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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

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of fees was to be regulated by the amount to be secured
by each mortgage, and the way Mr. Ball interpreted it
was, that the scale referred to the amount of purchase-
money, and that no master what sum a man paid in cash,
on account of the price of his holding, the fees for the mort-
gage were to be assessed on the total purchase-money.

1709. Baron Dowse. — I believe that was one of
the matters that led to the dispute between the solicitor
and the Commissioners 1 — I think it was ; but there
was no litigation on that point.

1710. The O'CoNOE Don. — Did the Incorporated
Law Society take any action to induce the Commis-
sioners to change their course of proceedings ? — They
sent a communication to the Commissioners asking
them to prevent their solicitor from doing business for
the tenants.

171 1. Chairman. — That was to prevent his acting in
a public capacity, and also in a private capacity ? — Yes.

1712. Baron Dowse. — But the Commissioners
offered to the man who purchased, the option of Mr.
Ball being his solicitor ?-— Yes.

1713. Was the action of the Law Society to pre-
vent Mr. Ball doing a thing even if the client was
anxious to have it done ? — Yes. The way they put it
was that Mr. Ball was taking an advantage of his
position to monopolize this class of business.

1714. The O'CoNOR Don. — Did the Commissioners
change the course of proceeding in consequence of this
representation from the Law Society ? — They did not
for some time until they made a change in their soli-
citor's department. Since 1876 the Commissioners'
solicitor has not prepared conveyances in any case.

1715. But you cannot give us a reason why
they did make that change? — I think the principal
reason was that it gave such dissatisfaction to the legal
profession.

1716. But there was no reason for supposing that
course had broken down with regard to the clients ? —
No.

1717. Mr. Shaw. —And the tenants now have only

to make their own bargain with their own solicitor 1

Yes.

1718. The O'CoNOE Don. — You are aware the

Incorporated Law Society have a scale of charges ? I

amnot aware of the existence of such a scale, but I
believe there is a scale in force for the use 'of the
taxing-masters.

1719. Baron Dowse.— It is sufficient to say that,
according to your judgment, the Commissioners' scheme
operated beneficially to the tenant ? — It did.

K



G6



IRISH LAND ACT COMMISSION, 1880.



Sept. 4, 1880.

William L.
Bernard, Esq.



1720. With referencs to the London Companies, I
see that yon state that the London Companies and
trustees of charities a,nd other lay corporations in Ire-
land have altogether more land than the Church Com-
missioners 1 — Yes.

1721. And j'ou see no reason — in point of fact you
.are of opinion that these parties should be enabled, or
to a certain extent obliged, to sell the land to the
tenants ; is not that so 1 — Yes.

1722. With reference to the question of capital
that you told us has to be raised, you suggest the
creation of this land stock for that in the way you
have already mentioned ? — Yes.

1723. Mr. SiiAw. — You would requii-e the State's
guarantee for that, or would you think the property

" itself would be sufficient security 1 — I think the p)ro-
perty itself ought, perhaps, to be sufficient.

1724. The O'Conor Don. — And who would collect
the annual payments from the person who had pur-
chased % — The newly constituted Commission would be
the collectors.

1725. Baron Dowse. — And is this your opinion,
" to facilitate the tenants on the estates of the London

Companies and other lay corporations becoming the
proprietors of their holdings, you would suggest that
these corporations be required by statute to convey
their lands to the administrative body you have
referred to % — Yes.

1726. Upon such terms as might be decided by some
impartial tribunal, and be paid the purchase-money of
such lands in the stock proposed to be created? — Yes.

1727. Then with respect to the tenants on other
' estates, you suggest permissive legislation to enable

owners of land to sell their property direct to the
administrative body, in cases where they are willing to
■ receive payment of the value thereof in stock, making
due provision for owners under disability ? — Yes.

1728. Those disabilities would comprise minority
and lunacy, and I suppose you would also make pro-
vision for owners who are only limited owners as
compared with owners in fee 1 — I would.

1729. You think on the whole that would work
well ?— Yes, and I think if the Settled Estates Bill
at present before Parliament (Lord Cairns' Bill), or
some measure of that kind were passed, a number of
difficulties would be removed.

1730. But in the case of a Corporation there are
no difficulties of that kind, nor in the case of owners,
who are practically owners in fee if they are willing to
sell, there is no difficulty 1 — No.

1731. The effect of that would be to create a health y
body of peasant proprietors throughout the country,
that would be advantageous to the proprietors them-
selves, and set a good example to their neighbours 1 —
Yes.

1732. You give a summary in this very valuable
pamjDhlet of yours of your suggestions, you suggest the
creation of 3i per cent, land stock 1 — Yes.

1733. And you'think that would without encroachins;
- on the ordinary resources of the nation, provide the

capital required ? — Yes.

1734. Then you would suggest charging orders
in place of ordinary conveyances and mortgages in the
case of sales to tenants, and you would exempt those

from the ordinary stamp duty as conveyances 1 Yes.

A simple form of charging order to be printed in each
case, like an ordinary Landed Estates Court convey-
ance, and executed in duplicate, such form to be
framed so as to operate both as a conveyance and a
mortgage.

1735. And you would extend to purchasers the
exemption that is allowed to borrowers from buildino-
societies? — I would.

1736. And'the privileges allowed to such borrowers
as to re-conveyances on the purchase money secured
by mortgage, being paid 1 — I would.

1737. As to the London Companies, you are aware
their land is entirely in the county Londonderry 1 —
Yes ; almost entirely so.

1738. And they are the proprietors of the larger
part of that county ? — They are



1739. Are you aware that some London Compari
have lately sold their estates in bulk to individuals '
I am not.

1740. Are you aware they refused to sell them
tenants ? — I never heard that.

1741. 1 don't know how it is myself, it is onl]
rumour, have you ever heard that they refused
divide it so as to enable the tenants to get it 1 — I ne'^
heard it.

1742. But you are aware that one or two Compan:
have sold land to a proprietor ? — No.

1743. Did youhear that Sir Hervey Bruce purchas
the Clothworkers' 1 — No.

1744. Are you aware that lately in the Rolls Con
a suit has been instituted for partition between sor
Companies as to land they hold jouitly? — I am not.

1745. As I said already these London Compani
are absentees ? — They are.

1746. But numbers of them are very liberal
schools and institutions 1 — They are.

1747. The Irish Society is one of those Companies yc
are aware that owns ppactically the soil of Derry? — Ye

1748. They spend a great deal of their income in tl
locality ? — Yes.

1749. Did you ever hear that they are not liber
in granting leases 1 — I am not acquainted with tl
transactions of the Irish Society.

1750. The ordinary lease that a man would like i
build upon in Derry is somewhat different from wht
a man would build a house on in the west-end of Loi
don ? — Yes.

1751. And don't you thuik it is not a verypruden
thing to introduce London rules into Deny ? — I thin!
not.

1752. Then you are of opinion that these partie.'
ought to be obliged whether they like it or not to sell
to the tenants? — Yes, I think there are as good
reasons for taking the land from those bodies as there
were for taking the lands of the bishops and clergy.

1753. But it is quite a different thing with a privat(
landlord who had ancestors and associations connecte(
with the locality, you would not force him to sell unles
he liked ? — I would not.

1754. How did you agree with the tenants unde
the Church Act as to the sum to be paid ? — The IrisJ
Church Act threw the onus on the Commissioners t
fix the price of each holding. They sent then- vakif
tors to inspect the land and report to the Commi;
sioners their opinion as to the value, and the Commii
sioners after considering that valuation iixed a pric
on each holding, and sent a formal offer by post i
each tenant offering him his land at a fixed price, an
giving him three months to consider the offer made
They also sent him a form of reply to fill up statin
that he accepted their offer, which required him'l
specify whether he was prepared to pay the whole (
the purchase money in cash or any particular pre
portion, and in cases where he proposed to secure
part by mortgage the number of instalments he pri
posed to extinguish that mortgage by was alwaj
required to be stated.

1755. Then supposing he offered a less price? — TL
Commissioners, as a I'ule, would not consider any sue
communication.

1756. They considered that they had fixed a fai
price themselves ? — ^Yes.

1757. Did you find ultimately any great difficult
in disposing of the property to the tenants upon th
terms suggested ? — No ; when they had the means (
paying for it. At the beginning a great many tenant
did not accept the offers of the Commissioners, I believi
because they did not understand them, and when tlj
Commissioners got through offering all the lands \
the tenants, they, before commencing to sell to ti
public, offered a second time to all the tenants who ha
been offered their lands in the early stages, with tl
result that a large number of them came in and pu
chased.

1 758. And those that did not come in and purchas(
— Such lands were sold to the public either by auctio:
or by advertising for tenders.



MINUTES OF EVIDENCE.



67



1759. The Commissioners are bound by Act of
Parliament to give a right of pre-emption to the
tenants 1 — Yes.

1760. And you found that worked smoothly enough 1
—Yes.

1761. Your experience then extends over tlie whole
of Ireland ■?— Yes.

■1762. Because it was See lands and church lands 1 —
It was principally glebe lands that had been in the
occupation of the clergy that were sold to occupiers.
The tenants of see lands chiefly held in perpetuity.

1762a. That was in every county in Ireland*! — It
was of course more in Ulster than any other county.

1763. Those were what were called the Ulster glebes
that the great discussion was abovit in the House of
Commons ^ — Yes.

1764. The O'Conoe Don. — Was not the vast ma-
jority in Ulster'? — It was.

1765. Baron Dowse. — But there were some in
other parts of Ireland"! — They were scattered all over
the country.

1766. Did you find the Ulster tenants more willing,
to deal than the others ] — I think they were all willing
to deal.

1767. Did you take into account at all, when you
were making the ofier to the Ulster tenants, that any
of them were entitled to any interest in the land under
the tenant-right custom] — I cannot answerthatqiiestion.

1768. After all what you were selling to them was
your interest, and that was subject to whatever right
of tenancy they had themselves 1 — Yes. As regards
perpetuity tenures under the Ecclesiastical laws, I
am desirous of calling attention to the difference that
exists as regards "apportionments " between that class
of tenure and fee-farm grant tenures. In the case of a
perpetuity tenant having a holding sublet to under-
tenants, he might sell his interest to the respective
occupiers subject to a pro rata proportion of the per-
petuity rent, and there was no difficulty in his rent
being so apportioned. If I hold an estate in fee-farm,
and I want to sell to my tenants, I cannot apportion
the fee-farm rent payable, and it always seemed to
me very strange that a perpetual tenancy under an
ecclesiastical landlord should be treated differently as
regards " apportionments," in case of division or sale,
from a fee-farm tenancy held under a lay landlord,
pursuant to Renewable Leasehold Conversion Act.

1769. CiiAiEMAN. — Under the ecclesiastical law, do
you mean under the Act 1 — A see estate in perpetuity
under Act of William IV.

1770. Baron Dowse. — What do you mean by per-
petuity, do you mean having bought the fee from the
Ecclesiastical Commissioners 'i — Having boiight the
fee but holding subject to a perpetual rent under the
Church Temporalities Act.

1771. And that can be apportioned t — That rent can
be apportioned.

1772. Thatisby statute?— Yes.

1 773. But a fee-farm rent cannot be apportioned ? —
It cannot. Under some special circumstances it can be
apportioned where land is sold in the Landed Estates
Court ; but as a rule it is not practicable to apportion
ijuch a rent unless the estate is sold in the Land
Court.

1774. ChaieHan. — You think that distinction ought
to be abolished 1 — I think so. There are such a large
number of middlemen holding land in Ireland that if
you come to carry out a peasant jjroprietary scheme
you will find yourself blocked in many cases by fee-
farm grants and it is most desirable that these fee-farm
rents should be apportionable as an absolute right and
that a man holding in fee-farm and having two or more
tenants under him should be able to sell to these ten-
ants subject to the fee-farm rent divided ^ro rato over
their holdings. . ' '■

1775. Baron Dowse. — Under the old Ecclesiastical
Commissioners when there was a sale of the perpetuity
there was power to sell a part and apportion the rest
and then the Ecclesiastical Commissioners got two
payments instead of one 1 — Two or more.

1776. But that was done fcy the statute of Wiffiaan



and the Renewable Leasehold Conveisiuu Act did not Sejit. 4, iseo.
contemplate that case 1 — No. William L.

1777. And when they sell in the Landed Estates Beraaid, Esa.
Court they sometimes sell indemnified against the

charge ? — Yes ; but I believe that lias been a serious
obstacle to the tenants purchasing.

1778. May not that distinction have arisen from
the differeij-t nature of the properties with which the
parties were diialing? — It may, but in selling them
there oughtj to be some way of compuLsorily dividing
fee-farm rents.

1779. Under the old system before the Church was
disestablished when a man was tenant under a lease,
to a Bishop, for 21 years, it strictly speaking in
point of law it was only a 21 years' lease, but the Bishop
generally speaking let it at a low I'ate and renewed it
every year getting a fine sometimes equal to the rent,
but he might if he chose run his own life against the
lease, the effect of which would be that if it drojjped
he would get the land at the end of 21 years. But
they recognized a sort of property in the lessee the
effect of which was that it enabled him to acquire
the fee by dealing with the Commissioners direct and to
divide the rent if he sold it to another party ? — Yes.

1780. But dealing with the property of the leasee
of lives renewable for ever, a private uidividual if
the parties choose is entitled by proceeding in the
Court of Chancery to acquire a fee-iarni grant, and he
has to give the landlord compensation for the loss of
his reversion and he has also to give him some com-
pensation for other matters, and he is not allowed to
apportion that rent, is that the distinction ? — It is.

1779a. The O'Conor Don. — Do you propose that it
should be apportioned, or that it should be placed upon
one lot, and the others indemnified ? — Whatever
course would be most convenient ; but I would like to
have it in a way that an owner, in fee-farm, of land
may deal with his property without going into the
Landed Estates Court.

1780a. Baron Dowse. — There is no doubt about
this — if I held 100 acres under a fee-farm grant,
subject to a rent of £50 a year, I, might sell it to 50
people ; but any one of the 50 would be liable for the
whole rent 1 — Yes.

1781. Are these matters at present what many say
they are : a barrier 1 — Yes.

1782. A barrier to the creation of a peasant pro-
prietary on the fee-farm grant estates 1 — Yes ; and
there is such a large proportion of the land in Ireland
held that way that it is a subject cannot be left aside.

1783. It is a common tenure in Ireland? — Yes;
and I don't think the subject has ever been con-
sidered before any Parliamentary Committee.

1784. The O'Conok Don. — Doesn't the rent in
these fee-farm cases generally amount to a small por-
tion of the fee-farm estate 1 — Yes. ,

1785. Do you think it would Fe fait' to the owner
of the head rent to make it divisible amongst this
number of persons ? — I do not see why he should be
placed in a different position from the owner of a
Church estate. If it was considered right by the Legis-
lature to put one class into that position, I do not see
why the same should not be done in the case of the
other larger class.

_ 178G. Baron Dowse. — One is dealing with ecclesias-
tical estates where the rent is higher than in the
other t — Yes.

1787. Mr. Shaw.— If the rent is small there would
be no difficulty in putting it into one lot — it is only
in case it is large you divide it 1- Yes ; but if I have
an estate and sell it to some tenants, making one of
them responsible for the' wJiole of the rent, the owner
may not be pleased; he may ^o to any part of the
land he likes, to demand the entire rent.

1788. Baron Dowse.— It would appear that, instead ■

of dividing it, it could be thrown; on one portion 1 In

the vast majority of cases it could jiot be thrown on
one portion. It would have been much easier to have
thrown it on one portion in Church easee than in any
other cases.



1789. Mr. Shaw.-



-Bo you think the fee-farm reats
K 2



GS



ir.LSH LAND ACT COMMISSION, 1880.



Sept. i, IS80.

William L.
Bernard, Esq.



are, as a rule, iiny thing nns,: Ihe value of the holding ■! —
I think, talving them all round, they would probably be
something like from one-third to two-thirds of the Poor
Law valuation.

1790. I would not think so at alH — In the county
Dublin, at any rate, they are. At the same time, I
should say in explanation that it is very hard to es-
timate what they are, there are so many different
classes of fee-farm tenures.

1791. You cannot lay down any general rule 1 — No.

1792. Was there any effort made on the part of the
Churcli body in cases tenants did not agree to the
price to arrange it by arbitration 1 — No.

1793. I suppose there was some principle on which
they valued these holdings ; did they send valuers 1 —
They sent valuers to visit the lands and to report upon
them.

1793a. And where the lands were valued, were the
tenants' improvements excluded from the valuation 1 —
I could not answer that question.

1794. What proportion of these lands were sold by
auction 1 — About one-third were sold by aaction or by
public tender.

1796. And there was no effort whatever to arrange
the price by arbitration? — No, the Act did not require it.

1796. In cases where the tenants applied for infor-
mation as to the grounds of the valuation, were
there any answers given, or were facilities afforded 1 —
As a rule there was not.

1797. I know in one case I applied m3'self in a case I
knew to be one of great hardship, and I got a very
curt answer from the Commissioners. They would
not give me the slightest information, and the whole
property of the tenant, to the extent of thousands, was
sacrificed ? — It was impossible for the Commissioners
to re-investigate the details of every case, and the
tenants had do right of appeal to arbitration. The
Church Commissioners, as a rule, did not apj)i-ove of
the arbiti'ation clauses, having regard to the way they
liad worked in connection v.'itli the compensation
sections of the Church Act. In i'aet those clauses
almost invariably worked contraiy to the iutei-esfs
of the Church Surplus Fund.

1798. But do you not think they might have made
some effoit to satisfy the natural objections the tenant
would make to a valuation? — I must say this, lliat
whenever a statement was made showing to their
satisfaction that the valuation was excessive the Com-
misioners always reconsidei :d the \'aluatiou and in
many cases they did reduce the price.

1799. In this case the tenant had built a valuable
house ; had made all the improvements on the farm,
and had his farm in first rate order, and this farm
with all its improvements was put up for sale against
the 'tenant by public auction, and he could get no satis-
faction or explanation as to the grounds of the valua-
tion put upon it 1. — I am not familiar with the precise
particulars of the case referred to.

1 800. Baron Dowse. — This must be admitted that
the Church Commissioners represent the surplus fund
— the landlord formerly — and therefore they had his
interest to look after, but the new body — these
Church Commissioners will soon be dead and when
dead, I supjjnse their duties are at an end — but
the new body that you contemplate would not re-
present the landlord more than the tenant, and it
\\'(juld be their duty to do what is fair to the tenant,
and they would not be looking to any surplus fund 1 —
I think they would have an easier duty to perform.

1801. If an estate was vested in them and they
were called upon to sell out the property they would
iiave no interest in adding in the improvements ? — No.

1802. Chaieman. — Your suggestion is one Com-
mission to manage the whole systeili of sales to the
peasantry 1 — Yes.

1803. That Commission following the Church Com-
mission system as far as it has been successful and
possessing their powers as much as possible ? — Yes.

1 804. With such amendments as you have suggested
or with any other suggestions that might be made to
make them still more practicable ? - 1 think it would



be important that when a holding is offered to
tenant such Commission should be in a position to se
we don't want any money at all from you.

1805. Giving the tenant the option? — Yes, so thi
the Commission might say, we will take any mone
you can give, or if you cannot give any of the pu
chase-money we will convert the whole into a te
minable annuity — into any number of years yo
choose not exceeding forty-one years.

1806. Not exceeding forty-one years? — The reaso
I say forty-one is that I am in favour of the adoptio
of a 4 per cent, table, with a view to create a sufficien
margin between the interest payable on the debenture
and that piayable on the charging orders, to pay th
working expenses of the Administrative Body, am
provide for contingencies.

1807. Would it be with the view of keeping th
payments down to the present rent? — As near a
possible to the present rent

1808. The O'Conor Don.— Would that not depem
on the amount of purchase-money given? — I have pu
the matter in this way in my pamphlet : —

" I would suggest forty-one years as the exh-eme limit foi
terminable annuities. An annuityfor that period would be ex
actly equal to the gross rent where the purchase-money wai
twenty years purchase, and would be advanced in amount bj
one-t-wcntieth part for every additional year's purchase or in
other words be 5 per cent, on the purciiase money."

1809. You say you would in cases allow the whole
of the purchase-money to be advanced by the Treasury ?
—Yes.

1810. These would be selected cases jierhapsi —
Well I think there might be some limit made where
such a course would not be adopted.

1811. Mr. Shaw. — You would leave it to the
judgment of the Commissioners? — Yes, to the judg-
ment of the Conmdssioners.

1812. Chaik:man. — According to the character and
the circumstances of the person ap[>lying ] — Yes.

1813. With respect to what are called the Bright
Clauses, in the evidence before Mr. Lefevre's Com-
mittee there are several cases mentioned of failure —
do you happen to know whether these difficulties have
been ob\'iated since that time? — Xo, I am not aware
of any of them having been obviated since.

1814. Not as to the question of the priority oi
charges — are they still compelled to give priority tc
every charge that exists? — Yes. There has been no



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 87 of 295)