Land Acts (Ireland)

Policymakers made much use of the statistical data recently collated in Griffith's Valuation (1853–68).

1. The Ulster custom or any similar custom prevailing elsewhere, was given the force of law where it existed.
a) compensation for improvements made to a farm if they surrendered their lease (these had previously been accredited to the landlord, hence no incentive to the tenant);
b) compensation for 'disturbance', i.e. damages, for tenants evicted for causes other than non-payment of rent.
3. The 'John Bright Clauses', which Gladstone accepted reluctantly, allowed tenants to borrow from the government two-thirds of the cost of buying their holding, at 5% interest repayable over 35 years, provided the landlord was willing to sell (no compulsory powers).

To prevent eviction by rack-renting, and so avoiding paying compensation to tenants, the Bill said that rents must not be "excessive", leaving this for the courts to define. But the House of Lords in a wrecking amendment substituted "exorbitant" in its place. This enabled landlords to raise rents above what tenants could pay, and then to evict them for non-payment without giving any compensation.

A symbolic significance of these land acts are how far Gladstone had come from his starting point. Judicial control of rent levels and the establishment of many land courts was a change from Gladstone's policy of 'retrenchment' and his commitment to free markets.

The pace for land law reforms quickened after the Representation of the People Act 1884, which gave a much greater number of votes to the Irish rural electorate.

Historian R. K. Webb gives most of the credit for the Wyndham Act to Conservative leader Arthur Balfour. He says the Act was: