HC Deb 23 March 1891 vol 351 cc1691-707
*(5.20.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

I shall not occupy the attention of the House at any great length, as the question I have to submit lies in a nutshell, and after the Debate on the Small Holdings Bill and the speech of the President of the Board of Agriculture (Mr. Chaplin) I am quite sure he will approach the subject with which I have to deal in a friendly and sympathetic spirit. One of the main objects of the Sale of Glebes Act was to promote the acquisition of plots of land by cottagers and labourers in rural districts. In 1888 a measure was introduced into the House of Lords to enable the sale of glebes, and when the Bill came down to that House it slipped through its various stages without observation till it reached the Third Reading. At that stage it came under my notice, and I moved to recommit the Bill for the purpose of adding two clauses. One aimed at greater publicity, requiring that before the sale of a glebe there should be public inquiry in the parish, so that the villagers and labourers might become purchasers; the other to enable a portion of the purchase money to be left on mortgage, repayable by instalments. The Secretary for War (Mr. E. Stanhope), who had charge of the Bill, objected to my proposal, and it was rejected. I then moved the rejection of the Bill, stating that in my belief no sales would ever take place to labouring people under the measure as it stood, and that it would be futile and useless for the object it had in view. The Secretary of State for War replied that— The Government desired these glebes should he sold in small plots, and he had no hesitation in saying that he believed the measure, in many parts of the country, would not only enable them to be sold in small plots, bat would lead to their being acquired by labourers. More than two years have now elapsed since the passing of the Act, and a recent Return laid before the House shows that my predictions have been verified. 75 glebes have been sold, and there are about 50 more in various stages of negotiation. Of the 75 glebes 67 have been sold in single lots, 45 to the principal landowner of the district; only four have been sold in six or more lots; and not a single lot has been sold to a labouring man or artisan. The Act has, therefore, failed in respect of one of its main objects. To what extent that failure might have been avoided by the administration of the Board of Agriculture I am unable to say, but I cannot but think that the Board might, to some extent if not wholly, have remedied the defects of the Act. One of the principal causes of its failure has been the want of publicity. My proposal was that there should be a meeting in the parish at which the wishes of the people might be ascertained. Although the Act contains no clause on this point I hold it would be quite within the competence of the Land Commission to direct an inquiry of this kind to be held. Publicity, I believe, is now given by means of notices exhibited on the Church doors and at the Post Office previous to the sale of glebe land, but no local inquiry is held. Then, again, with regard to leaving any of the purchase money on mortgage. In a rural district very few labourers or village artisans would be able to advance the whole of the purchase money. I do not know whether the Land Commissioners would have power to make any arrangement of this kind, but when the failure of the Act in this respect becomes manifest, I think the President of the Board of Agriculture should have applied for an amending Act, and arrangements might be made through the Ecclesiastical Commission for allowing a portion of the purchase money to remain on mortgage. In some cases, no doubt, the glebes are in position unsuitable for small holdings, remote from the village; but in such cases, where they are bought by the principal landowner of the district, arrangements might be made for the exchange for other land more suitable for the purpose. There is a very good illustration of this in the case of the glebe of Abinger. In this case the glebe was in the centre of a residential property, remote from the village, and unsuitable for many reasons for labourers' allotments or cottages. On the other hand, there is the greatest want in other parts of the parish of land suitable for cottages and gardens for the labouring people. The principal owner of the parish, who desired to acquire the glebe, offered to exchange land near to the village of equal value more suitable for small plots. This was refused. The public opinion of the district was very adverse to the sale of the glebe without such exchange, and the Vestry passed a resolution against it. On the other hand, the rector called a ticket meeting of his friends, and sent a deputation of them to the Land Commission. The Land Commission refused the offer of the landowner, and the land was sold by auction for villa residences at a considerable price. The income of the rector, already quite sufficient for his duties, was largely increased, but no public benefit resulted from the sale; no plots have been sold to the labouring people, and there is greater difficulty than ever in providing cottages and gardens for the labouring people in the village. The correspondence in this case, and especially the letters of Sir Thomas Farrer to the Board of Agriculture, would throw a great deal of light on the subject; but the President of the Board of Agriculture has refused to lay them before the House. In another case, a letter which I have recently received from a small village tradesman will show the kind of difficulty which exist in carrying out the intentions of the Act. He writes to me— I see by the papers that you intend to speak in Parliament about the sale of glebes. In this parish all the land and houses in the village belong to our squire. Many of the village tradesmen and labourers would like to be independent and to be owners of small plots of land to cultivate or build on, and some have money to do so and others if helped by loans. But when the glebe here was to he sold it was put about that the squire meant to buy at any price, and we thought it useless to compete with him or to offer for the land. We think a preference should be given to people in our position in such a case, at a fair market value. I could illustrate my case by other communications I have received, complaining of want of publicity and of want of facilities. It is not, however, necessary to go further into detail. It cannot be denied that the Act that has totally failed in respect of one of its main objects. It is not necessary to decide whether this is due to the defect of the Act or the defect of its administration. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture has announced that the Government intend to introduce a measure for facilitating the acquisition of small holdings. I think Le will agree with me that until that measure is carried, and until District Councils are formed which can facilitate such purchases by loans we ought not to allow any more of these glebes to be sold. For my part, I hold that these lands in mortmain afford by far the best opportunity for trying an experiment in this direction, and think not an acre of them should be sold for the present except for this purpose. I am certain, also, that Parliament would never have allowed the Sale of Glebes Act to pass unless it had been assured that it would result in the multiplication of small owners, and if it had foreseen that it could merely add to the existing land monopoly. Under these circumstances, I feel certain that I can appeal with confidence to the Government to accept the spirit of my Motion.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the sale of Glebes under 'The Glebe Lands Act, 1888,' should be suspended until greater facilities are afforded for their purchase in small plots by agricultural labourers and artisans, in accordance with the intentions of the Act,"—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre,)

—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

*(5.44.) SIR J. SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)

I am glad the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford has brought this subject before the House. The main principle of the Act of 1888 is to effect sales for the benefit of the benefices, and the Commissioners are bound to get the best prices they can, and the only way to obtain this is to put the land up to auction, when they are bound to accept the highest bidder, whether that offer is made by an adjoining landowner or any other solvent person. That, I consider, a great blot on the Bill of 18S8. The second blot is that, after the land is sold, the incumbent or the owner of the advowson is obliged to invest the money under Section 4 in Railway Debentures or Metropolitan Board of Works Stock or Consols, which do not yield more than 3 per cent. interest, and therefore it necessarily follows that the incumbent must get a high price for the land, a price above the real agricultural value, in order that he may not be a loser in his income through having to invest in Stock paying such a low rate of interest. I would suggest to Her Majesty's Government that they should amend this, and it would really be in favour of the incumbent——


The hon. Member must not proceed to discuss Amendments of the Act; the question now is the administration of the Act, the expenses of which are voted in Committee of Supply.


I will only point out that distinctly there would be an advantage in giving publicity to these sales by means of advertisement, and also I think an inquiry might be held prior to a sale of glebe which anybody interested might attend. A large portion of the purchase money also might be allowed to remain on mortgage. I do not agree altogether with the suggestion that the operation of the Act should be suspended immediately; because the great bulk of the glebe lands which have been sold have been a long way from the villages and are quite unfit for occupation by labourers. It is quite impossible for a labouring man to take an allotment for cultivation more than a mile from his cottage. In a great number of cases an adjoining proprietor has bought the land because it lies in the middle of his property. Landed proprietors have not, unfortunately, usually a large balance at their bankers, and the natural result is that a proprietor has to sell other land in another part of his estate in order to provide the funds for the purchase of the glebe land because it is advantageously situated, thus indirectly leading to small portions of land, situated suitably for allotments and small holdings, being thrown upon the market. The real fact is, these glebe lands are sold to the best advantage of the incumbent, and so long as the Act is in its present form I do not see how its operation can be otherwise.

*(5.48.) MR. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.)

I think we are indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for bringing this matter forward. There is no doubt that the Glebe Lands Act of 1888 was primarily a measure of relief for the clergy. That was the intention and object of the Act. Clergymen had glebe lands unlet in various parts of England, and the difficulty was to cultivate this land. In some cases a large part of the income of the clergy is derived from these lands; that is to say, at the time of the commutation of tithe land was transferred in lieu of tithe, and the glebe in some parishes is very considerable. In consequence of the agricultural depression the clergy have been unable to let the land, and being unacquainted with agricultural operations, and being-short of capital the result has been the land has been a considerable incumbrance instead of being a source of income. So the Act was passed for the purpose of affording the clergy in such cases the opportunity of getting rid of the property. No doubt there was an idea in the minds of some hon. Members, and, probably, more especially in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman who has brought forward this Motion, that the glebe land might be cut into small parcels and sold to agricultural labourers and others desirous of acquiring small holdings. That, no doubt, was in the minds of Members when the Act was passed; but I am afraid there is no machinery in the Act to enable that to be done effectively. The duty of the Commissioners is to sell the land at the best price they can obtain. That is their primary duty; but I think that they might, as far as possible, combine with the exercise of that duty encouragement to persons, who desire to cultivate small holdings, to come forward as purchasers. I do not know whether under the Act a portion of the purchase money might be left on the security of the land itself; but, if not, it is desirable that some provision of the kind should be embodied in an amending Act. This discussion may lead to the Government considering the desirability of amending the Act, giving power to the Board of Agriculture to make arrangements whereby glebe lands may be sold in small parcels to purchasers for amounts payable by convenient instalments. I appreciate the difficulty there is in making this Glebe Lands Act directly available for the creation of small holdings, but there was an idea that it would operate in that direction, and I hope the Government will seriously consider this matter in connection with their contemplated Bill, to facilitate the creation of small holdings. In most cases the glebe is good land, and at a convenient distance from the village, thus fulfilling one of the conditions the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chaplin) laid down the other day as absolutely essential in the creation of small holdings. I admit that when I road the Return of sales under the Act I was very much disappointed. I did hope that it would have led to small holdings, but, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, the land has been mainly sold in large parcels to adjoining owners. Now, that is an unsatisfactory result, for most of us desired that the number of small landowners should be increased, and the House has committed itself to a policy of de voting £5,000,000 for the creation of small holdings. It does seem to me, having gone so far, we might well give practical effect to that policy by turning our attention to these glebe lands. The Act is not working satisfactorily. The laud has, no doubt, been sold at a good price, and the sales have been beneficial to the clergy; but the sales have been to large owners, not to that class of persons we desire to see in possession of land throughout the country. I believe the general feeling in the House will be in favour of an amendment of the Act by providing machinery which will enable the land to be sold in small parcels, and that the sales will be conducted after full notice, and with encouragement to persons of small means to become purchasers.

*(5.56.) MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

I think the right hon. Gentleman is amply justified in raising this question, and the time is opportune when we remember that it is only a few days ago that the Government assented to the Second Reading of a Small Holdings Bill, and are themselves pledged to introduce a Bill of their own dealing with small holdings. The Glebe Lands Act was a wise and just measure. I know many clergymen who are good farmers, and many who are not, but whose benevolent intentions exceed their agricultural knowledge. To my knowledge many of them are promoting useful work among labourers in regard to allotments, but, as we are well aware, the great incentive to success in these small holdings is the prospect of being the owner. In position and in quality these glebe lands are generally well adapted for small holdings, and they should be brought within the reach of small purchasers. In the Return of Sales last year I see one instance in which glebe land of 47 acres was sold to ten purchasers for £712. This was in the parish of Landford, Wiltshire. It would be interesting to have some information as to this, apparently the only, instance in which the Act has been of use in bringing the land within the reach of landowners. In this Act we have the beginning of the use of the power of the State to transfer the land to those who wish to use it for agricultural purposes. There are between 600,000 and 700,000 acres of glebe lands, the rent of which is £900,000 or £1,000,000 a year. These lands form an important section of the country which we contemplate using in the development of the policy of small holdings. I hops this discussion will show on which side of the House there is a real and earnest desire to meet the wants of labourers in regard to giving them the most available lands. When we have seen Her Majesty's Government forced by political exigencies into accepting a small holdings proposal made by some of their dissentient Liberal friends, we may challenge them to say whether they will deal with the Glebe Lands Act and its administration by an amending Bill, which will provide machinery for rendering available for the labourers and small artisans of our villages lands which are most convenient and suitable to their use.

*(6.1.) MR. F. S. STEVENSON (Suffolk, Eye)

The right hon. Member for Bradford certainly deserves the thanks of the House for having inaugurated this discussion, and it is to be hoped what he has said may be taken to heart at the Board of Agriculture. It may be that the consideration which ought to be uppermost in the minds of the Land Commissioners is to sell the glebe lands to the highest bidder; but it seems doubtful whether Section 8 of the Glebe Lands Act does not militate against that view, and whether more strenuous efforts ought not to be made to secure a development of the system of small holdings out of the glebe lands. There is no doubt that the profit incumbents obtain by sale is considerably more than the profit they make by farming the land themselves. Therefore, there is every inducement to incumbents to part with the glebes if the opportunity presents itself, and they would not be human if they resisted the temptation offered them. But I think a certain duty devolves upon the Board of Agriculture and the Land Commissioners, and that is to make every effort to secure that the utmost publicity is given to the sales. I would also like to ask the Board of Agriculture whether they will not consider some scheme by which a portion of the purchase money may in certain cases remain on mortgage? If the President of the Board of Agriculture could accept such a provision, I think the Act might be turned to some good account; otherwise, the probability is, that much of the property which consists of glebe lands will be sacrificed. Amongst the records of sale there is one to which attention has been called already. It was the case of 38 acres of land at Saxlingham, Norfolk. The land was sold for £112, or rather less than £3 per acre. That was a ridiculously small sum, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman could give the House some further information in regard to the matter. Unless the circumstances were extremely exceptional, I cannot but think, if there had been more publicity given of the sale, some person would have been willing to purchase some portion of the glebe lands for the purposes of small holdings. It is only in the case of land situated in or near villages that there is a probability of land being wanted for small holdings; and until there is an increasing demand, and an increasing demand can only arise owing to increased publicity being given to the sales, and facilities being afforded for the acquisition of the land, the President of the Board of Agriculture might well consider whether the proposition of the right hon. Member for Bradford would not be that which would in the long run be most conducive not only to the interest of the benefices themselves, but also of those who are to be created small holders.


I have no cause whatever to complain of the tone of the Debate, and I sympathise very much with a great deal which has fallen from hon. Gentlemen opposite. I share their regret that one of the objects which Parliament had in view in passing-the Glebe Lands Act has not been effected. It is true one of the objects the promoter had in view, not the main object, in which the right hon. Gentleman was not quite accurate, was to provide facilities for acquiring small portions of land by cottagers and others, and, though it is not accurate to say that there is no case in which it has occurred, it is the fact that out of the entire number of sales we have only two instances in which the land has come into the hands of the labouring classes. I wish, however, to correct some misapprehensions with reference to the administration of the Act. According to the right hon. Gentleman, no sufficient notice is given when glebe lands are sold. Unless I am entirely misinformed, ample notice has been given on every occasion; so much so that, according to one of the Reports submitted to the House, the actual form of the notice was published in each case. The section of the Act was quoted, and communications from the residents in the neighbourhood on the question of the proposed sale were invited. Having inquired into the matter myself, I believe that, so far as notice is concerned, everything has been done that can be done under the terms of the Act for the promotion of the acquisition of small holdings. The right hon. Gentleman has called attention to the case of Abinger. If I had had notice from the right hon. Gentleman I should have been able to deal with the case much more fully and satisfactorily than is possible at a moment's notice. As no fewer than 108 sales of glebes have taken place since the Act came into force, it is manifestly impossible for me to carry all the particulars in my head. In the case of Abinger, the right hon. Gentleman said that a great opportunity was lost. The right hon. Gentleman must be entirely misinformed, for I myself know perfectly well that a long and somewhat acrimonious correspondence occurred between the incumbent and the Board of Agriculture before I was in charge of that Department. I remember that in one of his letters the incumbent stated that there was no land suitable for allotments. I believe that some of the land was suitable for artisans of the higher class.


What I stated was that the land itself was unsuitable, but that a great proprietor of the district was ready to exchange for it land which was extremely suitable.


I believe that is quite accurate. The landed proprietor referred to was perfectly willing to give facilities, and the Board of Agriculture was exceedingly desirous that it should be done, but, owing to unfortunate disputes in the parish between some of the residents, the only thing that could be done was to put the land up to auction at the best price that could be got, and unfortunately none was obtained for allotments. The right hon. Gentleman is of opinion that the Board of Agriculture should give a preferential right to labourers. [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE: At fair market value.] Then I fail to see how you are to give a preferential right. If we had adopted this course there would have been good ground for complaining of the administration of the Act, because it is expressly provided in the Act that before the land is offered in small parcels, or to the Local Authority for the purpose of small holdings, the Board of Agriculture is to be satisfied that the price of the land will not be diminished thereby. How, then, would it be possible, in accordance with the terms of the Act, to give a preferential right to agricultural labourers or any other class? To do so would be acting in opposition to the terms of the Act, and had I adopted the course which he suggests to me, then, indeed, the Board would have been deserving of the censure which he passes upon it. I should like to put before the House what are the precise facts with which we have to deal. Since the Act came into force in 1888 glebe land belonging to 64 different benefices in 24 English and in three Welsh counties have been sold in 108 different lots, making an average of 12½ acres. The sum realised by these sales was £81,845, averaging £60 per acre, and affording an increase in the income of the 64 benefices of something like 60 per cent. Let me remind the House that the first object of the promoters of the Act was to benefit incumbents. The view of the promoters was that, in consequence of the long period of agricultural depression and the great hardship suffered by the clergy, some efforts should be made for their relief, and a Bill was introduced in order to enable them to sell glebe lands. As far as that part of the Act is concerned it cannot, therefore, be contended that it has been a failure. And then as to the wider distribution of the land in small parcels there remains the fact that 108 sales have been effected with the general result that the average purchases have been 12½ acres. Although I admit that that does not prove that parts of these lands have been sold to the agricultural classes, it cannot be said that the Act has failed in the degree many hon Gentlemen have said. The right hon. Gentleman took some credit to himself for his prescience in predicting that unless some additions were made to the Act it would be a failure. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that it was the Prime Minister who first drew attention to this. His proposal was that more land, if possible, should be brought within the reach of the agricultural classes throughout the country, and this scheme was propounded as a means of dealing with glebe lands and to see whether this object could not be attained.


I said that Lord Salisbury had first propounded the idea of selling glebe lands for the purpose of making labourers' holdings.


Yes; but the Prime Minister took occasion at the same time to offer a word of warning as to whether on economic grounds it was likely that any great quantity of land would in the long run pass into the hands of the agricultural labourers, and he expressed great doubt upon that point. The fact is, that if people do not want or are unable to buy land, no legislation which can be passed will compel them to buy it. The proposals of hon. Gentlemen opposite are to the effect that money should be left to be paid by instalments. Why? Because it is for a great public object. Very good; then the burden should be borne by the public, not by the State; and it should not fall on the unfortunate incumbent, who may possibly need his money for other purposes.


The right hon. Gentleman misunderstands my proposition. My suggestion was that money should be left on mortgage and might be repaid by instalments. It never occurred to me to deprive the incumbent of reasonable interest on the unpaid instalments.


I never supposed that the hon. Member intended to go as far as that, but the Act provides certain methods in which the purchase-money may be invested; and the hon. Member suggests that, instead of the money being invested in the manner prescribed by the Act, it should be invested and left to be paid by instalments, on a security which the incumbent may not consider to be a good one, and which is not provided for in the Act. What is the kind of security offered to the incumbent? When allotments and small holdings were provided at first, they were exceedingly popular; but that is not always the case. I was talking only yesterday to a great proprietor in the Midlands, not a member of the Tory Party, but a man of advanced and even of extreme opinions, belonging to the Party who sit on that side of the House; and he told me of a case where many small holdings and allotments were made by him a few years ago, in order to satisfy a demand then current in this neighbourhood. This demand has fallen off since then, and the small holdings have been given up and thrown on his hands. That might be the experience of the incumbents, who might eventually be saddled with various half-acres of land as a security, which might turn out to be of very little value. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) proposes that the Act should be suspended until greater facilities have been provided for the acquisition of land by agricultural labourers. I should be glad to consider any plan for promoting such facilities, although I cannot say that I have received much information, or derived much encouragement from anything that has fallen upon that point from hon. Gentlemen opposite to-night; but I do not think that the absence of these facilities offers any justification for the proposal to suspend the operation of the Act for the future. In its main object the Act has certainly not been unsuccessful. The right hon. Gentleman was correct in saying that there were 600,000 acres of glebe land in this country which could be sold under the Act. In three years, out of 600,000 acres, all that have been sold are 1,200 acres for £81,000. Even supposing we proceed at that rate of progress for the next five or ten years, there will still be quite sufficient glebe land left for the future to come under the operation of any plan to be devised to meet the views of Gentlemen opposite, and I certainly can see no justification for accepting the Motion, which would have the effect of suspending the operation of the Act. I must therefore oppose the Resolution.

*(6.30.) MR. COBB (Warwick, S.E., Rugby)

I have only risen to raise a point on which I shall be glad if the President of the Local Government Board would say a word or two. I cannot quite agree with the arguments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). No doubt this Act was passed in order to benefit the incumbents, and I understand that it has done so, because the incumbents were formerly exposed to great trouble and anxiety, and occasionally had to suffer a good deal of poverty in consequence of the great uncertainty which existed as to the amounts they were to receive, and the small amounts they did obtain at times as compared with what they had anticipated. Since the Act has been passed an Incumbent, when he sells his glebe, is not subject to the uncertainty which formerly attached to the annual value of the agricultural land. He gets a certain income, and he knows whether it is large or small, and what arrangements he can make. I agree that it is the duty of the Commissioners under the Act to get the utmost value they can for the property, and I should be very sorry if the labourers, simply because they happen to be poor, were to be allowed to buy land at a less price than other people. I do not agree with the suggestion as to leaving a portion of the purchase-money on mortgage. I do not think that that is desirable in the case of the labouring men, and further I think it clear, as pointed out by the Minister for Agriculture, that if the money were allowed to remain on mortgage, either wholly or in part, one of the main objects of the Act would be defeated. If the money was left on mortgage, one of the requirements of the Act that the Commissioners should invest it at the request of the incumbent in buying other land could not be carried out; but the point I wish to bring before the House is this: Under Section 8 of the Act there is a difference between Sub-section 1 and Sub-section 2. Subsection I says it shall be the duty of the Land Commissioners, in giving their approval to a sale under this Act, to require that the land or some part of it shall be offered in small portions, or that they shall sell it to the Sanitary Authority of the district for allotment purposes under the Act of 1887. It also says that they are to satisfy themselves in every case that such offer is not at a lower price than can be obtained for such agricultural land. Subsection 2 gives directions for certain notices of sale to be given, and it seems to me that that sub-section does not override Sub-section 1, and that it is the duty of the Commissioners in every case either to offer the land for sale in small parcels, or if they do not do that, to satisfy themselves that the Sanitary Authority of the district does not wish to purchase the land at a price which is not less than would be obtained from other persons for the same property. I wish to ask the President of the Local Government Board this question: whether in all these cases the Rural Sanitary Authority has had the opportunity given to it by the Commissioners of purchasing this land under the Act of 1887? because if this has not been done it is clear the Act has not been administered as it was intended to be administered.

(6.35.) MR. HALLET STEWART (Lincolnshire, Spalding)

Before the right hon. Gentleman rises to answer the question put by my hon. Friend, I wish to raise this point as to the administration of the Act. Assuming the answer to my hon. Friend's question to be in the affirmative, would it not be practicable to combine with the Act the suggestions that have been made from this Bench as to the Sanitary Authority being enabled to undertake payments by instalments for the land which is purchased for agricultural and labourers' allotments. Although it might be impossible for incumbents to sell their land to Tom, Dick, or Harry, and run the risk of his credit, it would be a totally different thing if, instead of substituting the individual agricultural labourer as the creditor of the glebe, you were to substitute the Sanitary Authority, because the Sanitary Authority is able to borrow money from the Government on the security of the rates of the district. If it is good enough for the Government to lend money to the Sanitary Authority, surely it is good enough for the incumbent to accept this arrangement.


I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that he is now advocating an alteration of the Act of Parliament, which is going beyond the scope of the Resolution that has been submitted to the House.


I am much obliged to you, Mr. Speaker, for the correction, but although I may not have made myself clear, I was merely suggesting that there is within the four corners of the Act sufficient power for the Commissioners to lend to the Sanitary Authority, and that they might be forgiven for doing so, inasmuch as it may have been the intention of the Act that this should be done.

*(6.38.) MR. CHAPLIN

I can only speak again by the indulgence of the House. But perhaps I may be allowed to reply to the questions addressed to the Government. I speak from memory, but I believe I am right in saying that in every case where a glebe has been sold it has been invariably offered, either in small parcels, or to the Local Authority, for the purpose of allotments in the first instance. I may also add that there have been several cases in which invitations have been sent to the Sanitary Authority, but in which there has not only been no response to the invitation, but where the answer sent back has been that they preferred to have nothing to do with it.


I am afraid that what I have said with regard to the sale of the land has been misunderstood. I did not intend to intimate that the land should be sold for less than its true value. In fact, I maintained that the land ought to be sold at its full value, and that the proper way of carrying it out would be to ascertain, in the first place, what the full value was, and then to offer it to the agricultural labourers of the district at that value. Unless this is done, and the land then put up to auction in the district, my belief is that the agricultural labourers will not be able to purchase. But after the speech which has just fallen from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who gave no hope of any alteration being made in the Act, or of the introduction of any other measure, for the purpose of amending it, I must divide the House upon the Resolution.

(6.42.) The House divided:—Ayes 131; Noes 67.-(Div. List, No. 101.)

Main Question again proposed.

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