Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 23 Apr 1931

Vol. 14 No. 16

Land Bill, 1930—Fourth Stage.


The first section to which there is any amendment is section 15. It is a Government amendment and I will put it from the Chair. It reads as follows:

Section 15, sub-section (1). To delete paragraph (d) and to substitute therefor a new paragraph as follows:—

(d) save where the portion of such holding which is so sublet is held by the subtenant thereof under a judicial tenancy and is substantially agricultural or pastoral or partly agricultural and partly pastoral, the Land Commission may, if in their opinion such portion is of such character that it ought not to be declared under this section to be a separate holding, treat the said holding (notwithstanding anything contained in this section) as if the said portion thereof were in the occupation of the tenant of the said holding and were not sublet.

I beg to second the amendment. It covers what is aimed at in my amendment, which immediately follows, and, in the circumstances, I am accepting it.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 2 not moved.
Section 15, as amended, agreed to.


The next amendment is to Section 30. It is a Government amendment and, accordingly, I put it from the Chair:

Section 30. Before sub-section (6), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

"(6) An appeal on questions of fact, as well as on questions of law, shall lie to the Supreme Court from any order made by the Judicial Commissioner under this section."

I desire to second that amendment, but in doing so I would like to make one or two observations. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary is satisfied with the form of his amendment. I really would prefer my amendment, but if the Parliamentary Secretary thinks that an appeal on questions of fact, as well as on questions of law, will not embarrass the appeal I am satisfied. Of course I would like to have an appeal on questions of fact, but I would not like, in case there were witnesses to any question of fact, that these witnesses should also be examined in the Supreme Court. I mentioned the matter to the Parliamentary Secretary, and he, apparently, is satisfied. That being the case, I beg to second the amendment.

I think it would be of interest to the House to know whether the Ministry have considered the point made by Senator Comyn. We would like to know whether the Parliamentary Secretary is satisfied that it does affect the question of the appearance of witnesses before the Supreme Court.

The Parliamentary Secretary assured me that he was satisfied.

In reply to Senator Johnson I may say that I have carefully considered the amendment, and I am quite satisfied that it is really necessary, if there is to be an appeal on law there should be an appeal on fact as well. After all, in dealing with these vesting orders facts are so intermixed with law that it is quite impossible to distinguish between the two.

I wanted the House to hear the views of the Parliamentary Secretary on the point raised by Senator Comyn, that the form of the Ministerial amendment suggests the possibility that in the hearing before the Supreme Court witnesses would be called.

I am satisfied with what the Parliamentary Secretary has said, and I think there is no doubt about it witnesses will not be needed.

There is no doubt.


The mover of the original amendment is quite satisfied.

The point is that once the question is raised in the House it should not be allowed to pass by a mere nod of the head of the Parliamentary Secretary. What the answer is should go on the records.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 4 not moved.
Section 30, as amended, agreed to.


Amendment 5 is a Government amendment. I put it from the Chair, and it reads as follows:—

Section 32, sub-section (1). To delete the words "the appointed day" in lines 61 and 62 and to substitute therefor the words "whichever of the following is the later, that is to say—

(a) the appointed day, or

(b) the making of the order or the publication of the list by or in which the appointed day is fixed."

I beg to second this amendment. It is very necessary. Under Section 32 as it stands the conversion of the vendor's property—and that means that what was real estate becomes personal estate—would take place on the appointed day. Under the section the Judicial Commissioner has a right by order to fix the appointed day, and he might fix it retrospectively; he might put it back behind the date of his order. He probably would do so if the nearest gale day happened to be there. If the section had been left as it was, and the Judicial Commissioner happened to fix the appointed day retrospectively, the quality of the vendor's property might be changed. If the vendor died without making a will his heir-at-law would think that he had come in for the real estate, whereas if the Judicial Commissioner made an order putting back the appointed day, then the heir-at-law would be cut out and the property would go amongst the next-of-kin. That might happen, and this amendment puts an end to that chance.

I quite agree it is necessary.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 32, as amended, agreed to.

I beg to move amendment 6:

Section 34, sub-section (5). After the word "compensation" in line 33 to insert the words "and all costs and expenses".

Section 34, as the Seanad will remember, provides for paying out money to owners on titles which may not be perfect provided the court is of opinion that the facts are such as to make it improbable that any adverse claim will be made to the purchase money. The section also provides for a case in which, notwithstanding the ruling of the judge, another owner, the lawful owner or claimant, may appear and prove himself to be the person who really is entitled to the purchase money. In such a case as that the section provides that the Court can pay him a sum of money by way of compensation. There is also a provision that the money paid by way of compensation to the rightful owner shall be recoverable from the person who was wrongfully paid. Of course, it is very just and fair that it should be in the section, although indeed, if a man who is not entitled to money gets it I should imagine that he would very quickly go out of the jurisdiction. There is a provision here to the effect that the amount of any compensation paid by the Land Commission under this section shall be repaid to the Land Commission by such person as shall be declared by the Court to have received any portion of the purchase money. That is the section as it stands, and it provides for the payment of compensation.

My amendment is to this effect: that, in addition to the compensation, the person who wrongfully received the money shall pay all costs and expenses incurred by the Land Commission. I think it is reasonable that he should. If the compensation can be recovered from the man who wrongfully gets the money why should not the costs and expenses incurred by his wrongful claim be also recovered? The Parliamentary Secretary says that these costs and expenses are trivial. I do not understand how he can say that because no case of the kind has yet arisen. There has been no case of a person being wrongfully paid and of a rightful owner turning up and claiming and receiving compensation. Therefore we do not know what costs and expenses may be incurred in litigation and in the investigation of title. There have been several cases in which persons representing themselves as owners have received money and have been enabled, by orders of the Land Commission, to mortgage their estates, but there never has been a case in which a person not entitled got money, the person really entitled turning up later and claiming and receiving compensation. Such a case could not arise except under the provisions of this Bill.

If the Land Commission can pursue a person who wrongfully got the money for the amount of compensation that they are compelled to pay, why should not they be entitled to pursue him for the very heavy costs which, in my judgment, will be incurred in the litigation that must necessarily arise where a person lawfully entitled claims money which a person not entitled had already received? I do not know why the Parliamentary Secretary has refused to accede to this amendment. I think he is under the impression that the costs and expenses would be trifling. I think he is wrong in that impression. He may say that these costs and expenses will be included in the compensation, but I say that they will not be included in the compensation. I think it is only just that the person who gets money to which he is not entitled should pay, not merely the compensation, but the costs incurred by the Land Commission. Why should the State be at the loss of the costs and expenses entailed by litigation of this character?

I formally second the amendment.

This amendment was discussed at some length on the Committee Stage, and I pointed out to the Senator then that I would consider it before the Report Stage. I have since looked into this matter very carefully, and I have been advised that compensation does include costs and expenses. Consequently it is unnecessary to amend the section in the manner proposed.

Amendment negatived.

I beg leave to withdraw amendment 7, because the next amendment, a Government amendment, is an alternative which is better than mine. It is better drafted and it does exactly the thing I sought on the Committee Stage.

Amendment 7, by leave, withdrawn.


Amendment 8 is a Government amendment and I will put it from the Chair:—

Section 34, sub-section (6). After the word "agent" in line 45 to insert the words "be paid or partly paid on such allocation and, if and in so far as such sum is not so paid, such sum may."

I beg to second the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 34, as amended, agreed to.

I beg to move amendment 9:—

Section 44, sub-section (1). After the word "it" in line 59 to insert the words "in the same manner."

I beg to second.


The Government is prepared to accept the amendment.

In that case I need not say anything.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move amendment 10:—

Section 44, sub-section 1. To delete in lines 64 (page 22)—1 (page 23) the words and figures "Land Act, 1923" and to substitute therefor the words "this Act."

In Section 44 it is provided that the third term judicial rent, which was to be calculated as the basis of finding out whether the untenanted land was held at a substantial rent or not, should be fixed in line with what would be a fair rent in the year 1923. My amendment proposes to have that rent fixed from the date of the passing of this Bill. That makes a considerable difference, because the rent which would have been a fair rent in the year 1923 would be somewhat different to-day. It would be at least 15 per cent. or 20 per cent. less. Furthermore, it would be much easier for a land valuer to estimate what the rent should be at the present time. It would also enable some tenants who are now excluded from the benefit of land purchase to come within the scope of the Land Purchase Act. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will accept the change. In my opinion, it will facilitate him in working the Act.

I beg to second the amendment.

The only difference between this section and Section 11 of the Act of 1927 is that under this section it is proposed to treat the owners of land held under fee-farm grants or on long leases as the owners of tenanted land instead of the owners of untenanted land. The Land Commission will not have any difficulty in fixing fair rents on this land. Already, under Section 11 of the 1927 Act, they have fixed at least 200 fair rents. I think the figure is a little more than that, but for the sake of argument we will assume it is 200. Notwithstanding what the Senator has said, there is very little difference between the fair rent fixed at the date of the passing of the 1923 Act and the present day. I object to the amendment for the reason, particularly, that you are making a distinction between this class of tenant and the tenant ordinarily coming under the 1923 Act. I cannot accept the amendment because it would be inconsistent with the whole scheme of this Bill and particularly with the very important sections in the Bill dealing with tenants generally.

Amendment negatived.

Section 44, as amended, agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration"—agreed to.