§ Further considered on Report (according to order).
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON, in the absence of Lord ATKINSON, moved an Amendment standing in the name of the latter, providing under Clause 38 (Congested districts counties and local authorities) that the council of a congested districts county might at the request of the Congested Districts Board appoint a committee for any electoral division, "or for any other area" in the county, instead of "or smaller area," the words contained in the Bill.98
In page 19, line 6, to leave out the word 'smaller,' and to insert the words 'for any other area.'"—(Viscount Midleton.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD, in moving to insert the word "industries" so as to make paragraph (c) of Clause 39 read "the aiding and developing of industries, forestry, or the breeding of livestock or poultry, or," said his intention was to transfer to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction the care and promotion of industries. It had been already explained to their Lordships that when the Congested Districts Board was created there was no organisation in Ireland for the promotion or for the care of industries, and naturally it fell to the Congested Districts Board to attend to that important branch of local business within their jurisdiction. When the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction was created, the promotion of industries naturally fell to them, but a divided authority had been for some time exercised, which had led to considerable overlapping and sometimes friction between the two Departments. Inasmuch as the Department of Agriculture was well equipped and organised now and had passed through its novitiate, it was considered desirable that it should take charge of the industries as a portion of its proper functions.
In page 19, line 20, after the first 'of,' to insert 'industries.'"—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE EARL OF CREWE)
The whole question of the Congested Districts Board, both with regard to its composition and its functions, has been the subject of a great deal of debate during the different stages of this Bill in your Lordships' House. I confess it appears to me that in moving this Amendment to deprive the Congested Districts Board altogether of its care of industries my noble friend is taking a somewhat serious step. What is being done by the different Amendments to the Bill is to change the character of the Congested Districts Board from a great Department dealing with many aspects of social life in the West of Ireland into a mere Land Office. Its only function now will be to cut up 99 estates into suitable holdings, and that is a work of a technical character which can be done by any well-informed persons. But all that made the Board so distinctive, all its influence upon social life, all the sympathy which it evoked, are going to be swept away altogether, and I should like your Lordships to consider whether it is not the fact that much of the success which the Board has met with in its more formal work in the relief of congestion, has been due to that sympathetic and social side of its work, in which it has been so pre-eminent. I confess that in dealing with this difficult problem of congestion the conversion of the Board into a mere bureau for cutting up farms into strips and squares is a step which I regard with some apprehension. The gentlemen who have hitherto sat on the Congested Districts Board have done the work of it, and have given their time to it, largely in consideration of those other branches of its activity, and I confess that I do not see why, if the Board is going to be of the kind which this Bill seems to contemplate, such people as the noble Earl whom I do not see here, Lord Shaftesbury, should now care to do what I may call supervise the sort of land agent's work, which is all that your Lordships are leaving the Board to do. Under those circumstances I confess I regret the decision which your Lordships' House seems to have arrived at with regard to the functions of the Board. That decision seems to be not merely acquiesced in by my noble friend behind me, but he desires to push it still further. He has, I know, always been a critic of what he considers the excessive paternalism of the Board, but I confess that this sentence from the Report of the Commission appears to me to contain much truth—We realise the force of the objections that can be urged against paternalism amongst normal communities, but we believe that a certain amount of paternalism is absolutely necessary for large parts of the West of Ireland. We are convinced that if the past efforts of the Board are not to be deprived of full fruition, and if the districts are not to remain in their present unhappy condition, vigorous efforts must be made to continue and extend the work of the Board mainly along the lines which they adopted.My Lords, those lines are to disappear altogether. The Board, as I say, is to become a kind of land agency, and knowing the work that it has done in the past I regret it. I therefore can be no party to the insertion of the word "industries" in the schedule, and I regret that my noble friend should have brought it forward.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I regret that noble Lords from Ireland, who have more intimate acquaintance with these matters than I can pretend to, are not here to carry on the discussion of the interesting topics which have been raised by the noble Earl in his speech. I can only say, as far as I am able to judge, that the Amendment moved by the noble Lord on the Back Benches opposite seems to me to be consistent with the policy which the House has already adopted. As the Bill now stands, we have actually in Clause 39 transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction such things as the provision of seeds, agricultural instruction, or practical husbandry, the development of forestry and the breeding of live stock and poultry, and the aiding and developing of sea fisheries. Is there any reason why other industries should not follow suit? Our reason for desiring that there should be this transfer of duties is that we have found that in many parts of Ireland the Congested Districts Board and the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction were actually overlapping and competing with one another for work in the same districts. That, surely, is not a desirable thing. Then the noble Earl, I gather, suggests that if these different functions are taken away from the Congested Districts Board and transferred to the Department of Agriculture, the Board will really have nothing left to do. He suggested that it was almost absurd to suppose that the Board would be adequately employed in work which he described as cutting up estates, which he thought could be done by anybody. He was of opinion that they would become a mere bureau for cutting up farms into strips and squares. The noble Earl seems to me quite insufficiently to appreciate the immense importance of the functions which will be discharged by the Congested Districts Board when they come to deal with these areas which will be acquired by the Land Commission and handed over to them, so that they may be put into order and improved and developed and rendered fit for occupation by the congested people whom it is desirable to relieve, and who will be settled upon the land which this bureau will have to acquire. I have heard no sufficient reason why other industries should not share the same treatment which the House has already decreed for the matters already enumerated in Section 39, and I am 101 therefore disposed to vote with the noble Lord who moved this Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY said he was sorry he was not in his place to hear the debate upon the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord MacDonnell, but as he gathered that the noble Earl who led the House mentioned his name with reference to the Amendment, perhaps he should make it clear to the House that he thought on the whole it would be a wise move to transfer the work the Board had been doing in the nature of industries, for various reasons. One was that under the heading of Industries they had in the congested districts of Ireland domestic economy classes, some carried on by officials belonging to the Board and some carried on by officials belonging to the Agricultural Department. In the 1889 Act the Department encouraged local authorities to lay themselves out for the purpose of industrial schemes, and so they had two Departments working alongside each other in such instruction as domestic economy and other industrial schemes. Under those circumstances he though it would be better if the Board confined itself to what the noble Earl had described as land agency work.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ *LORD CLONBROCK, in moving an Amendment to Clause 40 for the purpose of establishing a committee to allocate the funds to be applied for the benefit of congested districts between the three bodies who had to act in such districts, said that the first of those bodies was the Estates Commissioners, who had the duty of improving the condition of congested districts by enlarging holdings and giving more land to the small holders; secondly, there was the Congested Districts Board, which employed themselves in the same manner and also in endeavouring to relieve congestion by transplanting what were commonly called migrants from the most congested parts to other parts; and finally the Board of Agriculture, which employed itself in improving the condition of the inhabitants of those districts by granting help and instruction in agriculture. The Bill had handed over to the last-named body the development of fisheries and finally it appeared that the promotion of industries was also to be 102 handed over to them. No one could form a right opinion of the respective claims of those Departments and the expenditure entailed by the duties which they had to perform without a thorough knowledge of the conditions circumstances and requirements of the districts, and that knowledge was possessed by those three Departments and by no one else. Therefore it appeared to him to be a perfectly rational position that a committee appointed of equal members from each of those bodies—the three Estates Commissioners, three from the Congested Districts Board, and three persons appointed by the Department of Agriculture—should meet and deliberate as to what proportion of the funds in each area were required by each of the three Departments. He thought it was perfectly clear, if one Department was too greedy and wanted too much, that the other two Departments would check any such aspirations and they would arrive at as correct, an estimate as could be arrived at as to what the particular requirements of each rendered necessary.
In page 19, line 29, to leave out from 'Parliament' to the end of the clause, and to insert and shall be paid to the Allocation Joint Committee hereinafter mentioned.
§ (2) For the purposes of this part of this Act there shall be a committee, to be called the Allocation Joint Committee, consisting of nine persons, of whom three shall be members of the Congested Districts Board selected or appointed by that Board, three shall be persons appointed by the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, and three shall be the three Estates Commissioners for the time being.
§ (3) The Allocation Joint Committee shall from time to time allocate the moneys placed at their disposal under this section, in such proportions as they deem best, to the Congested Districts Board, the Department of Agriculture, and the Estates Commissioners respectively, to be ex pended in any of the districts scheduled as congested districts, for any or all of the purposes for which moneys provided by Parliament are authorised to be expended by the Congested Districts Board (Ireland) Acts. Provided, however, that neither the Congested Districts Board, nor the Department of Agriculture, nor the Estates Commissioners shall be authorised to expend any of the moneys provided under this section upon any of such purposes, except so far as they respectively are at present, or may from time to time be authorised to expend moneys on such purposes.'"—(Lord Clonbrock.)
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD hoped that the noble Lord would not press his Amendment. The noble Lord had spoken of the greed of one Department 103 being checked by the moderation of the other two. In his (Lord MacDonnell's) opinion there would be excessive greed on the part of the three Departments, and it would be impossible where those three Departments were scrambling for the most money that they could get, for them, or for any two of them, to come to a conclusion, unless it was on the understanding that the two that came to the conclusion were to divide the spoils between them. It was a matter of the division of public funds, and he thought that such a matter ought to be left in the hands of the Government. The Government had come very liberally to the assistance of the Congested Districts Board, and no authority was more interested in the efficient discharge of the duties of each Department than the Government, and naturally the procedure of the Government would be to ask the Congested Districts Board, upon which all three Departments would, he hoped, be represented, to furnish them with a report as to how particular funds in particular instances should be allocated, and then the Government would come to a conclusion which would be equitable and just to each Department. In no other way, he ventured to think, would it be possible to come to an equitable distribution of funds in the matter when the time came for a redistribution.
§ *LORD LANGFORD could not help thinking that the noble Lord was wrong. His noble friend Lord Clonbrock suggested in his Amendment that the three different Departments should each be represented by three different people, making nine in all; but the noble Lord who had just spoken suggested that one should be the controlling influence over the three—that the Congested Districts Board should take up the position of being the dominant partner. He could not help thinking that that would create considerable confusion. They had the Estates Commissioners, who came forward as the new purchasing authority; they had the Congested Districts Board, which appeared to him to be undergoing a very precarious existence at the present moment, and which was supposed to be, according to the noble Lord who had just spoken, a larger authority than the other two; and they had in addition the Department of Agriculture and Technical Education for Ireland. He could not help thinking that the Amendment proposed by his noble friend Lord Clonbrock, associating those three boards together in 104 one joint committee, would be a fair solution of the allocation of the funds, if the noble Earl who led the House could see his way to accept it. The noble Earl on a former occasion rather suggested that there might be a possibility of a little disagreement among the three parties concerned, each pulling in a different direction. He would point out that that applied very largely to all incorporated bodies when they were together looking as it were for the administration of funds, and he could not help thinking that it would be to the advantage of those three Departments whom they on that side of the House wished to see working fairly and justly with the money allocated to them, that the money should be handed over to them and distributed in the way his noble friend suggested. Therefore he would support him in whatever action he chose to take with regard to the Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
This Amendment was moved in the Committee stage, and produced very little discussion. I think that only two, or at the most three, speeches were made upon it at all, and it was not pressed home to any extent by the noble Viscount opposite (Lord Midleton), who on that occasion moved it. I do not know whether I need repeat what I said at that stage as to my view that this is not a practical proposal. All the analogies of joint bodies or joint committee fail when applied to this proposal, because these joint committees of which the noble Earl opposite and others speak are committees from different bodies meeting together to carry out one object or one set of objects. This is a joint committee composed of representatives of three bodies who have to carry out entirely different objects. There is no common basis of agreement; and if the noble Lord contemplates that this committee will in some way cover the whole field of the triple activities of the Estates Commissioners, of the Congested Districts Board, and of the Department of Agriculture, and, having surveyed the whole of that immense field, will then be able in an amicable way to decide the precise sum which ought to be allotted for each purpose, I am afraid he is expecting far too much from a body of the kind. If such a body was formed at all, all I believe that would happen would be that some rough division would be made which would be adhered to without any very close examination. But, my Lords, I object to the general principle 105 of the allocation of public funds in this way by the representatives of the bodies concerned. The suggestion of His Majesty's Government in the Development Bill may be a good or a bad one, but their suggestion is that certain proposals put forward by particular Departments should be subjected to the review of an outside impartial body. If you were to put together in a room three representatives of the various spending Departments in this country, and ask them to allocate the whole sum voted by Parliament for all of them, I confess I do not know what the result would be. I do not know how many people would leave the room alive, and in any case it seems impossible that the allocation could be conducted on really reasonable lines. I hope that the noble Lord opposite will not press this Amendment, because I am sure it is not of a really practical character.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON said that perhaps he might add a word, as he was the mover of the Amendment in Committee. The noble Earl, he thought, rather assumed that the reason the Amendment was not pressed in Committee was that there was not sufficient argument to be brought forward in support of it. That was not really the cast. They had made a very considerable change in the Bill; they had completely changed the Congested Districts Board as proposed by the noble Earl; they had made very drastic Amendments, and the noble Earl took exception to adding this Amendment without further consideration. Consequently he did at the time withdraw his Amendment with the intention of raising the question again upon Report. Where he thought that the noble Earl had perhaps pressed unduly against the argument of his noble friend behind him, Lord Clonbrock, was when he said they were giving as a sort of scramble to three Boards brought together for that one purpose a sum of public money to be apportioned by them. He would point out that it was not as if the purposes were in any way distinct. The powers of the Estates Commissioners and the powers of the Congested Districts Board were interlaced, and up to now even their jurisdiction to buy land in the same districts was interlaced as well. Therefore, to treat those two authorities as separate and distinct authorities seemed to him to be rather a straining of terms. Again, the Department of Agriculture had almost overlapped in some respects the functions of the Congested 106 Districts Board; and he really would have thought that there was nothing more anomalous in handing over to the authority of the proposed committee a sum of money than there would be in the case either of the Education Office, which had the most varied calls upon it, or still more, any larger Departments, like the War Office and the Admiralty, which were given sums of money which could be spread over a number of services and which were practically allotted by the heads of those Departments. He admitted, of course, that there was no supreme head, except the Chief Secretary, of all the Irish Departments, and in that respect some of those Departments were themselves anomalous as compared to similar Departments in this country; but he must say that he regretted the noble Earl did not see his way to consider the Amendment more favourably. The announcement he made that unless there was a representative Board they would find difficulty with regard to the apportionment of money to the Congested Districts Board, of course might have governed the speech which the noble Earl had just delivered; but he himself would press him not to preclude at this stage of the Bill the adoption of some committee of the kind, which it seemed to him would meet many of the difficulties which had been found by both sides in dealing with the question.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
LORD MONTEAGLE OF BRANDON moved to amend the first part of Clause 40—
40. As from the appointed day an annual sum of one hundred and sixty-three thousand seven hundred and fifty pounds shall be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament, as follows:—
Out of that sum an annual sum of nineteen thousand pounds shall be paid to the Department for the purpose of the exercise of the powers and the performance of the duties transferred to the Department under this Act, and the residue shall be paid to the Congested Districts Board,
by leaving out the words "nineteen thousand pounds" and inserting the words "thirty-nine thousand pounds." He said that his Amendment, at any rate in point of form if not as to the precise amount of money in question, was consequential upon an Amendment which he had the honour of moving in Committee to transfer fisheries from the Congested Districts Board to the Department of Agriculture. It had been pointed out to him that although the fisheries were transferred at that time,
no corresponding transfer had been made of the funds which the Congested Districts Board now enjoyed for the purpose of transacting this business, and that it would be essential, of course, for the Department to have that money if they were to have the duty cast upon them. As to the amount, he had not had time to make any very searching inquiries with regard to the exact sum which should be inserted in the Bill, but he was informed that the amount spent upon fisheries by the Congested Districts Board was about £20,000, and therefore he proposed to add the sum of £20,000 to the sum of £19,000 which was already in the Bill, thus making a total of £39,000.
In page 19, line 30, to leave out 'nineteen' and to insert 'thirty-nine.'"—(Lord Monteagle of Brandon.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I am afraid that my noble friend's Amendment takes a form which is somewhat unusual in Amendments in your Lordships' House, namely, that of a direct vote of a sum of money for a particular purpose. Although we are not unduly precise upon these matters, I think we must all feel that the substitution of £39,000 for £19,000 for a particular purpose is, as I say, a somewhat unaccustomed form of Amendment in your Lordships' House.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE OF BRANDON pointed out that it was only in the nature of a transfer; it was not adding any charge.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I am afraid that does not very greatly better the case. It is quite true that in transferring the fisheries from the Congested Districts Board to the Department of Agriculture your Lordships find yourselves in this position. There is another fund—the Irish Loan Fund and a part of the Sea Coast Fisheries Fund—which was placed at the disposal of the Congested Districts Board under the Act of 1891. It is Section 35, subsection (5). These funds, I take it, if the noble Lord's plan is carried out, ought also to be transferred. I do not know that I need make any further observation. It is quite true that if the transfer is to be carried out some steps of the kind indicated by the noble Lord would have to be taken.
§ *THE EARL OF MAYO asked whether the noble Earl who led the House could give some indication of the allocation of these funds, because, as he had truly said, the fisheries had been transferred from the Congested Districts Board to the Board of Agriculture. The noble Earl also said it was unusual for such an Amendment to be put down and for such a matter to be raised in their Lordships' House, but the noble Earl had admitted that there must be some indication of how the funds were to be used. Would the noble Earl, therefore, giving some indication to that effect on the Third Reading?
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I can give the noble Earl an indication now—namely, to the effect that we do not agree to the transfer of the fisheries from the Congested Districts Board to the Department of Agriculture.
§ *THE EARL OF MAYO said that what that amounted to was, "As you have done this certain thing, therefore you are not to move an Amendment; and if you do move an Amendment, although I have said that there is no doubt that the way in which these funds should be dealt with ought to be indicated—because you have done this naughty thing, we can give you no information whatsoever." That was really what the noble Earl's statement amounted to, and he did not think it was satisfactory. It would be most interesting to the Board in Ireland if they could have some indication of what the funds were. Two of the most important industries were the salting of mackerel for the American market and the curing of herrings, and if there could be some indication of the amount of money to be allocated at all events to those two very important industries, it would be an immense help to those who lived in Ireland and who took an interest in the work, which, as the Bill stood at present, was to be carried out by the Department of Agriculture and not by the Congested Districts Board.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD thought he could throw a little light upon the question. At the time of the Dudley Commission the question of the amount of funds expended upon fisheries and industries was calculated. The promotion of agricultural industries had been already transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Education. That 109 was before the Dudley Commission. When the Commission sat, it was ascertained that the average annual expenditure upon fisheries and upon industries was £16,000. Therefore, as the Bill contained the sum of £19,000, an addition of £3,000 had been made on the transfer of these two Departments, which seemed to him an adequate amount to be granted on the occasion of a transfer, and from his point of view he saw no necessity for making any change whatever in the Bill as it stood.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD had an Amendment on the Paper to leave out Clause 42, which ran—
§ 42.—(1) The Lord Lieutenant, by Order made with the advice of the Privy Council, may make rack regulations as appear to him necessary or expedient for carrying into effect this Part of the Act.
§ (2) An Order of the Lord Lieutenant made as aforesaid under this section shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as may be after it is made, and if within the next subsequent forty days on which either House has sat that House presents an address to His Majesty praying that any such Order may either in whole or in part be annulled, His Majesty in Council may annul the same either in whole or in part as the case may require, and the Order or part so annulled shall thenceforth become void without prejudice to the validity of any proceedings taken under the same in the meantime:
§ Provided that where any Order or any part thereof is so annulled the Lord Lieutenant may within six months thereof make by and with the advice aforesaid, another Order in place of the Order or part so annulled, subject nevertheless to be laid before Parliament, and to be annulled by His Majesty in Council in manner above mentioned, and so on as often as the case requires.
§ He said that in Committee he addressed their Lordships on the great undesirability of subjecting the Congested Districts Board to any rules which could be construed as emanating from the Treasury. The great popularity which attached to the Board in Ireland was due to the belief that they were an independent Board which could look at the facts of Irish life unhampered by Treasury rules and restrictions, although, of course, limited by the funds which they had to dispose of. He had come to think that, inasmuch as the provisions which laid down the rules for forming a quorum and meetings of the Congested Districts Board had been removed from the Bill, some such rule as this might be necessary if strictly limited; and he therefore had come to the conclusion, very largely in deference to the 110 opinion of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ashbourne, that the Privy Council, whose opinion was to be taken on the rules, might be trusted to see that there was no unfair limitation of the freedom of action of the Congested Districts Board. But since then, and in connection with what happened yesterday, it seemed to him if rules were made by the Lord Lieutenant on the advice of his Privy Council, they would still have to be laid on the Table of both Houses, with the result that it was very possible there might be a conflict of opinion regarding the rules, and in the meantime if such a conflict did arise the Congested Districts Board might be at a serious disadvantage in the performance of its duties. He thought that some understanding had been come to yesterday in another connection whereby the chances of such a conflict might be avoided; he did not know himself the precise arrangement, but he took it for granted that some such matter was under consideration; and if His Majesty's Government were satisfied that such a conflict of opinion and such difficulties could be prevented, he was willing to waive any objection he might have on that particular head, and to withdraw his Amendment.
To leave out Clause 42."—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think on the whole, although the matter is less important than it was owing to the change which your Lordships have made in the constitution of the Congested Districts Board, that for the reasons stated by my noble friend behind me, it would be advantageous to leave this clause in the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I should like to call the attention of the House to the fact that Clause 43 grants permanent members of the Congested Districts Board various benefits on retirement. There are no permanent members of the Board as the Bill now stands, and therefore the clause does not seem to be necessary.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE asked whether the noble Earl proposed to leave the clause with that blessing.111
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I only point it out to noble Lords in order that they can take any steps they desire at another stage.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY said that subsection (2), which enabled the Congested Districts Board to provide for granting pensions or gratuities to officers or persons employed by them, was rather important.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I was only referring to subsection (1). I may add that it was merely from a friendly desire to see the Bill in as coherent a shape as it could be made that I drew your Lordships' attention to the fact.
§ LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE thought they might respond to the friendly desire of the noble Earl, and he would therefore move the omission of the subsection at the request of the Government.
To leave out subsection (1) of Clause 43."—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD, in moving to leave out of Clause 44 the words "or to expend any money in aiding or developing fisheries," said that as their Lordships had inserted the word "industries" in Clause 39 of the Bill the employment of the words he moved to leave out had become unnecessary.
In page 22, lines 3 and 4, to leave out the words 'or to expend any money in aiding or developing fisheries.'"—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
LORD MONTEAGLE OF BRANDON thought his noble friend must be under some misapprehension about the matter, because the clause ran—
From and after the appointed day, the Congested Districts Board shall cease to exercise any power to acquire land save as otherwise provided in this section, or to expend any money in aiding or developing fisheries.
If the noble Lord left out the words "to expend any money in aiding or developing fisheries" the Congested Districts Board would retain the power of expending money though the duty had been transferred. The powers of dealing with
fisheries had already been transferred, and if they were not to cease to spend the money they would retain the power of expending the money though they did not retain the duties.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD thought his noble friend was under a misapprehension. The clause said that from and after the appointed day the Board should cease to exercise any power or to expend any money—that was that the Board should cease to expend any money in aiding or developing fisheries, and as they had by Clause 39 transferred the aiding and developing of fisheries to the Department of Agriculture, there was no necessity whatever to have the words which he proposed to delete.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD ATKINSON, in moving the Amendment to Clause 44 of which he had given notice, said that its object was to provide in Clauses 44, 45 and 46 machinery for acquiring land by the exercise of voluntary agreement, and in the subsequent clause, Clause 47, to provide machinery for acquiring land by the exercise of compulsory powers. He desired, therefore, to make it definite that Clause 44 dealt merely with the acquisition of land by voluntary agreement. It was ambiguous as it stood at present.
In page 22, line 12, after the word 'land,' to insert the words' otherwise than by the exercise of the compulsory powers by this Act conferred upon them.'"—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD submitted that this would be a convenient opportunity at which to consider the question of compulsion raised by him under Clause 47. The Amendment which the noble and learned Lord now moved, and certain others which followed, were contingent upon the acceptance of the scheme which he had submitted to their Lordships' House. If, on the other hand, the scheme which he personally submitted was accepted by their Lordships the proposals which the noble and learned Lord made, and would make, would be unnecessary, and their Lordships' procedure would be so much facilitated. If their Lordships were disposed to continue their preference for the scheme of the noble and 113 learned Lord, his own scheme would disappear and the proceedings would be equally facilitated and simplified.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
With respect to what has just fallen from my noble friend behind me I think we are in a position of some difficulty. The House would certainly wish that my noble friend should have an opportunity of stating the reasons why he prefers his own proposals to those of the noble and learned Lord opposite, whereas if the noble and learned Lord's clauses are all adopted one after the other my noble friend is shut out altogether and his Amendment falls to the ground. I should have ventured to suggest, with the concurrence of noble Lords opposite, that the best course would be either for the noble and learned Lord to develop his scheme on this clause, or else that these clauses, if the House so desires, should be passed pro forma, and that a discussion should then be allowed to take place on the joint schemes.
§ LORD ATKINSON pointed out that whatever form of compulsion was adopted his Amendment was perfectly harmless and did not prejudice it. It merely confined those clauses to voluntary acquisition, leaving compulsory acquisition to be subsequently dealt with.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said that while what the noble and learned Lord stated was quite correct, he also had proposed an alternative scheme for voluntary acquisition of land, which was a rival, if he might be permitted to say so, of the scheme which the noble and learned Lord had proposed. The noble and learned Lord's proposals in regard to voluntary acquisition of land had been quite recently made. The scheme as placed before their Lordships by the noble and learned Lord was one for compulsory acquisition alone. No doubt that was due to the noble and learned Lord's mind being altogether concentrated on the question of compulsory acquisition; but when his mind was opened to the fact that it was also necessary to provide a scheme for voluntary acquisition, which his (Lord MacDonnell's) plan did provide but which the plan of the noble and learned Lord did not, he corrected his scheme and now it was both for voluntary acquisition and for compulsory acquisition. The position, therefore, was that there were 114 two rival schemes before their Lordships, and if the noble and learned Lord was allowed to develop his scheme for voluntary acquisition, he (Lord MacDonnell) would be shut out from developing his scheme for voluntary acquisition, so that he thought in fair play to both of them the proposal which he had submitted, and which the noble Earl who led the House had submitted, was a proper one to adopt, and should be given effect to, and that the noble and learned Lord should either develop his whole plan now, or that he (Lord MacDonnell) should be allowed to develop his.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE asked whether there was any good in making a contest before it was necessary. He apprehended that no disagreement would arise in accepting his noble and learned friend's Amendment now, because the next Amendment on the Paper in the name of his noble and learned friend would fit in with either scheme.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said that was not so. It would require that his scheme should be modified. The proposals which the noble and learned Lord submitted to the House would take possession of the ground which his scheme at present covered.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE said he had come to the conclusion that there would be no difficulty in fitting on other topics to the next two Amendments. He thought their Lordships had better wait until the time came when it was necessary to have a contest.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD pointed out that if the principle of the noble and learned Lord was put forward and clothed in a certain form of words and accepted by the House, and he (Lord MacDonnell) then had to ask their Lordships to undo what they had said, the House would consider him more or less of a nuisance.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD LOREBURN)
It does not seem to me to matter on what Amendment the rival schemes are discussed, but it appears likely, if the course suggested is not adopted, that some prejudice to one or other of the schemes will arise. It is not an infrequent 115 practice in the other House, and I think in your Lordships' House also, to agree to take the substantial discussion upon the first Amendment which admits of it, and I respectfully suggest to your Lordships that that practice might be adopted without prejudice on this occasion.
§ LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE pointed out that he had an Amendment on the Paper to leave out Clause 47 altogether. The position was that if the House adopted the scheme of the noble Lord opposite, he supposed the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, would not move his Amendment at all, and there would be no opportunity of any one moving the omission of Clause 47.
§ *THE EARL OF MAYO desired to support his noble friend Lord Oranmore and Browne in moving the deletion of Clause 47. He submitted that if Lord MacDonnell was allowed to discuss his clause and Lord Atkinson was allowed to put forward his plan, and the House accepted either of the proposals, they would be shut out from moving the omission of Clause 47.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
We are now, I understand, strictly speaking, dealing with Lord Atkinson's Amendment to Clause 44. As that raises incidentally the general question of the scheme for this part of the Bill, I understand it is suggested by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack that the House should be allowed the latitude of a general discussion which would enable the three or four rival schemes, for I think there are as many on the Paper, to be considered, and I presume that would end in some general indication on the part of the House of their preference for either one or other of the rival solutions. That being done, I imagine we should then take the Amendments on the Paper seriatim, so that my noble friends who are anxious that their particular Amendments, dealing some of them, perhaps, with minor points, should be considered, may not lose their opportunity.
§ LORD ATKINSON was perfectly willing to fall in with an arrangement of that kind if it was the desire of the House. Therefore, he presumed that his task was to show what the two schemes would be, one of acquiring land voluntarily and the other of acquiring land compulsorily, if the Amendments he suggested were agreed to. 116 The two Amendments he proposed were merely for the purpose of making a clause which was ambiguous clear, and to show that it applied only to the acquisition of land by voluntary agreement. Accordingly, at line 12 of Clause 44 he proposed to put in the words of which he had given notice, "otherwise than by the exercise of the compulsory powers by this Act conferred upon them," to show that the clause was exclusively confined to the acquisition of land by voluntary agreement. Then when he came to line 14, it was absolutely necessary to strike out the words "shall proceed to acquire the estate or land accordingly," because that made it obligatory upon the Land Commission to acquire the land, by offering an extravagant price possibly, or by the exercise of compulsory powers. That was entirely ambiguous, and therefore his second Amendment would introduce the words "shall take all reasonable and proper steps to acquire the estate or land by voluntary agreement on such terms as they shall in the circumstances deem reasonable." That removed any ambiguity and showed that there was no compulsion of any kind; that the Land Commission were not compelled to acquire the land, but to proceed to take all reasonable and proper steps to acquire it voluntarily. If his two Amendments were accepted, the clauses would, in his opinion, have an easily workable machinery for acquiring the land by voluntary agreement.
§ Then they came to Clause 47 and the three following clauses which set up the machinery for acquiring the land compulsorily. Those three clauses substantially embodied the Amendment that he had the honour to propose. They were based in a great degree upon the procedure under the Small Holdings Act of 1907, and as they stood the machinery was that the Congested Districts Board when they wanted to acquire land compulsorily for relieving congestion by one specific method—namely, the increasing of uneconomic holdings up to £10 in value—would draw up their scheme, and they would submit that scheme to the Land Commission as the Bill stood, and the scheme would be accompanied by a statement under the hand of the Secretary of the reasons for which they had come to a conclusion that it was necessary to employ compulsion. The Estates Commissioners, one of them being the Judicial Commissioner, would consider 117 the scheme, and if they thought that a prima facie case had been made out, viewing it with the statement of facts accompanying it, they would publish notices, and objections would be sent in. Those objections would then be considered by the tribunal composed of a Judge from the rota, the Judicial Commissioner, and one of the Estates Commissioners who had considered the original proposals. One of the objections that might be made was that compulsion was unnecessary. He would state presently what that involved.
§ It was suggested that the particulars that were required to be inserted in the claim were too voluminous and that they were also embarrassing, because he required the Congested Districts Board to state to whom they proposed to give the land that they had so acquired. He understood it was said that that was impossible in practice, and he had accordingly struck out several clauses which dealt with that so as to simplify as far as possible the scheme that had to be sent in. He had also proposed to modify it by the Amendments be bad put down in this respect, that instead of having the Estates Commissioners and the Judicial Commissioner to take part in considering the scheme as first submitted, together with the Secretary of the Congested Districts Board, it should be considered by the Estates Commissioners alone, the Judicial Commissioner being left out. The tribunal before which it came would be the same, but the difference was that two members of the tribunal were entire strangers to the transaction, the only person who had any previous acquaintance with it being one of the Estates Commissioners who had considered it in the first instance—that one Estates Commissioner being the one whom the Estates Commissioners themselves selected to preside there on that occasion. He thought it desirable to introduce this Estates Commissioner for the reason that he was in touch with the operations: he knew what had gone on, and what would be done if the scheme was carried through. He thought, therefore, it was desirable that one, at all events, of the Estates Commissioners who was cognisant of all the operations should be selected.
§ If no objection was made, and the scheme went through, an Order would be issued that on payment of the price, which was to 118 be fixed in a manner he would mention hereafter, the land should vest in the Congested Districts Board. The price or compensation was to be fixed as under the Small Holdings Act of 1905 by an independent arbitrator. That was according to the Bill as it stood, and he did not propose to make any change in that. He thought it far better that it should state at once that the price was to be fixed by an independent arbitrator than by two arbitrators and an umpire. He never knew of a case conducted by an arbitrator on each side and an umpire where the arbitrators appointed by the respective parties had not considered themselves advocates for the sides they represented. Each arbitrator dealt with the interests of the side he represented, and ultimately, therefore, the decision was the decision of the umpire. So that he got rid of the arbitrators appointed by the parties, and suggested that it should be, as in the Small Holdings Act and the Railways Act, by an independent arbitrator appointed by an entirely independent body—namely, the Board of Works, who were competent to discharge such a duty. He provided, however, by an Amendment which he proposed to introduce, that where the parties so desired it, after the investigation had been gone through, the compensation might be fixed by the tribunal. It might be that after the investigation had been conducted the tribunal were in a position to deal with it, and if the parties agreed, of course, there was no separate inquiry necessary at all.
§ It was suggested as an objection to his Amendment when he originally moved it that his scheme would involve a great many hearings. That was an absolute mistake There was only one hearing. The first investigation was not a hearing at all. The Estates Commissioners took the particulars and looked into the matter, and if they thought it a bona fide case they put the thing in train, giving every opportunity for the people to make an objection. What was the objection that might be made? First of all, it might be objected that the case came within the particular sections of the Act which said that certain land should not be acquired; but the important thing which distinguished the Amendment he had introduced from the original Bill and also from the Amendments of the noble Lord opposite, was that the question whether it was necessary to employ compulsion at all could be raised by objection, and it would have to be proved.119
§ He knew that many noble Lords were accustomed to judicial investigation. Supposing that they were sitting upon a tribunal where the party came forward and asked for compulsory powers, the first question he would be asked would be, "You want this land; is it the only suitable land? Can you not get other suitable land? If you can compulsion is unnecessary." The answer would be, "No, I can get no other land so suitable as this." "Very well, that being so, have you tried to get this land by voluntary agreement?" "No." "Then you have no right to come here and ask for compulsory powers, for such powers are only to be given to you when you cannot get land by voluntary agreement at a reasonable price." Then if the party applying said, "I made an offer to the landlord and he would not accept it," the tribunal would ask, "What was your offer?" "My offer was so much," would be the reply. "That is entirely too small," the tribunal might say, "and we will not give you compulsory powers unless you have made a bona fide attempt to get this land by voluntary agreement at a reasonable price." So that many of the agreements on the paper requiring the parties to state the price and to offer a price and so on were absolutely and entirely unnecessary. They were covered by the wide general requirement that they must prove that suitable land could not be got by voluntary agreement at a reasonable price. That would have to be established before the tribunal before whom it came; otherwise they would not give compulsory powers.
§ The only other observation he had to make was that he did not propose to modify the appeal. There was an appeal on law and on mixed questions of law and fact to the Court of Appeal, but he dared say that the question whether compulsion was necessary or not—that was, whether the land could be obtained by voluntary agreement or not—would be in most cases a question of fact, and, of course, if that were so there would be no appeal. That was a consistent scheme, and one which he did not think any person could have very great objection to. It provided that the necessity for compulsion should be judged of by an independent tribunal, and that the compensation should be assessed by an independent tribunal on the principle that a man must be compensated for the loss inflicted upon him by being deprived of his property. That was what his scheme 120 would be if he succeeded in the change he proposed. He thought it was much better to divide the two schemes, one giving a complete machinery for the acquisition of land by voluntary agreement, and the other a complete and adequate machinery for the acquisition of land by compulsion.
§ He saw other Amendments on the Paper. With regard to one of those Amendments, he might say that his desire was to give compulsion under a reasonable scheme for the purpose of increasing uneconomic holdings. He did not want to make it too tight, provided it was effective and reasonable, and he did not want the appointment of any Judge to be an appointment ad hoc. For that reason he had put it that the Judge on the rota should be appointed as provided in the Evicted Tenants Act of 1907. He thought that was much more satisfactory than that a Judge should be appointed either permanently or from time to time as occasion required for that particular business by the King's Bench Division. He would not discuss the rival scheme of Lord MacDonnell further than to say that if imitation was the truest form of flattery he ought to be much obliged to the noble Lord, who had taken the best parts of his scheme. Originally as the noble Lord's Amendment was framed there was no family resemblance between them, but he observed that the tribunal the noble Lord had selected was very much the same as the one he had himself selected. There was this objection to the noble Lord's scheme which to his mind was a fatal one—namely, the question whether the employment of compulsion was necessary or not could not be raised before the tribunal. That was the particular vice, as he thought, of the original Bill, and it was the particular vice of the noble Lord's scheme. He might be a little extravagant on these matters, but there was to him nothing more repulsive than the idea of any body of men, without the control of any person, being allowed to take an individual piece of land compulsorily of their own motion; and if he did not do the noble Lord an injustice in supposing that that was what he intended, then he asked the House to prefer his scheme to that of the noble Lord, because the best thing about it was that it provided for an independent tribunal investigating anything turning on the 121 question whether compulsion was necessary at all.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said that when the matter was last before their Lordships' House two schemes were presented to them for consideration, and in the speech of the noble Marquess who led the Opposition it was mentioned, if he remembered rightly, that there were good points in both schemes. The noble Marquess did not much care which scheme was accepted for the moment, but he stated that whatever scheme was accepted the good points of the other scheme which might happen to be wanting in the one which was accepted should be incorporated, and he laid down one strong requirement—namely, that property was not to be compulsorily taken unless a decision had been come to by a competent and impartial tribunal that compulsory acquisition was necessary. The next point that the noble Marquess laid down was that the procedure should be as simple as was consistent with effective work. The noble Marquess thought that the scheme of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, was surrounded by a zareba of precautions, and he suggested that there was no necessity for all these legal formalities and precautions, and that the noble and learned Lord's scheme might be divested of some of them without suffering therefrom.
§ Owing to an accident he was absent from the House at the moment when a Division had been taken upon the scheme of the Government. If he had been there he supposed the Lord Chairman would have asked him to speak to his scheme, as he had called upon him to speak in the first instance; and it was not altogether impossible that if he had not accidentally been absent the scheme upon the Paper now would have been his scheme. He might be wrong in that, but it was not a matter of very much moment. Two schemes were before their Lordships, one of them the scheme of the noble and learned Lord for the compulsory acquisition of land alone. It made no provision for the amicable acquisition of land by bargaining between the vendor and the purchaser. That was an initial defect in the scheme of the noble and learned Lord which he had now corrected. The noble and learned Lord said that he (Lord MacDonnell) had copied him. He was quite sure that he might with great advantage to himself copy 122 a good deal fom the noble and learned Lord and in the scheme which was now before their Lordships he had to a certain extent copied from him, but the noble and learned Lord had also paid him the high compliment of copying from him. He did not make those remarks with any intention of unnecessary comparison; he made them with the object of showing how far the two schemes were identical, and in what respect his scheme was better than that of the noble and learned Lord.
§ The scheme of the noble Lord as printed, as he had already said, was a compulsory one, and now he had introduced voluntary provisions, and there the noble and learned Lord's ideas were taken from his scheme. The noble and learned Lord's first scheme placed the initial inquiries on the shoulders of the Judicial Commissioners and two Estates Commissioners, whereas the scheme now fell into line with his own, in placing the initial inquiry on the Estates Commissioners alone. Again, in the noble and learned Lord's first scheme he made his tribunal to consist of two Estates Commissioners, the Judicial Commissioner and a Judge of the High Court. The noble and learned Lord now did him the honour of adopting his Court, consisting of one Estates Commissioner, the Judicial Commissioner and a Judge of the High Court; but he differed from him in preserving the Court of Appeal, and that was a point upon which he thought the noble Marquess who led the Opposition was particularly insistent.
§ LORD ATKINSON said the noble Lord was in error. He had only put one Commissioner on the tribunal.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORDbegged the noble and learned Lord's pardon if he was in error, but he thought the scheme of Lord Atkinson originally included two Estates Commissioners. The noble and learned Lord had preserved the Court of Appeal. He provided for a Court consisting of the Judicial Commissioner, a Judge of the High Court, and one Estates Commissioner. The noble and learned Lord considered that that high judicial body was incompetent to decide questions of law and fact connected with the acquisition of an estate or of untenanted land. He (Lord MacDonnell) was strongly of opinion that where they had a body of that character and composition 123 they ought to trust it with final discretion upon such a point as that. The noble and learned Lord provided that the final fixation of the price should not rest with the high judicial body he bad mentioned, but that there should be appointed for the purpose an arbitrator chosen by the Public Works Department under the Lands Clauses Acts. He did not speak on the point with such great knowledge and judicial experience as the noble and learned Lord but he would ask their Lordships whether he was wrong in saying that from the decision of an arbitrator appointed under the Lands Clauses Acts—that was to say under 14 and 15 Victoria, Chapter 7, Section 26—it was possible to carry the case to a Judge of Assize and a petty jury.
§ LORD ATKINSON said that if the compensation was assessed under the Lands Clauses Act, 1845, there was an appeal to a jury no doubt, but the noble Lord had not read his clause because the clause provided that it should be assessed by a single arbitrator on the principle of the Lands Clauses Act. The noble Lord was apparently confounding the machinery of the Act with its principles.
LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said the words of the noble and learned Lord, now in the Bill, were—
Upon the making of an order by the aforesaid tribunal or by the Court of Appeal over-ruling all objections, or of the making of an order by the said Commissioners where no objection has been made, or if made has been withdrawn, or within a reasonable time thereafter the compensation payable in respect of the lands taken or injuriously affected or shall be determined in the manner prescribed by a single arbitrator appointed by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, on the principles on which compensation is awarded for lands taken compulsorily under the Lands Clauses Acts.
He would ask the noble and learned Lord whether on the principle contained in that subclause it was not open to either party, under Section 26 of 14 and 15 Victoria, Chapter 70, to carry the case to a Judge of Assize who would empanel a petty jury whose decision would be final, so that the fixation of the price in Ireland would be determined by a petty jury such as noble Lords opposite from Ireland were acquainted with.
§ LORD ATKINSON repeated that the noble Lord was entirely wrong and was confounding the machinery of the Lands 124 Clauses Act with the principle of the Lands Clauses Act. The principle of that Act was that a man should get compensation for being injuriously affected by his land being taken compulsorily from him. The machinery of the Lands Clauses Act was a traverse of the award of the arbitrator and a trial by a jury, but he had followed word for word the Small Holdings Act of 1907 under which it had never been suggested that there was any power of appeal to a jury. There were many other Acts in which the same phraseology was used providing for compensation to be fixed by an independent arbitrator; but using the principle of the Act of 1845 did not bring in the machinery.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said there was not one word in the noble and learned Lord's scheme excluding the right which the Statute conferred upon either party to the arbitration to bring the matter before a Court of Assize and a petty jury, so that he maintained under the terms of the noble and learned Lord's scheme it was possible that the price of all land acquired compulsorily under the scheme would be fixed by a petty jury. Noble Lords opposite, he thought, would scarcely like to have the price of their lands assessed by a petty jury in Ireland. That was a matter which, of course, might be, and no doubt would be, corrected in drafting.
§ As the scheme was produced in the first instance, a representation had to be made in a certain form to the Estates Commissioners. That form required information to be given which it was, as the noble and learned Lord now admitted, practically impossible to give. That defect in the scheme had been removed to some extent, but he would not admit that it had been entirely removed. Next, under the scheme as first submitted, that proposal came before the Judicial Commissioner together with two of the Estates Commissioners.
§ LORD ATKINSON said that if the noble Lord would look at page 25 of the Bill he would see that subclause (5) provided that where objection was made it should be heard by the tribunal there set out.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD replied that the noble and learned Lord was inviting him to jump over a stage in his argument, which he was not disposed to do.125
§ LORD ATKINSON could only say that if the noble Lord cared to argue a thing which existed at stage one but which was removed and did not exist at stage five, he could say no more; but it certainly seemed to be unnecessary and to lead to confusion.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said the noble and learned Lord could revel in the anticipation of that confusion, but he preferred to conduct his argument in his own way. A requisition was put forward which the noble and learned Lord now admitted was impossible of fulfilment. It was to come before the Judicial Commissioner together with two of the Estates Commissioners. Those three gentlemen were to inquire into the merits of the scheme, and if satisfied that it was prima facie necessary for the land to be acquired compulsorily they were to do certain things. He took the objection, on the last occasion when he was speaking on the point, that it was highly undesirable to submit a scheme which was carefully prepared by a competent body, to another not more competent body which was not a judicial one and which was not held in popular esteem in Ireland higher than the Congested Districts Board, upon whose representation it was to pass judgment. He submitted on that occasion that it was far better that no judgment should be passed on the representation or the application of the Congested Districts Board by the Estates Commissioners, whose functions in the matter should be purely ministerial. When objections to the acquisition of the land were made, those objections were to be laid before a judicial body. The creation of the judicial body was a point which he was glad to take from the noble and learned Lord, and he did it in compliance with what was insisted upon by the noble Marquess who led the Opposition, that if any objection were taken to the acquisition of the land that objection should be decided upon by a perfectly independent tribunal. He (Lord MacDonnell) therefore took a tribunal composed of one Estates Commissioner, the Judicial Commissioner, and a Judge of the High Court, and he made the decision of that body on the question of whether land should be acquired or not a final decision. Furthermore, he thought under the present scheme that the issues to be raised before that body should be definite, and that a general power of 126 inquiring and seeing whether any objection should be made or could be made was not a sort of mandate which should be given to the tribunal.
§ Their Lordships' House, by a large majority, had affirmed the principle of compulsory acquisition in certain cases. That being so, it seemed to him to be essential that the determination of the question whether a particular plot of land should be acquired or should not be acquired ought to be limited to the consideration of certain points, and those points he had put down in his Amendment as follows—
- "(a) that the estate or land is not suitable for the relief of congestion;
- (b) that the acquisition of the estate or land is not necessary for relief of congestion;
- (c) that the estate or land and all within the categories of land exempted from acquisition by section fifty (4) of this Act."
§ Another point was that when the acquisition was determined upon, the tribunal fixed a price in different ways in the scheme of the noble and learned Lord and himself. The noble and learned Lord would deny to the vendor any bonus upon the purchase price because, forsooth, he refused to accept the offer in the first instance and exercised his right of appealing to have the rent fixed. He did not see why such a threat as that should be held over vendors to compel them to accept the price offered in the first instance. It seemed to him that advantage was thereby being taken of the necessities of the vendor, and in his opinion no disadvantage should attach in the case of a vendor who thought he had not been offered a full price and who got from the Court a price which in the judgment of the Court was fair. Those were the salient differences between his proposal and that of the noble and learned Lord.
§ He submitted to their Lordships that his proposal was a simple and consistent one throughout, that there was an entire absence of anything like duplication of procedure, and that there was the arbitrament in every case of a responsible tribunal. There was no appeal from the lowest to the highest Courts in the land thus increasing costs and putting litigants to all the expense and delay of the law. If the proposals which he placed before their Lordships were adopted, they would find that land acquisition in Ireland would go forward smoothly and expeditiously, without friction, and to the satisfaction of all concerned. On the other hand, he felt confident that if they adhered to the provisional adoption of the noble and learned Lord's proposals they would want such a degree of modifications, qualifications, additions, and omissions that their Lordships would not be able to get over the business that night.
§ LORD ATKINSON would not repeat what he had already said, because he felt it was hopeless to try and remove the 128 impression with regard to the petty jury from the noble Lord's mind. It seemed to amount almost to hallucination. With regard to the noble Lord's point about the bonus, if the noble Lord understood the Lands Clauses Act he would have seen that he was giving vendors a great deal more than the bonus because he was giving them the ten per cent. which was always accorded under the Lands Clauses Act, and which was a great deal more than the bonus. He had struck out the bonus because the bonus was an inducement to a man to sell and had no application to a case where a man had to sell compulsorily, and he had particularly provided that the ten per cent., as under the Lands Clauses Act, should invariably be added to the price. What were the circumstances which the noble Lord said distinguished his scheme from his own and made the noble Lord's much simpler and cheaper and shorter? The noble Lord had provided for no appeal in his proposal. When they had appeals to the Court of Appeal in Ireland on matters not one-half or one-tenth as important, he thought it was desirable that there should be a power of appeal in this matter on questions of law. He did not, of course, say that the Court of Appeal should re-try pure questions of fact. But the real substantial fight and litigation was precisely the same under the scheme of the noble Lord, and the tribunal was the same. There was no wonder that it should be so, for the noble Lord had copied the tribunal from his scheme.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD begged the noble and learned Lord's pardon; he did not copy the tribunal from him.
§ LORD ATKINSON said there would be no additional expense under his scheme; the investigation would be made by precisely the same tribunal under both schemes, and that would be the only expense the parties would incur. He noticed that the noble Lord had skilfully evaded the real point in the case, which was, Did he or did he not give the tribunal power to determine whether compulsory acquisition was or was not necessary? That was very ambiguously provided for in the noble Lord's scheme, which said that one of the objections must be that the acquisition of the estate or land was not necessary for the relief of congestion. He did not know what that meant.129
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said it meant that an objection would be a valid one where it was proved that congestion could be relieved otherwise than by the acquisition of the particular piece of land in question.
§ LORD ATKINSON submitted that his scheme put that in the forefront and provided that the necessity for compulsion was one of the things that had to be raised before the tribunal and determined by the tribunal. What were the other matters on which the noble Lord objected to his scheme? The schemes balanced each other on the point that there was to be one hearing before the same tribunal, and there would not be any more expense in one case than in the other. With regard to the particular virtue claimed by the noble Lord for his proposal in having a Judge of the Superior Court and the Judicial Commissioner and one of the Estates Commissioners as the tribunal to determine the price, he should have thought that that was a most awkward tribunal for such a purpose. He made them the tribunal when the parties consented; the noble Lord made them the tribunal whether the parties consented or not.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORDpointed out that the noble and learned Lord also adopted the same tribunal.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said that the only difference in the noble and learned Lord's proposal was that a person wishing to appeal from the award of the arbitrator, instead of seeking refuge in a petty jury was allowed to seek refuge in the Court of Appeal.
§ LORD ATKINSON said that if their Lordships would take the trouble to read the noble Lord's scheme they would find that the acquisition of land by voluntary agreement and the acquisition of land by compulsion were mixed up together in a most confused way.
LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD
The noble and learned Lord is doing me great injustice. Clauses 47 and 48 of my scheme deal with amicable acquisition, and the other with compulsion.
§ LORD ATKINSON
That is my objection. The noble Lord begins with compulsion, and then interpolates clauses dealing with voluntary agreement.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Might I suggest to your Lordships that the debate is becoming a conversation? There are two rival schemes before the House, one of them propounded by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, and criticised by the noble Lord, Lord MacDonnell, and the other propounded by Lord MacDonnell and criticised by Lord Atkinson. Surely, my Lords, the House itself is competent to judge of the merits of the various schemes quite apart from the conversation of the two noble Lords.
§ LORD ATKINSON said he would only add one word. Lord MacDonnell had suggested that it would be offensive to the Congested Districts Board that their proposal should come before the Estates Commissioners at all. He did not see how that lessened the dignity of the Congested Districts Board in the least, or why it should be looked upon as an offence against them. The Congested Districts Board would have to buy the land from them, and when they put forward a scheme it was not unreasonable, surely, to ask the Estates Commissioners to look at it and see whether prima facie it was a scheme that ought to be enforced. The Estates Commissioners were the instruments by which the scheme was enforced, and the idea that an offence would be committed against the Congested Districts Board by asking the Estates Commissioners to say whether the scheme was right or not, seemed to him to be imaginary.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON was sure the House had listened with great interest to the duel that had taken place with regard to the rival schemes before their Lordships, but he thought that perhaps they had now reached a time when those in whom the parental interest in the scheme was not so acute might be allowed to say a word. He was afraid that many members of the House would feel, however good a substratum had been laid down, that his noble and learned friend's Amendment, which was adopted rather hurriedly on the last occasion when it was discussed, did not altogether carry out even the principle which the noble and learned Lord had himself laid down. The noble 131 and learned Lord had insisted throughout the discussion that if they were to have compulsion they must have an absolutely impartial Court to decide as to the necessity for it, and also an impartial tribunal to fix upon the price. He confessed when he approached the question—and he hoped he might be allowed to say so again because he believed it was the opinion of the great majority of their Lordships' House—that the whole question of importing compulsion into the Bill was an anomaly. It might be necessary from the point of view of the Government, but it seemed to him that it was absolutely anomalous, when they had the Congested Districts Board with already an enormous amount of land which they could not employ, and when they had agreements extending into £50,000,000 for voluntary purchase which they could not liquidate, for the Government to come and say that the Bill could not be carried out without compulsion.
He had in his pocket at that moment a letter which illustrated the absurdity of a Government Department holding such a large amount of land in their hands. He could remember a time when members of the House of Commons used to receive many letters from people complaining of their treatment by the National League and saying that there ought to be reform, but that no names must be mentioned. As he said, he had a letter from a man stating that his market had been spoiled by the Congested Districts Board, which had undersold him, and that his holding was less remunerative, and yet he added—
I do implore your Lordship, if you make use of these facts, not to disclose my name, or I shall be boycotted by the Congested Districts Hoard and utterly ruined.
That showed, he thought, that when there was a million pounds worth of land in the hands of a Government Department there were dangers existing which made it desirable not to increase the amount. Yet they had been told that it was absolutely necessary that a power of compulsion should be given to deal with isolated cases.
§ He thought it was perfectly clear, from the discussion they had heard on both sides of the House, that the Amendment of Lord MacDonnell did not provide for an impartial tribunal to investigate the necessity of taking land. The noble Lord 132 had been champion of a great many causes throughout the debate, some of them lost causes, and he ventured to say that this was one of them. He hoped their Lordships would remember that it was not going to be a question of merely taking a few acres here and there for a cottage or a garden, or even for an allotment or small holding, it was an operation which might affect hundreds or thousands of acres belonging to one individual, which they were going to take away without the least desire on the part of the owner to sell, and that would probably be what would happen in the case of many noble Lords sitting behind him, who farmed large portions of their estates and who would be the first target for compulsion, if compulsion was to be exercised. It was proposed to take away from a man of that kind his occupation and also to take away from him what he had hitherto regarded as his own by right, and that being so he thought the least they could do was to make certain that on the question of the necessity of having that land taken away from him he should have the right of an appeal to a tribunal which was impartial.
§ He was not at all satisfied, as he had pointed out before, with the tribunal suggested by the noble and learned Lord. He provided that one of the Estates Commissioners and the Judicial Commissioner should sit with a rota Judge, and that those three, of whom one was certainly committed already and a second would by hypothesis support his colleague, should be the tribunal to decide this question. He would like to see the Estates Commissioners apart from the Judicial Commissioner left out of the business altogether. They had to form a scheme, and they could not help being swayed by the fact, which one of them in his evidence before the Dudley Commission made perfectly clear, that they had to consider how the man they were going to put on the land was going to make a profit out of it: he might, perhaps, not be a satisfactory farmer, but they were bound to put him in a better position. He hoped their Lordships would favourably consider any Amendment which made the tribunal consist of the Judicial Commissioner and a Judge of the High Court, or two Judges of the High Court, because he did not think it was too much to ask, where the litigants were a Government Department on the one side and an owner on the other, that the owner should have the right of claiming the 133 assistance of Judges of the High Court to decide his case.
§ As to price, the noble and learned Lord told their Lordships with great emphasis that it was a mistake to have two arbitrators with an umpire. He said he knew of no case in which both the arbitrators did not consider themselves to be advocates on either side, and that the umpire was certain to have to be called in to decide between them. He had had some experience of such arbitrations, and on the spur of the moment he remembered one case when he was at the War Office in which it was desired to take a very large tract of land. The question that came up for decision in that arbitration involved a sum of something like £90,000 or £100,000. The War Office appointed an arbitrator and the landlord appointed an arbitrator, and the decision was arrived at in a most satisfactory manner without any question at all of calling in the umpire, who, of course, had been provided for. He did not think that cases involving amounts of perhaps £40,000 or £50,000 should be left to one individual to guide the Court, particularly where the landlord might be a most unwilling seller. It was quite true what Lord MacDonnell had said a few moments ago, that the principle of compulsion to a limited extent for the purpose of relieving congested districts was carried by their Lordships by a large majority. That was the fact, and the reason for it was not very far to seek. It was not from any love of compulsion; it was not, he believed, in the case of many noble Lords sitting on his side of the House from any conviction that compulsion would be necessary; but it was, he believed, because there was a feeling that with the large sacrifices which had been exacted from this country and with the still larger sacrifices which had been exacted from those who owned land in Ireland in order to produce something like finality, there was no desire on the Opposition side of the House to refuse a provision without which the Government had assured them there was no chance of finality under the Bill.
§ The relief of congestion was and must be the first concern of those promoting the Bill, but he spoke the opinion, he thought, of every noble Lord on his side of the House when he said that although they had bean prepared with great reluctance to go the lengths they had done as to compulsion, if there was not going to be a perfectly clear 134 and impartial tribunal on the question of necessity, as well as an impartial hearing on the question of price, they would rather that the Bill was not passed at all, and that all the advantages of it which might be gained for the pacification of Ireland and for the peace as between landlord and tenant should be lost rather than a provision which was not, only so unjust but also so unworkable should be placed upon the Statute Book.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
My Lords, so far as these two rival schemes are concerned, I find myself in the unaccustomed, and to me agreeable, position of a critic, because at this moment my scheme, in which I may also be assumed to take a parental interest, is not under discussion. The two noble Lords, with their rival schemes, each devoted some part of their speeches to the question of how far the one might be indebted to the other in the framing of them. I will not attempt to enter into the question as to how far either or both of them are indebted to the Bill as I introduced it. There is a great deal in both schemes to which His Majesty's Government, I think I ought to remind the House, are compelled to take serious exception. We have never agreed to the abolition of the purchasing power of the Congested Districts Board. We see, of course, what is the intention and object of noble. Lords in bringing about that abolition—namely, that there should be only one purchasing body in Ireland. We achieved in practice in our scheme a similar result by saying that there should be two purchasing bodies but that each should be confined within its own area.
Now what is the result, in these clauses as they stand, of the handing over of the purchasing power to the Estates Commissioners? What happens is this. The Congested Districts Board go through the whole operation—and this, of course, applies whether the purchase is voluntary or compulsory—of looking at the land and deciding what they will do with it, and also deciding whether they wish to acquire it in the last resort by compulsion. They then send in a requisition to the Land Commission. The Land Commission, I take it, have to go over the whole process again with their own inspectors and make a fresh examination. That having been done the Estates Commissioners are placed in the agreeable position which few of us ever find ourselves in of being able to make a purchase with other people's money. The money comes out of the 135 pockets of the Congested Districts Board, but the amount to be given is entirely at the discretion of the Estates Commissioners, and there is no provision for any consultation between the two bodies with a view of arriving at the price which the Congested Districts Board are prepared to pay. Therefore, the Estates Commissioners knowing that they themselves cannot buy at a loss, but that the Congested Districts Board may have no inducement beyond the general sense of duty, which all men exercising a public function have, to make the kind of bargain which they would naturally make if they were acting for themselves. Can your Lordships produce any instance in England, Ireland, or anywhere else of one public body buying land with the money of another public body? I think not.
See what further possibilities of confusion there are. Look at the proviso to subsection (3). That provides that untenanted land must be taken in these particular circumstances to be divided up by the Land Commission for the purposes of relieving local congestion. That operation is to happen before the land is handed back to the Congested Districts Board, and therefore you not only have the double operation as regards purchase, but you actually have the particular estate being divided and administered by the two separate bodies. I think I am not speaking too strongly when I say that that is a positively grotesque proposition, and one which I can hardly conceive your Lordships desiring to retain in the Bill. With regard to the differences between the two noble Lords on the question of procedure, the noble Viscount who has just sat down expressed himself very strongly of the necessity of going through the utmost ceremony in any case where land was proposed to be taken compulsorily. The noble Viscount, I think, omitted one consideration which is germane to this discussion, and it is this. There is a difference between the application of compulsory powers by these purchasing bodies and the single application of a compulsory power, for instance, in England. Compulsion, I think it may be assumed, would follow upon the lines of purchase as carried out whether by the Congested Districts Board or the Estates Commissioners in Ireland.
The noble Viscount, I think, imported a certain prejudice into the matter when he spoke of the abnormal character of 136 compulsion as applied to the West of Ireland. The noble Viscount on the question of arbitration instanced a case in which he was himself concerned when he was at the War Office. If noble Lords opposite and other proprietors in the West of Ireland are going to get the sort of terms which the War Office has been in the habit of paying, I think there will be a general rush to be compulsorily bought out, not only by noble Lords, but by everybody who has an acre of land in the West of Ireland. As regards the question of the tribunal, my noble friend behind me follows in his proposed Clauses 47 and 48, and also partly in Clause 49, generally the lines on which we propose to proceed in our Bill, and it seems to me that the three grounds of objection at the bottom of page 11 which he there embodies represent a reasonable form in which anybody whose land is proposed to be taken may lodge his protest.
But there are one or two points in the noble Lord's Amendment, and also in that of the noble and learned Lord opposite, to which we take exception. We do not think that you will solve this problem if you confine your powers of purchase to congested estates in congested district counties. If you are not able to buy other than congested estates at need for the relief of congestion I am afraid yon will find that there will be cases, possibly many cases, in which special congestion will not be able to be dealt with. Then my noble friend behind me provides that the Land Commission should, after certain ceremonies have been gone through, make an order which will be eventually a transfer of such land to the Congested Districts Board, but if he looks at the proviso which I have just mentioned to subclause (3) of Clause 44 in the Bill, he will see that the two things do not run together, because there are certain cases in which the Land Commission are told not to pass the land to the Congested Districts Board, but to keep part of it back for their own purposes. We have always felt, as I have said before, that it is not reasonable to speak of such bodies as the Congested Districts Board and the Estates Commissioners as though they were ordinary litigants or ordinary parties, such as, for instance, a railway company, seeking to acquire land by compulsion; and when you speak of them as being judges in their own case, even by the surely harmless device of putting 137 an Estates Commissioner on the tribunal, as the noble and learned Lord opposite proposes, you are, I think, going beyond what is reasonable.
The noble Viscount opposite spoke all through as though the Congested Districts Board in desiring to make a purchase of this kind were in a position of a public company desiring to buy a piece of land for the extension of their works. The two things must not be treated as though they were identical. It is true, of course, that the Congested Districts Board and the Estates Commissioners desire to carry out the operations which are entrusted to them according to law, but in essence, as regards the operation of their minds, if not by their actual position, they must be expected to act judicially in such a case to a great extent, and it is not fair to compare them to people who desire to obtain land by compulsion in order to put money into their own pockets. And it is for that reason that it is not, in my view, reasonable to demand precisely those same safeguards over these compulsory purchases as in ordinary cases of purchase by compulsion.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
In the evidence given by one of the Estates Commissioners, he said that they must be able to sell the land so as not to incur loss, and he added that the landlord might have to part with that land for less than it was worth to him.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I know the observation to which the noble Viscount alludes, and it is one which has often been quoted but the same Estates Commissioner said—and I do not think the noble Viscount will contradict this—that the landlord ought not merely to receive a fair but a generous price, and that the difference ought to be paid by the State; and that is what, of course, in the case of a purchase at a loss has to be done, and the Congested Districts Board are provided by the State with funds for that purpose. If it is only that point upon which the noble Viscount rests, I think he builds too much upon a mere obiter dictum which has been, I am certain, misinterpreted. We, I repeat, do not desire or expect compulsion to be exercised on a large scale, and we certainly do desire that those who are bought out by compulsion should receive a fair and reasonable price for their land. But we do not believe that in order to achieve that object it is necessary to go through 138 a whole series of proceedings, and to surround the transaction with the same fences and safeguards that might be necessary in the case of ordinary purchases by compulsion. Consequently, although I fully admit the efforts which the noble and learned Lord opposite has made to shorten and cheapen the procedure under his clause, and though I also admit that there is much in the clauses of the noble Lord behind me to which I am prepared to give adhesion, yet at the same time I should not myself, as representing the Government, walk into the Lobby in favour of either.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I think some of your Lordships must have been asking yourselves during the last hour or so whether we were approaching some means of exit from the rather difficult position in which the House finds itself. We agreed that a certain amount of latitude of discussion should be allowed, and it certainly has been taken advantage of to a very full extent. I think it is true, as the noble Earl the Leader of the House said just now, that the House has virtually to choose in the first instance between the rival schemes of the noble Lord who sits on the Back Benches opposite, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson. Of course, there is a very important series of Amendments standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Dunboyne, but those are Amendments on the scheme of my noble and learned friend Lord Atkinson, and I think they can most conveniently be considered when we come to discuss the question in detail.
I was interested to hear both Lord MacDonnell and Lord Atkinson impute to one another, with a certain amount of earnestness, that each had plagiarised the particular scheme of which the other was the author. All I can say is that I rejoice that it is so, because we all of us felt when these two schemes first made their appearance that there were excellent features in both of them, and if each noble Lord has been able to pick the plums out of the other noble Lord's scheme, I feel sure that we shall be thereby brought nearer to a satisfactory solution of the difficulty. The only suggestion which I venture to offer to your Lordships now is that probably the most convenient and the most expeditious mode of procedure will be that we should take as a basis of discussion 139 the scheme which is now in the Bill—I mean the scheme that was added to the Bill on the motion of the noble and learned Lord behind me. He has considerably amended it. He has, if I may borrow an expression from him, withdrawn some of the bushes out of which his own zareba was originally constructed, and I cannot help thinking that his amended proposals may form a very useful ground work for our operations.
Now may I, in as few words as possible, state to the House what I conceive to be the effect of the amended proposals of my noble and learned friend? In the first place, and therein he is at one with the noble Lord opposite, he desires to separate that part of the procedure which is based upon voluntary purchase from that part of the procedure which depends upon the exercise of compulsion. I understand him to suggest something of this kind: The first step is that the Congested Districts Board must issue a requisition to the Land Commission. Thereupon the Land Commission are to take in the language of the noble and learned Lord, "all reasonable steps" to secure the purchase of the land which the Board desires to secure. Now, I take it that the meaning of the words "all reasonable steps" is that they are to do what any party desiring to buy land or anything else from another party would do, that is, enter into informal and reasonable negotiations, in which, of course, the question of price would certainly arise. The noble Earl opposite said just now that in his view the result of this would be that the Land Commission and the Congested Districts Board would be acting apart, the one having no means of knowing what had been done by or was in the mind of the other. As to that, I can scarcely conceive that two public Departments entrusted with duties of this importance should fail to lay their heads together and to confer as to the proper steps to be taken. They would, no doubt, be impelled by that sense of duty which the noble Earl very properly imputed to them to take such a course. Well, if the negotiations thus set on foot proceed successfully, the Land Commission then acquire the land, and having supplied the necessities of any local congests, proceeds to hand over the balance to the Congested Districts Board to be by them used for the purpose of relieving congestion in other parts of the country. That, as I understand it, closes the chapter so far as the 140 voluntary purchase is concerned, and we then pass to the question of compulsion. Now what happens under the Bill as to compulsion? If the Board find that the desired land cannot be acquired at a reasonable price on their behalf—and it is quite clear that in this case the Land Commissioners are acting on behalf of the Congested Districts Board—if they find the land cannot be acquired at a reasonable price, it then becomes their duty to submit a scheme to the Laud Commission for the compulsory acquisition of the land.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
May I interrupt for one moment? The noble Marquess contemplates that the Congested Districts Board and the Land Commission will carry on negotiations, if not at the same time, at different times, with the possible vendor?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I gather that the initial negotiations would be with the Board, but it is quite a point that may require attention. Well then, the scheme having been submitted to the Land Commission, it is considered by them. If they are satisfied they publish the necessary notices, and then in case objection is taken there is an appeal to the tribunal, proposed by the noble and learned Lord, consisting of one Estates Commissioner, a Judicial Commissioner, and a Judge from the rota. As to the constitution of that tribunal, there is no doubt a great deal to be said, but the question whether or not an Estate Commissioner should have a place on it is a simple and concrete point which could be very easily discussed upon its merits. It is noteworthy that the tribunal contemplated by the noble and learned Lord has to decide as to there being any necessity to resort to compulsion at all, and that is a point to which we on this side of the House certainly attach very great importance, and it is a point which, in our opinion, is not so satisfactorily or so clearly provided for in the alternative scheme of the noble Lord opposite, Lord MacDonnell. The noble and learned Lord then gives an appeal to the Court of Appeal on law and mixed questions of law and fact.
The only other feature in the scheme is that there is a separate appeal on questions of price to an arbitrator appointed by the Board of Works, unless the parties prefer that the question should be dealt with by the tribunal. I am quite prepared to admit that there may be preferable modes of dealing with this question of price, but I think it is a good feature in the scheme in 141 the Bill as amended that the question of price should be dealt with as a separate issue, and not mixed up with the other questions which will arise. That, as I understand it, is the scheme which now finds a place in the Bill, and that scheme for the present holds the field. If then we desire really to advance this discussion we should do well to make up our minds whether we do or do not accept that scheme as the ground work of the plan, and we can then deal with points of detail such as those raised by Lord Dunboyne. He has two very important proposals to make, one dealing with the composition of the tribunal, and the other dealing with the procedure to be followed in fixing the price. I think, if I may be allowed to say so, there is a great deal to be said for the noble Lord's proposals, and I shall be glad to hear them discussed. If the House is at all disposed to share my view, I would suggest that we should now proceed to the discussion seriatim of the Amendments upon the Paper, for I really cannot help feeling that if the general discussion on which we have embarked is allowed to proceed much longer we shall never see our way to a settlement of the matter before the House.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Perhaps the House will allow me to point out that the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkinson, which he proposed some time ago, affords a complete opportunity of making a selection between the two schemes, because it is essential to and characteristic of Lord Atkinson's scheme, and it is alien to and subversive of Lord MacDonnell's scheme. Therefore, if Lord Atkinson's Amendment, which I am about to put, be accepted, it will be a practical selection between the two schemes. The Amendment is in page 22, line 12, after the word "land," to insert the words "otherwise than by the exercise of the compulsory powers by this Act conferred upon them." The question is that these words be here inserted.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ *LORD CLONBROCK said his Amendment, which came next, was a very simple Amendment, and was merely to ensure that the requisition issued by the Congested Districts Board to the Land Commission calling on them to acquire or purchase certain lands should contain all the information possible. Therefore he proposed to add the words 142 "and shall state what in their opinion would be a fair price of such land." He thought that was a necessary piece of information.
In page 22, line 12, after the word 'land' to insert the words 'and shall state what in their opinion would be the fair price of such land.'"—(Lord Clonbrock.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I confess this Amendment seems to me to add some complication to the proceedings, because it involves an initial process of bargaining between the land owner and the Congested Districts Board, and he will afterwards be subjected to a second process of bargaining with the Estates Commissioners. I do not want to oppose the Amendment, but it seems to me that it would introduce a somewhat undue element of complication, and also of inspection by the Board, because, of course, they must look very carefully into it in order to see, what sort of price they are inclined to give.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
In page 22, line 14, to leave out the words 'shall proceed to acquire the estate or land accordingly,' and to insert the words 'shall take all reasonable and proper steps to acquire the estate or land by voluntary agreement on such terms as they shall in the circumstances deem reasonable.'"—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
In page 22, line 15, after the word 'Act' to insert the words in the case of sales other than compulsory.'"—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE OF BRANDON moved to insert the following new Clause 45: "Where any untenanted land has been acquired by the Board before the passing of this Act, or by the Land Commission on the requisition of the Board under this Act, the Board may retain the same and lot it, or any portion thereof, to the Department for the purpose of establishing an experimental farm for the relief of congestion by the training of probationary occupiers, instead of selling the same as hereinafter provided; and the Department may hold such land for this purpose and set aside such portions thereof 143 as they think fit as allotments for such probationary occupiers during their period of training."
§ He said this was the Amendment to which he alluded when he withdrew his Amendment on the previous evening on an earlier clause. This was the substantive proposal which he had to make, and the main portion of the scheme which he had to lay before the House. He could have wished that this Amendment had fallen into abler hands than his own, and had been advocated more influentially. Migration as a remedy for congestion was at once so important and at the same time was surrounded with such difficulties that he trusted no apology was needed for bringing before the House an aspect of that system which had not hitherto, be thought, engaged the attention of the House. The scheme embodied in his Amendment originated with Sir Horace Plunkett, and was based upon that gentleman's experience of nearly twenty years in the work of the Congested Districts Board. Whatever credit attached to the idea was entirely Sir Horace Plunkett's, but he (Lord Monteagle) alone was responsible for the form in which it was now proposed, as his right hon. friend was in America and he had had no opportunity of consulting him on the form of the Amendment before he sailed for the States.
§ The details of his Amendment might be crude and the drafting defective, but he hoped that at all events it presented to the House in a fairly definite form the main principle which he wished to submit for consideration. It would afford at any rate a basis for discussion, and elicit the opinions of others more experienced and abler than himself. During these debates they had had frequent criticisms from noble Lords on the Opposition side of the House on the system of migration, and many of those had proceeded from noble Lords like Lord Ashtown, whom he now saw in his place, who had great experience in the West of Ireland. Only on the previous day in the columns of a newspaper he observed a most able letter from his noble friend putting forward the case against migration from his point of view in a very convincing manner. He must say that, to a large extent he agreed with Lord Ashtown. If no sort of migration were possible except in the form in which it had hitherto been practised, he would be very much disposed to agree with 144 the noble Lord and to despair of migration as a solution. But though he was far from regarding migration as a panacea, he thought that it had to be tried, that it was the one solution that had been put forward of this great difficulty, and they could not afford to lay it aside until it had been given a fair trial in the most practical form in which it could be presented.
§ Migration pure and simple, he agreed, was an entire delusion, but he thought Sir Horace Plunkett had shown a way in which migration might be adopted on probationary lines free from defects which he fully appreciated in common with his noble friend Lord Ashtown. The first difficulty which Lord Ashtown had so clearly pointed out was that the congests when they were brought on to the land had had no experience; they had no capital and no knowledge of agriculture. There was a still more serious difficulty, and that was that in the circumstances under which they were now living their surroundings did not give rise to those developments of character which were essential for the successful treatment of small farms under the conditions which would prevail in the West of Ireland, or, he might say, in any part of Ireland. Another difficulty to which he thought his noble friend Lord Ashtown did not allude, though he believed the noble Lord would not disagree with him, was that migration as practised now merely struck the land and cut it up in a sort of chessboard fashion; it set up a dead level of small holdings throughout the district which was operated over. That was the greatest blot on the system. He agreed that it was most important they should have large farms and large farmers who would act as pioneers of agriculture, like the noble Lord himself, who was, he was sure, doing a very great work in the West of Ireland in that capacity.
§ It was most important, as he had said, that they should have large farms. He thought also that there should be some period of probation before a congest was put in possession and made the absolute owner of a holding, and the essence of the proposal which he had endeavoured to embody in his clause was that an experimental farm should be established. He would not labour the question whether it should be administered by the Congested District Board or by a Department. The details could be argued afterwards; but he 145 proposed that an experimental farm should be established on which the congests should be employed as labourers, with allotments attached, and that they should be given instruction under the particular Department which had the charge of the experiment. This farm might be of some 2,500 acres. That was the tract of land which Sir Horace Plunkett suggested should be acquired for the purpose, and it would eventually accommodate about one hundred families. It would have to be worked in the first place as a grazing farm, and allotments from the first might be given to the labourers, so that they should have an opportunity of learning and practising on those allotments the working of a small farm, as well as seeing on the large farm the improved methods which could only be resorted to on a large scale. In addition to that, they might be given a share of the grazing on co-operative principles such as were advocated in the Report of the Dudley Commission and also years ago by the late O'Conor Don, and which were practised in a few cases already in the West of Ireland where co-operative grazing societies were in existence. This, in brief, was an outline of the scheme that Sir Horace Plunkett had suggested.
§ Small holdings would gradually grow out of the allotments, and the scheme would thus provide, not only for the policy which he had suggested as a necessary condition, but also for an amount of elasticity by which the holdings might assume a more natural size instead of being prescribed beforehand in a rigid manner. He would expect to hear criticisms of his proposals in detail. One criticism that he rather expected was that the congests would not go to such a settlement at all. Well, he was afraid that that applied to every scheme of migration that could be propounded at the present time; there was very grave doubt whether congests would go on to this land, but it was not only the intimidation of the Irish League that the congests feared. In many cases the congests had hesitated, and not unnaturally, before the cattle-driving and agitation on the part of the landless men arose; they hesitated to take a small farm because, small as it was, it was much larger than anything they had been accustomed to before, and they did dread, he was told in many cases, the responsibility of paying rent for a piece of land which was larger than they had 146 previously held. Therefore, he did not think that that objection need prevail against his proposal.
§ Perhaps he would be told that the farm he proposed should be under the management of a Department. Well, possibly the Congested Districts Board would be the better body for the purpose. He was quite open to reason on that point, and he could see there would be certain advantages in having the two experiments because, of course, migration would be going on on other lines as well. This would be only a single experiment, and that the two should be going on at the same time need not involve competition between two public bodies in this matter. But the reason he had for suggesting the Department was that the Department had at the back of it the Agricultural Board and the Council of Agriculture, two popularly elected or representative bodies with a good broad back that embraced the whole of Ireland. That was a very important matter in this case, because there was no doubt that to solve this difficult question of migration it was most essential that they should have behind them an enlightened public opinion, and a public opinion that was not merely confined to congested districts but came from the whole country. Therefore, there was something to be said perhaps for having the scheme entrusted, if it should be adopted, to a Department.
§ But probably the final objection that he would be met with, after what had fallen from his noble friend Lord Ashtown, was that this was not practicable, that Sir Horace Plunkett and himself were mere faddists and idealists, and that this scheme would not work. Well, he put it to the House, what were they going to do? The relief of congestion had to be faced. Migration was the only remedy, except the one suggestion of Lord Ashtown's which he would allude to in a moment. Migration was the only remedy, and, as Sir Horace Plunkett had pointed out, it was a futile remedy unless it was tried on probationary lines. It would surely break down if the congests were simply dumped down upon the land without preparation. He desired to refer to one suggestion which Lord Ashtown made in a previous debate, and he alluded to it in his letter also. Lord Ashtown said that the only real remedy for congestion was 147 by employing the people. If there were any prospect of employing the people where they were, without migration, he thought they would jump at it. It bad been said by Lord Ashtown that granite quarries might provide a solution in one district. He agreed with that. He went further and said he thought something might be done by way of afforestation in another district, but he was convinced that there were vast tracts of land that could not be touched in this way. They had no men of position and of capital and of public spirit like Lord Ashtown in other districts to employ the people except on farming, and farming in some shape or form ill most districts would be the only resource. Therefore he came back to the simple question of principle—was not some probationary system a necessary condition of successful migration? If the House adopted that principle, he had no doubt that it could be given effect to in some way or other. If, on the other hand, after the principle had been adopted and the plan put into operation it failed, as his practical friends, he supposed, would tell him it would fail, they would, at any rate, have tried a conclusive experiment; they would have given migration the very best chance it could have, and if it failed it would be time enough then to look for other solutions.
After Clause 44, to insert the following new clause:
§ '45. Where any untenanted land has been acquired by the Board before the passing of this Act, or by the Land Commission on the requisition of the Hoard under this Act, the Board may retain the same and let it, or any portion thereof, to the Department for the purpose of establishing an experimental farm for the relief of congestion by the training of probationary occupiers, instead of selling the same as hereinafter provided; and the Department may hold such land for this purpose and set aside such portions thereof as they think fit as allotments for such probationary occupiers during their period of training.'"—(Lord Monteagle of Brandon.)
§ *LORD ASHTOWN said that his noble friend Lord Monteagle wanted to migrate a hundred families on 2,500 acres of land. He supposed the noble Lord wanted to keep them there for five or six years. If he migrated a hundred families in that time, how long would it take to migrate the whole of the people in the congested districts? He thought it would take two lives.148
§ LORD MONTEAGLE OF BRANDON said that his suggestion was merely an experiment to see whether migration could be successfully carried out.
§ *LORD ASHTOWN said the noble Lord wanted to try his experiment with one hundred families, and he would have to train those families in some way. If they only did this every five or six years, he fancied that migration would not go on at all during two life times. From Galway to Connemara there was employment for men as labourers in the quarries at work which they were able to perform, and he would far rather see these men labouring than see them put on the land, because many of them had no idea of farming at all. If this scheme was to be carried out, the Congested Districts Board would first of all have to take care that they had got the right sort of land upon which to carry it out. Unfortunately, from what he had seen of the Congested Districts Board, they always seemed to buy the worst land for migration. There were six farms close by his place which the Board had had since 1904, and on which no one could make a profit by tilling.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said that nobody had a higher respect for Sir Horace Plunkett than he had, and nobody more admired the enthusiasm with which he sought the good of Ireland. Sir Horace had often spoken to him about this scheme, and upon one occasion he (Lord MacDonnell) brought it before the Congested Districts Board with a view to their considering it. There was a good deal of sympathy for the scheme, but it was thought that it was really a case of trying to roll back the Atlantic with a mop. Lord Ashtown had said, the noble Lord who proposed this Amendment only proposed to try this scheme with a hundred families. In order to carry out migration effectively they had to deal with 20,000 families. If they dealt with them, allowing each family ten acres per head, they would have to acquire 200,000 acres. It was doubtful whether there were 200,000 acres of untenanted land in the whole of the West of Ireland available for the Congested Districts Board. It was thought desirable that they should try this scheme on a small scale, and the Board were willing to try it on a small scale. He himself, with Sir Horace Plunkett and another member of the Congested Districts Board, went down and interviewed the 149 Roscommon County Council with the object of setting on foot a scheme of the kind but it came to nothing. The people did not believe in it. His opinion was that it would be as well to try a scheme of this sort, and during the trial they might get certain valuable hints which might be useful to them in the wider scheme of migration; but to propose that no migration should take place until the migrants had gone through the whole course of instruction on an experimental farm—
§ LORD MONTEAGLE OF BRANDON said he did not suggest that migration should be suspended during the trial of this scheme.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said the scheme might go on, and probably during the process valuable hints would be forthcoming which would be of use in a larger scheme. It was very desirable that the Congested Districts Board should have power to do this, if they had not power already. They had certain money at their disposal, and he thought they could do it if they pleased. He would have no objection to such a clause as this being put in the Bill if it was made of a permissive character.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD: In the first portion of the clause it is made mandatory. That is quite impossible.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said that if the noble Lord would introduce some such words as these, he would be prepared to support the clause—namely, "The Board may from its funds allocate in any year a sum not exceeding £5,000 for expenditure by itself on maintenance and instruction in such experimental farms and allotments." Even if the Board were advised that they had not the power, this would give them the necessary legislative authority to make the experiment. His own belief was that they had the power already. He desired to say one word with reference to what had fallen from Lord Ashtown. The noble Lord had said that the Congested Districts Board, in his experience—and no gentleman in the West 150 of Ireland had larger experience—never bought any land but bad land. That was quite true.
LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD
I took down the noble Lord's words. He said the Board never bought any land but bad land.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said that was his own experience. They could only buy bad land, because they could never get good land. Good land was never sold to them. That was his experience during five years on the Board, and if any evidence in favour of compulsion was necessary no more forcible proof could be brought forward than the expression which by misadventure had slipped from the noble Lord opposite.
§ *LORD CLONBROCK said he thought that what Lord Ashtown meant to say was that the land which the Congested Districts Board purchased was not fit for tilling. There was a good deal of what was commonly called strong bullock land, most valuable for pasture, but not at all well adapted for tillage, certainly not for tillage with the light ploughs and small horses commonly used by small farmers in Ireland. There was a tract of land purchased in his part of the country which he believed Lord MacDonnell knew. It was fine strong land, part of it wet and all of it excessively unfit for tilling. Houses had been built on it, and it had been divided into certain portions, he forgot how many, but the whole amount was about 800 acres; yet the houses were empty and the land was derelict at present.
§ LORD ATKINSON said he was aware of the intense interest that his friend Sir Horace Plunkett took in this matter, and he thought there was a great deal to be said for such a scheme as the noble Lord had foreshadowed—namely, that experiment should be made from time to time in training to a better system of farming some of the congests whom it was desirable to plant out. But the Congested Districts Board could do that already, and he would suggest to Lord Monteagle that it was impossible at this stage of this Bill to frame anything like an effective scheme 151 for carrying into practice the idea that he shared with Sir Horace Plunkett. He did not think an Amendment of the kind suggested would be at all satisfactory to establish a system such as the noble Lord desired.
§ THE EARL OF MAYO remarked that Lord MacDonnell, notwithstanding the statement that Lord Ashtown made that the Congested Districts Board bought the wrong sort of land, persisted in saying that the Board could only get bad land.
§ *THE EARL OF MAYO said that as the noble Lord accepted Lord Ashtown's statement he would not labour that point. He was quite with Lord Monteagle with regard to this suggestion for allowing congests to learn something of farming before they were put on a farm, because that was what it amounted to. Sir Horace Plunkett was an old friend of his own, and he thought the idea was a most excellent one. Lord Atkinson said it was impossible to put this in the Bill. On another clause they had been for an hour and a-half listening to the possibilities of putting into this Bill enormous things of a nature which commended themselves to the noble and learned Lord, but when Lord Monteagle proposed a very moderate suggestion he was immediately met by Lord Atkinson with the statement that it could not be put into the Bill. Of course it could be put into the Bill if their Lordships chose to put it in, notwithstanding the words of the noble and learned Lord. He hoped Lord Monteagle would, if their Lordships considered it right, deal with this matter at a later stage in the Bill, when he would be able to meet the criticism of Lord Atkinson, who seemed very anxious to object when anybody got up to speak upon any other subject but his own particular scheme.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think there will be general agreement that anything put forward by my noble friend on the Cross Benches, Lord Monteagle, is worthy of the respectful consideration of the House, and more particularly when it is backed by the long experience and devotion to his task of Sir Horace Plunkett. But at the same time I am bound to say that I regret that if this matter was to be considered it should have come before us at the antepenultimate 152 stage of the Bill in this House rather than at an earlier stage, when we could have considered it a little more fully. In spite of what has been said by the noble Earl, Lord Mayo, I am inclined to agree with the noble and learned Lord opposite, Lord Atkinson, that this is not precisely a fit subject for this Bill, for the reason that I do not know what there is to prevent the Congested Districts Board from starting an experimental farm of this kind and training certain people on it, and it is not our business in an Act of Parliament to direct a Board possessed of wide powers as to the allocation of particular sums which they should spend on particular objects of this kind.
In speaking of an experimental farm for these purposes you have to be careful in what sense you are using the words. An experimental farm is used for the purpose of cultivation and the results of a particular year's work go far beyond the particular area of the farm itself. Certain experiments are tried in growing crops produced by particular manures, or in growing crops under special conditions which are of permanent value, but I do not see how the so-called results of an experiment of this kind would have any effect on anybody but the particular set of people who might he under it at the moment, and therefore to speak of it as an experiment seems to me to be a misnomer. You are trying on a very small scale something which you think ought to be done on a larger scale. I do not deny that to plant a number of migrants, men who have been only used to a very special kind of small cultivation and that sometimes of a rather intermittent character, upon land of an entirely different kind, and to ask them to engage successfully in a different sort of cultivation is expecting too much. If any method of this kind could be carried out on a large scale I should welcome it, but it seems to me that the cost of applying this sort of education to anything like the whole body of people, whom you propose to migrate would be altogether prohibitive. And bearing in mind what I said as to the small value of the proceeding as an experiment, I confess I am not very hopeful of any large results following from it.
With regard to what fell from the noble Lord opposite, Lord Ashtown, as to the proper solution of congestion being the establishment of industries, I certainly agree with him, and I would welcome such a 153 thing beyond anything else. Far better, if you could do it, to multiply the industrial classes in Ireland, than to multiply the agricultural class. There are quite enough fanners in Ireland already. I think we should all, speaking generally, agree that there are not enough people engaged in industry. That, of course, is a subject which deserves the close attention both of Government and of those who embark in any private enterprise of the kind, because it is quite clear, whether it is a question of quarries or anything else, that unless it can be put on a commercial basis it would be useless to attempt to open out the country in that way on a large scale. I am afraid I cannot advise the House to insert my noble friend's Amendment in the Bill, partly for the technical reason that his early clause involves the special allocation of money, and also on the ground that I think this experiment, if it is to be tried and if it is right to call it an experiment, must be tried by the bodies concerned on their own responsibility with the large public funds at their disposal. I hope my noble friend will not think that I am lacking in sympathy with his proposal, but I do not think it would be wise at this stage to insert the clause in the Bill.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said their Lordships had been pleased to accept an Amendment of his in Clause 45 empowering the Lord Lieutenant on the representation of the Congested Districts Board to add to the congested areas, and to make exclusions also, on a representation from the Board. He thought it would be desirable that the action of the Lord Lieutenant in making exclusions from a congested area should not be contingent on the submission of a representation to that effect from the Board. The Congested Districts Board was naturally persuaded of the advantages in all cases of its own administration, and he thought it would be a difficult thing to lead the Board to imagine that any particular area would not be better subject to its administration than relieved from it. He provided, in the Amendment which he now submitted, that the Lord Lieutenant should not exclude from an area any portion without previous communication and consultation with the Board, but it was desirable that when certain areas had had for a sufficient length of time the advantages of the Board's superintendence and assistance, those areas should be excluded 154 and put upon their own resources, and not constantly and perpetually kept as recipients of the Board's advantages and doles. He also proposed—
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think the noble Lord had better dispose of this Amendment first, because the other deals with a different question.
In page 22, line 40, after the word 'or,' to insert the words 'at any time after consultation with the Board.'"—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
*LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD moved to amend the proviso at the end of Clause 45—
Provided that no division, or part thereof, shall be included which is not situated in an administrative county which contains a congested districts county,
by the addition of the words "and is not congested within the meaning of Section 36 of the Act of 1891." He explained that his Amendment did nothing more than give as a continuous power the power which under Section 36 of the Act of 1891 was limited in point of time. The matter was discussed when the clause was under their Lordships' consideration in Committee; and it was desirable that no portion of a district should be included unless it partook of the same character of congestion as the existing congested areas.
In page 2, line 5, after the word 'county,' to insert the words 'and is not congested within the meaning of section 36 of the Act of 1891.'"—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
This provision somewhat narrows the power which the Bill as it stands would give for the inclusion of districts, and so far, therefore, from our point of view, we cannot accept it. I should have thought there must be very few cases where districts not now included under the Act had become in such a condition, that not previously having fallen within the provisions of Section 36 of the Act of 1891, they now do. My noble friend, of course, with his great experience may know of such cases, but I should have hoped that in the general improvement which has taken place in the areas outside the present congested 155 districts there must be very few which have fallen back, and, having hitherto been excluded, now come within the 30s. limit. From that point of view I should imagine my noble friend's Amendment would have very small effect.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ LORD ATKINSON moved an Amendment which he said reconciled Clause 46 with the previous Clause 15. The noble Earl would remember that under that clause advances might be made to certain parties, and that advances were not to be made for general purposes until the claims of those persons so named had been adequately made.
In page 23, line 13, after the word 'may' to insert the words 'subject to the provisions as to the making of advances under the Land Purchase Acts contained in section fifteen of this Act.'"—(Lord Atkinson.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD moved an Amendment on Clause 46 to make subsection (2) read as follows:—"If any parcels of 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" (i.e., tenants or proprietors of holdings in congested districts county), "the Board may sell those parcels to whomsoever they think fit having regard to the welfare of the locality."
In page 23, line 13, to leave out from the word 'parcels' to the end of the subsection, and to insert the words 'to whomsoever they think fit having regard to the welfare of the locality.'"—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ LORD ASHBOURNE asked whether this was not a rather serious Amendment. He was sure that the noble Lord who proposed it meant the best and that he thought it was the best; but this might mean landless men, landless women, and landless boys and girls. There was not the slightest vestige of an intimation as to what the Board should do. The Amendment said "to whomsoever they think fit having regard to the welfare of the locality." They might think it very desirable to sell to some person whom 156 none of heir Lordships were thinking of at the present time.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
In page 23, line 15, after the word 'value,' to insert the words 'Provided that no such sale shall be made to more than one son of the same tenant.'"—(Lord Farnham.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ [The sitting was suspended at eight o'clock and resumed at a quarter past nine.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD moved to insert a new clause which, he said, had been struck out in Committee, enabling the Congested Districts Board to recover the rents due on property purchased for the Board by the Estates Commissioners. Without these rents, he said, the Board would be unable to pay the interest on the money advanced to the Board for the purchase of the estate.
To insert the following new clause:
§ '47. When after the passing of this Act the Land Commission acting on a requisition from the Congested Districts Board enter into an agreement for the purchase of an estate or untenanted land, or compulsorily acquire an estate, or untenanted land for the Board, the provisions of section eighteen of the Act of 1903 (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, or if the Board were the owner of the estate or untenanted land.'"—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I may say at once that this is practically consequential on what the noble Lord has done elsewhere, and therefore, of course, we raise no objection.
§ LORD DUNBOYNE understood the reason of the noble Lord's Amendment to be that he wanted to give the Congested Districts Board power to recover the rents in the case of properties purchased for them in the same manner as the Estates Commissioners had power to recover rents when they purchased the estates.157
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD moved a further clause providing that in the congested districts no congested estate or untenanted land could be sold under the Purchase Acts, except to the Land Commission, without the consent of the Congested Districts Board, which consent could not be withheld unless the Board undertook within a reasonable time to make a requisition on the Land Commission to purchase the estate or untenanted land. The clause also provided for an appeal from any refusal by the Board under the section.
§ He said he considered this clause one of the most important, because if it were their Lordships' desire that congestion should be relieved in the West it was essential that the congested districts in the West should pass under the control of the Congested Districts Board and that the untenanted land in Connaught should be ear-marked for the relief of congestion. If they perpetuated the existing practice whereby a landlord might contract to sell his congested estates to his tenants the result would be that the Congested Districts Board would be unable to intervene to relieve congestion on that estate. The tenants would become the owners of their holdings and it would be found impossible, as it had already been found impossible by the Congested Districts Board to come to an agreement with each individual tenant that he should waive his interests in his particular holding and submit to all the holdings in the estate being lumped together, pooled, and so redistributed that each tenant might obtain a holding within a ring fence. Therefore unless these estates were sold to the Board it was practically impossible that congestion within the particular district could be relieved. In the same way, unless they ear-marked the untenanted land in the West of Ireland for the relief of congestion anything like migration of tenants and the redistribution of their holdings amongst those who remained would become equally impossible.
§ Whilst admitting it was a "large order" to ask their Lordships to impose this 158 restriction upon landlords he thought there should be a corresponding obligation upon the Congested Districts Board that they should buy without delay the holdings or the untenanted land, as the case may be, or that the matter should be referred to the arbitration provided for by the compulsory proceedings with which they had been concerned earlier, and which, he believed, were nothing more than the reference to an impartial arbitrator of the claims of the landlords and of the Congested Districts Board. However that might be, however their Lordships might regard that point, one conclusion was certain—a conclusion come to with complete unanimity by the Dudley Commission. That conclusion was that unless they gave to the Congested Districts Board the right of buying, of having reserved to them all the congested estates in the West of Ireland and the untenanted land, for the relief of congestion there, they would fail in the objects they had set before themselves in this legislation.
To insert the following new clause:
§ '48. No congested estate situated in a congested districts county, and no untenanted land situated in an administrative county containing a congested districts county shall, after the passing of this Act, be sold under the Land Purchase Acts to persons other than the Land Commission acting for and on behalf of the Congested Districts Board without the consent of that Board, which consent shall not he withheld unless the Board undertake within a reasonable time to make a requisition on the Land Commission to purchase the estate or untenanted land.
§ From any refusal of the Board under this section an appeal shall be to the court constituted under section following, and the order of such court shall be final.
§ Provided that this section shall not apply in the case of any sale of an estate or untenanted land in pursuance of an originating application or request lodged before the passing of this Act.'"—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)
§ *LORD LANGFORD said it was indeed a very "large order" that the proposed clause put before them should be inserted. In plain language it was applying congestion to all the unsold estates in Ireland.
§ *LORD LANGFORD said it was limiting the owners in those districts to no sales except to the Land Commission. They were told by Lord MacDonnell that this 159 was the finding of the Dudley Commission. He (Lord Langford) admired very much the labours of that Commission, and, more especially, the labours of the noble Earl who presided, but he could not forget the fact that the Dudley Commission did not in any way represent the landlords of Ireland. He would go further and say that anybody who saw the witnesses and heard the very pointed way in which questions were put, both in examination and cross-examination, could come to no other conclusion than that the idea of compulsion was put before them in such a manner that they could not help answering the questions in a certain way. This large Commission went into the West of Ireland with a great deal of advertisement, and in Ireland they knew very well from experience what inspections and what Commissions meant. The whole countryside was agitated and said, "What are we going to get out of tills?" That was exactly the condition of things. Although the noble Lord quoted the Commission he did not follow the Commission in all its findings. One of the findings of the Dudley Commission was that the landless man should be put aside, the special point being that the migrants should come first. The noble Lord could not deny that.
§ *LORD LANGFORD asked whether the noble Lord could point to any paragraph in the Report of the Dudley Commission establishing any reason why a clause of the description proposed should be put into the Bill. He believed the clause was not in the Bill in the first instance—that it was a new clause.
§ *LORD LANGFORD said the Government also did not act quite on the findings of the Dudley Commission and had got a little bit wide of the mark. It was a monstrous clause to try and put into the Bill. As owners in Ireland they did deserve a little pity and sympathy. By this clause they were once more to have their hands tied behind their back.
§ *LORD ASHTOWN regarded the clause as impracticable. In Galway half at least of the land was not fit for division, and it was perfectly hopeless to expect 160 to divide it. It had a soft sub-soil on which no heavy beast could live during the winter, and stock had to be moved to the West to escape it. As for trying tillage, he himself had tilled for twenty years and had only obtained a good harvest in two years. He did not think it would pay any one to grow corn. He was afraid the members of the Dudley Commission knew very little about agriculture. He was cross-examined by them and it struck him that they knew nothing about it.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY failed to see where the clause inflicted hardship on landowners. There was a real case made out for such a provision. The effect of the clause would be to prevent a landowner selling direct to his tenant. Surely the landowner might expect to get as good a price from a Board purchasing from him as from a tenant? Any one who was interested in the relief of congestion in the West of Ireland would know that there was a real need for such a provision. Travelling through the congested districts they would find cases where congested estates had been sold direct to the tenants with the result that congestion was stereotyped for ever. They would find an estate which had been sold to the Board and which had been improved, as also had the condition of the people living on the estate; and close by an estate which had been sold direct to the tenants without any Government Department coming in to help the tenants, who lived on in a state of congestion. He maintained that a case had been made out for such a provision as that proposed by Lord MacDonnell, and hoped their Lordships would not believe there was any real hardship in asking owners not to sell in such a way that tenants might not be benefited by the intervention of a public Department.
§ *LORD CLONBROCK said landlords were to be absolutely precluded from selling their land, except to the Estate Commissioners. It was not only a question of congested estates, but dealt with untenanted land. That might apply to places like the Plains of Boyle in Roscommon where there were hundreds of acres of grass land with no sort of congestion. A landlord was to be deprived of the right to dispose of such land as he thought fit and was to be absolutely prohibited from selling, except to the Commissioners. Then they were told there was no hardship to 161 the landlord! It was the most extraordinary proposal of which he had ever heard.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
The noble Lord, Lord Langford, expressed some doubt as to whether this provision had appeared in our Bill originally. As a matter of fact, it appeared in a far more acute form. Not only did we say that no congested estate should be sold but that no estate should be sold, and we founded that on the opinion expressed in the Report of the Dudley Commission—namely, that if all the land in the available area could be secured it would not suffice to provide those who are now holders in the congested districts with an economic holding. The view noble Lords take of this clause is a good test, I will not say of their sincerity, but of the reality of their professions that the one thing in the world they desire is to see the congest put upon the land. We have heard a great deal about the landless man and of the danger of his getting an acre, but hitherto we have been under the impression that there was a real desire among noble Lords opposite to secure all the available land for the congests. What does this clause actually say? It does not say—it would be very unfair if it did say—that the Congested Districts Board would be entitled to tell a landlord that he must hold his land up indefinitely because it might, at some time or other, be wanted for the relief of congestion. That, obviously, would be an unfair thing to do. What it says is that he must not part with his land without giving to the Congested Districts Board the option of taking it, and the Board can say at once whether they want it or not. It is quite true that there is a great deal of land in these congested districts which is quite unfit for cutting up for the purposes of congests. Not only is there some of the fine grazing land which is too good, but also that class of land which looks to a casual visitor the most hopeless kind—land where pasture is intermixed with rocky soil which looks as if it would not feed a goat. At the same time it has admirable qualities for the purpose of a large farm but is quite unfit to be cut up. The Congested Districts Board would at once say that that kind of land is not what they want.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
The noble Lord 162 must settle that with the noble Earl below him (Lord Shaftesbury), who was probably concerned in the transaction. There being this great problem to solve, where is the hardship to the landlord in the Congested Districts Board having the refusal of the land? I quite agree that if the Board, said "We cannot give you an answer now, but we will give you an answer at some future time," then the landlord would have an excellent case for the appeal which my noble friend provides. The noble Lord opposite said this is a "large order." Of course it is, but then this is a Bill of very large orders. It is a very large order for the taxpayers to provide £25,000,000 for the relief of landlords and tenants in Ireland in whom they have no material interest whatever, only a friendly and a moral interest. Therefore when we are told this is a large order I quite agree, and I reply that this Bill is full of large orders. We should regard as a serious matter the possibility of landlords within the congested districts, in view of all that has passed in this debate, rushing forward to dispose of their land by direct sales; and all the informed opinion in Ireland is, as I believe, in support of the proposal of the noble Lord in this matter. I trust, therefore, that your Lordships will agree to re-instate the clause in this form.
§ *LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said their Lordships had affirmed the principle of compulsory purchase. In a particular case the Congested Districts Board was authorised to call upon the Estates Commissioners to purchase a particular estate. All that was asked was that in respect of an estate in regard to which the Congested Districts Board was entitled to exercise its right of compulsory purchase, the owner of that estate should not dispose of it without applying first to the Congested Districts Board to buy it.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
This clause was, I believe, deliberately rejected by your Lordships in Committee, and I cannot help saying that I think it rather unusual in cases of this kind to endeavour to obtain the restitution of the clause on Report stage. Of course, it may be shown that the clause dropped out per incuriam or something of that kind. The clause is one which would involve very considerable hardship and injustice. What it says is not merely that the Congested Districts Board are to be given the opportunity 163 of buying a congested estate or untenanted land, but that no transaction concerned with congested estates or untenanted land can go forward at all without the consent of the Congested Districts Board, who are therefore in the position absolutely of blocking any transaction of the kind. When you come to deal with untenanted land, surely it is a very serious thing that the whole of the untenanted land in these areas is to be, so to speak, tabooed, and excluded from the advantages offered in respect of untenanted land in other parts of the country.
There is also this to be borne in mind, that we have considerably extended and amplified the definition of a congested estate. My noble friend behind me moved last night to reduce the £10 limit to £5, and I ventured, with great deference, to deprecate the course which he pursued. Of course I fully recognise there was something to be said for the smaller limit, but the effect of that has been that we have now brought within the definition of congestion a very much larger area than was ever contemplated before, and we are asked to say, with regard to the whole of that large area that these estates and untenanted lands are to be excluded from
§ the benefits of land purchase till the sanction of the Congested Districts Board has been obtained. That would, I venture to think, be inflicting a great hardship. I should also like to ask this question in passing: If there are really cases of extreme congestion, where the holdings are so much below the economic level that the owners of them are unable to earn as decent livelihood upon them, would it not be the case that the Land Commission would decline to allow the transaction to go forward, that they would decline to declare the estate to be an estate in the technical acceptation of the term? I think that is really, in part at any rate, an answer to the point which was made by the noble Lord on the Back Benches (Lord MacDonnell), when be dwelt on the great evil of stereotyping these congested estates by allowing them to be transferred to the occupying tenants before the Congested Districts Board could have an opportunity of improving the size and condition of the holdings.
§ On Question?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 19; Not-Contents, 49;163
|Loreburn, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Allendale, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Crewe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Blyth, L.||Pentland, L.|
|Denman, L. [Teller.]||Pirrie, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Glantawe, L.||St. David's, L.|
|Liverpool, E.||Haversham, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Shaftesbury, E.||MacDonnell, L. [Teller.]||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Monteagle of Brandon, L.||Welby, L.|
|Devonshire, D.||Iveagh, V.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)|
|Wellington, D.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Ardilaun, L.||Farnham, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Ashbourne, L.||Forester, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Ashtown, L.||Hindlip, L.|
|Barrymore, L.||Knaresborongh, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Belper, L.||Langford, L.|
|Mayo, E.||Broderick, L. (V. Midleton.)||Leith of Fyvie, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)||Monck, L. (V. Monck.)|
|Stanhope, E.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Verulam, E.||Clinton, L.||Oramnore and Browne, L.|
|Waldegrave, E. [Teller.]||Clonbrock, L.||Powerscourt, L. (V. Powerscourt.)|
|Wicklow, E.||Cloncurry, L.|
|Desart, L. (E. Desart.)||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Churchill, V. [Teller.]||Digby, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Hill, V.||Dunalley, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Hood, V.||Dunboyne, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Dunleath, L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
§ Amendment negatived accordingly.
§ On Clause 47 (Scheme for compulsory purchase to be submitted to Land Commission by Congested Districts Board),
§ LORD DUNBOYNE moved to provide that, where the Board were of opinion that it was desirable to acquire land for the purpose of relieving congestion either by adding to a holding or providing a new holding, "they may, with the consent of the owner, proceed to inspect such land as may seem suitable for their purposes, and ascertain the amount which the owner thereof may demand for the sale to them of such land, and if the owner shall refuse such consent to inspection, or to state the price which he would accept for said land, such refusal shall be held to be sufficient grounds for the Congested Districts Board proceeding as hereinafter provided." He said that at the present moment in the scheme of Lord Atkinson there was no provision for inspection for ascertaining the price which the vendor would be willing to take. Objection had been raised, he thought, by the Leader of the House about the Congested Districts Board possibly suggesting a price and then the Estates Commissioners having to inspect and themselves put a price upon it. He understood the noble Earl to say—he did not know whether he was correct, but that was how he understood it—that the Estates Commissioners would have to buy at their price and that the Congested Districts Board would have to find the money, which was not quite a reasonable proposal. But he (Lord Dunboyne) did not think that was the case. As he understood the procedure, the Congested Districts Board would make a request to the Estates Commissioners. The Estates Commissioners, if they thought fit, would buy the land and pay for it out of the money which would be allocated in the funds to be set aside for purchase. It seemed to him that the money for purchase would come out of that sum and not out of what might be called the Congested Districts Board fund proper, which fund was appropriated for the purpose of improving estates and doing sundry other things in connection with the Board. What he had done in his Amendment was to provide for inspection of the land by the Congested Districts Board so that they might ascertain from the vendor—not that they themselves should name the price—but that 166 they should ascertain from the vendor at what price he would be willing to sell his land. In that way the difficulty would be got over of their offering a price and possibly the Estates Commissioners offering a different one. Unless the Congested Districts Board had the power of inspecting the property and ascertaining the price which the vendor would be willing to accept, of course it would be very difficult for them to formulate a scheme and get the necessary particulars that would be required by the Estates Commissioners before they would be able to deal with it. He thought the Amendment he had suggested would meet the difficulties which appeared to him in the clause as it now stood.
In page 23, line 38, to leave out the word 'and,' and to insert the words 'They may, with the consent of the owner, proceed to inspect such land as may seem suitable for their purposes and ascertain the amount which the owner thereof may demand for the sale to them of such land, and if the owner shall refuse such consent to inspection, or to state the price which he would accept for said land such refusal shall be held to be sufficient grounds for the Congested Districts Board proceeding as hereinafter provided. If they are.'"—(Lord Dunboyne.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I have no objection to the Amendment of the noble Lord, because it undoubtedly supplies a gap which apparently existed in the machinery—namely, that if the owner sat still and did nothing the Congested Districts Board had no means of forming any opinion as to the character of the estate and how much they might be prepared to give for it, supposing they desired to buy it. I do not follow what the noble Lord said with regard to the procedure as between the Congested Districts Board and the Estates Commissioners. Does the noble Lord mean that the suggested procedure is that the Estates Commissioners are to buy on the statement of the Congested Districts Board without forming any independent opinion of their own as to price?
Subsequent Amendments of mine will show that that is not my intention at all. The Estates Commissioners can afterwards inspect, and so on, if they are satisfied there is no objection to the scheme. I did not mention that on this occasion because it is applicable to a further Amendment. I do not know 167 whether it would be for the convenience of the House that I should deal with the other Amendment now.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
No, I think we had better deal with this Amendment as it stands. That does not remove the fact that there will exist two separate sets of inspection and valuation, one on the part of the Congested Districts Board, a preliminary one, and the subsequent one by the Estates Commissioners. The noble Lord must remember this, that the Estates Commissioners have no power—I do not know that any power is given in this Bill—to buy an estate which they cannot dispose of without loss. That power is only given to the Congested Districts Board. What is the process in the noble Lord's mind by which the Congested Districts Board are to become the possessors of an estate on uneconomic terms? The noble Lord referred to the million of money which was going to be provided and which the Estates Commissioners were to have. But that is partly for their own purposes, for the purchase of untenanted land in the manner they have been buying it hitherto. There is nothing in the Bill, and no arrangement is laid down, so far as I can see, by any of the schemes, for their buying land in this way and handing it over to the Congested Districts Board for the purpose of creating holdings. I confess, although the noble Lord's Amendment is all right so far as it goes, it does not seem to me to make the whole transaction either easy or simple or even clear.
§ LORD ATKINSON said the first part of the Amendment was perfectly harmless. It merely provided that the Congested Districts Board might, with the consent of the owner, inspect land. He did not think it was necessary to make a statutory provision for that. There was no objection in the world to the Congested Districts Board going to a man and asking him how much he would take for his land after inspecting it with his consent. The last two lines of the Amendment, however, seemed to him to be extremely dangerous, because they provided that the refusal of the landlord to consent to inspection or to state the price which he would accept was to be sufficient ground for the Congested Districts Board applying to have compulsory powers put in force. It would 168 be perfectly consistent with the Amendment that there was some other land equally suitable which the Congested Districts Board could obtain. Yet because the owner refused to take their price they were to have this power of moving by compulsion. Though the owner of white acre might have land quite as good, the Congested Districts Board were, if the owner of black acre refused to take their price, to rush in and apply for compulsory powers. That was what the Amendment said, at any rate. Of course it was true the clause provided that the Board were to be satisfied that land suitable and sufficient for the purpose could not be got voluntarily; but there seemed to be an inconsistency in saying that on a mere refusal on the part of the owner the Board might apply to have compulsory powers enforced. Part of the Amendment might do no harm and might facilitate matters, but the latter part would be dangerous and afford a justification for the Board applying for the application of compulsory powers when there might be half-a-dozen other estates as suitable to be had without any compulsion at all.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I do not know whether the noble Lord who moved this Amendment would think it well to accept the suggestion that he should move the first part of it—that is, down to the word "land." The effect of that part of the Amendment would, I take it, be to permit preliminary inspection by the Congested Districts Board with the consent of the owner of the land, which would enable them to formulate an initial offer of some kind. But the latter part of the noble Lord's Amendment mixes up two things which should be kept apart—the procedure to be adopted in the case of voluntary and that in the case of compulsory purchase.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
Undoubtedly that is so, because the clause deals only with compulsory purchase. I am of the same opinion as the noble and learned Lord opposite, that to say that a man may have his land inspected if he likes is a futile thing to put into an Act of Parliament.
LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD
May I call attention to the wording of the Amendment? It deals with refusal to state a price, but an owner might state 169 ten times the amount of the natural price. It is a verbal matter, but it needs attention.
§ LORD DUNBOYNE said that if an owner refused his consent to inspection or to state a price which he would accept, the refusal was to be held sufficient ground for the Congested Districts Board proceeding to move for compulsory powers, if they were satisfied that land suitable for their purposes could not be acquired on their behalf at a reasonable figure. It seemed to him that when the Amendment was read with the context in the clause there was a perfect safeguard; but if that was not the case he would be willing to accept the suggestion of the noble Marquess to end his Amendment at the word "land."
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I understand the noble Lord wishes to move to insert the words, "They may, with the consent of the owner, proceed to inspect such land as may seem suitable for their purposes, and ascertain the amount which the owner thereof may demand for the sale to them of such land."
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I am sorry to intervene again, but is it really worth while to insert these words in the Bill? It seems to me to be a meaningless thing, as I said before, to state solemnly in an Act of Parliament that when a man agrees to have his land inspected he may do so. Supposing a man declines to have his land inspected. How are the Congested Districts Board to have an opportunity of acquiring any data by which they can demand to purchase that land compulsorily? It seems to me that, even if the statement as to the price which he would accept need not be left in the clause, the refusal to consent ought to lead to some further proceeding being taken. Perhaps some noble Lord will tell me how the Board are to proceed if the landlord warns them off the premises.
§ LORD DUNBOYNE said he would move the Amendment as it stood on the Paper. It seemed to him that it would be impossible for the Congested Districts Board to submit a scheme to the Land Commission without having some sort of inspection beforehand, and it ought to be provided for in this way. If they got a stupid landlord who refused to allow inspection he ought to be made to allow it.170
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
LORD ATKINSON moved several Amendments so that Clause 47 in its amended portion would read—
'they may submit to the Land Commission a scheme setting forth the land which they propose should be so acquired 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 with such further and other particulars as may be prescribed.
The noble and learned Lord said the Amendments were simply introduced to make it clear that there was nothing like a decision on the part of the Commissioners on the first occasion of considering the scheme, but merely that they were to consider the scheme set forth and ascertain if there was a prima facie case for setting the machinery in motion.
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
§ LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE moved the omission of Clause 47, which ran—