HL Deb 20 October 1909 vol 4 cc170-96

47. Where the Congested Districts Board are of opinion that it is desirable to acquire land for the purpose of relieving congestion in any portion of a congested districts county, by adding to the holding of any proprietor or tenant of a holding therein of a rateable value of less than ten pounds, such parcel or parcels or land as will, when added to such holding, raise the rateable value thereof, so far as the same can at the time of such addition be reasonably estimated, to the sum of ten pounds, or by providing a holding for a person who has surrendered his holding for the purpose of relieving congestion, and are satisfied that land sufficient and suitable for that purpose cannot be acquired on their behalf by voluntary agreement at a reasonable price, they may submit to the Land Commission a scheme setting forth the lands which they propose should be acquired compulsorily for the purposes aforesaid on their behalf, the extent, nature, boundaries, and condition thereof, and the names of the person or persons by whom the same owned, occupied, or used and enjoyed, the mode in which it is used, worked, or cultivated, together, as far as reasonably practicable, with the names of the person or persons to whom as a tenant or proprietor, or as tenants or proprietors of a holding or holdings of less rateable value than ten pounds, they propose that a parcel or parcels of the said lands should be sold, and the rateable value of such holdings, and also the names of the person or persons, if any, who has or have surrendered his or their holdings as aforesaid, and the nature, extent, situation, and rateable value of the same, together with the rateable value, so far as the same can be reasonably estimated, of the parcel or parcels of the said lands which they propose should be sold to each of the above mentioned persons respectively, with such further and other particulars as may be proscribed. An authentic copy of such scheme, signed by the secretary of the Board, shall be lodged in the offices of the Land Commission in the time and manner prescribed, together with a statement under the hand of the aforesaid secretary, setting forth the facts which, in the opinion of said Board, establish that the land sufficient and suitable for the aforesaid purpose cannot be acquired by voluntary purchase at a reasonable price.

He said he did not for a moment imagine he would be able to persuade their Lordships to alter the decision arrived at by a large majority only a week ago. As one who imagined that the question of compulsory acquisition of land would not be entertained unless the Government made out a strong case in its favour he must confess that that decision came upon him both as a shock and a surprise, and this seemed to him a good opportunity of reviewing the altered situation which had arisen therefrom. If he might be allowed to use a simile, it occurred to him that the Committee stage of this Bill was somewhat like a long and arduous march along a narrow path beset on each side by pitfalls and morasses. As long as daylight lasted their Lordships walked warily and securely, but, as the shades of night fell, a will-o'-the-wisp appeared pointing in the direction of universal compulsion, and this phantom form seemed somehow to have the features of the noble Earl opposite, and their Lordships were thus enabled to resist its blandishments. But, later on, another phantom spirit appeared who bore a striking likeness to the noble Marquess who had so often and ably led them to victory, and the majority of their Lordships blindly followed into the morass of limited compulsion. There, he thought, they were still floundering, bereft of baggage and a portion of their valuables, only praying that when once they reached firm ground they might find they had some clothes left on their back.

But, forsaking metaphor, he could not help thinking that they would have been wiser in following the noble Earl, because if the system of compulsion for the relief of congestion were once admitted it seemed to him that the wider the space over which the power could be exercised the better. It appeared to be a misfortune to confine the power to the poorest part of the country, with the result that almost all, if not all, the grass land in Connaught would be compulsorily acquired, because he thought the Congested Districts Board were rather a greedy body. The result of this would be that by the splitting up of these grass lands the grazing industry would be exterminated in that part of Ireland, and the small tenants would be deprived of what he believed would be the greatest help to them in their new sphere of life. He wondered if some noble Lords were congratulating themselves that so far part of Ireland was exempt from this provision. He did not think this satisfaction would last for long. They had been told already that the amount of grass lands in Connaught was not sufficient to relieve half the cases of congestion, and they must remember that in addition to the other half of the congests there were also those friends of His Majesty's Government, the cattle-drivers—he begged the noble Earl's pardon, he meant the landless men—who would clamour even more strongly to be given some share. He felt convinced that it would be impossible in the long run, once this principle of compulsion had been allowed, to prevent it extending all over Ireland.

They had been trying, so far as he could see, to make this compulsion as little obnoxious as possible and to try to find some means by which the owner who was compulsorily expropriated might obtain a fair price for his land. But they had still to hear from the noble Earl what was the basis on which he proposed that price should be fixed. They knew it was one of the chief blots of the Act of 1881 that no indication was given as to what was to constitute a fair rent. Numerous Royal Commissions and Committees had reported on that question. He was sure the noble Earl knew them better than he did. There were four Reports of Select Committees of the House of Lords, the Fry Commission, and various others, and they all dwelt on that defect of the Act. He thought it would be of the greatest importance if some definition could be put in as to what was the value to be given to land. He had asked the noble Earl the question several times but had not been able to obtain an answer, and he ventured once more to ask him on what basis it was proposed that the land should be valued. Was it to be on the value to its present owner, or the value it would have for the purpose to which the Land Commission or the Congested Districts Board proposed to put it? There was a feeling abroad—he did not know with what truth, although it seemed to him to be grounded on a certain amount of fact—that the only reason for which compulsory powers were required was in order that the land might be obtained at a price below its value; and he would like to hear from the noble Earl that this was not the case, because it would be a great consolation to many of them who now felt very nervous as to what was going to follow.

He remembered the debates on the Evicted Tenants Bill. There were two expressions which were almost anathema to the noble Earl. One was the reference to the Land Clauses Act and the other was "compensation"; but he was delighted to see the noble Earl had become a convert to that, for on the only Amendment he had moved on the Report stage the noble Earl had put in the words "full compensation." If some such words could be inserted to show what was to be given to the owner for the land taken from him he was sure they would feel that they had really obtained a more or less satisfactory solution of the difficulty. He dared say all their Lordships saw the cartoon in last week's Punch, where the charwoman of their Lordships' House was discussing political matters with the charwoman of another place, and he could not help wondering what would be the feelings of the noble Earl if it were proposed to acquire compulsorily his house in London for housing these ladies and their friends at a price they would be willing to give for it. Would he not much rather, if his house was to be acquired compulsorily, that the price to be given should be that which it would obtain in the open market? Perhaps the noble Earl would say there was no open market in Ireland, but he thought he could find purchasers for grass land if the privileges given to the small tenants were only extended to the graziers, in which case they would be able to sell at twenty-four and a half years' purchase on the rents now paid. He would appeal to the noble Marquess (Lord Lansdowne), who had felt himself bound to come to a compromise on the question of compulsion, to make it quite clear before this Bill left their Lordships' House that, whether it was lost or not, he for one would not be a party to any arrangement which would enable those who were going to purchase the land directly or indirectly to be the judges of what the price to be given for that land should be. It would be absurd of him (Lord Oranmore) to recapitulate the arguments he had used against compulsory purchase, so he need not trouble their Lordships with them again.

Amendment moved— To leave out Clause 47."—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)

*THE EARL OF MAYO said he would like to draw their Lordships' attention to the way in which Lord Atkinson's scheme was put on their Lordships' Paper. The scheme appeared for the first time on October 12. They had no intimation of such a scheme being put forward, and they had no time to debate it properly. It was brought on in that way, no doubt, for the best possible reasons. He proposed to follow the example of the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, and take as the basis of the discussion the scheme in the Bill. The noble and learned Lord's scheme provided that if the Board were satisfied that lands sufficient and suitable for the purpose could not be acquired on their behalf by voluntary agreement at a reasonable price they might submit a scheme to the Land Commission. He would like to ask the noble and learned Lord on what basis the Board were to arrive at the conclusion that land could not be acquired at a reasonable price? Was it on the basis of what a reasonable price was, or was it on the basis of expediency? The clause also provided that after the Board had gone into a scheme, an authentic copy was to be lodged in the offices of the Land Commission. The Board had formally declared themselves satisfied that the land was necessary for their purpose, and also that it could not be got voluntarily at a reasonable price. No one could question in any way their decision on this latter point at any time. Then the Congested Districts Board came to their decision without inspecting the land, because they had no power to inspect it; nor had they offered a price because they had no power to do so.

With regard to Clause 48 of the noble and learned Lord's scheme, the Judicial Commissioner, together with two Estates Commissioners, had to inquire into the merits of the scheme and, if necessary, proceed to acquire the land compulsorily. Then the Estates Commissioners had to publish a notice in the Dublin Gazette. He should like to know who in the West of Ireland ever saw the Dublin Gazette. They might as well paste the notice on the walls of Pekin for all the knowledge that would be had about it in the West of Ireland. The scheme went on to provide that similar notice was to be served as soon as might be on the owner or any one interested immediately after the publication in the Dublin Gazette, and before the expiration of the time allowed for objections the Estates Commissioners might send inspectors to see if the land was suitable. It seemed that no consideration as to the reasonableness of taking the land could enter into the report of the inspectors. It would be seen, according to this scheme, that there was no method of inquiry even suggested. There would be no production of evidence, and the procedure would be wholly one-sided. All that the three members of the Estates Commission had power to do was to see whether a case on first appearance had been made by the Board that certain lands were necessary for their objects. They had a right to look into the scheme, but they had no power whatever at this stage to say that it was an improper scheme to be carried out. Even if the three Commissioners were satisfied that the scheme was an improper one, compulsory powers must take effect.

There was compulsion from beginning to end in the scheme. The three Commissioners were then to determine whether the land was suitable for the purpose for which it was sought to be acquired? This information as to the suitability of the land was not to be obtained for the guidance of the Estates Commissioners until after they had publicly given notice of the scheme. This notice could not be published until they had prima facie approved of the taking of the land. It was difficult to understand what possible inquiry was contemplated before the decision on the prima facie case was arrived at, even if the suitability of the land was not to be considered. The Bill said that if no objection had been made by any of the persons interested, or any such objection, if made, had been withdrawn, the Estates Commissioners might make an order that on payment into the Bank of Ireland of the compensation for the lands taken, the land should vest in the Land Commission. That was the money paid for the property to be acquired. He must point out to the noble and learned Lord that no provisions were made for the allocation of this compensation, or as to the cost of making the title and the shifting of the charges. No doubt to the noble and learned Lord these were practically airy nothings. He (Lord Mayo) maintained, however, that these were not flimsy statements, although they came from him. They were facts which appeared in the noble and learned Lord's scheme.

If an objection were made it was to be heard in this way—and if he was wrong he should be corrected, because it was very hard when the two noble Lords were discussing their rival schemes across the floor of the House to arrive at a knowledge as to what this Court was to be—if there was an objection to the scheme it was to be heard by the Judicial Commissioner, one Estates Commissioner, and a Judge of the High Court. On paper that was a most formidable Court, but it was unlikely that the Estates Commissioner would stultify himself or that the Judicial Commissioner would do so by deciding in favour of an objector and thus undoing what had been done. It was also plain that the third member of the tribunal, the Judge of the High Court, could not possibly resist the opinion of his two colleagues who were fortified by the reports of their inspectors in this matter. The only points on which an objection could be made were the suitability of the land and the reasonableness of taking it. The price would not be objected to, because it could not be fixed until after the order of this tribunal and also of the Court of Appeal—that was to say, if the objector did appeal. With regard to the Court of Appeal, in the noble and learned Lord's scheme an appeal was to lie from any decision of the tribunal on any question of law or mixed question of law and fact. Now the only points of law that occurred to him were either that the land did not belong to the man whom it was sought to compel to sell, or the question of a demesne. As to the question of appeal on facts, the Court of Appeal had no machinery whatever to enable them to deal with the question of facts.


I do not wish to interrupt my noble friend, but I think we have arrived at a point where a word of explanation becomes necessary. We are now debating Lord Oranmore and Browne's Amendment to omit Clause 47. My noble friend is criticising at great length Clause 48, which is not before us. I see Lord Oranmore and Browne proposes to omit not only Clause 47 but Clauses 48, 49, 50 and 51. It may be for the convenience of the House that we should take a general discussion on the omission of the whole of these clauses, in which case your Lordships will, perhaps, be pleased to allow Lord Mayo to proceed with his argument; but unless it is clearly understood that we are not discussing one clause but the whole group of clauses, I think my noble friend's observations are out of order.


May I say, on the point of order, that it seems to me the noble Marquess is quite correct. If we are to discuss this matter on one after the other of the Clauses the thing will become confused; but, of course, if it is clearly understood that there is to be no discussion of the principles again beyond this particular clause—that is to say, the question of compulsion is to be settled by Clause 47 being retained, if it is retained—then, of course, that will be an express understanding.

LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE said he had no intention of moving that each of the subsequent Clauses should be omitted. He merely put his Amendments down in order to choose on which clause to raise this debate.


I might add that the course which has been taken is not entirely convenient, because although the noble Earl opposite wanders over the entire field of all the clauses we shall have to direct our steps towards them again in relation to certain Amendments. If I thought the noble Earl's speech would conclude the entire proceedings on this clause I should have listened to it even with satisfaction, but if these various points are to be raised again as each clause comes before us I think the best course to take now would be to limit the present discussion to that to which Lord Oranmore and Browne confined it namely, the question of compulsion pure and simple.

*THE EARL OF MAYO said he would limit himself to compulsion pure and simple, because he had had an opportunity of laying before the House his views with regard to the noble and learned Lord's scheme. His reasons for doing this were, first of all that they had had no opportunity whatever, in consequence of the way this scheme was put on the Paper, of properly examining it. The Division took place and they were beaten; but they must remember, of course, what took place in the House of Commons, where compulsion in the Bill was resisted to the utmost by the Unionist party. He would like to ask the noble and learned Lord (Lord Atkinson) whether he was of opinion that his friends in another place were wrong, and whether he was of opinion that compulsion was so necessary that their Lordships, without having had proper means of discussing the subject, should be compelled to accept it. He (Lord Mayo) felt very strongly on this point. Lord Atkinson and Lord MacDonnell had occupied a great deal of the time of the House in discussing the merits of their respective schemes, both of which contained compulsion. Their Lordships had had the spectacle of two noble Lords who had not the smallest stake in the country in which he (Lord Mayo) lived discussing how and in what manner the property of Irish landlords was to be taken from them compulsorily. Some noble Lords thought that compulsion was necessary for certain districts in Ireland, but he and many others contended that there was enough land at present in the hands of the authorities, if they had money to pay for it, to deal with congestion as it should be dealt with. Compulsion, however, had been forced upon them, and he supposed they had to put up with it; but the action of the noble and learned Lord was to him one of the most extraordinary in his long experience of Ireland, and he could not understand the reason of it. Lord Atkinson was asked to attend the deliberations of noble Lords from Ireland which always took place before Bills of this importance came up for consideration, but he did not respond to the invitation. That action he should designate as akin to that of the "snake in the grass" and a snake was a live thing from which the people of Ireland recoiled.


No, we do not. There are no snakes in Ireland now.


I never said there were snakes in Ireland.


I have addressed the House more than once upon this subject and would not do so again but for the fact that if I pass over without any remark the observations of the two noble Lords behind me I might be thought wanting in consideration towards them and in sympathy with those for whom they act. I candidly say that I dislike compulsion as much as they do. I am entirely opposed to the system of general compulsion, but I have been of opinion for a long time that it is difficult to resist the demand for a carefully limited and restricted form of compulsion—compulsion restricted to cases where it is to be used for the purpose of relieving congestion, and where it is to be exercised subject to adequate compensation to be given to those who suffer by it, and only upon condition that the necessity for compulsion is to be decided by a competent and impartial tribunal. I believe that the Amendments which have been inserted in the Bill by Lord Atkinson hold out a fair promise that those conditions will be fulfilled.

The forty-seventh clause of the Bill as it now stands makes it perfectly clear that compulsion is not to be exercised except in cases where it is a necessity to relieve congestion, and the following clauses set out machinery which provides appeals and which does not err for want of proper safeguards. If noble Lords should come forward with suggestions to make the safeguards more satisfactory, by all means let them put those suggestions forward and if they are reasonable safeguards I will give them my support. Lord Oranmore for example may be able to suggest to the House some means of making it perfectly clear that the question of value is to be determined in the mode that he recommends. On that point I shall be glad to co-operate with noble Lords; but when they insist upon the complete exclusion of the principle of compulsion I regret that I must part company from them.


The noble Lord somewhat transgressed the rule laid down by Lord Lansdowne that it was not expedient to discuss afresh on the Report stage matters which had been dealt with and disposed of in Committee. I make no complaint of that, because the subject is undoubtedly one of first importance. The noble Lord opposite objects to this very carefully limited and guarded form of compulsion contained in the Bill. Both Lord Lansdowne and I have been described as phantoms who have been mistakenly followed through the morass. I do not know if the noble Lord himself can by any stretch of imagination be described as a phantom, but, if so, I can only hope that should he divide the House again noble Lords opposite will not follow him through the Lobby. But he is not a transient and embarrassed phantom, because we hope he may long continue to contribute to Irish debates in this House with the same skill and confidence he has exhibited hitherto.

In one point I find myself in marked agreement with the noble Lord. In my opinion if the principle of compulsion is to be admitted at all, noble Lords opposite have made a great mistake in limiting the principle to the congested districts. It is quite true that it is within those arbitrary districts that compulsion may be most needed; but the comparison he drew is a fair one. So far as compulsion can be said to inflict any degree of hardship on the landlord, the landlords in those districts are no more responsible for congestion than are the landlords in other districts. Historically and economically congestion is not the fault of a man who owns land in Connaught, and if there is any degree of hardship inflicted upon those landlords it ought to be shared by the whole of Ireland. I believe that our plan of making compulsion universal is right.

The noble Lord who moved the Amendment asked upon what principles land ought to be bought. The question will arise on an Amendment the noble Lord has put down to a schedule of the Bill. That has reference to the bonus, and upon that arises the question upon what principles the price of land is to be calculated when it is taken. I say without hesitation that in the case of parcels of untenanted land the calculation should be based on the fair annual value of the land to the owner. Obviously it could not be based on the possible use to which the purchaser could put it. On the other hand, it would not be fair to assume that the fair annual value to the owner necessarily represents a given number of years purchase of the rent he may be receiving at the time. That applies to all purchases, and one may be worth more than another. For instance, a great newspaper, bringing in apparently an absolutely fixed and certain income, is only valued for sale at three and a-half or four years purchase. In selling land in Ireland as in selling anything else, the degree of certainty is a factor to be taken into consideration, and subject to that the price must be representative of the fair annual value to the vendor.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD ATKINSON, on Clause 48, formally moved the following Amendment.

Amendment moved— In page 24, line 28, to leave out from the beginning of the clause to 'and' in line 30, and to insert 'The Estates Commissioners shall consider the said scheme and the matters set forth in the said statement.'"—(Lord Atkinson.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD DUNBOYNE said the next was a small Amendment, but he moved it for the reason that the Estates Commissioners were to consider the scheme and the matters set forth in the statement, and if there was a primâ facie case that the land should be acquired they might proceed to acquire it. The clause, however, did not require them to inquire into the scheme and see that it was a fit and proper one to be carried out. His Amendment was framed to insure that that should be done.

Amendment moved— In page 24, line 30, after 'facie,' to insert 'a proper scheme to be carried out, and that it is.'"—(Lord Dunboyne.)

LORD ATKINSON said the noble Lord was mistaken if he thought the Estates Commissioners had to sit in judgment upon a scheme of the Congested Districts Board as to its propriety or otherwise. It was never intended to give them that jurisdiction. The only question they had to decide was whether it was necessary to put compulsory powers in force, and it was not for them to determine which was the wisest and best scheme. It was no part of their duty to decide upon the propriety or impropriety of any scheme.


This Amendment calls the attention of the House to the Amendment in the name of the noble Lord on the next page and with which it must be read. The noble Lord goes a step further and proposes that the Estates Commissioners should go through the process of considering any scheme coming before them and actually take into consideration objections that may be made. Anything that adds a further stage to the proceedings is unacceptable to the Government because we think they are too long already.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Drafting Amendments agreed to.

LORD DUNBOYNE moved an Amendment to subsection (3) of Clause 48. He explained that his object was to insure that there should be no inspection or anything of that sort by the Estates Commissioners until the objections to the scheme for taking the land had been disposed of. An inspection of the property might lead to a good deal of misconception among the people in the district and to very unpleasant circumstances. In his view to send down inspectors to inquire into the scheme before disposing of objections was like putting the cart before the horse.

Amendment moved— In page 25, lines 7 and 8, to leave out the words 'At any time after the publication of the aforesaid notice, any inspectors of the Estates Commissioners,' and to insert 'after the time prescribed in the said notice for the lodging of objections to the acquisition of the lands, the Estates Commissioners shall consider such objections, if any, as may have been lodged, and if same appear to them to be good and sufficient they may decline to proceed with the scheme; but otherwise they may, in their discretion, order that any inspectors.'"—(Lord Dunboyne.)

LORD ATKINSON opposed the Amendment on the ground that it did not fit the machinery of the Bill as provided for by the clause. The Amendment would enable the Commissioners to decide upon the validity of the objections, and that was the very thing which it was desirable to take away from them. Under the scheme there should be no decision as to validity except by the proper tribunal. The Amendment would put upon the Estates Commissioners the onus of deciding whether the objections were valid or invalid. Under the Amendment there would have to be a double inquiry—a plan that was not suggested by the Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD DUNBOYNE moved to amend subsection (5) of Clause 48— (5) If an objection has been made and has not been withdrawn, the same shall be inquired into, heard, and determined in open court, the parties interested having been given an opportunity of being heard by a tribunal hereinafter called the tribunal, composed of the Judicial Commissioner and such one of the two Estates Commissioners, who shall have, in the first instance, considered the scheme as the Estates Commissioners shall themselves select, together with the Judge of the King's Bench Division of the High Court who is next in order on the rota mentioned in section two, subsection eleven, of the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Act, 1907. The said last-mentioned Judge shall preside: by providing that the tribunal formed to inquire into objections should consist of the Judicial Commissioner, a Land Judge, and a Judge of the King's Bench Division in place of the body named in the subsection. He thought the idea that an Estates Commissioner, who in the first instance had considered the scheme, should be appointed one of the members to decide the question was analogous to a Judge of first instance being called upon to sit as a Judge of the Court of Appeal to decide an appeal from his own ruling. That he regarded as a very objectionable procedure. When they remembered that in Ireland the work which occupied the King's Bench Court and the Court of Appeal was of a most trivial character in comparison with the work of the English Courts, and that matters of such magnitude as for instance the dealing with an estate the value of which ran into six figures would be performed in a perfunctory manner, they must agree that they ought to have a strong Court of three judicial members. He therefore suggested that the tribunal should be composed in the terms of his Amendment.

Amendment moved— In page 25, lines 29 and 30, to leave out from 'Commissioner' to the end of subsection (5), and to insert 'the Land Judge, and a Judge nominated for that purpose from time to time by the Judges of the King's Bench Division of the High Court.'"—(Lord Dunboyne.)

VISCOUNT MIDLETON suggested that the Amendment should be altered to provide that the Judge to be nominated by the King's Bench Judges of the High Court should be next in order on the rota.


I agree to that.

LORD ATKINSON protested against the view that because a Judge had in the first instance given a decision he could not be relied upon to give an impartial hearing and decision when the matter came before him on appeal.

LORD ASHBOURNE agreed that the selection of the tribunal called for careful consideration. It was desirable to have the Court as free from prejudice and prepossession as possible. He was disposed to think that the original Court suggested was somewhat open to question, because although it would be composed of three honourable men, two of the number would have belonged to the original tribunal. But his noble friend had modified that view and had excepted from the parties who were to arrive at the prima facie decision the Judicial Commissioner. The tribunal would now consist of the two highest members of the Court, who would be perfectly fresh, and the Judge of the High Court on the rota. He thought the tribunal selected by Lord Atkinson was reasonably calculated to give satisfaction, and although he had no objection whatever to the tribunal selected by Lord Dunboyne or Viscount Midleton he regarded that chosen by Lord Atkinson as a reasonable tribunal.

*LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD supported the view of the noble and learned Lord that a tribunal consisting of a Judicial Commissioner, a Judge of the High Court, and an Estates Commissioner would be thoroughly efficient. He was strongly of opinion that it would be a more popular tribunal in Ireland than that suggested by Lord Dunboyne.


May I ask whether the rota mentioned in the Evicted Tenants Act is a permanent rota, or does it expire when the work of the Evicted Tenants Act is completed?

LORD ATKINSON said the rota mentioned in the Evicted Tenants Act would not continue to exist in air. That, however, was a long day to which to look forward.

LORD ASHBOURNE suggested that it would be wiser to insert the words "on the rota prepared by the King's Bench Division."


I think I ought to remind the House that we are on Report. Will the noble Lord kindly hand me the paper containing the words he now proposes to substitute for those in the clause.

LORD DUNBOYNE handed in the paper.


The Amendment now reads that the tribunal shall be "composed of the Judicial Commissioner and the Land Judge, together with the Judge of the King's Bench Division of the High Court who is next in order on the rota mentioned in Section 2, subsection (11) of the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Act, 1907. The said last-mentioned Judge shall preside."

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Drafting Amendments agreed to.

LORD DUNBOYNE moved to amend subsection (10)— (10) Upon the making of an order by the aforesaid tribunal or by the Court of Appeal overruling 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, by omitting the words "in the manner prescribed by a single arbitrator appointed by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland."

Amendment moved— In page 26, lines 26 to 27, after 'determined' to leave out 'in the manner prescribed by a single arbitrator appointed by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland.'"—(Lord Dunboyne.)

LORD ATKINSON said this Amendment must be considered with an Amendment in the name of Lord Dunboyne to be taken later. The object of the two Amendments was to strike out the provision contained in the Bill as it stood, under which the compensation was to be awarded by a single arbitrator, and to suggest a scheme under which it should be awarded by two arbitrators and an umpire, to be provided by the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland for the time being. Lord Midleton had referred earlier to his experience of a case connected with the War Office, where two arbitrators had worked in agreement; but if the noble Viscount expected two arbitrators in the West of Ireland—one appointed by the Congested Districts Board and the other appointed by the owner of the land—to come to an agreement such as might obtain in the War Office, he would be bound to be most bitterly disappointed. In these cases the two arbitrators would light and have to appeal to the umpire. He (Lord Atkinson) thought the Amendment would give a wholly unnecessary and most disturbing addition to the tribunal. In every case the arbitrator was to be appointed by the Lord Chief Justice. He had the utmost admiration for the Lord Chief Justice, but he was not sure that that gentleman was brought into contact with men suitable to arbitrate in such matters. The Board of Works were constantly in contact with such people and would be equally independent, and their choice would doubtless be more satisfactory.

VISCOUNT MIDLETON desired to say a few words in vindication of the character of arbitrators in Ireland. He thought the noble and learned Lord had done a great injustice to those gentlemen when he reflected upon their impartiality in the matter of arbitrations in the West of Ireland. There was an almost universal consensus of opinion on the part of all classes of Irish people as to the fair conduct of arbitrators. This was a question of dealing with the money of the taxpayers and not merely a question between landlord and tenant. It dealt with money to be found by a public authority in the legitimate and fair purchase of an estate, and he could not believe that two men would take views necessarily as asunder as the poles. But, even if that were so, it fortified their case in asking for an umpire. He certainly thought that the whole gist of Lord Atkinson's speech supported the Amendment of Lord Dunboyne, and showed that in the case of an estate worth £50,000 or £100,000, its distribution should not be allowed to rest on the ipse dixit of one man. He hoped the Amendment would be carried to a Division.

LORD DUNBOYNE said Lord Atkinson had dealt with his second Amendment which had not yet been moved. If it could be dealt with in that manner he was willing to debate it. He could not see any reason why if land was taken compulsorily in Ireland it should not be treated on the same footing as land in England. The Lands Clauses Act provided for two arbitrators and an umpire. That was a very fair tribunal, with which people were content; and he did not see why the people of Ireland should be restricted to one arbitrator. In his view the umpire should be appointed by the Lord Chief Justice. There were two Bills now before their Lordships' House—the Town Planning Bill and the Development Bill. In those Bills should any cases of dispute arise an umpire was to be named by the Lord Chief Justice; and he would suggest that in this Irish Land Bill an umpire should be appointed by the Lord Chief Justice in the event of the arbitrators disagreeing. He desired to to move his second Amendment in conjunction with his first.

Amendment moved— In page 26, line 30, after 'Acts' to insert the words 'by two arbitrators, of whom one shall be appointed by the Congested Districts Board and the other by the vendor. Such arbitrators shall appoint an umpire within the time and in the manner prescribed, and if they fail or neglect to do so an umpire shall be appointed by the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland for the time being. The decision of the umpire on the matters on which the arbitrators may differ, or which may be referred to him, shall be final.'"—(Lord Dunboyne.)

*LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD contended that nothing more unpopular or less acceptable to the tenantry of Ireland could be decreed than the relegation of such an important matter as the awarding of compensation to a single arbitrator nominated by the Board of Works.

LORD ASHBOURNE felt bound to say that he did not like the idea of the matter being left to only one arbitrator. To say that the decision of one man should be conclusive and should not be capable of examination was to place in his hands too great a power. His own opinion was that the subsequent Amendment by Lord Atkinson would largely be acted upon.

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

LORD ATKINSON then moved his next Amendment to which Lord Ashbourne had referred. He said the question of price must necessarily arise, and there seemed no reasonable objection to his proposal.

Amendment moved— In page 26, line 30, after 'Acts' to insert the words 'Provided that with the consent of all the parties interested, the amount of the aforesaid compensation may be determined on the principles aforesaid by the tribunal itself instead of by arbitration.'"—(Lord Atkinson.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD DUNBOYNE moved an Amendment, the object of which was, he said, to provide for an omission in the Bill as to what was to become of the money paid into the bank as compensation.

Amendment moved— In page 26, line 30, to insert the following new subsection—

'(11) All moneys paid into the Bank of Ireland as compensation for lands purchased or taken under this part of this Act shall be dealt with as if they were the purchase money of lands purchased by the Land Commission, and the provisions of the Land Purchase Acts relative to such lands and purchase money shall as nearly as possible apply, whether in respect of the making of title, the making of vesting orders, the transfer of claims from the land to the purchase money, the distribution of the purchase money, or otherwise.'"—(Lord Dunboyne.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Drafting Amendment to Clause 49 agreed to.

LORD ATKINSON moved to insert a new clause after Clause 49. He said that under the Lands Clauses Act the invariable practice was that ten per cent. was added in consideration of compulsory purchase. He thought that if a landlord obtained that percentage he should not get the bonus in addition, but if he did not get this ten per cent. he was entitled to the bonus.

Amendment moved— After Clause 49 to insert the following new clause:

'50. The percentage mentioned in section forty-eight of the Act of 1903 and in section five of this Act shall not be payable in the case of the sale of lands acquired compulsorily under the foregoing sections of this Act.'"—(Lord Atkinson.)

LORD ASHBOURNE said he preferred to go on the bird-in-the-hand principle. Those who were compulsorily expropriated would be entitled to the bonus. That was the position now, and it was defended with quite adequate reasoning by the Chief Secretary in the House of Commons. Lord Atkinson now proposed to omit that provision and to rely upon the possibility of getting the extra ten per cent He (Lord Ashbourne) was not so sure about getting the ten per cent. In recent Acts of Parliament provisions had been inserted that on compulsory sales there was to be no special allowance given because of compulsion, and in this Bill when it came to their Lordships' House there was a positive statement that no extra allowance should be given because the sale was compulsory. That, however, had been deleted. It was a big hope to expect that if they surrendered the possibility of the bonus they could rely with any certainty on getting the ten per cent.

LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE was of opinion that the question of the bonus in the case of untenanted land was valueless. In all cases the twenty-six and a-half years purchase which would be given would be not twenty-six and a-half years purchase of the value of the land but of the value the Estates Commissioners put upon it, and if that was done it excluded the vendor from any bonus.


I think the noble Lord is putting a strange construction upon the probable action of those who buy untenanted land. As I understand, his fear is that when a price is named, the annual value will be multiplied into so large a number of years purchase as to exclude under our scale the addition of any bonus at all. I think it is hardly to be assumed that self-respecting public bodies would attempt in that way to evade an obvious duty put upon them by the Act. It is true that where a high rent is obtained for land and a large number of years purchase is obtained as well the untenanted land would not be subject to bonus, but I think it is not reasonable to assume that a trick of the kind described would be played by a public body. As regards the point at issue between the two noble and learned Lords opposite, I have no advice to give further than to say I hope it will not end—in fact I may safely say my right hon. friend in another place will take care it does not end—in a landlord not only getting the bird in the hand but also the two birds in the bush, because that would clearly be improper. As the noble Lord who has just sat down said, we kept the bonus and excluded the ten per cent., and it is clear that people cannot expect both.

LORD DUNBOYNE suggested the addition to the Amendment of the words "shall not be payable in the case of sale of lands acquired compulsorily under the foregoing sections of this Act where the arbitrator or umpire has awarded the usual ten per cent. allowance for compulsory purchase."

LORD ATKINSON could not accept this suggestion.

THE EARL OF MAYO quoted the evidence before the Dudley Commission of one of the chief valuers of the Estates Commissioners, who stated that after deducting fifteen per cent. as the State's security he gave twenty-six and a-half years purchase of what he considered to be the annual value. That would cut out any prospect of a bonus, and therefore he thought the contention of Lord Oranmore was perfectly correct.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Drafting Amendments to Clause 50 agreed to.

LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE moved to amend Clause 50— 50. Land shall not be acquired compulsorily under the provisions of the preceding sections which—

  1. (1) Is situate without an administrative county containing a congested districts county. For the purpose of this subsection the west riding of the county of Cork shall be deemed an administrative county;
  2. (2) Or what has been acquired by a tenant under the provisions of the Irish Land Act, 1869, or purchased under the Land Purchase Acts as defined by the Redemption of Rent (Ireland) Act, 1891, the Irish Land Act, 1903, or this Act;
  3. (3) Or which is in the occupation of an owner within the meaning of the aforesaid Land Purchase Acts, and is, or forms part of a demesne, garden, pleasure garden, or home farm;
  4. (4) Or Which is of an annual rateable value not exceeding two hundred pounds, and is occupied and cultivated as a farm according to a reasonable course of husbandry by a person holding under a fee-farm grant, or a lease for lives renewable for ever, or for a term of years of which not less than sixty are unexpired,
by leaving out subsection (3) and inserting a new subsection. He said His Majesty's Government had been rather distressed at the amount that had been cut out of this Bill. He hoped, therefore, the Government would accept with approval his next Amendment, in drafting which he had selected, as far as he could, subsection (2) of Clause 5 of the Development and Road Improvement Bill.

Amendment moved— In page 27, line 9, to leave out from 'Acts' to end of line 11, and to insert 'or which is the property of any local authority, or has been acquired by any corporation or company for the purposes of a railway, dock, canal, water or other public undertaking, or which at the date of the scheme forms part of any park, garden, pleasure ground, recreation ground, demesne, or home farm, or is required for the amenity or convenience of any dwelling-house.'"—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)


It is very kind of the noble Lord opposite to have thought of us as he has done. I should myself have thought it unlikely, however, that the property of a dock or canal company could be taken for the relief of congestion. But the noble Lord is afraid of it, and, after all, it does not very much matter whether the words are inserted or not. What is required "for the amenity or convenience of any dwelling-house" is a somewhat wide term. I do not know if the noble Lord would make it include a view. Although the words are not those of the Government, we do not seriously object to their insertion.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Drafting Amendments agreed to.

THE EARL OF LEITRIM said his Amendment dealt with land which should not be taken under the compulsory powers. It was most important that it should be clearly defined what should and what should not be taken under those powers, and most of the words of the Amendment had been taken either from the Evicted Tenants Act or from English Acts passed with compulsory powers in them.

Amendment moved— In page 27, line 17, after subsection (4) to insert the words 'Provided always that, in the exercise of the powers for the acquisition of land conferred by this Act, the Estates Commissioners shall, in the case of untenanted land, avoid all interference with the demesne and amenity of residence of the owner of the land, or with any home farm, or land immediately adjoining and customarily occupied with his residence, and land shall be selected with due regard to the general situation and convenience of any other property of the owner, so as not to diminish the value thereof.'"—(The Earl of Leitrim.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

*LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said his proposed new Clause 53 was one of the clauses which he stated during the Committee stage he would bring up on Report. It was proposed by their Lordships to omit it altogether from the Bill, and the result of the omission would be seriously to curtail the extent of untenanted land on which it was necessary the Estates Commissioners and the Congested Districts Board should rely for the relief of congestion. He believed Lord Atkinson had an objection to the new clause, but he had endeavoured to meet that by the first few words "subject to the provisions of Section 50, Clause 4." With the addition of those words he understood that the clause would be acceptable to Lord Atkinson, and that their Lordships would consent to its restoration in the Bill.

Amendment moved— To insert the following new clause:

'53. Subject to the provisions of section fifty, Clause 4, land in the occupation of a person holding under a fee-farm grant or a lease for lives renewable for ever, or a lease for a term of years of which not less than sixty are unexpired, shall for the purposes of the Act of 1903, the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Act, 1907, and this Act be deemed to be untenanted land.'"—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

*LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD moved the insertion of a new clause providing that the Congested Districts Board should not be required to state in the notice served upon a tenant that they would provide him with a new holding on the same or an adjacent or neighbouring estate. He said that Section 1, subsection (2), of the Congested Districts Board (Ireland) Act, 1901, provided that "Every such notice [that was, the notice issued by the Congested Districts Board to a tenant] shall contain an undertaking by the Board that they will within the period mentioned in that behalf in the notice or so soon thereafter as practicable provide the tenant with a new holding on the same or an adjacent or neighbouring estate." The preservation of these words in the section would clearly prevent the migration of tenants to a distance. It was essential, according to that section, that untenanted land should be found for tenants in the immediate vicinity of the estate on which their holdings had previously existed. Obviously no large scheme of migration could be carried out under those circumstances. The Board undertook to provide for the tenant a holding equivalent in so far as value was concerned, and in every respect similar to the holding which it took up, and if the tenant was dissatisfied with such holding he had his remedy in a civil Court.

Amendment moved— To insert the following new clause: '54. Notwithstanding anything contained in section one, subsection (2) of the Congested Districts Board (Ireland) Act, 1901, the Congested Districts Board shall not be required to state in the notice served upon any tenant that they will provide him with a new holding on the same or an adjacent or neighbouring estate.'"—(Lord MacDonnell of Swinford.)


Is it quite certain that the noble Lord's Amendment, as framed, carries out his intention? I do not feel certain that it has not the affect of entirely repealing the Act and relieving the the Congested Districts Board from the obligation of finding the holding at all. What he means is, I take it, that the Congested Districts Board have to find another holding.



But not on the particular estate, and not necessarily on an adjacent or neighbouring estate. I am not sure that it would not be wiser to say that.

*LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said the clause continued on the Board the obligation of providing a new holding in every respect similar to the old one, the only difference being that the new holding need not be on an adjacent or neighbouring estate.


I am still not quite satisfied as to the noble Lord's drafting.

LORD ATKINSON agreed with the object of the noble Lord. He thought it would be sufficient for the Congested Districts Board to state in their notice that they would provide a holding elsewhere without saying that it should be on a neighbouring estate. He presumed the noble Lord did not intend that the Estates Commissioners should not give an undertaking that they would provide a holding.

*LORD MAC DONNELL OF SWINFORD said the only thing not stated in future would be that the new holding would be on a neighbouring estate.


This is purely a drafting question, and I am bound to say that I think the noble Lord's drafting is not quite right.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

On the First Schedule,

LORD ORANMOBE AND BROWNE moved the insertion of paragraphs stating how the number of years purchase represented by the advance in the case of the purchase of a parcel of untenanted land should be calculated. He said this was an Amendment which he proposed on the Committee stage and which the noble Earl in charge of the Bill promised to consider on Report. His object was to gain some idea on what basis the Treasury were going to act. He thought the noble Earl would agree that the Treasury was a difficult Department to get money out of, and they ought not to put the Department in any temptation to restrict the bonus. After all it might be a matter of privilege; but it was for Parliament to decide the bonus that was to be given in these cases. To leave the matter to be decided by the Treasury after the passing of the Bill was hardly treating their Lordships fairly. He would like to suggest that the decision should, as in other cases in the Bill, be given by an umpire appointed by the Lord Chief Justice. He hoped the noble Earl would be able to tell them distinctly before the Bill passed on what basis the bonus was to be calculated.

Amendment moved— In page 29, line 29, after 'land' to insert the words 'the number of years purchase represented by the advance, shall be calculated—

  1. (a) In the case of land that has been let for periods of less than one year, or that has been let for purposes of agistment for any period, at the rent or annual sum that has been paid for same on an average of the preceding five years;
  2. 195
  3. (b) In the case of land that has not been so let, the rent thereof (for the purpose of estimating the number of years purchase) shall be taken to be (at the option of the vendor) either—
    1. (1) the average net annual profit for the preceding five years, as shown by the vendor's accounts; or
    2. (2) the fair annual value thereof, to be ascertained by arbitration, as nearly as may be, in the manner provided by section twenty-five of the schedule of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870.'"—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)


I have really nothing to add to what I said to the noble Lord when speaking on his former Amendment on the general question of compulsory purchase. I said then that the Treasury view was that in this matter of the bonus the scale should represent the fair value to the landlord of what he was parting with. It is impossible to lay down a scale embodying anything like an average of rents received during a given number of years in order to get at the actual value. You are obliged to take the case on its merits, and the circumstances must vary between one case and another. I put aside the question which the noble Lord raised on a former occasion of an actual attempt to evade the obligation to pay any bonus at all by fixing an absurdly low price and an enormous number of years purchase as being entirely out of the question. I am afraid I cannot add anything further, because I have stated the principles on which the Treasury will no doubt proceed.

LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE asked if the noble Earl would put in the words "on the principle of the Lands Clauses Act."


I am afraid His Majesty's Government cannot do anything of the kind.


I can quite understand the force of the noble Earl's objection when he says that circumstances must vary in these cases, and that it would be inconvenient to bind the Treasury absolutely by a formula of the kind proposed by my noble friend. What I take it my noble friend really desires is that there should be some indication given that in fixing the price of land the authority concerned should not fix it in a purely arbitrary and conjectural manner, but should have some regard to the income which had been actually derived from the land in question, or might be derived from it. Admitting as I am inclined to do that the language proposed by my noble friend is perhaps needlessly rigid, would it not be well if we adopted words to the effect that in the case of the purchase of a parcel of untenanted land regard must be had in calculating the number of years purchase to the rent or annual sum which has been paid on the average? That would merely be a sort of indication that these facts, which, after all, are very material, ought not to be excluded altogether from calculation.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

The Report stage having been completed,


said: I may perhaps say that we propose to take the Third Reading of the Bill on Monday next, and I suggest that it should have precedence of other business on that date. If it suits the convenience of the House we will put a Motion down to that effect.

Bill to be read 3a on Monday next, and to be printed as amended. (No. 201.)