DONALD M'DONALD, Crofter, Kendram (34)—examined.
2049. The Chairman.
—Have you a croft?
—It is my father's name which is in the rental book. He is an old man of eighty.
2050. Did you hear and understand what the previous delegate stated?
—I heard and understood the most part of it
2051. Do you agree with what the previous delegate stated ?
—Yes, but I would add that it would be more profitable to us to have the hill pasture than the arable land, if we could not get both.
2052. What is the reason of that?
—Because we could keep more stock of sheep, and a horse, if we got back the hilL Then, if we had the assurance that our rents would not be raised, or ourselves removed, we would have encouragement to improve our holdings better than we do. I am not for finding fault with the landlord at all, but I find fault with the land laws, because if I should improve my holding the landlord can have my improvements valued to increase the rent, and if I don't pay such a rent, I will be warned, and sent off at the May term. And what causes greatly our poverty is the way in which our land has been tilled for the past many years,—cropping incessantly with the same same kind of crop to feed our stock, to keep our stock in fodder, in order that we may be able to pay the rent There is much of our land that will not yield fodder for our stock unless we manure it with sea-ware. We have no right to sea-ware, and we can only procure it by favour of those who have such right. We are not on the shore. If we had the land at a reasonable rent, and as much of it as we could cultivate in rotation, we would be much more comfortable, and able the better to pay the landlord. We had no heart to improve our houses, owing to the way in which we were left by the operation of the land laws.
2053. Of what nature are these improvements'?
—Drains, trenching, digging out the stones; and although we have our croft in name of arable land, there is much of it stony and wet. I am telling the truth.
2054. Mr Cameron.
—Have you made any improvements?
—Yes; and I would do more in that way were it not for the increase of rent.
2055. Has your rent been raised since you made the improvements ?
— I cannot say that it was, but I know some whose rent was raised after they had improved their lots.
2056. In your own township ?
2057. Were these improvements of the same nature which you described you made ?
2058. Was it bringing any new land in ?
2059. Did you find that profitable?
—I was not personally myself taking interest in it, but if the others to whom I refer took in any new land, it would not be profitable to them when the rents were raised upon them in consequence.
2060. Would it have been profitable to them if the rents had not been raised ?
2061. Were the rents raised immediately after these improvements were made ?
—Not long after.
2062. Do you believe that the fact of the rent having been raised after the improvements had been the cause of the crofters declining to improve any more land ?
2063. Is there also land in your neighbourhood improvable ?
2064. Land that would pay to improve ?
2065. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—On the east coast great improvements have been done under leases. Would it not be advantageous to you to improve under leases also ?
—Yes, but if we had a promise that we would not be removed, that is the only lease we would be wanting.
2066. With what length of lease would you improve at a profit?
— Twelve years.
2067. Would the proprietor not give you nineteen years if you were to ask it, to show you meant to improve?
—We would not ask a landlord's lease if we only got a promise—if we only got assurance we would not be removed or our rents put up on our improvements.
2068. But have you ever asked a landlord for a promise of that sort ?
2069. Mr Cameron.
—Do you know whether your neighbours had their rents raised for improvements?
—These parties took no more of the land than I did, and there was greater reason in their case to increase the rents than in mine.
2070. The Chairman.
—Have you any further statement to make before you retire ?
—I have nothing further to add.