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The principle thus admitted by the most eminent Radicals, as well as by Whigs and Tories, is applied every day, and the method of its application is understood by everybody. Take the most ordinary case of interference with individual rights for the public advantage, the case of a landowner a portion of whose land is taken under Act of Parliament for the construction of a railway. The claim of the owner to compensation is twofold; in the first place he has a direct and indisputable right to be paid the value of the land actually required for the company's works, but secondly he has a claim on the ground of consequential damage, as for the cutting up of fields or the loss of amenity and convenience. In asserting the latter it is reasonable to show that the general value of the property will be probably improved by the line, but this consideration does not enter into the question of the price which must be paid for the land actually taken. On an estate of 1,000 acres, if 20 acres are taken for the railway, they must be paid for at the full market price of the land, while the damage to the remaining 980 will have to be assessed by arbitrators on a broad and liberal estimate of the different elements in the case. Bearing this analogy in mind, the Legislature in abrogating the rights of Irish landowners must be prepared to consider both direct loss and consequential damage, and it is only in respect of the latter that any alleged advantages of another kind can be legitimately set off.'
Now it is contended on the part of the Irish landlords that the Bill, if it passes in its present shape, will inflict both direct loss and consequential damage. The answer of the Government-putting aside Mr. Chamberlain's proposal to apply a test of equity' to the rights of claimants—is ambiguous. It is asserted broadly that under the Bill landlords will suffer no loss direct or indirect, but when the argument is followed up we find that loss is admitted, but that it is alleged that it will be made good by gain at present unrecognised. This plea, which is open, I think,to a crushing refutation, at any rate can be properly put in only in respect to the claim for consequential damage. Where we have to deal with the direct abrogation of legal rights which have an important pecuniary value, it is a mockery of justice to point to a remote and doubtful contingency as outweighing a present and heavy loss. When Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Forster assert that there is no
Government annuitants, and would retain their existing relation to their tenants, often on more indulgent terms than the full rents on which the compensation to be given them by Government would have been based.' Mr. Gladstone and his colleagues must be of the same opinion, since they contend that the landlords' position will be really improved under the new system. Of course no sensible landlord would give up a secure and improving property for such a price as the Government would have to pay under Mr. Mill's scheme, which is substantially that proposed by Lord Lansdowne and other Irish proprietors to meet the effects of the present Land Bill. If the Ministry are out in their reckoning--and they are not infallibleit would be unfair to make the landlords bear the whole burden of the error.
confiscation of the landlords' rights in the Land Bill, they put plain words to a perplexing use. What they really mean is that the losses inflicted will be more than made up by the advantages of the change, as if a railway company which takes 20 acres of a man's land were to Tefuse to pay him anything at all for them on the ground that the construction of the line must enhance the value of the rest of his estate.
Looking, in the first place, at the general effect of the changes introduced by the Bill upon the Irish landlords' rights as they stand under the present law, we fail to see how it can be disputed that there is confiscation,' if that word be interpreted to mean the interference with individual property on public grounds. The position of a landlord in Ireland since 1870—when Mr. Gladstone stated in Parliament that all contracts relating to land must be thenceforward absolutely binding-has included the unlimited power of raising rents; the power of evicting tenants for non-payment of rent or other legitimate reason, or without any reason assigned on paying compensation for disturbance; the power of resisting the admission of an objectionable purchaser of the occupancy right, free sale being not yet recognised outside of Ulster; the power of investing a landlord's capital in the improvement of his estate, while controlling its management and protecting his interest both in his land and in his outlay. All these rights are taken away from the Irish landlord, some absolutely and others conditionally, by the Land Bill, and it is rain to contend that their abrogation does not inflict upon him a direct loss. A landlord who practically can neither raise his rent, nor evict a tenant, nor object to a purchaser, nor improve his land, with safety to himself, is plainly in a different position from a landlord who can do all these things. Whether it is desirable that a landlord should be allowed to retain and use those rights, is not the question. In 1870 Mr. Gladstone and the main body of the Liberal party were willing that those rights should continue to be recognised and upheld by law, and in 1881 they think otherwise." But the fact remains that down to the present time those rights have formed the basis of innumerable contracts, settlements, and other transactions relating to land, many of them guaranteed by the State and all effected on the faith of assurances given by successive ministers in Parliament, and solemnly renewed eleven years ago. The introduction of the system founded upon the recognition of a previously unacknowledged tenant-right in the three southern provinces of Ireland, and by the qualified admission of the three F's,' takes away a portion of the landlord's property previously secured to him by law. The rights to be abrogated have an ascertainable pecuniary value, though some landowners may have preferred to obtain the worth of it in other things besides money. On what pretence is compensation to be denied ?
It may be worth while to set forth in non-technical language a few of the particular instances of hardship which will arise under the Bill if it passes in its present form; and, up to the date of this writing, Vol. X.-No. 53.
no amendments have been accepted guarding the landlords against damage on these points. I will deal first with those which would stand the test even of Mr. Chamberlain's appeal to equity instead of legality.
1. There is the case of a landlord who has bought up the tenant-right of a holding, and thus obviously becomes both legally and equitably the owner of both portions of the joint property' which, according to the Government, is henceforward to be recognised as existing on Irish estates. All claims for improvements and occupancy right have passed to the landlord, and have been merged in the fee-simple. Here, if anywhere, the landlord is entitled to deal as he pleases with the land, and the incoming tenant has no claim to be treated as a joint owner.' But, under the Bill as it stands, any tenant admitted to such a holding will be able to claim the advantages of the three F's.' Free sale, presumed to be excluded by the purchase of the tenant-right, will spring up again, and the landlord is told that he must protect himself against certain encroachments by raising his rent, subject to the onerous and hazardous conditions of the third clause, including the creation of a quasi-lease for fifteen years in the tenant's favour.
2. There is the case of the owner who breaks up demesne lands or lets a home farm or farms in hand, with respect to which there is no tenant-right existing because there is no actual tenant. The incoming tenant, who has no traditional or other claim, is at once to step into possession of the three F's,' with the power of harassing the landlord by threatened or actual litigation. In this, as in the former case, free sale will spring up the instant a tenancy is created, and the resort by the landlord to the only defence against the transfer of his interest and improvements to the purchaser, the raising of rent, involve the risks above referred to. It may be said that, at all events, the Bill secures the landlord against being dragged into court to have a 'fair rent’ fixed, since future tenants
are not to be allowed access to the court. But it is not certain even that this exemption holds good. Professor Richey, a high authority, asserts that by the 13th section the right to apply to the court to fix a judicial rent is given to all tenants when proceedings are taken by the landlord to recover possession of the holding, a crisis which can be easily produced by the tenant not paying his rent. It is questionable whether this is so, but the doubt is added to the uncertainties by which the landlord is harassed.
3. There is a more complicated case, of which Lord Dufferin's estates in Ulster afford the best illustration. Lord Dufferin stated in his evidence before Lord Bessborough's Commission, that he had spent a very large sum, between 80,0001. and 90,0001., on the improvement of his estates within the past quarter of a century, in
: Mr. Gladstone has promised an important concession upon Clause 1, dealing with the definition of the 'fair rent;' but, however this clause may be altered, it seems certain that in a large number of cases rents will be reduced by the recognition of the tenant's interest.
carrying out a policy the nature and effect of which he described. The main portion of his property has for many generations been held on lease, and Lord Dufferin has successfully striven to keep it free from tenant-right. He bought up many claims of this nature, and has let almost the whole of his property on a lease—drafted by the present Attorney-General for Ireland and Mr. Andrews, Q.C., another well-known tenant-right' lawyer—which establishes relations of pure contract between the owner and the occupier, with a debtor and creditor account of improvements, and with permission to the tenant to sell his interest under the lease, but nothing more. Lord Dufferin is of opinion that if the law secures him his existing rights his money has been well spent, and that the relations established between landlord and tenant are the best for both parties. At any rate he bas from time to time resumed or retained, in a manner the equity of which cannot be contested, the whole of the rights ordinarily divided between the owner and the occupier in Ulster. He has parted with strictly defined portions of those rights to his present tenants on terms satisfactory to them, and he would of course contend that his interests ought not on the termination of the existing leases to become subject to the system he has laboured to eradicate and keep off his property. There is no doubt that at present a tenant holding under one of Lord Dufferin's leases has neither a legal nor a moral claim to anything outside the four corners of that contract. But it is probable that under the new law-in spite of a dubious provision in the 47th clause—the occupiers, at the expiration of their leases, will drop into the position of future tenants,' with all the advantages of Ulster tenant-right. The money spent in carrying out the policy thus defeated by legislation, which certainly could not have been forecast even a few years ago, will be in that case lost beyond recovery.
4. Lastly, there are the estates managed on what is called the English system, on which the whole of the cost of maintenance and improvement has been borne by the landlord, so that the tenant has precisely as much or as little claim to tenant-right as an English farmer dealing with the land he rents on ordinary commercial principles. The Government allege that there are few if any estates of this description in Ireland, but they admit that there are some, and that they have a claim to exceptional treatment, by the provision exempting holdings maintained and improved by the landlord from the "fair rent' clause. It is contended by Mr. Richey and others that this security is altogether untrustworthy. Free sale, at any rate, is to be allowed on these estates, although the Prime Minister has recognised the danger of its eating up' the landlord's improvements. An amendment to the first clause of the Bill exempting such estates from the free sale' provisions was moved by Mr. Heneage, a Liberal member, on the 16th of June, and rejected by a majority of twenty-five only, in a full House. But as the Bill stands, the landlord in these cases also is thrown back upon the raising of rent as the
only means of keeping down the invading growth of the tenant-right. Lord Leconfield and Mr. Mahony, two landlords whose estates are models in their kind, have declared that their position will be thus rendered intolerable. As Mr. Mahony forcibly puts it, if the exemption of English-managed estates be refused there is but one other alternative whereby Government can avoid inflicting a most cruel injustice. They should buy out such owners at a fair price without putting them to the prolonged torture of canvassing the occupiers until they find three-fourths ready to purchase. To men who have seen civilisation evolved out of barbarism under their hands, and cannot but feel attached to the scenes that have cost them many a sacrifice, such a clause is like an order to collect fuel for the holocaust to be made of their Penates. Let Government, at least, avoid this unnecessary, refinement of cruelty towards people who have ever done them more good than harm.
It is scarcely possible that in such cases as these—and there are several others that might be mentioned on all fours with them, or at any rate closely analogous—the Prime Minister will continue to assert that no injury is done, and that no compensation is due. A dubious promise has been given that some of the above cases will be considered by the Government before the Bill passes through committee, but up to the present date (June 24) no provision has been inserted to satisfy a claim the justice of which cannot be disputed. But if such an admission be made, what becomes of the comprehensive and emphatic denial that there is any approach to confiscation in the Bill'?
In the typical cases cited above, even Mr. Chamberlain would hesitate to assert that the landlord's rights which will be impaired or abrogated by the Bill are inequitable and ought to be subject to penal confiscation. Here indeed equity and legality are absolutely at one. The interests of the landlord and the tenant are merged in the property which is menaced. But even if Mr. Chamberlain's dangerous proposition be rejected, as it must be by all except revolutionary politicians, there are an infinity of cases in which the landlord's preexisting legal rights must suffer by the proposed recognition of the tenant's goodwill,' hitherto denied, and by no one more strongly than by Mr. Gladstone himself. Regarded sentimentally, these cases will be variously judged, but from a political point of view they all stand upon the same ground. If a landlord is to be compensated by the State, it is not because he is an estimable person or has made a good use of his power, but because the law takes away from him rights which the law acknowledged, encouraged, and fortified until now.
Those who contend that tenant-right, though not recognised by law, has always existed, and ought always to have been treated by landlords as a fact, may deny that in the following instances the landlords have to complain of any real hardship. But it must be remembered that the whole legal right has been hitherto in the landlord, and it is the legal right which must be considered in the matter of compensation. Setting aside the cases already enumerated, Irish estates—I am speaking of Leinster, Munster, and