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Art. II.-THE VALUATION OF IRELAND. 1. 15 and 16 Vic., Cap. 63. An Act to amend the Laws re.
lating to the Valuation of rateable property in Ireland. 2. A Bill, as amended in Committee, for the Valuation of lands
and heritages in Scotland. 3. Civil Service Gazelte. London: September 29th, 1855. 4. Instructions to the Valuators and Surreyors appointed
under the 15 and 16 Vic., Cap. 63, for the uniform Valuetion of lands and tenements in Ireland, by Richard Griffith, Esq., LL.D., F.R.S.E., M.R.I.A., F.G.S.L. & D.
It would be folly to presume that in the space here allotted to us, we could fully discuss a subject of so momentous a nature and of such public importance, and one so truly worthy of the serious attention of the community,as the “The General Valua. tion of Ireland.” We term it general, for all other systems of Valuation have been superseded by it, and we may term it just, because it is based on such principles of justice and equity that the wealthy nobleman and struggling farmer are treated alike in the administration of the laws laid down for the guidance of those appointed to value their holdings. It is need less for us to state, that up to 1326 when the first Bill was passed for the uniform valuation of property in Ireland, commonly called the “ Townland Valuation,” the greatest partiality and injustice prevailed in the country as regards the levying of taxes, and in very many cases it is a well known fact, that the poor man paid for the rich. This injustice at length became so glaring that the legislature could no longer look on as passive observers, and so the passing of an act to remedy the existing evil became irresistible.
In fact, it was owing to this glaring inequality of taxation that we are indebted for having such admirable ordnance maps of the country; without such no proper and accurately detailed valuation could be effected. The Valuation act was, therefore, passed with a view to have the “ valuation of the lands of Ireland made on a uniform principle which would be proportionate to a scale of prices for agricultural produce, so as to insure that the relative value of the land within any county though ascertained at different periods; and also, that the value of the lands of different and distant counties, though ascertained at different aud distant periods, should be the same.
To effect this object difficulties of no ordinary character should first be removed, and to remove these difficulties, and establislı, as far as practicable, a uniform system, the following scale of prices of agricultural produce has been agreed on by the legislature as a standard, according to which the tenement valuation is at present being made :
Wheat at the general average price of seven shillings 19 9 and six pence per hundred weight, of one hundred
and twelve pounds.
Oats at the general average price of four shillings 8 6 and ten pence per hundred weight, of one hundred
and twelve pounds.
Barley at the general average price of five shillings 11 0 and six pence per hundred weight, of one hundred
and twelve pounds.
Flax at the general average price of forty-nine shill6 2 ings per hundred weight, of one hundred and 6
Per firkin of 671lbs. nett.
Butter at the general average price of sixty-five shillings and four pence per hundred weight, of one hundred and twelve pounds.
Price for live
Beef at the general average price of thirty-five shill23 8 ings and six pence per hundred weight, of one hun.
dred and twelve pounds.
Mutton at the general average price of forty.one 27 4 shillings per hundred weight, of one hundred and
Pork at the general average price of thirty-two shill25 7
ings per hundred weight, of one hundred and twelve
pounds. Those of our readers who are acquainted with the Irish markets, cannot fail to perceive the justice and fair play shewn to the agriculturist in basing the valuation of lands on the standard here given which we copy from the " Book of Instructions” for valuators and surveyors employed on the General
• The current Market prices usually quoted are understood to relate to the meat alone; butchers' profits consist in the value of the offal.
Valuation of the country; as this work is not to be purchased we shall occasionally submit for the information of our readers some valuable extracts from it, which must be of the utmost importance to those possessing property in Ireland. The valuation of house property is based on a principle equally just as that of the lands, a principle productive of gratifying results, and the very signal success which, up to the present, has attended the efforts of the gentleman selected by the legislature for the accomplishment of so onerous, and so arduous a task as the valuation of a country, whose people are ever ready to cry out against the acts of any public man who cannot satisfy them as to the justice and impartiality of his conduct, and at the same time convince them that his only object is to promote the welfare of all classes of the community. How far Dr. Griffith has succeeded in this will appear by what we shall now proceed to submit to the reader. The value of every house or building must be first estimated by an experienced and competent valuator before any valuation can become the base of taxation, and to do this the valuator must be guided by the following circumstances, viz. :-" The rent for which one year with another the same might in its actual state be reasonably expected to let from year to year; the probable average annual cost of repairs, insurance and other expenses (if any) necessary to maintain the hereditament in its actual state, and all rates, taxes, and public charges, if any, (except tithe rentcharge) being paid by the tenant.
The equity of such principles must be acknowledged by all, and that such has been fully and impartially carried out, the owners of house property in the various parts of Ireland have, we may say, unanimously borne testimony, from time to time, by the comparatively few appeals made against the valuation of tenements or holdings completed up to the present time.
It inust be observed that we are not now speaking of the valuation of property made under the old Act passed in 1826, which must be admitted to have been defective, and while it was carried out at a greater expense to the country than the present or Tenement Act, it failed in affording to the ratepayers of the country or to the State, that amount of satisfaction which was so anxiously expected.
so anxiously expected. Until the Tenement Act was passed the country had to bear the expenses of two valuations, viz. The Townland and Poor Law; the one, so far as it went was good, but the other vas
carried on in a manner most discreditable, partial and unjust. And we have not the slightest fear of this assertion being contradicted. Poor Law Guardians were vested with the power
of appointing Valuators and Applotters, in the different Unions, and the result was that when their own properties and those of their friends came to be valued under the present Act it was found to be in many instances from 30 to 40 per cent below its real and relative value; so instead of a relative valuation existing in many Unions, the contrary was the case, and as it happens in all cases when the poor man's rights remain undefended, he comes off second best, and in this case he was obliged to submit to excessive valuation, that his richer and more influential neighbours might be favoured with what they considered a fair valuation. The instances of this nature that have come under our observation are too numerous for insertion even if space or time permitted, but let it be sufficient to inform our readers that the injustice which was heretofore shewn to the poor and struggling man, is now remedied and should a shadow of doubt exist on his part that he has not been fairly dealt with, his appeal is entertained and considered with the same degree of justice and impartiality, as that of the most wealthy and opulent lord in the land.
The valuation of houses and lands, as our readers are aware, only form a portion of the great undertaking now engaging our attention, for we have yet to speak of the system adopted in valuing Canals, Railroads, Mines, Mills, and Fisheries, and which present perhaps still greater difficulties to the valuator, than the other kinds of properly already mentioned, and on which we shall in a future part of our paper make some observations.
Before entering further upon the subject, we would have our readers to remember that the whole weight and responsi. bility of the valuation of Ireland, has devolved from its commencement, upon one gentleman, a task that all must admit who give the subject any thing like a serious consideration, is replete with many complex and aggravating circumstances, which require more than ordinary experience, foret hought and prudence to deal with them, so as to give even a tolerable amount of satisfaction to the public, and and it is only awarding to Dr. Griffith the praise and credit that are due to him, to say, that never was au undertaking in this country carried on with a greater amount of ability, energy, and zeal, than he has evinced in conducting the valuation of Ireland. The difficulties that naturally presented themselves were manifold, but have been overcome with almost incredible success. 20,158,217 acres of land were to be valued, and a relative valuation maintained throughout every townland and tenement in Ireland, and in such amanner that the interest of all parties inight be fairly consulted and general satisfaction given. To do this, he should be first acquainted with the chemical composition of the soil, the climate that influenced it, the proximity of the lands to the sea and Market Towns, the annual produce it yielded, and the price that that produce brought on an average for a certain number of years. In fine, he had to become acquainted with every circumstance by which property was affected before he could submit to the public a valuation that was to become the basis of taxation. That he made himself acquainted with all lere stated, is manifested in the little work got up by him for the instruction of those employed as valuators under him, who in determining the value of land, must show that its geological and geographical positions have been duly considered by them, at least so far as may be necessary, to develope the natural and relative powers of the soil. To enable then the better to do this, eacli is provided with a geological map, and for the character of this map it is only necessary for us to say that it is got up by the “ Patriarch of Geological Science, an appellation recently, and we need not say deservedly applied to the Commissioner. His standing as a geologist needs no comment from us, his fame as such has long since been acknowleged wherever the science of geology formed the subject of debate. Speaking of the Map in question he says
"! By reference to the annered Geological Map of Ireland, it will be seen, that the mountain soils are referable generally, to the granite, schistose rocks, and sandstone.
The fertility of soil is to some extent dependent on the proportions which exist between the component minerals of the rock from which it may have been formed, thus, granite in which felspar is in excess, when disintegrated, usually forms a deep and easily improved soil, whilst that in which it is deficient will be comparatively unproductive. The detritus of mica slate, and the schistose roeks, usually form moderately friable soils, applicable to tillage and pasture. Soils derived from sandstone are generally poor.
The inost productive lands in Ireland, are situate in the carboni. ferous limestone plain, which, as shown on the Geological Map, occupies nearly two-thirds of this country, but, when to the natur.