§ MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
asked the Secretary for Scotland, Whether Her Majesty's Government will consent to the appointment of a Royal Commission, or otherwise, to inquire into the present condition of tenant farmers and crofters in Scotland, who complain of loss by being bound under nineteen years leases, contracted and entered upon prior to the recent exceptional and apparently permanent fall in the price of agricultural products, with a view to legislation on the subject when Parliament again meets?
§ THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
in reply, said, that as regarded the crofters, their case had already been considered, and the House had resolved not to interfere with their leases. As regarded the farmers, the Government did not, as at present advised, think any public advantage would be gained by an inquiry into the causes which had made, or which might make, contracts freely entered into by private parties onerous to one or other of the contracting parties, nor did they think that such an inquiry, if instituted, could be confined to the case of landlords and tenants; at the same time, for his own part, he was of opinion that landlords would do well to revise the terms of their leases, in order to see how far a modification of the original contracts was desirable under existing circumstances. He believed that this was being done all over Scotland.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman was not aware that certain counties in the Highlands were excluded from the benefits of the Crofters Act; and whether the present Government would remedy this defect in the Act?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that he was aware that the tenants on small leases were not crofters under the definition adopted in the Crofters Act; but the question whether they should be included in that definition was very fully discussed when the Bill was before the House.