JOHN MACDONALD, Crofter, Tockaveg (48)—examined.
5580. The Chairman.
—Have you been freely elected by the people of Tockaveg ?
5581. The statement from Tockaveg is :
—' The complaint here is that the tenants continue to pay interest for borrowed money for drains after the proper time for relieving them had expired Another great complaint is that, some years ago, the rents were considerably raised on lots which the tenants had greatly improved entirely by their own labour. The increase of rent amounted, in some cases, to £1 , 12s., consequently they are deterred from further improvements for fear of their rents being raised. It might be explained that, in the cases where no improvements were effected, the increase of rent was not so great They desire it also to be stated that their land is run out, and not nearly so productive as in former years. It was agreed that Alexander Macdonald and John Macdonald be appointed delegates from Tockaveg.' Have you anything to add to that statement ?
—Not much. The principal cause of my complaint is the increase that was put on our rents, especially on my own rent. I was feeling it most. I consider my rent was increased greater than that of any other lot.
5582. What is the size of your croft, and the summing ?
—It was only a disordered place, the ground being full of holes, and rocks, and trees. I cannot tell the acreage of it.
5583. What is the summing?
—Three cows and a two-year-old, and twelve sheep anil a horse.
5584. What is the present rent without the public burdens?
—£5, 4s. Eight or nine years ago, I was only paying £4, 7s. 6d. Sixteen or seventeen shillings of increase was then made on my rent.
5585. Will you explain the nature of the improvements you made upon the croft ?
—Draining; I myself draining it without any remuneration. Besides that, I am paying the interest of the former drainage money that was got from the landlord.
5586. As to the drainage you made yourself, was it upon some ground that was drained by the Government money, or upon different ground
—The drainage I made myself was upon ground which had been previously drained.
5587. What kind of drains did you put in ?
5588. How long ago is it since you made these improvements ?
—Some of them this spring itself; and if I was not improving my lot in that way, I might not put down any crop at all.
5589. Has your rent been increased since you made any of these improvements yourself ?
5590. How long ago is it since you made your first improvements?
—About thirteen or fourteen years ago, when I got the croft.
5591. How long after the period of your improvements was the first increase put on ?
—I think seven or eight years after that.
5592. Did the factor come over and see these improvements?
5593. How do you know that it was in consequence of your improvements that the rent was raised ?
—I do not think it was in consequence of the improvements, but according to his own conscience.
5591. How many years does your memory go back as a crofter?
—I cannot very well say.
5595. Do you remember back twenty years?
—Yes, I remember some things very well.
5596. For what price did you sell a stirk twenty years ago ?
—Various prices. The price of stock does not last long at the same figure.
5597. But what was the average price ?
—I cannot be very sure.
5598. Was it less or more than it would be now ?
—I believe the prices were less then than they are to-day.
5599. And the same for sheep ?
—Yes, I think so.
5600. If the prices of the cattle and the sheep have, in that time, risen very much or a good deal, do you consider it very unjust that there should be a slight increase of rent?
—No, I do not think it unjust so to increase the rent if the good prices should continue, but what is entered into the landlord's books lasts.
5601. Did you ever hear of a reduction of rent in consequence of prices falling?
5602. Have you not heard of such a thing in connection with the large farms—with the tacksmen ?
—We do not hear of any tiling of that kind.
5603. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Does Lord Macdonald ever reduce his rents or give an abatement ?
—I never heard of any such thing.
5601. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Was the £5, Is. exclusive of the interest on the Government drainage money ?
—Including it. The drainage is included in the rent. I spoke to get the drainage money remitted to me.
5602. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—To whom did you speak ?
—To the present factor. I knew by him that lie would rather increase my rent.
5606. You got no satisfaction, in fact?
5607. Mr Cameron.
—How many are there in your township?
—There are eight families.
5608. Have any of the others had their rent raised in consequence of their own improvements, as you have ?
5609. How many of the eight ?
—Every one of them had his rent raised.
5610. Have they all made improvements?
5611. How does your rent stand by that of your neighbours—is it higher or lower
—My rent is smaller than that of my neighbours, or the other lots are larger than mine. I felt the increase on my rent more because it was an increase on me.
5612. Professor Mackinnon.
—Did you observe that the rent was raised more upon those who improved most ?
—That is what I cannot tell.
5613. The paper says so.
—You may leave it as it is in the paper.
5614. Did the factor, on hearing of your improvements, and raising the rent, prevent your continuing the impovements, or did you continue ?
—We continued working all the same.
5615. The increase of rent was not greater than the increase in the value of the land?
—We are of opinion that the land is dear at any rate, for a crop does not grow on it. I have to buy the seed with which to sow it.