§ House again in Committee (according to order).
§ [THE EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES said he was in a little difficulty as to the best manner in which to put the Amendments which appeared on the Paper since their Lordships last considered this Bill. They all consisted of leaving out a part of the Bill; some left out more and some left out less of the Bill. Lord MacDonnell proposed to leave out the whole of Part IV. They had not come to that yet, but another noble Lord moved to leave out particular clauses. He thought it would be convenient that he should in the usual way put each separate clause, and then their Lordships could discuss whether the clause should stand, or whether it should be struck out of the Bill.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said that at the last sitting of their Lordships' House he was dealing with the question of congestion, and one of the proposals that he made was that power should be given to the Lord Lieutenant to include or to exclude any electoral division. He had no desire to increase largely the area under the jurisdiction of the Congested Districts Board, but it had been found in practice that areas or parishes, not the full extent of an electoral district, perhaps, but areas and parishes, were so circumstanced that it was desirable to extend to them the beneficial operations of the Board. It had long been his opinion that when a particular area had been dealt with by the Congested Districts Board and the estates within it had been improved, it was no longer desirable to retain that area under the Board's jurisdiction and to spend money in it which might with greater advantage be spent in other areas which had not received attention from the Board. Think- 1074 ing over the matter in the interval, he had come to the conclusion that it would be desirable that the Lord Lieutenant should have the power, but running with it there should be strict precaution against it being used for large or indefinite extension of the congested area. That precaution, he thought, would be sufficiently provided by making the action of the Lord Lieutenant subject to the advice of the Privy Council. He therefore moved to insert after Clause 54 the amended new clause standing in his name.
After Clause 54, to insert the following new clause:—
'(A). If at any time it appears expedient to the Lord Lieutenant, acting by and with the advice of the Privy Council, to include under the provisions of section thirty-six of the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1891, an electoral division or any part thereof other than the divisions already scheduled as congested under that section, or to exclude from that provision any electoral division, or part thereof, which is now included, it shall be lawful for him to include or exclude, as the case may be, such division, or part thereof:
Provided that no division, or part thereof, shall be included which is not situated in an administrative county which contains a congested districts county.'"—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ THE EARL OF LEITRIM said this Amendment was very similar to one moved by Lord Midleton on a previous occasion, and which was postponed until Report. He asked if the noble Lord would accept the insertion, after the word "time" in the first line, of the words "on representation in the prescribed form from the Congested Districts Board."
§ THE EARL OF LEITRIM said that if the noble Lord would accept those words, noble Lords on his side of the House would be inclined to agree.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE thought the noble Lord had framed this new clause with an anxious desire to meet the difficulties of the case, and in it they had had the benefit of the noble Lord's great knowledge. This clause practically followed a reference to an earlier Act, but there was one change or omission that ought to be noted. The earlier clause said within twelve months. That was the limit of time fixed. He did not know whether the noble Lord had 1075 considered that fully; he had not himself considered it, but he thought it needed consideration whether some limit of time should not be put in the Bill. It was not contemplated that for all time there would be a series of congested districts in Ireland and that they would require to be dealt with by Orders in Council by the Lord Lieutenant.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said he had thought of it, and the matter had been referred to also by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, on the last day, but he did not think it desirable to impose any limit of time. He was not opposed, however, to accepting a limit of time if the noble Lord thought it necessary. He would not object to accepting, say, a limit of five years.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE said he would like to consider the point before Report.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE OF BRANDON said that on this point he would suggest to Lord MacDonnell and Lord Ashbourne that it would hardly be desirable to have a limit of time as regards exclusions, but it might be desirable to have a limit of time for inclusions and to extend the area. For the purposes of contracting the area, however, it seemed to him most important that there should be no limit of time.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE EARL OF CREWE)
We do not oppose this Amendment, because, owing to the action of your Lordships' House in having restored the congested districts to their present limited area, we should regard any possible extension of them as an improvement. At the same time, I am not quite certain from the reading of this new clause what it is my noble friend exactly desires to do, and my doubt is not solved by the references to the Act of 1891. The Act of 1891. Section 36, subsection (2) runs—Provided if within one year from the passing of this Act it appears to the Congested Districts Board that it is expedient to include in the operation of this section any electoral division other than the divisions hereinbefore mentioned or to exclude therefrom any electoral division it shall be lawful for the Lord Lieutenant to include or exclude as the case may be.Was that really meant to meet the case of some division to which the thirty shillings limit applied which might have been 1076 overlooked within the twelve months, or did it mean that any division might have been included whether the thirty shillings limit applied or not? I do not know. We were not in office during those twelve months, and I do not quite realise what the powers of the Lord Lieutenant during that time actually were. If, as it seems possible to read it, any electoral division or any part thereof other than the divisions already scheduled as congested means "any" division, the noble Lord's Amendment would enable the Lord Lieutenant to put back our scheme in the Bill. If he does not mean that, I confess I do not know exactly what he does mean. Is it meant to meet the case of a division which becomes poorer, and therefore more congested, and falls within the thirty shillings limit? I should have hoped that that was now a very unlikely thing to happen. If not, I fail to see what case it is intended to apply to.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said it would apply to the cases to which the noble Earl first referred. That was to say, it would be an extension of the power given in the Act of 1891. He quite saw afterwards, on reflection, that it would be open to the extension which the noble Earl had mentioned, and in order to prevent that extension, which he thought would not be desirable, he had hedged the matter round by requiring the advice of the Privy Council.
§ LORD ATKINSON said he had had something to do with the drafting of the 1891 Act and he could not but think that the noble Lord had misunderstood it. The test of a congested district was a somewhat rough one, and when that Bill was passed it was thought that there might be some places which were not really fit subjects for the Congested Districts Board. On the other hand, it was felt that that rough test might exclude places which it might be desirable to have brought within the jurisdiction of the Board. That was the real object of the words in the 1891 Act.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.1077
§ Clause 55:
§ 55.—(1) The Board may sell any parcels of any land purchased by them whether before or after the passing of this Act or purchased on their requisition under this Act to any tenants or proprietors of holdings in a congested districts county.
§ (2) If any parcels of such land are not required for, or having regard to the circumstances of the estate, land, or district cannot advantageously be sold to, such tenants or proprietors, the Board may sell those parcels to any sons of tenants or proprietors of holdings situated in a congested districts county and not exceeding ten pounds in rateable value.
§ (3) Where the Congested Districts Board sell any parcel of land to the son of any tenant or proprietor under this section, they shall insert in their annual report to the Lord Lieutenant full particulars of the sale and the circumstances in which the same was made.
§ (4) The provisions of this Act with respect to the application of the Land Purchase Acts to parcels of land shall apply in the case of the sale of any parcel of land under this section.
§ (5) Section seventy-five of the Act of 1903 shall cease to have effect.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD proposed an Amendment to this clause to leave out the word "whether" and the words "or after" so that the first line of the clause would read, "The Board may sell any parcels of any land purchased by them before the passing of this Act," &c. He said this was more a verbal correction than anything else. If the scheme which he had had the honour of placing before their Lordships was carried the Congested Districts Board would make no further new purchases; consequently the necessity of referring to new purchases was not apparent. There would be no necessity for the words "or after." He moved the omission of the words referred to.
In page 27, line 28, to leave out the word 'whether,' and to leave out 'or after.' "—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think it is clear that owing to the Amendment of the noble Lord's which was carried towards the close of our last sitting, there can be no objection from that point of view to amending this clause in this way. Our Clause 55, of course, provided for the disposition of land which the Congested Districts Board had bought, and now that they are not allowed to buy it clearly seems necessary to amend the clause.
§ LORD ATKINSON pointed out that compulsory purchase would be exercised according to the proposal of Lord MacDonnell, on the requisition of the Congested Districts Board, and as he read Lord MacDonnell's Amendment he would restrict the Board from disposing of land so acquired to anybody but congests who held uneconomic farms. The last two lines on page 27 of the Bill (Clause 55, subsection (I)) would apply to any land however acquired, and would enable them to dispose of it in the way pointed out in the later part of the section—namely, after the congests had been dealt with, to any person who might desire to have it.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD moved an Amendment providing that if parcels of land could not advantageously be sold to tenants or proprietors the Congested Districts Board might sell them to "whomsoever they think fit, having regard to the welfare of the locality." He said he was anxious to give the Congested Districts Board a wider discretion indisposing of these remnants of land than the section as it stood would give. He had in his mind the case of a demesne, the plantations and gardens, and so on. The Congested Districts Board bought a whole property and proceeded to dispose of the agricultural land, having on its hands for disposal afterwards the demesne. Now it frequently happened that the Board got a very good price for a demesne, and people who would be of great advantage and an acquisition to the neighbourhood came and bought the demesne and the mansion and settled down there. If they limited this subclause as appeared in the Bill, the Board would have to divide up the desmene and the plantations and the gardens, and so on, amongst the sons of tenants or proprietors of holdings not exceeding £10 rateable value. It was undesirable that compulsion of that sort should be exercised over the Congested Districts Board, and he thought they should be given discretion to dispose of the demesne land and of any remnants of the agricultural land in the manner which was most suitable. They should remember that the Congested Districts Board consisted of responsible men who knew what was necessary and desirable for the countryside, and in a small matter of this, 1079 description he thought it undesirable to fetter their discretion by unnecessary limitations.
In page 28, line 4, to leave out from the word 'to' to the end of the subsection, and to insert the words 'Whomsoever they think fit having regard to the welfare of the locality.' "—(Lord MacDonnell of Swin ford.)
LORD ATKINSON said that if this section merely meant to empower the Congested Districts Board to get rid of demesnes and other parcels of land which they might have upon their hands and which they had not been able to dispose of to tenants, there would be no objection to it; but he had great apprehension that the land would be disposed of to, landless men, because the subsection read—
If any parcels of such land are not required for, or having regard to the circumstances of the estate, land, or district cannot advantageously be sold to, such tenants or proprietors, the Board may sell those parcels to any sons of tenants or proprietors of holdings situated in a congested districts county and not exceeding ten pounds in rateable value.
He apprehended it would be quite possible for the Congested Districts Board to say, "There are numbers of tenants with uneconomic holdings in this district, but there is terrible turbulence due to the dissatisfaction of landless men. It is to the advantage of the district to satisfy their hunger, and therefore we shall dispose of the land to them." If the clause could be carried in such a way that land was not to be sold to landless men under that pretext, he would be very glad to support Lord MacDonnell; but he thought that between this and Report it ought to be considered whether it might not be necessary to guard in some way against that possibility. The composition of the Congested Districts Board had been changed, so that something like what he feared would be possible.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said he would withdraw his Amendment now, and bring it up again on Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE moved an Amendment to the same subclause—subclause (2)—to leave out all
words after the word "county" and to insert other words so that the subclause would read—
If any parcels of such land are not required for, or having regard to the circumstances of the estate, land, or district cannot advantageously be sold to, such tenants or proprietors, the Board may sell those parcels to any sons of tenants or proprietors of holdings situated in a congested districts county provided that no such holding thereby created or enlarged shall be made to exceed ten pounds in rateable value.
The noble Lord intimated that he had another Amendment to move to substitute the word "five" instead of the word "ten" in the last line of the subsection. He said they had heard a great deal about the amount of land which was necessary to relieve congestion, and therefore he though it desirable that the limits of the increase of these new holdings should be clearly stated. Consequently he proposed that they should not exceed £10 in reteable value. That they had been told was the minimum, though he did not agree with it, but still it had been taken as the minimum for a congested holding. He did not absolutely mean that if a portion of a field was to be included and would make it over £10 it would be necessary to divide that field and cut it up, but the general idea was that it should be not exceeding £10 in rateable value. He would be very glad to accept the word "approximately," if His Majesty's Government thought they could accept his Amendment.
In page 28, line 5, after the word county' to leave out to the end of line 6 and to insert provided that no such holding thereby created or enlarged shall be made to exceed ten pounds in rateable value.' "—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I do not think that on the merits it is desirable to limit the discretion of the Congested Districts Board to such an extent as this. I think we must assume that they will desire to make the land they have in their possession go as far as possible, but to tie them down in every case to a £10 holding would not, I think, be wise. And I should have thought there must be certain cases where they would desire to make a holding somewhat larger. I do not quite know what the word "approximately," suggested by the noble Lord, would mean in a case of this kind. It is quite true that without some qualification his Amend- 1081 ment would have a curious effect, because it would mean that if after going through the whole process of creating a holding they found it was valued at £10 5s., the whole of the transaction would be rendered null and void, and all the work of the Congested Districts Board would have been wasted. But I confess I do not exactly know what "approximately £10" is.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
I shall be glad to accept any other word that the noble Earl prefers to express the same meaning.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I do not think any words are necessary, because I think it is quite safe to leave the Board a discretion of this kind. It is evident that it will be their desire not to have these large holdings. Consequently I am afraid we must resist this Amendment.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE said he was not at all sure that there was not some confusion as to these "tens." There were three tens mentioned in the Bill, but there was no distinction kept between them.
§ LORD ATKINSON suggested that it would be quite impossible to work this provision with the Amendment, for the very reason that the valuer might come down and find that a holding exceeded the ten pounds, and consequently the whole thing would be a failure. Therefore, they would have to make their case as to the value at the time the holding was created. He suggested that after the word "shall" in the Amendment the following words should be added "so far as can be reasonably estimated at the time of such creation or enlargement." It would then read, "Provided that no such holding thereby created or enlarged shall, so far as can be reasonably estimated at the time of such creation or enlargement, be made to exceed ten pounds in rateable value."
§ LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE said he was quite willing to accept the suggestion of his noble and learned friend.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
May I say one word as to the clause as it stands, irrespective of the Amendment? I confess I am a little puzzled as to the intention of the clause itself. This, as I understand it, is a clause enabling the Congested Districts Board to deal with what may be described as remanets after the wants of the people have 1082 been supplied. The clause says that these remanets may be given to the sons of tenants or proprietors whose holdings do not exceed ten pounds in rateable value. That is to say, the son of a man whose holding is valued at £9 may receive a remanet, but the son of an adjoining tenant whose valuation is £10 10s. may not receive a remanet. I confess that this seems to be a very extraordinary proposal. I quite understand that the £10 limit should have been created for the purposes of the Bill as a convenient definition of the uneconomic holding which has to be made up to an economic value, but here you seem to introduce a most extraordinary and arbitrary distinction between the sons of two occupiers of land, both of them living in very much the same circumstances, and neither more nor less entitled, the one than the other, to consideration under this clause.
§ LORD ATKINSON said that in addition to what the noble Marquess has just said, this clause was entirely inconsistent with Cause 17, because that clause said that any advance should be made to purchase a holding for a person being the son of a tenant or proprietor of a holding. That was one son of one tenant. This clause would enable them to give a holding to any number of sons.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I may perhaps point out to the noble and learned Lord that the limitation to the sons of small tenants is not new, because it exists in more than one place in the 1903 Act. Section 2 of that Act referred to "the tenant of a holding and a person being tenant or proprietor of a holding not exceeding £5 of rateable value situate in the neighbourhood of an estate." Again in Section 75, where the Board purchases land they may "sell any parcels thereof not required for tenants or holdings in that county to any tenants or proprietors whose holdings do not exceed £5 in rateable value." There is thus an absolute analogy, only it is a £5 limit instead of £10.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE said it was very easy to get confused over this, although it was plain enough after what the noble Earl had said. He did not think his noble friend was challenging the size of the holding on a farm. He sought to limit the size which the son was to get. But the matter Might be considered before Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1083
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD moved to omit subsection (3) of Clause 55, which provided that where the Congested Districts Board sold any parcel of land to the son of any tenant or proprietor under this section, they should insert in their annual report to the Lord Lieutenant full particulars of the sale and the circumstances in which the same was made. Under the Bill as it stood in its unaltered form there was fear that the landless men might be preferred to "congests," and consequently the Congested Districts Board were placed under the obligation that whenever they gave a plot of land to the son of a tenant, they should state the whole of the circumstances in their annual report to the Lord Lieutenant. Seeing how much the hands of the Board had now been tied, he thought it was unnecessary to impose upon them the obligation of making a report upon these things to the Lord Lieutenant. He proposed that the subclause be omitted.
In Clause 55 to leave out subsection (3)."— (Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ THE EARL OF MAYO did not see why this report should not be made where landless men were allowed to have land. He thought it was a most useful thing to have, so that they could see how the Board was proceeding. He did not quite see the noble Lord's argument. Perhaps he wanted to give them less work to do, but that was another thing altogether. He (Lord Mayo) thought it was a most useful provision.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 55, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 56:
§ 56. Where an estate is purchased by the Congested Districts Board, and tenants on the estate to the extent of three-fourths in number and rateable value have agreed to purchase their holdings, the Board may order that the remaining tenants or any of them shall be deemed to have accepted the offers made to them by the Board in any case were, under section eighty of the Act of 1903, the tenant could have obtained an advance of the entire purchase money and the Land Purchase Acts shall apply accordingly.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD had three Amendments on the Paper to this clause. He said the Amendments were largely consequential upon the acceptance 1084 of his proposal that the Estates Commissioners should be the purchasing authority, but he thought the instances in which the Estates Commissioners would buy for the Congested Districts Board property on which the holdings needed no alteration or change would be extremely few. He noticed that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, had an Amendment on the Paper to omit this clause from the Bill. He did not think the arguments were extremely strong for keeping it in, but there were cases in which it was found to be impossible to migrate from a congested estate and all that could be done was to improve the holdings. To meet such a case as that his Amendments would be useful. He begged to move.
In page 28, line 18, after 'by' to insert 'the Land Commission on a requisition from'; in line 21, to leave out 'Board' and to insert 'Land Commission.'; and in line 23, to leave out 'Board' and to insert Land Commission.' "—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I should have thought, with the alterations so far made in the Bill, that the more logical course would have been to omit both this clause, as proposed by Lord Atkinson, and the succeeding clauses. If the Board have no power of purchase it seems to me to be a mistake to leave these clauses in at all.
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
To leave out Clause 56."—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 57:
§ 57. The powers conferred on the Land Judge by subsection (6) of section fifteen of the Act of 1903 (which relates to sub-tenancies and subdivided holdings) for the purposes of the sale of an estate by the Land Judge to the Land Commission may be exercised by the Land Judge for the purposes of the sale of an estate by him to the Congested Districts Board.
To leave out Clause 57."—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 58:
§ 58. Where, after the passing of this Act, the Congested Districts Board enter into an agreement 1085 under section seventy-nine of the Act of 1903, for the purchase of an estate or untenanted land, the provisions of section eighteen of that Act (which relates to rents and profits recoverable by the Land Commission) shall apply in like manner as they apply in the case of land agreed to be purchased by the Land Commission, subject to the following modifications (that is to say):—
- (a) The Congested Districts Board shall be substituted for the Land Commission;
- (b) All rents and profits and arrears of rent payable to the Board shall be recoverable by the Board in like manner as if the Board were the owner of the estate or untenanted land.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD moved to amend the first line in the clause by adding after the words "Where, after the passing of this Act," the words "the Land Commission on requisition from." He explained that this was an Amendment consequential upon his other Amendments.
In page 28, line 33, after 'Act' to insert the Land Commission on requisition from.' "—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
Perhaps I might say that it seems to me that the simplest plan is to omit all these clauses in consideration of the fact that the whole system of purchase by the Congested Districts Board has been altered, and if any noble Lord wants to re-amend on Report, he can put down Amendments with that object. But I think otherwise it would only confuse us.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said that if this clause did not stand part of the Bill the Congested Districts Board, when they came into possession of a property bought for them by the Land Commission, would not be able to recover the rents from the tenants. He did not think their Lordships could have noticed that this was concerned with the recovery of rents by the Board when they were in possession of property. It might be two or three years before they were prepared to sell the holdings to the tenants. In the meantime they had to pay interest on the money which had been advanced, and they could not get that interest unless they collected the rents from the tenants; and now their Lordships were going to deprive the Board of the power of doing that. He asked their Lordships to consider that this was a very serious matter.
§ LORD ATKINSON thought it might be found desirable, although he did not know 1086 that it was, that where an estate was purchased by the Estates Commissioners at the request of the Board, the collection of the rents should be left to the Estates Commissioners. He thought it might be left to them; but if it was desirable to give the collection of the rents to the Board that could be done subsequently.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD pointed out that in this clause it was necessary to introduce words of a consequential character, enabling the Board after having been placed in possession of a property to exercise the powers which this clause provided. If, however, their Lordships would allow this to stand part of the Bill the matter could be brought up on Report, and in the meantime he would frame such words as would bring it into harmony with the rest of the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I should like to point out in the interest of the discussion, although His Majesty's Government have no particular interest in the method of carrying out this transaction, that to do what has been suggested would prejudge the question whether the rents should be collected by the Congested Districts Board or the Estates Commissioners, which, I take it, is an open question.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ LORD ATKINSON then moved the omission of the clause.
To leave out Clause 58."—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 59:
§ 59. The Congested Districts Board shall not, after the passing of this Act, enter into an agreement for the purchase of any land which is not situated in a congested districts county.
To leave out Clause 59."—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 60—
§ 60.—(1) The Land Commission shall not, after the passing of this Act, enter into an agreement for the purchase of any land situated in a congested districts county save with the consent of the Congested Districts Board: Provided that 1087 this subsection shall not apply in the case of any land required for the purposes of the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Act, 1907.
§ (2) No estate situated in a congested districts county shall, after the passing of this Act, be sold under the Land Purchase Acts, to persons other than the Congested Districts Board without the consent of that Board, which consent shall not be withheld unless the Board undertake to purchase the estate within a reasonable time: Provided that this subsection shall not apply in the case of any sale of a congested estate in pursuance of an originating application or request lodged before the passing of this Act.
To leave out Clause 60."—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD
Clause 60 is one of the most important clauses of the Bill. I would like to address the House upon it.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
I am afraid the noble Lord is a little late, but I am entirely in the hands of the House.
LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD
I suppose I shall have an opportunity of bringing it up for reinstatement on Report?
§ Clause 61:
§ 61. For the purpose of enabling the Congested Districts Board to ascertain the boundaries, extent, and character of any land which they propose to purchase under the Land Purchase Acts and to estimate the price to be offered for the same, any inspectors or other persons appointed by the Board may, after notice sent by post to the person who appears to the Board to be the owner thereof enter upon the land and make all such inquiries and do all such things as may be necessary for the purpose aforesaid.
To leave out Clause 61."—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 62:
§ 62. Where the Congested Districts Board make a proposal for the purchase of an estate or untenanted land, the provisions of Part II of this Act with respect to the amendment and withdrawal of proposals of the Estates Commissioners shall apply, with the substitution of the Congested Districts Board for the Estates Commissioners.
To leave out Clause 62."—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 63:
§ 63.—(1) Where negotiations have been entered into or proposals have been made for the purchase under the Land Purchase Acts of any estate or untenanted land situated in a congested districts county, and no agreement has been arrived at the Congested Districts Board may, if they think fit, send in the prescribed manner to the person who appears to them to be the owner a final offer in writing for the purchase of the estate or untenanted land.
§ (2) The provisions of Part II of this Act with respect to the particulars to be inserted in a final offer sent by the Estates Commissioners shall apply in the case of a final offer sent by the Congested Districts Board under this section, with the substitution of the Congested Districts Board for the Estates Commissioners, and the provisions of Part II of this Act with respect to the acceptance of a final offer sent by the Estates Commissioners, shall apply in the case of the acceptance of a final offer sent by the Congested Districts Board, with the substitution of Section seventy-nine of the Act of 1903 for Section seventeen of that Act.
§ (3) If the final offer is not accepted in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this section, the Congested Districts Board may, if they think fit. send to the Estates Commissioners a requisition calling upon the Estates Commissioners to take steps to acquire the estate or untenanted land compulsorily in manner provided by Part IV of this Act.1089
To leave out Clause 63."—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 64:
§ 64.—(l) The Estates Commissioners in any case where they propose to acquire compulsory an estate or untenanted land—
- (a) in respect of which a final offer has been sent by them and has not been accepted in manner provided by this Act; or
- (b) in respect of which they have received a requisition under this Act from the Congested Districts Board
§ (2) A copy of the final offer and of the aforesaid notice shall as soon as possible be served in the prescribed manner by the Estates Commissioners upon all persons known or believed by them to be interested in the estate or untenanted land.
§ (3) Any person interested in the estate or untenanted land who is dissatisfied with the price named in the final offer may within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner apply by way of objection to the Judicial Commissioner to fix the price to be paid for the estate or untenanted land.
§ (4) The Judicial Commissioner shall, with the assistance of two specially qualified lay assessors, hear in the prescribed manner and determine all applications coming before him under this Part of this Act, and for that purpose shall have and may exercise the powers conferred on the Land Commission by subsection (1) and subsection (3) of section forty-eight of the Act of 1881, and his decision on any question other than one of law shall be final.
§ (5) An appeal shall lie to the Court of Appeal from any decision of the Judicial Commissioner under this part of this Act on any question of law and the decision of the Court of Appeal on such question shall be final.
§ (6) Subject to any application to the Judicial Commissioner under this part of this Act and the final determination of all questions arising thereon, the price named in the final offer or fixed under this Part of this Act as the case may be shall be deemed to be the purchase money of the estate or untenanted land, and shall within the prescribed time be paid into the Bank of Ireland, and the purchase shall be completed and the purchase money distributed in like manner and all the like consequences shall ensue as if the estate or untenanted land had been purchased by the Land Commission or the Congested Districts Board, as the case may be, by agreement entered into under the Act of 1903 as amended by this Act upon the date of the payment of the purchase money into the Bank.
§ (7) The cost and expenses of and incidental to any application to the Judicial Commissioner 1090 under this section shall be at the discretion of that Commissioner, who may if he thinks fit order the same to be paid by the Land Commission or the Congested Districts Board.
§ (8) In fixing the price to be paid for an estate or untenanted land under this section no additional allowance shall be made on account of the purchase being compulsory.
§ LORD ATKINSON formally moved the omission of the clause with a view to inserting new clauses.
To leave out Clause 64."—(Lord Atkinson.)
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
I propose to put Clause 64 first. The noble Lord, Lord MacDonnell, has an Amendment to leave out the whole of Part IV, but both he and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, agree in wishing to move that Clause 64 be struck out. The question is that Clause 64 stand part of the Bill?
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think it would be for the general convenience if we took the discussion upon these two Amendments upon the motion either to leave out Clause 64 or to leave out Part IV, whichever the noble Earl in the Chair thinks the most convenient. It is impossible to discuss one without the other, or even to discuss the Bill as it stands. I think it would be most convenient for Lord MacDonnell to proceed to move his Amendment.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES I would venture to suggest that the proposal is that Clause 64 stand part of the Bill, and that upon that Lord MacDonnell and Lord Atkinson can discuss the Amendments which they propose to substitute for Clause 64.
I wish to raise the whole question of compulsion, and I should like to know when I shall have an opportunity of doing so?
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
I need hardly say I have no power to 1091 express an opinion, and I cannot call upon one noble Lord in preference to another. I think both noble Lords are entitled to address the Committee on the question that Clause 64 stand part of the Bill because both have moved to leave it out. Therefore, I hope it will be a matter of arrangement.
§ LORD COURTNEY OF PENWITH
I submit that the greater includes the less, and as my noble friend Lord MacDonnell has given notice to omit Part IV, he has also moved to omit this particular clause, and as he put down his Amendment first he is entitled to speak first.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD then rose to address the Committee. The noble Lord had given notice of an Amendment to leave out Part IV and to insert the following new Part:
§ Part IV.
§ Acquisition of Land for the Relief of Congestion by Agreement and otherwise than by Agreement.
§ (A). The Land Commission acting on a requisition from the Congested Districts Board in accordance with the provisions of section of this Act, shall have power to purchase for the Board, by agreement, in the manner provided by this part of this Act—
- (a) Any congested estate which is situated in a congested districts county;
- (b) Any untenanted land, which is required by the Congested Districts Board for the relief of congestion on any congested estate purchased or proposed to be purchased for them.
§ (B).—(1) On receipt from the Congested Districts Board of the requisition aforesaid, the Land Commission shall propose to the person who appears to them to be the owner of the congested estate or untenanted land as aforesaid to enter into negotiations with him for the purchase of such estate or untenanted land, and if the owner agrees to enter into negotiations, may depute inspectors or other persons appointed by them to ascertain the boundaries, extent, and character of the estate or untenanted land which they propose to purchase, and to estimate the price to be offered for the same, and to make all other such inquiries and do all such things as may be necessary for the purpose aforesaid.
§ (2) When the Land Commission shall have completed the enquiries specified in the preceding subsection, they shall, without unnecessary delay, make to the owner or owners an offer in writing for the purchase of the estate or untenanted land, and such offer shall contain the following particulars—
- (a) A description of the estate or untenanted land to which the offer relates;
- (b) The amount of the price which the Estates Commissioners are willing to give for the estate or untenanted land, subject—
- (i) to any public rights affecting the estate or untenanted land;
- (ii) to any maintenance charges under the Public Works Acts; and (in the case of an estate);
- (iii) to any interests of the tenants or of persons having any claims upon those interests, and to any easements, rights, and appurtenances mentioned in section thirty-four of the Act of 1896;
§ (c) The time within which the offer may be accepted;
§ If within the prescribed time the offer is accepted in writing by any person who within the prescribed period satisfies the Estates Commissioners that he may be dealt with as the owner of the estate or untenanted land under section seventeen of the Act of 1903, the offer and acceptance shall, as from the date upon which the Estates Commissioners certify that they are so satisfied, have the same effect as an agreement for the purchase of the estate or untenanted land under the said Act as amended by this Act, and the like consequences shall ensue and the like proceedings shall be carried on as in the case of such an agreement, save that the advance for the purpose of the purchase shall, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Act, be made by means of money and not by means of stock, except in cases where the vendor agrees to accept in lieu of cash an amount of guaranteed three per cent. stock equal in nominal amount to the sum to be advanced, and carrying dividends as from the date of the advance, and the Estates Commissioners agree that the advance shall be made in that manner.
§ (C).—(1) In the following cases, namely—
- (a) When the proposal to negotiate made by the Land Commission in accordance with subsection (1) of the last preceding section has been rejected by the owner to whom it was addressed; or
- (b) When the offer of a price made by the Land Commission in accordance with subsection (2) of the last preceding section has been refused by the owner to whom it was addressed, the Land Commission shall, if the Congested Districts Board do not signify their wish to withdraw their requisition, proceed in the manner described in the following subsections of this section to acquire compulsorily the congested estate as aforesaid, or the untenanted land if such untenanted land is situated within the congested districts county of Donegal, or within any administrative county, other than Donegal, containing a congested districts county.
§ For the purpose of this section the West Riding of Cork shall be regarded as an administrative county.
§ (2) The Land Commission shall publish in the "Dublin Gazette" a notice of their intention to acquire the estate or untenanted land compulsorily for the purposes of the Congested Districts Board, and in such notice shall specify the prescribed particulars so far as they are known with respect to the land, and may call on all persons interested in the estate or untenanted land, or on the tenants thereof to furnish information on all such particulars, and shall also call upon any persons interested in the land who may object to the acquisiton thereof to lodge in the offices of the Land Commission within the prescribed period a statement of the grounds of their objection.
§ (3) At any time after the publication of the aforesaid notice any inspector and other persons appointed by the Land Commission may enter 1093 upon the land and do all such things as may be necessary for the purpose of enabling the Land Commission to estimate the price to be offered for the land.
§ (4) A copy of the aforesaid notice shall be served by the Land Commission as soon as may be in the prescribed manner upon the person who appears to them to be the owner and upon all persons known or believed by them to be interested in the estate or untenanted land.
§ (5) If it appears to the Land Commission, after considering the report of their inspector or other person or persons deputed by them to make the inquiries aforesaid, and after having heard and determined any objections to the acquisition of the land lodged as aforesaid, that no valid objection has been raised to such acquisition, they shall make an offer to the owner for the purchase thereof, discharged from the claims of all persons interested therein whether in respect of superior or intervening interests or incumbrances or otherwise as such price as appears to the Land Commission to be reasonable.
§ (6) The Land Commission shall upon making such offer give notice in the prescribed manner to all persons known or believed by them to be interested in the land of their intention to acquire the same at the aforesaid price unless within the prescribed period of application is made to the Court under this section by any person interested.
§ (7) Any person interested in the land who is dissatisfied with the price offered, may within the prescribed period and in the prescribed manner apply to the Court to fix the price to be paid for the land.
§ (8) If the land proposed to be acquired is untenanted land, any person interested therein who objects to the acquisition thereof under this part of this Act, on the ground that the land or any part thereof is land of a character which cannot be so acquired compulsorily, may within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner apply to the Court for an order that no further proceedings be taken for the acquisition of the land or of such part thereof as aforesaid.
§ (9) The Court shall have power to hear and determine all such applications and all questions of law and fact arising thereon, and make such orders as to costs as they think fit, and the decision of the court shall be final.
§ (10) For the purposes of this section, "the court" means a court constituted of the Judicial Commissioner and two Judges of the King's Bench Division of the High Court, to be nominated by the Lord Lieutenant.
§ (11) Subject to any application duly made to the court under this section, and the determination of all questions arising thereon, the Land Commission shall proceed with the purchase of the land, and shall lodge the purchase money in the Bank of Ireland within the prescribed time.
§ (D). No land shall be acquired compulsorily under this Act which—
- (a) Is or has been subject to a Land Purchase Annuity; or
- (b) Is or forms part of any demense, plantation, home farm, garden or pleasure ground, or recreation ground, or which is used for any purpose of public utility, local or general.
§ *LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD said it would be in their Lordships' recollection that at an earlier part of the debate he withdrew an Amendment which 1094 stood in his name under Clause 14 of the Bill and promised the noble Earl the Leader of the House to bring it up later. He now took the opportunity of fulfilling his promise. The whole question of compulsion naturally came up on this point. Their Lordships had already negatived the proposals for general compulsion, and he had narrowed down the general proposal to one for compulsion for the relief of congestion. It was in connection with that more narrow proposal that he withdrew his Amendment, as it appeared that the debate was not going very favourably from his point of view. He now reproduced it in the shape of compulsion, if they called it compulsion, for the relief of congestion in those administrative counties which contained congested areas. It was manifest that if the Congested Districts Board did not get possession of the grass lands in the West of Ireland any attempt to relieve congestion there was foredoomed to failure. The ill-success of the Congested Districts Board in the way of enlarging holdings was due altogether to their inability to obtain sufficient grass lands to which to migrate the people from the more congested areas.
§ It had been stated in the course of this debate that the Congested Districts Board need have no difficulty in obtaining grass lands if they would only give an adequate price for them, and small importance had been by many of their Lordships attached to the figures which were given in another place showing that the efforts of the Board to come to terms with the landlords in the West of Ireland had proved a failure. He willingly admitted that the landlords in the West were anxious to sell their lands at a price. He willingly admitted also that the Congested Districts Board was anxious to buy those lands at the highest price it could give consistently with retaining a sufficient sum of money to spend on the relief of congestion; but the truth was that in the West of Ireland there was established what he might call a corner in land. The landlords were willing to sell but only at their own price, and no person had had more means of judging that than himself. He did not blame the landlords by any means. He thought they were perfectly justified in holding out for the highest price they could get, but their holding out for the price which they wanted had resulted in the complete stoppage of sales to the Board.1095
§ The Congested Districts Board, in the last two years with which he was connected with it, had endeavoured to acquire grass lands in Connaught, and in the last year that he had anything to do with the Board they made a great attempt to get possession of a large quantity of grass lands. In his efforts to bring about bargains he was greatly assisted by a gentleman whose name was well known to noble Lords opposite, the O'Conor Don, who was animated by a desire to bring the Congested Districts Board as closely as possible into touch with the landlords and in that way to avoid the necessity of anything like compulsion. But the result of all his efforts, and the result of the efforts of the Board, was the purchase of, he thought, £97,000 or £98,000 worth of land. Both parties wanted to deal; the landlords wanted to sell, and the Board wanted to buy. They could not come to a bargain, the result being that things remained as they were at present. Congestion would remain unrelieved and the misery which they all deplored in the West of Ireland would continue unless some means were taken whereby both parties could be brought to an understanding. They might call it compulsion. He preferred to call it arbitration. He suggested to noble Lords the establishment of a tribunal beyond all suspicion as regards impartiality and competence, to which when both parties failed to come to a bargain their difficulties might be referred as to an impartial and thoroughly competent tribunal. Noble Lords might call that compulsion, but in his view it was another name for arbitration. He proposed that this tribunal, which would be substantially a judicial body, should be established, and that when both parties could not come to an agreement the matter should be laid before this tribunal whose award should be final.
§ The scheme which he put forward and the scheme which Lord Atkinson put forward had a great resemblance in important details. They both approached the question with the wish to bring the landlords and the Congested Districts Board together. Both were animated by a desire to relieve congestion, and by a desire to give the landlord a really fair price for his land. Lord Atkinson differed from him in looking at the matter from a more legal point of view than he did, or was competent to do, while per 1096 sonally he looked at the matter, in accordance with his past training, more from an administrative point of view. As to the relative merits of the two, schemes, it was not for him to say. It was for their Lordships to decide; but he-trusted, at all events, that they would see that it was only by means of one of these schemes that this long dispute between the Congested Districts Board on the one side and the landlords in the West of Ireland on the other could be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. He begged their Lordships, however, not to look into the matter from a too critical point of view, but from the point of view of men who were anxious, to settle a long-standing dispute, and he hoped they would bring to bear upon it that consideration for the people in the West of Ireland by which from his personal acquaintance with some of their Lordships he knew they were actuated.
§ LORD ATKINSON said he supposed it; would be more convenient if he now shortly detailed the scheme which he had taken the opportunity of putting on the Paper. He apprehended that the noble Lord disapproved as much as he did the extraordinary scheme embodied in the Bill, a scheme which was unique in the history of the compulsory acquisition of land in every part of the British Empire, and had only its analogue in the provisions of the Evicted Tenants Act of two years ago. The scheme was that two individuals without consulting anybody or satisfying anybody or applying to anybody, could, according to the counsels of their own will and of their own motion, expropriate some person from his land without appeal. The procedure was unheard of. While he had every confidence in Mr. Justice Wylie as an able, honest, impartial man, he maintained that in such a matter as the fixing of land value they were placing him in a position of hopeless difficulty when they associated him with two assessors. Personally he did not like assessors in any form, and it would be impossible for Mr. Justice Wylie, after suggesting a certain price as being the proper one to fix, to overrule the opinion of two experts sitting beside him. He could not say to them, "You who may be assumed to be judges of land, have come to a wrong conclusion, and I have come to a right conclusion." Personally he thought it would be better to allow 1097 Mr. Justice Wylie to act on his own responsibility, moved by the light he would derive from the evidence that would be given before him.
§ The difference between the noble Lord's proposal and his own was a great deal deeper than the noble Lord seemed to suggest. The difference between the noble Lord's scheme and his was this—that no one outside the Estates Commission was to judge of the necessity of compulsion. He agreed with many of his noble friends in thinking that compulsion should never be resorted to unless it was necessary. He had, therefore, carefully provided in his Amendment that it should not be resorted to unless it was proved to be necessary before the tribunal that he proposed to set up. In his opinion it was the duty of the Government to satisfy the House that compulsion was necessary before they took the powers to compel. If the Government did not discharge that duty was there no obligation resting on their Lordships? If it was necessary that compulsory power should be given to secure relief of congestion, would their Lordships deny it because the Government had failed to assure the House that it was necessary? But by his scheme compulsion could not be exercised until it was proved to the satisfaction of the tribunal that it was necessary it should be exercised in order to obtain the land that was wanted. He followed the precedent of the Small Holdings Act, and suggested that where the Estates Commission were unable to obtain land for the relief of congestion by voluntary agreement at a reasonable price they must propose a scheme. The scheme would come before two Estates commissioners and the Judicial Commissioner, and if they thought that a prima facie case had been made out in respect of congestion they would serve notices of compulsion and make inquiries.
§ The tribunal would be composed of a Judge from the superior Courts taken from the rota as under the Evicted Tenants Act, and one of the Estates Commissioners, and if that tribunal were not adequate to decide cases impartially he had no objection to some addition. But he had a great objection to the provision in the noble Lord's Amendment that special Judges should be nominated by the Lord Lieutenant to preside. The first business of the tribunal was to decide whether com- 1098 pulsion was necessary at all, and the burden rested on the Estates Commission to show that it was necessary. In addition, he gave an appeal on all questions of law and on mixed questions of law and fact. He did not think that the Appeal Court was a suitable tribunal to decide questions of fact alone. It was necessary that they should have power to decide mixed questions of law and fact, because questions of pure law would seldom arise. But if noble Lords thought it necessary that they should have jurisdiction also to determine questions of fact alone, then in order to get support for this proposal he would be willing to make that amendment.
§ Next his scheme dealt with purchase. He had an intense objection to any individual or corporation engaged in the taking of land being allowed to fix the price at which it was to be taken compulsorily, and he suggested that the price should be fixed by an independent person, by a party who had nothing to do with the Irish Government and nothing to do with the sale of land. The Board of Trade when land was required by railway companies or for waterworks appointed an arbitrator who assessed the price. He followed that analogy and the analogy of the Small Holdings Act in providing that compensation should be assessed by a single arbitrator. He further followed the policy of the Small Holdings Act by providing that compensation was to be paid, not only for the land taken, but also for the land which was injuriously affected, on the principles of the Lands Clauses Act. Those principles were that a person was to be compensated for the loss sustained by having his property taken from him.
§ These were the provisions which he submitted for their Lordships' acceptance. If noble Lords in any portion of the House were to traverse the congested districts and came face to face with the misery that prevailed, he was sure they would not begrudge the conferring of compulsory powers where necessary to procure the land that was to work out for those unfortunate people a means of deliverance from the want and the misery that darkened their lives. He knew the objection that was entertained to compulsion in all forms, and he knew that recourse was often had to the rather familiar argument that this was the "thin end of the wedge." The 1099 thin end of the wedge had been introduced long ago under the Labourers Act and in the Housing of the Working Classes Act. If compulsion was necessary to relieve the misery of urban slums, was it not also necessary to relieve the misery of these agricultural slums? Neither this Bill nor his Amendment, if adopted, would introduce the thin end of the wedge for the first time, but might diminish the force behind the wedge. He had also heard it said that compulsion had been asked for in the North of Ireland and that it had been refused, but that was altogether of a different character. It was not necessary to take the land and sell it to the tenants when £56,000,000 of contracts were hung up and not financed. He did not think compulsory powers should be given for that purpose; but for the purpose of relieving congestion, which was the open sore of Ireland, he hoped their Lordships would see their way to grant compulsory powers.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL of SWINFORD desired to add a few words to the remarks he had already made. He had not gone into an explanation or a defence of the proposals in his own scheme, nor did he contrast them with the proposals of the noble and learned Lord. The first point he desired to place before their Lordships was that the Congested Districts Board would presumably be a Board composed of independent men of position and public repute in Ireland, men acquainted with the circumstances of the congested districts and whose opinions upon the matters with which they would have to deal would carry great weight in the West of Ireland. But the noble and learned Lord's proposal would make the Congested Districts Board subordinate in the most important part of their work to the Estates Commissioners. The most important part of their work would be deciding whether certain lands should not be bought for the relief of congestion. Having made up their minds that the purchase was necessary, they would, according to this scheme, call upon the Estates Commissioners to buy. But, according to the noble and learned Lord's scheme, the Estates Commissioners would sit in judgment upon the Board's decision whether it was necessary to buy or not. Who was more likely to be right in dealing with the question of the suitability of particular land for the relief of congestion and the necessity of acquiring 1100 that land—the Congested Districts Board, consisting of twelve members of high position and character, or the Estates Commissioners? He forgot at the moment how many judges the noble and learned Lord proposed to employ. He though it was the Judicial Commissioner and the two Estates Commissioners. If that was so, he ventured to say there was no comparison between the opportunities of judgment of the two bodies in regard to the particular work. If in such a case as that the Estates Commissioners rejected the opinion of the Congested Districts Board, the Board would lose a great deal of its authority for good, and probably men of character would be unwilling to remain members of the Board when their most earnest efforts to relieve congestion were met in such a manner.
§ The next point was the question of the uses to which the Congested Districts. Board were to put the land. The Board were to satisfy the Estates Commissioners that the land would be put to good uses. He thought the noble and learned Lord's proposals were drawn without full consideration of what the necessary procedure of the Board was. The Board did not always buy congested property and then proceed to buy untenanted land to relieve it. Its policy was to place itself in possession of a sufficient quantity of untenanted land, to prepare the untenanted land beforehand, dividing it into holdings, fencing and draining, and so on, so that when they had purchased an estate they might be ready to migrate people to the particular holdings already prepared for them. If the Board conducted that policy on any large scale it would be difficult for them to say how they were going to use the land and to what particular tenants they were going to give it.
§ In regard to the intricacies of appeal which the noble and learned Lord's scheme presented, he asked their Lordships to consider the procedure. First, there would be an application by the Board to the Estates Commissioners. The Estates Commissioners would then consider whether or not there was a prima facie case made out by the Board. If they considered that such a case was established, they would then issue notices calling upon people to object to the proposals if any objections were 1101 entertained, and then they would proceed to consider those objections. After that stage was passed, if the Estates Commissioners approved of the scheme of the Board, there was an appeal open for any person who was dissatisfied to this quasijudicial body, and it would be open for that body to hold up the whole proceedings for five years, according to his reading of the noble and learned Lord's scheme. If the acquisition of land was held up in one case for five years there would be a premium held out to objectors in order that in their own cases the same procrastination might take place. If the first appellate Court agreed with the Estates Commissioners that the scheme was a good one, there was a second appeal both on the facts and on the law to the highest Court in Ireland, so that for an estate which might be worth £200 or £300 they might have this concatination of appeals, which would land the Board in great expense and the people themselves into great disappointment and despair.
§ As to the fixing of the price, nobody was more willing than himself to have the price fixed by a proper tribunal, but he doubted whether in Ireland they would find people anxious or willing to place the arbitrament of these disputes in the hands of a single arbitrator, and he thought from all he knew of Irish life they would find great dissatisfaction if they placed in the hands of the Board of Works, which was a Treasury Department, the settling of prices. He thought that they would be more likely to find an impartial tribunal in the one he proposed. These were the main points that occurred to him at the moment, and he asked their Lordships to consider them in weighing the merits of both schemes.
§ *LORD CLONBROCK said that he was in some difficulty as he had to discuss at the same time the Amendment of his noble and learned friend (Lord Atkinson), that of the noble Lord opposite, and the clauses in the Bill. His noble and learned friend Lord Atkinson had laid great stress on the argument that compulsion ought never to be entertained unless the necessity for it was proved, and proved to the satisfaction of the tribunal which he described. He would go further than that. He wanted to see the necessity for compulsion proved before that House, for hitherto they had had nothing but generalities. They had just been told by Lord MacDonnell that in order to relieve congestion in 1102 the West of Ireland all the grass lands in Connaught must be taken. But what they wanted to know was what was being done with the grass lands which the Congested Districts Board had had in their hands for many years? Had they made any successful attempts at migration? He knew of a case in his own county where they had failed. They had purchased a property of some eight hundred acres, and divided it and built houses. Then they had induced some men living not very far off, not above fifteen or twenty miles away as the crow flew, living on the Galway mountains, to come down to see the place. But though it was not in a congested neighbourhood the people of the locality drove the men and the inspector away, and they only escaped under the protection of the police. But they might have succeeded elsewhere, and they would like to know whether this was the case. All they knew was that the Congested Districts Board had a large quantity of land on their hands, and he asked why had not some scheme of the kind been carried out?
LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD
Because the Treasury did not give the money. The action of the Board was restricted because funds ran short, and that is one of the reasons why this legislation has been undertaken.
§ *LORD CLONBROCK said that might be a reason why it could not be carried out on a large scale, but be failed to see why it could not have been carried out on a small scale. They had the land, and surely an experiment might have been made. It was easier to transplant twenty or thirty families than it would be to transplant two or three hundred. If the thing was to be done on a large scale, could they point to any large number, fulfilling the necessary condition of a large scale, efinhabitants of a congested district who were prepared to move if the land was available and ready for them? Could they show that they could do it in the present state of the country, with the opposition that was offered to them from the landless men? He was happy to see that both the noble lord opposite and his noble and learned friend wished to confine the operation of this compulsion to cases of absolute congestion. But the clauses in the Bill before them appeared to contemplate the land being taken for all sorts of purposes.
§ The duties of the Board, as they understood them, were to relieve congestion in a 1103 district by enlarging the holdings, by migration, and by giving a certain amount of land to the landless men. The noble Earl opposite treated the latter as a subsidiary point, but said that it was necessary to a certain extent in order to propitiate them and to satisfy the land hunger. It was hoped that by giving land to a certain number of these people they would propitiate the whole class and that they would no longer resist the introduction of the migrants. If the Government thought that they could make a man grateful by giving the land to somebody else, he thought they were very sanguine, and that they would be disappointed. A man who was left out in the cold would be very likely to say, "Am I not as good a man as the other, and why should I be refused land? It may be that I was not active enough in agitation;" and it would be more likely to induce that man and his friends to join in any future agitation. For, in the state of anarchy in which the country was at present, owing to the manner in which the Government had abdicated their functions in favour of the United Irish League, the people had come to believe that the only way to obtain anything was by agitation and violence.
§ Only the other day a relative of his was talking to his tenants, who asked him whether he had received all the purchase money due to him. He said he had received part of it, but that there were troublesome delays. Then some of them said, "May be it is a pity there was no cattle-driving. We would have been happy to do it if it would do your honour any good." Of course, he told them they must not engage in any such scandalous proceedings; but they said, "Is there anything else we can do to help your honour?" evidently thinking that some violence would be beneficial. He told them to be quiet, but that what they could do would be to complain of the delay, which affected them also because they were paying higher sums in interest on the purchase money than on the purchase instalment. He mentioned that to show their Lordships what the feeling in the country was and he wished to know why these large tracts of land which the Congested Districts Board now held had not been utilised in any way? Was it that they found that the people, whether holders of small farms on the spot, migrants, or landless men, not only wanted to get the land but to get it cheap, and that they refused to buy it on terms which would 1104 repay the Board for their previous outlay in purchasing it? If that was the case it went far to show what they had often maintained, that the people knew themselves that when the land was split up and made into small portions it would not produce so good a return or carry so much stock as in its undivided state, and that they therefore refused to purchase on the terms which one tenant who had the whole farm would accept.
§ The noble Lord opposite said that the landlords were asking too much for their land, but that he wished to give them a fair price. Was the idea of a fair price not the value of the land to the vendor, but the price which the Board, looking to resale, were disposed to give, and that the vendor was to be forced to accept the latter? Again, they said they had to consider what they would do with the land afterwards, and the expense they would be put to in dividing, fencing, and so on. This expenditure would naturally be necessary, but it was very unjust that a vendor should have to pay for it. He never heard of a man whose land was taken compulsorily to make a railway being called upon to contribute to the construction of the line. Surely the fair thing was to give a man the value of what he now had, and not mulct him by charging him for something that had to be done to the land afterwards. As long as they heard nothing but generalities and could find no instance given where compulsion was necessary, they wished to oppose compulsion in any shape or form.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY said he did not want their Lordships to be under the impression that the Congested Districts Board would not know what to do with the land if they had compulsory powers to acquire it. It had been repeatedly stated, and it was a fact, that the Congested Districts Board were at this moment the happy possessors of over a million pounds worth of land. Therefore they were quoted as being unable to dispose of the land that they had got, and why, it was asked, did they want more? He thought he could clear up that position. There were two things that came together. First of all, there was the acquisition of the land, and the money that was required for the purchase of the land was supplied by the National Debt Commissioners to the Land Commission. Secondly, after purchase there was the improvement and the 1105 enlargement of the estates, for which money was wanted. That money was the only income which Parliament had given to the Board, and they had always maintained that the moneys provided by Parliament had not been sufficient to deal with the estates which they owned upon a large scale. Therefore they were in this position, that they had the land but had not the money necessary to dispose of it. They wanted money to deal with large estates, and if they were to have a large income to prepare such estates for sale, they would know what to do with them if they were given compulsory powers, and they would be able to carry out the relief of congestion on a large scale. On the question of compulsory purchase he did not wish to say very much, except that they could deal with the land when they had it, whether it was acquired compulsorily or otherwise, if Parliament would only give them more income. With regard to the suggestions of the noble Lord opposite and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, he confessed that there was a great deal in what Lord MacDonnell had said as to the difficulty the Board might experience in being entirely under the Estates Commissioners, who, when the Board had said they required certain lands, might not agree.
THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY said that any one who had listened to these debates must have come to the conclusion that what stood against the acquisition of land, either voluntarily or compulsorily, was the fact that money did not seem to be forthcoming from the Treasury. The speech of his noble friend Lord Shaftesbury, who was so able a member of the Board, spoke volumes on the subject. He therefore asked again why it was desired to obtain land compulsorily, for which payment could not be made, when there was at the same time a great amount of land voluntarily open. Surely it would be well to utilise that land by purchasing it than by endeavouring to take land compulsorily from other people who did not wish to sell. He knew how prosperous was the condition of the land farmed by the Congested Districts Board; indeed, he believed that the graziers of the country had such an admiration of the manner in which the Board farmed their land that they were jealous of them and of the price they could get for their cattle in the various markets. If His Majesty's Government came down to the House and said
the whole country was infested with "cantankerous landlords"— a phrase invented by the noble Earl himself—and that not one of them could by hook or by crook be induced to sell his land, then he thought a case would have been made out for powers to compel those people to sell; but when the Government could not give the name of a single landlord of that kind and the Board had a vast amount of land ready to be bought on voluntary terms, their Lordships ought to consider very carefully whether they would admit the principle of compulsion into this measure, except under extreme conditions. There was other land besides that owned by the Board which he believed could be bought if the Government chose to set about it in the right way. He would not weary the Committee with figures, but as he came down to the House he had had placed into his hands a document showing the sales of the tenants' interest in the congested districts, and it showed that even in counties where there were no large tracts of untenanted land, large numbers of holdings could every year be obtained for the relief of congestion if the Government chose to buy, because they were frequently in the market. In the table he referred to there were 127 holdings belonging to tenants covering 10,278 acres, and land was going into the market under the same conditions every day. Why could not the Government apply themselves to buy some of this land from the tenant purchasers instead of trying to acquire it compulsorily from people who did not care to sell under what they conceived to be an adequate price? He knew it was frequently quoted that the Dudley Commission recommended compulsion, but they only recommended compulsion, as far as he read the Report, on certain conditions. They, said—
We desire to emphasise the fact that our recommendation in favour of the granting of compulsory powers is entirely conditional upon our recommendations in these particulars being carried out.
What were those particulars, and had they been carried out? He could not for himself think, although he would be glad to be contradicted, that any one of those recommendations had been carried out in the Bill now before their Lordships' House The Report said that the Congested Districts Board were responsible for the preliminary procedure. He did not quite understand whether that was the case under the Bill or whether
those duties had not been given more or less to the Estates Commissioners, and the fixing of the price was also given to the Estates Commissioners. He could not but think that in an attempt to take land compulsorily, when as he had shown there was so much land to be had voluntarily, it was the duty of His Majesty's Government to explain their reasons for asking for such very stringent measures.
§ THE EARL OF MAYO was sure that their Lordships, and particularly noble Lords from Ireland, had listened with the greatest interest to the speeches and schemes which had been put forward. It seemed to him that the noble and learned Lord and the noble Lord opposite resembled the two kings of Brentford sitting on one throne, and both of them wielding with rather feeble hands the sceptre of compulsion. For himself he would rather have the out-and-out compulsion in the Bill, where the compulsion embraced the whole of Ireland and reigned over the whole country. It was a sort of disputation, he took it, between the two noble Lords on opposite sides of the House. Those noble Lords who lived in Ireland, who had their interests in Ireland and derived a great deal of their income, such as it was, from Ireland, whatever their stake in the country was, were totally opposed to compulsion in any form, notwithstanding all the generalities which had been indulged in, and all the appeals of the noble and learned Lord as to the long ranks of miserable congests in the West.
§ Take the scheme of Lord MacDonnell. The noble Lord began by saying that there was a corner in the land; the noble Lord had tried to make their Lordships believe that people in the West were holding out and that a corner in land was being created. Personally he did not believe there was any corner in land in the West. Lord Shaftesbury, a member of the Congested Districts Board, had said that they had £1,000,000 worth of land to deal with. They could make a corner in wheat, but when a person held a million options in wheat, would it be called a corner? Not for an instant. Then Lord MacDonnell said the landlords were holding out for their own price. He would call their Lordships' attention to the O'Conor Don's evidence before the Dudley Commission. The O'Conor Don said that land was available in great quantities if a fair 1108 price was offered for it. He was not going to argue what a fair price was, because that had been argued over and over again in both Houses. Then Lord MacDonnell went on to say that there was a complete stoppage of sales to the Congested Districts Board. A member of that Board had told their Lordships that the reason why there had been a complete stoppage of sales was that the Board had no money with which to purchase. The Bill was a Treasury Bill with compulsion hung on to it for no reason whatever, and with no evidence to show that compulsion was necessary.
§ The noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, had said that he spoke for himself. That he could quite believe; and with the noble and learned Lord's knowledge of the numerous Land Acts, of their passing and of their working, he was competent to speak of them in every way, and he had said that compulsion should never be resorted to unless it was necessary. But in submitting this scheme the noble and learned Lord had never once put before their Lordships a single case or stated a single case to show that compulsion was necessary. Then the noble and learned Lord appealed to their Lordships in the way in which a great many of his countrymen appealed—namely, to sentiment. He spoke of the miserable congests standing in ranks before their Lordships. If the noble and learned Lord had been talking of some years ago he could imagine his speaking in that sort of way, but times had a little changed since then, and he thought the noble and learned Lord knew that as well as he did. They were not talking of the past, they were talking of the present, and it was admitted by those who had studied the congested districts question that there, had, been a great improvement in the conditions of the population as a whole. To summarise the evidence given before the Dudley Commission, it was that within the last fifteen or twenty years the parish priests admitted that there was no longer any question of starvation even during periods of distress. What became, therefore, of the miserable ranks of congests standing before their Lordships' House? Thank Providence they were in a better state owing to the efforts of the Congested Districts Board, the Board of Agriculture, and the Agricultural Co-operative Society. He did not think that the noble and learned Lord could still parade his miserable ranks before them.1109
§ Then Lord Atkinson talked of the misery of the agricultural slums. Personally, he had been through some of the worst parts, and he admitted that there were places in the West of Ireland where people ought not to be at all and which were only fit for the stag and the grouse to live upon. But the love of home was so great among those people that they would live there if their holdings were increased. There was one district in particular, a more deserted waste one did not wish to see, where the Congested Districts Board had enlarged the holdings of the peasantry; they had money then and built cottages for them, and when he was there he was told by the parish priest that the people were quite happy, living in a place that their Lordships would be astonished to think anybody would live in. Yet those people liked their homes, their surroundings had been made better, their potato plots had been made bigger and they were happy where they were. With regard to Lord MacDonnell's scheme, that embraced the West Riding of the county of Cork and also a part of Donegal, and it would seem that Lord MacDonnell intended to maintain the old area subject to occasional variation by the Lord Lieutenant. He also stated that he did not desire to extend the area of congestion and that his scheme would permit the purchase of untenanted land anywhere in an administrative county.
§ THE EARL OF MAYO said that was a saving clause which was most important, and they would hear the views of noble Lords from Ireland who would speak on that subject from local knowledge. The noble and learned Lord alluded to compulsion in Acts in England. That was quite true; but when land was taken by compulsion under those Acts for these purposes it was taken under perfectly fair conditions. The noble and learned Lord said that the conditions he proposed were perfectly fair and that the Court. of Appeal would be one in which they could have absolute trust, and he started with the assumption that compulsion was necessary.
§ LORD ATKINSON pointed out that he did exactly the reverse; the person who applied for compulsion had to prove that it was necessary.1110
§ THE EARL OF MAYO wished the noble and learned Lord had himself taken the trouble to prove that compulsion was necessary, but he had not done so in any way. They were still looking for those terrible cases where it was said that compulsion was necessary. Was there any great outcry for compulsory purchase in Ireland? The noble and learned Lord was supporting the Bill with his ranks of miserable congests. They were not miserable. They had been told that the Irish peasantry had emigrated and sought labour elsewhere. But for years and years they had done that; it was nothing new; ever since civilised agriculture came into the United Kingdom they had done it. Even during the Napoleonic wars, when it was well worth anybody's while to grow corn, they emigrated, and they were told that that going away from Ireland to earn money elsewhere was a terrible thing. It was not a terrible thing; it was honest labour, whether it be in Ireland or Scotland. The people even went across the Atlantic now because the passage was so cheap, and came back again to the South of Ireland with the money they had earned. A case had yet to be made out for compulsion. He really did not think it was the duty of the Opposition to forward, even in the most measured terms, compulsion in any form.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think, perhaps, it would be for the convenience of the House, without in any way desiring to curtail the debate on these Amendments, which are clearly of the first importance, if I were now to state the views of His Majesty's Government with regard to the Amendments and with some allusions to the speeches which have so far been made. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, who is responsible for one of these Amendments, set forth with much eloquence the case for compulsion in certain cases; but it is evident from what has fallen from the noble Marquess, Lord Londonderry, and from some other speakers that the noble and learned Lord in holding, as he does, the conviction that it is not wise or just to run the risk of preventing the amelioration of the condition of these poor people in the West of Ireland by altogether refusing compulsion, is at variance with most of the speakers on his own side of the House. Noble Lords opposite must, of course, settle their differences amongst themselves, but it is my duty as representing the Government here to set forward 1111 what we consider to be the case which makes the provision of compulsory powers an absolute necessity in certain parts of Ireland. I greatly regretted the decision of the House in not permitting the principle of compulsion to apply to other parts of Ireland. I do not think it would have been dangerously used, and I think that a system of compulsion applicable to the whole of Ireland would at least have avoided one criticism which is sure to be made, and in fact is now being made in the course of this debate—namely, that you are putting upon certain landlords in Ireland, who are neither better nor worse than their neighbours, what they consider a disability from which other landlords in Ireland are free.
The noble Marquess asked what need there was for compulsion in any part of Ireland even within the congested districts so long as land was obtainable, and in particular so long as a considerable quantity of land was under the control of the Congested Districts Board as at present. I think that point was fully answered by the noble Earl, Lord Shaftesbury, who is a member of the Congested Districts Board. He showed that what had prevented the dealing with this land which they had was not want of funds to buy land, because there was plenty of money for that, but want of funds to lay out and improve it, and so long as the Congested Districts Board remained with its limited income the improvement could not possibly keep pace with the purchase, but now that we come forward with this very much larger annual sum for the Congested Districts Board as is proposed in the Bill, that difficulty will disappear. But, my Lords, there is quite another point which supplies an answer to the noble Marquess. We have been discussing all through this debate the difficulty and even danger which might surround the extensive migration of people from one district to another. Surely, if that be so, it points to the fact that it may be necessary, in order to relieve particular cases of congestion, to buy land actually in the immediate neighbourhood of the congests, and it may not be a complete answer to the Congested Districts Board when they wish to buy so many acres in a particular place to say, "You can have 1,000 acres forty or fifty miles off." This is a point that seems to have been lost sight of, and in view of all that has been said about the difficulties arising 1112 from the landless men and the general agreement that I thought existed that the first people to be provided with land were the congests in the neighbourhood of the land—that seemed to me to be a matter that was generally approved in all parts of the House—the point becomes exceedingly relevant. The other day in another place my right hon. friend gave some figures which I do not wish to repeat because the answer is at the disposal of anybody who cares to look it up in Hansard, but it was to the effect that in the four counties of Roscommon, Galway, Sligo, and Mayo the Board made certain inquiries from landowners in respect of untenanted land valued at £112,000, and the land which owners expressed their willingness to sell, in reply to those applications, was valued at £10,000 only; that is to say, less than one-tenth of the amount applied for. The noble Marquess asked for names. Does he really desire that a list of those gentlemen who refused and the names of their estates should be read out in this House with a view, I suppose, of holding them up to something like public reprobation?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY said he was dealing with the noble Earl's own point that there were cantankerous landlords in Ireland. Personally he was of opinion that very few, if any, existed. The mere fact of a circular being sent round did not prove very much. He received hundreds of circulars from landagents and others of which he took no notice, and therefore he thought that landowners ought not to be condemned on such a ground.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
We are not on the cantankerous landlord point at all now, if I may say so, and I do not know why the phrase should be used.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY said the noble Earl had himself invented it.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I am afraid I did use the expression, and I feel greatly honoured by the universal adoption it has received. The cantankerous landlord, however, was not mentioned in relation to the congested districts, but purely in regard to outside sales, and we are now talking of those gentlemen, who, for reasons best known to themselves—and I am far from saying that all their land would have to be 1113 compulsorily bought, or anything like it—have not replied to the request of the Congested Districts Board. I myself should not have compared the Congested Districts Board and the gentlemen who comprise it to a casual firm of house-agents who circularise the noble Marquess to sell his house in Park-lane. I should have put the Congested Districts Board in a position somewhat higher than that, and I should certainly have supposed, in a case where a body of the character and standing of the Congested Districts Board wrote to a landowner saying they required certain land for the purposes of relieving congestion and asking to be informed whether he was prepared to sell his untenanted land, that some notice would naturally have been taken by the recipient of the request.
There seems to be some idea that compulsion will be very freely exercised, and that it will have the effect of lowering prices. The noble and learned Lord pointed out with great truth that compulsory purchase of land has existed in many forms already under previous Acts, but I think he did not mention the fact that it has existed, so far as all superior interests in land are concerned under all the Land Purchase Acts—that is to say, that everybody who held a superior interest in an estate was liable to have that particular security taken away from him whether he liked it or not. Compulsory sale, which, as the noble Marquess, I think, pointed out on a former occasion, is really a more accurate term than compulsory purchase, has already been applied to all such owners of superior interests. What I am impressed with in considering the whole subject, and this fact accounts for the shape which we have given to our compulsory purchase powers, is not the ease or generality with which compulsory powers can be exercised in all circumstances, but the extreme difficulty of exercising them at all. The Evicted Tenants Act has already been mentioned in this respect. I believe as a matter of fact that the Estates Commissioners have found it difficult and unprofitable to exercise their compulsory powers to any extent under these Acts, for the simple reason that they have always found that they have had to pay very much more than they would have had to do had they secured the land by agreement. But there are, of course, limits, and the position of the landlords in the congested districts is a peculiar one and it must be 1114 remembered that every year as more land is bought it will become more peculiar still If they have not already reached it, they will soon be reaching the point where they will possess a very valuable monopoly of land against a public Department whose operations are directed and urged on, not, by business considerations, but by considerations of general sympathy and pity for those poor people living under the most wretched circumstances, sympathy which was so finely expressed, if I may say so, by the noble and learned Lord. The effect of that monopoly must be, as soon as the amount of available land in those districts begins to diminish, and it has already began to diminish, to send up the price enormously. You must then either stop the operations of the Congested Districts Board and leave these poor people, or many of them, unprovided for and leave congestion unrelieved, or you must pay any price the owners choose to ask unless you can have recourse to this what I will call weapon of compulsion as a last resource.
I recoil from either alternative. It may not happen this year or next year; but it is beginning to happen now, I think, and with. every £10,000 worth of land the Congested Districts Board buy, the greater will become that monopoly value which the remainder will undoubtedly tend to possess. I am bound to say, and I think it better to, state it at once, that we do regard the possession of a compulsory power, I will not put it higher than that at this moment, as an absolutely indispensable condition to the passage of this Bill into law. It is better to state that quite frankly, because noble Lords must consider what they may regard as the varying advantages between going without this measure altogether or admitting in some form in the background this principle of compulsion. I cannot help feeling that there are noble Lords connected with Ireland who do not share the views so strongly expressed by the noble Earl, Lord Mayo, and others, that compulsion in all forms is impossible, because I have noticed throughout this debate the rather unusual absence of certain noble Lords, and particularly noble Lords connected with the part of Ireland to which this provision would apply. Of course I am not entitled to draw any conclusions from that, but the fact remains that it is somewhat singular that those people who might be specially affected have not appeared to support the views of noble Lords opposite.
1115 The noble Earl, Lord Mayo, if he will forgive me for saying so, appeared to me to be less convincing than usual in the arguments which he put forward upon this subject of compulsion. He used one argument which I confess surprised me coming from him. He said there was no great outcry in Ireland for compulsion. If any of us on this side of the House had said such a thing we should have been told, what I venture to tell the noble Earl, that it is not a very safe thing to do to challenge great outcries in Ireland, and if the need exists I think it is better to meet it without waiting for those great outcries which sometimes, as we know with regret, go rather further than outcries and lead to conduct of a kind which we all deplore and reprobate. Then the noble Earl mentioned a district in Ireland which I myself have visited. No doubt it is a scene of great desolation, but the noble Earl said there were a number of small peasants there whose holdings had been enlarged by the Congested Districts Board and who now appeared to be perfectly contented and happy.
§ THE EARL OF MAYO said that the Board had money to do it with then.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
They have a great deal more money now; and in what sense the noble Earl intended that to be an argument against the operations of the Board I confess I fail to see.
§ THE EARL OF MAYO pointed out that that land was not acquired compulsorily.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
Then I do not understand why the noble Earl introduced the subject at all. Having so far dealt with what we consider to be the necessity for the introduction of this principle of compulsion, I ought to say a word about the different forms in which it is proposed to be applied by the Bill and in the two Amendments. Speaking generally, the objection that we take to the form of compulsion proposed by the noble and learned Lord opposite is to the extreme elaboration which surrounds all the proceedings, and which, in our opinion, would make it very difficult to apply. The noble Earl, Lord Shaftesbury, pointed out that as a member of the Board he did not see why the Congested Districts Board should be placed in so subordinate a position to the Land Commission as the noble Lord proposes to 1116 place them. Quite apart from that, it does seem to me that if the Congested Districts Board have to submit to the Land Commission a scheme setting forth the lands to be acquired compulsorily, the extent, nature, boundaries, and condition thereof, and the names of the person or persons by whom the same is owned, occupied, used, or enjoyed and the mode in which it is used or cultivated, together with the names of the person or persons to whom as tenants or proprietors of holdings of less rateable value than £10 they propose that a parcel of the said lands should be sold—if all those operations and a great many others have to be gone through, we fear that the preliminaries of the transactions will prove to be very long and very troublesome.
§ LORD ATKINSON pointed out that the words were "as far as reasonably practicable."
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
Yes, I ought to have mentioned that, but still it shows the extreme elaboration with which the noble and learned Lord proposes that the Congested Districts Board should proceed. Then the Judicial Commissioner and two of the Estates Commissioners have to decide whether a prima facie case has been established for compulsory acquisition, thereby sitting in judgment on the Congested Districts Board, and they are then to proceed to publish notices, and so on. Then the tribunal set up by the noble and learned Lord to hear objections is certainly an ingenious one. It consists of the Judicial Commissioner, one Estates Commissioner, and one Judge of the King's Bench Division takes in rotation. I may say at once that I think that tribunal is infinitely preferable to the tribunal suggested by my noble friend behind me, which does not seem to me, if he will forgive my saying so, a possible tribunal for the adjudication of the particular subjects which would come before them. On the other hand, we think in the first place that the preliminaries suggested by the noble and learned Lord are so long and involved, and may cover such a vast amount of time, as has been already pointed out by Lord MacDonnell, that we are afraid that the knowledge of the difficulties will not only make it difficult to exercise compulsion but will tend to so discourage the Congested Districts Board from entering into transactions at all that the section will prove likely to have very little effect indeed.
1117 From that I pass to the proposition of my noble friend behind me. So far as the preliminary stages are concerned, the processes designed by him are undoubtedly more rapid than those of the noble and learned Lord opposite, but there are certain points in connection with this Amendment to which I am bound to allude. I do not quite see why the noble Lord limits his powers of purchase to congested estates, because it might easily happen that there would be cases where congestion on a congested estate would be more conveniently relieved by the purchase of a non-congested estate and not only the untenanted land which happened to be comprised in it. There might be cases, in fact, where the owner would prefer to sell the whole rather than merely part with the untenanted land. Then the clause numbered (B) by my noble friend seems to impose a somewhat needless provision. It says that where the owner agrees to enter into negotiations the Land Commission may depute inspectors to ascertain particulars and to estimate the price of the estate proposed to be purchased. It seems hardly worth while to insert a provision of that kind in an Act of Parliament, because if the owner agrees to sell he is not likely to object to having his land inspected for the purpose of seeing what it is like. Then the noble Lord makes a proposition which is a somewhat serious one. He proposes that in all cases of purchases, whether voluntary or not, the payments must be made in cash. That is a new proposition, and one which opens a rather serious prospect.
§ *LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD said he had taken that from the Government clause.
§ *LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD pointed out that the whole scheme dealt only with compulsory purchase.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
The noble Lord's own words are "by agreement and otherwise than by agreement," and then the clause provides, where the purchase is carried out, that payment shall "be made by means of money and not by means of stock, except in cases where the vendor agrees to accept in lieu of cash any amount of guaranteed three per cent. stock." That is a point which, of course, must mean, if the purchases are large, a further issue of 1118 excess stock to an amount greater than contemplated in the Bill. There are various minor points in my noble friend's Amendment which would demand very careful consideration. He does not deal with the point, for instance, which although it is a small one still is an important one, where an owner instead of refusing to sell made no reply and adopted a purely passive attitude.
In such a case no steps could be taken with regard to compulsory purchase at all. If the noble Lord's Amendment were accepted, we should have to insert a considerable number of consequential provisions on other matters, because t is not clear whether the actual purchasers, as suggested by my noble friend, are to be the Land Commission or the Congested Districts Board.
I pass next to my noble friend's proposed Court of Appeal. I think all noble Lords in this House, not only noble and learned Lords but a great many others, would be disposed to agree that a tribunal of three Judges is not a good tribunal to settle questions which will almost always be simply questions of value. There is no precedent, so far as I know, for putting Judges of the High Court in such a position. We think that our proposed tribunal of the Judicial Commissioner, who is always spoken of in this House with the utmost respect, and deservedly so, with two lay assessors—that is to say, with two fellow arbitrators, because that is what it really comes to—would form a very safe and excellent tribunal for fixing these questions of price. The noble and learned Lord said that he did not like assessors, but surely if they were called arbitrators he would not object to them so much. They would be gentlemen competent to form an opinion on these disputed points of value, and so far as questions of law are concerned we think that they would be safe in the hands of the Judicial Commissioner. We do not like the tribunal proposed by my noble friend, and I have no doubt that if your Lordships generally should prefer the proposals in his clauses to those of the noble and learned Lord, my noble friend would be willing to reconsider the question of the ultimate tribunal. There are one or two other points in my noble friend's Amendment that we do not quite like. There is his Clause (D), for instance, which prohibits the purchase of any land mentioned in the paragraph. 1119 That, I think, might work out inconveniently to some landlords who might desire to sell their whole estate. I think that is all at this stage that I need say about these different Amendments. The ultimate effect is, of course, that we greatly prefer our own proposals as they stand, although we regret the fact that they cannot be made to apply outside the congested districts. But so far as celerity of procedure is concerned we prefer next the proposals of my noble friend behind me to those of the noble and learned Lord opposite, although we think that the tribunal suggested by the noble and learned Lord is a much more suitable one than that which my noble friend proposes.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
During our somewhat protracted debates on this Bill we have not, I think, discussed any subject approaching in importance to that which is now before the House. A great principle is at issue. Your Lordships are asked to decide whether you desire to exclude from the Bill every scrap and vestige of compulsion. With the question of general compulsion the House has already dealt. We have determined that we would not accept general compulsion as proposed in the Bill as it originally came before us. That question is disposed of.
Now, my Lords, with regard to the more restricted compulsion of the kind indicated in the two Amendments which are before us, may I be permitted to say that in my humble opinion it is rather late in the day for your Lordships' House to take upon itself to say that upon grounds of principle you refuse altogether to admit compulsion in any shape or form within the four corners of this Bill. In the measures which come before us from time to time dealing with all parts of the United Kingdom it seems to me that we are constantly discussing this question of compulsion, and always on the assumption that compulsion in itself is not a wrong thing if you can carefully limit the objects for which it is to be exercised and the manner in which it is to be applied. There are many analogies which will at once occur to your Lordships. I need hardly refer to the Small Holdings Act which your Lordships passed and to the Housing and Town-Planning Bill which is still before your Lordships' House; even in Ireland there have been, as the noble Earl pointed out, cases in which we have admitted the principle of compulsion; now with regard to compulsion for the purpose of relieving con- 1120 gestion I am bound to point out that in giving this Bill a Second Reading we have admitted that this question of the relief of congestion really lies at the bottom of the whole of the proposed legislation. My noble friend Lord Mayo poured a certain amount of ridicule upon what was said by my noble and learned friend, Lord Atkinson, when he asked your Lordships to bear in mind the misery of the people who inhabited these congested areas and the absolute need of doing something to relieve that misery. But it is upon the admission that that condition of things exists in certain parts of Ireland that the Bill which we have accepted in principle is founded, and I for one shall not be deterred from giving your Lordships the advice which seems to me appropriate to the occasion by any prospect of being told that I am guided by what I think my noble friend called sentimental considerations.
The question, then, is whether there is is or is not a case for that restricted form of compulsion which my two noble friends desire to introduce. A great deal has been said with regard to the attitude of the landlords in certain parts of Ireland. I think we may say that the cantankerous landlord, who was introduced to us the other evening by the noble Earl opposite, has been solemnly interred to-night. The case is no longer based upon the assertion that there are deliberately obstructive landlords who require to be coerced by special legislation. What was admitted, and what was clearly stated by my noble friend Lord MacDonnell was that these landlords are not disinclined to sell. What they are disinclined to do is to part with their land upon terms which do not represent its true and proper value, and I shall be surprised if, should it be possible to satisfy those landlords that they will really receive a full and adequate price for their property, the reluctance and the very natural reluctance which they have hitherto exhibited to selling does not to a great extent disappear.
What are really the essential conditions if such a fair and reasonable price is to be secured to vendors of land in these districts of Ireland? Surely they are two. In the first place, that there shall be some perfectly impartial tribunal which shall be called upon to decide whether there really is a necessity for compulsion at all; and, in the next place, that there shall be some means of deciding, the first point being disposed of, whether 1121 the compensation offered is or is not a sufficient compensation. Now both the proposals before your Lordships' House seem to me designed, and in many respects admirably designed, to secure that these conditions shall be fulfilled—I mean that there shall be no question of compulsion unless a clear case to establish its necessity can be shown, and unless these is proper machinery provided for determining the terms on which compulsion is to be exercised. We are placed in a considerable difficulty in deciding which of these two Amendments is the more deserving of our support. My noble and learned friend Lord Atkinson has surrounded his proposal with what I might term a perfect zareba of precautions, for he adds Court to Court and appeal to appeal. It is conceivable, however, that on closer examination some of those precautions may prove to be not absolutely indispensable.
The noble Earl opposite passed the two Amendments in review and picked out for approval certain features in each and for criticism certain other proposals in each. I shall be surprised, under those circumstances, supposing your Lordships are prepared, as I hope you will be, to entertain the idea that carefully-guarded compulsion should be admitted, if any noble Lord on this side of the House will be ready to say without hesitation that either of the Amendments is of a kind that you are prepared to accept finally as a solution of these difficulties. The proposition before the House is, I take it, that Clause 64 of the Bill be omitted, and up to that point it seems to me that our way is clear. I should be inclined to suggest, if I may do so, that having removed the clause from the Bill it might be desirable to substitute for it the Amendment suggested by my noble and learned friend Lord Atkinson; but I hope he will forgive me for saying that if we adopt that course it will be upon the understanding that we shall be free to discuss with him in detail whether there are not points on which it might be advantageous to modify it.
That is the conclusion to which I am disposed to come. I should have come to that conclusion, I think, in any circumstances, but I confess I am strengthened in it by the explicit statement made by the noble Earl in charge of the Bill. He has told us that in the view of His Majesty's 1122 Government the retention in the Bill of compulsion in some shape or form is absolutely indispensable. I must say it seems to me that even those of your Lordships who regard the suggestion of compulsion with the greatest amount of misgiving should think twice, in view of that statement of the noble Earl, before you take upon yourselves the responsibility of decreeing what I gather from him would be the final extinction of this Bill. The Bill contains many questionable proposals, but I am bound to say that, considering the position of affairs with regard to land purchase in Ireland, it would be a very serious thing indeed if your Lordships were to take any action which might have the effect of bringing purchase for the time to an end. For those reasons, my Lords, although I have never concealed the doubts which I entertain with regard to many of the proposals contained in this Bill, and although I can well understand the jealousy with which many of my noble friends regard the proposal to introduce compulsory principles within it, I feel bound, now that compulsion has been proposed by my two noble friends on each side of the House, to say that I shall certainly not go into the Lobby against the admission of that modified compulsion which is a common feature in the proposals of both noble Lords.
§ LORD ATKINSON said he would be only too happy to endeavour to assist in simplifying the scheme he had suggested if it was thought to be too complicated. He would meet the objection of the noble Earl by saying that it should be, "such particulars as might be prescribed," striking out those he had inserted. With regard to the number of Courts, he thought, on reflection, that that would not prove to be such an expensive procedure as it might look, because if there was no objection the thing could be passed through at once. But even on that point he was anxious to make the machinery as simple, cheap, and expeditious as possible. He wished to add that he made no reflection on the Congested Districts Board in proposing his tribunal, but he did object to giving the Congested Districts Board or any other authority outside the Government of he day absolute power on their own motion to expropriate any man.
LORD MONTEAGLE OF BRANDON did not wish to trouble their Lordships with regard to the question of general
compulsion, because there seemed to him to be no prima facie case whatever put forward by His Majesty's Government in favour of it, and it appeared to him to be little more than flogging a dead horse. But with regard to limited compulsion for the express purpose of relieving congestion, which was now under consideration, the position, of course, was very different. He would not attempt to argue the merits of the two schemes before the Committee after the leaders on both sides had put so clearly the many considerations on the one side and on the other; but on the main question whether compulsion was necessary or not he would like to say a word. Having committed himself more than twenty years ago to the principle of compulsory expropriation for the great purpose of the relief of congestion, he could not go back from that principle now, and he could not refrain from expressing his convictions on the point. He did not presume to rely solely upon his own judgment; they had heard the views of Lord MacDonnell and of Lord Shaftesbury, a member of the Congested Districts Board; and further than that he had received a letter from Sir Horace Plunkett, also a member of the Board, which he had asked him to read to the House. Sir Horace Plunkett wrote:—
I quite agree with you that grass lands must be taken for the relief of congestion, and that carefully-guarded powers to deal with some cases by compulsion at a fair price will be necessary. I know some words of mine, read without the context, have been cited in an opposite sense. My point was that until this limited compulsion is conceded the demand for unlimited compulsion, which I hold to be mischievous, will increase and do harm.
He (Lord Monteagle) quite agreed with Lord Mayo that the congests were not as miserable now as they were some years ago, but if they were not miserable they ought to be, and if he came from that quarter of Ireland he would do his best to make them miserable with a view of impressing upon Parliament the necessity of dealing with this great question. With regard to the question of whether migration was a panacea, or even an efficient remedy, he confessed he was not very sanguine, but he did appeal very earnestly to his noble friends not to let the landlords of Ireland appear to be standing in the way of the migration scheme. It had been urged, with great cogency he admitted, that there was the great difficulty of the landless men versus the
congests and as to whether a migration scheme would ever be allowed to act on any large scale, but if the United Irish League were intimidating congests what better opportunity could they afford the League of getting their position made effective than by themselves taking the burden on their shoulders and opposing the compulsion which was sad to be necessary for the purpose of relieving congestion? He entirely declined to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for the United Irish League, and if the League proposed to block migration he thought they had better do it on their own account and not try to put up the landlords to do it for them.
§ *LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE said he was under the impression that the position taken up by the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition was that while he was prepared to admit a moderate and guarded amount of compulsion he considered that a duty was laid upon His Majesty's Government to prove that such a measure was necessary. That, he ventured to say, had not only not been done but had hardly been attempted, and now they found that the noble Marquess deemed it wise to surrender the position with regard to compulsory purchase. Those of them who lived in the West of Ireland and who felt that they represented not only themselves but the opinion of the whole of the landlords in the West could only consider it their duty, whatever advice was offered to them by their leaders, to resist absolutely and without any hesitation the principle of compulsion. If he could find some common agreement on which to start his argument it would shorten what he had to say. He thought that all Members of their Lordships' House were probably agreed that the compulsory acquisition of land ought to be resorted to if it was proved, first of all, that it was for the good of the community at large; secondly, if the owner received due compensation; and, thirdly, only where it was impossible to acquire the land required for the purpose at an equitable price.
§ He was quite ready to say that in certain cases it was right and proper that small holdings in the West of Ireland should be enlarged by the acquisition of grass lands. Where a tenant had improved his holding and was a capable tenant and possessed a knowledge of agriculture and had succeeded in acquiring a certain 1125 amount of capital, he thought they would all agree that such a man ought to have an opportunity of increasing his holding, and in the ordinary course of events, if freedom of contract had been allowed in Ireland, that was exactly what would have happened, because landlords liked improving and prosperous tenants, and extra land would have been given to them had it not been for the fact that by so doing those lands would be brought under the operation of the Land Act of 1891. But their Lordships must not imagine that because that was so all those tenants were congested tenants. Landowners did the best they could for them, and it was an almost universal arrangement that for tenants with two, three, and four head of cattle their cattle should be taken in for grazing. On almost every estate there were farms reserved entirely for the convenience of tenants on the estate for the use of their cattle. In the case of all those people he would certainly say increase their holdings, but there were other tenants who were only in the position of labourers without diligence or a knowledge of farming or capital, and he believed it would be a cruel kindness to such people to enlarge their holdings. He did not think that any addition should be made to holdings which would do away altogether with the grazing industry in Connaught. He would like to ask what was the intent on of His Majesty's Government with regard to that, Did they intend only to give holdings to capable tenants who would improve them, and perhaps to landless men who in their view were also capable, or did they intend to give to one and all alike until they had divided the whole of the grass lands of Connaught and so have done away with that grazing industry which he believed would be the main factor in increasing the prosperity of the new holders?
§ His next point was that those who ware dispossessed should be adequately compensated. He had dealt with that subject at length in his speech on the Second Reading and would not repeat what he then said, but there were cases where land had been compulsorily taken where the price given was an absolutely inadequate one, in particular where a landlord who had been receiving for many years £45 a year was awarded £580. Again, he would ask the noble Earl at what rate it was proposed to value the land taken. Was 1126 it to be taken at its present value or at the value it would possess for the purpose to which the noble Earl wished to apply it; in other words, did the Government adopt the attitude of the Estates Commissioners that for their purpose the land was worth fifty per cent. less to them than to the landlord, and did they, taking the fifteen per cent. deduction, propose to offer the landlord only thirty-five per cent. of the present value of the land? With regard to the power of the Estates Commissioners to send inspectors to examine the land, there had been cases where an inspector had gone down and stayed at an inn for the night and discussed the question of the value to be put on the land, with the result that boycotting had begun and landlords had found it impossible to re-let their lands.
§ There was another thing to be seriously regarded, and that was that when once the system of compulsion was adopted they absolutely stopped the system of voluntary purchase which had been so successful in the past and which they hoped would lead to the, regeneration of Ireland. Directly the compulsory principle was adopted not one single tenant would agree to purchase voluntarily, because they believed they would obtain better terms if compulsion were used for the purpose of obtaining the land. It was a matter of supreme importance to them in the West of Ireland that compulsion should not be allowed in any shape or form, and he appealed to all noble Lords, and particularly to those in Scotland who might have the principle extended to them at any minute, to support them in the Lobby when they voted, not only against the clause but against the Amendments of the noble Lords.
§ LORD FARNHAM said he also was strongly opposed to compulsion in any shape or form, and that in his opinion and in that of many of his noble friends the voluntary system was the one to be supported. The moment compulsion was introduced into any part of Ireland voluntary sales would become impossible. Tenants had been led to believe by the United Irish League that they were going to get compulsion, and that under compulsion land would be obtained at far below its present price. If, therefore, their Lordships gave compulsion to any one part of Ireland, however guarded it might be, they would at once raise a 1127 grievance amongst tenants in the other parts, and it would be seized upon as a further excuse for agitation, and that agitation would not be confined to one part of Ireland. As a landlord coming from Ulster, he could say that Ulster tenants had always proved good and loyal tenants and had always paid their rent regularly, and their point of view would be: "Here are those who have always been disloyal, the cattle-drivers, those who have always agitated against paying rent, going to be rewarded by compulsion being given in their case, whereas all we who have been so loyal are going to get by the Bill is that our annuity is going to be raised from three and a-quarter to three and a-half per cent."
§ The Ulster tenants had been faithful and loyal, but if this great extra strain was1128
§ going to be placed upon them they would not be able to stand it, and the voluntary system in Ulster would cease to exist, for they would not get tenants to come to an agreement voluntarily if they were led to believe that compulsion would come in Compulsion was merely the thin end of the wedge, and the principle would eventually spread over the whole of Ireland if they consented to it in any shape or form. He intended to oppose the Amendments as strongly as he possibly could, and he called upon other noble Lords to do likewise.
§ On Question, whether the clause proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 29; Not-Contents, 111.1129
|Loreburn, L. (L. Chancellor.||Morley of Blackburn, V.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.)|
|Wolverhampton, V. (L. President.)||Hamilton of Dalzell, L. [Teller.|
|Allendale, L.||Haversham, L.|
|Crewe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Armitstead, L.||Hemphill, L.|
|Blyth, L.||Marchamley, L.|
|Beauchamp, E. (L. Steward.)||Boston, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Brassey, L.||Pentland, L.|
|Chichester, E.||Courtney of Penwith, L.||Pirrie, L.|
|Craven, E.||Denman, L. [Teller.]||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Liverpool, E.||Eversley, L.||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Glantawe, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Morley, E.||Belper, L.|
|Northumberland, D.||Onslow, E.||Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)|
|Wellington, D.||Plymouth, E.||Brodriek, L. (V. Medleton.)|
|Powis, E.||Calthorpe, L.|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.)||Shaftesbury, E.||Castlemaine, L.|
|Bath, M.||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)|
|Lansdowne, M.||Verulam, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)|
|Salisbury, M.||Waldegrave, E. [Teller.]||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)|
|Wharncliffe, E.||Clifford of Chudleigh, L.|
|Abingdon, E.||Wicklow, E.||Clinton, L.|
|Cadogan, E.||Clonbrock, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Churchill, V. [Teller.]||Cloncurry, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Cross, V.||Colchester, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||De Vesci, V.||Collins, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Goschen, V.||Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)|
|Cowley, E.||Hill, V.||De Freyne, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Hood, V.||Desart, L. (E. Desart.)|
|Dartrey, E.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Digby, L.|
|Derby, E.||Dunalley, L.|
|Devon, E.||Iveagh, V.||Dunboyne, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Farnham, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)|
|Fortescue, E.||Ampthill, L.||Forester, L.|
|Huntingdon, E.||Ardilaun, L.||Hindlip, L.|
|Lichfield, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Hylton, L.|
|Lindsey, E.||Ashtown, L.||Kenlis, L. (M. Headfort.)|
|Lucan, E.||Atkinson, L.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)|
|Malmesbury, E.||Barrymore, L.||Kenyon, L.|
|Mayo, E.||Basing, L.||Kintore L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Langford, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L.||Sinclair, L.|
|Lawrence, L.||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Leith of Fyvie, L.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)||Stalbridge, L.|
|Lovat, L.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)||Stanmore, L.|
|Macnaghten, L.||Rathdonnell, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Massy, L.||Rathmore, L.||Tennyson, L.|
|Monck, L. (V. Monck.)||Ritchie of Dundee, L.||Ventry, L.|
|Monteagle of Brandon, L.||St. Levan, L.||Waleran, L.|
|North, L.||Sanderson, L.||Walsingham, L.|
|Northcote, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
§ Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ LORD ATKINSON then formally moved to insert the first of a series of new clauses in place of the clause which had been struck out.
To insert the following new clause:
Where the Congested Districts Board are of opinion that it is desirable to acquire land for the purpose of relieving congestion in any portion of a congested districts county, by adding to the holding of any proprietor or tenant of a holding therein of a rateable value of less than ten pounds, such parcel or parcels of land, as will, when added to such holding raise the rateable value thereof, so far as the same can at the time of such addition be reasonably estimated, to the sum of ten pounds, or by providing a holding for a person who has surrendered his holding for the purpose of relieving congestion, and are satisfied that land sufficient and suitable for that purpose cannot be acquired on their behalf by voluntary agreement at a reasonable price, they may submit to the Lands Commission a scheme setting forth the lands which they propose should be acquired compulsorily for the purposes aforesaid on their behalf, the extent, nature, boundaries, and condition thereof, and the names of the person or persons by whom the same owned, occupied, or used, and enjoyed, the mode
§ in which it is used, worked, or cultivated, together, as far as reasonably practicable, with the names of the person or persons to whom as a tenant or proprietor, or as tenants or proprietors of a holding or holdings of less rateable value than ten pounds, they propose that a parcel or parcels of the said lands should be sold, and the rateable value of such holdings, and also the names of the person or persons, if any, who has or have surrendered his or their holdings as aforesaid, and the nature, extent, situation, and rateable value of the same, together with the rateable value, so far as the same can be reasonably estimated, of the parcel or parcels of the said lands which they propose should be sold to each of the above-mentioned persons respectively, with such further and other particulars as may be prescribed. An authentic copy of such scheme, signed by the Secretary of the Board, shall be lodged in the offices of the Land Commission in the time and manner prescribed, together with a statement under the hand of the aforesaid Secretary, setting forth the facts which, in the opinion of said Board, establish that the land sufficient and suitable for the aforesaid purpose, cannot be acquired by voluntary purchase at a reasonable price.'"—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ On Question?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 106; Not-Contents, 31.1131
|Loreburn, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Craven, E.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)|
|Wolverhampton, V. (L. President.)||Derby, E.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Iveagh, V.|
|Crewe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Morley of Blackburn, V.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Lichfield, E.||Abinger, L.|
|Northumberland, D.||Lindsey, E.||Allendale, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Liverpool, E.||Ampthill, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Armitstead, L.|
|Bath, M.||Malmesbury, E.||Ashbourne, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Morley, E.||Atkinson, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Onslow, E.||Basing, L.|
|Plymouth, E.||Belper, L.|
|Beauchamp, E. (L. Steward.)||Powis, E.||Blyth, L.|
|Cadogan, E.||Shaftesbury, E.||Boston, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Verulam, E.||Brassey, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Waldegrave, E. [Teller.]||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)|
|Cathcart, E.||Wharncliffe, E.||Calthorpe, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.|
|Chichester, E.||Churchill, V. [Teller.]||Clifford of Chudleigh, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Goschen, V.||Clinton, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Hill, V.||Cloncurry, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Hood, V.||Colchester, L.|
|Collins, L.||Kenyon, L.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Courtney of Penwith, L.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)||Lawrence, L.||St. Levan, L.|
|Denman, L.||Leith of Fyvie, L.||Sanderson, L.|
|Desart, L. (E. Desart.)||Lovat, L.||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Digby, L.||MacDonnell, L.||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Dunboyne, L.||Macnaghten, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Eversley, L.||Marchamley, L.||Sinclair, E.|
|Glantawe, L.||Monteagle of Brandon, L.||Stalbridge, L.|
|Granard,L. (E. Granard.)||North, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Hamilton of Dalzell, L.||Northcote, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Haversham, L.||O'Hagan, L.||Tennyson, L.|
|Hemphill, L.||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)||Waleran, L.|
|Hindlip, L.||Pentland, E.||Walsingham, L.|
|Hylton, L.||Pirrie, L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.)||Ashtown, L.||Kenlis, L. (M. Headfort.)|
|Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)|
|Abingdon, E.||Castlemaine, L.||Langford, L.|
|Dartrey, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)||Massy, L.|
|Devon, E.||Monck, E. (V. Monck.)|
|Huntingdon, E.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)||Oranmore and Browne, L. [Teller.]|
|Mayo, E. [Teller.]||Clonbrock, L.|
|Wicklow, E.||De Freyne, L.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Dunalley, B.||Rathdonnell, L.|
|De Vesci, V.||Farnham, L.||Rathmore, L.|
|Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Ardilaun, L.||Forester, L.||Templemore, L.|
On Question, First Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
§ Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ [The sitting was suspended at a quarter past eight o'clock and resumed at half-past nine.]
After Clause 64, to insert the following new clause:
'65. The Judicial Commissioner, together with two of the Estates Commissioners, shall inquire into the merits of the said scheme, and if satisfied that it is primâ facie necessary that the land therein mentioned should be acquired compulsorily for the purposes therein set forth, shall proceed to acquire the same compulsorily in manner hereinafter provided—
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON said that although many of their Lordships had great pleasure in voting for the Amendment of Lord Atkinson, the new clause only appeared upon the Paper that morning and he did not think it would be right that it should pass through their Lordships' House with any assumption that it was anything like a final judgment as to the system on which the compulsory arrangements might be carried out. There were several points which the noble and learned Lord himself suggested he was quite open to consider if Amendments were put down upon them. He more especially called their Lordships' attention to the tribunal which would be established by the adoption of this clause. It was to be composed of the Judicial Commissioner, one of the Estates Commissioners who had, in the first instance, considered the scheme, together with the Judge of the King's Bench Division of the High Court who was next in order on the rota mentioned in Section 2, subsection (11), of the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Act, 1907. The noble Earl the Leader of the House had said that he thought Lord Atkinson had been to some extent prolific in the safeguards which he had set up as regarded appeals, and as regarded the hearing of these cases. He (Lord Midleton) did not profess to decide whether there should be three stages or two; three stages as provided by the noble and learned Lord, or two stages—the stage of hearing and the stage of appeal. But he was quite certain that nobody would be 1134 satisfied unless there was an absolutely impartial tribunal. By that he meant a tribunal which was not concerned in the taking of the land and which should decide two points—the necessity for taking the land and the price which was to be given for it.
§ He could not help thinking there was this weakness in his noble and learned friend's clause, that there were three hearings; the first hearing a hearing of the Estates Commissioners themselves—the people who took the land. Then they were to have a second hearing, and then a third. Let them look at the third tribunal. There was an Estates Commissioner, who should have, in the first instance, considered the scheme; a Judicial Commissioner who sat behind him; and a Judge of the High Court, who was to sit with two persons who were already practically parties to what had been arranged. He could not think, speaking as a layman, that that could be a wise provision. In the first place, of course, the landlord did not know whether he would be upheld on a further appeal. In the first hearing he was not altogether free from costs; there were always costs beyond those allowed in representing a case. On a second hearing he had to go before two Estates Commissioners who knew the case and a Judge of the High Court who did not know the case. He believed that everything which his nobl and learned friend claimed, and rightly claimed, as being a danger in the Judicial Commissioners sitting with assessors who knew and had seen the land would be equally felt by a judge of the High Court sitting with two Estates Commissioners both of whom knew and had heard the case before. He thought that was a weakness in the clause.
§ What he would venture to suggest to his noble and learned friend was that he should reconsider the question before the Report stage, and that whatever might be the Court at a first instance he should give an appeal on the question of taking the land and an appeal also upon price; and that he should not in appeal connect two people who knew the case with one who did not know the case. Speaking personally as a landlord, he knew that if he had carried his case to the original Court and had taken an opinion there he would feel that it would be regarded as litigious to take it to a higher Court. Their Lordships would recognise, too, that in these cases they were not acting against a tenant, against 1135 somebody who might have his own difficulties as to costs and appeals, but were acting against the Government to whom costs and appeals counted for nothing. Therefore if further appeal was urged there was no inducement to the Estate Commissioners to settle. He quite recognised that his noble and learned friend had been actuated with a desire of the most complete fairness in giving this second appeal, but he could not help hoping he would so phrase his Amendment as to fortify his first Court and. not make an appeal to a second Court necessary.
§ LORD ATKINSON said he would be only too happy to consider any suggestions that might be made, but he would like to point out one or two errors into which the noble Viscount had fallen. In the first matter of the Estates Commissioners the landlord was no party whatever to the proceedings. The Congested Districts Board asked the Estates Commissioners to put these compulsory powers into force. Under the Bill the Estates Commissioners had no option but to put those powers into force; the word was "shall." In his Amendment, before deciding to put a scheme into force the Judicial Commissioner, together with two of the Estates Commissioners, had to inquire into the merits of the scheme and satisfy themselves that there was a prima facie case. They did not decide the merits of the thing; they merely decided whether there was a case for an inquiry. If they decided that there was, then for the first time the landlord or any objector came in.
§ As to the composition of the Court, there were a good many things to be considered. First, it was most undesirable to have a Court composed of four members, because if they should be divided nothing could be done. It was, therefore, better to have it composed of an uneven number, say, three or five, so that there could not possibly be an equal division. It was quite possible that two members of the Court he would create would already have looked into the matter, but that was all. They would not have considered any objections because no objection would have come before them. They only really said, "Shall we start the machinery?" And before starting the machinery they had to satisfy themselves that there was a prima facie case. He did not think the fact that they had inquired into it was any disqualification whatever against their deciding as honest men on the merits of an objection 1136 when an objection was argued out before them. His reason for putting in an Estates Commissioner was that it was desirable to have on the tribunal a person who was acquainted with the workings of the whole purchase system and also with the condition of the property.
§ There was a good deal of difficulty in constructing the Court of first hearing. It was quite obvious they could not have five members. He thought when he drew up the Amendment that he had constructed about as satisfactory a tribunal as could be constructed for the purpose. Again, he would remind his noble friend that these Courts had nothing whatever to say as to the fixing of the price. They decided whether any land was land that ought to be taken and other questions that might be raised, but the fixing of the price did not belong to them. He did not think the tribunal was fitted for that. So long as there was provision of some tribunal to decide upon the question of the necessity for taking the land he would be glad to consider any Amendment designed to simplify the procedure. But he confessed he saw a difficulty in constructing any tribunal better than that he had constructed.
§ *LORD ASHTOWN wished to ask one or two questions. The Court of Appeal went into questions of law. Would facts be taken into consideration? He meant such facts as whether the neighbourhood would be injured by the acquisition of certain land. In his opinion a large part of the farms would be injured by the migration of congests. A second point was whether the land to be bought was suitable for sub-division. Much of the land in Galway had been divided, and it should never under any conditions have been subdivided. It was not tillage land, and he did not think it would be advisable for any one to migrate to such land.
§ *LORD ASHBOURNE was disposed to agree with the main bearings of the clause but had no doubt it would be exposed to criticism—and it challenged criticism—on the Report stage. He ventured to think it was a little premature to suggest Amendments at the present moment when they had only the general bearings of the clause before them. He thought it would be wiser to defer detailed criticism until the next stage of the Bill.
§ *LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD stated that what the noble and learned Lord had said had also occurred to him. As he understood the situation, the noble 1137 and learned Lord's Amendment had been accepted as a peg upon which to hang proposals, and the noble Marquess who led the Opposition was disposed to think that on the whole, having regard to the judicial character of the noble and learned Lord's Amendment, he preferred it to his (Lord MacDonnell's). But he believed the noble Marquess thought at the same time that there were in his Amendment also certain good points that were not included in the noble and learned Lord's Amendment. For his own part he considered the whole thing was open, and the only fixed point they had for future discussion was the necessity of some body which should give a decision as to the necessity for the compulsory acquisition of land. Secondly, there was the point of the assessment of price. While the Privy Council in the former case seemed to him a convenient tribunal to adopt he would be very glad to see that tribunal a mixed tribunal; that the members of the Privy Council should not all be Judicial officers but that there should be some laymen on it having a knowledge of the value of land and also able to appreciate the necessities of the country so far as acquisition was concerned. Otherwise he considered the matter was entirely open, and that it would be possible for those of them who wished to do so to move Amendments, even radical Amendments, to whatever proposal might be put upon the Paper.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think I ought, perhaps, to say one word in order to make the position of the Government perfectly clear. This, of course, is not our Amendment. We voted for it as against certain noble Lords opposite on the ground that it established a principle of possible compulsion as against the complete denial of compulsion which those noble Lords wished to enforce. But of course we do not adopt the clause as it stands. For instance, we certainly do not adopt the application of the Lands Clauses Act to compulsory purchase as the noble and learned Lord proposes. With reference to what has fallen from the noble Viscount, Lord Midleton, and from the noble and learned Lord I would merely say this, that as regards any Court of Appeal we should object strongly to any Court before which the Estates Commissioners had to appear as a party to a litigation; that is to say, having fixed a figure or entertained the possibility of compulsory purchase in some 1138 form, we should strongly object to their having to appear before a Court, composed, say, entirely of Judges, as parties to the case. We have never admitted that they become in any sense or at any stage interested parties, and we could not agree to any system which involved their so appearing. It is for that reason that I express something of an adherence to the noble and learned Lord's tribunal because it steers entirely clear of that difficulty and so avoids the principle which I think the noble Viscount rather favours and which we could not possibly admit.
To insert the following new clauses:
'66. The Congested Districts Board may at any time, with the consent of the tribunal, and on such terms as to payment of cost and otherwise as the latter may deem fit to impose, modify the scheme so lodged by them to meet any objection raised thereto.
§ The Court of Appeal may in cases pending before it on appeal permit the said scheme to be modified on similar terms.
§ 67. Land shall not be acquired compulsorily under the provisions of the preceding sections which—
- (1) Is situate without an administrative county containing a congested districts county. For the purpose of this subsection the west riding of the county of Cork shall be deemed an administrative county:
- (2) Or what has been acquired by a tenant under the provisions of the Irish Land Act, 1869, or purchased under the Land Purchase Acts as defined by the Redemption of Rent (Ireland) Act, 1891, the Irish Land Act, 1903, or this Act;
- (3) Or which is in the occupation of an owner within the meaning of the aforesaid Land Purchase Acts, and is, or forms part of a demesne, garden, pleasure garden, or home farm;
- (4) Or which is of an annual rateable value not exceeding two hundred pounds, and is occupied and cultivated as a farm according to a reasonable course of husbandry by a person holding under a fee-farm grant, or a lease for lives renewable for ever, or for a term of years of which not less than sixty are unexpired.
§ 68. Land shall not be acquired compulsorily for the purpose of being sold, nor shall it, if so acquired, be sold to any person or persons other than those hereinbefore mentioned, and under the conditions and restrictions hereinbefore set forth.' "—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ Clause 65:
§ 65.—(1) If any person interested in the estate or untenanted land objects to the acquisition of the same under this Part of this Act on the ground that the estate or untenanted land consists entirely or mainly of land to which this section applies, he may within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner apply to the Judicial Commissioner for an order that no further proceedings be taken for the acquisition of the estate or untenanted land under this Part of this Act.
§ (2) If any person interested in the estate or 1139 untenanted land objects to the acquisition of the same under this Part of this Act on the ground that the estate or untenanted land includes and to which this section applies, he may, within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner, apply to the Judicial Commissioner for an order excluding such land from the purchase.
§ (3) Upon any application under this section the Judicial Commissioner may, if he is satisfied that the estate or untenanted land consists entirely or mainly of land to which this section applies by order direct that no further proceedings be taken for the acquisition of the estate or untenanted land under this Part of this Act.
§ (4) If upon any such application the Judicial Commissioner is satisfied that the estate or untenanted land includes land to which this section applies, and that such land is not the main portion of the estate or untenanted land, he may exclude such land from the purchase and may fix the price to be paid for the remainder of the estate or untenanted land, and the foregoing provisions of this Part of this Act relating to the payment and distribution of the purchase money and the completion of the purchase shall apply accordingly in the case of the remainder of the estate or untenanted land.
§ (5) This section applies to any land in the occupation of the owner which is or forms part of a demesne, garden, pleasure ground or home farm.
§ (6) In this section the expression "owner" means any person having power under the Land Purchase Acts to sell the estate or untenanted land.
To leave out Clause 65."—(Viscount Midleton.)
§ Clause 66:
§ 66. General orders may be made by the Lord Lieutenant, with the approval of the Treasury, for the framing of lists of persons of skill and experience in the valuation of land to act as assessors under this Part of this Act and for the ascertainment of their functions and remunerations, and every person for the time being named in such list shall give his attendance according to general orders.
To leave out Clause 66."—(Viscount Midleton).
§ Clause 67:
§ 67.—(1) Where a present tenancy was determined at any time before the passing of this Act, the Land Commission may, subject to the provisions of the Land Law Acts, on the application in the prescribed manner of any tenant in occupation of the lands comprised in the said present tenancy or of any portion of those lands, being either—
- (a) the person who was the tenant of the original holding at the time when the present tenancy was determined, or (if such person is dead)
- (b) a person who would have been entitled, whether under the will eras one of the next-of-kin or issue of the said tenant, to the said holding or any distributive share therein had the present tenancy therein not been determined:
1140 fix the fair rent in respect of the said lands or portion in like manner as if the applicant was a present tenant of the same, and the statutory term resulting from the fixing of such fair rent shall not nor shall the tenancy determined by the expiration of any lease or tenancy existing at the date of such application but shall continue in like manner as if such lease or tenancy were an existing lease within the meaning of the Act of 1881.
§ (2) Any provision in any contract of tenancy or other instrument in any way prohibiting, restraining, or tending to prevent the fixing of a fair rent in respect of any holding to which this section applies, shall be void.
§ (3) Where a present tenancy has been sold under a writ of execution and assigned by the sheriff to the landlord, or a trustee for the landlord, the tenancy shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to have been determined.
§ (4) In this section the expression "prescribed" means prescribed by rules made by the Land Commission under section fifty of the Act of 1881 as amended by any subsequent enactment, and the expression "present tenancy" includes any existing lease within the meaning of the Act of 1881, and any tenancy which was determined at any time between the first day of January eighteen hundred and seventy-nine and the passing of the Act of 1881.
§ *THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE moved the omission from the Bill of Clause 67. The clause, he said dealt with a very complicated and technical subject, and the Amendment was one which ought really to be in the hands of a member of the legal profession. He therefore apologised for any shortcomings in dealing with it. The clause dealt with what was known familiarly as the case of the future tenants, and which he would say in passing, His Majesty's Government dealt with in the Bill of 1908, although on that occasion they dealt with it to a very much smaller extent than they had allowed themselves to deal with it in the present Bill. In fact, they knew that the clause was not originally inspired by the Government. The Irish Attorney-General had told them in the House of Commons that it was taken from the Bill of a Nationalist Member, and a clause of such parentage, even after its adoption, had not, he thought, developed into a very satisfactory offspring. Hitherto their Lordships had been discussing how to get rid of dual ownership and of rent fixing or rent reducing, as the Chief Secretary preferred to call it, but this clause was designed to give rent reducing a new lease of life—in other words, it gave a new lease of life to a system to get rid of which the British taxpayer was lending Ireland over £100,000,000. Under the Act of 1881 rent fixing was confined to present tenants, and future tenants were excluded. That was done 1141 for obvious reasons. Future tenancies were not included in the Act of 1881 because the owners of future tenancies obviously owned no tenant rights; they had earned no tenant rights by the making of improvements, and therefore the question of dual ownership in no way arose. But the present Bill would greatly increase the work of the Land Commission by, first, extending the definition of present tenancies for the purpose of this clause, and, secondly, by extending to future tenancies, or to very many of them, the rights h.therto exclusively enjoyed by present tenancies. First of all, as regarded the extension of the definition of present tenancies, if their Lordships would look at the last five lines of the clause they would see that the expression present tenancy included any tenancy which was determined at any time between the first day of January, 1879, and the passing of the Act of 1881. These people now brought in were expressly excluded under the Act of 1881 through their own default before the Act of 1881. In the vast majority of cases the reason for that was that they were in arrears with their rent, and it was not unfair to say that the amount lost by the landlords through these arrears amounted to the redemption of the tenant rights.
§ The position as regarded those men was really this. Those who were responsible for the Act of 1881 allowed them to be excluded, and now, twenty-eight years afterwards, the Chief Secretary came along and said that the authors of the Act of 1881 did not know their business and that it was now time to include those men for the purposes of this clause. Let it be remembered that these people were in no way in a position of hardship. They had the right to purchase and thousands of them had exercised that right, but in spite of that this clause now came along and opened the Act of 1881 to those who had not purchased. As regarded the second class, the future tenants—still using the technical term "future tenants" as tenants who were future tenants regarded from the point of view of the year 1881—they were also excluded, and he thought he would be able to show their Lordships rightly excluded from the Act of 1881. As he understood from a study of the book of the Attorney-General for Ireland, they could divide future tenants into four classes, of which the last two only would be affected by this clause. Future tenants were, firstly, 1142 tenants who owned tenancies in which there was no tenancy existing in 1881. Obviously there was no tenant right, and no need for rent-fixing. Secondly they were tenants owing tenancies created after January 1, 1883, in which no tenancy existed in 1881. Again there was no tenant right, and this clause did not attempt to confer it, nor any of the advantages of its possession. The third class consisted of tenants who owned tenancies where the landlord had bought the tenant right in the open market or by desire of the tenant, and this clause would restore the tenant right. It would restore the right of rent-fixing in those cases where the tenancy was still owned by the person who was the tenant when the tenancy was determined, or by his representative, although the landlord might have actually bought the right out. The fourth class of future tenants consisted of tenants in tenancies in which there had been a tenant right, but where that tenant right had been lost by the tenant through his own default, such as the non-payment of rent. This clause would restore to that man the right of having his rent fixed although he had forfeited that right by his own default. He ought perhaps, to say that although these people had hitherto been denied the right of having the rents fixed, their position had not at all been an unfair or a precarious one. If compelled to leave his holding a future tenant was entitled under the present law to compensation for disturbance on a higher scale and to compensation for improvements, and there was a peculiar provision also to the effect that if forced to sell his tenancy—he had, of course, a right to sell his tenancy—if he were at any time forced to sell his tenancy owing to the fact that the landlord raised his rent, the sale took place subject to the higher rent, and the tenant was entitled to compensation for what presumably was the lower price for which his tenancy was sold owing to the fact that it was sold subject to the increased rent. Therefore he thought that a man in the position of a future tenant was ensured justice, although he claimed there was no ca e whatever for conferring upon him the benefits of rent-fixing which were conferred on tenants who owned a tenant right in 1881.
§ These future tenants were expressly left out of the Act of 1881 by its authors. But His Majesty's Government, twenty-eight 1143 years afterwards, were not satisfied with what had been done in 1881, and desired to extend these rent-fixing provisions to the two last classes of future tenants as well as to those to whom they were extending the definition of present tenants. He could, perhaps, sum up what was attempted in a sentence. Mr. Birrell desired to say that if there had ever been a tenancy on any land which for any reason had been put an end to, even if the landlord had put an end to it, or even if the ending had come about by the default of the tenant, if that holding were now in the occupation of a man or his next-of-kin or the legatee of a man who was the owner of the tenant right when the tenancy was determined, he was to be able to go into Court, get his rent fixed in spite of everything that had gone before, in spite of the fact that he accepted the tenancy with his eyes open knowing that he was not to have that right, and in spite of the fact that he might have been compensated in cash for the loss of that right. He claimed that no case whatever existed for a departure from the policy of the Act of 1881, and for this reason he desired to ask their Lordships to strike the clause out of the Bill.
§ Before he sat down might he refer to two very small points which occurred in the clause? The first was with regard to subsection (2). They were, of course, accustomed nowadays to provisions forbidding contracting-out, but he thought the provision forbidding contracting-out under this clause was, if possible, more difficult to justify than the usual clause of that kind to which they were accustomed in Factory Acts and Acts of that kind. What was the position? He did not think anyone nowadays would deny that the system set up in the year 1881 was unpopular to everybody in Ireland. It was not only unpopular with the landlords but it was, as they knew from personal experience, unpopular with the tenants. It had discouraged progressive farming, it had discouraged enterprise, and it had bred ill-feeling between two classes who ought to be or could have been mutually dependent on each other. It was not a question of saving the weak from being oppressed. These future tenants were almost invariably men of substance and experience, and yet this clause laid it down for good and all that no man in Ireland was to be allowed to contract out of it.1144
§ The next point to which he desired to call attention was subsection (3) which was really a perfect gem if it were properly understood. He would not read it because he doubted if any layman could understand it. The way it operated was as follows. Their Lordships were aware that naturally everybody disliked eviction, and there was another process often used in place of eviction in Ireland. If a tenant fell very much in arrear with his rent, the landlord, instead of evicting him, brought an action against him for debt. Having obtained judgment the Sheriff seized the farm and sold the tenant right, and that put an end to the tenancy or, to use the phrase in this clause, determined the tenancy. If another farmer bought the tenancy he escaped this section, but if the landlord bought the tenancy himself at public auction the next procedure was for him to get what was known as a writ of ejectment, and while the writ of ejectment was being obtained the tenant remained in temporary occupation of the holding. Is took, of course, some days to get a writ of ejectment. Their Lordships would see what had happened. The tenant was still in the occupation of the holding, and the tenancy had been determined. If that determination took place before the passing of this Act that at once gave the tenant the right to go into Court and get a fair rent fixed, and he was fixed in his farm for fifteen years and nothing could remove him. The position was ridiculous. Here was a man waiting to be turned out by ejectment, and the Government gave him, while he was waiting, the right to go into court and get his rent fixed and so nullify the whole proceedings. Some of their Lordships had had the pleasure at a very interesting inquiry lately of hearing witnesses who spent their lives in trying to concoct ridiculous situations, but he thought the fame of Mr. George Bernard Shaw paled before that of those who drafted this particular clause, the whole of which he now moved to be struck out.
To leave out Clause 67."—(The Earl of Donoughnmore.)
§ *LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD did not think the case against the future tenants was quite so bad as the noble Earl had represented. Who were the future 1145 tenants? When the Act of 1881 was passed there were no future tenants in existence, but after the Act of 1881 was passed certain tenancies were created in land in which a tenancy had never previously existed. Grass lands were cut up, holdings were formed, and tenants were let in. Those were future tenants so far as that went. Also the present tenancies in the course of years became determined, and when a present tenancy became determined after the year 1883 and a new man was let into the tenancy that new man became a future tenant. It was impossible between the passing of the Act of 1881 and January 1, 1883, for a future tenant to obtain a future tenancy in land which had been the subject of a present tenancy when the Act of 1881 was passed; but from the time that the Act of 1881 was passed it was always possible for a cultivator to become a future tenant of a holding which had not previously been made the subject of a tenancy. Now in regard to these future tenants who were allowed to become tenants of land which had never been previously the subject of a tenancy, none of the reasons which the noble Earl had adduced in regard to the other class had prevailed. There was no reason based upon the landlord having bought out the tenancy at all applicable to future tenants of that class, so that apart from the general objection to allow anything like dual ownership in land to grow up in Ireland there was no reason why present tenants of that class should not be allowed to have fair rents fixed.
§ In regard to the other class—namely, the class of tenants who were allowed to go into a future tenancy which had been determined—he admitted that the arguments of the noble Earl were forcible wherever the landlord had bought up the present tenant rights, but in many instances the landlord did nothing of the sort. If the present tenant was ejected for nonpayment of rent, or the present tenant died leaving no heirs, in all those cases he did not see any reason why a tenant should not be allowed to have a fair rent fixed. At the same time he admitted that the position of the future tenants in Ireland was not so bad as the extreme advocates of the future tenancies pretended. In the first place, if a future tenant came to an agreement with his landlord about rent he got a lease for fifteen years. If at the end of the lease he could not agree with his landlord as to 1146 the terms of rent and elected to go out, he was entitled to compensation, and he also had the right of purchasing his holding; some people might think it an advantage—he himself did not—but in making his bargain with the landlord he was in no way fettered by the zones, so that the future tenant was not without compensation for his position. At the same time, some future tenants were under none of the obligations to which the noble Earl referred as the successors of present tenants, and in regard to that class of future tenants he had always thought they had a case. The question concerned something like 70,000 tenants in Ireland, and, as the noble Earl had said, the admission of these 70,000 tenants to the advantages of the Land Acts would be the perpetuation of the rent-fixing organisation. He himself thought that was a disadvantage. They ought to look forward to the gradual extinction of the rent-fixing operations in Ireland. For that reason, as well as for those which he had had the honour of laying before their Lordships, he thought that it would be better if they devoted more attention to facilitating land purchase, and thus enabling future tenants to emerge from their present position.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think I ought to say a word upon this. The noble Earl who has proposed the omission of this clause has, I think, given it a somewhat wider scope—and that applies to some extent to the noble Lord behind me—than was intended by the framers of the Bill. The noble Earl explained what is known to all your Lordships from Ireland and known generally to the House, that speaking at this moment a present tenancy is a past tenancy and a future tenancy is a present tenancy. That is a point which we ought to have in our minds before we proceed to discuss these matters at all. But the particular purpose with which we inserted this provision in the Bill was for the comparatively small class of evicted tenants who were restored to their holdings as future tenants. Now I think the House will agree that the evicted tenants have been a generously treated class, and they were never more generously treated than by noble Lords opposite in the Act of 1903, which said that any tenant who had a holding from 1878 onwards might become a purchasing tenant. That was a very large concession indeed to that class of evicted tenants; but if an evicted tenant had been 1147 replaced by his landlord as a future tenant, although he might come under that condition, supposing he desired to stay where he was, he could not come under the rent-fixing conditions of the Act of 1881. Those tenants, I take it, do not comprise a very large class of persons. But for their having been evicted and replaced in their holdings they would have been present tenants and entitled to have a rent fixed, but having been out of their holdings, and having been put back, they become permanently and for ever future tenants. There is no desire or intention in this clause of reverting to a great rent-fixing system. That is entirely foreign from its intention. It is not desired to cover more than the small ground I have mentioned, and in those circumstances I should trust your Lordships would agree to pass the clause.
§ THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE said he only desired to point out one thing. The noble Earl had told them he was only thinking of these particular evicted tenants. He thought they all knew what the noble Earl meant by that. That was the purport of the noble Earl's clause of last year, which was vastly extended in the clause before their Lordships.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I cannot help thinking that the explanation of the noble Earl does not entirely meet the case. I would ask the House to remember in what circumstances the future tenant came into existence. In 1881 we recognised that the ordinary Irish tenant, with rare exceptions, was entitled to be given a very strong legal position, because his relation with his landlord was not the ordinary contractual relation but was an hereditary relation, and because the improvements had been made by him. Therefore, it was thought desirable, by common consent, that his position should be made a strong one. But it was perfectly well realised that there might be cases where the position of tenant approximated much more nearly to that of a tenant as understood in other parts of the United Kingdom. I can remember pretty correctly the debates which took place; many supporters of Mr. Gladstone's Irish land policy entertained the hope that gradually future tenancies would become the rule rather than the exception. I think I am right in saying that the late Lord Dufferin was so convinced of the soundness of that view that he spent 1148 large sums in buying up the tenant right on his estate with the idea that he was going to get rid of the Irish system and substitute the contractual system. The effect of the Bill appears to be that in the case of tenants who are holders of a tenancy which was determined between January, 1879, and the passing of the Act of 1881, the tenant is put in the position of being allowed to go into Court and get his rent fixed. These were tenants who were expressly excluded from the Act of 1881. They had lost their tenancies owing to their own fault, and they had no one to blame but themselves if they were left out in the cold. The classes of future tenants with whom the Bill deals are two—there are the tenancies where the landlord actually bought up the tenant right, and those where the tenant right was lost by the tenant owing to his own fault. Surely in the case where the landlord has extinguished the tenant right at his own expense or a tenant has got many years into arrear and an arrangement has been made between him and his landlord under which, remember, he retains all the advantages of the future tenant—and the advantages of the future tenant are by no means negligible—on condition only that he is not allowed free access to the rent-fixing machinery of the Act, it is rather a strong course to tear up the bargain deliberately made and to say that these tenants shall be put in exactly the same position as other tenants and be allowed to have their rents revised from time to time. Would not the effect of this clause be that which we anticipate will be the effect of a great many other clauses in this Bill—I mean to throw a new and very onerous burden upon the Land Commissioners? What we all hope —at least I hope I am not wrong in saying so—is that a day may come when all this ceaseless legislation may be brought to an end, but at every turn the Government prevent the process of extrication from the meshes of land legislation, and insist on weaving new meshes and perpetuating the most unfortunate features of land tenure in Ireland—features which, as my noble friend pointed out, this country has been asked to put an end to at great cost to the British taxpayer. I think my noble friend has made out a case, and unless some better reply is vouchsafed I shall accompany him into the Lobby in the event of a Division.
VISCOUNT MIDLETON said that as Earl Clanwilliam was not in his place he would like pro forma to move the new clause standing in his noble friend's name—viz.:
68. Where a number of the tenants on an estate have not agreed before the specified date to the terms of purchase arranged with the other tenants, the Estates Commissioners may order, subject to the consent of the Treasury, that the tenants so refusing shall not be placed in a less advantageous position with regard to the rate of advance than the tenants who had previously agreed to purchase, and that the percentage payable on the purchase money of any such transaction shall be calculated on the same basis as for the rest of the estate.
He desired to address a question to His Majesty's Government. The Chief Secretary for Ireland made a concession to all tenants who entered into purchase agreements up to September 15 in this year. Subsequently a question was put to the Chief Secretary in another place, and from the answer given it was inferred that he would not be averse to advancing the date to "the passing of the Act." Of course their Lordships knew the effect of this concession was only to allow tenants the advantage of the three and a-quarter per cent. annuity and did not give the landlords the claim to the bonus except under the greatly reduced provision of this Bill. But the important part of it was that there were a large number of estates on which agreements had been entered which came fully within the old Act, and on which some tenancies had remained for which tenants were willing to settle on the old terms. He believed there was a further question involved in this which it would be much better to set at rest by the authority of the Government rather than lead to legal action. He believed it was held on good authority that even without the words which were proposed by his noble friend who was absent for the moment, tenants Coming forward before the passing of this Bill had a right to be included in the three and a-quarter per cent. limit, and that legally it could not be removed from them without some actual clause in this Bill. Landlords, of course, had no advantage for bonus except that given under the Act of 1903. Any further distribution of the bonus came under this Bill, according to the tables of the Schedule. The two points he would like the Government to make clear were, Were the tenants not entitled to come forward, up to the date of the passing of the Act, under the three and a-quarter per cent. rate? If that was not so,
were the Government averse to carrying out what his noble friend proposed with the change which he (Lord Midleton) suggested —namely, that instead of using the words "before the specified date" the words "before the passing of this Act" should be employed. He pointed out that the Chief Secretary in an answer to a Question in another place had seemed to desire that the change should be made.
After Clause 67, to insert the following new clause—
'68. Where a number of the tenants on an estate have not agreed before the passing of this Act to the terms of purchase arranged with the other tenants, the Estates Commissioners may order, subject to the consent of the Treasury, that the tenants so refusing shall not be placed in a less advantageous position with regard to the rate of advance than the tenants who had previously agreed to purchase, and that the percentage payable on the purchase money of any such transaction shall be calculated on the same basis as for the rest of the estate.' ''—(Viscount Midleton.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I am afraid we cannot accept this Amendment for reasons which I shall endeavour to explain to your Lordships. Its object, I take it, is that in the case of certain tenants who enter into agreements after a date fixed by the Bill the bonus and the purchase annuity should be paid at the old rate and not at the rate decided by the Bill as it stands. Now, as the Bill stands in Part I all the financial arrangements are divided by a clean line with agreements, on the one hand entered into before September 15, 1909, on the other after that date. In the case of future purchase agreements the annuity is at the rate of three and a-half per cent. Then as regards the bonus the old rate is to apply to agreements entered into before September, 1909, and the new rate to apply to agreements after that date. The case with which this clause deals is, I take it, the case where a landlord and his tenant have come to an agreement before the guillotine, so to speak, falls, but the landlord has failed to come to an agreement with other tenants. As the Bill now stands the old rate would apply as regards the agreement entered into before the date; but as regards the agreements entered into after the date the new rate would apply. What is the reason for extending the old rate to the new agreements? You must fix some date and it seems necessary, I think, to draw a distinction between the old 1151 and new agreements. I do not see why, in order to meet one or two particular cases—I believe there is one estate in the North of Ireland in consideration of which this Amendment is brought forward—exception should be made in favour of these tenants who have not been able to come to a particular agreement. Of course, it is true there is no compulsion put upon the Estate Commissioners by the Amendment. They "may, subject to the consent of the Treasury." But on the other hand considerable pressure undoubtedly would be put upon them in respect of these particular tenants, and it might involve, if there were many cases, considerable additional charge upon them. In these circumstances we cannot agree to the Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON said he would not press the Amendment, but he would point out that, if the Chief Secretary desired to make good what apparently was his wish in another place, it was necessary for their Lordships to put in some words. If, on the other hand, the Chief Secretary desired to adhere to the date of September 15 he (Lord Midleton) had no more to say. But he understood that the Chief Secretary found himself in some difficulty in another place on that question, and had come to the conclusion that it would be more equitable to all parties, having regard to the demands of the tenants, that he should fix "the passing of the Bill" instead of "the 15th of September." It rested with the noble Earl whether he desired to draw a thin line between the financial clauses and the clauses they were now engaged upon.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON said that in the circumstances he would withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 68 agreed to.
§ Clause 69:
§ 69. Land in the occupation of a person holding under a fee-farm grant or a lease for lives renewable for ever, or a lease for a term of years of which not less than sixty are unexpired, shall for the purposes of the Act of 1903, the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Act, 1907, and this Act, be deemed to be untenanted land.1152
LORD ATKINSON said this clause had a rather peculiar history. During the passage of the Bill through the House of Commons the Chief Secretary promised to define untenanted land, and, after having endeavoured to do so, on a subsequent occasion announced that he could not define untenanted land, but he put into the clause now under discussion certain provisos as to what should be regarded as untenanted land. He (Lord Atkinson) proposed an Amendment by which the clause would read as follows—
Land of an annual rateable value not exceeding two hundred pounds, occupied and cultivated as a farm according to a reasonable and proper course of husbandry. or according to the course of husbandry usual in the district in which the same is situated, by a person holding under a fee-farm grant or a lease for lives renewable for ever, or a lease for a term of years of which not less than sixty are unexpired, shall not for the purposes of the Act of 1903, the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Act, 1907, and this Act be deemed to be untenanted land.
Strictly speaking, when a man held under a fee-farm grant he held from a superior landlord, though, in fact, he was the owner of the fee. When he held under a lease which, in most cases, could be converted into a fee-farm grant he was, strictly speaking, a tenant, but in reality he was the owner of the fee. In either of these two cases in a very large tract of country it would be hard to treat him differently from an ordinary owner who had to pay no head-rent. Where a man had a bona fide farm and was using it as a farm and cultivating it in the ordinary course of husbandry, it would be hard that he should be bought out under the Act in order to divide his land among congests and landless men. What he (Lord Atkinson) had tried to aim at was that where a man held a farm not exceeding two hundred pounds a year rateable value under a fee-farm grant or a lease for lives renewable for ever, or a lease for a term of years of which not less than sixty were unexpired, his land should not be considered to be untenanted land, inasmuch as he was a tenant and had cultivated it as a farmer. He thought it would be very unfortunate to buy out farmers of that description and to cover Ireland with small holdings of a ten-pound valuation, so that really there would be no person of any substance or any enterprise, or any education, or any intelligence engaged in the cultivation of land in Ireland. He therefore begged to move the Amendment which would leave bona fide farmers,
whether in fee farms or leasehold, not liable to be bought out.
In page 34, line 37, to leave out 'in occupation of' and to insert 'of an annual rateable value not exceeding two hundred pounds, occupied and cultivated as a farm according to a reasonable and proper course of husbandry or according to the course of husbandry usual in the district in which the same is situated by'; and in page 35, line 1, after 'shall' to insert not.' "—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY was anxious to hear why it was proposed that these tenants should be put in the position of being bought out? He had a great many of these tenants in his own part of the country, and he received head-rents from an enormous number who in days gone by paid heavy fines to the owner of land for the privilege of being in the position of holding land on fee-farm grants or leases for lives renewable for ever. They had been really the bulwark of agriculture in the North of Ireland, and he thought it would be the greatest mistake to remove that class of farmer and take his land away for other purposes.
*LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD said he had great sympathy with the object of the noble and learned Lord, but he thought that object would be sufficiently secured if Lord Atkinson would insert at the commencement of the clause a reference to sub-clause 4 of Clause 67 which their Lordships had already provisionally accepted. Clause 69 would then run—
Subject to the provisions of Clause 67, land in the occupation of a person holding under a fee-farm grant or a lease for lives renewable for ever, or a lease for a term of years of which not less than sixty are unexpired, shall for the purposes of the Act of 1903, the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Act, 1907, and this Act, be deemed to be untenanted land.
§ LORD ATKINSON
Unfortunately the Amendment — the new Clause 67 — to which the noble Lord refers is in a very unstable condition.
§ *LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD thought at any rate the particular portion would stand.
§ LORD ATKINSON
If this particular provision should be among the disjecta 1154 membra of my Amendment, possibly that would provide all that is necessary.
§ *LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD said he was in entire sympathy with Lord Atkinson in wishing to maintain these strong farmers, who gave a tone to agriculture and generally maintained rural economy at a high level.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I was going to point out that this matter had already passed sub silentio in the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord, although, as he says, that remains in a somewhat fluid condition. We do not know what form it will actually take. The effect of this clause as it stands is, of course, considerably diminished by the alteration which your Lordships have made in the Bill, because practically the only effect which it would have would be to bring these tenants under the Evicted Tenants Act of 1907. But speaking generally on the subject, I am bound to say that I very much doubt whether, if the matter is to be dealt with in this way, it is worth while to retain the clause at all, because if you draw a distinction between a particular class of tenants and name a term and a limit, you will indicate, I think, that all those who are beyond that limit are appropriate subjects for compulsory purchase or any dealings which they may be subject to under the Act. Speaking from that point of view I should prefer Lord Dunboyne's Amendment to delete the clause to that of the noble and learned Lord.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
The noble and learned Lord will, I take it, withdraw if the clause is to be struck out.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
Surely the better course will be to omit this clause altogether. The noble Earl, Lord Crewe, does not attach much importance to it. As I understand, the effect of it is to indicate without reservation that land in the occupation of holders of fee-farm grants is always to be considered as untenanted land, and there- 1155 fore liable to be appropriated to the various purposes contemplated by the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
What I said was that I thought it more reasonable to omit the section than fix the limit that was proposed.
§ *LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD said that if the clause was omitted altogether the area of untenanted land available for the relief of congestion would be very considerably interfered with, and it was not desirable to reduce the area of land available for such purposes.
§ *LORD CLONCURRY stated that if the clause was pressed he desired to move an Amendment to extend the words in order to protect the interests of market gardeners and the amenities of small residences.
To leave out Clause 69."—(Lord Dunboyne.)
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
§ First Schedule:
LORD MONTEAGLE OF BRANDON had an Amendment on the Paper which would make the First Schedule read—
The percentage shall be an amount equivalent to two years purchase of the income of the estate or untenanted land.
(2) The income of the estate or untenanted land shall be calculated in manner provided by the Treasury.
He said the Amendment put into shape the criticism which he ventured to make on Clause 5. The present schedule proposed a scale that was in inverse proportion to the number of years purchase, and, therefore, it became the interest of the vendor to take a lower price for the sake of getting a higher bonus. That, he thought, hardly defensible in point of principle. In 1903 there was great difference of opinion in their Lordships' House as to whether the bonus should go to the vendor, and whatever objections were felt by noble Lords in that arrangement were immensely increased by the inverse ratio of the scale in the schedule before them. He proposed instead to fix the sum at a fixed number of years purchase and that that should be added to the amount, so that the bonus in
this form should be not dependent on the number of years purchase but should at the same time represent whatever the number of years purchase was. He had put down two years purchase. That might be considered, perhaps, not adequate in proportion to the bonus originally fixed by the Act of 1903, but he took two years because, roughly speaking, the average bonus under the scale of the Bill seemed to be ten per cent., and taking an average of twenty years purchase ten per cent. would be two years purchase. He thought that if he proposed a higher amount than two years he would be met by the Leader of the House with the argument that he was proposing an addition to the bonus and inflicting an extra charge on the taxpayer. For that reason he confined his Amendment to the modest proposal of two years purchase. He hoped his suggestion would commend itself to their Lordships.
In page 36, line 3, to leave out from 'be' to the end of the schedule and to insert 'an amount equivalent to two years purchase of the income of the estate or untenanted land.'
(2) The income of the estate or untenanted land shall be calculated in manner provided by the Treasury."—(Lord Monteagle of Brandon.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I am afraid we cannot accept my noble friend's Amendment. Noble Lords will see that it entirely alters our scheme, not merely because it upsets our plan for fixing the bonus in inverse ratio to the number of years purchase, but also because it does not differentiate in any way between first and second-term rent. I think we should certainly admit from our point of view that my noble friend's Amendment represents an improvement on the law as it now stands, because it does give a bonus which is of a fixed character, and not one which increases according to the higher prices paid to the landlord, as is the case in the existing Act. What would happen under my noble friend's scheme would be this. Supposing the rent was a hundred pounds, the bonus would be two hundred pounds, quite irrespective of the number of years purchase and also irrespective of whether it was a first-term rent, a second-term rent, or a rent which was not judicial at all. Now in the case of twenty-five years purchase on this sum of one hundred pounds the bonus would be eight per cent., in the case of twenty-two and a-quarter years 1157 nine per cent., in the case of twenty years ten per cent., in the case of eighteen years eleven per cent., and so on. I am afraid in spite of what my noble friend said that the bonus would work out on a considerably higher scale than that which we contemplate in the Bill. We make out that for twenty-five years it would be eight per cent., and as the number of years purchase descends the bonus would in proportion be so much higher. We make out that under my noble friend's scheme the average bonus would be something between nine and ten per cent. as against seven and a-half per cent. which we provide for, so far as we can calculate under our sliding scale. Then as regards the difference between first and second-term rents. A first-term rent of £100 might be calculated at something between £80 and £90; a second-term rent at £85. What would happen under the scheme of my noble friend? In the case of the first-term rent the landlord would get £200, whereas in the case of the second-term rent he would get £170 bonus, although there was no apparent reason why he should receive the higher bonus in the one case any more than in the other. I am afraid although I quite recognise the intention of my noble friend, that his scheme would not work quite fairly, apart from the fact, which to us is the crucial one, that it would considerably increase the amount required for the bonus as compared with what we, suggest in the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE moved to amend paragraph (3) of the schedule, so that it should run:—"In the case of the purchase of a parcel of untenanted land, and in any case where the amount advanced is less than the purchase money," the number of years purchase shall be calculated in a manner prescribed by the Treasury. The noble Earl said: This is a small matter in order to make clear what would happen in a particular case. As the Bill stands it is not quite certain that the correct machinery is provided for calculating the amount in the case where the whole sum is not advanced, but part is paid by the tenant in cash. The bonus, of course, is calculated on the amount advanced, and, as the Bill stands, that bonus depends on the number of years purchase. When the purchase money and the advance are two different 1158 things it is clear that there must be a calculation as to the amount of the advance, and the insertion of these words is to make that clear, because it does not seem certain that the Bill as it stands provides for the case.
In page 36, line 29, after 'land' to insert 'and in any case where the amount advanced is less than the purchase money.' "—(The Earl of Crewe.)
§ LORD ATKINSON said his objection to the proposal of the noble Earl was that it was a breach of the privileges of the House of Commons. At present the percentage was paid on the advance. This Amendment, left it to the Treasury either to increase or diminish. In a moment of aberration it was possible the Treasury might increase it and thereby increase the burden on the taxpayer. That came within what had been laid down as a breach of privilege and he regretted this had not occurred to the noble Earl.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
If the noble and learned Lord takes that view, of course it becomes a serious question whether we should send such an Amendment down to another place.
§ LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE moved an Amendment providing that instead of the calculation being made in a manner prescribed by the Treasury, it should be made on lines which he proceeded to set forth in detail in his Amendment. The noble Lord said that in the schedule which they were considering their Lordships would have remarked that the bonus to be given in the case of sales varied according to the number of years purchase the landlord received. Whether that was the best possible arrangement or not, it was clear that the landlord knew perfectly when he made an agreement how much he would receive as bonus. In the case of the sale of untenanted land, however, this was quite uncertain. It was enacted that the number of years purchase represented by an advance should be calculated in the manner prescribed by the Treasury. The second subsection of his Amendment was necessary because very often in Ireland accounts were not kept so accurately in the case of farms as they 1159 were in England. He thought that the rate he suggested was a fair one. He did not at that moment press particular terms. He would be glad to consider any others in reply to his suggestion. What he wanted to have clear was how the bonus was to be calculated. He had spoken so often about the manner in which the Estates Commissioners fixed prices that he was sorry to repeat the same thing ad nauseam, but he must point out that the value of the land was fixed as a rule by the valuer sent down from the Estates Commissioners to value the land on a basis of perhaps twenty-six and a-half years purchase. If that was to be accepted as the value of the land it would follow that no bonus would be paid at all. He would like to know whether or not that was intended. He did not know if his Amendment was against privilege, but he thought that at any rate their Lordships had a right to know what were the intentions of the Government with regard to this. He thought they might claim that Parliament and not the Treasury should decide what bonus was to be paid and the manner in which the bonus was to be calculated in the case of untenanted land. He felt very strongly on that point and would be inclined to press the matter to a Division unless the noble Earl could tell him exactly on what scale the Treasury proposed to fix these bonuses.
In page 36, line 31, to leave out the words in manner prescribed by the Treasury,' and to insert—
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
We cannot complain, I think, of the noble Lord raising this question, because it represents conditions which must remain to some extent in uncertainty. In arriving at the valuation, naturally the profit which the landlord had made out of the land must be 1160 a largely deciding factor, but I think having regard to the varying circumstances of different cases it would not be reasonable to say that that is to be the only factor in the case. There may be circumstances which would make it clear that in some cases letting value might represent a larger capital value than in other cases. The noble Lord has provided for a very considerable number of cases where the land has not been let. I am sure your Lordships would not see the landlord suffer in any way in consideration of the fact that he could not let his land owing to estate controversies or some other reason. The noble Lord has also tried to provide for the case where the vendor's rents do not show what his profit is. In certain cases it must be extremely difficult for a man to calculate what he has made out of a particular piece of untenanted land. He might work it in conjunction with his home farm or demesne, and he could not possibly say what particular share in his farm accounts that land ought to bear. Therefore in all those cases and in a great many other cases you would have to go back to what seems to me a reasonable rule to take in all cases—namely, that of valuing, of looking at all land as the valuer looks at it when making out what it is worth — and distribute the bonus accordingly. I am afraid the elaborate system suggested by the noble Lord would not be of assistance to the Estates Commissioners, and I do not think it would prove in any case to be a real safeguard or assistance to landlords, or do what I suppose the noble Lord would like it to do, give them a larger bonus than they would otherwise obtain.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE said the matter of valuing untenanted land was beset by the complication that they had no rent to go by. At the same time, there were many cases in Ireland where the letting of grass lands for grazing was not regarded as a tenancy, but was a very lucrative method. Sometimes they got £200, £300, and £400 a year, and they did that for ten or even twenty years. Surely it was unfair, if that had been going on for many years, to exclude that obvious way of arriving at the value. They had that method as a governing principle in ascertaining the value. The thing was not so complicated that an easy solution could not be arrived at.1161
§ LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE said he had not the smallest wish to assist the Estates Commissioners. He looked upon them as the party who were purchasing the land, and therefore the party against whom the landlord ought to be protected. The noble Earl thought that the valuer would have to decide, but he had not told them who the valuer was to be. Was the purchasing body going to be the valuer? Were the Estates Commissioners going to be the valuers as to the price the land would fetch, or was there going to be an independent valuer?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I can quite understand that my noble friend should desire to lay down some principle for the valuation of untenanted land, because as we are aware principles have been laid down in the obiter dicta of high officials which do not entirely command the approval of those most interested. The plan proposed by my noble friend is founded upon absolutely sound principles. He desires that the value should be based, not upon conjecture, but upon actual facts—the receipts during a number of years and the annual profit which is disclosed by the vendor's books; and I think the noble Earl opposite himself considers that that is not an unreasonable way of proceeding. But I am under the impression that at some points this proposal may be one not very easy to give effect to, and it seems to me that the necessity for a precautionary clause of this kind depends very much upon the kind of tribunal that we get. If the Bill were to remain in such a position that it was the Commissioners themselves who had to decide both whether the untenanted land should be bought and also what measure of compensation ought to be given and what amount of bonus was to be received by the vendor, then I think there would be a strong case for some such words as are proposed in this Amendment. I was going to suggest to the noble Lord who moved the Amendment that he might, perhaps, reserve the point until we see what tribunal we get in the final form this Bill may assume, because although we have accepted the Amendment of Lord Atkinson the point is still to some extent in suspense. I would therefore suggest that my noble friend's proposal might well be held over until another stage.
§ LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE asked 1162 the noble Earl the Leader of the House whether he was willing to accede to the suggestion that whatever tribunal was finally settled on as the Court to decide matters of valuation should also decide this particular question.
§ LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE said he would not press the point now, but would give the noble Earl time to consider it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question put: That the First Schedule stand part.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY wished to point out the grave objections there were to the schedule from the point of view of the remainder man. He appreciated from the point of privilege that their Lordships had no power to alter the schedule, but there were grave objections to it from the point of view of the remainder man. If the vendor were induced, by being given a very large rate of bonus, to sell his estate at a low rate of purchase he put the whole of that money into his pocket. He need hardly point out that the remainder man was going to do very badly if a vendor behaved in that way. There were sometimes slight inconsistencies in the proposals in the Bill and in the arguments put forward by members of the Government. His mind carried him back to Clause 14 dealing with the zones, on which the Lord Chancellor argued that one of the great desirabilities of holding inquiries as to equity of price was to safeguard the interests of the remainder man.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I confess I do not exactly follow what the noble Earl means. The temptation to which he has just alluded—namely, that of taking a shorter number of years purchase in order to pocket the bonus—made necessary the protection which we proposed to give in Clause 14 of allowing the Land Commissioners to inquire into the equity of the price. We held that that was one of the points which they ought to take into consideration, and it made that 1163 inquiry more necessary than it would be if we had adhered to the fixed bonus. Although we think the fixed bonus wrong for reasons which I have stated before, I see nothing inconsistent in the argument, to which reference has been made. If you do not allow the Estates Commissioners to inquire into the equity of the price you do undoubtedly run the risk of that happening under the schedule to which the noble Earl has referred and I have no doubt it will happen in some cases.
§ Second Schedule:
§ *LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD moved to add to the repeals the words "on the same or an adjacent or neighbouring estate," from Section 1 (2) of the Congested Districts Board (Ireland) Act, 1901. He said the words were applicable in the early days of purchase and settlement of an estates by the Estate Commissioners. It was then provided that if a tenant gave up his holding he should be provided with a holding on the same or an adjacent or neighbouring estate. That greatly limited the sphere of operations of the Estates Commissioners, and prevented them from migrating tenants to a distance. The words were incompatible with any large scheme of migration, and he moved that they be cut out.1164
§ Amendment moved—
§ "In the Second Schedule, page 37, third column, after line 30, to insert—
|I Edw. 7. c. 34||The Congested Districts Board (Ireland) Act, 1901.||Section 1 (2), the words on the same or an adjacent or neighbouring estate.'"|
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
The noble Lord is taking a rather unusual course in moving to add to the repealing schedule. If he will allow me I will look into the matter and see whether this is a necessary change.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE said the course was very unusual. It would be better to allow the matter to stand over.
§ *LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD said he would withdraw the Amendment and bring the matter up on Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Second Schedule agreed to.
§ Standing Committee negatived: The Report of Amendments to be received on Tuesday next, and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 197.)
§ House adjourned at twenty minutes past Eleven o'clock, till Tomorrow, a quarter past Four o'clock.