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Remarks respecting the Management of Estates by the Court of Chancery.
Ertracted from Report of Commissioners on Occupation of Land in Ireland.—Par. Rep. 1845, vol. xix. page 26.
At an early period of our inquiry, we directed our attention to the situation of estates placed under receivers in the Court of Chancery, or Court of Exchequer, and we obtained some returns, showing the extent of property so circumstanced.
According to the usual practice, when a farm under a receiver came out of lease, a sort of auction was held in the master's office, and the land was let to the highest bidder; and as great difficulties were experienced in obtaining the sanction of the Court in making any outlay, or taking any necessary step in the management, these circumstances necessarily caused all property under the courts to be left in a very unimproved state, and placed the tenants in an impoverished condition. Many complaints on this subject will be found throughout the Evidence. The present Lord Chancellor and the Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer, have recently issued orders, which will tend to remove some of the evils consequent upon the former practice, on the properties of lunatics and minors; and as the attention of both these learned judges is fully alive to the subject, we have no doubt that such further improvements will be made, as may be necessary to make the new system work properly for the advantage of the property and the tenants. Some difficulties occur in the case of properties brought into court, to be administered for the benefit of creditors; but it has been strongly recommended, and is, in our opinion, highly desirable, that a similar system should be made applicable to these cases, if the powers of the court be sufficient; but if this should not be the case, we trust that the learned judges will not hesitate to cause application to be made to the legislature, for such alteration in the law as may appear to them necessary, in order to enable them to administer an estate for the benefit of all persons having an interest in it.
But as an encumbered estate must at all times be managed at great expense and at much disadvantage under the courts, we recommend that every facility consistent with safety should be given for bringing such estates to an early sale, rather than allowing them to remain for years the subject of expensive litigation.
Remarks respecting the Sale of Landed Property, and the advantages which would result from its being more frequently sold in small lots.
Ertracted from Report of Commissioners on Occupation of Land in Ireland.—Par. Rep. 1845, vol. xix. page 27.
It now rarely happens that land in Ireland is brought into the market for sale in lots of a moderate or small size. Estates are so generally encumbered by family settlements or otherwise, that the expense, delay, and difficulty which would attend the dividing them, so as to sell in separate or detached portions, deter a proprietor from taking this course, although a larger sum might be raised by it in the whole.
We believe that there is a large number of persons in Ireland possessing a small amount of capital, which they would gladly employ in the purchase and cultivation of land, and a still larger number, now resident in different parts of the country, and holding land for uncertain or limited terms at a rent, who would most cheerfully embrace the opportunity of becoming proprietors. The gradual introduction of such a class of men would be a great improvement in the social condition of Ireland. A much larger proportion of the population than at present would become personally interested in the preservation of peace and good order; and the prospect of gaining admission into this class of small landowners, would often stimulate the renting farmer to increased exertion and persevering industry. We think that some facilities may safely be given towards making out titles to land, so as to lessen delay and expense, particularly with reference to the searches necessary under the system of registry now established in Ireland.
Remarks respecting the Con-Acre System and the general condition of the Labouring Classes in Ireland.
Ertracted from Report of Commissioners on Occupation of Land in Ireland.—Par. Rep. 1845, vol. xix. page 35.
In adverting to the condition of the different classes of occupiers in Ireland, we noticed, with deep regret, the state of the cottiers and labourers in most parts of the country, from the want of certain employIment. It will be seen in the Evidence, that in many districts their only food is the potato, their only beverage water, that their cabins are seldom a protection against the weather, that a bed or a blanket is a rare luxury, and that nearly in all their pig and manure heap constitute their only property. When we consider this state of things, and the large proportion of the population which comes under the designation of agricultural labourers, we have to repeat, that the patient endurance which they exhibit is deserving of high commendation, and entitles them to the best attention of Government and of Parliament. Their condition has engaged our most anxious consideration. Up to this period, any improvement that may have taken place is attributed almost entirely to the habits of temperance in which they have so generally persevered, and not, we grieve to say, to any increased demand for their labour. We deeply deplore the difficulty which exists in suggesting any direct means for ameliorating their condition. We trust such means may be found in the general improvement of the country, and in the increased demand for labour, which, we hope, will follow from the adoption of the suggestions we have already ventured to offer. But there are one or two matters from which, although they may be thought by some of trivial importance, we are of opinion that some direct advantage might be derived by the labouring population. We have already adverted to the con-acre system. It will be seen in the Evidence, that the contracts between the labourer who hires, and the farmer who lets the plot of ground in which the potatoes are to be planted, are usually verbal, and how completely the latter is in the power of the former, in the event of any dispute arising in reference to those contracts. We recommend that a summary jurisdiction should be given to Magistrates at Petty Sessions, to hear and adjudicate upon disputes respecting con-acre, where the plot of ground shall not exceed half an acre. Where a cottier is summoned before magistrates for trespass committed by his pig, or for a nuisance, in his having a heap of manure upon a public road, it happens not unfrequently that the person under whom he holds his cabin has furnished neither the means nor place to erect a pig cot, or keep his dung-heap from the road. It is worthy of consideration whether, as suggested by several witnesses, a fine might not be imposed upon the person who has let the cabin without adjuncts, necessary alike to the public convenience, and for affording the means of sustenance to the poor cottier; and whether, in such cases, it might not be desirable to empower Magistrates at Petty Sessions to require the person by whom the cabin is let, to provide such adjuncts where possible; and that in default of doing so, he should be liable to a fine. Considering also the wretched condition in which so many cabins in Ireland are found, and the sufferings and disease to which our fellow creatures living in such hovels are exposed, it would be extremely desirable, if it were possible to effect it, that in all cases of cottier holdings, the person who lets the cabin should be bound to keep it in sufficient repair, and that he should be compellable by Magistrates to do so. It may also be proper to enact that the person letting a cabin shall not be entitled to recover his rent by any legal process, if it can be shown that he has not kept it in tenantable repair. We cannot however disguise from ourselves, the great difficulty of dealing by law with such matters, and the danger lest evils of this nature may be aggravated rather than diminished, by too hasty attempts to remove them by legislation. We have therefore felt ourselves unable to recommend any direct measure for that purpose. We trust the exposure of such a state of things may lead to its remedy.