HC Deb 18 July 1898 vol 62 cc205-11

Order for Third Reading read.

SIR W. FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)

Before this Bill passes I should like to say a few words upon it. When the Bill was under discussion for the Second Reading, some honourable Members took exception to it upon certain grounds. Now, I do not wish to press those points in connection with the Third Reading of this Bill, but I do desire to emphasise another point which does arise in connection with this—namely, that under certain circumstances the facilities for the sale of land are likely to interfere with the housing and the subsistence of the poor in many of our rural districts. From time immemorial colleges have been letting their land, on life leases, and these life leases have been renewed on the payment of adequate sums, and the owners of these particular lands or houses have gone to create a custom or kind of security in the occupation of small holders of land or tenants. The habit, however, has now become common of not renewing those life leases, and the refusal has been causing great hardship and has been resented in many villages. There was the case of a small village with a population of some seven or eight hundred, a large number of whom were dependent on the particular college in giving them life leases for their little homes. They were not agricultural labourers, but they carried on occupations in this particular locality, and they lived in houses which they themselves and their predecessors had held for many generations. It was determined to sell this land, and the whole of this population would practically have been driven into the neighbouring towns, and would have been rendered homeless by the selling of this land to a private owner. A neighbouring landlord was, however, able to come forward and plant them on another particular piece of land. Now, what happened in that case might happen in other cases without a neighbouring landlord being willing to provide for the inhabitants of the locality in a similar way to this. The question of rural housing is a very important one, and we have all over the country instances of a most discreditable character, and the tendency is when estates pass into private ownership to pull down the dwellings as old houses and not to spend money on them, as their only desire is to maintain so many houses as are just necessary to accommodate the people who cultivate the land. But when you have other persons living there by other means it is very often not to their advantage to keep those tenants in the villages, and so they swell the large population of our towns. In a Bill like this we should endeavour to put into it some clause that will stop this practice. A similar question was raised 10 years ago, and a clause to this effect was introduced in another place, and to that clause I want to call the attention of the right honourable Gentleman who has charge of the Bill, in order to elicit from him some pledge that he will make a similar provision to stop the process of rural depopulation. In the Glebe Lands Act of 1888 there is a clause for facilitating the acquisition of land by cottagers, labourers and others, and it would be advisable to insert it in this Measure. It prevents them from sustaining any loss, and it gives these occupiers or tenants on the estate security that they shall not be dispossessed of their means of livelihood, and thus be driven into the towns. Proposals like this are worthy of encouragement, because they are the means of sending people into the rural districts, and are also the means of keeping up that peasantry which we have endeavoured to keep up by passing the Allotments Act and the Small Holdings Act. There is also another point which I should like the right honourable Gentleman to give us information upon. Some colleges are charged alike for charitable purposes, and the land may not be sold without the consent of the Board of Agriculture. I think that in the sale of ail lands connected with charities it would be well to consult the Charity Commissioners and to obtain their sanction to the sale before any lands specially devoted to charitable purposes on the college estates could be sold. This is not provided for in the Bill of which the right honourable Gentleman is going to ask the House to pass the Third Reading.


The remarks of the honourable Gentleman appear to apply to any Bill dealing with the question of the land, and I think it would be unfair to the owners of this particular property to impose upon them any special disabilities in regard to the sale of their properties which do not come under the general law for other owners. The honourable Gentleman has suggested that a clause should be added from the Glebe Lands Act. Now, in the first place, I may point out that the object of the Glebe Lands Act was totally different from the object of the Bill now under consideration. The object of that Act was to facilitate and encourage the sale of those glebe lands to which the Bill specially referred, but the object of this Bill is not to encourage colleges and universities to part with their estates. Now there is no such desire on the part of the promoters of this Measure, and it is intended that in cases where it is thought that educational objects for which they exist will be promoted by the sale of these estates either partly or wholly the difficulties which now stand in the way of the sale of these lands should be removed by this Bill. The clause from the Glebe Lands Act would practically have no effect, for there have not been any cases in which land has been sold for the purposes for which that clause provides. Therefore I do not think there is any evidence before the House which would justify me on the part of the Government in putting in such a clause. It would not be just to the universities and colleges to allow such a clause, which has been rejected by the Standing Committee, to be inserted in the Bill. The honourable Gentleman referred also to the liability existing at the present time in connection with colleges in respect of their estates which will remain after the passing of the Bill, but it will be the duty of the Board of Agriculture to take care that those liabilities are discharged out of the money received for the land sold in the same way as they have been discharged previously out of the rents received for the land. I could not undertake under these circumstances the insertion of this clause, because I think it would be doing a very great injustice to the universities and to the colleges, and in view of this I hope the House will be prepared to give this Bill a Third Reading.


I really think there is a strong reason why we should divide against the Third Reading as we did against the Second Reading. This Bill, as the first clause distinctly states, is to increase the facilities for the sale of what are quasi-public lands at the present time—lands not in the possession of private owners. It would be unjust and unfair to regard them as private lands, as Parliament has got power over them, and can impose conditions. The point which my honourable Friend raised on the Second Reading of the Bill, and again before the Standing Committee upstairs, where he was defeated, was that special regard should be had for allotments. We have the power here to make provision with regard to these lands, and the House is departing from its previous principle with regard to such Bills by increasing the facilities for sale without making any provision for allotments, such as the clause of my honourable Friend would make. A great many years ago the Members of the House fought out this whole point with great determination. Previous Universities and College Estates Bills were fought in this way. There is no principle to which it is possible to attach greater importance than that of keeping public rights over such lands. John Stuart Mill and the late Professor Fawcett always maintained that the public ought not to part with control over property of this kind. Many gentlemen interested on behalf of the colleges wish to have these powers, but we look beyond the colleges to the public interest, and I am bound to say that I think the clause of my honourable Friend is a proper clause, and would protect public interests, and it having been refused I think we ought to divide against the Third Reading of the Bill.

COLOXEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)

The right honourable Baronet has said that one reason why these powers should not be given is because of the interest attaching to allotments. Let me point out to him that it was quite optional on the part of the colleges that these allotments were made at all. There was no inherent right on the part of the occupiers of these little tenements to have any allotments. Yet he now proposes to fetter the sale of these lands, with, the result that they will fetch a smaller price because of the allotments on them. If any arrangement of that sort were carried out it would have the effect of preventing the owners of similar estates giving the advantage of allotments at all. We all desire to see owners extending the benefits of allotments us far as possible, but if we now make a provision that when allotments have been granted the fact of their being granted will militate against the sale of the estate we will do a great deal more harm than good. The provision advocated by the right honourable Baronet would certainly decrease the price of estates, and would militate against the creation of new allotments.


said that the House should consider the fact that there was a

difference between land held by universities and colleges and land held by private persons. Again, if a private individual granted a university or a college a certain sum of money, and if that sum were spent in connection with allotments, he did not see why they should be done away with now. The present Parliament would do nearly anything, but it was an extraordinary thing that gifts to universities and colleges should now be spent in a manner never conceived by the fivers, and he hoped that matter would be carefully considered before the Bill was passed.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 171; Noes 64.—(See Division List No. 227.)

Arnold, Alfred Drage, Geoffrey Johnstone, J. H. (Sussex)
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Kemp, George
Baillie, J E. B. (Inverness) Elliot, Hon. A. R. Douglas Kenyon, James
Baird, John George A. Fellowes, Hon. A. Edward Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.
Balfour,Rt.Hon.A.J. (Manc'r) Fergusson,Rt.HnSirJ. (Manc.) Lafone, Alfred
Banbury, Frederick George Finch, George H. Laurie, Lieut.-General
Barton, Dunbar Punket Finlay, Sir R. Bannatyne LawrenceSirEDurning-(Corn.)
Beach,Rt. Hn. SirM.H. (Brist'l) Fisher, William Hayes Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)
Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose- Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie
Bethell, Commander Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Llewellyn, E. H. (Somerset)
Bill, Charles FitzWygram, General Sir F. Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.
Bond, Edward Flower, Ernest Loder, Gerald W. Erskine
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Folkestone, Viscount Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)
Brassey, Albert Forwood, Rt. Hon. Sir A. B. Lorne, Marquess of
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Galloway, William Johnson Lowles, John
Butcher, John George Garfit, William Lowther, J. W. (Cumberland)
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs) Gedge, Sydney Lucas-Shadwell, William
Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbysh.) Giles, Charles Tyrrell Macartney, W. G. Ellison
Cecil, Lord H. (Greenwich) Gilliat, John Saunders McArthur, C. (Liverpool)
Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Godson, Sir A. Frederick McKillop, James
Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.J. (Birm.) Gordon, Hon. John Edward Melville, Beresford Valentine
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. E. Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Goschen,RtHn.G.J.(St.G'rg's) Milward, Colonel Victor
Charrington, Spencer Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Monckton, Edward Philip
Clarke, Sir E. (Plymouth) Graham, Henry Robert More, Robert Jasper
Coghill, Douglas Harry Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury) Morrell, George Herbert
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Gretton, John Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)
Colomb, Sir J. C. Ready Greville, Captain Mount, William George
Colston, C. E. H. Athole Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G. Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)
Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth) Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W. Murray, C. J. (Coventry)
Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H. Hardy, Laurence Newdigate, Francis Alexander
Cranborne, Viscount Helder, Augustus Nicholson, William Graham
Cross, Alexander (Glasgow) Henderson, Alexander Nicol, Donald Ninian
Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton) Hoare, Samuel (Norwich) Northcote, Hon. Sir H. S.
Cubitt, Hon. Henry Houston, R. P. Penn, John
Curzon,RtHnG.N.(Lanc,S.W.) Howell, William Tudor Phillpott, Captain Arthur
Curzon, Viscount (Bucks) Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn Pierpoint, Robert
Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Pollock, Harry Frederick
Dalkeith, Earl of Hutchinson, Capt.G.W. Grice- Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Pretyman, Ernest George
Dorington, Sir John Edward Jenkins, Sir John Jones Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Johnston, William (Belfast) Purvis, Robert
Pym, C. Guy Smith, A. H. (Christchurch) Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Rasch, Major Frederic Carne Smith, Hn. W. F. D (Strand) Whiteley, George (Stockport)
Richards, Henry Charles Stanley, Lord (Lancs) Whiteley,H. (Ashton-under-L.)
Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l) Stewart, Sir M. J. McTaggart Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W. Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M. Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)
Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. T. Stone, Sir Benjamin Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Robertson, H. (Hackney) Strauss, Arthur Wilson, J. W. (Worc'sh., N.)
Round, James Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley Wodehouse, E. R. (Bath)
Royds, Clement Molyneux Sturt, Hon. Humphry N. Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. S.
Russell, T. W. (Tyrone) Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester) Young, Commander (Berks,E.)
Ryder, John Herbert Dudley Thornton, Percy M.
Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse) Tomlinson, W. E. Murray TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Sharpe, William Edward T. Waring, Col. Thomas Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Shaw-Stewart,M. H. (Renfrew) Warr, Augustus Frederick
Sidebottom, W. (Derbyshire) Webster, Sir R, E. (I. of W.)
Simeon, Sir Barrington Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.
Allison, Robert Andrew Goddard, Daniel Ford Provand, Andrew Dryburgh
Bainbridge, Emerson Hedderwick, T. C. H. Rickett, J. Compton.
Baker, Sir John Hemphill, Rt. Hon. C. H. Roberts, J. H. (Denbighs)
Bayley, T. (Derbyshire) Holburn, J. G. Robson, William Snowdon
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Holden, Sir Angus Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Billson, Alfred Horniman, Frederick John Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Joicey, Sir James Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Brigg, John Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire) Souttar, Robinson
Broadhurst, Henry Kitson, Sir James Stanhope, Hon. Philip
Brunner, Sir J. Tomlinson Labouchere, Henry Steadman, William Charles
Burt, Thomas Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland) Strachey, Edward
Caldwell, James Lloyd-George, David Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Channing, Francis Allston Lough, Thomas Tanner, Charles Kearns
Clark, Dr.G.B. (Caithness-sh.) Macaleese, Daniel Williams, John C. (Notts)
Clough, Walter Owen MacNeill, John Gordon S. Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Colville, John McArthur, W. (Cornwall) Wilson, John (Govan)
Daly, James McLaren, Charles Benjamin Woodhouse,SirJT(Hudd'rsfl'd)
Davitt, Michael Mandeville, J. Francis Yoxall, James Henry
Dillon, John Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Donelan, Captain A. O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Doogan, P. C. O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal) Sir Walter Foster and Sir Charles Dilke.
Duckworth, James Pearson, Sir Weetman, D.
Fenwick, Charles Pickersgill, Edward Hare

First Two Resolutions agreed to.