I move amendment No. 1:—
In page 7, line 10, Section 11 (2) (c), after the word "redeemed" to insert the words "or written off."
This is a purely drafting amendment.
Vol. 63 No. 19
I move amendment No. 1:—
In page 7, line 10, Section 11 (2) (c), after the word "redeemed" to insert the words "or written off."
This is a purely drafting amendment.
I move amendment No. 2:—
In page 7, Section 11 (2), before paragraph (e) to insert a new paragraph as follows:—
(e) all land bonds which are transferred under this section to the said adjustment account and are not transferred under this section to the credit of an estate shall be cancelled or otherwise disposed of in such manner as the Minister for Finance shall from time to time direct.
The object of the amendment is to make it perfectly clear that land bonds which are not required may be cancelled or disposed of as directed by the Minister for Finance.
When the Minister says that land bonds may be cancelled or otherwise disposed of by the Minister for Finance, he does not mean, I take it, that the Minister for Finance can conduct open market operations—sell land bonds on the open market and raise money in that way. The Land Acts provide that the only purpose for which bonds may be issued is for the payment of land acquired under the Land Purchase Acts. Let us suppose that excess bonds are issued in error, would this amendment give the Minister for Finance the right, in so far as it conferred power on him, to dispose of them in any manner that he may direct: to sell those bonds on the open market and raise money for the Exchequer in that way? Ordinarily, that course would not be followed, but it might appear that, under the section as it stands now, such a course would be open to the Minister if he felt inclined to pursue it.
That is not the purpose this section is designed to secure. Up to now the position has been that land bonds were issued in respect of a particular estate and could not be used in respect of another estate. Actually, the Minister could not even cancel them. Under this amendment, we are proposing to give power to the Land Commission, first of all, to transfer land bonds from one estate to another: that is, if there is a surplus in respect of one estate to use the bonds in the case of another estate. Power is also being taken to cancel land bonds. This is the first time that power has been taken to cancel land bonds without issuing them to the public.
I do not object to the power of cancellation in the least, but the Minister will observe that after the word "cancelled" there are the words "or otherwise disposed of". That would appear to give to the Minister the right to sell them in an open market transaction, thus floating a loan without the authority of the House at all. Perhaps the Minister will look into that question and see if he has not made the section a little wider than he intended?
The purpose was to give us cancellation powers.
Quite, but I think Deputy Dillon's point is that in drafting the section the paragraph may have gone wider than you intended. That is really the only point.
Will the Minister look into that point?
This section has been sent back two or three times to the Parliamentary draftsman in order to cover powers of cancellation and also powers of transfer. These were the two purposes that were put before him.
The Minister has specifically taken the power to transfer, and we all accept that. Sub-section 2 (e) gives him power to cancel. That is all agreed. Now it goes further and says "or otherwise disposed of in such manner as the Minister for Finance shall from time to time direct." That seems to me, where the Land Commission have purchased an estate the purchase price of which is £100,000, to give the Minister power to issue £1,000,000 worth of land bonds and then not to transfer the £900,000 worth of land bond surplus to other estates, not to cancel them, but to hand them to the Government stockbroker and so sell them on the open market and turn the money into the Exchequer. That clearly is not the intention of the Minister and it would open a source of revenue to the Exchequer which it is obviously not the intention of the House to give. I may be wrong in apprehending that, but I think it is a matter that ought to be looked into.
I think it means disposed of in some manner similar to cancelled.
If it means that, there is no objection.
Why not word it so that there will be no misunderstanding about the matter? Why not say cancelled or transferred to the credit of some other estates, or something to that effect?
That might be too wide.
Amendment No. 3 is out of order and cannot be moved.
I would like to ask for a specific ruling in regard to amendment No. 3. My submission to the Chair is that amendment No. 3 is merely declaratory and is not fundamental inasmuch as it does not alter the existing law. I base that submission on the repeated statements of the Minister for Lands in the House and in the country, that the fixity of tenure of any person with less than £2,000 worth of land is not affected by any Land Bill or Act for which he has been responsible. If that statement is true, my amendment is merely declaratory and the position which the Minister states exists. If, on the other hand, it is true that the Minister has power to acquire the land of anybody, whether he has less than £2,000 worth of land or more and whether that land was vested in him under the previous Land Acts or not, then I admit this amendment is fundamental. But I submit that unless the Minister is prepared to certify that my amendment materially alters the law, it is not a fundamental amendment and is, therefore, quite in order on the Report Stage.
The Deputy's submissions were fully examined and a communication was addressed to him as to the decision of the Chair on the matter. The amendment was ruled out of order and, therefore, it cannot be moved at this stage.
I am not open, I take it, to disclose to the House the contents of the communication addressed to me by the courtesy of the Ceann Comhairle. I understand the procedure is that, though we both know I have received this letter from the Ceann Comhairle, notifying me that he intended to rule that this amendment was out of order, I am not free to read that letter here.
I do not know of any understanding to that effect.
If I had your permission——
I understand the Ceann Comhairle communicated to the Deputy the reasons on which he decided the amendment was too fundamental in its nature to be moved at this stage.
If you give me leave to reveal the fact that the Ceann Comhairle has said that the amendment is of so fundamental a character that it is questionable if it could be allowed even to be tendered on the Committee Stage, then it becomes abundantly clear immediately that the Chair holds that the Minister has the power to acquire the land of anybody vested under any Land Act.
The Deputy will understand that the Chair was not expressing any legal or political opinion.
It is not a political opinion; it is the meaning of the Act. On that finding it is declared the amendment proposed by me is of a fundamental character. I put down the amendment in order to test whether it is true to say the Minister for Lands had the power to acquire the land of anybody, and I venture to say that I would force him to admit he had. I submit, even if my amendment is out of order, that I have succeeded in doing so.
When the Deputy speaks of the Minister, does he mean the Land Commission?
I venture to suggest to the Deputy that he might more appropriately address that question to the Minister or to the Chair; it is entirely irrelevant.
Anyway, the amendment is ruled out of order, and it cannot be moved.
The Minister observes then that I was right?
The Deputy can raise that matter on the Fifth Stage, and I will be ready for him. Do not slide out of discussing it.
The Ceann Comhairle has given no legal opinion of any kind.
That is perfectly clear.
I move amendment No. 4:—
In page 10, Section 17 (1), to delete paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) and substitute the following paragraphs—
(a) if the money certified in such warrant to be due exceeds three hundred pounds, to charge and (where appropriate) to add to such money and (in any case) to levy under such warrant such fees and expenses, calculated according to the scales appointed by the Minister for Justice under paragraph (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 14 of the Enforcement of Court Orders Act, 1926 (No. 18 of 1926), and for the time being in force, as such county registrar would be entitled so to charge or add and to levy if such warrant were an execution order (within the meaning of the said Act) of the High Court, and
(b) if the money certified in such warrant to be due exceeds twenty-five pounds but does not exceed three hundred pounds, to charge and (where appropriate) to add to such money and (in any case) to levy under such warrant such fees and expenses, calculated according to the said scales, as such county registrar would be entitled so to charge or add and to levy if such warrant were an execution order (within the meaning aforesaid) of the Circuit Court, and
(c) if the money certified in such warrant to be due does not exceed twenty-five pounds, to charge and (where appropriate) to add to such money and (in any case) to levy under such warrant such fees and expenses, calculated according to the said scales, as such county registrar would be entitled so to charge or add and to levy if such warrant were an execution order (within the meaning aforesaid) of the District Court.
These paragraphs are all designed to deal with the clause upon which there was a certain amount of discussion on the Committee Stage. Deputy Fitzgerald Kenney objected, for instance, to clause 3 (b) of Section 17, which set out: "every judgment or order obtained in any such proceeding before the passing of this Act which was made solely on the ground that such warrant was invalidated by such addition of fees and expenses as aforesaid shall be and be deemed always to have been void and unenforceable."
We have practically scrapped that whole section and redrafted it so that it will only cover exactly what we want it to cover. The point is that if there were pending cases the plaintiff is also to be entitled to his costs. I think it covers the matter in a way that would be fairly satisfactory, at any rate, to Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney.
Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney desired to preserve the remedy against the sheriff. The Minister is prepared to say that in any pending legislation the plaintiff will get his costs and he is prepared to meet the Deputy that far?
I move amendment No. 8:—
In page 13, line 3, Section 25 (2), to delete the words "considered by" and substitute the words "listed for hearing before".
This is an amendment that I promised Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney I would introduce on the Report Stage. It is purely a drafting amendment.
In regard to amendment No. 9, I promised Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney that I would look into this amendment and consult with the Attorney-General and with the Land Commissioners to see whether or not it could be accepted. I have done so in the meantime and I am not in a position to accept it. The Land Commissioners always, in giving their judgment, indicate the law in the matter, and as that is the only point on which there is an appeal I think the practice is good enough as it stands. Therefore, I do not propose to accept this amendment.
Surely it is rather unreasonable——
Is the Deputy formally moving the amendment?
Yes; I move amendment No. 9:—
In page 13, before Section 25 (5), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
(5) Whenever the Lay Commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) shall have made a decision upon any objection or requisition they shall if so requested by the person making the said objection or requisition or by counsel or solicitor on his behalf deliver to the said person or to his solicitor as the case may be a statement in writing of the findings of fact and rulings in law on which their said decision has been based.
The amendment is designed to secure that persons whose interests are vitally affected by the decision of the lay commissioners shall know the facts on which the lay commissioners purported to form their judgment, and the law which influenced them in forming their judgment on the accepted facts. The Minister says that while the lay commissioners are prepared to communicate the legal decision at which they have arrived, they will not state the facts, because there is no appeal from their finding as to fact. But surely it is not an unreasonable demand on the part of any citizen of this State to know what facts were accepted in arriving at the decision?
While I admit the principle that the Minister should not interfere in the activities of the Land Commissioners, in so far as they extend to reserved service, is a good one, I also feel that this House is the legitimate guardian of the rights of every man in this country. If it became clear that the lay commissioners had completely misdirected themselves on some fundamental question of fact concerning the property of a citizen of the State, and in consequence of that complete misdirection had arrived at a legal decision which could not for one moment be sustained if the true facts were present to the commissioners' minds, then I think that there should be available to the citizen a remedy, either in the courts if they had not been set aside by statute specifically, or, in the event of the courts having been set aside, by raising the matter in this House either on the Minister's Estimate or in some other way, in order to direct attention to a very material injustice. It must be to avoid resort to that remedy in the event of injustice accruing that the Land Commissioners and the Attorney-General are opposed to the proposal that the facts on which their decisions are founded should be communicated to the parties interested. I cannot see why the views of the Land Commissioners or of the Attorney-General should ultimately prevail in a matter of this kind. The matter at issue is not the convenience of the Land Commissioners or of the Attorney-General. The matter at issue is the rights of an individual citizen against the Land Commission. Why should the Land Commissioners be the persons to decide as to whether or not this remedy should be made available?
I suggest to the Minister that it is incumbent upon him to give this House some more exhaustive explanation of his reasons for refusing to accept Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney's suggestion than to say he has consulted the Land Commissioners and the Attorney-General and they will not let him accept it. Does the Minister, as an ordinary citizen—forgetting for a moment that he is a minister of State or has any association with the Land Commission—agree with me that a man ought to know the facts upon which a decision which intimately concerns his person or his property has been reached? I think on the face of it the justice of such a claim is irresistible.
No evil can possibly flow from such a suggestion if no substantial injustice has been done. I submit that it is bureaucracy run mad to say "Once we have arrived at a decision on a matter of fact, we decline to state the facts upon which we founded our decision."
The Deputy must remember that it was Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney who asked me to consult the Attorney-General about this matter, and I did so.
That is very fair.
He is not a bureaucrat. The facts of the matter are that this particular procedure has been in operation for 50 years. I did not hear sufficient justification from Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney on the Committee Stage to accept his amendment. At the end of it all he said: "Well, if you are not prepared to accept this amendment, will you consult the Attorney-General and the Land Commissioners on it?" I said "Yes." Remember, this has been a practice since the Land Commission has been established. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney did not make a case which convinced me—not knowing very much about it—that the practice should be changed, and I undertook to consult the Attorney-General and the Land Commissioners on the matter. I have since done that. After consulting with both the Land Commissioners and the Attorney-General I do not feel called upon to accept this amendment.
But the Minister does remember that in the 50 years to which he refers there was always an appeal to the Judicial Commissioner on questions of fact?
Not in this case.
Surely there was always an appeal to the Judicial Commissioner on any question of fact, and that was specially taken away by the 1933 Land Act when the lay commissioners were established.
The lay commissioners have a lot more power than the Deputy ever suspected.
Let the Minister and myself exchange no challenges on our respective familiarities with the land law, because if we did start exchanging such challenges I might surprise the Minister. However, we will not. All I am submitting is that there used to be an appeal to Judge Wylie, or whoever filled his position in the past. That appeal was taken away by the 1933 Land Act, and a very different situation arose since then. Could not the Minister view this matter from a detached viewpoint and ask himself the question: "What evil could accrue from informing persons who are engaged in proceedings of this kind of the facts on which the Commissioners founded their decision?" I cannot imagine any conceivable evil consequences accruing, but I can see the possibility of evil arising through a decision being arrived at on grounds of which the interested party knows nothing.
Is the amendment withdrawn?
We will negative it. If our Deputies were not in Wexford and Galway we might have a division on it. Unfortunately, they are.
I move amendment No. 10:—
In page 16, before Section 37 to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) Where, on the application of the occupier of a parcel of untenanted land and after notice to all interested parties, the lay commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) are satisfied—
(a) that such land is held by the said occupier thereof under a contract of tenancy (other than a fee farm grant, a lease for lives or years renewable for ever, or a lease for a term of 60 or more years) entered into after the 9th day of August, 1923, and before the 14th day of October, 1933, and
(b) that such contract of tenancy was not a letting for temporary depasturage, agistment, or conacre or for temporary convenience or to meet a temporary necessity, and
(c) that such land is being worked by such occupier as an ordinary farm in accordance with proper methods of husbandry, and
(d) that, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, it would be in the interests of the country that such land should be sold under the Land Purchase Acts to the said occupier thereof,
the said lay commissioners may by order declare that the provisions of the Land Act, 1923 (as amended and extended by subsequent enactments, including this Act) relating to tenanted land shall apply to such land.
(2) Whenever the lay commismissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) make in respect of any land such order as is authorised by the next preceding sub-section of this section, the provisions of the Land Act, 1923 (as amended and extended by subsequent enactments, including this Act) relating to tenanted land shall, subject to such appeal as is hereinafter mentioned and subject to the provisions of this section, apply to such land as if it were tenanted land within the meaning of the Land Act, 1923, as so amended and extended.
(3) Where, on the application of the owner of a parcel of untenanted land and after notice to all interested parties, the lay commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) are satisfied—
(a) that such land is held by the said owner thereof under a fee farm grant made after the 9th day of August, 1923, and before the 14th day of October, 1933, or under a lease similarly made for lives or years renewable for ever or under a lease similarly made for 60 or more years, and
(b) that such owner is in bona fide occupation of such land and uses it in the same manner as an ordinary farmer in accordance with proper methods of husbandry, and
(c) that such land is not required for the relief of congestion or for the purpose of resale to the persons or bodies mentioned in Section 31 of the Land Act, 1923, as extended by the Land Act, 1933, and
(d) that, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, it would be in the interests of the country that such land should be sold under the Land Purchase Acts to the said owner thereof, and
(e) that such owner is willing to purchase such land under the said Acts,
the said lay commissioners may by order declare that such land shall vest in the Land Commission on the appointed day as if it were tenanted land.
(4) Whenever the lay commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) make in respect of any land such order as is authorised by the next preceding sub-section of this section, such land shall vest in the Land Commission on the appointed day as if it were tenanted land within the meaning of the Land Act, 1923, as amended and extended by subsequent enactments and the provisions of Section 44 (except sub-section (1) thereof) of the Land Act, 1931, as amended by Section 42 of the Land Act, 1933, and by this Act shall apply to such land with the modification that every reference to an application under the said Section 44 shall be construed and have effect as a reference to an application under the said next preceding sub-section of this section.
(5) Whenever the lay commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) make in respect of any land such order as is authorised by whichever of the preceding sub-sections of this section is applicable to the case, the following provisions shall apply and have effect in relation to such land and shall so apply and have effect by way of modification of the statutory provisions applied to such land by such order and the said preceding sub-sections, that is to say:—
(a) in sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 19 of the Land Act, 1923, the words "the appointed day" shall be substituted for the words "the passing of this Act", and in the said sub-section (2) the reference to the first gale day in the year 1920 shall be construed and have effect as a reference to such gale day prior to the appointed day as will permit three years' arrears and not more than three years' arrears to be compounded under the said Section 19 and the reference to the second gale day in the year 1920 shall be construed and have effect as a reference to the gale day next after such gale day prior to the appointed day as aforesaid;
(b) in fixing the standard purchase annuity of such land, the Land Commission shall have regard to the value of such land at the date of the said order but not so as to lessen the amount of such standard purchase annuity on account of a deterioration in value of such land which is, in the opinion of the Land Commission, due to the wilful neglect or default of the applicant for such order;
(c) the purchase annuity payable by the purchaser on the sale of such land under the Land Purchase Acts in consequence of the said order shall consist of—
(i) the said standard purchase annuity, and
(ii) the additional annuity (if any) in respect of compounded arrears of rent added to the purchase money, and
(iii) an annuity at the rate of four and three-quarters per cent. on the contribution of the State to the standard price of such land, and
(iv) an annuity at the rate of four and three-quarters per cent. on a sum equivalent to two per cent. of the purchase money of such land;
(d) the annual sum payable under sub-section (2) of Section 28 of the Land Act, 1923, shall be equivalent to the purchase annuity as calculated under the next preceding paragraph of this sub-section, and the additional sum payable under sub-section (3) of the said Section 28 shall be computed accordingly;
(e) Part III of the Land Act, 1933, shall not apply or have effect in relation to the said purchase annuity or to the said annual sum or to the said additional sum.
(6) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (4) of Section 9 of the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1891, or in paragraph (a) of sub-section (2) of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, the lay commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) shall not be precluded from making an order under this section in respect of a parcel of untenanted land by reason only of the fact that such parcel is a part of a holding purchased under any Land Purchase Act, but in every such case Section 14 of the Land Act, 1923, as amended by this Act, shall apply and have effect.
(7) The Land Bond Act, 1934 (No. 11 of 1934), shall apply to land bonds created and issued by the Minister for Finance for the purposes of this section in like manner as the said Act applies to land bonds created and issued by the said Minister for the purposes of the Land Act, 1923, or any of the Acts amending or extending that Act.
(8) An appeal shall lie to the Appeal Tribunal from every order made by the lay commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) under this section, and the decision of the Appeal Tribunal on any such appeal shall be final subject only to an appeal to the Supreme Court on questions of law.
This amendment is designed to admit new tenancies which have been created since the passing of the 1923 Act. Most Deputies know that under the 1923 Act it was stated that after a certain date new tenancies would not be admitted to land purchase.
Since 1923, however, a number of tenancies have been created on untenanted land and sometimes even on purchased land, and on freehold land as well, and we have decided that from 1923 up to 1933 at least we will admit the new tenants who took land and allow them to purchase out in the same way as tenants who took over a lease prior to 1923.
This whole section looks rather long, but it is really putting what I said into water-tight legal language. There are various standard sub-sections that had to go in. One thing, however, that is different from the normal procedure is that these new tenants will not have the Land Commission annuities halved. We are giving them a benefit which they never expected and we are giving them a concession which will better their position very greatly indeed. There are some cases —one case in particular that I heard of, where the man is paying about £3 an acre and it was an impossible position for a man like that, where his neighbour was paying very much less. There is one other point of difference, and that is that whereas the State pays an added bonus of 10 per cent. to the landlord, in this case the tenant will give to the State all that has been passed on to the landlord. The Land Commission will be at no expense beyond our ordinary normal expenses.
Well, Sir, if ever an amendment was out of order, I submit it is this amendment.
I gave notice on the Committee Stage that it was being introduced.
It creates a completely new system of land purchase, as far as I can see.
To my mind it does, as the Bill stands.
The amendment has been ruled in order.
I suppose, Sir, it is permissible to make a point of order.
The subject matter of the amendment is one of the utmost complexity. It is to be noticed that the terms of purchase are to be entirely different from those enshrined in all the other Land Acts. It is to be noted that it amounts to a very categorical repeal of part of the 1923 Land Act—a complete departure from the established law, of which there was no forecast in the draft Bill or in the Bill as amended in Committee. I do not know what is the position under this amendment of a tenant purchaser under a previous Land Act of this class. Take the case of the widow of a tenant purchaser under the 1923 Land Act, who has a holding of 30 acres of land and who has two sons still going to the National School. That widow goes into town to live and lets her holding for a period until such time as her sons will be old enough to work it.
That holding is excluded because it is a letting of temporary convenience or temporary necessity.
Well, yes, but of course the Minister can see that cases could very easily arise by which a simple person, who had the assurance that land purchased under the 1923 Act could not be made subject to compulsion at the instance of a tenant, might not take all the proper precautions for securing that a letting of temporary convenience would be provided for.
I can assure the Deputy that if he reads the section he will see that any letting for temporary convenience or temporary necessity is excluded.
Well, what sort of holding does the Minister contemplate being able to touch by this amendment?
It is extraordinary what a number of holdings, since the passing of the 1923 Act, were let out by the owners on a fee farm grant. They had let the holdings for 60 years, and for various numbers of years. They had actually become new landlords, and in some of these cases it was the original landlord, who had a certain portion of land attached to his demesne, who created tenancies since 1923, who let them out for a long number of years. This is not intended at all to affect land which was let by the owner for the purpose of temporary convenience or through temporary necessity but it deals with the owner of land who set out to become a landlord, sub-divided his holding, and let it for either 60 years or as a lease for life and so on and so forth. If there are a certain number of people throughout the country who have taken on very big burdens on themselves indeed, I think it is only right that we should do something to help them.
But the position is that this is an amendment of the widest possible implications. If the Minister tells us that the powers in the amendment are requisite to deal with gentlemen who are speculating in land, who are becoming petty landlords through the country, then we are prepared to co-operate with him in drafting legislation effective to deal with that problem. I am amazed that he has not already got such powers as he would require to deal with that problem. No urgency, however, arises here. This is not a section to deal with a pressing and urgent evil. It is rather something that the Minister wants to carry into the machinery of the land law to deal with what he foresees may be a recurring problem. I object to its being brought before the House in this way and I suggest that the proper course would be to introduce a small amending Bill to deal with these kinds of cases on our reassembly next November. The Minister probably will not use these powers before next November, and if he would introduce an amending Bill to deal with this particular class of thing, it would facilitate matters in many ways. If this amendment is incorporated in the Land Act of 1936, you are providing for the purchase of land by tenant purchase in the same Bill on entirely different terms of payment. Would it not be much better to have a separate Land Act to deal with these exceptional cases, provided that in these exceptional cases the full rent will be applicable and that the reduction terms of the 1933 Land Act would not apply? In any case, however, it would be better if we had some time to consider the safeguards that would be necessary to have introduced in order to prevent this proposal from applying to persons to whom it was never meant to apply.
Perhaps the Deputy would read sub-section (1) (b). Sub-section (1) starts off in this way:—
Where on the application of the occupier of a parcel of untenanted land and after notice to all interested parties, the Lay Commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) are satisfied: (a) that such land is held under a contract of tenancy....
and so on. Then paragraph (b) reads:—
That such contract of tenancy was not a letting for temporary depasturage, agistment, or conacre or for temporary convenience or to meet a temporary necessity.
This section, while it is long, is not difficult to understand. There are sections in the Bill of only a few lines which are very much more complicated and difficult. This is straightforward, and if, because of the Deputy's objection that it hangs more with the following section than any other two sections hang together, we were to introduce a new Land Bill for every separate subject dealt with, we would have 46 Bills instead of one.
This is very different from any other of the Minister's amendments.
I think it is simply an extension of the 1923 Act to cover the cases of tenancies created since that Act. It is easy to understand, very much more easy to understand than other sections of the Bill.
I am surprised at Deputy Dillon's attitude to this amendment. I have a case in mind of a tenancy that was created immediately after the passing of the Land Act of 1923. The people are carrying it on in accordance with the methods of husbandry. They are bona fide farmers and the rent is in lieu of a lease, and the exclusion of this particular type of holding from the 1923 Act means something in the neighbourhood of £2 an acre. That is an impossible burden, taking all the circumstances into account. Is there to be no provision made for the inclusion of these bona fide cases in the amending legislation? Where is the justification for the exclusion of cases of that type? There is none whatever that I can see. Deputy Dillon, with the far-fetched type of case he has mentioned—I suppose they are very few, if there is one in the country—would suggest to the Minister the advisability of deferring the inclusion of this section in the Bill, and the infliction thereby of severe hardship on bona fide occupiers of land who are excluded because their tenancies were not created before the Land Act of 1923. That is one case I have in mind, and there are others I have heard of. I think this section has all the necessary safeguards.
You have not read it yet.
Deputy Dillon did not read it, anyway. That is one certainty.
In my opinion, it safeguards the cases in relation to which Deputy Dillon pretends solicitude.
I have no doubt that this section possibly covers such cases as were mentioned by the last Deputy, but there is a possibility that it might inflict a hardship on some individuals. My chief objection, however, is that it is a lengthy section covering practically three pages of the list of amendments, and it is introduced for the first time on the Report Stage. Some of us are not as quick on the uptake as the Minister presumes we are, and I for one do not feel competent, after a few minutes of debate on the Report Stage, to appreciate what is or what is not intended by it.
It was circulated last Friday.
Even since Friday, and it did not come into my hands on Friday. I do not think there are many Deputies into whose hands it came on Friday or Saturday. If the section had been introduced in the Bill originally, we might have had an opportunity of making inquiries as to the number of cases it would cover, and possibly of discovering if there was any particular objection to it. On Committee Stage there would have been an opportunity of amending it, if necessary, but we are now denied any opportunity of correcting anything wrong that may be discovered in it. This House is the final arbiter in this case. Hitherto, if this House made a mistake in legislation, there was an opportunity of correcting it, but that opportunity, unfortunately, to my mind, is lost to us now, and once the Bill passes, this will be law. I think it unfair that advantage should be taken of the Report Stage of a Bill to insert a section of such length.
I can scarcely agree with the sentiments expressed by the last couple of Deputies. I think this will be a very useful section, speaking from my own experience. I know cases of farms that were free of rent being put up for sale since 1923, and in order to get a better price or to attract a customer, a rent was put on them and they were sold with the rent. The 1923 Act did not cover those cases and you could not buy out under a rent created since 1923. I think this will be a very useful provision. If we are to have contentment in our country, we must try to give people equal opportunities. Since 1923, there were several cases of land purchases on which a rent was put and there is no hope whatever of relief in those cases under any of our Acts. I think the principle is all right, but I would say that when the Minister started on this, he should have gone the whole hog and given them the same as the rest of the tenant purchasers and not put on the 4¾ per cent. on the 2 per cent., as provided in Paragraph (4).
The suggestion has been made that this amendment is really too fundamental in character to have been introduced at this stage, and I think that after the discussion we have listened to it becomes apparent. I quite admit to Deputy Gibbons and Deputy Haslett, and I think that Deputy Dillon made it clear, that there is a reason for considering all these cases mentioned by them and by the Minister, but if the section is so important and so desirable, this is not the stage at which to introduce it. It is really a question of the precedent that we are setting of introducing important amendments of this kind on this stage of a Bill, when there is no possibility of an amendment of them.
Did Deputy Lynch not introduce a somewhat similar amendment in his day?
What happened to it? This is introduced for the first time here by the Minister.
Is it entirely novel or am I mistaken in thinking that Deputy Lynch introduced a similar amendment on Committee Stage?
It was not mentioned. We are asked to discuss this now for the first time. Is that good for the conduct of the business of the House? What occurs here may happen in connection with other Bills. There was an amendment ruled out of order to-day as being fundamental. I have no doubt it was ruled out on that ground by the Chair. Surely everything that has been said by the Minister and by the Deputies who supported him bear that out. There was no opportunity for properly discussing this. That is the real objection. Remember what you are doing in this particular case is going to be precedent for other legislation. As Deputy Bennett pointed out, we have not now the safeguard of the Seanad. Anything that is introduced into the Bill on the Report Stage remains in it. That is wrong. Deputy Gibbons stated that this was a very important matter. Deputy Haslett also mentioned a case as an excellent reason why they should be brought within the scope of the Bill. That is no reason to justify a bad Parliamentary precedent. May I raise a point of order now to get a ruling as to whether it is fundamental and can be introduced at this stage?
I think the point of order should have been raised before the matter had been under discussion for a quarter of an hour. This amendment did however give the Chair some food for thought as to whether it should be allowed or not and I looked up the debate on the Committee Stage. The amendment seems to apply the procedure under the Land Acts in respect to tenanted land, to land untenanted in 1923 but which has become tenanted since 1923. To that extent it is relevant and introduces no new principle. There was a discussion of the matter in Committee and in Volume 63, No. 6, column 2078, the Minister expressed his intention of bringing in an amendment on these lines and stated his reasons. Having considered the matter very carefully I came to the conclusion that this was admissible.
First, that it is within the scope of the Bill.
I gathered that the first portion of your judgment referred to that.
And the second as to whether there was notice.
Without questioning your decision I submit that it is highly undesirable.
I had decided doubts about it.
May I put it that, as a matter of Parliamentary practice, it is most undesirable that it should be initiated?
I can assure the Deputy that that point weighed with me when considering it, but taking all things into account I decided in favour of the amendment. I agree with the Deputy that the amendment should have been introduced on Com mittee.
In face of that ruling I am not proposing to oppose it. I have not had time to consider it. I apprehend that it may give rise to a series of situations which this House does not anticipate, and which it never meant to legislate for. If that situation arises, all we can do is to move for amending legislation to remove any anomalies that this unexpected proposal may give rise to. If we do not vote against this amendment, it is not to be taken that we are accepting the principle, but merely that we feel that we have not had sufficient time to give mature consideration to justify active opposition.
I must say that if the Deputy has not had time to read this amendment, he might have read the next one, which was put down by members of his own Party, designed to do portion of what this one does. There are other sections in the Bill which are very complicated indeed, although consisting only of a few lines. This is a straightforward amendment. I indicated clearly what it does. It does that and nothing more. I think the only objection that could be put forward is one by new landlords who have leased land since 1923. They are getting the same portion of the price as any other landlord, but it will certainly be a big relief to a fairly large number of people who entered into these tenancies since 1923 and assumed impossible burdens. It will be a big benefit to them to have the rents reduced to fair rents, and to purchase out their land rather than to be paying rent for ever.
I move amendment No. 12:—
In page 16, line 24, Section 37 (1) (b), to delete the word "published" and substitute the word "given"; and in line 25, to delete the word "publication" and substitute the word "certificate."
I move amendment No. 13:—
In page 16, lines 30 and 31, Section 37 (1) (c), to delete the words "prescribed manner" and substitute the words "Iris Oifigiúil."
Amendments Nos. 14 and 15 are out of order, and I so informed Deputy Roddy. The period in the section is seven years and obviously to substitute that by "700 years" or "70 years" would render the section inoperative. The point was discussed at length on Section 36, now 37. The section was divided on and a decision taken.
Our devoted loyalty to the Chair will not allow us to make any comparison between amendments Nos. 10 and 14. Can we not move to negative what was done in Committee?
Not on the Fifth Stage.
Can we not refuse to agree with the Committee?
It is not permissible to move the amendment now.
Is it not permissible in Committee to move to remove the section?
Even if the amendment were defeated in Committee?
I did not understand that there was a negative proposal.
The Deputy is correct. It was simply the section that was divided on; there was no amendment.
That is my point. All the Committee did was to decide a certain thing. I suggest we can negative that. If there was an amendment in Committee to delete the section why should we not be free to posit what we negatived then?
That is a nice argument. But the amendment on the Order Paper would not have been allowed in Committee, since it is equivalent to a direct negative, much less could it be allowed on Report.
I move amendment No. 16:—
In page 16, line 36, Section 37 (1), to delete the word "declaration" and substitute the word "notice".
I move amendment No. 17:—
In page 16, line 37, Section 37 (1), before the word "before" to insert the words "or given".
I move amendment No. 18:—
In page 16, Section 37 (3), after the word "published" where it occurs in lines 46, 50, 55, and 61, to insert in each place the words "or given".
I move amendment No. 19:—
In page 16, Section 37 (3), to delete the word "declaration" where it occurs in lines 49, 54, and 60, and where it first occurs in line 56, and substitute in each place the word "notice".
This is a drafting amendment.
I move amendment No. 20:—
In page 16, line 52, Section 37 (3), to delete the word "publication" and substitute the words and brackets "notice or certificate (as the case may be)".
This is a drafting amendment.
What is the purpose of these amendments?
The character of the land will be judged by the use over the whole five years, which means every day of the five years. What was really meant is the normal usage over five years.
I move amendment No. 26:—
In page 18, line 38, Section 39 (2) (a), to delete the words "whether such user or character is or is not" and substitute the words "and the fact (if it exists) that such user or character was", and in line 40, after the word "agreement" to insert the words "shall be disregarded unless the landlord shows that he did not know of such contravention or that he actively objected thereto".
This is an amendment to an amendment that was introduced on the Committee Stage. We are taking power to override a lease where the lease was broken with the landlord's connivance. The words which were introduced on Committee Stage were much too drastic. We are giving, in this amendment, the tenant the benefit of purchase if he can show that the landlord did not actively object to his breach of the lease and his user of the land in such a fashion as to change the character of the tenure.
I move amendment No. 27:—
In page 18, before Section 39 (3), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
(3) The following provisions shall have effect in relation to holdings usually occupied by a person in connection with a parcel of untenanted land which is a demesne, home farm, park, garden, or pleasure ground, that is to say:—
(a) sub-section (1) of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, shall apply to every such holding as from the passing of this Act;
(b) in the application of Section 19 of the Land Act, 1923, to any such holding, the words "the appointed day" shall be substituted for the words "the passing of this Act" where the latter words occur in sub-section (2) and sub-section (3) of the said Section 19, and the reference in the said sub-section (2) to the first gale day in the year 1920 shall be construed and have effect as a reference to such gale day prior to the appointed day as will permit three years' arrears and not more than three years' arrears to be compounded under the said Section 19, and the reference in the said sub-section (2) of the second gale day in the year 1920 shall be construed and have effect as a reference to the gale day next after such gale day prior to the appointed day as aforesaid;
(c) in fixing the standard purchase annuity of any such holding, the Land Commission shall have regard to the value of such holding at the passing of this Act but not so as to lessen the amount of such standard purchase annuity on account of a deterioration in value of such holding which is, in the opinion of the Land Commission, due to the wilful neglect or default of the tenant of such holding;
(d) the purchase annuity payable by the purchaser under the Land Purchase Acts of any such holding shall consist of—
(i) the standard purchase annuity of such holding, and
(ii) the additional annuity (if any) in respect of compounded arrears of rent added to the purchase money, and
(iii) an annuity at the rate of four and three-quarters per cent. on the contribution of the State to the standard price of such holding, and
(iv) an annuity at the rate of four and three-quarters per cent. on a sum equivalent to two per cent. of the purchase money of such holding;
(e) the annual sum payable under sub-section (2) of Section 28 of the Land Act, 1923, shall be equivalent to the purchase annuity as calculated under the next preceding paragraph of this sub-section, and the additional sum payable under sub-section (3) of the said Section 28 shall be computed accordingly;
(f) Part III of the Land Act, 1933, shall not apply or have effect in relation to the said purchase annuity or to the said annual sum or to the said additional sum;
(g) the Land Bond Act, 1934 (No. 11 of 1934), shall apply to land bonds created and issued by the Minister for Finance for the purposes of this sub-section in like manner as the said Act applies to land bonds created and issued by the said Minister for the purposes of the Land Act, 1923, or any of the Acts amending or extending that Act.
This amendment is introduced to deal with Deputy Haslett's point which, I think, we discussed sufficiently on Committee Stage. I promised Deputy Haslett that I would introduce an amendment to cover the point.
I appreciate what the Minister and his Department have done. I notice, however, that they have not given me the benefit of Section 3 of the 1933 Act—the halving of the annuities. Then, he places 4¾ per cent. on the 2 per cent. That will mean that the standard purchase annuity will have to be kept very low.
The 2 per cent. represents only the original expense; it is not an annual item. The 4¾ per cent. is the annual item.
I move amendment No. 28:—
In page 19, before Section 40 (4), to insert two new sub-sections as follows:—
(4) Where sub-section (1) of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, would apply to a holding but for the fact that part of such holding is held in fee farm or for lives or years renewable for ever or for a term of years of which sixty or more were unexpired at the passing of the Land Act, 1923, the Lay Commissioners (other than the members of the Appeal Tribunal) may, if having regard to all the circumstances of the case they think it expedient so to do, by order divide such holding into separate holdings and apportion the rent of such holding between such separate holdings and declare the appointed day for any such separate holding to which sub-section (1) of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, applies.
(5) The next preceding sub-section of this section shall not be precluded from applying to a holding by reason only of the rent of such holding being payable partly in respect of the land comprised in such holding and partly in respect of an incorporeal hereditament, and, in any such case any apportionment of such rent under the said next preceding sub-section shall be so made that an apportioned part of such rent is payable partly out of a separate holding (created under the said next preceding sub-section) to which sub-section (1) of Section 24 of the Land Act, 1923, does not apply and partly out of such incorporeal hereditament.
In the Bill, as it stood, we took power to allow portion of a holding to be brought in to the benefit of land purchase. This amendment is drafted to deal with a peculiar type of holding where portion is subject to a long lease and another portion is subject to a yearly tenancy. In the Bill, as it stood, we took power to segregate a tenancy from an incorporeal hereditament and we are taking power here to divide a holding that is held under two types of lease into two parts and to admit the part that should come within the land purchase scheme.
I move amendment No. 29:—
In page 20 before Section 42 (d), to insert a new paragraph as follows:—
(d) any such application may be granted notwithstanding that paragraph (b) of sub-section (1) of the said Section 44 is not complied with if the Land Commission is satisfied that the failure to comply with that paragraph is due solely to the fact that a court or a mortgagee has appointed a receiver over the parcel of land to which such application relates or over the rents and profits thereof and such parcel is being worked or let or otherwise managed by such receiver;
I promised Deputy Lynch that I would introduce this amendment. It is designed to admit to purchase a farm at present held under a court order by a receiver. The fact that the land is not in the actual possession of the original owner will not prevent him from applying for the benefit of land purchase.
The amendment meets the cases I had in mind.
I move amendment No. 30:—
In page 20, lines 39 and 40, Section 42 (f), to delete the words "as compounded arrears of rent" and substitute the words "on account of the said rent payable for the said three years".
This is a drafting amendment.
I move amendment No. 31:—
In page 20, line 49, Section 42 (g), after the word "application" to add the words "but not so as to lessen the amount of such standard purchase annuity on account of a deterioration in value of such parcel which is, in the opinion of the Land Commission, due to the wilful neglect or default of the applicant".
We are giving the Land Commission the right to assess the value of the land coming under this section as at the time of the application. It might be imagined that a man who is getting a new right under this section would allow his land to go to waste for a few years and then apply at a time when it was rendered of very low value owing to his own neglect. We are providing that if it is reduced in value by his own neglect that reduction will not be taken into account in assessing the value.