Amendment 88 to Section 53 had been moved by Deputy Gorey when the Committee reported progress. It is still under discussion.
[ DAIL IN COMMITTEE. ] - LAND BILL, 1923. (THIRD STAGE RESUMED.)
My recollection is that the discussion on that was completed.
It was not.
It was not formally completed.
It was not formally completed. Is Deputy Gorey withdrawing the amendment?
I think the Minister replied to that.
I think the position is, as I said, that the discussion was not formally completed, but we had discussed the matter from every point of view.
In order formally to complete it, shall I put the amendment, or is it being withdrawn?
I think the amendment was withdrawn.
No, it was not. Is it being withdrawn now?
What was the assurance that the Minister gave?
This was the position: We had discussed the amendment fully. The discussion lapsed, and I moved to report progress. I had taken it for granted that the amendment would be withdrawn. We had fully discussed it. Discussion lapsed, and I moved to report progress.
I think that was the position.
Is the amendment being withdrawn now?
I really forget the assurance I got from the Minister; that is the trouble.
Then you can have it again.
I beg to withdraw the amendment. I think the explanation was satisfactory.
I beg to move:—
To insert before Section 54 a new Section as follows:—
"After the passing of this Act, Sub-section (3) of Section 72 of the Irish Land Act, 1903, Sub-Section (1) of Section 29, and Sub-Section (3) of Section 30 of the Irish Land Act, 1909, in respect of improvements effected by the Congested Districts Board or the Land Commission, shall cease to have effect."
This amendment provides that certain Sub-Sections of the Land Acts of 1903 and 1909 shall cease to have effect. The Sub-Sections refer to certain applications to be made to the English National Debt Office. Of course these provisions are now obsolete.
I am accepting this amendment.
I beg to move:—
In Sub-section (2) to delete all from the word "other," line 47, to the word `unexpired," line 49, inclusive.
The object of this amendment is to extend the benefits of the Bill to a class of tenancy not mentioned in it at all. Sub-section (2) reads: "The expression "tenanted land' means land held under any contract of tenancy other than a fee-farm grant, or lease for lives or years renewable for ever or lease for a term of years of which sixty or more are unexpired, and the expression `untenanted land' shall be construed accordingly."
The amendment brings in leaseholders, those who hold under fee-farm grants, and those who hold for a long term of years. To my mind they should be brought in. They are a very important section of tenantry. They were never able to avail of the Land Acts, and had to bear a much higher rent than was current during the sittings of the Land Courts.
The purpose the Deputy has in mind is really to redeem fee-farm rents, and rents payable under long leases. Now, we do not want to alter the definition in that Sub-section. It is the definition in all the Land Acts in respect to this question. At the same time we are prepared to effect the purpose the Deputy has in mind in another way. I want to point out that as far as fee-farm rents, leases for lives, or long leases are concerned they are covered by Section 29 of the Bill, so far as these leases are in Congested Districts counties. That section says that where the owner of a parcel of untenanted land which is vested in the Land Commission by virtue of this Act uses and cultivates the same as an ordinary farm in accordance with proper methods of husbandry, then if the price of the land does not exceed £3,000 the land shall be re-sold to the owner. That is what it comes to. Remember this is untenanted land, fee simple, and will vest automatically in the Land Commission under the provisions of the Bill, provided that it is situate in a congested districts county. We are really dealing with landlords, and under the provisions of the Bill for automatic vesting which applies to the Congested Districts counties these lands will vest. If a man has 200 acres of land held under a fee-farm grant in Co. Galway, and is an ordinary farmer, the holding will vest automatically in the Land Commission as untenanted land. It is not a home farm. He farms it as an ordinary farm. It is not a demesne, and it does not come in under any of the exceptions. Hence it will vest automatically. We are providing that if the value of the holding does not exceed £3,000 it shall be re-sold so that his case is really covered. When the land vests the price is paid, the price remember, not of the fee farm interest, but of the fee simple. The head rent is redeemed, and when re-vested in him it is re-vested absolutely in fee-simple, subject to an annuity. The definition is important. The advance is to him for the purchase of this parcel of land and vests in him in fee simple. So far as fee farm rents and leases for lives are concerned in the congested districts counties we have such cases covered already. I am prepared in regard to fee farm grants in non-congested counties to put in an amendment something like the following, on the Report Stage.
"Where a parcel of untenanted land situate in a non-congested districts county is held under a fee farm grant, lease for lives or years, renewable for ever, or lease for a term of years of which 60 or more are unexpired at the date of the passing of this Act, and the proprietor of the parcel applies in the prescribed manner to the Land Commission for an advance for the purpose of redeeming the rent created or reserved by the fee farm grant or lease, the Judicial Commissioner shall after hearing all persons concerned, order the redemption of the rent and all interests superior thereto, and fix the redemption price thereof. The redemption price so fixed, together with such costs as may be allowed by the Judicial Commissioner shall be advanced and paid by means of 4½ per cent. Land Bonds, and distributed by the Judicial Commissioner as if the redemption price of the rent were purchase money of land vested in the Land Commission under this Act, and the amount advanced shall be repayable by the proprietor of the parcel by means of an annuity calculated at the rate of 4¾ per cent. on the amount of the advance and the parcel shall (if not already so vested), be vested in the proprietor in fee-simple."
In effect we, at the option of the occupier, redeem the rent. I propose to put in an amendment to that effect on the Report Stage, by recommitting the Bill when the Dáil will have an ample opportunity of discussing the whole question. The amendment will be before Deputies for the requisite time and they will be in a position to raise any points they wish. I should say that we will have to leave the Section as it stands. We are not treating these as tenancies, as it would be incorrect to do so. They have not been treated as tenancies under any other Land Act. We are meeting the purpose and achieving the same end by this amendment.
Will the effect of this amendment be that a leaseholder who owes one or two years' rent will get a reduction on his rent although he is a landlord?
In a case where a fee farm grant is payable jointly by a number, will the amendment now suggested by the Minister mean that one can buy, whereas the others need not? I mean to say, does it mean that all those involved in the joint payment must agree to buy under the terms of the amendment, or can one buy and the others remain out?
The fact that a fee farm grant is held jointly makes no difference. The only condition we make is that we shall not sell more than £3,000 worth. I brought this in relief of the land owning class. If we did not put in a limitation we would be dealing with half the landlords in Ireland, and they could get this relief. This is the same kind of land as we are purchasing for the relief of congestion. A very large percentage of the landlords hold their lands under fee farm grants. We are only dealing, perhaps, with a percentage of them who are really in the same condition as tenants; that is to say, they have small parcels of land, and they farm them as ordinary farmers. But the principle is the same. A very large percentage of the very much bigger landlords hold their lands under fee farm grants of this sort. We are redeeming the rent in every case, except where the value of the land is over £3,000. That is the only condition. With regard to Deputy Wilson's point, the answer is—"no." Of course, the provisions in the Bill dealing with a reduction in rent between this and the appointed day does not apply to such persons. None of the provisions of the Bill apply to such persons except insofar as they are land-owners. None of the provisions of the Bill as it stands at present apply to them except insofar as we are purchasing land from them for the purpose of distribution. We are merely inserting this amendment, and it is the first amendment which applies to them from any other point of view. We merely did so in order to put the small land-owners in the same position as if they were tenants of the same area of land. We are conferring a very big benefit on them by allowing them to retain their lands. Under the Act of 1903, and the Act of 1909, this land might be taken to be distributed. We are conferring a very big benefit on them by allowing them to redeem their rents. As a rule these rents are very much smaller than judicial rents. A small percentage may be bigger, but in the vast majority these are much smaller than the judicial rents.
It is only in the case of a genuine tenant who is holding under a long lease that the Minister may have introduced this. I know that they are pretty extensively held by tenants all over the country as genuine tenancies, and the cases I know of are dearer than the judicial rents. Our object is to have these holdings treated as tenancies under this Bill. They are not getting the full benefits of the Bill. There were provisions in previous Land Acts excluding them. They were expressly put in for the purpose of excluding them, but that is no reason why we should do so. The Minister has told us that they will not benefit by a reduction on the current rents due. Am I to take it also that they will not benefit by the State contribution?
Certainly, they will not.
That will bear very hardly in cases where there are genuine tenancies, leases for lives and for 999 years, and all that kind of thing. I think the Minister ought to reconsider this matter, because they are the cases of genuine hardship, cases of genuine agricultural tenancies which have come in under this form of lease, the same as other tenants came in under other forms of lease. They are genuine agricultural tenancies, and they are denied the benefits of previous Acts.
Let us see where we stand exactly. The Deputy's amendment is:—"In Sub-section (2) to delete all from the word `other' to the word `unexpired' inclusive." Sub-section (2) reads as follows:—The expression tenanted land means land held under any contracts of tenancy other than a fee farm grant, or lease for lives or years renewable for ever or lease for a term of years of which 60 or more are unexpired, and the expression untenanted land shall be construed accordingly." Deputy Gorey's suggestion is to have the sub-section to read as follows:—"The expression `untenanted land' means land held under any contract of tenancy, and the expression `untenanted land' shall be construed accordingly." I take it from his amendment that he means to deal with fee farm grants.
And he means to deal with leases for lives renewable for ever, and he means to deal with leases for the terms of which 60 or more years are unexpired. Well, fee farm grants are fee simple lands. Some of the biggest land-owners in Ireland hold their lands under fee farm grants. There is no question about that.
A number of very large land owners hold their lands under leases of lives renewable for ever. Deputy Gorey is dealing exactly with the tenures of the land owners whom we are purchasing land from. I agree there is a big distinction; the distinction, however, is in the size of the land, and the manner in which it is worked, but remember he is dealing with exactly the same tenures as the land owners with whom we are dealing in the rest of the Bill, from whom we are taking land. That is the position. No other Bill did deal with them. We cannot regard them as agricultural tenants or tenants in the same sense as judicial tenants. If we regarded them as tenants we would have the extraordinary anomaly that a man would be at the same time both landlord and tenant, or rather he would be getting the provisions of the Bill as a landlord, and for the same land and the same tenure, he would be getting the provisions of the Bill as tenant. That is impossible, and it cannot be done. There is no way out of that. As the Bill stands at the moment, this land vests in the Congested Districts Counties. It vests in the Land Commission for the relief of congestion automatically as untenanted land. There is no question about that. This land under the provision of the Bill as it stands will vest in the Land Commission automatically as untenanted land for the relief of congestion. We are conferring a benefit on the class of cases we are considering here which they did not get under any other Act, and there is a considerable difference of opinion about allowing them to redeem their rents. It is quite common to have a fee farm rent of £20 on farms of four or five hundred acres. It is quite common to have 2s. an acre on leases for lives renewable for ever. The Deputy sees the thing only from his own point of view. He knows a few small lease holders, and he knows probably a few small fee farms grantees. He is looking at it from that point of view, and he wants to put in provisions in the Bill which would deal not only with these few small lease holders and these few small fee farm grantees, but with practically all the landlords in the country, making them landlords in one section and tenants in another. I do not say for a moment, even in the case of small lease holders, or small fee farm grantees, that there are not rents which are high. There may be a small percentage where the rents are high, but in the majority of cases they are much lower than judicial rents. The reason I inserted this provision, apart altogether from the necessity of making a clear distinction between the land owner and the owner of a fee simple farm, was that if we treated them in any other way it is probable that in fifty or sixty per cent. of cases the annuity they would be paying would be higher than the original rent. That would happen. If the Land Commission is to go down on the holding of a man of thirty or forty acres held under a fee farm rent the Land Commission would have to value it as a non-judicial tenancy if we accepted Deputy Gorey's suggestion, and they would have to value it on the lines of what is its fair value as a non-judicial tenancy, and the procedure possibly would be that they would fix a third term rent which would in many cases be much higher than the fee farm rent. Capitalise that, and the result would be that in the greater number of these cases the annuity would be actually higher than the fee farm rent if the Deputy only saw it. However, we can argue this on the re-committal of the Bill. This would achieve its purpose and do justice more effectively than his own suggestion. What he wants is to redeem the rent at a redemption price. We are not going to treat them as tenants because they are not tenants, and because we do not want to have the Bill ridiculously drafted. I will put in an amendment like that on re-committal. The Deputy has a copy of it, and we can argue it at length, and have the benefit of a couple of days to consider the whole question.
I agree to that.
In the redemption of these rentals will the Land Commission have regard only to the rent or to the fee farm itself?
They will only have regard to the rent.
It is quite true there is only one class of people I am interested in, and not the general body at all.
I beg to move Amendment 91:—"In Sub-section (2) to insert after the word ‘unexpired' the words ‘or a letting for the purpose of temporary depasturage, agistment, or conacre, or for temporary convenience, or to meet a temporary necessity.'" The sub-section mentions two classes of holdings which are not to be classed as untenanted lands, and this amendment mentions another class that I suggest should be excepted. It is easy to imagine that arrangements might be made for family reasons, and under such an arrangement land might become for a short time liable to be termed untenanted land. These holdings are specified in this amendment, and I beg to move it.
We argued this question on Section 20, Sub-section (3). The amendment of Deputy Sears is necessary in order to make the Bill consistent. I am accepting it. I think the case for the amendment is quite clear.
I move Amendment 92: "To add after the word `two,' Sub-section (2), line 54, the words `(such contract not being a renewal of a previous tenancy).' "
Portion of Sub-section (2) reads: "provided that the land has become tenanted land as above defined by reason of a contract or tenancy entered into on or after the first day of September, nineteen hundred and twenty-two." We propose to add: "such contract not being a renewal of a previous tenancy."
I accept that amendment.
I suggest that when you accept that amendment you should put it in after the words "contract of tenancy." It would read better so.
Deputy Gorey, I take it, agrees with that.
The sub-section would then read: "Provided that where land had become tenanted land as above defined by reason of a contract of tenancy (not being a renewal of a previous tenancy) entered into on or after the 1st day of September, 1922."
I beg to move to add at the end of paragraph (a) the words “and if the person in possession be dispossessed under this sub-section he shall be paid adequate compensation, having regard to the value of any improvements made by him.”
Before the Minister replies, may I ask whether he has considered the advisability of the deletion of the entire body of words in paragraph (a), and whether it would not really effect his purpose better if it were omitted unless he considers it really essential to the main meaning of the Bill?
If paragraph (a) were deleted, what would follow after the proviso?
Paragraph (b) would then take the place of paragraph (a).
That is, to have the same provision for a congested districts county? That would hardly be fair. There are more reasons against the recent creation of a tenancy in a congested districts county than outside. It might even be perfectly legitimate in a congested district, but there are more reasons for not allowing it in a district where congestion is acute than, for instance, in a county in the Midlands. My own view is that Clause (a) should be left in. I take it what Deputy Gorey has in mind is that in the event of any improvement or anything like that being made, the tenant shall be paid the actual value of his improvements. I will undertake to bring in an amendment to that effect on Report Stage.
Ba mhaith liom an leas rún so do thairisgint:—In Sub-section (3), to insert after the word "include" the words "any subsequent Act now in force which is by its terms to be construed as one with the Land Purchase Acts and."
I will accept this amendment; it is necessary.
Perhaps upon this motion the question that I want to raise will most conveniently come up. I would like the Minister in charge of the Bill to give me some assurances upon this matter. The question I want to raise is in regard to land in the vicinity of towns. It was pointed out that the 1903 Act provided that where an estate was in the main agricultural and pastoral, towns situated thereon might be included in the sale of such estates. It is said that the proposal in this Bill is retrospective, because there is practically a repeal of the 1903 Act as far as these estates are concerned by the provision that even a holding of itself must be in greater part or substantially agricultural. That may or may not be a correct reading, and I would like the Minister to reassure us upon the matter, and say whether, in the case of tenants who have already purchased under the 1903 Act, their interests have been acquired, or may be acquired under that Act from the Commissioners, and whether the Commissioners are likely to adjudge their present rights and accruing benefits under that Act rather by the new powers they are getting under this Act than by the powers they have under the old Act. That is the case put to me, and perhaps the Minister, who understands it a good deal better than I do, will explain.
The principle we accepted in connection with this Act was the principle of dealing with all tenancies both agricultural and pastoral, or which are either partly agricultural or partly pastoral. If they are purely agricultural and purely pastoral, it does not matter whether they were judicial or non-judicial, present or future. We deal with them all. That is the principle we went on, and if we are to call this a Land Purchase Bill, or a Land Bill at all, you could not make the definition any wider. If you wish to widen it, we would have to bring in houses pure and simple. That is the only possible extension. Any further extension would bring in houses pure and simple, apart from land. We are dealing with the holdings agricultural or pastoral, and we deal with them whether judicial or non-judicial. That was the principle we accepted. We could go no further without actually dealing with houses as such. I think that is a sound principle. In any case we would have to re-christen the Act if it dealt with anything else. It is very true that small towns under the Land Purchase Act of 1903, by reason of the fact that they were on estates—towns like Athenry, which was regarded as a village on a big estate—were sold. We are not dealing with a man with a house in a town and no land. The 1903-1909 Acts did not deal with such people to any appreciable extent.
Some people had the good luck to come within the terms of the 1903 Act by reason of the fact that they lived in very small towns which were on very large estates. The Commissioners decided that the fact that the town was on a large estate really made no difference, and held that it was mainly agricultural. We are going a long way further than the 1903 Act. We are selling town parks to the owners. That is at least ten times as great a concession as the advantages which a few small towns got under the 1903 Act. Whether the town is big or small, if a man is the owner of a genuine town park, and has a future tenancy, we are selling to him. That applies to every town, big and small, and considerably outweighs anything that may be urged against the Act by reason of the fact that we do not deal with the owner of a shop in some country town to which there is no land attached. That is my answer to the first part of the question. With regard to the second part, we do not touch in any way the rights of people who have purchased, whether they be residents in a town or agricultural tenants in the country. We do not interfere with the rights of anyone who has purchased under the previous Acts, with the exception, of course, that under this Bill we propose to have the power to take up even a purchased holding for the relief of congestion, but that does not affect the point which the Deputy raised.
I desire to ask who will make the rules in regard to the Guarantee Fund?
The Minister for Finance.
Will an opportunity be given Deputies to discuss these rules in the Dáil before they are made? Will the rules be made by the Minister for Finance?
The Deputy is already in a position to examine the rules, which are in existence. This section merely means that the Minister for Finance will in future exercise the powers formerly exercised by the Lord Lieutenant or other functionary of that sort.
What we want to avoid is that the Minister for Finance shall make the ratepayers pay for the carrying out of these rules.
As far as I understand the Deputy, what he wants to know is if these rules will be laid on the Table of the Dáil before they come into effect.
The Deputy, I think, is under a misapprehension. The Guarantee Fund, as such, is not altered. The machinery is not altered; it is there. The rules are there, and the procedure is there, cut and dry. We are merely providing that the Minister for Finance shall make the requisitions and do other necessary things of that sort which formerly were done by the Lord Lieutenant of the day. The Guarantee Fund is there—it is the law of the land; and the regulations are there. They have not been altered, and they will not be altered, as far as I am aware. We are accepting the Guarantee Fund as it stands, but are merely providing that in the "regrettable" absence of the Lord Lieutenant the Minister for Finance will do his work.
Ba mhaith liom an rún so do thairisgint:—To insert after the word "Act," line 39, the words "to such extent as may be approved by the Minister for Finance."
Is doigh liom gur tabhactac an leas-run é.
This amendment, of course, is absolutely necessary. It is only right that the Treasury should have control over those moneys, as they have over other moneys.
The First Schedule has already been added to the Bill.
Is all the subject matter of Schedule 1 ruled out?
I thought it was only the first part that was discussed. We did not go on to (a), (b) and (c).
All of Schedule 1 was passed. I found Amendment 96 being discussed when I resumed the Chair. I put Amendment 96, and on a division it was defeated.
I thought you were only putting the first portion.
Amendment 96, "to delete Part 1 of the First Schedule," was moved, discussed at some length, put, and on a division defeated. Amendment 97 was not moved, as it was lost consequentially on the defeat of Amendment 96.
I did not know that. I wish to draw the Minister's attention to the subject matter of (a), (b) and (c), because if I am in order——
It is not in order. The Schedule has been passed.
The Deputy will be in order on the next stage. It was plain enough in the discussion that he did not refer to the second and third paragraphs.
If the Deputy proposes to amend Part 2 that will bring it under discussion on the next stage.
As certain portions of this Bill are to be re-committed, will he not have an opportunity to re-committ this Schedule?
It is open to Deputies to put in an amendment on re-committal, and no one is going to raise any point about it. I am aware that the Deputy did not refer to the other two paragraphs.
I accept that. These matters have nothing to do with the question of price.
If anybody suggested to me, or to my deputy, who was in the Chair, to take the Schedule in parts it would have been done. That suggestion was not made.
We were taking from the middle to the end of the Bill.
Are we to understand that unless there are some amendments put to Part 2 it will not be brought into discussion?
I was thinking of the procedure which was already outlined, and of a promise already given by the Minister. We shall have a second Committee Stage, and if amendments are tabled to Part 2 that would enable them to be discussed on the Second Committee Stage. If no amendment is tabled Part 2 cannot be discussed, but on the Report Part 2 can be discussed.
It is only right to say that the Amendment to Part 1 was discussed for about two or three hours, and it was not the Deputy Chairman's fault or anybody else's fault if Deputies during that long spell did not revert to any other clause.
I must admire the Minister's tactics in taking us from the middle to the end of the Bill.
That is a most unkind remark.
This will not solve the question. In Committee, if the suggestion is made to me or to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, and if sufficient reasons are put up to take the Schedule in part or by sub-sections, that will be done. If Deputies do not do that, then they have no cause for complaint. Anyway, there are two further opportunities for discussion.
Session and Chapter.
Extent of Repeal.
54 & 55 Vic. Cap. 48.
The Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1891.
Section 37, sub-section (3).
3 Ed. VII. Cap. 37.
The Irish Land Act, 1903.
Section 53.Section 54, sub-section (1) (c) the words “or vested in more than one person,” and sub-sections 2, 3 and 4.
6 Ed. VII. Cap. 37.
Labourers (Ireland) Act, 1906.
Section 19. From the words “Provided that” to end of Section.
7 Ed. VII. Cap. 38.
The Irish Land Act, 1907.
7 Ed. VII. Cap. 56.
The Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Act, 1907.
9 Ed. VII. Cap. 42.
The Irish Land Act, 1909.
Section 16, sub-section (1).
I move Amendment 98: "To insert in Extent of Repeal column, opposite the Short Title, `The Irish Land Act, 1903,' Section 49, the words `or any purchaser from them.' " The section of the Act refers to the registration fee payable under the Local Registration of Title Act. Under this Act every person will be a purchaser either from the Land Commission or from the Congested Districts Board. It means it would be an addition to the sections that are referred to; it means they relate to that particular Act.