Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 18 Mar 1931

Vol. 37 No. 14

Land Bill, 1930—Committee Stage (Resumed.)

Debate resumed on Amendment 89, To insert a new section before Section 43 as follows:—
"Wherever prior to the passing of the Land Act, 1923, serious damage was caused to a holding through the failure of the landlord to maintain the embankments or other works on such holding and where no compensation has been allowed to the tenants in respect of the same the Land Commission shall institute a judicial enquiry to ascertain what compensation, if any, shall be granted to the tenants."

I would like to know what is the position with regard to this amendment. Is the Parliamentary Secretary prepared to look into the question of compensation for the tenants whose holdings have been flooded in this manner?

No, the Land Commission have got all the power they want at the moment under, I think, Section 44 of the Act of 1923 and Section 20 of the Act of 1927. If the landlord was liable for the upkeep or maintenance of particular embankments, and if he has failed in his duty, then the tenant has got the remedy tenants in such circumstances always have had, of going into the courts and getting compensation in the ordinary way.

Are not these repairs subsequently placed upon the tenants as an annuity?

Quite free?

Is the Parliamentary Secretary making provision for payment for damage due to failure to keep the embankments?

No, there is no provision for that. You see, the Judicial Commissioner when distributing the purchase money, retains an amount sufficient for the future maintenance and upkeep of these embankments. He does that in every case.

The other is a different point. Since the last debate on this matter I had a deputation of farmers from a district where three miles of embankment are affected. Their lands have suffered considerable damage owing to failure to keep the embankments in repair. They feel, and I think justly, that they are entitled to some compensation. The money retained in the Guarantee Deposit is for the maintenance of embankments in future. Surely some compensation should be paid to people who have suffered damage in the past owing to the failure of the landlord to maintain the embankments.

Tenants always had the right to go into court where a landlord had not carried out his responsibility and to claim against him for whatever damage was done.

What measures can be taken now to have these claims met?

If the landlord is still liable they have still the right to proceed against him.

The case will not be heard for five years.

The danger is that the landlord will not be there.

If it is a 1923 Act estate, probably it might be dealt with by the Judicial Commissioner, in which case he will deduct an amount from the purchase money sufficient to secure its future maintenance.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 90:—

In sub-section (1), page 22, to delete all from the word "where", line 22, to the word "money" in line 25, and substitute the following:—

"Where in the case of an estate the holdings on which are vested under this Act in the purchasers thereof, it appears to the Judicial Commissioner (on the application of the Land Commission), within six years after the publication of the vesting orders or the last of the vesting orders in respect of such holdings, that he could on the distribution of the purchase money of such estate."

A similar amendment was moved to Section 42. The wording of the section as drafted had a retrospective effect. The amendment also imposes a time limit of six years, so that no claim can be made on behalf of the owners after six years from the vesting of the holding in the tenant. All the claims will be investigated beforehand, so that there is no danger of a claim of the kind arising.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendments 90 and 91:

In sub-section (1), page 22, line 29, after the word "may" to insert the words "within the said period of six years."

In sub-section (1), page 22, to delete all from the words "the payment," line 29, to the word "bonds", line 32, and substitute the following:—

"any person who on such distribution received for his own benefit or received and retained under his control as a trustee any portion of such purchase money to repay to the Land Commission so much (if any) of the said purchase money so received or so received and retained by him."

Amendments agreed to.
Amendment 93 not moved.
Question—"That Section 43, as amended, stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
The powers of the Land Commission to expend money for the benefit or improvement of land purchased or agreed to be purchased under the Land Purchase Acts shall extend to and include the grant, where the Land Commission think it expedient, of such sums for or towards the expenses of transferring migrants to their new holdings as the Land Commission may think fit.
Question proposed: "That Section 44 stand part of the Bill."

The amendments to this section (Nos. 94 and 95) are out of order.

I would like to have some information about this section. The proposal is to grant expenses for the transfer of migrants, and there seems to be a free grant. As I stated on the Second Reading debate, I would like to be quite sure that these migrants are of such a class that the State would be well advised to grant this relief. I take it that the cases to be dealt with are those of migrants transferred from the west to the midlands. In these cases the new holdings are sometimes of greater valuation, and more valuable from the point of view of the ordinary person. I would like to have information as to the extent of the liability which is likely to be put on the State.

The section is only intended to apply to the large type of migrants who are removed from the west to an eastern county. In such cases the expenses has always been borne by the Land Commission, but the Comptroller and Auditor-General has raised the question whether that expenditure really comes under the heading of improvements at all.

Who raised that question?

The Comptroller and Auditor-General. He questions whether such expenditure comes under the heading of improvements at all, and in order to prevent the possibility of cases of that kind arising in future, I introduced this section. The expenses are only intended to cover the cost of removing cattle, sheep and machinery. As the Deputy is aware, the fixtures are valued, and are regarded as part and parcel of the estate. This is for the purpose of dealing with expenses where the Land Commission considers it necessary to do so.

Am I to take it that there is no free grant made to the migrants for building a house?

It depends on the circumstances of each individual case. The circumstances vary in every case, but free grants are usually made where it is necessary for the Land Commission to build a house in an eastern county. If we remove a migrant to Meath it will probably be necessary to make a free grant to enable him to build a house. After all the Deputy must know that the building of a house is a very expensive matter to-day, and for that reason it is necessary to make some contribution.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary state if expenses have always been paid for the removal of stock?

When moving a big migrant it is necessary for the Land Commission to make some contribution for the cost of the removal. Removal expenses are very heavy. In some cases the Land Commission found it was not in a position to make a contribution and the migrants were left with a feeling of injustice.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: That Section 45 stand part of the Bill.

This section has reference to tithe rent charges. Hitherto they were variable every fifteen years and the basis of such variation was the percentage of variation in the judicial rent. The Land Act of 1923 prevented the further fixing of fair rents and, consequently, it is very difficult to form an estimate, as it should be formed on the third-term judicial rent, for the purpose of arriving at the figure of percentage reduction in these cases. However, we have discovered, as the result of a very close calculation, that there is a difference approximately of eight per cent. between the second-term and the third-term judicial rents and that is the figure mentioned in the Bill. The same figure, as a matter of fact, has been adopted by the Northern Ireland Government.

Are these cases where the annuity is fixed upon the tenant? Is the tithe rent charge in addition to the standard purchase annuity or is it consolidated with it, if the tenant is vested, or is it a separate charge all the time even after vesting?

It is a separate charge.

Is it not possible to consolidate these tithe rent-charges, or is there any possibility that they will run out in any period of time? Will they be paid off when the standard purchase annuity is paid off, or before then?

The Deputy is probably under a misapprehension with regard to these tithe rent-charges. These are paid by the landlords, not by the tenants.

As the Parliamentary Secretary is aware, they are also paid by tenants. Does the Parliamentary Secretary intend to abolish tithe rent-charges on tenants? This is, to my mind, one of the biggest scandals at the present moment. These are one of the relies of the penal laws. We cannot call them anything else. The payment by the unfortunate tenant of tithe rent on land should be finished with once and for all. I do not think this House should be asked to carry on these tithe rents. This section apparently is carrying on these tithe rents, inasmuch as it is transferring the liability from the landlord to the tenant, and therefore there will be a continuance of the tithe rent-charge on the tenant. Am I right in saying that it is intended under this section, on the purchase of an estate, where a tithe rent-charge has been paid, that the tenant in future will have to pay it?

I have explained that these tithe rent charges are variable every fifteen years, and that it is proposed to reduce them still further by eight per cent.

Who is to pay them in future?

The landlords, of course.

Has not the Parliamentary Secretary stated that in the case of tenants the tithe rent charges are payable even after the tenant is vested? When do they terminate?

It is possible under the 1923 Act to redeem tithe rent charges at the percentage on which the bond has been issued. It means that the tithe rent charge will be terminable when a capital sum is paid which will give them the amount of the tithe rent charge. It will not be reduced by 35 per cent., or 25 per cent., but it will be reduced by a small percentage, and it will be terminable. There is a provision to that effect in the Land Act of 1923 and the Land Act of 1927. In a good many cases these tithe rent charges are not paid by the landlord. I happen to be acquainted with several such cases, and on a small portion of my own land I have to pay a tithe rent charge. It was always so. The tenant, in any case, is not subject under the operations of any Land Act to a tithe rent charge which he was not previously paying, but there are tenants bearing a tithe rent charge who have to put up with it. I do not know what the position is with regard to the landlord paying a tithe rent charge. I dare say where a tithe rent charge is being paid by him the tithe rentee, or whatever you like to call him, will have to be given a certain amount in bonds which will bring him in the amount of the tithe rent charge, but where the tenant has been paying the tithe rent charge previously it will be redeemed at 4¾ per cent. It will be terminable sometime.

I think these tithe rent charges should be terminable now. I think the continuation in this country of this portion of the penal laws, which compels unfortunate tenant farmers to subscribe money for a church in which they do not believe and for the support of clergy in whom they do not believe, should be put an end to. It is time that this iniquity should cease. We have had too much of it in the past. During the last few years several cases have been tried before district justices in my constituency where the tenants have absolutely refused to pay these tithe rent charges. I think it is a scandal to introduce legislation to continue them. We have it from Deputy Gorey that they are to continue and that the Land Act of 1923 acknowledged these charges and brought them in as a terminable annuity on the tenant.

The tenant has always paid them.

We are not concerned with what the tenant was liable for in the past under a landlord Government, but with what he is to be liable for in the future and with what an Irish National Parliament, if you wish, is going to put on the tenant in future. Is an Irish National Parliament going to demand each year from Catholic tenants a payment for the support of clergy of another church? That is the question which has to be decided, and that is a state of affairs which should end here and now because it is a scandal. I do not mind what the Parliamentary Secretary says. I think it should be ended now. I do not think there should be any occasion for speaking any further on this matter.

The tithe rent charges are payable by the landlord in practically all the cases. It is true, as Deputy Gorey says, that in a few cases tenants are responsible for paying the tithe rent charge, but it is usually only in cases where the tenant held land under a fee farm grant, or some such case as that. These cases, however, are very few and far between. These tithe rent charges of course are redeemed. With regard to what Deputy Corry said, not one penny of the money collected in respect of these tithe rent cases goes to the upkeep or maintenance of any church. All this money is utilised for the purpose of making grants to the Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture and other Government Departments. Not one penny is utilised for the upkeep of any church. I have explained that over and over again, and I am quite sure Deputy Corry is well aware of the manner in which the money is being spent.

I would like to know what is being done?

I have explained what is being done. If the Deputy will study the Estimates he will see how the money is spent. It is utilised entirely for the purpose of making grants to the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education, and to other Government Departments, and to our Universities.

Why should these tithe rent charges be leviable on certain farms for grants of this description?

I have explained it several times. There are certain special cases where the tenant was responsible for tithe rents, but they are very few.

I think you will have a job in collecting them.

Is not this money administered through the Church Temporalities Fund?

I am personally aware of one of those cases which came before Mr. Justice Kenny in Cork last year, and I am aware of the fact that the charges were paid for the upkeep of the parsonage of Lisgoold, Co. Cork. That was the object set out in the demand notes.

No. It is not so stated in the demand notes.

I can show the Parliamentary Secretary the demand notes if he does not believe me. The Parliamentary Secretary should not try to cover up this thing with bluff.

If the Deputy will study the Estimates intelligently he will see the purpose for which the money is used.

Question put and agreed to.

This section makes provision for a payment for the two months between the gale day and the dividend day in the case of certain tenants under Section 38 or Section 39 of the Land Act of 1923. This section is introduced for the purpose of giving the Land Commission power to make these payments in the same way as the ordinary tenant.

They will not have to pay it twice?

I think you may take it for granted that the tenant will not pay it twice.

Section 46 agreed to.

I move amendment 97:

Before Section 47 to insert a new section as follows:—

"Every additional sum which is by the Land Purchase Acts (including this Act) made payable to the Land Commission by a purchaser on the first gale day on which an instalment of purchase annuity or of a sum equivalent to purchase annuity is payable shall, notwithstanding anything contained in those Acts, be paid at such times (not being earlier than such first gale day) and in such instalments as shall be prescribed by rules made by the Land Commission."

The tenants on vesting have to pay a sum for a period of two months from the gale day to the dividend day, under Section 9 of the Act. The amendment merely gives the Land Commission power to spread that payment over a certain number of years, one, two, or three, as the case may be, so that there will not be too big a burden imposed on the tenant immediately after the publication of the list of vested holdings.

Will this Section 47 involve a change in the present form of the report of the Land Commission?

There is provision under the Land Act of 1891 for the Land Commission to make periodic returns in such time and manner as the Minister for Finance can direct. These returns are very elaborate, and accordingly I think that the section of the Act of 1891 is really obsolete, and there is no occasion for returns on the lines laid down in that particular section. It will be necessary for the Minister for Finance to prescribe the particular form.

I suggest that that information, although it might not be quite up to date, is very useful if it does not involve any extra work.

It involves a tremendous amount of work. I shall see that the Land Commission will submit the draft that provides the information to the Minister for Finance for his approval.

Information regarding the congested areas could be made available until the purchase of land that is to ensue at present is completed.

I shall look into that.

Amendment agreed to.
New section ordered to be inserted before Section 47.
Section 47 agreed to.
(1) The Land Commission may, after consultation with the President of the Incorporated Law Society, make rules for carrying into effect the provisions (other than provisions relating to land purchase finance) of this Act, and in this Act the word "prescribed" means prescribed by such rules.
(2) The Minister for Finance may make regulations for carrying into effect the provisions of this Act relating to land purchase finance and may by such regulations adapt to the requirements of this Act any provision relating to land purchase finance contained in any Act passed before this Act.

I move amendment 98:—

In sub-section (1), before the word "President," line 19, to insert the words "Chief Justice and the".

The suggestion is that the Chief Justice should be consulted as well as the President of the Incorporated Law Society—the Chief Justice representing the Bar Council. It is entirely a matter for the lawyers.

The Chief Justice has never been consulted in making Land Commission rules. I think if the Deputy insisted on this amendment considerable delays would take place in making the rules, and we would be prevented from bringing the Act into operation as speedily as we would like. I do not think there is any necessity for this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 48 put and agreed to.
Section 49 put and agreed to.
Question—"That the Title be the title of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be reported.

I take it that the new section which has been inserted in the Bill will be treated in the same way on the Report Stage as if the Report Stage was the Committee Stage of that particular section. We should like to introduce some amendments to the new section. Am I right in understanding that in that case more latitude will be given, and that it will be substantially a Committee Stage when we come to deal with this particular section? The new section was contained in amendment 80.

The Bill will be reprinted with the new section, and the whole Bill, as reprinted, will be open to amendments subject to the ordinary rule that amendments debated in Committee cannot again be offered on Report. Does the Deputy mean that the House should go into Committee to consider certain amendments?

That is a matter for the House, but in practice it is a matter for arrangement between the Parliamentary Secretary and the Deputy as to whether we shall go into Committee on certain amendments. As I understand it, the Deputy wants to go into Committee on a particular amendment to a particular section of the Bill as it will be reprinted.

All I am anxious about is that we should have full latitude to discuss the amendments.

There will be full latitude to discuss the amendments if the amendments are accepted by the Chair, but on the Report Stage Deputies are only allowed to make one speech. That is the difference between the Report and the Committee stages, but I do not think that there will be much difficulty over one section.

"Go ndeontar i gcuntas suim nách mó ná £7,843,498 chun no le haghaidh íoctha na muirearacha a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1932, i gcóir seirbhísí áirithe puiblí, eadhon:—

The Dáil went out of Committee; Bill reported with amendments.
Fourth Stage ordered to be taken on Wednesday, 25th March.