Great Britain. Commissioners of inquiry into the w.

Report of Her Majesty's Commissioners of Inquiry into the Working of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, and the acts amending the same online

. (page 275 of 295)
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carried out with small and large tenancies? — About
small tenancies I think the Government should come
in and assist them by advancing the money.

22075. The O'Conoe Don. — You would advance
money to purchase these perpetuities, as the Govern-
ment advance the money to purchase the fee-simple ?
— Yes ; that is what I recommend.

22076. Baron Dowse. — That is the Bright clauses
in another form? — Yes; I am not for making them
owners in fee of the land, because my experience is,
that if a man has to pay a certain rent, he will work
better, and not become idle or subdivide. I would
have a strict clause against subdivision.

22077. You would make him earn his bread with
the sweat of his brow? — With a fair margin of
profit ; and I would hold out inducements to fine
down the rent, and by taking away the restrictions'
from the transfer of property he might become an
owner himself in time.

22078. Mr. Shaw. — And you would fix the rent
by arbitration if they did not agree ? — Yes.

22079. And you would fix the perpetuity price in
the same way, if they could not agree. No ; I would
fix that by Act of Parliament.

22080. How could you do that ? — Say twenty years'
purchase ; that would be calculated by an actuary.

22081. Baron Dowse. — You would lay down the
principle ? — Yes.

22082. And it is a matter for calculation afterwards?
— Yes. I have spoken to a great many tenants on
this subject, and if this plan had been adopted ten
years ago, a great deal of the money spent on pur-
chasing interests in farms would have gone into the
landlords' pockets. They offer exorbitant rents, and
give twenty or twenty-five years' purchase for the
tenants' interest — often what the fee-simple is worth.

22083. Would the landlords approve of that? —
Yes ; it would have the approval of the landlords, I
think.

22084. The O'Conoe Don.— You are a tenant
farmer yourself : do you hold much ? — I hold land
which my family have held for eight generations — one
farm where I reside.

22085. A lease? — Yes; I have a lease, and the
rent has been doubled twice in the last fifty years,
and the last time since the passing of the Land Act.
My rent was £2 an acre, and when the lease expired
it was raised to £4 an acre, and I had to contract
myself out of the benefit of the Land Act. Some of
my improvements were worth £1000. I got nothing.
I gave my landlord up £1000 worth of property, and
the rent was doubled.

22087. Mr. Shaw.— Is it a large farm?— No,
about 80 acres Irish. I merely keep it for my ac-
commodation, but my ancestors had made all the
improvements. The present landlord has reduced the
rent by 15 per cent.

22088. The O'Conoe Don.— Permanently ?— Yes.
Of course I never made the rent off it.

22089. He is a recent owner ? — He is the son of the
former landlord. The Land Act of 1870, as far as x
can make out, recognises a certain right the tenaui,
has ; and then another clause deprives you of that rio-ht



MINUTES OF EVIDENCE.



()S1



by permitting the landlord to contract you out of that
right. 1 was pretty well able to take care of myself,
and still there is a case where I was contracted out of
the Act.

22090. Baron Dowse. — Would you be in favour
of abolishing the power to contract out of the Act ? —
Yes ; I would make no exception. You have all the
large farmers complaining and attending land meetings,
because there is that sense of irritation that they have
been left out in the cold ; wherever there is a residen-
tial holding, I would allow the benefit of the Act.

22091. The O'Conor Don.— You would draw the



Others merely take the land Oct. 2(i, isso.



line at residences ? — Yes
as a speculation.

22092. Mr. Shaw. — Was the increase excessive?
— I am making no complaint. I don't wish to make
any complaint at all, but I am giving you an example.
Where that can happen with me, what might happen
with a poor ignorant tenant ?

22093. You had improved your place ? — I say it was
improved to the extent of £1000 at least. That is not
theoretical, because another farm of the same class fell
out at the same time, and it was not as laxge as mine, and
the tenant got £800 from the Land Court in Limerick.



James G.
Barry.



William Uniacke Townsend, Esq., examined.



"Wm. Uniacke
Townit'iid,



22094. The Chairman.— You live at Spa Hill,
Kilfinane ?— Yes.

22095. You are a land agent over an extent of
£40,000 a year?— Yes.

22096. Over twenty estates ?— Yes.

22097. You mention that you are acquainted with
the Ulster Tenant Right Custom ? — Yes, by hearsay.

22098. You speak strongly on the subject of limiting
the number of years' purchase ? — Yes.

22090. Baron Dowse. — Have you any estates on
which the custom exists 1 — Yes. I have two or three
estates where it is unlimited.

22100. The Chairman. — You think it is a bad
thing ? — I think unlimited purchase-money is detri-
mental to the interests of the landlord and the tenant.

22101. For what reason 1 — I think they give not
only the last shilling they have, but they borrow
money to effect the purchase.

22102. Your experience is that it has a bad effect
on the tenant 1 — Yes, that is my opinion.

22103. That is, however, as to going to an un-
reasonable amount, perhaps at an auction bidding up
through excitement; and it is a bad thing for the
landlord as bringing in a tenant whose capital is gone 1
— Yes, very hkely that is the result ; and I can give
instances of it ou the estates with which I am con-
nected. There was a farm of 32 Irish acres, rent
£29, 7s., and the valuation £20, lbs. It was a yearly
tenancy, a joint holding with two other tenants. The
sellers' interest brought thirty-four years' purchase, or
£1000.

22104. The O'Conor Don.— When was that ■?- Two
years ago.

22105. The Chairman. — I suppose it was a very
low rent t — It was largely over the valuation.

22106. Mr. Shaw.- — It was a nice farm 1 — Not
particularly nice. The house was in a bad state, and
the land not very good.

22107. The O'Conor Don. — Was it situated near a
town, or a railway station, or anything that rendered
it of peculiar value 1 — No ; it was that insatiable desire
for land.

22108. Does that apply to the case of sales of
holdings out of Ulster 1 — I have one or two other
properties where it is unlimited also, but on the pro-
perty it is against our rule to allow a stranger to buy.
In this case he did buy, and we took proceedings to
put him out, and that is stayed pending the unsettled
state of the law.

22109. The Chairman. — That is the point — to
know whether a stranger is to be allowed to buy 1 —
Yes.

22110. That would be whether the custom was
allowed or not 1 — Yes.

22111. Do you think in the places in Limerick
with which you are acquainted, where sale by tenants
is allowed, they are in a more comfortable and better
state than on the estates where it is not allowed ? — Of
the two, I should say " No."

22112. They are not better off ?— No.

22113. Or better satisfied ?— Well, of course, if they
are allowed to sell, they are better satisfied.

22114. Where they are allowed, are they in a better



state 1 — It is so decided an advantage that I suppose
they are more satisfied where they are allowed.

22115. But not in a better position as to making
improvements t — I don't think they are.

22116. Mr. SiiAw. — Do you allow them to sell on
the other properties under special conditions 1 — I allow,
by special permission, a sale to take place. There are
very many changes of tenancy on those properties where
the custom has not existed, although I recommended
the introduction of it under certain circumstances. The
consequence of not allowing it is that the farms have not
been amalgamated as they would otherwise have been.

22117. The Chairman. — You were asked as to
evictions, and you say that during the twenty-seven
years you have hardly had any experience of evictions
carried on by yourself '! — I don't think they have
exceeded' twenty.

22118. That is on notice to quit 1 — Probably six on
notice to quit and fourteen for non-payment of rent
would cover them all.

22119. On all the properties you are acquainted
with -i—Yes.

22120. The O'Conor Don. — Have you had any
during the last year 1 — I have had one or two carried
out for non-payment of rent.

22121. The Chairman. — Is there any desire to
take leases now ou the part of tenants 1 — A disinclina-
tion compared with former years.

22122. Have they been in any cases induced to take
leases by the fear that they would lose their holdings
if they do not t — That is the natural feeling. It is, of
course, a sense of security.

22123. Have they been applying to take leases
themselves, or is it your wish to get them to take
them 1 — I think every tenant should have a lease, but
latterly I found a disposition not to take them.

22124. Do you mean leases for a term of years 1 —
Yes, for thirty-one years.

22125. You would wish them to take them 1 — I
should say every tenant should have a lease.

22126. Were leases given before the Land Act? —
I have so many properties, it is hard to give a general
answer.

22127. Whatwould be your view at that time — did
you wish to give leases? — Yes, I always wished to
give leases.

22128. And to put the leases into writing ] — Yes ;
where leases are given, of course they must be in writing.

22129. In these leases now given, do you contract
against the clauses of the Land Act, so far as you are
able to do so ? — Yes, over £50.

22130. In all these leases you contract against the
Act?— Yes.

22131. Were the tenants wilKng to do that? — I
never knew them to object.

22132. Did they well understand the meaning of it?
—They are quick enough to understand it.

22133. Do you give them anything in the way of
compensation for improvements in place of the Land
Act — that is, is there a covenant to recoup them for any
outlay? — It is more for disturbance they claim ; I don't
think there is any covenant.

22134. They would not be entitled to any compen-

4S



(382



lEISH LAND ACT COMMISSION, 1880.



Oct. 26, 188U,

Win. Uniackc
Townsend.



sation? — No; they are outside the Land Act alto-
gether.

22135. Mr. Shaw. — Don't you think that that has
something to do with the disinclination to take leases ?
^The disinclination to take leases under £50 is not
affected by that.

22136. Baron Dowse. — Do you put any covenant
into the leases under £50, contracting them out of the
Land Actf — Never.

22137. What is your experience as to improvements
going on for the last few years? — After the passing of the
Land Act there was a general tendency on the part of
landlords to cease to contribute towards improvements.

22138. Did that lead to a cessation by the tenants ?
— Yes ; improvements did not go on so rapidly as before.
I think the tendency not to assist is lessening every year.

22139. They are coming round again? — ^Yes.

22140. We understand that soon after the passing
of the Act there seemed an inclination on the part of
tenants to improve, and that that ceased after two or
three years — I allude to their tendency to improve
ceasing in connection with the additional allowance
from the landlord? — Their improvements were not
carried on so extensively iu consequence of not getting
the assistance.

22141. We were told that in the first few years there
was a tendency to increase? — Yes, I think there was.

22142. You know some cases, I believe, of purchases
by tenants of their holdings? — I only know of one.

22143. Was that under the Church Act?— No; I
think it was in the Ijanded Estates Court.

22144. What was the result there? — He was non-
resident, and he did not subdivide; he put up peirs
and improved the place slightly, but I don't think it is
a test case.

22145. It is desirable that further legislative mea-
sures should be adopted to establish tenants as owners
in fee of farms ? — I believe it would be very desirable
to have more conservative element all through Ireland,
and of a certain class, but I won't say peasant pro-
prietors, for they would subdivide ; but if they could
be induced to fine down their rent, it would be better
than peasant proprietary.

22146. You think something like what Mr. Barry
said would be better than purchasing ? — -Yes ; I would
he afraid of a repetition of distress in the bad times.

22147. You think it would be preparing for evil in
the future ? — I think so.

22148. What size of farm do you think is the best
for this rule to operate upon ? — I think the man who is
able to keep 25 cows : it is an element of a person's
comfort in my neighbourhood, how many cows he has.

22149. He ought to till 40 acres of land? — 40 to 50.

22150. These would be only large farmers ? — I would
not like to go under 15 cows. That would represent
30 acres.

22151. Baron Dowse. — ^^That is where dairy farms
exist ? — Yes.

22152. There are other parts of Ireland where there
are men with 100 acres and without 5 cows? — Yes;
of course I allude to dairy farming.

22153. The Chairman. — Suppose a property was
being sold, and that the privilege was confined to these
larger farmers, it would be thought very invidious by
the small tenants ? — The result would be very beneficial.

22154. To the larger men? — To the country.

22155. You don't think there would be any evil
effects in excluding small tenants from the same advan-
tages ? — I think it would be unwise to do otherwise.

22156. Mr. Shaw. — Have you many small tenants
on these properties ? — Oh yes, a great many.

22157. Under the figure you name — 40 acres? — Oh
yes, a great number.

22158. Baron Dowse. — Your tenants practically
have fixity of tenure? — They are scarcely ever dis-
turbed ; it almost amounts to that.

22159. The Chairman. — You mention as regards
temporary lettings, that they should be made more
easily carried out for the convenience of all parties.

22160. Do you mean temporary lettings for very
short periods?— Yes, there is a difficulty about that.



22161. Do you mean for a short period for temporary
purposes? — Yes. I should Hke to have the Act
amended in that respect. It is so difficult to get the
land back at all, and there are cases where you may
require to let it for a short period.

22162. That would be a short period in the land-
lord's interest — not in the tenant's interest? — Yes.

22163. Finding men willing to take the land for
these short periods, and no longer ? — Yes.

22164. Baron Dowse. — " In possession " is put into
the Land Act for temporary lettings ? — That is so, but
still you have great difficulty in framing your agreement.

22165. There is great difficulty in finding out the
meaning of the word " temporary " ? — There is. It is
very embarrassing to an agent in his ofiice.

22166. The Chairman. — You think if the tenants
were better aware of their position under the Land
Act, and exercised their rights, good would result
from the Act? — I think so. I don't think they are
aware of their position under the Land Act. I think
it did a great deal for the Irish tenant.

22167. Your opinion is that all sales of tenants'
interests should be carried out under the surveillance of
some Court that the landlord and tenant have confidence
in ? — Yes.

22168. Yon think the arrangements for selling
should be carried out with the approval of some Court ?
— I think so.

22169. So that you would not give the landlord the
power of interfering unfairly ? — My experience is that
wherever the Ulster Custom extends we have no control
whatever — it amounts to that in practice; although
there nominally is a veto, it is impossible to exercise it.

22170. And instead of the landlord's veto, you would
allow the landlord to say this must be decided by some
impartial person — by some tribunal, if there could be
such a Court established ? — I think it would be well.

22171. Baron Dowse. — ^According to your experi-
ence, is Griffith's valuation any standard at all by which
rents can be estimated? — Ithmk, taking a circle or radius
of five or six miles, the valuation is very correct ; and a
man who knows his business, and knows the value of
ground, can value one farm with another by the aid of
Griffith's valuation.

22172. Is it any standard by. which the rents on a
particular farm can be estimated? — Oh no. On one
estate of £5000 a year, where, with one on two excep-
tions, the rents have not been raised for forty-five years,
the rents vary from 60 to 90 per cent, over Griffith's
valuation, and have been paid with the utmost satisfac-
tion.

22173. They are not too high? — No, not at present
high prices ; a great deal depends on the size of the farm.

22174. Having regard to the size, the rent is not
beyond a fair rent ? — No. The men are able to educate
their children for learned professions, and to live as a
man would wish them all to live.

22175. The O'Conor Don. — ^Are you agent on the
Ashtown property ? — Yes.

22176. Is it a fact that the rent has been raised there
very lately? — No ; there was no general rise of rents since
1856, when, owing to enhanced prices of all agricultural
produce and an expenditure of over £10,000 for drain-
age, and for which no mterest had hitherto been charged,
there was a re-valuation and general rise of rents.

22177. Have not the rents been altered since 1856?
—When a tenant dies, there has been a small increase,
on the occasion of every death, if circumstances admit .
of it, to a small extent.

22178. We were told to-day that upon this estate
the rents have been raised again and again by the agent
in the office, on death or change of tenancy ? — It has
been done if the case admits of it. I will show you the
books, if necessary, and show that the rise has not been
at all high. On that estate, a farm rented at £62, 10«.,
with a valuation of £35, 15«., that is, the rent was 85
per cent, over the valuation for 25 acres ; that farm
was sold, and brought £800; The house was little
better than in ruins, and the land quite neo-lected.

22179. That was on the Ashtown estate?— It was
Colonel Gascoyne's estate, but it is the same thino'.



MINUTES OF EVIDENCE.



683



22180. The rents are not higher proportionately on
one estate than the other? — No; the rental of the
estate is between £13,000 and £14,000 a year, and
the rents of good lands are lower than on some of
the adjoining properties. That case is a very good
proof of that, where £800 was given for a farm of 25
acres.

22181. When was that? — It was last year. Two
joint tenants purchased it, and thought they had pur-
chased the good will, and in a week afterwards the
house was burned.

22182. Mr. Shaw. — Did the tenant go out willingly ?
— Yes, and sold his interest.

22183. The Chairman. — Could you give any idea
of the expenditure by some of the landlords on the pro-
perties you manage ? — On one estate I laid out annually
iDetween £800 and £900 before the Land Act.

22184. Could you say on all the estates how much
is laid out by the landlords on an average per year, or
altogether? — ^I should think formerly £1200 a year;
I don't think I put it too high.

22185. Mr. Shaw. — That is on all the properties?
— Yes.

221S(j. Was that money borrowed from the Board
of Works ? — Is ; on that estate that has been alluded
to there was £10,000 borrowed and spent on the estate,
and the rents had not been interfered with or raised in
consequence until the year 1856.

22187. Baron Dow^se. — Was that spent for general
estate purposes — drainage ? — Yes, almost altogether.

22188. The Chairman. — Did the greater part of it
go in giving employment to the labouring people ?^-
Ahnost altogether.

22189. The O'Conor Don.— There has been no
general re-valuation since 1856? — No, not for the last
twenty-four years. I think it is very desirable that the
labourers should be taken out of towns. They are de-
moralized, they have no homes there ; everything about
them has a disagreeable association. And it oecurred to
me that wherever there are houses scattered over the
country unfit for human habitation, the Board of
Guardians might serve notice on the landlord or tenant
within a certain time to put that house in good order,
and that if not they should have the power not only to
take up the house, but a quarter of an acre of ground
attached to it.

22190. The Chairman. — Let the Guardians borrow



the money, and erect a suitable slated house, and give
the labourer a quarter of an acre where the landlord
and tenant both declined ? — Yes.

22191. Mr. Shaw. — And charge them with it?

I would either purchase it out and out, or pay the
landlord the value of the ground, and I would increase
the number of houses. One of the greatest difficulties
at present is to get rid of the labourer. He has no
place to go to ; he goes into the town, and gets de-
morahzed.

2211)2. The Chairman.— The difficulty is, the man
may grow too old, and the farmer says, I must have
some one in his place? — I would like to see labourers'
houses built for them, and that they should be independ-
ent of the farmers, because they are not kind masters
in many cases. They charge very high rents.

22193. Where they are living on the holding, do
they usually have their houses as part of their wages, or
does the farmer charge them rent ? — Probably an equal
number of both cases ; they charge very high rents too.

22194. Don't you think the better plan would be not
to charge rents, but to make the house part of the
wages ? — I think so decidedly, because, of course, if
the labourer is an unsuitable servant, the farmer cannot
turn him out if he is a tenant without a tedious process,
but if he is a labourer, he puts him out by the ordinary
process.

22195. Mr. Shaw. — You agree with Mi-. Ban-y as
to the plan he suggested for the purchase of per-
petuities ? — I don't understand his debenture prin-

• ciple.

22196. Without going into the debenture part, you
agree in the other ? — Yes, provided the perpetuity is
not a fee.

22197. Keeping on a rent? — Yes, keeping on a rent.
If you leave the matter of the labourers to the Boards
of Guardians, who are at present principally farmers,
it won't be carried out.

22198. The Local Government Board would be able
to deal with that as reports from the sanitary officers ?
— It is a scandal to the country the present condition
of the labouring classes ; and my experience is, that if
you give them a comfortable house and a little piece of
ground they are very happy, and they are very regular
in their payments. Therefore I recommend that
more detached labourers' houses should be built in the
country.



Oct. 26, 188U.

Wm. Uniacki
Townsend.



Mr. John Froste, Clonmoney, Bunratty.



John Froste.



22199. The CnAiRMAN.^Are you a tenant ? — Yes,
and also an owner of land. I purchased land in the
Landed Estates Court.

22200. You wish to make some observation on the
relations between landlord and tenant, which you think
work evil at the present time ? — Yes. I wish to say
that I am over-rented for my land.

22201. How much land do you hold? — I farm about
200 statute acres. Where I live I hold somewhere
about 60 plantation acres.

22202. Are the two holdings under the same land-
lord ?— No.

22203. Who are the landlords ? — A gentleman
named John Massey Westropp is the landlord- where I
live. I held portion of the 60 acres up to 1871 at 30s.
an acre. I held from a middleman ; the lease dropped,
and the immediate landlord, Mr. Westropp, came as
landlord. I got some increase of land better than what
I formerly held, but the rental was doubled — instead of
30s. I had to pay £3.

22204. The O'Conoe Don. — How much land did
yon get in addition ? — I got 17 acres.

22205. How much had you before ?~ Thiry-four
acres.

22206. The Chairman. — That is only 51 : what made
up the 60? — I afterwards bought the interest of a
tenant in about 8 or 9 acres that ran between my place
and the public road.



22207. Was that from the same landlord ? — Yes.

22208. Was there a change of rent upon the sale by
the other tenant ? — The rent was the same as I paid
for my farm.

21209. Mr. Shaw. — It was not raised after the
purchase ? — No.

22210. The Chairman. — What is the rent of the
60 acres ?— £178. .



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Commissioners of inquiry into the wReport of Her Majesty's Commissioners of Inquiry into the Working of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, and the acts amending the same → online text (page 275 of 295)