HC Deb 25 February 1880 vol 250 cc1410-25

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, he did not propose to occupy the time of the House at any length on this occasion; and he would, in as few words as possible, explain certain changes which occurred in the Bill as printed this Session as compared with the measure of last year. It would be in the recollection of the House that last Session the Bill he had introduced was read a second time, amended, and passed through Committee, and remained in that state waiting for Report until the end of the Session. While it was in that state certain Amendments were given Notice of on the Paper; and in the Bill of the present year he had given effect to the Amendments passed in Committee, and he had also added to the measure as much of the Amendments that were moved upon Report as he could accept. Perhaps he should best save the time of the House by mentioning these particulars in which the Bill had been changed from what it was last year. On Clause 1 there was an Amendment by the hon. and gallant Member for Kincardineshire (General Sir George Balfour). The hon. and gallant Member wished to change the date at which the Act would come into force. At the end of the 1st clause, the wording of the Bill as originally introduced was "the passing of the Act," and the word "commencement" was afterwards substituted by the Lord Advocate; but the right hon. and learned Gentleman had informed him that he had no objection to return to the former word to suit the views of the hon. and gallant Member for Kincardineshire. Then, in the 2nd clause, at the bottom of the first page, there was a provision for 14 days' notice being given of action being taken before the Sheriff; and this Amendment that the hon. Member for Wigton Burghs (Mr. Mark Stewart) and several other Members had given Notice of he had incorporated in the Bill. There was another Amendment by the hon. and gallant Member for Kincardineshire the greater part of which he had adopted, the only change in it being in line 23. In the Amendment given notice of the words "all just claims" occurred; and he had substituted the word "legal" for the word "just," the former being the less likely to give rise to differences of interpretation. In the latter part of that clause he had put in an Amendment of which he had given Notice on Report, carrying out the intention of an Amendment of his hon. and gallant Friend; and he considered the words he had introduced more comprehensive than those of his hon. and gallant Friend. These were the only alterations he had made in the Bill. The principle of the measure was the same as that of the Bill of last year; and his desire was to put it before the House so that they might agree to the Second Reading, and that the matter might be taken up at the point where it was left last Session. He would not occupy the time of the House by repeating any of the arguments he had used last year, because the subject had been thoroughly thrashed out, and it would be a waste of time to go over them. He had merely to add that last Session the Bill was read a second time by 204 votes against 77, or a majority of 127; and he wished particularly to point out to the House that in the division 49 Scotch Members took part, of whom 47 voted in favour of the Second Reading, only two hon. Gentlemen representing Scotch constituencies voting against it. This was a matter which ought to weigh with Members of the House, showing, as it did, how unanimously in favour of the Bill the Scotch Representatives were. He would not occupy any more time by dwelling on the subject, but would simply move that the Bill be read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Vans Agnew.)


said, that he had on former occasions expressed considerable misgivings with regard to the policy of passing the measure, especially seeing that it touched only one branch of the subject—namely, the question of rural hypothec in Scotland, leaving untouched the cognate questions of the Law of Distress in England and urban hypothec in Scotland. He had expressed his misgivings last year, and what had since happened had certainly not reduced those misgivings. His position was this—he represented an urban constituency, and a constituency that consisted of towns situated in rural districts, amongst the inhabitants of which were many merchants, who had large dealings with the farmers and with the rural people of the neighbourhood. Therefore, if it were the case that there was a grievance felt by the traders of Scotland, it would be in those towns that he represented; and feeling, as he did, that the opinion and experience of practical men must be of much greater value than his own, he had repeatedly declared in public, and he had made it known to his constituents, that, though he, personally, had great doubt as to the advisability of passing the Bill, still, if he saw a strong feeling amongst his constituents in favour of the measure, he should feel himself bound to withdraw his opposition. But he had had no representations showing that his constituents wore in favour of the proposed change in the law; and he was, therefore, bound to believe that there was no strong feeling on the subject among them. Indeed, his experience led him more and more to believe what he had always expected—that though the Bill had the reputation of being very generally approved in Scotland, the fact was that it was agitated and got up only by large and wealthy farmers, who were anxious, as far as possible, to diminish the competition of poorer men. He believed that that was a fact, and that other people who had been silent really knew very little about the effect of the Bill. He had expressed these opinions before, and he now declared that he did not withdraw them. Another consideration had presented itself before his mind with considerable force since this matter was last discussed, and which made him very unwilling to see the Bill passed. They knew that in the course of last year the subject of agricultural distress had occupied the attention of the country, and had created some considerable anxiety; and they knew that a Royal Commission was sitting on the subject. Men of great experience had inquired into the matter, and some hon. Gentlemen had visited America for the purpose of obtaining information. He himself had also visited America, and had paid considerable attention to the subject; and he had formed opinions upon the subject which might mature when the Committee reported. They were opinions subject to correction; but he had been led to entertain them, because, like a great many other people, though very far from wishing to abolish farming on a large scale, still he was of opinion that there was great room for a class of small farms in the country. Scientific men had expressed the opinion that much good might be effected by splitting up large farms into small plots, as in America, and that milk, eggs, butter, and such things, which were at present imported from abroad, could be easily produced at home. A great many millions had been spent in getting eggs from France, butter from Normandy, and agricultural supplies from other places. What, he asked, was the principal obstacle to small farms? What was the obstacle to their establishment as an experiment? He believed it was this—that landlords and landlords' agents found the difficulty of dealing with their tenants' increase in consequence of their insolvency, and matters of that kind. A landlord, who had a farm from which he got £800 or £1,000 a-year, preferred to deal with a large and solvent tenant, as he was then enabled to travel about and enjoy himself. If he were to split up that farm into eight or ten or a dozen farms his difficulties would be very much increased. He did not like to make the experiment, even though it might be profitable in the end. It appeared to him (Sir George Campbell) that the difficulty of dealing with small farms would be very much increased if this system of hypothec were abolished, because, in that case, a landlord would not be dealing with, one rich man, but a dozen poor men. He would have to see that his tenants were solvent, and take steps to see whether they had the means of paying their rents. He thought the law was favourable to small farms, and that its abolition would be a disadvantage to them, and make it less likely than it was at present that landlords would split up their estates into small holdings. For these reasons it was that, though he did not take on himself to oppose the Bill, he expressed the doubts he entertained as to the advisability of its becoming law.


said, that notwithstanding the arguments of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Sir George Campbell), whose constituents, as he said, not being agricultural, were not interested in the Bill, he still hoped the House would agree to the Second Reading. If the hon. Gentleman had had the honour of being elected for Dumbarton in 1868, he would then have found that the constituency would have been unanimously in favour of this Bill; and, therefore, his opinion would have been quite different from what it was now. If the hon. Member doubted that, he thought he would find it understood in the Burghs of Kirkcaldy. If the hon. Member thought it to his interest in that burgh to introduce urban hypothec, he ought to have the courage of his opinions, and move an Amendment. He was quite sure that if he did so he would not be returned again. The fact was there were two kinds of property, and in juxtaposition; and there could be no divided feeling in reference to the Law of Hypothec. The fact was, to abolish urban hypothec would be to injure the great body of householders, and render property less valuable in towns and cities. But the reverse was the case in counties. The unanimous feeling among the farmers of Scotland was that the present law should be abolished. It was thought by them to be injurious to their interests, in bringing people to compete with them who knew very little of farming, and increased the rents in consequence. He had to say that this was a hardship, and if ever there was a time when Parliament should lessen the burdens of the farmers it was the present moment. If the Scotch farmers did not make such an outcry as their friends on the other side of the Channel, he could assure the House that they had suffered to as great an extent as their brethren in Ireland. This was a question which had been long before the House, and which had been almost carried several times. Last year, but for the interference with Business in that House, it would have passed, and he hoped Her Majesty's Government would give it their hearty support. As being a measure generally demanded by the tenantry of Scotland, there could be no better evidence than that last year 47 Scotch Members supported the Second Reading. When he remembered that the feeling was so unanimous, although he was not prepared to say that the abolition of hypothec had the concurrence of English Members, he hoped English Members would give it their hearty support.


said, the time afforded for discussing this great question—for such it was in the opinion of Scotch farmers—was so curtailed that any remarks Scotch Members might wish to make must unavoidably be brief. He would, therefore, merely observe that when he took up the question of hypothec his object was to effect the abolition of an unjust law, injurious to the public welfare, and by its removal reconcile the interests of farmers and landlords; and he had pursued that object with a single eye to the common good. He thought nothing could be more injurious to the well-being of the country than the continuance of the feeling which prevailed in the minds of farmers and others connected with the cultivation of the soil of Scotland, and which must continue to exist while this measure remained to be dealt with. He could have wished to have had the Bill in the simple form in which he himself had introduced it—namely, with one clause simply abolishing hypothec, leaving the adjustment of differences between the landlords and tenants to the landlords and tenants themselves. His object in now rising, therefore, was not to detain the House in coming to a decision—at all events, not to make a long speech, so that other Members might not be precluded from saying a few words—but to urge Members from the counties of Scotland to accede to the Bill in its present form, leaving any Amendments which might be proposed to be made in Committee. He must, however, recognize the good service done by the hon. Member for Wigtonshire in trying to improve the Bill as originally proposed, and to recognize the fact of important Amendments having been adopted, which he (Sir George Balfour) had proposed. Still, he must say that simple abolition of a bad law was, in his opinion, the best form. Even in its present defective form he thought the Bill capable of benefiting the farmers of Scotland very greatly. There could be no doubt that the Amendments might be useful in effecting one object—that more capital would be introduced into the cultivation of the land than had hitherto been. He thought the Law of Hypothec prevented capital from being invested, and by creating security in the minds of landlords as to their rent of the land, and by combining other interests in proper stocking and better cultivation, they might expect new openings for capital by persons possessed of it having freedom of action in consequence of the abolition of the Law of Hypothec. With regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Sir George Campbell), he very much regretted to find one who represented an urban constituency criticize the agricultural measure in the way he had done, and he hoped the House would not act upon the statements he had made. On the grounds stated he should support the measure, and ask the House to accord it a Second Reading.


observed that the hon. and gallant Member who had just sat down was himself inclined to legislate on the subject last year, or the year before, and brought in a Bill which did not deal with agricultural hypothec only, but with urban hypothec also.


The noble Lord is mistaken. My Bill, as brought before the House, was simply with regard to agricultural hypothec. It was originally intended to apply to urban hypothec; but that was taken out.


Exactly so; the first Bill that the hon. and gallant Gentleman brought in was, as he (Lord Elcho) had stated, intended to deal with both subjects, agricultural and urban; but after a time the hon. and gallant General withdrew the Bill, and substituted another Bill dealing only with agricultural subjects. It would, he supposed, be a Breach of Privilege to ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman what pressure had been brought to bear upon him in order to induce him to give up the broad principle which he had first adopted. That, however, struck him as an apposite question to put to his hon. and gallant Friend. He had no wish to take up the general question, for it had been his lot to speak more than once upon the subject, and last year he had unburdened his soul fully. Certainly, he had no wish to talk the subject out—far from it—and he had not risen for that purpose. Last year he had moved an Amendment; but that Amendment was not directed against the principle of the Bill, but simply against the way in which the question was dealt with, and affirming certain truisms which never had been controverted. Those truisms were as follows:—1st, That the Law of Hypothec was the equivalent of the English and Irish Law of Distress; 2nd, that the principle of preference given by the Law of Hypothec, whether it be to the owner of houses or land, was a principle that pervaded the Commercial as well as the Land Law of this country; 3rd, that the Law of Hypothec for the rent accruing or the rent accrued was the law of every civilized country in Europe, as well as of England and Ireland, and also of America, Wurtemburg being the only civilized country in which the law did not apply; 4th, that under this law, as stated By the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Sir George Campbell) and others, small farmers had risen to be large tenants, and that had proved beneficial to the agriculture of Scotland; and, lastly, that the subject, if dealt with at all, should be dealt with as a whole, the urban hypothec being treated as well as agricultural, and the Law of Distress in England and Ireland, as well as the Law of Hypothec in Scotland. Such was the substance of his Resolution. What happened? He failed to carry it. For the first time, a Conservative Government had dealt with this question in the way which they had done. The Lord Advocate, if he might use the expression, went the whole hog. The Lord Advocate, however, although he converted himself, failed to carry along with him the majority of his Government, for on that occasion four Members of the Government voted with him and nine against the Resolution. He ventured think that this question should be dealt with in a statesmanlike, and not in a perfunctory, manner. The Bill was read a second time. No doubt the Home Secretary voted with him; but he was very much inclined to believe that the Home Secretary at the time did not know what the Law of Hypothec was. He perhaps considered it a barbarous law as compared with the Law of Distress; but, be that as it might, the conversion of the Lord Advocate and the Government led to a successful division, and the Bill was carried in its Second Reading. But there was very soon a Nemesis awaiting upon the Lord Advocate and the Government. Within a few weeks afterwards a Gentleman who represented an Irish constituency moved a Resolution against the Law of Distress, proposing that that law should be abolished. Now, the Mover had referred naturally to what had taken place in regard, to the Law of Hypothec; and how did he strengthen his position as to the removal of the Law of Distress? By proving that the Law of Hypothec, which the House of Commons had by its vote abolished—that was to say, on the representation of the Lord Advocate—was a milder law and more limited in its operation than the Law of Distress. The Mover pointed out, in favourable contrast to the Law of Distress, that the Law of Hypothec was limited to the year's crop and rent. So much for the Mover. What course did the Government take? Their Law Officer said that it was a bold proposal—a strong proposition—to abolish this law in the United Kingdom. It was, he said, one of the oldest laws, a law which worked in many ways in the interest of the tenant, and to abolish it would be injurious to the tenant. In short, ejectment would be necessary as an expedient if it were abolished, and the result of its abolition would be the payment of rent in advance. In fact, no case had been made out for abolition. That was the result of the discussion on the Law of Distress, which the Mover of the Resolution, who wished to abolish it, said was a much harsher law than the Law of Hypothec. His hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Clare Read), who voted for the abolition of the Law of Hypothec, had said that he supported the Law of Distress because it was so interwoven with our agricultural system that its repeal would be detrimental both to landlords and tenants. He would ask his hon. Friend—whom they were glad to see returned in safety across the Atlantic—whether the Law of Hypothec was not also interwoven with our agricultural system? What had the Chancellor of the Exchequer said on the Law of Distress? Speaking for the Government, he said that the question was one on which, at the first blush, they could not seem to legislate, because it touched so many interests that it would require very great deliberation. There was no necessity, in his mind, for abolishing the law, because, he said, there were points in the Law of Distress which demanded consideration. A division took place, and with what result? That all the Members of the Government, those who had voted with him (Lord Elcho), and those who voted for the abolition of the Law of Hypothec alike, and 26 Conservative Members who had voted for the repeal of hypothec, all voted for the maintenance of distress—that was to say, of a more partial and limited law. Now, what was the reason of this? The reason was given by the Lord Advocate and his hon. Friend (Mr. Vans Agnew). Simply political expediency. The Lord Advocate had given them his reason for the action of the Government—that not only were the people of Scotland almost unanimous—both tenants and landlords—in favour of the abolition of hypothec, but that the Representatives of the people in that House were practically unanimous on the point. He (Lord Elcho) thought they mistook the feeling of the people of Scotland on the point. He did not think those statements represented the real feeling of the masses of the people of Scotland. Now, his hon. Friend had said that when the tenants of England demanded the abolition of the Law of Distress, as the people of Scotland had demanded the abolition of the Law of Hypothec, he would be willing to vote for it. The argument, then, was this—that in the United Kingdom there were two distinct laws—one for one part of the country, and another for another part. They were identical, with this difference—that the one they desired to abolish was less harsh than the other. The results were the same throughout the United Kingdom, except in Ireland, where the tenure of land was different. Therefore, in a country like the United Kingdom, where, for reasons best known to themselves, the majority of the Representatives of one of the Kingdoms held that this law ought to be abolished, it must then be abolished, not in one part but another. Where would such doctrines lead them to? How about Ireland? How as to the Irish demands for fixity of tenure, reduced rent, and the like? How as to no rent in Ireland, which was the last phase of the Irish Land Question? How as to the Home Rule? If they legislated simply, not on the merits or demerits of a question, but on its applicability or non-applicability to a particular part of the country, how could they meet the demands of the Irish Members with such an argument in their mouths, doing away with the Law of Hypothec and maintaining the Law of Distress? He maintained that it was not statesmanlike. He had stopped the progress of this Bill last year, and he was not ashamed of having done so. He did so, because he thought it desirable that the Conservative Government should have time to consider before the next Session of Parliament how they were to deal with this question, and whether they were to deal with this question, and whether they would deal with it in a statesmanlike way. If the law was wrong in Scotland it was equally wrong in England and Ireland; and if it were wrong in regard to land here it was equally wrong throughout the civilized world. If it were wrong with regard to private and public interests, let them repeal it throughout the Three Kingdoms. If it were in principle sound, and the law required a few amendments, then he would say amend it, and get rid of this term which had given a bad pre-eminence to the Scottish law. But, as a Member of that House, he entered his protest against legislating on a question of that kind—which they were told, on the best authority, was interwoven with their whole system of land tenure in England, Ireland, and Scotland—in the way in which Her Majesty's Government had dealt with it. Now, it was for the Government to consider what course they would take; and he was inclined to think I that, seeing the condition of the question in Ireland, and that the question would be brought before the Royal Commission, that it would be a much wiser, a more natural, and a more statesmanlike way of dealing with the subject not to pass the Bill this year, but to wait till they got the Report of the Commission, and then consider, with that Report in view, whether they would repeal this law, or modify it and make it equal for the Three Kingdoms. He did not speak of the landlords' interest in this question—if the sun would only shine they could take care of themselves. He did not think they would suffer. He thought it more likely that the tenants would suffer. This was a matter of business. It was all very well to read of new leases given by men who had come recently to their property nominally doing away with hypothec; but he thought it would be found that those leases contained other clauses which gave, perhaps, better security to the landlord than the Law of Hypothec as it stood. At any rate, by fore-renting, by quarterly payments, by caution, and by other means and expedients, a landlord could protect himself, if he chose. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members who cheered ought to abolish distress in England as well as in Scotland. All he asked was that they should deal with this law in a statesmanlike manner, applicable to the whole Kingdom. In any case, he did not expect that those who agitated this question would derive from it the benefits they expected, for if the Law of Hypothec were abolished the landlord would only make up for his want of security by increasing the rate.


said, he would detain the House only a very short time. He quite agreed that the subject had been thrashed out, and the arguments worn threadbare; but he was, on that account, all the more astonished to hear the objection, with regard to small farmers, urged by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy. That was an argument, he believed, which was brought forward on a previous occasion by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho); but as he represented a constituency noted for the prodigious size of the farms, it had appeared to him the noble Lord reflected the opinions of himself and not of that con- stituency. The noble Lord came down to the House, and said that there were certain truisms which he ventured to lay before the House last year, and not one of which was repudiated. He must say he was astonished that the noble Lord should make such a statement when, as a matter of fact, no sooner had he sat down, than the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate got up and repudiated every single one of the propositions which the noble Lord had laid before the House. He would, however, venture to affirm one truism which might commend itself to the attention of the noble Lord, and that was that the Law of Hypothec might be rigidly defined. It was a law which offered to the landlord a premium for choosing the highest bidders and the worst farmers that the whole community could furnish. He knew that the subject had been confused by false analogies. The Lord Advocate himself had exposed some of these. The law had been compared to the lien of a shipowner on the cargo. But that was a totally distinct case, for there they had the property not passing out of the hands of the shipowner; whereas, in the case of hypothec, before the sequestration the crops never came into the hands of the landlord. As to the argument of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), with regard to small farms, he believed it had been refuted over and over again, and the refutation was to be found in the most ample form in the evidence given before the various Committees which had inquired into the question. It was not the small farmers who required the protection of the law, but the landlords who encouraged not the small farmers, but that much larger class of men who were more distinguished by their love of speculation than by their knowledge of agriculture. It was not the men who had risen from the position of ploughmen or agricultural labourers who required the protection of this law. They were generally men who, by energy, foresight, thrift, and care had been enabled to obtain possession of a farm, and who had strictly calculated the means by which they could work it with profit to themselves and to the community at large.


Sir, I have no intention to occupy the time of the House for any considerable period in asking them to read the Bill a second time, and I should not have had anything to say but for the observations which have fallen from the noble Lord below the Gangway (Lord Elcho). The noble Lord has kindly referred to me as a "convert;" but I should like to be informed to what I am a convert, and when I was converted. I stated to the House last year that I did not hesitate to say that it had all along been my opinion that no case had been made out for the Law of Hypothec, and no good argument adduced for its maintenance. I have heard a good deal upon the subject, and have the greatest possible satisfaction in informing the noble Lord that though listening attentively and carefully, and with the full consideration which is due to arguments from the noble Lord, I have never felt in the slightest terror of conversion. The noble Lord has also referred to a statement of mine in regard to rack rents in Scotland. I wish he had either remained long enough in the House to hear what I had to say on the subject, or had perused my former speech in the report ofHansard,because the hon. Member for Banffshire (Mr. R. W. Duff) gave me an opportunity to explain that statement. What I said was, that I did not mean that the land was rented at an extortionate rate, but that it was generally rented at its full market value. To that opinion I still adhere, and I do not believe that in this matter the agriculturists of Scotland stand in the same position as their brethren in England. I quite admit that the questions of distress and hypothec are intimately bound up with the Land Laws of the country, and I also believe that you should not touch any portion of those Land Laws without full and due consideration; but, on the other hand, I dispute the proposition that, so far as Scotland is concerned, the question of hypothec has not undergone full consideration. That is not so, however, with the Law of Distress, and I did not understand that many of those who voted in the majority on the last occasion did so on the ground that the Law of Distress ought to be maintained, but that inquiry should be made in the matter; and that I understood to be the meaning of the words cited by the noble Lord. I farther say confidently that this question has been finally considered by landlords and tenants in relation to the Land Laws of Scotland, and that the conclusion they have come to is, I will not say absolutely, but practically, a unanimous conclusion—namely, that the Law of Hypothec may be safely eliminated from our system. That conclusion having been arrived at, I do not think this House should interpose between a wish for legislation in this direction, because it is right and proper for other countries to overhaul their systems of Land Laws and make up their minds on the subject before we obtain any alterations. I will not follow the arguments of the noble Lord addressed to hon. Members below the opposite Gangway; but with regard to the old objection that urban hypothec is not also dealt with in this Bill, the law in that case differs in most vital respects from the Law of Agricultural Hypothec. It is not considered an expedient or a necessary condition of things in every country that everybody should have a farm; but it is a necessary condition of things in Scotland, owing to our law against vagrancy. It is necessary that every person shall have a house over his head who does not mean to be either in the workhouse or the police station. Accordingly, I believe there are a large number of people who are able to secure by means of the Law of Hypothec that they may become lessees of a house, who, but for that law, would be driven to a very disagreeable alternative; but to speak of the two things as depending on the same principle is altogether a mistake. I say nothing of that particular law. It may demand investigation; but it differs in principle from the Law of Agricultural Hypothec.


said, he would support the Second Reading of the Bill; but he appealed to the Lord Advocate to give his particular attention, before the House went into Committee on the Bill, to the 2nd clause. With the exception, perhaps, of the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho), and the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), he believed that there existed on the part of Scotch Members a general wish to abolish the Law of Hypothec in Scotland; but in doing that he understood the position of the landlords to be exactly the same as that of seed merchants, manure merchants, blacksmiths, or tradesmen. It seemed to him that they did not want to put the landlord in any other position. That, he understood, was the general desire. But he would like the Lord Advocate to tell him this—if a man entered into an agreement with a tenant, and made it part of the bargain that the tenant should forfeit his right if he got into arrears for 12 months, he had no means of carrying out that agreement—he meant no summary means. He wanted the learned Lord to give his attention to that particular point, as it was a matter which must be dealt with by some Scotch law. He simply wished to see the landlord put in his proper position in the matter, and, as he understood the 2nd clause of the Bill, it would not do so. He accordingly appealed to the Lord Advocate to put the law in such a state that if two parties entered into an equitable agreement they might be able to carry it out, so that when a tenant got into arrears a landlord should have a summary means of getting rid of him according to his agreement.


thought the law was sufficiently explicit on the point referred to by the hon. Member. He thought the Bill was considerably improved since it was presented last Session. There was only one point to which he wished to refer, and to call the attention of the Lord Advocate. He thought it was quite clear—and if it was so the Bill would have his best support—that when a landlord ejected a tenant he would be bound to pay him for the crops which were on the ground. He understood that that was the object of the right hon. and learned Gentleman; and he believed that if that was provided the Bill would be very much in accordance with the wishes of the people of Scotland.


thought the present was the best Bill on Hypothec which he had seen. It had been very much improved since it had come before the House on a previous occasion. He had never been in favour of the abolition of the Law of Hypothec himself; and he only wished to say that he very much feared that if the Bill became law the tenants in Scotland would not derive that benefit from it they expected.

Motionagreed to.

Bill read a second time, andcommittedforTuesdaynext.