§ Mr. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether Her Majesty's Government propose to deal this Session with the two recommendations made by the Richmond Commission 11 years ago, that there should be in agricultural holdings a division of rates between the owner and the occupier, and that the fraudulent sale of adulterated manures and feeding staffs should be, so far as possible, prevented, and will exclude front the scope of the Reference to the Select Committee about to be moved for these and other matters which have been already inquired into and made the subject of specific recommendations; and whether, having, regard to the urgency of the agricultural distress, and the necessity for action at the earliest moment, the Reference to the Committee will be restricted to the consideration of the amendment of the Agricultural Holdings Acts, Tithe Acts, and other matters which can be reported upon within a short period?
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will explain to the House the nature of the precedent. of 1836 which guides him in his agricultural inquiry; whether the inquiry will he by Royal Commission, by a Depart- 891 mental Committee, or by a Committee of the House; whether it will be stationary or ambulatory, if it is not entirely composed of Members of Parliament; and whether the agricultural labourer will be represented on it as well as the landlord and the farmer?
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeen, E.)
I will also ask whether the proposed agricultural inquiry of the Government will include Scotland in its scope?
§ *MR. GARDNER
With regard to the first portion of my hon. Friend's inquiry, I may at once assure him that the Government strongly favour the recommendation of the Richmond Commission with regard to the division of rates between owner and occupier. With regard to the Committee which it is proposed to appoint, I have to say that the inquiry instituted by Lord Melbourne's Government in 1836 was conducted by means of a Parliamentary Committee appointed—To inquire, into the state of Agriculture and into the causes and extent of the distress which exists in some important branches thereof.The Committee when appointed would' I suppose, determine for themselves the particular lines upon which they should proceed, and it does not seem desirable that any matter bearing on the general question committed to them should be excluded from their consideration. They would however, I should suppose, focus their attention in the first place on matters in regard to which practical action appears most feasible, and they would naturally take into account the results of previous inquiries and the declared intention of the Government on such subjects as those to which my hon. Friend the Member for Northamptonshire refers. The inquiry will naturally include Scotland in its scope. I ought to have added that I am engaged in the preparation of a Bill dealing with the subject of Fertilizers and Feeding Stuffs, which I hope shortly to lay on the Table.
§ MR. CHANNING
I beg to give notice that when the President of the Board of Agriculture moves for the Committee I will propose to restrict the inquiry within definite limits, and to instruct the Committee to report within a given period.