Land Purchase.

Oral Answers to Questions — Ireland. – in the House of Commons on 11th May 1922.

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Photo of Mr William Gritten Mr William Gritten , Hartlepools, The

52.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Irish Land Commissioners are demanding from Mr. W. S. M'Neill payment of instalments of money due from him in respect of his farm in County Leitrim purchased by him under the Land Purchase Act; is he aware that Mr. M'Neill was forcibly driven from his farm by the Sinn Fein forces in 1920 and is now a refugee in England; that the farm was afterwards divided into lots and sold by auction; whether, under these circumstances, the Land Commissioners propose to press their claim; and what measures he proposes to take to enable Mr. M'Neill to assert his legal rights or, in default of this, to relieve him of his liability and compensate him for the money already paid by him to the Land Commission?

Photo of Mr Hamar Greenwood Mr Hamar Greenwood , Sunderland

I am informed that in 1920 Mr. W. S. McNeill informed the Land Commission that forcible possession of the farm had been taken by Sinn Feiners, and that the crops of all description had been destroyed, and that it was not possible to meet the amounts due. The case was subsequently brought under the notice of the Irish Government. There are at present due out of the holding three half-yearly instalments of annuity amounting in all to £10 12s. 2d. The Commissioners have been giving the payer every opportunity to pay, and up to this no extreme measures have been taken. The Commissioners are not aware that the farm, which is a small one, has been divided into lots and sold by auction as stated in the question.

Photo of Mr William Gritten Mr William Gritten , Hartlepools, The

Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly answer the last part of my question?

Photo of Mr Hamar Greenwood Mr Hamar Greenwood , Sunderland

Mr. McNeill has his legal rights under the Provisional Government of Ireland. If he is personally in distress he can apply to the Irish Distress Committee which has been set up and which undoubtedly would take bis claim into consideration.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , Fylde

As for over a year-and-a-half this gentleman was under the control of the right hon. Gentleman and he did not give him any protection, by what right is he asking him for the payment of this instalment when he has not given him protection for his farm? Surely he must give him the £10.

Photo of Mr Hamar Greenwood Mr Hamar Greenwood , Sunderland

The Land Commission have not taken any extreme measures to press for what is due, namely, £10 12s. 2d.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , Fylde

Will he tell the Land Commission not to ask for it at all? If this man cannot live on his farm owing to the neglect of the Government why should he pay?