords on his side of the House in regard to this matter. They did not want the discretionary powers of the Estates Commissioners increased in cases which referred to the zones or to parts of grass lands, because they thought the Estates Commissioners were perhaps too keen and too zealous to protect the interests of the State, and that in doing so they might, perhaps, neglect to consider other interests as fully as he and his friends would like. But when it was a case of increasing the security of the State, they were all in favour of giving the Estates Commissioners full discretionary powers; at least he was. It had been remarked that this clause limited very much the advances which were made under the Act of 1903, by which the class of larger tenants was limited as regarded the benefits of the Act. This clause proposed to limit it in a great number of different cases, and to have all over Ireland small tenants of about ten acres, which would mean a very low standard of living, and a very low standard of agriculture. He could not help thinking that these large tenants with capital should have an opportunity of acquiring their holdings, and that at any rate it should be left to the discretion of the Estates Commissioners to judge whether these men were suitable persons to be given an advance under the Act. The Amendment which he now proposed was meant to meet the case of tenants who had two holdings which were not worked together, but he did not think it was a specially important one, and he rather moved it to make clear the trend of his Amendments. If, however, the noble Earl was not prepared to accept it, he would withdraw this particular Amendment.
In page 8, line 34, to leave out the words 'the tenant resides on the holding or.'"—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think it is impossible to quarrel with the noble Lord after the engaging candour with which he stated the purpose of this Amendment.
821 The discretion of the Estates Commissioners where it might conceivably be used for the public interest requires the close attention of the noble Lord, but where it might be used for the benefit of private interests he desires to enlarge it to the utmost possible degree. Now the clause as it stands limits the amount which may be advanced to £3,000 with the discretion of the Land Commission in certain cases to extend the limit to £5,000, and therefore when the noble Lord talked of ten-acre farms, I think he will admit that he was somewhat overstating the case.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
It is within strict limitations that this permission is given to the Estates Commissioners, and my object is to enlarge their powers.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I know, but £3,000 is a large price for a landlord's interest in a ten-acre farm. That is what the noble Lord proposes. By his first Amendment he substitutes £5,000 for £3,000, and by the fifth Amendment on the Paper he substitutes £7,000 for £5,000.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I beg the noble Lord's pardon; I thought he had finished. Well, I hope he will not press this, because we greatly prefer the clause as it stands, which we think covers all cases of this kind. The noble Lord will also observe that a case where a man owns two farms, and obviously cannot live on both, is covered, but we do not want to bring in a larger number of people who live nowhere near the farm.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *LORD CASTLETOWN moved to strike out the provision that in the case of any farm for which a purchasing advance of £3,000 was required, "a substantial portion" must have been "tilled in each of the five years next preceding the date of the agreement." His object in bringing forward this Amendment and two others 822 which stood in his name, was, he said, that he had a sort of paternal interest in this clause, because during the passage of the Act of 1885 he was enabled to get a section inserted which facilitated the sale of large farms to their occupiers. The suggestion made by His Majesty's Government that the advances from the Land Commission should not be larger than £5,000 at their discretion might be a wise one, but it must be remembered that in the future in Ireland as the landlords disappeared from the country, as he thought would be the case, the rural district councillors, the men of influence in different districts, would be selected from the class of large farmers. They would be the men to whom the people would go for advice and assistance. Paragraph (b), which he proposed to omit, brought in a rather absurd restriction. The clause provided that no advance exceeding £3,000 could be sanctioned under the Land Purchase Acts unless "a substantial portion of the holding has been tilled in each of the five years next preceding the date of the agreement." He yielded to nobody in his opinion that tillage was a very valuable and useful adjunct to all farms in Ireland, but he thought it rather absurd to make it a sine qua non that a portion of a farm must not be sold to a man unless a "substantial portion" of the farm was in tillage. First of all, it was very difficult to define what "substantial" would be. A man might have a farm of 400 acres, and it might be very advisable that he should have fifty acres of tillage, but the. Estates Commissioners might hold that that was not "substantial" and that he ought to have 200 acres in tillage, and they might refuse the concession which otherwise they would make to him. On the other hand, a farmer might agree with his landlord, before the actual completion of a purchase, to till what the Estates Commissioners might consider a substantial portion. Having tilled it for five years, with the consent of the landlord he would apply to the Commissioners and would receive his advance, and the next year the whole of the tillage would go back to grass. That would lead to collusion between an owner and his tenant. He could not see the advantage of paragraph (b) and he suggested to the Government that it would be far better to leave the Estates Commissioners to deal with particular applicants who came before them and when the Commissioners' inspectors had viewed the land.823
§ The Commissioners' inspectors would go down and examine the land and see whether the farmer was living on it and actually using it in his business—whether he was the bonâ fide farmer which this clause contemplated.
In page 8, lines 37 to 39, to leave out paragraph (b)."—(Lord Castletown.)
§ *LORD LANGFORD could not help thinking that Clause 15 was very much against the interests of the large farmers in Ireland. He detected in this and in almost every other clause an attempt to fine down large farms and to have small ones. The restrictions which the Government proposed to put on farmers, that they should be bound to till a certain amount of land, was a great penalty to put on men, and it was calculated to also damage the grazing interest. He happened to be an owner of some large farms himself, and he would be sorry that those farms should be under penalty of being tilled after they had been used for grass for years. It was a very unfair and unjust clause on the large tenant farmers in Ireland. Their Lordships knew, those who had tenants in Ireland, that it was an enormous advantage to have here and there throughout the country a large farmer who farmed his land in a better way, and who could be of assistance to his neighbours. He looked upon this clause as the thin end of the wedge to reduce, first of all, the owners and then the large farmers, so that in the long run the landless men who were about would get the land. They could not make a rule-of-three arrangement about land. It was an open secret that at the present moment land bought, and for which terminal annuities had been paid, had come into the hands of one man, but the land was now going into the hands of one owner, and they could not prevent that going on by any Act of Parliament. He hoped that Lord Castletown would press his Amendment to this part of the clause as being unfriendly and unjust to the large farmers in Ireland.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE OF BRANDON thought that both Lord Castletown and Lord Langford were under some misapprehension as to this paragraph. He agreed that it was most desirable to encourage large farmers, and not to penalise them. But this would not penalise them. This 824 was not a restriction, but an enlargement, and the object was to let in large tillage farmers, which was a most excellent thing.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE OF BRANDON said that whether that was the object of it or not, that was what paragraph (b) did. He appealed to the Lord Chancellor whether the paragraph would not admit to the privilege of purchasing farms for £3,000 if a substantial portion was tilled. But the clause as a whole, it was true, knocked out the large grazing farms. County Limerick, where he came from, was largely a grazing county; they valued their grazing farms but they were most anxious to encourage tillage. He appealed to his noble friends not to press their objection, because, as he had said, paragraph (b) would encourage tillage and do no sort of harm to the grazing farmer. It would not damage the grazing farmer nor deprive him of any privileges which would be conferred upon him otherwise under this Bill.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
May I point out to Lord Monteagle that a subsequent Amendment I have would admit grazing lands to the advantages of this clause?
§ LORD ASHTOWN said his chief objection was that men were forced to till against their wish.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY said that to insist upon occupiers of land who had large grazing farms breaking up their land for tillage, would strike a very serious blow at what he regarded as the leading agricultural industry in Ireland—namely, the breeding of stock. In England and Scotland occupiers of large farms spent a large amount of capital on them. They also kept a good bull or a stallion, and were thus of enormous advantage to all the surrounding districts. He looked with considerable apprehension on the breaking up of any large farm. He did not own any farms in Ireland at present, although he had considerable small property in 825 England. Small occupiers of land round about the property of well-to-do farmers in this country would be the first to object to anything being done to depreciate in any way the great advantages to agriculture and to themselves which were obtained through the occupiers of large farms. Agriculture required capital, and if a man had a large holding he could develop it, but they would be virtually restricting a man of money from becoming an occupier of land if they insisted that he should break it up into tillage. It would not only be detrimental to the large occupier, but would be still more injurious to the breeding of stock. He would tell their Lordships what Ireland owed to this important industry. In a report on the trade in Irish ports it was shown that live stock was the largest export, and amounted in 1908 to a total estimated value of nearly £15,000,000, an increase over the exports in each of the years from 1904 to 1907. Surely in a country which was supposed to be poor like Ireland, when they had figures like that it seemed to be the height of folly to do anything which could injure that industry. It might be said that these exports only benefited the large graziers, but he denied that. This exporting of cattle encouraged the breeding of stock of all sorts by the smallest of farmers. The smallest farmer would breed his calf and sell it to a larger farmer; the larger farmer would in his turn sell it to the export grazier, and consequently the money brought into Ireland from this must permeate throughout those districts. He asked the noble Earl the Leader of the House what was the object of breaking up these grazing lands? His noble friend Lord Monteagle lived in a great cattle-breeding county, and spoke with authority. The noble Lord said that to break up grazing land and to put a large amount of it under tillage would do no harm; but he doubted whether in the great grazing counties such as Connaught, where the cattle trade was a great industry, they would endorse Lord Monteagle's remark. But what was the reason that these grazing lands were to be broken up? Was it not to reward the evil doers? Was it wise to break up farms and lay down tillage which required a great deal of labour? Much also depended on the climate, and Ireland it was known in some parts had a wet climate. Was it possible then, even in the most favourable circumstances, that if they laid down a certain amount of tillage the land would bring in 826 anything like the return it would from grazing? Did they think that the people living in the great grazing districts of Galway and those parts of Ireland which were devoted to cattle breeding would be so foolish as to break up their land and turn it into tillage? He did not believe it. He trusted that his noble friend who proposed the omission of paragraph (b) would press it to a Division. He agreed that to reject the whole clause would require very careful consideration, but any step that would go to ruin the graziers and the great cattle industry in Ireland would be an exceedingly unwise one for their Lordships to take.
§ *LORD ARDILAUN said it would be very unfortunate to make compulsory the tillage of a portion of a farm. At present the paragraph was absolutely vague as to what it meant, what portion and to what extent. The words were merely "a substantial portion." In his part of the country it would be absolutely impossible to carry out the improvement, if they called tillage an improvement. There were no men to do it. The young men had mostly gone to America and to other parts of the world. Therefore, to cause men to break up their lands would be penalising them, because they could not get people to carry out the tillage. It was also perfectly clear, from his experience and that of others, that tillage was not profitable, and they only tilled as far as was necessary in connection with their stock. Tillage would not pay like grazing farms.
§ *LORD ASHTOWN said there were two large portions of grass land in Galway neither of which could be tilled. Two-thirds of one was rock, and no matter how willing a man might be he could not possibly till it. As to the other portion, he resided among that land himself and any man who tried to make a profit by turning it into tillage would become bankrupt.
§ LORD BARRYMORE reminded the Committee that the whole tendency of this land legislation must be to drive the present landowners more and more out of the country, and to leave behind them no class to take their place and to lead public opinion, except the large farmer. In the interests of high policy, therefore, Parliament ought to endeavour to keep the large farmers in their present position rather than discourage them.827
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I desire to say one word with regard to paragraph (b) which is under discussion. Let us, in the first place, see quite clearly what it does. The clause of which it forms a part lays down a limit of £3,000, with a discretion to go to £5,000 beyond which the Land Commission shall not go. Paragraph (b) says that the £3,000 limit may be exceeded where a substantial part of a farm has been under tillage. My noble friend Lord Monteagle said that at first sight it undoubtedly appeared to let in tillage farms, and thereby to introduce a measure of elasticity in the clause. But what does parargaph (b) really in effect do? It virtually says that large holdings shall not be admitted to the privileges of the Bill unless a substantial part of them are broken up. That is a deliberate incitement to till land which would not otherwise be tilled, to till it for the purpose of obtaining the advantages of this section. Is that a wise policy? I entirely agree with what has been said by noble Lords who have a right to speak because they have practical knowledge of this question. Is this a wise condition to attach to the admission of large holdings? Those of us who have had any experience of agriculture will be unanimous in saying that agriculturally there is no greater crime than to break up fine old pasture land. An agriculturist would regard the breaking up of old pasture very much as an amateur of rare china would regard the breaking up of old Sèvres; and to put a premium an land adapted for one purpose being used for a different purpose seems to me the height of folly. There are two principles involved in this clause. There is hostility to grazing land, and there is incidentally the policy of hostility to large farmers. I entirely agree with what has been said as to the place which the grazing lands occupy in the Irish agricultural system. The question does not arise in so many words upon paragraph (b), but it is the policy which runs through the whole of this clause. You want to get rid of the grazing lands to which Irish agriculture owes so much, and you want to obliterate, as far as you possibly can do so, large occupiers of land in that country. The clause will therefore have a twofold effect. It will have an effect upon Irish agriculture, and incidentally it will have an effect, and a most unfortunate one, upon Irish society, because when the landlords have disappeared it will be to these large farmers—these substantial men who are 828 able to hold their own at the fairs and who are not at the mercy of the local dealers—to whom the Irish agricultural community will look to maintain a certain amount of agricultural efficiency. I venture to think that this paragraph (b) is a most ill-advised one, and if my noble friend Lord Castletown goes to a division, I shall vote with him.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I am very glad that the noble Marquess opposite has brought the discussion back to the actual terms of the clause rather than the supposed design which lies behind the words. The clause provides that £3,000 should be an ordinary advance, thereby reverting to the policy of the Land Acts before 1903, and it makes two exceptions, classified as (a) and (b). But it seems to me that noble Lords are going far when they attribute to paragraph (b), which was inserted I may mention in another place in the course of discussion, a design to break up the grass lands in Ireland. What is said is that these large grass farms are not appropriate subjects for very large advances of public money; and that is quite another matter. I think, speaking generally and apart from the particular question of the actual industry, speaking purely for the moment in the abstract, everybody would agree that a system partly consisting of grazing or dairy farming is probably from the general economic point of view of the well-being of the country superior to the grazing industry pure and simple—and for the reason that one employs labour and the other does not. That is an argument which, taking it in the abstract, must appeal to noble Lords opposite as much as to ourselves. But, say noble Lords, this restriction will cause the break up of grass lands. I confess I do not follow that. All it says is that an advance must be limited, but it does not in the least prevent the comparatively wealthy class of people who as a rule are concerned in these farms, from finding the rest of the money and acquiring them. We say that advances of public money shall be so limited, but it does not prevent a person who desires to acquire large grazing farms from raising the money in some other way, and supposing he is reasonably supplied with capital he ought to have no difficulty in doing it. We do desire, in the circumstances of Ireland, and bearing in mind the condition of the congested districts on the one hand and the 829 great pasture districts on the other, to encourage an increase of tillage farming. I quite admit that it cannot be done everywhere. The cases mentioned by he noble Lord opposite, Lord Ashtown, I have no doubt are perfectly in point. Farms which are composed of rocky pastures clearly cannot be broken up for tilling, but the argument used by the noble Lord, Lord Ardilaun, struck me as a strange one when he said it is impossible in certain neighbourhoods to turn any grass land into tillage because there are no people to till it. Surely that is an epitome of the whole Irish question, that you have got half your population crowded and pressed up against your sea board, and you have other parts of Ireland which are practically empty of population. This is part of a scheme to try and increase the population in those parts of Ireland which are barren of inhabitants. We attach importance to the clause as it stands, and I fear, therefore, we must resist the Amendment to the point of dividing if noble Lords opposite desire to go into the Lobby.
§ *LORD ARDILAUN said it was not the want of employment in his part of the country that made the people go to America. They would go there if they had any amount of employment to offer them in Ireland. He had had work for hundreds, and now he could hardly get tens to do it. They were determined to go to America. It was not the want of labour in some places but the overmastering desire to go to America.
§ *LORD CASTLETOWN regretted that the noble Earl did not see his way to accept the Amendment. The noble Earl had said that the Government attached importance to paragraph (b) because parts of Ireland were very congested and there were other parts where labour was required. He was afraid that the noble
|Loreburn, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Airedale, L.||Lochee, L.|
|Wolverhampton, V. (L. President.)||Allendale, L.||MacDonnell, L.|
|Armitstead, L.||Marchamley, L.|
|Crewe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Blyth, L.||Monteagle of Brandon, L.|
|Boston, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Northampton, M.||Colebrooke, L. [Teller.]||Pirrie, L.|
|Courtney of Penwith, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Beauchamp, E. (L. Steward.)||Denman, L. [Teller.]||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Eversley, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Chesterfield, E.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.)||Tennyson, L.|
|Chichester, E.||Haversham, L.||Weardale, L.|
|Liverpool, E.||Hemphill, L.|
§ Earl did not know thoroughly the view of the congests, as they were called. He was perfectly convinced that no power on earth, not even an army, would induce the congests to go down to any portion of Ireland which was short of labour, because they knew their lives would be a burden to them. The other people would object strongly to their presence.
§ *LORD CASTLETOWN said that where there were tillage areas the labour, of course, existed. Where they had old pasture, much labour was not required. That was an ordinary agricultural question which settled itself by the fact that the land was very good; and, as the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, had said, it would be really a sin to break it up. By this provision that a large farm must be tilled they prevented large farmers from the possibility of profiting by the £3,000. He regretted that the noble Earl had not seen his way to accept the Amendment, but as he had other Amendments he would not press this one.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
Is it the wish of the Committee that the Amendment be by leave withdrawn?
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
No. This Amendment is down in my name also. If my noble friend Lord Castletown does not intend to press it to a Division, I shall move it.
§ On Question, whether the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 32; Non-contents, 149.831
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Cross, V.||Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)|
|Northumberland, D.||De Vesci, V.||Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)|
|Somerset, D.||Falkland, V.||Forester, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Falmouth, V.||Hare, E. (E. Listowel.)|
|Halifax, V.||Harlech, L.|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.)||Hampden, V.||Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)|
|Ailesbury, M.||Hill, V.||Hindlip, L.|
|Bath, M.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Inchiqum, L.|
|Camden, M.||Kenlis, L. (M. Headfort.)|
|Lansdowne, M.||Iveagh, V.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)|
|Salisbury, M.||Milner, V.||Kenyon, L.|
|Abingdon, E.||Abinger, L.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Albemarle, E.||Allerton, L.||Langford, L.|
|Bandon, E.||Ampthill, L.||Lawrence, L.|
|Cadogan, E.||Ardilaun, L.||Leith of Fyvie, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Macnaghten, L.|
|Carnwath, E.||Ashtown, L.||Massy, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Atkinson, L.||Meredyth, L. (L. Athlumney.)|
|Clarendon, E.||Avebury, L.||Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)|
|Cromer, E.||Barrymore, L.||Monck, L. (V. Monck.)|
|Dartmouth, E.||Bateman, L.||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Dartrey, E.||Belper, L.||North, L.|
|Denbigh, E.||Blythswood, L.||Northcote, L.|
|Derby, E.||Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.)||Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)|
|Devon, E.||Braye, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L. [Teller.]|
|Eldon, E.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)|
|Essex, E.||Calthorpe, L.||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Harrowby, E.||Carew, L.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Howe, E.||Castlemaine, E.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Huntingdon, E.||Castletown, L.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Kilmorey, E.||Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)||Rathdonnell, L.|
|Lichfield, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)||Rathmore, L.|
|Lindsey, E.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Londesborough, E.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)||Rothschild, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Clonbrock, L.||St. Levan, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Cloncurry, L.||Sanderson, L.|
|Manvers, E.||Colchester, L.||Savile, L.|
|Mayo, E. [Teller.]||Cottesloe, L.||Sherborne, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)||Shute, L. (V. Barrington)|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E.||De Freyne, L.||Sinclair, L.|
|Powis, E.||Deramore, L.||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Roberts, E.||Desart, L. (E. Desart.)||Stanmore, L.|
|Shaftesbury, E.||Digby, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Stanhope, E.||Dunalley, L.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Dunboyne, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Verulam, E.||Dunleath, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Waldegrave, E.||Ebury, E.||Trevor, L.|
|Wharncliffe, E.||Ellenborough, L.||Tyrone, L. (V. Waterford.)|
|Wicklow, E.||Faber, L.||Ventry, L.|
|Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)||Waleran, L.|
|Churchill, V.||Farnham, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.|
§ Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE decided to leave over until Report the subsequent Amendments in his name on the Paper to this clause.
§ *LORD CASTLETOWN had an Amendment on the Paper to add a new subsection to the clause. The noble Lord said that this Amendment was non-contentious and was a corollary to Section 6 which he had succeeded in getting inserted in the Act of 1885. He would give an instance of the working of that section in Ireland. Where 832 the price of a holding and the amount which the Land Commission could advance, apparently now £5,000, were agreed upon, the balance of the purchase money could be made up by arrangement between the owner and the purchaser by a mortgage with any other person. But that mortgage was puisne to the advance made by the Land Commission; it in no way affected the taxpayer or the money given by the Treasury to the Land Commission, but was a transaction between the purchaser and the vendor. It had been found of great advantage, and had been to a certain extent utilised wherever large farms had 833 to pass from the hands of the owners to the occupiers. The proposal which he made now would not interfere with the annuity which would be paid to the Land Commission. There were practically two sums to be considered—the sum due to the Land Commission on which there was an annuity and a sinking fund, and the mortgage to which he had referred, which was generally at about three and a-half per cent. The Land Commission collected the annuity and the sinking fund, and the mortgagee naturally collected his three and a-half per cent. He now proposed that the annuity and the sinking fund should go on exactly as heretofore, but as that sinking fluid was paid off to the Land Commission there naturally arose a greater security for the Land Commission's advance, and he proposed that the mortgagor and the mortgagee might agree to ask the Land Commission to advance an equivalent of what had been paid off under the sinking fund Supposing the sinking fund had been reduced by, say, £500, and the mortgage was for £1,000. The Land Commission would advance the £500 to the person whose mortgage was held, but the Land Commission's security had been increased by the fact of the sinking fund having been paid off, and that fund would be collected again by the Land Commission as the payments became due. The result would be where a large farm had been sold under this system that by degrees, as the sixty-eight and a-half years elapsed, the sinking fund would be paid off and also the interest due to the Land Commission, and at the same time the mortgage pari passu would disappear from the farm. So that at the end of the sixty-eight and a-half years the man would have bought his farm. By this means they would be creating, as he was anxious to see created in Ireland, a class of strong yeomen freehold farmers, who were very necessary in that country. Such an arrangement could be made, say, at intervals of ten or fifteen years. It would have the effect of placing a valuable class of men in residence on their own freeholds in Ireland, and he hoped that His Majesty's Government would concede this small point.
In page 8, line 42, after the word 'sanctioned,' to insert the following new subsection—
'(2) Where the price of a holding as agreed upon exceeds the amount for which an advance may
be made by the Land Commission, the following provisions shall have effect—
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
My noble friend Lord Castletown has explained clearly the intended effect of this Amendment, but I am not sure that he has stated all the possibilities that might arise under the suggestion made. His paragraph (a) provides that when a sale takes place, the difference between the amount advanced and the agreed upon price might be secured to the vendor by a mortgage—
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
That is quite true, but I think the noble Lord will see that there must be a great number of cases in which that transaction is not possible, because when an encumberance exists on an estate, it is necessary for a further mortgage to take the form of cash in order to clear off the existing encumberance. Therefore this paragraph could only apply in the case of an absolutely unencumbered estate, unless it was possible to find the money elsewhere, in which case the transaction would not be worth doing. It seems to me a remarkable paragraph, and the Amendment goes considerably further than I gathered from the speech of the noble Lord. The result would be that where the purchase money was partly advanced and partly secured by a mortgage, the part secured by the mortgage would be provided ultimately by the Land Commission as if it were the entire purchase money.
835 That would take place, as I gather, under the noble Lord's Amendment. Take a case of this kind. Suppose that the largest sum which could be paid within the zones was £300, the vendor might sell the holding for £1,000, of which £500 would be advanced by the Land Commission, and £500 would remain upon mortgage. Well, the Land Commission would apparently advance the full amount, although the purchase price was double the limit. Would not the result be in effect to abolish all limits on the amounts which the Land Commission could advance to a purchaser? Take, for instance, a case of this kind. Supposing it was a case of an advance of £10,000. The Land Commission would advance £5,000, which is the maximum they are able to advance, and the remaining £5,000 takes the form of a mortgage. If you look at paragraph (c)of the Amendment, you will see that as soon as the sinking fund had accumulated to £500, the effect would be that a fresh advance of £500 would be made by the Land Commission, and so on until the whole £5,000 of the mortgage had been advanced by the Land Commission. The noble Lord has not provided for the two debts being paid off at the same time. If the Amendment is passed, there is nothing in it to secure an annuity being paid off at the end of the sixty-eight and a-half years; it might be extended to the remote date of 2046. But I am afraid in any case it would not he possible, even though the amounts had to be paid off concurrently, because it would clearly involve increased advances from the Land Commission in respect of the mortgages, supposing a number of these transactions take place. The Government cannot, therefore, see their way to accept the Amendment.
§ *LORD CASTLETOWN thought the noble Earl would find that the two annuities would practically die out together, because the sinking fund worked out on practically the same lines. As regarded the effect, there was no doubt the noble Earl was correct. An advance of the full sum would eventually be made by the Estates Commissioners, but his point was that they were not asked to make these advances on a mortgage until such time as the sinking fund had reached the sum which they were asked to advance, and every year the security of the Land Commission was increasing in value. He agreed that it was possibly a complicated 836 scheme, and one that the Estates Commissioners might not like to carry out owing to its complexity. He would not press his Amendment, but he would ask whether paragraph (a) might not be agreed to, because that was merely carrying out Section 6 of the Act of 1885. Under this Bill, supposing men chose to come to such an agreement, could they take advantage of that section?
§ LORD CASTLETOWN
I will withdraw the Amendment now, and ask the noble Earl to allow me to bring it up on Report if I find we are able to agree on some provision of this nature.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 15, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 16:
§ 16.—(1) No advance shall be made under the Land Purchase Acts in respect of the purchase of a holding if the tenancy was created after the first day of January in the year nineteen hundred and eight.
§ (2) This section shall not apply to tenancies created by the Land Commission or by the Congested Districts Board.
§ LORD ATKINSON moved to substitute September 15, 1909, for the date mentioned in the clause. He recalled that the proposal which he now submitted was made in the other House by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and that, on opposition being offered to it, the right hon gentleman hurriedly abandoned his own Amendment and voted against it, at the same time saying that he was convinced by the arguments brought against it and making several allusions to his conscience. Unless the Amendment were accepted great injustice and inconvenience would be caused. If it were possible that, while legislation was pending, fictitious tenancies could be manufactured there would be great objection; but the law provided that a tenant must be a real and bona fide tenant, and the Court of Appeal in Ireland had held that a tenancy created merely for the purpose of sale was not a bona fide tenancy. He could not see the reason or the justice of the provision. Possibly the noble Earl would give them those reasons which had had the result of 837 routing so precipitately the Chief Secretary in the House of Commons; but if the noble Earl could not give them those reasons he would press his Amendment, as he thought it was only just and fair that men who agreed with their tenants during this interval should have the opportunity of the sales afforded under this Bill.
In page 9, line 11, to leave out from the word 'after' to the end of subsection (1) and to insert the words 'the fifteenth day of September in the year nineteen hundred and nine.'" — (Lord Atkinson.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
The noble and learned Lord alluded to what happened in another place with reference to this Amendment as to which there was undoubtedly no little confusion and misunderstanding on both sides.
§ THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE said there was none on their side.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think there was a degree of misunderstanding. What happened was that Mr. Long asked the Chief Secretary to place this Amendment and another Amendment on the Paper on the ground that they were accepted by both landlord and tenant and were of a non-controversial character, and he asked the Chief Secretary to put them down accordingly. The Chief Secretary accepted that statement and moved to re-commit the Bill which was necessary for the purpose with a view of bringing them forward, but to his no little surprise the Motion for the re-committal of the Bill was bitterly opposed by the friends of noble Lords opposite in another place, and a great deal of time was spent in discussing that Motion. The Chief Secretary cleared explained his position. He said he had not looked at the proposed Amendments so closely as he might have done had he been less pressed, and that he had considered that they were of a non-controversial character. It was then stated that the very thing that had happened was that which, as the noble and learned Lord had just said, clearly ought not to have happened—namely, that there had been a certain number of cases where tenancies had been created in anticipation of this particular legislation. My right hon. friend was therefore unable to vote for the Amendment, although he had himself put it down.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY pointed out that the Chief Secretary voted against his own Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
Yes, just as the friends of noble Lords opposite voted against their own re-committal, so that both sides may be regarded as quits so far as that is concerned. If the Amendment on the Paper were carried the effect would be that there would be some substantial reduction in the amount of untenanted land available. The noble and learned Lord said—as, of course, we should naturally expect him to say, and we quite agree with him—that where it was a question of creating what could be described as bogus tenancies in anticipation of the passing of the Act that was a practice which ought to be checked, if possible by legislation. As a matter of fact, in Section 53 of the Act of 1903 a parallel provision, I do not say an identical one, was included. That section provided a very distinct limitation, and it was also decidedly of an ex post facto character. I do not say that the point is of the first importance, but at the same time we do feel bound to adhere to the date as it appears now in the Bill, and I fear therefore we must resist the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord.
§ *LORD LANGFORD did not wish to say very much on the clause, but he thought the noble Earl who had just spoken had mentioned the real reason for the Bill—that more untenanted land was wanted for the landless man.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I did not say that more untenanted land was wanted for the landless man. What I said was that there would be a reduction in the amount of untenanted land. Of course the noble Lord can draw his own conclusions as to what the land was wanted for.
§ *LORD LANGFORD could not help thinking that this was another of the many phases of the Bill at the bottom of all of which was the fact that it had been determined to secure all untenanted land at somebody's expense in order to fulfil the obligations which the Government had laid themselves under to the landless men in Ireland.839
§ THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE said that the noble Earl the Leader of the House had told them that the Chief Secretary was given to understand that the Amendments which Mr. Long desired to see proposed would be acceptable to both landlords and tenants. He could not speak for their representatives in the House of Commons, but in their Lordships' House they had no doubt from correspondence, with which they were almost deluged, that the clause was extremely unpopular with a large number of tenants in Ireland. The clause, if it remained as drafted, was going to be of a much more far-reaching character than His Majesty's Government realised. What was the clause going to cut out of land purchase? First of all it was going to cut out all tenancies which had been created since the 1st of January, 1908. He did not think that would be disputed. He was entirely with the Government in saying that where bogus tenancies had been created they certainly should be cut out, but the clause was going to cut out all tenancies whether bogus or not. There was absolutely, as he read the Bill, no relief whatever for the genuine tenancy that had been created since, and that tenant was inevitably going to be cut out of the Bill without any reason being given to him. Secondly, the clause was going to cut out every tenancy in Ireland which had been altered by the landlord since the 1st January, 1908. If a landlord altered a boundary, or slightly increased or decreased a holding with the tenant's consent, that action amounted to the creation of a new tenancy and that tenancy would be cut out of the hope of purchase by the operation of the clause. Thirdly, there was a far-reaching condition of affairs underlying the clause as it then was in the Bill. Supposing a landlord had to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent—which involved a very complicated procedure nowadays, althought it did happen sometimes but was a thing a landlord was very loth to do for reasons which it was unnecessary to go into—the land from which that tenant was evicted was by the clause for ever cut out of the Purchase Acts. It seemed to him that the clause, therefore, should be amended, or, better still, struck out of the Bill altogether.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE: I might point out to the noble Earl that the date September 15 offers no safeguard what- 840 ever against the creation of bogus tenancies. Both noble Lords have, just as I should have expected from them, reprobated any such thing; but, on the other hand, if they are created they will get the benefit under the Amendment.
§ *LORD CLONBROCK, in moving to omit Clause 16, said it appeared to him that the arguments of his noble and learned friend in favour of his Amendment were conclusive against the clause in any shape. It was most unjust that there should be any limit imposed. He could not see any reason why, as long as a man's property remained to him, he should not dispose of it as he thought right, provided it was not done with any corrupt motive. It appeared to him to be a gross injustice that a man who had become a tenant in the belief that he would be in the same position as his neighbour, who, perhaps, might only have held his tenancy six months before him, should be deprived of the power of purchasing by the retrospective effect of the clause. One might easily conceive cases where a landlord who was about to sell his property and, as he feared many would, leave the country altogether, might let a vacant farm to his former steward or other dependent, or divide it among existing tenants, but those new tenancies would be invalid. The old tenant would have power to obtain an advance in respect of his old holding, but not in respect of the new holding he had joined on to it. That seemed to him a gross injustice, and he thought the only course was to reject the clause.
To leave out Clause 16."—(Lord Clonbrock.)
§ *LORD CASTLETOWN, who had a similar Amendment on the Paper, supported the noble Lord, and said he had not heard anything from his noble friend the Leade of the House which made him change his mind as to the remarkable oddity of the clause. They bad heard that it was the object of His Majesty's Government to encourage as many sales as possible, and yet by that clause they were ear-marking a certain number of tenancies which could never be sold.
§ *LORD CLONBROCK said he had forgotten to mention bogus tenancies. He could not see any danger with regard to that, because the new tenancies would not be under the zones and the Land Com- 841 mission would be able to inquire into the whole of the circumstances of the case and see whether or not there was adequate security for the advance.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON asked the noble Earl in charge of the Bill to give them some guidance on the matter, because the position was a most difficult one. The point his noble friend had raised did touch a very important effect of the administration of the Act.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I do not know that we have anything very special to say as between these two Amendments. Our view was that there was a danger, which we were given to understand undoubtedly existed, of the creation of bogus tenancies. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, says there is really no risk of such a thing, and Lord Clonbrock thinks the Estates Commissioners can keep an eye on them and prevent such a thing being done. Our information is to the contrary effect, and we believe that the risk does exist. The Amendment of the noble and learned Lord which does impose some kind of time limit is preferable in our view to that of the noble Lord opposite which imposes none at all, but we do not like either.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 16, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 17:
§ 17.—(1) In the case of the sale of an estate to the Land Commission advances under the Land Purchase Acts may be made for the purchase of parcels thereof by the following persons:—
- (a) A person being the tenant or proprietor of a holding not exceeding ten pounds in rateable value;
- (b) A person being the son of a tenant or proprietor of a holding on or in the neighbourhood of the estate not exceeding thirty pounds in rateable value;
- (c) A person who has surrendered his holding for the purpose of relieving congestion;
- (d) A person who within twenty-five years before the passing of the Act of 1903 was the tenant of a holding to which the Land Law Acts apply, and who is not at the date of the purchase the tenant or proprietor of that holding, or, in case such person is dead, a person nominated by the Land Commission as his personal representative; and
- (e) Any person to whom in the opinion of the Land Commission, after considering the requirements of persons mentioned in the preceding paragraphs of this subsection, an advance ought to be made.
§ (2) Advances under this section shall not, together with the amount (if any) of any advance 842 under the Land Purchase Acts, which has been made and is then unrepaid by the purchaser, or for which an application by the purchaser is pending, exceed one thousand pounds: Provided that the limitation in this subsection may, subject to the other limitations in the Land Purchase Acts, be exceeded, where the Land Commission consider that a larger advance may be sanctioned, to any purchaser without prejudice to the wants and circumstances of other persons residing in the neighbourhood.
§ (3) The Land Purchase Acts shall, subject to the provisions of this section, apply to the sale of a parcel of land in pursuance of this section in like manner as if the same was a holding and the purchaser was the tenant thereof at the time of his making the purchase; and the expression "holding" in those Acts shall include a parcel of land in respect of the purchase of which an advance has been made in pursuance of this section.
§ (4) Section two of the Act of 1903 shall cease to have effect save as regards the sale of any parcels of land in respect of which purchase agreements have been entered into before the passing of this Act, and save as aforesaid any reference in any enactment to that section shall be construed as a reference to this section.
§ LORD ATKINSON, in moving to leave out paragraph (b), said his Amendment opened up a very serious question. Without desiring to make any imputation against His Majesty's Government, but merely judging from the letter of the Bill, he said, with confidence, that if the Government had desired to divide the unoccupied lands of Ireland among the landless men and thereby to perpetuate the miseries of congestion among those unfortunates who lived in the West of Ireland upon the bog lands and wind-swept mountain sides of the Atlantic seaboard, they could not have chosen a form of words more calculated to effect that object. To divide the grass lands of Ireland among the landless men, who, unfortunately, had been lawless as well as landless, and perpetuate and stereotype congestion was, in his judgment, a sin against the progress and prosperity of Ireland as well as against common humanity. There were far too many holdings in Ireland already. There were only 29,000 more holdings in England, Scotland, and Wales than in Ireland, the figures for Ireland being 490,000 and for England, Scotland, and Wales 519,000. To raise the uneconomic holdings up to the economic value of £10 each, as suggested by the Bill, would require land valued at £1,490,000 per annum, whereas there was not available in the whole of Ireland, excluding mountains and bogs, land valued at more than £620,000, which left a deficit, excluding landlords' domains, of £870,000 per annum, and including landlords' domains there was a deficit of land valued at half a million.843
§ In the different counties which would form the new congested districts the land required to raise the economic holdings to £10 value was land valued at £718,000 per annum, and all that was available was £184,000. In Roscommon there was not half enough; in Donegal and in Leitrim there was not a fourteenth part. The Dudley Commission came to the conclusion that if congestion was to be relieved in the present districts 50,000 families would require to be relieved and the amount necessary to relieve them would be land valued at £350,000 a year, while in the larger districts they calculated that there were at least 80,000 persons to be relieved who would require land valued at £450,000 a year. So that really they wanted land valued at half a million per annum in order to raise the holdings to the economic value of £10. There was not one half available, and without relief the congests must either emigrate, migrate, or stagnate. He was entirely in accord with the noble Lord, Lord MacDonnell, that the local man should be relieved in preference to the foreign congest. Under the clause a landless man's son or any number of his sons were eligible to each have an advance made for the purpose of buying land instead of their resorting to some other industry. It was perfectly impossible because the land was not there, and as Lord MacDonnell had very properly said they would be driven to make a selection between the landless men and the congests. The Government preferred the landless men. The plain operation of the lause was that the landless men were to be favoured at the expense of the congests, and he would support any clause which enacted that not one acre of land should be sold to any landless man until the wants of the local small holders had been met.
§ Another consideration left out of sight was the conduct of the landless men and the methods they had resorted to, and so sure as they rewarded turbulence and crime in the way suggested so sure they could never have permanent settlement and peace in Ireland. The Bill appeared to him to be an attempt to pacify those who had put forward claims in a way which was but too well known. He did not exclude them altogether, because after all the legitimate claims had been satisfied the landless men might possibly be let in, with the essential proviso that no advance should be made to more than one son of the same farmer to enable him to purchase land.844
To leave out paragraph (b)."—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
Your Lordships will see that our paragraph (b) proposes that in the case of estates outside the congested districts—Clause 17 only applies outside the congested districts—a parcel of land may be given to a person being the son of a tenant or proprietor of a holding on or in the neighbourhood of the estate not exceeding £30 in rateable value. It is important to notice, in the first place, that as regards one class of person we impose a limitation which is not imposed by the Act of 1903. Under that Act the son of any tenant on the estate could obtain land, no matter how large his holding. Under this Bill we propose to limit that to those who have a holding of not exceeding £30 of rateable value, and so far we are carrying out the policy of the noble and learned Lord, because we are diminishing—perhaps considerably diminishing—the number of landless men who might apply for these farms. On the other hand we admit that the inclusion of the words "or in the neighbourhood" undoubtedly has the effect of increasing the possible number of those who may be included, and I suppose it is the insertion of those words which has led the noble and learned Lord to desire the deletion of the paragraph. But once an estate is sold it is not quite easy to draw any logical distinction between the son of a proprietor of a farm on the estate and the son of a proprietor of a farm in the immediate neighbourhood. So long as the estate remains in one hand and all the circumstances which surround an estate under one landlord are present, it is natural enough to limit the distribution of holdings to the sons of tenants on the estate, just as on so many of your Lordships' estates preference is given to the promising son of a good tenant. But the moment the estate is to be sold and the tenants themselves are to become the proprietors, that distinction seems to me, in logic at any rate, to disappear a very great extent.
The noble and learned Lord entered, as indeed he was bound to do, on the whole question of landless men, and he said that the policy of the Bill as he read it was to divide up all the available untenanted land in Ireland among the landless men. This is a problem of extreme difficulty, and if for once the Government could be favoured with a little assistance from noble Lords opposite 845 instead of mere denunciation—which is what we always get—it would be of more practical advantage in this particular instance. I have stated the problem before, and it seems to be necessary to state it again. We are accused of desiring to cut the whole of this land up among landless men—that is to say, the sons of farmers; but even our total lack of capacity and foresight—which I suppose noble Lords credit us with—hardly runs as far as that. It is obvious, of course, that such a remedy would not only ultimately be futile but would prove to be futile almost immediately. There are a certain number of farmers' sons, landless men, who are asking for land at this moment, and there are others growing up who will become men in a very few years time and who will also demand land; and, if you look a little further, the landless man will not remain a wifeless man or a childless man and in turn his children will grow up, and if every landless man is to be provided with land the problem will be an endless one until you have brought down the whole of the land of Ireland to plots no bigger than this Table in front of us. Therefore, my Lords, to say that our policy is to divide up the available untenanted land of Ireland among persons of this kind is really not a fair charge. But what is the position? We are told, on the other hand, that this land is required for those who live in the congested districts and in some cases may have to be migrated from them. My noble friend behind me goes so far as to say that they, and they only, should have a slice of this land under any circumstances. The noble and learned Lord did not go quite so far as that. He admits a certain number of landless men.
§ LORD ATKINSON pointed out that what he said was that the needs of local persons who were small holders should first be provided for.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I quite understood that. If the clause is amended as desired by the noble and learned Lord, a certain number of those who are described as landless men would get holdings after the immediate requirements of the neighbourhood had been satisfied. The problem is this. This land hunger on the part of the landless men does exist. We need not inquire again how it has arisen. We have been accused of not having dealt sternly enough with what, after all, was only its manifestation and cannot be considered its 846 Cause—namely, cattle-driving. But even assuming that we could have put down cattle-driving by means of the Crimes Act or by more severe measures still
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
Or by ordinary law, as the noble Marquess suggests; you cannot prevent these people from desiring to possess their own farms; you cannot put them in prison for having that desire, and even supposing noble Lords opposite were administering Ireland and were to imprison the cattle-drivers and reduce them to a full degree of physical terror, you would still have them keenly desiring land. Whatever may have been the methods adopted to express that desire and the possible provocation given by the breaking of the law, you cannot cure them of their land hunger, and once you have dumped your congests down by the dozen in these districts what is the life of those congests likely to be? An argument which has been continually pressed upon us during the course of this debate is that you dare not move the congests. We have pointed out before that in our view the only hope of reaching a solution of this difficult question is, while bearing in mind that the first and foremost use to which this untenanted land must and ought to be put is the relief of congestion, at the same time to bear in mind that there may be some cases—the noble and learned Lord himself admits it—where in order to secure the general acceptance of this system of migration from the congested districts you must let some of these landless men into possession of farms.
I quite admit it would be infinitely more convenient if the desire of the landless man had never come into being at all. If he were content to go off to America it might in some respects be more convenient, but I am sure we do not want the people to leave Ireland so long as they can find any useful employment there. But the fact remaining as it does, is it possible, merely by saying that you will not admit any landless man or only the most limited class of these landless men into the possession of farms, to establish a state of things by which you will be able to place people from the congested districts on the land? That is the point on which we ask your Lordships' assistance. No speaker has 847 yet, so far as I am aware, when we have been discussing this matter on previous occasions ever faced that problem. What are you going to do? If you want to put congests on a particular piece of land and you know that public opinion in the neighbourhood is hostile to their arrival, are you going to leave that unprovided for, or are you in some degree going to placate public opinion by dividing up the land, say, in the proportion of three-fourths for congests and one-fourth for the sons of tenants in the neighbourhood? We do not say that the problem is soluble on those lines, but we think they go some way towards a solution. We therefore oppose the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord in this particular case because we think it limits too closely the class of men to whom in certain circumstances it may be desirable to give a farm.
§ *THE EARL OF MAYO said he had listened with the greatest interest to the noble Earl opposite, but he really could not make out from his speech whether he held a brief for the congests or for the landless men, because he had told them that in order to deal with the congests they must provide a certain amount of land for landless men. They all knew that land hunger existed amongst landless men, but land hunger existed everywhere. He himself liked good land like everybody else; it was a good thing to have, but he did not go and drive his neighbour's cattle in order to force the authorities to consider his case. Therefore he thought that what the noble Earl had said amounted to a sort of bribe to the landless men to keep quiet in order to enable the congests to be "planted" in other parts of Ireland. He did not agree with that policy. Under the clause the Land Commission could sell a parcel of land to any tenant or proprietor of a holding not exceeding £10 in rateable value not necessarily on the same estate at all, and to the sons of tenants in the neighbourhood of the estate, to persons who had surrendered their holdings for the purpose of relieving congestion, to evicted tenants, and to any person to whom the Land Commission thought that an advance ought to be made.
§ *LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD said the question before the Committee seemed to him on that clause to have nothing to do with the relief of congestion. The clause dealt with cases of the sale of 848 an estate to the Land Commission and advances under the Land Purchases Acts. He was glad to find with regard to the views he had already ventured to express to their Lordships, that he had such a powerful advocate as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson; and he trusted when the matter was more fully discussed under Clause 55, as it would be, he would have his support in placing before the Committee the views which he in common with all the members of the Dudley Commission held in regard to the necessity of ear-marking untenanted land in the province of Connaught for the relief of congestion. As the noble and learned Lord had said, it was absolutely a part of their programme that congestion in the neighbourhood of the land to be bought should be relieved first of all, and that the land which remained over after the relief of local congestion should be applied to the relief of congestion within the scheduled areas. In the relief of local congestion by enlarging the holdings of uneconomic tenancies in the neighbourhood of the grass lands to be bought they would be largely relieving the landless men they would be relieving the fathers of these men who at all events during the last year had in a manner and by a method which he for one could not too strongly condemn asserted their desire to get possession of the land which they had been longing for for ages. The question raised on that particular clause had nothing to do with the relief of congestion, nor indeed with the land in the neighbourhood of the congested districts, though the words, of course, were very wide.
§ It was understood that in the Bill there was a distinction drawn between the area in which the Congested Districts Board were to operate and the rest of Ireland which was to be under the jurisdiction of the Estates Commissioners, and he ventured to think that the noble and learned Lord had somewhat failed to bring to notice the distinction which existed between the Act of 1903 and the Bill before the Committee. Under the Act of 1903 land could be given to the son of a tenant irrespective of the extent of land the father possessed, whereas in the Bill land was to be given to the son of a tenant whose holding did not exceed £30 in rateable value. That was much more restricted than the existing law, but there was an extension under the Bill beyond the existing law—namely, that land might 849 be given to the son of a tenant in the neighbourhood. That, no doubt, did enlarge the sphere from which tenants' sons might be brought in, but the restriction of £30 would be a very powerful and effective limit on the class of people whose sons were eligible. It was within the knowledge of noble Lords that in the West of Ireland on many occasions threatenings of agrarian trouble had been removed by the mediation of the Estates Commissioners. In one case which he called to mind at the moment, the Dunsandle case, an agreement was come to through the intervention of the Estates Commissioners which was a pattern and example to the West of Ireland, but that agreement could not possibly have been arrived at unless the sons of the more important farmers in the neighbourhood were allowed to obtain certain portions of the grass lands, which the landlord gave up for the purpose. The matter was carried through, farms were blocked out and the young men set to work on them with a degree of industry and intelligence which was perfectly astonishing to any one who observed the condition of their neighbours; and if their Lordships set their faces against such agreements being come to between landlords and tenants and their sons—they had been called landless men, but he called them the sons of respectable tenants and yeoman farmers—they would be doing a great deal to prevent that peaceful settlement of the question which they all so much desired.
§ He was disposed to hope, after the explanation which had been given, that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, would see some reason to mitigate his hostility to paragraph (b). With regard to the Amendment standing in his name to insert a provision giving the Estates Commissioners liberty to sell mansions, demesne lands, pleasure grounds, and other non-agricultural lands, he ventured to think that without some such provision they would not stop or quench the lust for land by asking applicants to be satisfied with all outside the demesne wall. As long as they held out to them any possibility of their breaking down the wall and having the gardens and the lawns and the pleasure grounds divided among them, they would not be satisfied until that was done. A definite prohibition was necessary. In all this legislation it was one of their objects to preserve as far as possible the gentry in their own homes, 850 and where they desired to leave their homes to substitute for them a resident gentry who were anxious to buy the homes which the former had left. It would be a great pity if they were to expose those demesnes to partition amongst the sons of farmers in the neighbourhood who would not be able to turn them to the good use which they might be turned to if sold by the Estates Commissioners in their present condition. He would, therefore, ask the adherence of their Lordships to the subsequent Amendment in his name rather than to the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY said he had placed an Amendment down to delete Clause 17 because he desired to see the ground cleared for the primary object of their Land Acts, the relief of congestion. If congestion was to be relieved, the congest must have the prior claim, and therefore the claims of the landless men must be put into the background. It had been often said that Section 2 of the Act of 1903 was the origin of the claim of the landless men, but that section was only introduced to deal with a case that might occur—namely, where a congested estate was bought which contained a grass farm. To assume, for argument's sake, that the grass farm amounted to 400 acres, 200 acres of that grass farm might be sufficient to deal with all the congested tenants on the estate; another 100 acres might be used up in dealing with evicted tenants from the estate, and then they had a surplus of 100 acres in the hands of the State. Were they to hold that 100 acres as landlords for ever, or were they to put it up to auction? Neither of these courses seemed advisable to the Government of the day, and they said "We will use what is over for the sons of the tenants on the estate." That was the only way in which the landless man came into the deal at all. The noble Earl who led the House stated that the situation had become very acute owing to the fact that the claims of the landless men as against the congests had become the burning question of the hour. He admitted it was a very critical situation but it was one, if he might say so, which had been fostered by His Majesty's Government instead of the agitation being checked by them. When they started the Congested Districts Board and migration things worked quietly and smoothly, but for want of firmness in dealing with the situation the 851 difficulties of their work in the relief of congestion became greater and greater. The noble Earl advocated a policy of placating local feeling by giving way to agitation. He believed that the Irishman was one of the wisest and shrewdest of His Majesty's subjects, and that was why he wanted to eliminate once for all the idea of the landless man as against the congest. The Irishman being a shrewd man would quickly realise if firmness was used that the congest was intended to have the prior claim, and the agitation would cease. That was the only alternative he could suggest—to tell the landless man that the congest was to have the prior claim, and that he was only to come in as a last resource if there was land available. They on the Congested Districts Board had definitely proved that if they were going to thoroughly relieve congestion there would be no surplus land for the landless man, and if they let the landless man know that he believed they would be able to proceed with their work of migration undisturbed. He did not believe in placating agitation in Ireland.
§ LORD INCHIQUIN said he had a sketch map of County Clare, in which county there was no congestion at all, showing the districts where cattle-driving had taken place, and also showing twenty-one mansions with regard to every one of which agitation in some form or another had taken place to have those mansions and demesnes sold to landless men only. There had been boycotting, shooting, burning, and every conceivable form of intimidation used by these landless men who were trying to turn owners out of the country and seize their land. Another reason why landless men were very keen to get land was that their fathers did not have to pay anything towards it, and naturally they would go on agitating if His Majesty's Government allowed them, to think they were going to get it. He would like to see a provision in the Bill that the landless men were not to get a penny until the claims of the congests had been satisfied, and even then only the crumbs that fell from the congests' table.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD LOREBURN)
The last two speeches we have listened to were very instructive and very suggestive. Let me just say this, first of all, with regard to cattle-driving. I think the offence is an abominable one, 852 and I should be very glad indeed to see the offenders properly punished. The noble Earl, Lord Shaftesbury, is pleased to think that it is the fault of His Majesty's Government that these men have not been punished. I do not share that opinion, but if I were to embark on that controversy, which has been the subject of so much debate in this House, I am afraid, if your Lordships were good enough to listen to me, that you would forget all about the problem we are now discussing, which is a very serious and very real one. My noble friend the Leader of the House asked your Lordships for some assistance in the solution of it. Let me take the case put by the noble Earl, Lord Shaftesbury. He is a member of the Congested Districts Board. He wants to relieve congestion and proposes to migrate, I do not care how many, but say 100, congests to a particular district which is not their own, and the noble Earl proposes to say that the landless men in that locality are to have nothing until the congests are all satisfied, and as the noble Lord, Lord Inchiquin, said, even then they were only to have the crumbs that fell from the congests' table. Let us understand definitely whether I have correctly stated it. [The EARL OF SHAFTESBURY and LORD INCHIQUIN intimated their assent.] Then there is no doubt about it; that is the policy they want to adopt throughout Ireland. I ask your Lordships to take the districts in England and Scotland with which you are familiar and to suppose that a number of people were migrated into those districts from the East-end of London, for example, and that the people in the locality—Yorkshire, Berkshire, Hampshire, or wherever it may be—were told, "You are to get nothing until all these people from the East-end of London are satisfied in regard to their wish for land, and even then only the crumbs that fall from their table." There would be, I venture to think, a good deal of feeling even in quiet England. How do noble Lords propose to deal with that in Ireland? We were told yesterday that it was impracticable to migrate strangers without taking into consideration the feelings of the locality.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY said that that had become so now, but he did not think it was the case originally.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Do not let us be diverted to the past by the suggestion 853 of the noble Earl, or into considering whether it would or would not have become a problem at all but for the fault of the Government. I am trying to deal with the problem at the present moment, to reason it out and to ask your Lordships to consider it frankly and fully and not to enter into recrimination, as I see no need for mixing up with this discussion the consideration of other irrelevant topics. We have heard the policies suggested by the noble Lords. I am not sure whether it is the policy of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson.
§ LORD ATKINSON said that he should be very glad to support that policy, but it was not quite his Amendment. His Amendment left room for the landless men after securing due priority to the claims of the others.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The policy of the noble Earl, Lord Shaftesbury, is the Rhadamanthine one, "I will summon the police, I will send the necessary number of military, but I will not give anything to the people of the locality, and I will cram into their midst as many congests from other districts as I think fit." That my Lords, is one of the alternative policies which has been suggested. I ask, not for the purpose of Parliamentary dialectics, is that the policy that noble Lords opposite, who may become responsible for the government of Ireland, intend to pursue? The only other policy, and the one we propose, is to try if it can be done to effect an accommodation between those people who are brought into a locality and the people of the locality themselves. That is our policy, and it has been denounced as being timid and as giving way to looting, lawlessness, intimidation, and so forth, call it whatever you please. I think I am right in saying there are only two policies; there is no third. The first seems to me to be a very grim and formidable one, and I do think myself that noble Lords are not entitled to assume, as has been done by some throughout this discussion, that all landless men are criminals and in sympathy with crime. Some of them, no doubt, are, but you assume they are all so, and you would treat them in this rigorous manner and thrust in among them congests from other districts and give them only the crumbs that are left. The noble Earl himself told us that there would not be land enough in Ireland for 854 more than the congests—I think he said there would not be enough even for them. My Lords, such a solution coming from those who may become responsible for the good administration of government in Ireland does not commend itself at least to me.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE said he had not heard the noble and learned Lord who had just sat down do other than repeat the arguments used in previous stages of the Bill, and he had not seen any desire on the part of His Majesty's Government to meet any of the objections which were felt so strongly on his side of the House. He admitted that the topic of the landless men was one which could not now be put aside, but it was more than human nature to expect them to forget that landless men came into existence under the government of Mr. Birrell, and that what could have been checked when it first arose must now be yielded to by an absolute surrender and collapse of government. He was afraid that the noble and learned Lord's argument amounted to this, that the landless men had to be kept quiet by a process which he regarded as concession, but which other people might regard as surrender and bribery. If that policy was to he adopted it should be done in the most meagre and prudent way.
§ The Dudley Commission, called into existence to deal with the problem of congestion which was the great topic before the House, said that the only way to deal adequately with that question was to keep their eyes steadily fixed on the congests and put the landless men sternly and firmly on one side, until the congests had been dealt with. The Bill entirely put that aside, and it was very strange that the Government should have ignored the carefully reasoned and thought out recommendations of that Commission. They had been left entirely in the dark as to what the Government intended to do with the various Amendments put down to the Bill, everyone of which in his view was entitled to full and favourable consideration, and he thought when the first Amendment on the subject was moved they ought to have had some intimation from the noble Earl in charge of the Bill of what his general view of the Amendments put down was, and how far His Majesty's Government were Prepared to make concessions in reference to 855 them, but that had not been the line taken by the noble Earl. He agreed with every syllable the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, had said. He also held a strong view with reference to paragraph (e). He thought as it stood it was unarguable, it was so bad. He agreed with the noble Earl, Lord Shaftesbury, who was entitled to speak with authority on the question from having been on the Congested Districts Board and from his own high character. It would have been wiser, in his opinion, to have let Section 2 of the Act of 1903 stand. That section was intended to meet a difficulty cognate to that which now pressed on the Government. Although he did not say it would have solved it, he thought it would have been a more reasonable way of approaching the question than by obliterating the section and putting one in its place so wide that he regarded it as extravagant and unacceptable. Reciprocity was essential in all these matters; the Government had heard the objections and abundant arguments on the point and they knew they must be met not only by argument but by some concession. But that had not been suggested. That was not a fair way to meet a Bill like the one before them, bristling with so many provocative topics; he thought there might have been a little more frankness shown as to what was in the mind of the Government.
§ LORD ATKINSON said the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, had asked him what policy he would pursue. He did not shrink from answering that question. He would first raise the farms of what he called local congests to £10 in value; he would then reserve land to deal with the foreign congests; he would tell the landless men that those congests must have priority and that the struggles of the landless men were as hopeless as they were selfish, and he would endeavour to make the landless man behave himself by a vigorous administration of the law and not by a promise of reward. In his first Amendment he did not at all make it impossible to give land to landless men provided the priority of local persons with small holdings was preserved. After their claims had been adequately met, then, the others could come in. Then, again, only one son of the same farmer should get land. He really thought it monstrous, considering the small quantity of land available to meet the large demand, to give three farms to three sons of the same tenant. That 856 seemed to him to be a wild and reckless sacrifice of the interests of a great many others. He did not attach so much importance to the other part of his proviso that no advance should be made to the son of a tenant of a holding of more than £10 rateable value, but he did adhere to confining it to only one son of the same tenant.
§ *VISCOUNT MILNER said he was impressed by the arguments of Lord MacDonnell and by what had fallen from the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor. He understood they were now dealing with purchases outside the congested districts. His whole argument rested on that, and he would support any Amendment making it clear that the provisions of the clause did not apply within the congested districts. Within congested districts it seemed to him clear that the claim of the congests should come first, and a stern resistance ought to be presented to anybody who tried to stand in their way. Outside the congested districts also he agreed that the first consideration should be shown for local congests; but he could not go the length of maintaining that, when the local congests had been dealt with, congests from other parts of Ireland should have a prior claim within areas outside the congested districts to the claims of local men. He thought any attempt to force congests indiscriminately upon other parts of the country was bound to lead to trouble, and he really did not see that the arguments which had been addressed to the Committee on that point by the Government had met with any answer at all. It seemed to him that their position was unanswerable, and that any attempt to deal with congests in the way suggested by the noble and learned Lord would lead to the greatest confusion and was essentially unjust. He would most cordially support any proposal which would make it perfectly clear to the landless men that their lawless agitation was a hopeless one, but he did not think that their Lordships' natural and rightful abhorrence of cattle-driving and other forms of illegal violence should lead them entirely to ignore the claims of local men to be considered, when estates were bought outside the congested districts by the Estates Commissioners.
§ LORD ATKENTSON desired to say one word of explanation in the hope of capturing the noble Viscount. If the policy 857 of the noble Viscount were followed they would never relieve congestion. That was the answer, because all the land available in the congested districts would not go half the way or quarter the way to relieving the congestion, and therefore they must migrate these men. It was a choice between migration or leaving them in their misery, and he preferred migration.
§ *VISCOUNT MILNER said he understood that; but even if the policy of the noble and learned Lord was adopted there would still be a number of people unprovided for, because there was not land enough in any case; and important as it was to relieve congestion he could not for a moment admit that every other consideration with regard to Irish land ought to give way to the relief of congestion. He could not consistently vote against the proposal of the Government when he had just voted against limiting the amount to be advanced to tenants. He had voted against that, because he had been convinced by the argument that it was desirable to keep large tenants on the land and not to have Ireland entirely occupied by small men; and then he heard immediately afterwards from the same quarter that everything ought to be sacrificed to the relief of congestion. He could not reconcile the two positions. His hope for the future of Ireland was based on there being a great variety of holdings there—large, medium, and small; and he thought there was considerable danger of injuring land settlement as a whole if they were going to try to import congests into every part of Ireland in preference to the sons of local farmers who might be men of a superior class and really more capable of developing the land than the congests.858
§ question is to leave Section 2 of the Act of 1903 as part of the law, and if there are any words in that section which require amendment to consider whether it might not be amended to meet, for example, such a point as has been raised by my noble friend on the Cross Benches (Viscount Milner). The mistake His Majesty's Government seem to me to make is that they sweep away Section 2 of the Act of 1903 and confront us with this extremely elaborate proposal, which I think is interpreted in various ways in different parts of the House.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I should like to say on that that I hope noble Lords will consider that there is an Amendment on the Paper to that effect, and when that comes to be put I shall have to point out that to leave Section 2 of the Act of 1903 standing with the modifications and provisoes suggested by the noble and learned Lord would cause a vast deal of confusion. We think we have taken an infinitely more simple and convenient course by repealing the section in the Act of 1903 and putting, in the form of a new clause, exactly the provisions which we think ought to exist. The objection to legislation by reference which is so often taken in this House is met by our setting out in clear form exactly what our proposals are. It may be desirable to modify those proposals in some respects, but I hope it will not be necessary to undo the proposed repeal of Section 2 of the Act of 1903.
§ On Question, whether the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 30; Not-contents, 116.
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Colville of Culross, V.||Forester, L.|
|Devonshire, D.||Cross, V.||Gormanston, L. (V. Gormanston)|
|Somerset, D.||Falkland, V.|
|Wellington, D.||Hampden, V.||Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)|
|Hill, V.||Harlech, L.|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.)||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)|
|Ailesbury, M.||Hindlip, L.|
|Bath, M.||Iveagh, V.||Inchiquin, L.|
|Camden, M.||Kenlis, L. (M. Headfort.)|
|Lansdowne, M.||Abinger, L.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)|
|Abingdon, E.||Ardilaun, L.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Albemarle, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Langford, L.|
|Bandon, E.||Ashtown, L.||Lawrence, L.|
|Cadogan, E.||Atkinson, L.||Leconfield, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Barrymore, L.||Macnaghten, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Blythswood, L.||Massy, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||Borthwick, L.||Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)|
|Clarendon, E.||Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)||Monck, L. (V. Monck.)|
|Dartrey, E.||Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne)||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Derby, E.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)||North, L.|
|Devon, E.||Carew, L.||Oriel, L. (V. Massereene)|
|Eldon, E.||Castlemaine, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Huntingdon, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Lindsey, E.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Londesborough, E.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Lucan, E.||Clonbrock, L.||Rathdonnell, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Cloncurry, L.||Rathmore, L.|
|Mayo, E.||Colchester, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Collins, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E.||Curzon of Kedleston, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Powis, E.||Deramore, L.||Sinclair, L.|
|Roberts, E.||Digby, L.||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanriearde.)|
|Shaftesbury, E.||Dunalley, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Dunboyne, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Dunleath, L.|
|Verulam, E.||Ellenborough, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Waldegrave, E. [Teller.]||Faber, L.||Trevor, L.|
|Wharncliffe, E.||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)||Tyrone, L. (M. Waterford.)|
|Wicklow, E.||Farnham, L.||Ventry, L.|
|Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)||Waleran, L.|
|Churchill, V. [Teller.]||Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)||Walsingham, L.|
§ Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ [The sitting was suspended at ten minutes past eight o'clock and resumed at half-past nine.]
LORD ATKINSON had two Amendments on the Paper to paragraph (e)—
(e) Any person to whom in the opinion of the Land Commission after considering the requirements of persons mentioned in the preceding paragraphs of this subsection an advance ought to he made,
the first Amendment being to substitute for the word "considering," the words "adequate provision has been made to satisfy," and the second to insert at the end the words "Provided that no advance shall be made to the son of a tenant or proprietor of a holding of an annual rateable value of more than ten pounds nor shall any advance he made to more than one son of the same tenant." The noble and learned Lord said he had [...]thing to
say beyond what he had already said in reference to these Amendments, save that in the proviso he would be quite willing to change the £10 to £30, and he would move the Amendment accordingly.
In page 9, line 33, to leave out 'considering' and to insert 'adequate provision has been made to satisfy.' "—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I am not disposed in the general circumstances to oppose the Amendment with any great determination, because I think its general effect would be to carry out what I take it would be in the mind of the Estates Commissioners. with regard to the relative order of merit. Of course it is only fair to say I think so because it leaves a discretion to the Estates Commissioners, as I take it, with regard to the question whether "adequate provision has been made to satisfy." Consequently it does not lay down an 861 absolutely hard and fast line that a certain class of person has to stand out, but it operates as a general discretion to the Estates Commissioners. Under those circumstances I do not desire to resist the Amendment.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES then put the second Amendment of Lord Atkinson as it appeared on the Paper.
In page 9, line 33, after 'made' to insert 'Provided that no advance shall be made to the son of a tenant or proprietor of a holding of an annual rateable value of more than ten pounds nor shall any advance be made to more than one son of the same tenant.' "—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I do not propose to offer any serious response to this Amendment, and I think it certainly would be an improvement if the noble and learned Lord would carry out the intention he has been good enough to express of altering the amount from £10 to £30. As regards the one son, there, again, I think it is an indication that the noble and learned Lord wants to limit the practice as far as possible. I do not know whether it would operate fairly. It seems a little hard that where a man has one son that that son should have the chance of a farm, whereas his neighbour who has nine or ten sons can only have one of them similarly favoured. Therefore, I do think it creates something of au inequality, particularly in a land of large families like Ireland. But I will say no more if the noble and learned Lord likes to move the amount in the revised form he indicated.
§ LORD ATKINSON said he would move the Amendment in the altered form. He stuck to what he had said that it was quite enough for any man to have one son provided for at the expense of the State.
§ On Question, Amendment, with the alteration of £10 to —30, agreed to.
§ [The next Amendment on the Paper was in the name of Lord MacDonnell, who was not present when called upon. His Amendment was to insert at the end of paragraph (e) the words "for the purchase of mansions, demesne lands, pleasure grounds, plantations and such other non- 862 agricultural lands as in the opinion of the Land Commission are not suitable for distribution to persons of the preceding classes."]
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
My noble friend Lord MacDonnell has not arrived. As the Bill now stands we have, I think, exhausted the Amendments so far as paragraph (e) is concerned. I prefer to leave it as it is with the restrictions put upon it by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, rather than in the form proposed by my noble friend Lord MacDonnell.
LORD ATKINSON, who had an Amendment on the Paper to subsection (4)—
(4) Section two of the Act of 1903 shall cease to have effect save as regards the sale of any parcels of land in respect of which purchase agreements have been entered into before the passing of this Act, and save as aforesaid any reference in any enactment to that section shall be construed as a reference to this section, to insert, after "1903," the words "so far as it is inconsistent with the provisions of this Act," said he thought it would be very judicious not to move this Amendment. It might be that it would be entirely unnecessary, but should it be found to be necessary it could be added on Report. He did not move it now.
§ On Question, that Clause 17 stand part of the Bill,
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON asked the noble Earl the Leader of the House whether, if they left out Lord MacDonnell's Amendment, there was any provision which would enable the Land Commission to get rid of a demesne.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE said that was true on the Paper, but he thought that was largely because of what was sought to be grafted on to it by Lord MacDonnell's Amendment. The noble Lord was not present to move his Amendment, which was intended to make a large and substantial change. He himself was prepared to move the entire omission of paragraph (e), but he thought Lord MacDonnell's Amendment made an important qualification in its favour.863
§ [At this moment Lord MacDonnell entered the Chamber.]
§ LORD ASHBOURNE said he did not know whether it was now too late for the noble Lord to move his Amendment.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
It is too late. The question before the Committee is that Clause 17 stand part of the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I may, perhaps, point out to the noble and learned Lord that paragraph (e) as amended by Lord Atkinson does not let in the landless men except under these restrictions, and I do not know that noble Lords opposite want to keep out anybody else. Therefore, it seems to me that by the inclusion of Lord Atkinson's Amendments the whole ground is covered. It lets in all the cases which the noble Viscount wants to meet, and it does not let in the landless men.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON said he, too, thought it an important qualification. Of course, if the Lord Chairman said they had passed that point they could not go back, but he had risen to call attention to the fact that Lord MacDonnell's Amendment would be the complement of what was done by Lord Atkinson and their Lordships, and if in order he should think it would be as well to add the words proposed by Lord MacDonnell as a qualification.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
Of course any of these Amendments can be made on the Report stage, but I do not think they can be made at this stage. The question is that Clause 17 stand part of the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY said his sole object in giving notice to delete the clause was to make the issue quite clear for the congest as against the landless man. His sympathies, of course, were naturally with the congests, being a member of the Congested Districts Board, whose object was to relieve congestion, and he found it very hard to arouse any sympathies with the landless men; but still he did not deny that the interests of the congests might be safeguarded by other methods 864 than the one he proposed, and he thought that by the Amendment made in the clause at the instance of Lord Atkinson they mere to a certain extent safeguarded. Therefore he did not intend to press his Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON said he must point out that the clause did not carry out the intentions of the Government or of their Lordships, because, although important qualifications had been put into the clause, neither Section 2 of the original Act had been re-affirmed, as we intended by Amendments of Lord Atkinson which had not been inserted, nor had Lord MacDonnell's Amendments been inserted. Therefore, the destination of the residuum was left entirely in the hands of the Estates Commissioners without the qualification which, so far as he understood, either his noble friend behind him or Lord MacDonnell intended to move. Of course, if the Lord Chairman ruled that they had passed that point it was impossible to reconsider it at that stage; but he thought their Lordships ought on Report to consider whether both these Amendments, which were equally germane, as he understood, to the decision they arrived at before dinner, ought not to be incorporated in the Bill.
§ *LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD asked if he might explain the meaning of his Amendments. The first was an Amendment to paragraph (d). As that paragraph now stood it would be quite possible that the question of the evicted tenant would go on indefinitely. Under the Act of 1903 the intention was that after the date of that Act no person evicted should have the right to reinstatement; but the legal interpretation was that persons evicted after the date of the passing of the Act of 1903 should be entitled to reinstatement in like manner as those evicted before the date of that Act. That was a legal interpretation which, in his mind, completely neutralised the object of the Act of 1903 so far as that point was concerned. Their Lordships' House when adopting the Evicted Tenants Bill rectified that error so far as that Act was concerned. His first Amendment was directed to rectifying the error in this Bill also, so that from the date of the passing of the Bill into an Act no tenant evicted afterwards should have the right to claim the privileges which their Lordships had been pleased to confer upon evicted tenants.865
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
I do not wish to interrupt the noble Lord. Of course, he is entitled to make any remarks on the clause, but I do not think he quite understands that the time is past when he can move this Amendment. I understand he is describing what his Amendment is. Of course, if that is on the question that the clause stand part of the Bill it is in order.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL of SWINFORD said he merely intended to show what his object was, because the course of the debate had prevented him from developing his argument on this particular point. He thought he had now explained to the House the meaning of the Amendment which he had not had an opportunity of moving.
§ THE EARL OF MAYO pointed out that the noble Lord could move the Amendment on Report.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD begged their Lordships' pardon. He was very familiar with the procedure of the House and he hoped he might be excused. On the second point, he had had an opportunity of explaining why he thought it was desirable that his Amendment should have been preferred to that of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson. In the interests of Irish social life it was most desirable that the mansions, demesne lands, gardens and other appurtenances thereto should be preserved from partition in accordance with the wishes of the local population.
§ Clause 17, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 18:
§ 18.—(1) It shall be lawful for the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, or the council of any county or any rural district, to purchase any parcel of an estate under section four of the Act of 1903 for any Of the purposes mentioned in, that section, and the said Department or any such council, or any other body corporate having power to acquire land, may act as trustees for those purposes, and may obtain advances for the purchase.
§ (2) Where any land is purchased by the said Department or a county council or rural district council under this section, the scheme for the user of the land mentioned in section twenty of the Act of 1903 shall be framed or approved of by Department and the requirements of that 866 section with regard to the framing or approval of the scheme by the Lord Lieutenant shall not apply.
§ (3) Where land is purchased by a county council or rural district council under this section, the amount required for payment of the instalments of the purchase annuity shall be raised in the case of the county council as a county at large charge, and in the ease of the rural district council as a district charge.
§ (4) It is hereby declared that the provisions of section four and of section twenty of the Act of 1903, as amended by this section, apply as well in the case of the sale of an estate to the Congested Districts Board as in the case of the sale of an estate to persons other than the Congested Districts Board.
§ LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD had an Amendment on the Paper to subsection (4) to add after the words "sale of an estate to," the words "the Land Commission for." He explained that the Amendment was consequential.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE asked whether the words were not consequential—to put it in an Irish way—on what was to come in later on. They had to debate the Amendment of the noble Lord later on, and he could put these words in on Report, as was usually done.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES said he understood that the noble Lord did not move the Amendment now.
§ Clause 18 agreed to.
§ Clause 19:
§ 19.—(1) Where a parcel of an estate is purchased or proposed to be purchased by trustees under section four of the Act of 1903 for the purpose of the planting of trees or the preservation of woods or plantations, and the parcel is subject to any grazing rights or easements appurtenant to holdings on the estate, the Land Commission may, if they think fit, on the application of the trustees, make an order releasing that parcel from all or any of those rights and easements upon such terms as to compensation and otherwise as may be agreed upon by the parties interested or, in default of agreement, may be determined by the Land Commission; and any such order shall be effectual to release the parcel from those rights and easements in the manner and to the extent therein specified.
§ (2) Where any land is resold to the owner of an estate in pursuance of section three or seventy-Six of the Act of 1903, and the Land is subject to any such rights or easements as aforesaid, the Land Commission may on the application of the owner exercise the powers conferred on them by the last preceding subsection as regards those rights and easements, if and so far as, they are satisfied that the land, or Portion thereof, is required the owner for and pf the Said purposes.867
EARL CADOGAN moved to insert a new subsection—
(3) Where any land is sold to the occupying tenant under the Act of 1903, and the vendor desires to exclude from the sale a portion of such land for the purpose of planting trees thereon, or preserving ornamental timber already growing thereon, and it appears to the Land Commission., that, having regard to the extent and character of such portion, the value of the holding would not be substantially affected if it were resumed by the owner, the Land Commission may make an order vesting such portion in the vendor of the estate upon such terms ac to compensation and otherwise as may be agreed upon.
§ He said that after the interesting discussions which had taken place in their Lordships' House during the past two days he could hardly expect to obtain the interest of any of their Lordships in the subject of giving facilities for the planting and preservation of trees which was dealt with in this clause—not because it was not in itself interesting, because the question of afforestation and the maintenance of trees in Ireland was one to which the attention of all statesmen should be directed; but in this case his Amendment could hardly be called an Amendment in the first place because it was not hostile, and it was really an Amendment explaining and enlarging the boundaries of the Bill.
Perhaps he might be allowed to state very briefly what he imagined to be the policy of the Government under this clause; and he would like to be permitted, although he could speak only for himself, to express his appreciation of the policy of the Government in this matter, and satisfaction that in a Bill bristling with so many important matters they had not omitted to deal with a question which he believed would largely affect the welfare of Ireland. Ireland had a great many assets but they were neglected assets, and one which could be most easily remedied, only it would take time, was afforestation. The Department of Agriculture two years ago appointed a Departmental Committee to examine into this question. Their Lordships need not be alarmed, for he was not going to read long extracts from a Blue-book; but there were two or three paragraphs at the end of the Report which demonstrated the urgency and necessity of dealing with this question. One paragraph said—
Afforestry has in the past been deplorably neglected by the Government of Ireland, and in consequence, while the country is particularly well
suited for tree growing, the percentage of land under woods in Ireland is now the lowest of any country save one in Europe; this percentage is too low for the welfare of the country; nevertheless, it is being wastefully diminished at the present time, chiefly under the indirect influence of the Land Purchase Acts, with great loss to the country and imminent, danger to existing Irish wood-working industries.
§ In these circumstances he thought they owed acknowledgments to the Government for having taken action in the matter. The new subsection which he had ventured to place upon the Paper was in no way in opposition to the policy of the Government. He simply added one further category which he thought might be of advantage. The subsection followed in spirit and almost in letter the two subsections which the Government had placed in the Bill. Here, again, they had a procedure which appeared to be somewhat unnecessarily slow, because they would imagine that anywhere else but in Ireland if an owner wished to sell a particular estate and wished to reserve a certain portion of it for the planting of trees he would sell the whole with the exception of the part he wished to preserve. It was not so in Ireland. In Ireland, under the accumulation of Land Acts, he had to sell the whole of the estate and then under an order of the Land Commission, the landlord might resume that part which in all other countries he would simply have reserved on the sale. He hoped noble Lords on both sides of the House, especially those from Ireland, would agree with him that they owed a debt of gratitude to the Government for undertaking to deal with this question. They had not, of course, undertaken to deal with the whole of the Report to which he had alluded, because that Report recommended, amongst other things, that a large scheme of afforestation should be entered upon in Ireland. In his opinion large schemes of afforestation were somewhat doubtful in their results. They were very costly. Probably the operations with regard to them would be very prolonged, and, on the whole, he thought the Government had been wise in not entering upon the large scheme which the Departmental Committee recommended. He believed he was totally out of order, but perhaps the Lord Chairman would excuse his saying that there was another clause which the Government had inserted in this Bill—Clause 34—in which they had gone still further in the direction of preventing the 869 cutting down of trees. Would he be in order in reading it?
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
I am afraid I have no power to say what is in order any more than any other noble Lord. In this House a great deal of latitude is always allowed.
EARL CADOGAN said he could be stopped at any moment, Clause 34, subsection (b), ran—
The proprietor shall not, without the, consent in writing in the prescribed form of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, cut down or uproot or permit to be cut down or uprooted, any tree (other than a fruit tree or osier) upon the holding which is necessary for the ornament or shelter of the holding; and if any such tree is cut down or uprooted in violation of this condition, the proprietor shall be guilty of an offence under this Act and shall be liable on summary conviction to a penalty not exceeding five pounds for each tree so cut down or uprooted, unless he satisfies the Court that he received the prescribed consent.
§ He thought noble Lords from Ireland would view that subsection with considerable satisfaction, and he thought it added to the burden of gratitude which he had already said they owed to His Majesty's Government. He could only say that he trusted they would accept the Amendment, and that it would be supported especially by noble Lords from Ireland. He also expressed an ardent hope that these operations would be entered into with as little delay as possible, and that the further recommendations of the Departmental Committee would in due time receive the consideration of the Government.
In page 11, line 18, after 'purposes' to insert the following new subsection—
'(3) Where any land is sold to the occupying tenant under the Act of 1903, and the vendor desires to exclude from the sale a portion of such land for the purpose of planting trees thereon, or preserving ornamental timber already growing thereon, and it appears to the Land Commission that, having regard to the extent and character of such portion, the value of the holding would not be substantially affected if it were resumed by the owner, the Land Commission may Make an order vesting such portion in the vendor of the estate upon such terms as to compensation and otherwise as may be agreed upon.'"—(Earl Cadogan.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I am very glad to know that my noble friend on Cross 870 Benches approves of Clause 19, and I was also glad to hear him read paragraph (b) of Clause 34, which is a clause we value, and one of the very few which noble Lords have not proposed to omit. As regards the proposed extension by my noble friend, I should like to ask him whether he considers, that this particular Amendment is required, in view of the rather singular procedure needed to carry it out. What my noble friend proposes is that the landlord who sells should acquire part of the holding of the purchasing tenant for the purpose either of planting trees or of preserving them. That, of course, is the reverse operation to everything else that takes place under the Land Acts. In all other oases the tenant acquires from the landlord, but here the landlord has to acquire from the tenant. Well, it is quite possible for him to do that if the tenant agrees. If the tenant agrees after the whole process has taken place, the landlord can buy, with the leave of the Land Commission, a particular portion of the estate. Of course, to us in England it seems a singular thing that a plantation should form part of an agricultural holding, but as we know in Ireland it is the rule. The only case in which the Amendment of the noble Earl would operate is where a tenant was umwilling—where he refused to enter into an agreement—and, in view of the very complicated procedure that would be necessary, I would like to ask the noble Earl whether he really thinks it worth while to insert a provision of this kind for, the purpose of coercing an unwilling tenant. I think it would be very difficult to purchase back land from a tenant who was unwilling. I do not know what would happen to the plantation in such cases. Where the tenant agrees the matter is quite simple, because after the purchase has taken place the, landlord only has to buy back. In those circumstances we should prefer not to accept the Amendment, because we believe that in the very large number of cases where it could be done it would be covered by subsections (1) and (2), In all other cases where it can usefully be done it can be done by agreement, as I have stated.
§ *LORD CLONBROCK quite saw the difficulty which the noble Earl had pointed out, but, at the same time, he thought it would, be extremely desirable that some provision should be adopted to meet the great want of trees for shelter in Ireland.871
§ It was not a question of the value of the property but the shelter given by small isolated plantations. Unfortunately, the idea of the purchasing tenant was to cut down every tree, and it was really in his own interests and the interests of the whole country that timber, where possible, should be preserved.
§ *THE EARL of MAYO wished to say a word about this subject from the artistic point of view; because in some parts of the county in which he lived estates had been sold and avenues which were picturesque and afforded shelter to travellers and to cattle had been cut down.
§ *THE EARL OF MAYO said he could not read the whole of that clause in the position in which he then was, but if the noble Earl said so he would take his word for it. With regard to small plantations which his noble friend Lord Clonbrock referred to, he thought there should be some provision in the Bill. He quite saw the difficulties which the noble Earl pointed out. They all knew what Ireland was; the tenant might make objections to these plantations being reserved; but this cutting down of trees had become an absolute scandal in Ireland. Not only they, but all the members of the Nationalist Party who really wished to see the country not denuded of beautiful trees were at one in the matter. They wished to stop it by some means or other, and if the noble Earl in charge of the Bill did not think this subsection effective he hoped the noble Earl would introduce words that would stop the cutting down of trees. He did not think that friction would arise with the tenant as to the reservation of trees. He must be a very disagreeable man who would cause trouble over that. But the fact was, the trees had been cut down and the cattle turned into the plantation, it became a free pasturage for every loose blackguard and scoundrel in the country and his cattle, and their Lordships wished to preserve it from that.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I think I may say; without fear of contradiction, that there is no difference between the two sides of the House as to the general policy which should be pursued 872 with regard to this question of the preservation of trees, and I gladly join with my noble friend on the Cross Benches in expressing my obligations to His Majesty's Government for having inserted in this Bill several provisions intended to protect timber of all kinds in Ireland. It is really, to my mind, a tragical thing to see the way in which growing timber, not only in plantations but outside as well, has been ruthlessly cut down and exterminated by tenant purchasers under the Act, and I gladly acknowledge that this Bill already contains provisions to meet that to some extent, but the Amendment moved by my noble friend Earl Cadogan seems to me to touch a point which is not covered by the Bill as it now stands. The particular case which I think he has in view, and which I have also in view, is the case in which comparatively valueless land—rough mountain land—either with growing timber upon it or capable of being used for the purpose of planting trees, is sold with the rest of the holding to a purchasing tenant. The case that would be met by my noble friend's Amendment would only be where the portion of land in question was quite insignificant in value compared with the value of the whole farm, and what we would like to see would be an arrangement by which, in the case of a sale, the Land Commissioners might at the outset permit the landlord to reserve a portion of the holding, not so great that it would substantially affect the value of the whole farm, in order that the timber upon it might be preserved. I think the wording of the Amendment would require slight alteration, because as it now stands it would be necessary to obtain the agreement of landlord and tenant. In my view it should be left to the Land Commission to decide in a case of that kind whether the reservation was a reasonable one or not. The noble Earl will remember that under the existing Acts there is a power of resumption reserved to the landlord for the good of the estate, or something of that kind—I forget what the exact words are. The policy of this Amendment is the same—namely, that where a holding of 100 acres, say, is sold, and some little corner of it has got a few trees or is capable of growing a few trees, the landlord should be able to go before the Land Commission and say, "Let me reserve that upon terms which you consider to be absolutely fair and equitable."
873 I do not think that is a very extreme provision, and unless there are stronger reasons against it than the noble Earl the Leader of the House has mentioned, I rather hope my noble friend will press his Amendment.
§ EARL CADOGAN said he was obliged to his noble friend, who had stated exactly what the objects of the Amendment were. There was one point to which allusion had not been made. He carefully added at the end of the subsection, "upon such terms as to compensation and otherwise as may be agreed upon." He would like to ask the noble Earl in charge of the Bill whether it would not be possible, under terms embracing compensation, to obtain the consent of the tenant. He thought in many cases that consent could be obtained, but he would be quite willing to add what he gathered the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, desired—namely, that the Land Commission should come in instead of the matter being decided by consent between the parties.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
Perhaps I ought to explain that the difficulty as the law stands, and will stand if the noble Earl's Amendment is accepted, is that the entire holding will have been sold to the tenant and the landlord has to buy it back. The noble Marquess seemed to contemplate that the process would be that this piece of land would be withdrawn from the holding before the holding was sold, but there is no provision for that in the Amendment, and it would be entirely foreign to the usual transactions under the Purchase Acts.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY asked if he might say a word on this subject as he had had some experience of the action of those who had bought holdings with regard to the timber on those holdings. He agreed entirely with Earl Cadogan that it was deplorable that timber should be cut down in Ireland. He had had a somewhat painful experience himself. He delivered an annual address in the North of Ireland, and generally took a subject with which he hoped his hearers would sympathise. One year he devoted himself to dealing at considerable length with the great advantage to tenant purchasers of maintaining timber for the reason Lord Clonbrock had given. He pointed out instances where there was no timber and the country was very poor, and he also pointed out some districts 874 where timber Was of great advantage. He flattered himself he had made a great impression upon his hearers. The following year he asked some of his friends what the subject of his address should be, and they said, "On no account touch the question of timber, because the tenant purchasers took advantage of your address to cut down all the timber they had and sell it to the nearest shipyard." That was the experience he had had.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
Perhaps I may close the discussion of this very interesting aspect of the matter by saying that if the noble Earl will consult with me as to some redrafting of this Amendment I think we shall be in a position to come to terms.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 19 agreed to.
§ Clause 20:
§ 20.—(1) The Land Commission in determining under subsection (2) of section one or under section five of the Act of 1903 whether the agreed price of a holding is equitable shall have regard to the respective interests of the landlord and tenant in the holding and in the improvements thereon, and the price shall not be deemed to be equitable if it appears to the Land Commission that any substantial part thereof represents the value of improvements made by the tenant or his predecessors in title for which he or they have not been paid or compensated by the landlord or his predecessors in title.
§ (2) Any question which may arise under this section as to—
- (a) whether an improvement was or was not made by the tenant or his predecessors in, title; or
- (b) whether the tenant or his predecessors in, title have or have not been paid or compensated for any improvement;
LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD moved to omit from the second line of subsection (1) the words "under subsection (2) of section one or." He asked their Lordships, in order to understand the proposal, to recall what happened in connection with Clause 14. In connection with that clause he made proposals which were devised to amend it. Clause 14 proposed that inquiry should be made as to the security of the advance
and as to the equity of the price. The first of those points—security of the advance—had already been disposed of. The question of the equity of the price was raised in the present Amendment. He reminded their Lordships that when the Act of 1903 was under discussion in another place the question of the fixing of rents of judicial tenants was included, in the first draft of the Act, amongst the tenancies that were affected by the zones; but in accordance with an agreement come to the non-judicial tenants were excluded from the zones and were dealt with in a special section—namely, Section 5. That section ran—
In the case of the sale of an estate when an application for an advance to which the provisions of subsection (1) of section one of this Act do not apply is made, the Land Commissioners may, subject to the limitations of the Land Purchase Acts, advance the whole or part of the purchase money if they are satisfied with the security and are of opinion that having regard to all the circumstances of the case the agreed price is equitable.
§ A controversy took place with regard to the words "the agreed price is equitable." One party to the controversy maintained that the Land Commissioners, in dealing with cases of non judicial rents, were entitled to look behind the contract into the equity of the bargain between the landlord and the tenant. The other party to the controversy held that that sort of an inquiry was precluded by the terms of the Act.
§ His present proposal was devised with the view of saying that the inquiry of the Estates Commissioners into the contract between the vendor and the tenant should be restricted to the points indicated in the Amendment—namely, to determining and ascertaining whether or not the improvements effected in the holding had formed part of the subject-matter of the bargain between the landlord and the tenant. If the improvements were effected by the tenant naturally they were the property of the tenant and ought not to be included in a contract of sale with the landlord. On the other hand, if the improvements were effected by the landlord the landlord was entitled to receive in the price compensation for them. That was the compromise which he had ventured to suggest upon this part of the Bill, namely, that the restrictions in Clause 14 as to the equity of the price—that the inquiry into that point should be limited to an inquiry into 876 whether or not the improvements effected in the estate were effected by the landlord or by the tenant. Obviously if they were effected by the tenant they should not form part of the subject-matter of the contract; while, on the other hand, if they were effected by the landlord, equally obviously they ought to form part of the contract.
In page 11, lines 19 and 20, to leave out the words 'under subsection (2) of section one or.'"—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I confess it is not quite clear to me, from what my noble friend has said, why he considers it desirable that in all cases where a transaction takes place within the zones the clause should not apply. As I understand, my noble friend thinks that where the transaction has taken place outside the zone the inquiry provided by Clause 20 should be made; that is to say, that the Land Commission should consider whether the agreed price of a holding is equitable having regard to the respective interests of the landlord and tenant in the improvements thereon. But why, in regard to public policy, should there not also be cases within the zone where such an inquiry is necessary? Noble Lords opposite know very well why this clause was inserted. As an instance of what might occur if it was not inserted, a case which was alluded to yesterday—the King-Harman case—was a case in point. It being understood that the object of these Acts is to sell the landlord's interest to the tenant, it does not seem to be in any way in accordance with public policy that the tenant should be allowed to buy his own improvements under the Act. That is what it really comes to, and as regards the distinction drawn by my noble friend behind me, surely it is possible that where a judicial rent is fixed and a purchase has taken place within the zones, improvements may be made subsequently to the fixing of the judicial rent, and which ought to have the same care on the part of the Land Commissioners as though the instance came under Section 5 of the Act of 1903. In those circumstances, and feeling as we do that the necessity, if not absolutely equal in the two cases, is quite liable to arise where the case is within the zones, we cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.877
§ LORD ATKINSON, in. moving to leave out Clause 20, said he did not interpose in the discussion on the Amendment to the clause because he was very much of the same opinion as an Irish tenant whom he once heard giving evidence about his holding and who said, "The more you improve it the worse it gets." Of all the grotesque provisions ever introduced into any Bill this was the most grotesque. Subsection (1) of Section 1 of the Act of 1903 provided for a case where the rent was fixed but the terms were not brought within the zones, but Section 5 referred to cases where the rent was fixed and the whole advance was not asked for or where no rent was fixed at all, and inasmuch as a limited owner could sell it was necessary that they should put in some provision which would protect the interest of those in remaindership. Consequently the words as to equity were introduced. He did not know who were the people to whom the noble Earl referred as having regarded "equitable" as "equitable as between vendor and purchaser." A glimmering sense of law would prevent any person falling into that mistake. Accordingly when it was brought up in the King-Harman case before the present Master of the Rolls in Ireland, then Chief Commissioner, he decided, as any sensible human being could only decide, that equitable meant equitable as regarded the persons in remainder. This attempt to get round it was most peculiar, because he did not know whether the clause was intended to say that the equity was to be confined to the cases where the tenant was not paid or compensated for improvements, or whether it was a specific equity that entitled it to be set aside irrespective of other equities. If the authors of the Bill had selected a particular equity on which the contract to purchase could be set aside they had selected a most peculiar one, for of all the knotty questions ever involved in the complicated Irish Land Code the question of improvements was probably the most complicated.
§ As the Bill of 1881 was passing through the House of Commons Mr. Timothy Healy moved what was now a sub-clause that rents should not be fixed upon the improvements of a tenant for which he was paid or otherwise compensated. Then began the question of what was "otherwise compensated." Was permission to enjoy the improvement "compensation"—where the tenant held under a tenure that could not be disturbed? 878 Was enjoyment under a tenure that could be disturbed "compensation"? Was the grant of a new lease "compensation"? In 1896 the then Government brought in a Bill which was designed, at all events, to set at rest this question of compensation. They drew up a long and uninviting section to try and lay down what was compensation and what was not. He was sorry to say they were not quite successful, and questions had since arisen. When a landlord and tenant agreed to purchase the land although the tenant was about to go in, if he was defrauded, coerced, cheated, or oppressed in any way, he could immediately ask that his contract should be broken up. But this proposal was meant to apply to cases where the tenant did not ask; cases where, as in the King-Harman case, he did not want to ask. The peculiarity of that case was that the Commissioners said, "We want to know whether we can set aside this contract because the tenant pays too much"; but the tenant, coming into Court, said, "I have not paid too much"; and the argument on behalf of the Estates Commissioners was, "You foolish woman, you have paid too much." Therefore, whether they agreed or not the Estates Commissioners were to interpose and say, "You are paying too much." They would never have the pluck to say to a landlord, "You are asking too little."
§ Then they raised, this knotty question, and said the price should not be deemed to be equitable if it appeared to the Land Commission that any substantial part thereon represented the value of improvements made by the tenant or purchaser in the title for which he had not been compensated. Take the case of a tenant who had built a house forty years ago. Probably he had got a new lease or been allowed to hold on his tenancy from year to year. Then the question had to be determined whether all that enjoyment was compensation and that therefore the improvement had been compensated for, and whether that improvement, compensated for or not, had materially increased the purchase price. That was a knotty point. But the provision as to whom it was to be referred to was really the reductio ad absurdum. The clause said that any question which might arise as to whether an improvement was or was not made by the tenant or his predecessors in title, or whether the tenant or his predecessors in title had or had not been paid or compensated for any improvement, was 879 to be referred to a legal Assistant Commissioner whose decision was to be final. It was very well that the decision was to be final, because if it were not final it would certainly be reversed.
§ A still further peculiarity was that this was to be without prejudice to any previous determination under the Land Acts. Then the first thing that the person who fixed the fair rent was to do was to determine whether the man was compensated, by enjoyment or otherwise, for the improvements he had made. If compensated a rent might be fixed upon, if not, it should not be fixed upon. This Commissioner was left to his own devices to plough his way through all these difficulties. Protect the remainder-ship by all means; protect the State by all means; see that the security was adequate; but to say that landlord and tenant were to be treated as infants and lunatics not able to make their own contract and to protect their own interests, was ridiculous legislation. It would be most mischievous if passed and if there were a Division on this Amendment to reject the clause he sincerely hoped he would be supported.
To leave out Clause 20."—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ On Question; Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 21:
§ 21.—(1) In subsection (5) of section six of the Act of 1903 (which defines a congested estate) "ten pounds" shall be substituted for "five pounds"; and the consent of the owner required by subsection (4) of that section shall cease to be required.
§ (2) Where an estate not being a congested estate within the meaning of the said section as so amended, comprises within its area one or more congested townlands, the Land Commission, or in the case of townlands situated in a congested district county, the Congested Districts Board, may declare all or any one or more of such townlands to be a separate estate for the purposes of the Land Purchase Acts, and such townland or townlands shall thereupon be deemed for those purposes to be a separate congested estate.
§ (3) An estate which consists exclusively of one or more congested townlands shall be deemed to be a congested estate.
§ (4) The expression "congested townland" means a townland in which more than one-half of the holdings are—
- (a) congested holdings; or
- (b) holdings whose aggregate rateable value when divided by their number gives a sum of less than ten pounds for each holding:
The expression "congested holding" means— 880
- (a) a holding not exceeding ten pounds in rateable value; and
- (b) a holding held in rundale or intermixed plots.
§ LORD BARRYMORE moved to delete from subsection (1) the words "and the consent of the owner required by subsection (4) of that section shall cease to be required." He said he had two or three other Amendments on the Paper, and also, if necessary, an Amendment to leave out the whole clause. But he would say at once for the satisfaction of their Lordships, that what was wanted was that the consent of the landlord should be retained as at the present moment. The Clause extended considerably the definition of congested districts; it altered £5 rateable value to £10; and it made sundry other alterations to which they might take legitimate objection and which they might argue at very considerable length. But they were perfectly satisfied, if the consent of the landlord was retained, that the alterations of the definitions should be made.
§ Under Section 6, subsection (5), of the Land Act of 1903 a congested district was defined as being an estate of which at least half consisted of holdings not exceeding £5 in rateable value, or of mountain or bog land, or not less than one-fourth of which was held in rundale or intermixed plots. By subsection (4) of the same section it was provided that the owner's consent should be necessary before the Lord Lieutenant should determine that the estate should be certified as a congested district. The alterations would, for instance, prevent the application of the zone system in the case of a congested estate. The changes would be advantageous for the small holders upon an estate, but there would probably also be a certain number of substantial larger farmers and they would be placed under a considerable disability if the zone system ceased to be operative in their case. It was very important in the landlord's interest, and in their interest, that they should not summarily be put in the position that they could be considered as part of a congested estate without any consideration or any remedy. This was a matter which was considered at great length during the discussions of the Bill in the year 1903, and the consent of the landlord was at that time required and inserted in the Act. The section had worked well so far, and there was no reason whatever why the consent of the landlord 881 should be removed. He must press his Amendment if the Government declined to accept it. He sincerely hoped, however, that they would accept it.
In page 12,line 3, to leave out from 'pounds' to the end of subsection (1)."—(Lord Barrymore.)
LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD said the noble Lord the mover of the Amendment had stated that the Act as it stood had worked exceedingly well. On page 8 of the last Report of the Estates Commissioners were the following words—
In the years during the period from November 1, 1903. to March 31, 1908, the Commissioners certified to the Lord Lieutenant that twenty congested districts were bought.
§ That was the measure of the successful working of the provision to which the noble Lord alluded. In those six years, owing to the words which the noble Lord desired to retain, the efforts of the Estates Commissioners to relieve congestion had been absolutely frustrated. If their Lordships desired that congestion outside the congested districts ought to be relieved they were bound to remove the words in question from the Act. The noble Lord had also stated that these words were introduced into the Act with the consent of both Houses of Parliament. That was quite true, but when the Bill came up to their Lordships' House in 1903 the words were not contained in it. They were introduced in their Lordships' House; and in the Lower House, the Members of which were wearied with the conflict, they were passed. The result was that from that time to the present outside the congested districts there had been absolutely no relief of congestion. Their Lordships' action on this Amendment would be a good test of their desire to relieve congestion in Ireland.
§ *LORD ASHTOWN said the noble Lord who had just sat down seemed to have immense confidence in the Estates Commissioners. He (Lord Ashtown) confessed he had not, and he did not think many other noble Lords had either. It was necessary that they should have some protection against these Commissioners. They had had the power of refusing their consent to make their estates congested with a valuation of £5. Now the valuation had been raised to £10, and that made congestion far 882 more serious. Personally, he thought the valuation of different holdings was not in the least a test. Congestion meant poverty and misery, or was supposed to mean it. A £10 valuation was supposed to represent poverty and misery. He denied that; altogether, and he could prove it on his own estate. He had very few congested holdings, very few indeed before this increase came on; but when they increased the £5 to £10 they would enormously add to the number of congested holdings. He would cite a few items on his estate to show the "misery" there. One tenant with a valuation of £3 earned, with his family, £1 2s. 0d. a week in wages. Another tenant had a valuation of £7; he and his family earned £1 4s. 0d. a week in wages. Another had a valuation of £2 12s. 0d.,. he and his family earned £2 3s. 0d. a week in wages Another, with a valuation of £8 5s. 0d., earned £1 a week in wages, and £1 5s. 0d. a week might be coming in if one of the men had behaved himself. Another with a £9 valuation earned £4s. 0d. a week, and a tenant with a valuation of £4 9s. 0d. earned twenty-four shillings week. Was he to admit that his estate was a case of poverty and destitution?
§ THE EARL OF LEITRIM said he noble Lord opposite had mentioned in the first part of his speech that there were only twenty estates which the Estates Commissioners had bought, but he did not mention till the end of his speech that that was outside the-area of the congested districts. Twenty estates did not include all the estates. He (Lord Leitrim) did not think that point, need therefore be taken into account. Further, to give some idea of the valuation placed on a farm of less than £10 he might say that the average value of the tenant-right in the union of County Donegal, which was said to be a congested estate, was fifty-two years purchase of the rent.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
My noble friend behind me stated the objections to the noble Lord's Amendment so clearly that I really have very little to add to what he said. But I confess it does seem to me that the acceptance of this Amendment offers a very singular commentary on what was so freely said before we adjourned for dinner as to the necessity of acquiring land for the relief of those within the congested districts outside these districts. We were overwhelmed by arguments. When it was a question of a single landless man outside getting a farm, 883 the whole of it was required for migrants from congested districts, and yet when there is a question of making it possible to migrate—the noble Lord behind me pointed out what obstacles had hitherto been placed in the way of acquiring land for any such purpose—noble Lords desire to amend our Bill in a way which obviously must tend to make it infinitely more difficult. Lord Ashtown spoke of certain cases within his own knowledge where those who had land on a small valuation earned money in other ways. Of course there is a certain number of such cases everywhere. In no country but Ireland would these people be spoken of as farmers at all. They are labourers who have a little bit of land, hardly coming within the meaning of what we call a small holding in some cases. I quite agree that for a community entirely composed of such people to be spoken of as a congested district or even a congested 'estate would give a wrong impression of what was meant by congestion. There I agree entirely, but that, although I admit its force, it not really the point. What happens Under these transactions? The Government for their own purpose, through the
|Loreburn, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Liverpool, E.||Haversham, L.|
|Wolverhampton, V. (L. President.)||Hemphill, L.|
|Allendale, L.||Lucas, L.|
|Crewe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Blyth, L.||MacDonnell, L.|
|Beauchamp, E. (L. Steward.)||Boston, L.||Monteagle of Brandon, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Colebrooke, L. [Teller.]||O'Hagan, L.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Courtney of Penwith, L.||Pentland, L.|
|Chichester, E.||Denman, L. [Teller.]||Sandhurst, L.|
|Craven, E.||Eversley, L.||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Glantawe, L.||Weardale, L.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Lindsey, E.||Hill, V.|
|Devonshire, D.||Londesborough, E.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)|
|somerset, D.||Lucan, E.|
|Wellington, D.||Malmesbury, E.||Iveagh, V.|
|Mayo, E. [Teller.]||Milner, V.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Morley, E.|
|Camden, M.||Onslow, E.||Abinger, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E.||Ardilaun, L.|
|Abingdon, E.||Powis, E.||Ashbourne, L.|
|Bandon, E.||Roberts, E.||Ashtown, L.|
|Cadogan, E.||Rosslyn, E.||Atkinson, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Stanhope, E.||Barrymore, L. [Teller.]|
|Clarendon, E.||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Blythswood, L.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Verulam, E.||Boyle, L. (B. Cork and Orrery.)|
|Dartrey, E.||Waldegrave, E.||Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.)|
|Denbigh, E.||Wharncliffe, E.||Broderick, L. (V. Midleton.)|
|Derby, E.||Wicklow, E.||Carew, L.|
|Devon, E.||Castlemaine, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Colville of Culross, V.||Castletown, L.|
|Huntingdon, E.||De Vesci, V.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)|
|Kilmorey, E.||Halifax, V.|
|Lichfield, E.||Hampden, V.||Clements, L. (L. Leitrim.)|
§ Estates Commissioners, buy an estate from the landlord at more than its valuation, at more than he can get for it. Is it or is it not reasonable in these circumstances, when they are giving the landlord more than the estate could be said to be worth in the open market, to demand his assent to the transaction? We feel very strongly that everything said by my noble friend behind me in this matter is of the greatest importance, and we are bound to resist the Amendment.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE asked what exactly was meant by striking out "consent." Did that mean that the Estates Commissioners were to be absolute arbiters and could fix the price over a man's head?
§ LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD said the words had had the effect of preventing anything like dealing with congestion outside congested districts.
§ On Question, whether the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 28; Not-contents, 116.
|Clonbrock, L.||Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)||Monck, L. (V. Monck.)|
|Cloncurry, L.||Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Chichester, L.||Forester, L.||Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)|
|Collins, L.||Gormanston, L. (V. Gormanston.)||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Curzon of Kedleston, L.||Harlech, L.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)||Hindlip, L.||Rathdonnell, L.|
|De Freyne, L.||Iuchiquin, L.||Rathmore, L.|
|Desart, L. (E. Desart.)||Kenlis, L. (V. Headfort.)||St. Levan, L.|
|Digby, L.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)||Sandys, L.|
|Dunalley, L.||Kesteven, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Dunboyne, L.||Kinnaird, L.||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Dunboyne, L.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)||Stanmore, L.|
|Egerton, L.||Langford, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Lawrence, L.||Tyrone, L. (M. Waterford.)|
|Estcourt, L.||Leconfield, L.||Ventry, L.|
|Faber, L.||Macnaghten, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)||Massy, L.||Walsingham, L.|
|Farnham, L.||Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)||Wenlock, L.|
§ Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ *LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD had an Amendment on the Paper proposing to alter the meaning of the expression "congested townland." He had to confess to their Lordships that, in the Minute which he recorded on the Report of the Congestion Commission, he was betrayed into a mistake. The mistake consisted in suggesting a definition of congestion which depended more upon the numerical proportion of congested holdings in a townland than on the proportional area of the townland which such congested holdings covered. It was quite possible, as many of their Lordships acquainted with the West of Ireland would know, to have a townland consisting of 1,000 acres, of which 950 acre might be in one grass farm held by one tenant, while fifty acres might be five-acre plots held by ten tenants. Such a townland as that would, under the, definition suggested in the Bill, be declared to be a congested townland. Obviously such a townland ought not properly to be considered congested, because although the fifty acres held by the ten tenants holding five acres each might properly be regarded as congested, yet by the employment which would probably be afforded by the occupier of the large area certain means would be supplied to the tenants of the ten holdings which would enable them to eke out their subsistence otherwise than from their land. Therefore in order to adjust the deficiency of his definition he suggested that there should be not only a numerical test but also a test in regard to the area which was occupied by the congested holdings. His present proposal 886 was that no townland should be regarded as congested unless one half of the holdings were also congested and unless these holdings covered a quarter of the total area of the townland.
In page 12, line 17, after the word 'holding,' to insert the words 'in number and one quarter in area.' "—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
As the noble Lord has told us, he is really the author of this clause, and as he desires to amend it I feel it would hardly be reasonable to prevent him from doing so. As the clause now stands there certainly might come within it singular cases, cases even more singular than those which the noble Lord mentioned in his speech. A townland might consist of three holdings, one enormously large and two under the limit, and yet as the clause stands as it would be spoken of as congested. But I think it would be better if my noble friend would agree that the Amendment should be moved in this form, to leave out from the second "townland" to the end of line 17 and to insert "more than a quarter of the area of which consist of."
§ LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD accepted the suggestion of the noble Earl.
§ On Question, Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
In the absence of Lord Barrymore, moved to omit Clause 21. His reason for doing so was that it made a complete change in the arrangement which was come to after 887 much consideration under the Act of 1903, when it was decided what exactly a congested estate was. It was provided that it was an estate at least half of which consisted of buildings not exceeding £5 in rateable value. He was not going into the other points, because that was the one to which he wished specially to draw attention. The present proposal raised the £5 to £10, which seemed to him a very great change and one which materially affected all the considerations they had before them as to the relief of congestion in Ireland. It seemed to him that they ought to devote themselves first of all to getting rid of congestion as defined in that Act. Afterwards, when they had done that successfully, it would be open to extend the meaning of the term. To his mind the idea of £10 as necessary for an economic holding was, he would not say novel, but it was an idea that had sprung up and had been much more generally accepted within the last two or three years than previously. He was doubtful altogether about the question of economic holdings, when he saw through the length and breadth of Ireland new uneconomic holdings, called labourers' cottages, being created. He had no doubt all these labourers would claim to have their holdings extended so as to make them economic within a short time. In the meantime it was a very serious change to make to double the amount which constituted a congested estate, and he begged to move the deletion of the clause. There were some other portions of the clause which might not be so objectionable, and if any suggestion was made to put the matter in an altered form on Report he would be very glad to consider it.
To leave out Clause 21."—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)
§ LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD said he had heard the noble Lord with amazement. It took him back to the time more than seventy years ago when a £5 holding was considered to be economic. If there was anything which was proved to satisfaction by the evidence taken by the Dudley Commission—which he ventured to think, from the statement of the noble Lord, he could not have seen—it was that £10 was a moderate estimate. The majority of the witnesses said £12 888 was the amount that ought to be taken. If their Lordships were to accept such a proposal as suggested by the noble Lord they would be completely stultifying themselves.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My noble friend behind me has moved the omission of this clause. We have been engaged for some time in inserting Amendments which I presume, in the view of those who were responsible for them, have considerably improved that clause. Therefore I confess I should rather hesitate, after what has happened, to advise the Committee to get rid of the clause altogether. I am rather strengthened in that view because I observed that my noble friend in the short speech which he delivered only referred to one particular point in the clause—I mean the substitution of £10 for £5. I think there is a great deal to be said about that, but I would rather like to put it to my noble friend, if that is really the only point to which he desires to invite the attention of the Committee, whether that is sufficient argument for taking the whole of the clause out of the Bill. I would venture to ask him whether he would not allow the clause to remain in the Bill for the present, and reserve to himself the right when we come to the Report stage to ask the House to substitute the lower for the higher figure.
§ LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE said that after what the noble Marquess had said he would not press his Amendment at this stage. Lord MacDonnell had referred to the Dudley Commission and said that if the Committee did not accept the conclusion of that Commission they would be stultifying themselves. He did not know what Lord MacDonnell would say to the Government, because they had not accepted the recommendations of the Dudley Commission in a great many respects.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 21, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clauses 22 to 26 agreed to.
§ Clause 27:
§ 27. The Estates Commissioners may, by order, delegate all or any of their powers to any one or two of their number, and anything done by anyone 889 or two of the Estates Commissioners in pursuance of any such delegation shall be as valid and effectual as if it were done by all the Estates Commissioners.
§ LORD ATKINSON had an Amendment on the Paper to leave out the words "one or" in both places where they appeared. He submitted that it was too 'much to trust one Commissioner in the exercise of such powers.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
There are three Amendments on this subject—one in the name of Lord Castletown, another in the name of Lord Ashbourne, and the third in the name of Lord Atkinson. I think it would probably save time if I were to state that of the three the one which appears to us least objectionable is that of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ashbourne, which is to leave out Clause—27. The powers of the Estates Commissioners may be exerciseable by any two of them sitting together, and anything so done shall be as valid and effectual as if it were done by all the Estates Commissioners.Provided always, that all ministerial Acts relating to the details of the carrying out of any transactions under the provisions of this Act or any Act incorporated therewith may at any time be performed by any one of the said Commissioners.But I would propose to alter his proviso to the following, which I could bring up if the House desire on Report—Provided always that the Estates Commissioners may delegate to any one of their number the performance of any ministerial duties in relation to the carrying out of any sale or other transaction, and anything so done shall be as valid and effectual as though it were done by all the Estates Commissioners.That is altering the wording but keeping the sense of the noble and learned Lord's Amendment. I do not, of course, desire to prevent any of the noble Lords stating reasons why they prefer their own form.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
"May delegate to any one of their number the performance of any ministerial duties."
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
I do not gather that the noble Earl wishes to move his suggested Amendment now.
§ *LORD CASTLETOWN intimated that in the circumstances he would not move his Amendment, which provided that any person aggrieved by any order or decision of one Commissioner might require his case to be re-heard by all three Commissioners sitting together.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE said the matter was not quite so simple as it looked. The proposal of the Government, after giving a tremendous addition to and intensifying the importance of the duties of the Commissioners, was to provide that they might delegate any of these great duties to one of their number. It was obvious that that was not a thing that could be assented to. He did not like the principle of delegation; but it might be possible and more acceptable to say that two should be clothed with full jurisdiction to carry out important duties, sitting together. He thought that might be a tribunal that was reasonable, at all events more reasonable than to have one Commissioner. Then there might be some routine functions more or less, not functions involving decisions on important matters in reference to sales but the carrying out of details of what had been decided by the two, and some provision might be made, as happened in many tribunals, that one should do these technical and more or less formal things. He did not say his Amendment was the best way of doing what he wanted, and he was willing to study very carefully the words of the Government. The best course, he thought, would be to withdraw the whole matter now and bring it up on Report.
§ LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD said that even Lord Ashbourne's suggestion would seriously complicate the business of the Estates Commissioners. They did not transact their business always at meetings. Files were circulated from one Commissioner to another and they recorded 891 their opinions upon these files. If two Commissioners agreed to a particular course, that was taken to mean the opinion of the majority of the Commission, and action was taken accordingly. It would seriously complicate the transaction of public business to insist on the sittings which were mentioned in Lord Ashbourne's Amendment. No difficulty had occurred up to the present time, and if Lord Ashbourne's proposal was modified in the way he would suggest the situation would be met. He suggested that a proviso should be inserted to the effect that the powers of the Estates Commissioners might be "exercisable by a majority and anything so done should be as valid and effectual as though it were done by all the Estates Commissioners," and so on for the remainder of Lord Ashbourne's proviso.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE said there was this danger that they were immensely increasing the jurisdiction of these gentlemen. They were all familiar in Ireland with the expression "files"—the bundles of papers dealing with the particular case fastened together, which were sent about. They went to one special Commissioner who had to do with the matter. He would write a minute on it, which would be taken by someone in the office to one of the other Commissioners, and there was always, he would not say the danger, but the great probability, that this Commissioner would look at it, would read the minute, and knowing that his colleague was familiar with the case forthwith initial it. That would be the work of two Commissioners, but it would not satisfy what he meant—that the two should give their minds to working out the solution. Unless some words were put in showing that there must be two Commissioners applying their minds independently to arrive at a solution after full consideration, it would not be satisfactory. He thought in all the circumstances it was better not to put in words just now, and he would see what could be done before the Report stage.
§ Clause 27 agreed to.
§ Clauses 28 to 31 agreed to.
§ Clause 32:
§ 32.—(1) When the Land Commission deem it expedient to expend any money on the improvement of a holding sold or agreed to be sold 892 by a landlord to a tenant, they may, in. accordance with regulations to be made by the Treasury, enter into an agreement with the tenant for the repayment of the money so expended in the same manner as if such money was advanced under the Land Purchase Acts for the purchase of the holding, and the said money shall be repaid by an additional annuity accordingly.
§ (2) So far as circumstances admit the additional annuity shall in accordance with regulations to be made by the Treasury be consolidated and made payable with the purchase annuity.
§ (3) Regulations made by the Treasury may provide that where the repayment of any money expended by the Land Commission is secured by an additional annuity under this section, the National Debt Commissioners may advance to the Land Commission the said money for repayment to the reserve fund if that fund has not been exhausted, and if that fund has been exhausted, for repayment to the Exchequer.
§ *LORD CASTLETOWN said he had put down an Amendment to leave out this clause with a view to getting some idea from the Government of their views on the subject. As he read the clause it appeared to him to put a very heavy and unnecessary expenditure on the Treasury. The principle of the clause was that the Land Commission must practically provide, money for the improvement of any farm which might come under their purview, and apparently they were referred to Section 12 of the Act of 1903 for that purpose. As far as he read that Section of the Act, however, the object was not to give the Commissioners the power it was now proposed they should have; it was not to assist them in making roads and fencing and in the erection of farm buildings, &c., before re-sale. On the other hand, the clause in the Bill appeared to give the Estates Commissioners very large spending powers in addition to their Powers for the purchase of farms, and those spending powers were to be exercised by means of drafts on the Land Purchase Fund for the purpose of improving holdings which might be agreed to be sold by landlords to tenants. He thought their Lordships would agree that it would be much better if any expenditure was to be undertaken for improvements in these cases it should be provided for under the system of loans from the Board of Public Works. He did not suppose for a moment that the Land Commission would expend a very large sum of money on such improvements, but they might spend on improvements which were practically unnecessary, and they would have to utilise money which was placed at their disposal for the purchase of holdings. It struck him that this 893 was a very unnecessary expenditure, and he should be glad to hear the views of the Government.
To leave out Clause 32."—(Lord Castletown.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
We have no idea under this provision of adding to the powers which the Estates, Commissioners already possess under Section 12 of the Act of 1903. They are empowered in certain circumstances, as the noble Lord very well knows, to expend money, but when they do that money can only be secured by an ordinary mortgage. This clause in the Bill enables that sum to be secured in the form of an annuity as though it represented part of the purchase money. Therefore there is no difference, so far as the Estates Commissioners are concerned, but there is an advantage to the tenant who is able to obtain this money on somewhat easier terms.
§ LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD said the Committee had rejected the proposal which he made that congested estates should be sold direct to the Estates Commissioners in order that congestion might be removed and the condition of the people improved in the proper way. Failing that proper and efficient way of dealing with congestion, the Government proposed in this clause to do the next best thing—namely, to help the tenants to improve their own holdings. The noble Lord, Lord Castletown, proposed that the Government should be deprived of the opportunity of making advances to the tenants for the improvement of their own holdings and of securing the repayment of such advances on the easy terms which the Bill prescribed. He (Lord MacDonnell) thought, however, that it was only necessary to state the case to their Lordships in order to secure a verdict from them in favour of the clause.
§ LORD ATKINSON agreed with Lord MacDonnell in what he had just said. There was a difficulty under the Act of 1903 where money was advanced to improve a farm bought direct from the landlord by the tenant, because there was no means of securing the repayment of that advance by the purchase annuity. He therefore thought this clause was absolutely necessary.894
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 32 agreed to.
§ Clause 33:
§ 33. For the purposes of subsection (4) of section forty-eight of the Act of 1903, an estate shall be deemed to be so circumstanced that it would, independently of the Act of 1896, be sold without the consent of the owner as to price if the consent of the person who is owner would not be required in his capacity as owner, notwithstanding that his consent might be required in the capacity of incumbrancer or some other capacity.
§ LORD FARNHAM wished to move to leave out the clause, which, he said, proposed to extend in a most unfair way the restrictions contained in subsection (4) of Section 48 of the Act of 1903. If Clause 33 of the Bill were passed he could assure their Lordships that it would be a very severe blow to a certain class of landlords. Subsection (4) provided that the earlier part of the section relating to the bonus should not be extended to estates so circumstanced that they could be sold without the owner's consent. The general effect of that was that the owner of an estate which had become so encumbered as to be insolvent could not have a voice in the sale of his estate by the Land Judge, and that he therefore received no bonus. But it had been judicially held that if this same landlord himself held mortgages on the estate he was to be entitled to object to the price he might be offered, and that consequently he would obtain the bonus. That was a most fair and just decision, but it was completely done away with by Clause 33. In order to convince their Lordships of the unjust effect the clause would have, he would try to show how it was many landlords had come to be placed in such a position that they would be hurt by the clause.
§ He would first take the case of a landlord who had not only inherited his estate but had inherited it in a most encumbered state. That estate was encumbered by an ancestor and at the time he encumbered it the rental was at a figure very different from that it stood at to-day. Therefore although the estate must have been very severely crippled, there was a sufficient margin between, what he had to pay and the rent he received for him to have a comfortable income. The ancestor might from time to time have bought up some of those 895 charges either with money which he himself had earned or with money which he had saved by a careful nursing of the rental, or those charges might have been left to him by a member of his family who held a mortgage on the estate. Eventually the present day owner found that owing to the rental being severely cut down he had no margin left and the estate had become insolvent. He was, therefore, placed in this position. As actual owner of the estate, through no fault of his own but owing to a series of Acts of Parliament which had cut down the rental he was insolvent; but as an encumbrancer on his estate, he was receiving benefit from that estate, and, under the Act of 1903, he would be entitled to have a say in the sale of the estate and also to receive the bonus, and most justly so. Under Clause 33 of the Bill, however, he would not be allowed to have that benefit, and that would be most hard and unjust upon him.
§ Another instance was that of a landlord who had bought his estate either in the Encumbered Estates Court or in the Land Court. He might have bought that estate, which was put up for market in the Land Court, on the understanding that the rental was a low one. For the purposes of the illustration their Lordships might suppose that the rental was valued at £1,000. To purchase the estate the landlord borrowed a certain sum of money and found the remainder from his own pocket. They might suppose that the amount of money he borrowed necessitated his paying a charge of £750 a year, and that left him with a margin of £250 on which to live. As in the other case which had been taken as an illustration, this owner either bought rap charges, or perhaps was left charges, and became an encumbrancer on his own estate. Eventually, again through no fault of his own, but owing to a series of Acts of Parliament, the rental of £1,000, which he understood when he bought the estate was a low one and not likely to be reduced, was cut down to £750. The estate then became insolvent and the owner was placed in the same position as the landlord in the other case. As owner of the estate he was insolvent, but as an encumbrancer he was receiving benefit from the estate. This man also would, under Clause 33, be very severely hit.
§ He would cite yet another case, and this, perhaps, was the most unfair one of all. A 896 man whose estate was very heavily encumbered had just been able to keep his head above water and struggle on. He had been able to settle with his encumbrancers not to push the estate into court. If he had sold the estate, owing to the loss the sale would have caused, it would have meant absolute ruin to him. Then the Act of 1903 was passed, and under it the owner was able to sell his estate without loss, because he would be entitled to receive a bonus. The owner and his encumbrancers consented that the estate should be sold after the passing of the Act of 1903. It was sold, but the owner had not yet received the money for the estate, and under Clause 33 of the Bill he would, when he was paid for the estate, not be entitled to receive the bonus, although it was only on the understanding that he would get the bonus that he had consented to sell. He (Lord Farnham) thought their Lordships would agree that if that man was to be deprived of the bonus under the circumstances described it would be a very hard and unjust case. He hoped, therefore, that the Government would see their way to allow Clause 33 to be removed from the Bill.
To leave out Clause 33."—(Lord Farnham.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
This is a legal point of some complexity, and I dare say before the question is put from the Chair we shall hear what noble and learned Lords have to say upon it. As the law stands at present under Section 48, subsection (1), of the Act of 1903, as the noble Lord opposite said, an estate which is so insolvent that it has to be sold by the Land Judge, receives no bonus on the ground that the owner has no interest in the estate. But it appears that as the law stands under that Act, if this insolvent owner possesses any share in a charge on the estate—and I gather it would be the case no matter how small that share is—he then is regarded as having an interest in the estate in the character of an encumbrancer, and can, I imagine, receive the whole of the bonus on the sale of the estate. If so, I must say that does not seem to me a reasonable state of things.
The noble Lord opposite mentioned various cases which he considered to be cases of hardship. The first class of case referred to was the case which I have 897 described. That is to say, where a man may have inherited from a relation or acquired in some other way a small share of the mortgage on his own property he technically acquires an interest in the whole estate, although he is declared to be by Section 48 of the Act of 1903 an insolvent owner. I cannot believe that the authors of that Act intended that the bonus should be payable under those circumstances, but perhaps we shall hear what construction the noble and learned Lord opposite, Lord Ashbourne, places upon it. I did not quite follow the last case mentioned by the noble Lord. It was a case apparently of an estate sold by mortgagees in possession where, through an agreement with him, some share of the estate was allowed to remain technically in the possession of the owner, with the result that he received the bonus. I should have thought that also was an evasion of the intention of Section 48 of the Act of 1903. So far as I am able to understand it, the intention of that Act appears to be carried out in Clause 33 of the Bill which the noble Lord opposite proposes to omit. I am afraid, therefore, that we must stand by the retention of the clause.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE said his noble friend, Lord Farnham, had stated his case with great clearness and fulness, showing that he had given the matter every consideration. He (Lord Ashbourne) assumed that this clause had been put in the Bill to inset a decision which had been given in the Irish Courts.
§ LORD ASHBOUNRE said that of course any decision given in the Irish Courts must have been given after full argument and consideration of all the facts. He had not himself read the case, but naturally he had a great respect for the way legal business was done in Ireland. He was sure that the case would be well argued by able counsel and that the Judge would give his best consideration to the matter. He assumed the case was considered somewhat from the point of view that Lord Farnham had presented. It might well be that the man who was technically the owner had a poor estate with a very slender margin. He might have had rich friends or relations, or have married a lady plentifully endowed with 898 this world's goods, and the result might have been that all the charges on the estate, though very large, were bought up and vested in the owner, making a man of him again. Very likely the position of the estate was not due to any act of his own, but the encumbrances were there when he came into the estate. That was to say, he might have come into an estate which was known in law as a damnosa hereditas. It might have been worth very little, but was really represented in value by the large encumbrances upon it.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
Might I ask whether in that case a reasonable course would not be to extinguish the encumbrances rather than hand them over to the tenant for life or whoever might have the estate?
§ LORD ASHBOURNE said he was dealing with the fact that a decision had been given by a tribunal which he supposed was endowed with authority to exercise jurisdiction. He assumed also that, as there was no appeal, whoever was interested in the question acquiesced in the decision. As he had said a technical owner might succeed to property which alone was worth very little indeed, but he might become possessed of charges which really made the whole value of the property. He supposed the Judge came to the conclusion that inasmuch as that owner must have a potential voice in the sale of the estate it would under the circumstances be reasonable that he should not be ignored. He had not himself read the decision in this particular case, but he presumed that it proceeded on some such basis as that, and therefore he could quite understand his noble friend Lord Farnham being struck with the great hardship of seeking to act after a decision by putting a short clause in a Bill to say that what was held by the Courts should no longer be the law.
§ VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN remarked that this was a very technical question. It seemed to him from what had been said by the noble Earl the Leader of the House and his noble friend Lord Farnham, that if this clause were not agreed to there would be a claim for a bonus which in other cases would not occur. It was his wish to protect the Treasury against unreasonable claims, and, so far as he could understand the matter, he did not think he would be justified in supporting 899 his noble friend in his proposal to omit the clause.
§ LORD ATKINSON said the bonus was given as an inducement to a landlord to sell. What was decided in the case referred to was this. Where a landlord was insolvent and had no power of dissenting from the sale of his estate in his capacity as owner, by purchasing or securing possession of any charge on the estate he could object to the sale, not by virtue of his rights of ownership, but by virtue of being an encumbrancer. In that way he could get the bonus, which, had the encumbrance been in the hands of anybody else, he could not have obtained. With every desire that the landlord should get the bonus, he was bound to say he did not think that was a case coming within the spirit of the Act of 1903. Therefore he could not support the Amendment.
§ *THE EARL OF MAYO did not think many eases of the kind referred to would arise in Ireland. He quite understood that the object of the Treasury in this Bill was to save every penny they possibly could. The noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn, had stated that he did not wish the Treasury to be mulcted through the payment of bonuses in the cases referred to. But the clause really wiped out the decision of the Courts, and therefore with one stroke of the pen the Treasury were given a pull in the matter. He did not think that the question of the cost to the Treasury was so serious as was imagined, because the cases would not be numerous or frequent. Though the remarks of the noble Viscount were against the contention of the supporters of the Amendment, he thought they had a right to "fight their own corner," seeing that the Treasury were trying to get a pull by doing away with the decision of the Courts in order to escape the payment of the bonus in these cases.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
There are two cases we have to consider. A landlord has several mortgages on his estate and the mortgages are more than the value of the whole property. If a case like that arises no bonus is payable because the landlord's consent to the sale of the estate is not required. In the second case the landlord is an acute person in exactly the same position, but he is a wise man and buys up £100 of a mortgage, which may 900 be for £25,000. By acquiring an interest of £100 in the mortgage, for which I suppose he would have to pay pretty heavily, he gets the bonus on the whole value of the property. The noble Earl, Lord Mayo, said that was a thing which would not often happen. It would happen very frequently if once it were pointed out that the results are as I have described.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 33 agreed to.
§ Clause 31:
§ 34.—(1) As between the Land Commission and the proprietor for the time being of any holding for the purchase of which the Land Commission have, after the passing of this Act, made any advance under the Land Purchase Acts, the following conditions shall be imposed in addition to the conditions mentioned in section fifty-four of the Act of 1903, namely:—
- (a) The proprietor shall not without the consent of the Land Commission acquire by purchase any other holding for the purchase of which an advance has been made under the Land Purchase Acts if the amount of that advance then outstanding, when added to the amount of the advance or advances made in respect of the holding or holdings then held by the proprietor, would exceed the sum of five thousand pounds, and if any proprietor acquires any holding in violation of this condition the Land Commission may cause that holding to be sold:
- (b) The proprietor shall not, without the consent in writing in the prescribed form of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, cut down or uproot, or permit to be cut down or uprooted, any tree (other than a fruit tree or osier) upon the holding which is necessary for the ornament or shelter of the holding; and if any such tree is cut down or uprooted in violation of this condition, the proprietor shall be guilty of an offence under this Act and shall be liable on summary conviction to a penalty not exceeding five pounds for each tree so cut down or uprooted, unless he satisfies the Court that he received the prescribed consent.
§ (2) Where, after the passing of this Act, a tenant enters into an agreement for the purchase of his holding under the said Acts, the foregoing condition with respect to the cutting and uprooting of trees shall, as from the date of the agreement, apply to the holding in like manner as if the advance had been made unless and until the application for an advance is refused or withdrawn.
§ (3) Subsection (2) and subsection (3) of section thirty of the Act of 1881, as amended by any enactment, shall apply to any sale by the Land Commission under this section.
§ (4) When the whole of the advance made for the purchase of a holding under the Land Purchase Acts has been repaid, the conditions imposed by this section, or by section fifty-four of the Act of 1903, shall cease to have effect as regards the holding or the proprietor thereof.901
§ LORD INCHIQUIN moved to leave out paragraph (a). The subsection meant that the proprietor of a holding who had bought his holding was not allowed to buy any other holding for which purchase money had been advanced, either with his own money or with any money he could get, where the value of the two holdings together came to more than £5,000, without the consent of the Land Commission. This paragraph appeared to him to be in many ways a little hard. To begin with, it would limit very largely free-trade in land in Ireland, and there seemed to him to be no earthly reason for doing that. This was a matter which affected the tenants only. At any rate it affected the landlords only in one possible case. The provision was most unfair to all the parties concerned. It was unfair to the vendor because it restricted the market in which he could sell. A great many holdings in Ireland were sold year by year, generally by public auction, but sometimes by private treaty, and they invariably fetched good prices. Those who had witnessed what took place when there was a public auction and holdings came under the hammer knew very well that by far the greater part of the bargaining was done by men who had already purchased their holdings. The result of the Government's proposal would be that when the whole of Ireland had been purchased and a holding had to be resold there would be no buyers left, because men who had already purchased would be debarred from acquiring more land. The provision was also unfair to the man who had already bought his holding, because it would not allow him to improve his holding by adding to it. He might require a piece of grass or meadow land to develop the success of his holding, and if an opportunity occurred for him to buy what he needed it would be very hard were he not allowed to do so. The hardship became all the more apparent when it was remembered that the man would be using his own money and not money that was found by the Government.
§ The provision would also put a bar on the successful man because it was only the man who had been successful and was in a sound financial position who would be able to buy another holding. The only possible reason he could see for introducing the provision was that it would cheapen and widen the market for the purchase of land by the Congested Districts 902 Board or the Land Commission, because in time they would be the only people who would have an opportunity of buying. It would appear at first sight that the provision might affect the landlord in one way, because it might be thought that if he had bought his demesne he would not be able to buy another holding. He was told that that was not the case, but the landlord might be affected in another way. He would give a case of his own. At the present time he was buying a holding running practically into his own demesne, and supposing he wished to buy another holding on the other side of his estate he would be debarred from doing so if the value of the two exceeded £5,000. There might appear to be one reason for not allowing a man to have two holdings of a total value exceeding £5,000. It might look at first sight as if the man was not security enough for the money. They must remember the simple fact, however, that it was not the man who was the security, but the land. If he held his own holding and bought another holding those two holdings were security each for their own annuity. He might point out further that the clause was useless as it stood, because it was so easy to evade it. Any man could buy land in the name of his wife or one of his sons and in that way evade the whole provision.
§ The final words of the paragraph were extraordinarily drastic. They said in effect that if a man did offend against this provision the Land Commissioners might cause the second holding he had bought to be sold, apparently even at a loss. He supposed the same old argument would come up again, that the Government were only giving the Commissioners power to interfere and that they would not exercise it. The argument had been used so often taht they mistrusted it and they also mistrusted the Commissioners, because if power were given to them they would always have the temptation to use it. He would much rather that a definite plan was laid down and that the Commissioners should not be given the option of interfering.
In page 16, lines 17 to 27, to leave out paragraph (a)."—(Lord Inchiquin.)
§ LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD said the speech of the noble Lord was an argument in favour a the consolidation 903 of holdings and the reintroduction of the system which this Bill was endeavouring to dissolve. It meant the reintroduction under infinitely worse auspices than those which now prevailed of the old system. If the Legislature thought it right that the landlords of Ireland should now be asked to sell their estates and distribute them amongst the tenants, was it likely that the public opinion of the country would allow the consolidation of those holdings in the hands of men who would use their power infinitely worse than the very worst landlord that any picture of Irish life had depicted? The object of this provision was to prevent the consolidation of holdings again and the reintroduction of a system which the present legislation was devised to put an end to.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
My noble friend behind me has stated with admirable lucidity the reasons which have actuated His Majesty's Government in inserting this clause in the Bill. It is rather a singular fact if one comes to think of it that although all Purchase Acts have contained some limit as to the amount of advances which may be made for the purchase of land there is nothing whatever to prevent the purchaser of a farm acquiring from other people holdings to an unlimited extent and therefore obtaining in his own person the advantage of this State advance to an amount to which no boundary is set. I entirely agree with my noble friend behind me that of all the mischievous results that could follow the passing of these various Land Purchase Acts that of the aggregation of a number of purchase holdings would be the worst that could possibly be conceived. As my noble friend says, whatever may have been the disadvantages of the system of landlord and tenant in Ireland in the past, they would be accentuated and multiplied by such a state of things. The sole object of this clause is to prevent such an occurrence happening. It must be remembered that as the progress of the Act of 1903 goes on and more land is sold the greater becomes the danger of such an aggregation occurring. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will not support the noble Lord, Lord Inchiquin, in his desire to strike out this clause. The noble Lord spoke, as others have spoken, rather slightingly of the discretion given to the Estates Commissioners. I should have thought the kind of case he mentioned in which the landlord desired to buy a farm 904 forming a kind of peninsula into his demesne was one in which the Estates Commissioners would exercise the discretion given in the clause, but so far as general aggregation is concerned they would set their faces against it.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I cannot help thinking that the clause causes a real hardship to the parties it will affect. As I understand the effect will be this. A tenant farmer who has bought his own holding is not to be allowed to buy a second holding if the purchase money of the two together exceeds a sum of £5,000. That is to say, a man who has bought a holding of reasonable size for £3,000 and who if another holding conies into the market adjoining his own desires to buy it will be forbidden to do so by this clause supposing the price of the second holding to be anything above £2,000. That seems to me to be a hardship to the man who desires to buy the second holding. Why is the limitation imposed? The Committee should remember that he will make this purchase out of his own private funds. It is his own money which he embarks in this legitimate investment in land.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
He would be prevented from acquiring the second farm even if it were his own money he was going to invest.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
Of course, I assume that to be the case. That seems to be a very genuine hardship, and the clause can only be explained by that hostility to large holdings which runs through this and other clauses of the Bill. There is also a very considerable hardship to the seller of the second farm, because this man who has already bought a holding and who is presumably a solvent and thrifty person, is a good customer. But under this clause all buyers of that class are to be shut out, and the number of bidders will be diminished in proportion. The noble Earl tells us the object of the clause is to prevent a process of consolidation under which the old landlord 905 system would reappear in Ireland. I must say I think that is a rather far-fetched apprehension. I cannot believe, after all that has happened in Ireland to say nothing of what has happened elsewhere, that there is any risk whatever of latifundia appearing again in that country. That appears to be a very remote danger, and in order to guard against it it seems hardly necessary to place this disability on men who have bought their own holdings and have thriven so well that they have money available for adding to the land they occupy.
§ THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN could quite understand that His Majesty's Government were anxious to prevent the aggregation of land in large quantities occurring again in Ireland. That might be a very laudable ambition but it was absolutely impossible to carry it out. Men certainly in course of time would tend to accumulate more land than they had already bought, and this clause would not prevent that accumulation. There was nothing to prevent a man so long as he was not a farmer buying up any quantity of these holdings. The village usurer or anybody else could buy any quantity of land. All this clause did was to say that a man who had been successful in his business of agriculture was not to be able to increase his holding. That was very illogical.
§ *LORD CASTLETOWN said the idea of the clause was very good. He agreed with what was said by the noble Earl the Leader of the House and by Lord MacDonnell as to the necessity of pre- 906 venting the aggregation of holdings. He had a good idea of his fellow countrymen, however, and he felt perfectly certain that whether their Lordships passed the clause or not they would make arrangements to buy up holdings whether those holdings were held from the Land Commission or not. Arrangements would be made through wives, sons, or cousins by means of which they would carry out a system of aggregation as they chose, quite independent of whether this clause was in existence or not.
§ LORD DUNBOYNE wished to put one question. In case a man purchased a second farm and the Commissioners intervened and sold that farm, what was to become of the purchase money? He did not see any provision in the clause dealing with that point. It seemed to him that the man should at least be given back the money he had paid in hard cash for the farm. He did not suppose that the Commissioners intended to pocket the money.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I will look into that point. Of course, it is intended that the man should be paid for the farm.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 34, as amended, agreed to.
§ House resumed, and to be again in Committee To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at twenty minutes past Twelve o'clock a.m., till a quarter past Four o'clock p.m.