HC Deb 01 April 1879 vol 245 cc169-85

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Vans Agnew.)


hoped that the Motion would not be proceeded with, especially in the present thin state of the Benches on both sides of the House. There was a singular defection of Scotch Members—in fact, he was reminded by the state of the House of an anecdote told of a French preacher who had said that if he were to hold up his prayer-book and threaten to throw it at the head of a woman who had been disobedient to her husband, every head would be bowed. So, in the present case, he was sure that if he were to say he would throw the paper he held in his hand at the head of anyone who objected to the Bill before the House, every head would be bowed. He looked upon the measure as one which, if it did not savour of Communism, was at least an attack upon private property. If it were carried it would have the effect of upsetting all the existing arrangements as to land in Scotland. The measure would inflict great injury upon a most estimable class of Scotchmen—namely, the small farmers who by their industry had developed the agricultural interests of the country. The Bill was only supported by the largo farmers, who thought that after the abolition of hypothec there would be less competition in regard to the land; but it would be a great blow to the agricultural interest generally. Hon. Members who whilst the Bill was on the Paper had kept away from the House, appeared to have come to an arrangement amongst each other that it should be counted out or got rid of in some way or other. [Mr. VANS AGNEW: No, no.] He admitted that his hon. Friend was a most energetic Member, and gallantly stuck up for the Bill. The hon. Member stuck up for the measure more than any other Scotch Representative, and there was an earnestness about him which he did not find else- where. What, then, had become of all the others? Where was the phalanx of Scotch Members usually seen in the House when Scotch Bills were under discussion? They were conspicuous by their absence. If the hon. Member who had charge of the Bill was thoroughly sincere, he would not press the measure in the absence of the other Scotch Members. He (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) might, if he cared to do so, call attention to the state of the House, and point to the fact that there was not present a sufficient number to justify their proceeding with the measure; but he did not wish to move a count, but, at the same time, he trusted the Bill would not be pressed. The Bill, he contended, was nothing more nor less than an electoral move, and he, therefore, begged to move its rejection.


rose to make a single remark. They had again heard from the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight that this was an election move. He only desired to say, in answer to that statement, that this was exactly the same move which was made in 1874, when it could hardly be described as an election move. The Bill had been brought forward year after year by his hon. Friend in the most straightforward and wholehearted manner, and the real explanation of the fact that the Bill had not made progress was to be found in the conduct of hon. Gentlemen opposite who had not been so good as to assist in keeping a House when the subject was coming on. When his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) spoke of the state of the Benches on the present occasion, he might, at all events, have observed that they were pretty well studded with Representatives from Scotland. That was a proof that they were interested in this subject, which, he might remind his hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Wright, referred entirely to Scotland. He (Mr. Dalrymple) only desired to protest against the repetition of the charge which had been made on a former occasion by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) in a most unfounded manner. The charge was indeed a preposterous one, when it was recollected that the same Bill was brought forward at the beginning of the present Parliament, and only fell through from want of encouragement from those who formerly expressed such zeal for the abolition of the Law of Hypothec. He hoped the House would consent to go into Committee on the Bill.


said, he only rose to protest against the language which had been used by the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight. He had imputed to the Scotch Members, in plain language, dishonest conduct. He had said that while in that House they were supporting the Bill, they were in their hearts opposed to it. That was a sentiment he (Mr. M'Laren) begged to deny in the most emphatic language which the Rules of the House permitted, and he wished to say that the hon. Member had no ground whatever for holding or expressing that opinion, so far as he (Mr. M'Laren) was concerned.


said, he might be allowed to express the hope that the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight would not persist in opposing the Motion for going into Committee. He had a conversation with the hon. Member in private, when he endeavoured to persuade him to withdraw his opposition to this measure, in order to enable it to pass speedily into law. On that occasion he (Mr. Ramsay) stated that he did not expect that the farmers of Scotland would derive from the measure the numerous advantages which they expected might accrue; but, at the same time, he did say that so many of the farmers having made up their minds in favour of this measure, he felt that the hon. Member, not being directly interested as a Scotch Representative, might very well withdraw his opposition, and leave the Scotch Members to decide the question for themselves. He thought his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (MR. M'Laren) was well entitled to object to have such motives imputed when really Members like himself, who represented borough constituencies, had no interest in this question, although their connection with the land otherwise might lead them to take as direct an interest in the Bill as the hon. Gentleman, who described it as approaching to Communism. He regretted that the hon. Member should apply such a term to a measure so ardently desired by agriculturists in Scotland. He hoped that no further opposition would be made to the Motion that the Speaker do now leave the Chair.


trusted that enough had now been said, and that they should be allowed to proceed to Business. He only wished to say that he differed as strongly as he could from the language of his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) as to the character of the Bill; because, if he thought it supported Communism in any form or shape, he would be found absolutely opposed to it. But knowing, as he did, that the feeling throughout Scotland was in favour of the measure, he supported it, and hoped it would become law.

Motion, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 (Landlord's hypothec to cease after 11th November 1880).


moved, in page 1, line 7, after the word "land," to insert "including the rent of any building thereon." It seemed to him that some ambiguity might arise in the interpretation of the Act if the clause were allowed to stand in its present shape; because it occurred to him that if a house and over two acres of land were let, it might be contended on the part of the landlord that the rent of the land was intended to be separate from the rent of the house. If the learned Lord Advocate said that doubt was not likely to arise on this point, he would not press his Amendment.


intimated that he did not think there would be any doubt in the matter.

Amendment agreed to.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being found present,


moved, in page 1, line 8, to leave out from "Provided" to end of Clause. The hon. Gentleman stated that the object of the Amendment was to bring hypothec to an end at the beginning of November of next year. Great difficulties would arise if the Law of Hypothec ceased to exist on a certain number of farms while it existed on other farms for years to come. If the learned Lord Advocate would agree to a compromise and say that hypothec would come to an end absolutely at a certain stated period, he should not press for the omission of the Proviso. He wished to point out that, apart altogether from hypothec, the landlord had a very great advantage in dealing with a tenant's creditors; because, according to the present system, he had control over the straw and manure upon the farm, the removal of which was prohibited. Then, in a good many leases, there had been inserted by the landlords or their agents a proviso that if the Law of Hypothec were abolished the tenant should pay the rent six months sooner. Therefore, while in many leases, the landlords had taken precautious for securing themselves if hypothec were abolished, in many others it would be altogether unnecessary, because there was as much manure and straw left as would secure the landlord against loss.


could not suppose for one moment that the proposition which the hon. Member for Forfarshire had made to the Committee would be acceded to, because he could not help thinking that a great deal of support had been given to this Bill on the condition that it should not apply to existing contracts. There was no doubt that the abolition of the Law of Hypothec would make a great change in the relations that existed at present between landlord and tenant; and, no doubt, tenants, who were now allowed considerable latitude in paying their rents, would in future lose that latitude. He thought it would be most unwise and injurious to accept the Amendment.


hoped that the hon. Member for Forfarshire would consent to withdraw his Amendment. The Bill, when it became law, was not likely to be very popular with all the people of Scotland; and he thought it would be a pity to mar it by a proposal which, as far as he knew, had never previously been made—for what was proposed was to set aside the terms of an existing lease or contract.


thought that, without the Amendment of the hon. Member for Forfarshire, the clause would take away from the farmers of Scotland the benefit which they thought they would obtain by the abolition of hypothec.


hoped that the Amendment would not be pressed. To preserve rights under existing contracts seemed to be absolutely necessary when taking away a certain right which formerly existed, and hypothec in those cases must be allowed to expire in the course of time. He thought it was a necessary safeguard to allow existing leases to run out under the same conditions as those under which they were entered on.


also expressed a hope that his hon. Friend would not think it necessary to divide the Committee on his proposal, especially after the statement which had been made, that many hon. Members had voted for the second reading of the Bill on the understanding that existing leases should not be interfered with. If such an Amendment as that proposed was agreed to, he was afraid it would cause the loss of the Bill either hero or in "another place" on a future day. Half-a-loaf was better than no bread, and therefore he trusted the Amendment would not be pressed.


The feeling of the Committee seems to me to be against interference with existing contracts beyond a certain extent. That was even indicated by the hon. Member for Forfarshire, who rather suggested that if a compromise were offered he would be ready to accept it. I do not see that any compromise can be made on this question except it be a compromise in point of time; and I doubt the propriety of fixing a limit of five or 10 years from the passing of the Act, because, in that case, a great many tenants under leases of short currency would derive no advantage whatever from the provisions of the Bill, and those who had long leases would get a benefit beyond others which they were not in the least entitled to.


hoped the hon. Gentleman would withdraw his Amendment. If they abolished the law as applied to existing leases, the landlord would have no security whatever, and all other creditors would have a preferable security for 18 months. He was aware it was quite the custom to enter into contracts in which it was stated that if the Law of Hypothec were abolished the tenant would be called upon to pay his rent six months or a year sooner, proving clearly that in the matter of contracts the parties felt that the abolition of the Law of Hypothec would alter their relations. It would be unjust to alter that law as regarded existing leases.


was sure that many Members on the Conservative side of the House voted for the second reading of the Bill on the express understanding that existing contracts should be exempted from the operation of the Act. He hoped his hon. Friend would not persist with his Amendment, because it would be most unfair to landlords, and he also thought it would be most unsatisfactory to many tenants, and it would be unjust to abolish hypothec if they did not give landlords some better means of recovering arrears of rent.


said, he did not understand what the hon. Member for the Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Ramsay) meant when he said this was a proposal to overrule existing contracts. He did not propose to interfere with the lease or its conditions—but to abolish an unjust law There never was a proposal in that House for a change of law in which there was not some interference with individual interests. When the Corn Laws were abolished, the farmers got no compensation. He was not aware of any case of long credit on rents. It had been explained over and over again in that House that the tenant in Scotland always paid his landlord within three months after the time when the landlord would have got the money from the farm if he had had it in his own hands. He would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment, as he did not wish to take up the time of the House unnecessarily; but, in order to test the opinion of the House on this subject, he would propose to add to the clause words that would abolish hypothec absolutely within 10 years from the year 1880.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


moved, in page 1, line 9, after "rent due," to insert "or becoming due." The principle of this Amendment had already been conceded.


did not oppose the Amendment, but suggested that if the hon. Member desired to remove all ambiguity, the words he proposed to insert should be "or which may hereafter become due."

Amendment, so amended, agreed to.


moved to add to the end of the clause the words "within ten years," the effect of which would be that the right of hypothec would absolutely expire in all cases at the end of 10 years from November, 1880. One great advantage of the abolition of hypothec at some definite time would be to improve agricultural credit. The abolition of the law in respect to future leases would place farmers on more equal terms with their landlords. But so long as the Law of Hypothec existed, the credit of the agriculturist would not be in the least improved by this measure; and it would be in the interest of the landlords, as well as of the tenants, that the law should come to an end at some definite period. He thought 10 years was a long period; but as the Bill stood, hypothec would not come to an end for about 20 years. He hoped the Committee would look upon the Amendment as a reasonable proposal, and accept it.


said, he was afraid he could not accept the proposition. He could not see the justice, if existing contracts having less than 10 years to expire were to be protected by the Bill, why those over that period should be excluded. There would be, no doubt, many leases which would have expired before then, but still there would be some going on, and he could not see the justice of applying the new law to the long lease and not to the short one.


said, he did not suppose his hon. Friend was really in earnest in proposing these Amendments. Certainly, as far as his (Mr. Ramsay's) knowledge extended, the farmers themselves did not desire to have any such law or regulation. The contracts existing between landlord and tenant were very formal and precise, and the Law of Hypothec was applicable in every case. The House was anxious now to see that law done away with. He had himself wanted to make some Amendments in the Bill; but he had refrained from proposing them because he did not wish to delay the passing of the measure. One of the proposals he had desired to introduce was that urban as well as rural hypothec should be abolished, although he knew that some hon. Members did not agree that the principle was the same in both cases. He had not pressed that point, however, because he felt that if he had succeeded in introducing it into the Bill it might have had the effect of preventing the Bill from becoming law at an early date. Therefore, as he was anxious that a question of this kind should be settled without delay, he had been willing to forego all his Amendments in order to get through with the Bill. He hoped, therefore, the hon. Gentleman would relieve the Committee from any trouble in dividing; because at the end of 10 years it would be just as much interference with existing contracts as it would at the end of two or three years.


hoped the Amendment would be withdrawn, as well from expediency as on the question of principle. He could not see that there was any justice in the proposal. Assuming that a landlord had let his farm, and the agreement was recognized by the law as it stood at the date of the agreement, he did not think there were any circumstances which justified the State coming in and saying that what it had recognized should not be legal tenure. He felt satisfied that the House would not pass an Amendment of this character. If it did, the Bill would certainly be in danger "elsewhere." He thought, with the hon. Member for the Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Ramsay), that urban hypothec was in the same category as rural hypothec, but was also desirous not to risk delay by intruding that question. He hoped the Committee would not be detained any longer with a proposal which would interfere with existing contracts.


wished to point out to the hon. Members who had just spoken that the Law of Hypothec was no part of the contract between landlords and tenants. Hypothec was the law of the land, and the position hon. Members took up was that the law of the land could not be altered unless compensation was given to all those who were affected, even in a remote degree, by the change of law. Upon that principle it would be almost impossible ever to make any improvement in legislation.


did not care much about the Amendment the hon. Member was now moving, because he did not see any clear principle in it. He thought there was a definite and clear principle in the one he withdrew—that principle being that the Bill should immediately abolish hypothec and thereby improve the credit of the tenants. It clearly would not improve the credit of the tenants now for about 20 years, for it would be impossible for traders to know which leases were under this law and which under the old. The actual operation of the Bill would thus be practically postponed for about 20 years. Had the hon. Member divided on that Amendment he would have supported him, as he thought such postponed operation would be injurious. However, as the hon. Member, perhaps exercising a wise judgment, had not divided on his previous Amendment, he thought he would make a great mistake if he went to a Division on the present one.


while thinking that this Bill did not go far enough, believed that it went in the right direction; but considering the perils it had yet to undergo here and "elsewhere," they ought to be careful not to put more weight on it than was absolutely necessary. He therefore trusted the Amendment would not be pressed.


said, that as, in the opinion of friends, they had got as far as they could, he did not see the wisdom of persevering with this Amendment, seeing that it would be rejected by a large majority on division.


said, hon. Members appeared to be tolerably unanimous on this point—namely, that if they admitted the principle of not interfering with existing contracts, they must treat consistently all these contracts. At the same time, it was a matter for consideration whether the terms of the Bill were meant to include unreasonably long contracts. He doubted whether the framer of the measure had in view contracts for the lease of land of a longer duration than 19 years, and he confessed that he had agreed to the terms of this clause very much in that view. He should be very sorry that portions of unexpired leases longer than the ordinary agricultural lease of 19 years should carry along with them a right to use the Law of Hypothec. He thought that a lease of 50 or 100 years ought to be deprived of that incident within a reasonable time, and he merely indicated that because he was quite prepared to concur with any hon. Member in framing a clause upon the Report which should give effect to that view. While he thought an unexpired lease not exceeding 19 years ought to be considered, and the implied contract given effect to, he should be sorry to give advantage to leases practically in perpetuity.


said, that representing a large agricultural constituency in Scotland, he was quite sure that the remarks which had just been made by the learned Lord Advocate would meet with the approval and support of a great majority of the farmers in Scotland, for a lease of 19 years was the basis of their contracts.


said, that in framing the clause he certainly had not in view a lease of longer duration than 19 years.

Amendment negatived.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 (Landlord's remedy when six months rent is due and unpaid).

On Motion of The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. Watson), the following Amendments were made in the Clause:—

Page 1, line 14, after "shall" insert "subject to the provisions of the preceding section of this Act."

Page 1, line 14, leave out "remedy," and insert "rights and remedies."

Page 1, line 16, at end of Clause, add— And shall also have the same rights and remedies against his tenant when twelve months rent is due and unpaid as is now provided by the Law of Scotland when two years rent is due and unpaid, but subject always to the provision following (that is to say): It shall not be lawful for the sheriff in any proceedings under the Act of Sederunt of the fourteenth day of December, one thousand seven hundred and fifty-six, to decern the tenant to find caution for any sum exceeding the arrears of rent due and the rent for two crops following, or during the currency of the lease if the lease is of shorter endurance than two years.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."


proposed to leave out the whole of Clause 2 as amended. He said he objected to this clause for the same reason which hon. Members had so strenuously urged against him in the previous case. It would be an interference with existing contracts. The landlord had very drastic, extreme, and arbitrary powers against the tenant in arrear, and under this clause he would have the power of put, ting them in force whenever six months, rent was due and unpaid. If the rent were even a day past due, the landlord would have the power to call the tenant before the Sheriff, and unless he found caution for the rent past due, and for two crops to come, the landlord might claim his ejectment. Now, supposing the landlord took his remedy in the month of June, would the learned Lord Advocate explain to the House whose would be the property of the crops in the ground sown by the tenant, and what recourse the tenants' creditors would have against the landlord for the value of these crops? There was an implied contract on the part of the creditors in this matter which should be respected as much as the implied contract under the Law of Hypothec was in the last discussion. If the tenant failed to pay on the very day his rent was due, he might be summoned on the following day before the Sheriff to find caution. It was not every tenant who had a friend he could call in to suppport him, and hon. Members surely could not understand the power they were putting into the hands of unscrupulous landlords by this clause.


said, the observations of the hon. Member for Forfarshire had recalled to him a defect in the Amendment which he had not been aware of. It was not his intention that in regard to current leases any fresh or new remedies should be given to landlords. The new remedy must apply only when the abolition of hypothec applied, and he would at the proper time move to add a provision to that effect.


hoped the learned Lord Advocate would explain the law more fully. If this clause became part of the Bill, any tenant whose rent was one day past due would be liable to all the pains and penalties which the law provided, and he had already specified.


said, he thought it right—and that appeared to him to be the feeling of the House on the second reading of the Bill—that if hypothec was abolished the landlord should have some means of recovering his property if the rent was not paid. The law at present in regard to a landlord having the right of hypothec was that if one year's rent was un- paid, upon the very next day he might apply to the Judge Ordinary, and if the fact were proved to the satisfaction of the Judge that the rent was unpaid, the Judge had no alternative but to require the tenant to find security for the payment, not only of the arrears, but for five years' future rent. That was a very serious, and it appeared to him to be a hard thing for the tenant. And unless that was done within the period limited in the Judge's order, a further order for the expulsion of the tenant was at once granted. In the case of a tenant being two years in arrear the landlord had a right to apply for an order of ejectment, and the tenant had no appeal, but must go out the moment the order was granted. The difficulties raised by the hon. Member for Forfarshire were of the same character as those existing or which might arise under the present law. There was a legal term of rent and a conventional term. The legal term for a pasture farm was one thing, and the legal term for an arable farm was another, and the conventional term, that was what was agreed upon by the parties themselves, was different from both. By the existing law it was not necessary that the arrears should be for one particular half-year in order to entitle the landlord to take proceedings for ejecting the tenant. It was simply required that the sum in arrear should amount to half-a-year's rent, or should amount to two full years' rent, and might have been running with interest for eight or ten years. By this clause they would be making no change whatever in the established law, excepting a change in favour of the landlord to this effect—that having taken away his preferable claim over crop and stock they gave him a more summary means of recovery, and at the same time laid a less heavy weight on the tenant; because there were many men who would be able to find the Security demanded by this Bill, but who, under the existing law, would be turned out of house and home owing to the obligation to pay a year's rent and find security for five more.


admitting that no tenant ought to be allowed to run into arrears for two years, yet thought that he might be in arrears for six months without being at all blameful. Therefore, the increased difficulties caused to tenants by making them pay rents in so peremptory a manner as were raised under this clause would be highly objectionable to the tenants of Scotland. He was in hopes that the passing of this Bill would bring about better relations between landlord and tenant than had hitherto; prevailed, and to this end he trusted the t learned Lord Advocate would alter the clause, so as to leave to landlords and tenants the power of fixing the dates on which rents due for terms expired might be paid, and thus draw a clear distinction between "due" and "payment."


said, the hon. Member who had just spoken, and the hon. Member for Forfarshire, seemed to keep out of view the fact that by the 1st clause of the Bill they took away the landlord's power of sequestration. This clause would enable him to enter upon his land as soon as the tenant failed—that was to say, that when the tenant could not pay, the landlord might enter upon his land. He had proposed in the Bill merely to shorten by six months the period at which a law which had long existed should come into operation. In this respect he had thought that if any change was to be made it should come from the learned Lord Advocate. He believed five years was much too long a period for which security should be found. All he desired was that the landlord should have the power to recover possession of his land in lieu of the power of sequestration which he had before.


understood the object of the Amendment of the learned Lord Advocate was to place the relations between landlord and tenant on the same footing as the relations between the tenant and his seedsman or manure merchant, or anyone who supplied him with any commodity. It would be obvious that if the tenant could remain in possession of the land for six months after the rent had become due, and if the landlord had no security or certainty of receiving payment of either rent or arrears, then the landlord would by no means be in the same commercial position as the tradesman who supplied the; farmer with seed or manure. The moment the tenant had given his order for any commodity whatsoever and he failed to pay, the merchant had power to stop the supply whenever he ceased to pay; but here hon. Gentlemen seemed to consider that the tenant should continue in I possession of the land after he had ceased to pay the rent, and that the tenant, having become bankrupt, should take the fruit of the soil and apply it to the payment of a dividend to his other creditors. It was quite obvious that that was not placing the relations of landlord and tenant in the same commercial position as the tenant occupied with the creditor from whom he bought any particular goods; and unless something of the kind proposed in this clause were done, the effect of the repeal of hypothec would be to place the landlord in a position different from that of all other creditors. The tenant might cease to pay his rent for 12 months, and the landlord would have no means of getting possession of the land or of obtaining redress in any other way. He could not think the farmers or any other class would ask to have the law amended to enable them to use the goods of one man while under no obligation to pay him for that use. If there was anything objectionable in the law as applied to existing leases, he understood that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. W. Barclay) was going to propose that no lease for a longer term than 19 years should be brought under the Bill. [Mr. J. W. BARCLAY: Unprincipled.] He had thought the hon. Member approved of that suggestion. The hon. Gentleman said "unprincipled;" but he could not see anything unprincipled in saying that no lease of longer duration than 19 years should be affected by this law.


said, he did not think hon. Members understood what was proposed to be done by this clause. He was rather disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary was not in his place, because he wished to appeal to him in this matter. He was exceedingly surprised to find the hon. Member's (Mr. Ramsay's) intellect was so clouded by the landlords' interest, that he found him saying that the landlords would be in a worse position than the manure merchant. The manure merchant supplied the farmer with manure; but if the farmer did not pay him, did the manure merchant get back his manure? The landlord would get back his land in three months or six months, and could lose only the interest. The manure mer- chant who sold manure was usually paid in six months. The farmer gave him a six months' bill and he had three days' grace; but under this clause of the Bill, if a farmer did not pay his half-year's rent on the day it was due, the next day he could be summoned before the Sheriff, and made to give security for what was due and for two years more. That seemed to him the most extreme legislation that had in recent times been passed in that House. It was far more extreme than the barbarous edict passed by the Court of Session 100 years ago. A tenant must pay upon the very day, and if he did not pay the landlord could call upon him to give security, and if he did not, could eject him summarily out of the farm. He did not believe the hon. Member for Wigtownshire (Mr. Vans Agnew) perceived the effect of this clause when he proposed that it should be inserted in the Bill. He should have thought that he would have given the farmer six days' grace or 10 days' grace. The landlord did not risk his capital, he only risked his interest, and very few manure merchants would think much of giving a tenant six months' time to pay without receiving anything for it. He hoped the learned Lord Advocate would agree to amend the clause.


observed, that although the landlord had a right to his remedy within a day of the rent being unpaid, yet it was always a matter of consideration with the landlord as to what sort of tenant he was dealing with. He could hardly suppose that there existed such extreme cases as those supposed by the hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. J. W. Barclay). There would be nothing done without the intervention of a Judge, who was empowered to deal with the case according to circumstances. If a tenant was unable to pay, it was for the Judge, after giving him the opportunity of stating why he was not paying his rent, to determine whether the tenant's statements were entitled to credit, and no Judge would refuse to give to a tenant who was a man of substance the chance to make good his profession that he meant to pay his rent. There was no Judge who would not give him time to satisfy the law. Speaking of the want of three days' grace, he would rather be under the hardest pressure the hard- est landlord could put on than under a Bill giving three days' grace.


said, if it be true that the landlord, when his six months' rent was due, without giving any notice, and without demanding the rent in any way, could bring his action against the tenant, it did seem to be an arbitrary clause, and one that demanded consideration. He should say it would be very seldom done; but it was quite within the bounds of possibility that some unreasonable landlord, having a grudge against his tenant, might put it into operation. He was of opinion that the landlord should be required to demand the rout before any of these proceedings could be taken.


would be far from attempting to dispute the law with the learned Lord Advocate; but the Act of Sederunt provided distinctly that— Whore a tenant shall ran in arrear one year's rent," [which was now going to be six months not in arrear, but due,] "it shall be lawful for the landlord to bring his action against the tenant before the Judge Ordinary, who is hereby empowered and required to decern and ordain the tenant to find caution. The Sheriff, as he understood it, had no option or discretion.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 49; Noes 34: Majority 15.—(Div. List, No. 56.)

Clause, as amended, agreed to.


proposed to move a new clause, by which, he desired to limit the effect of the 2nd clause entirely to those cases where the landlords' hypothec had been abolished, and, accordingly, he would move a clause to the effect— That the provisions of the second section of this Act shall not apply in any case in which the landlords' right of hypothec has not ceased or determined.

Clause agreed to, and added to the Bill.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Friday.