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Landlord And Tenant Bill

Volume 117: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1851

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Order for Committee read.

said, he wished to explain that the object of the first two clauses of this Bill was to give compensation to landlords in cases in which a tenant for life died after having sown part of the land which he held, and before the crop was reaped. In such cases, by the present law, executors were entitled to reap such crops without paying any rent from the day of the tenant's death. The Bill passed through the House last Session, with the clauses which now formed part of it, but the Bill was eventually lost. His object was, that there should be a continuance of the existing tenancy up to the end of the current year, except in some cases, for which he had provided. In some cases, if the growing crops were seized under an execution under the present law, the crops might be seized without payment of the rent. Now, he had introduced a provision to meet this manifest injustice, to the effect that the landowner might be paid for the use of his land. The 4th clause related to agricultural fixtures, and he believed it would effect an improvement in the state of the law with respect to them. His object was simply to amend and reform the law where it had been found defective.

thought, generally speak ing, the Bill was a good one, but he disapproved of the 4th clause. It empowered a tenant to remove farm buildings erected during the period of his tenancy, whether detached or otherwise—a principle heretofore unknown to the law of this country. He hoped due vigilance would be exercised by hon. Gentlemen opposite over this clause.

said, the object of the Bill seemed to be to assimilate the law between farmers and tradesmen. He understood his hon. Friend (Mr. Mullings) to say he would guard the provisions alluded to by the hon. Member for Rochester (Mr. Bernal) by requiring the assent of the landlord. Tradesmen could remove buildings erected for the purposes of trade, such as brick walls, &c. He thought the principle of assimilation of farmers and tradesmen, on the whole, a good one; but it was necessary, as he had already said, that such a provision should be properly and carefully guarded.

thought it to be regretted that, when hon. Gentlemen brought in good and useful Bills, they should afterwards attach provisions to them of a most objectionable and questionable character. A portion of this Bill was excellent, more particularly if it had stopped at the 3rd clause; but the 4th clause ought by no means to meet the concurrence of the House. Interference, generally speaking, between landlord and tenant, was to be deprecated, as it more frequently occasioned confusion than relief. The question of "fixtures" had been for a long period a constant source of litigation, and this Bill would still further embarrass it. He thought it was better to leave the law as it now stood, than to render it more indistinct and unintelligible than it now was. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would withdraw the 4th clause.

said, it might be desirable to improve a farm with the consent of the landlord; but he being only tenant for life, could not bind his successor, and in that case it was important that the tenant should be allowed to erect these buildings on just terms—namely, that he should be allowed to remove them at the end of his tenancy.

suggested, that if there was no objection to going into Committee, it would be better to discuss the clauses in their order.

would recommend to let landlord and tenant alone. If landlord and tenant could not agree, let them separate, but let them do so without the cumbersome interference of that House. The words "with the full consent of the landlord," ought to be introduced in the 4th clause.

said, he could not let pass the observations which had been made in this debate without entering his protest against them. With regard to the 4th clause it contained all that justice required, in providing that the tenant should in no way injure the buildings belonging to the landlord, and that he should leave them in as good a condition as they were in when he entered. That provision protected the landlord from injury; but he saw a disposition in that House to refuse the tenant any just concession as to his rights. ["No, no!"] Then let them agree to this clause. He had seen many Bills brought forward for the establishment of tenant right, and they had every one been rejected. He believed the desire of the landlords was to keep the tenants in that state that they would have no rights of their own, and thus keep them in a state of submission to the landlords.

thought the Bill would be very injurious unless words were introduced to prevent the buildings being erected without the consent of the landlord.

considered the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. S. Crawford) was fraught with danger. The rights of property were the basis of society, and it was dangerous to interfere with them.

said, that the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) mistook the object of the Bill. The object was to enable landlords who had not the whole estate to make agreements.

said, the hon. Member for Rochdale had spoken of the feeling of the landlords. As an Irish landlord he believed the Irish landlords were willing to adopt the principle of this Bill, and to allow their tenants the value of any unexhausted improvement.

House in Committee; Mr. Bernal in the Chair.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2.

considered that as this clause was likely to cause litigation he should object to it.

said, that by this clause the duty of nominating an umpire was, in certain cases, thrown upon the Attorney or Solicitor General; but if this duty were imposed, there ought also to be a provision enabling the Attorney General to pay the umpire for his trouble.

suggested that the provision for appointing an umpire be struck out altogether.

suggested that it would be better to leave the law as it at present stood. He, therefore, thought it would be better to strike out the clause altogether.

said, he had practical experience of the evil of the present state of the law. He was an executor of a deceased clergyman who had farmed 400 acres of glebeland, and he was obliged to keep on the farm in order to make the most of the emblements; and, consequently, until the growing crops were disposed of, the new clergyman was deprived of hisincome. This was an evil which ought to be remedied.

said, that he thought the executor could dispose of the crops either by valuation or by public auction. The difficulty was, therefore, imaginary, for the parties could make an arrangement.

Clause struck out.

Clause 3.

said, he hoped the Committee would not alter the law as it at present stood, which placed the landlord and creditors on the same footing. Now, it was proposed to give the landlord an advantage which would prevent any execution creditor from having any remedy by distress against corn growing on the land. He therefore hoped that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mullings) would not press the clause.

said, the clause was necessary to prevent the landlord from losing his rent, and he should therefore press it to a division.

said, he understood that the rights of creditors would be materially affected by the clause.

said, if one execution creditor could come in and have a preference over other creditors, that might be a reason for altering the law of debtor and creditor. It appeared to him that it would be better to adhere to the existing law, which was fair both to the landlord and the execution creditor.

said, that the rights of landlords had recently been materially narrowed. He defended the clause, because he thought it would give them a fair protection against execution creditors.

said, he was afraid that the clause would force landlords to put in distresses quarterly when they were apprehensive of losing their rent.

said, that if landlords put in distresses quarterly, the effect would be, that before long the whole law of distress would be abolished altogether. He must protest against any system which would give an unfair preference to landlords over other classes.

said, that the preference given to landlords had excited great discussion in Scotland and England. The report of the Devon Commission went, he thought, to the same effect; and he suggested that the law should be left as it was, inasmuch as any attempt to bolster it up by a new enactment might lead to its being abolished sooner than it might otherwise have been.

said, that in Ireland anybody could seize crops except the landlord, who was continually cheated by fraudulent acknowledgments.

objected to the retention of the words "or otherwise," which might be construed to give landlords other remedies beyond distress.

could not assent to the alteration of the law of distress proposed in the clause. By the Act of 1846, the power of seizing the growing crop was in Ireland taken from the landlord; but it was left to the ordinary creditor having an execution against the goods of the tenant. It was stated that facilities were thus afforded for collusion, as against the landlord. If that were so, the remedy should be sought in the opposite direction, and the right of seizing the unsecured crop had better be taken away altogether. Undoubtedly it would be fairer to take it from both creditor and landlord, than to leave it to one, and not to the other. So long as the creditor retained the power, the landlord would seek to regain it, and so long the farming class would feel that they were in danger of having the old harness of prædial vassalage fitted on them as before.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Clause as amended stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: — Ayes 71; Noes 41:Majority 30.

Clause agreed to.

moved the insertion of words, rendering the previous consent of the landlord necessary for the tenant to remove any buildings or fixtures which he might have put up.

Amendment proposed:—

"In page 3, line 28, after the word 'Act,' to insert the words 'with the consent in writing of the Landlord for the time being.'"

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: — Ayes 82; Noes 23: Majority 59.

Several verbal Amendments were then made in the clause, which was then agreed to, and ordered to stand part of the Bill.

then moved the following now clause:—

"That if any occupying tenant of land shall quit, leaving unpaid any arrear of tithe rent charge for or charged upon such land, which he was by the terms of his tenancy or holding liable to pay, and the tithe owner shall give or have given notice of proceeding by distress upon the land for recovery thereof, it shall be lawful for the landlord, or the succeeding tenant or occupier, to pay any such arrear and any expenses incident thereto, and to recover the amount or sum of money so paid over against such first-named tenant or occupier, or his legal representatives, in the same manner as if the same were a debt by simple contract due from such tenant or occupier to the landlord or tenant making such payment."

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

House resumed; Bill reported as amended.

The House adjourned at five minutes before Six o'clock.