§ As amended (by the Standing Committee), further considered.
§ MR. LAMBTON (Durham, S. E.) moved to substitute the Agricultural Commissioners for the Land Court as the authority to which applications should be made for registration as a new holder by agreement with the landlord. He said the object of the Amendment was to provide that when the landlord had agreed with any other person in respect to any land to be constituted a new holding, such person might apply to the Agricultural Commissioners to be registered as the new holder. The constitution of the Land Court and the constitution of the Agricultural Commissioners had never been discussed by the House at all. When one of the financial clauses was under discussion the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill moved that the salary of the members of the Land Court should be increased from £1,000 to £1,200. That increase might be necessary, but the fact that these large sums were to be voted out of the Imperial Exchequer showed that the English members of the Standing Committee were justified in taking great interest in the Bill. It was generally acknowledged that the Land Court was the most arbitrary and autocratic body ever established in any civilised country, and that it was one to which there was no parallel outside of Russia or Morocco. It consisted of five members who were to have control of the Scottish land question, and he believed they were to have control of the Agricultural Commissioners. He was not sure what the constitution of the Agricultural Commissioners was to be. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin pointed out yesterday that they were going to perform in 103 Scotland the duties which were performed by the Board of Agriculture in England. Very wide powers had been entrusted to the Board of Agriculture in England for the coercion of county councils, whereas the Agricultural Commissioners, who would take the place of that body in Scotland, would be entirely under the Land Court. They might even be under the control of one member of the Court, for there was a provision in the Bill which enabled the members of the Land Court to delegate their powers to one of their number. This procedure to which the Amendment referred was utterly inconsistent with the other provisions in the Bill. The application referred to in Clause 7 as to registration was to be made to the Land Court, but he held that it ought to be made to the Agricultural Commissioners as in the case of other applications referred to in other parts of the Bill. It might be argued that in this case there had to be agreement between the landlord and the small holder before the application for registration could be made. Clause 7 contained eighteen subsections, and it was, therefore, extremely difficult to understand it. The Bill was one of the worst examples of legislation by reference, and so numerous were the references to the Crofters Acts and other Statutes that it was almost unintelligible to ordinary members. The "Agricultural Commissioners" were referred to in subsection (13) of this clause, and in Clauses 15, 16, and 17 as the body to whom applications were to be made in regard to the matters dealt with by those clauses. He wished to know why in the instance to which the Amendment referred the applications were to be made direct to the Land Court. Perhaps the Bill had been hastily drafted, but he thought they could hardly expect it to be a very good Bill when it was remembered that it was one of four land Bills which the Government had brought forward in one session of Parliament. That was a most difficult team for anybody to drive, and he was not at all surprised that there were some discrepancies and many unintelligible portions of the Bill. It appeared to him to be absolutely necessary that the words "Land Court" should be left out of the first subsection of Clause 7 and that the words "Agricultural Commissioners" should be substituted. He begged to move.104
§ MR. ABEL SMITH (Hertfordshire, Hertford)
said that in seconding the Amendment he would like to call the attention of hon. Members who had not the advantage of being members of the Scottish Committee, to the extraordinary character of this clause of which they were about to undertake the discussion. It contained eighteen subsections, and when one came to wade through them all, one must get into a fog.
§ MR. ABEL SMITH said that the hon. and gallant Member had more than average intelligence; but it would take from two to three months for any man of ordinary intelligence to understand the Bill. The eighth subsection, which dealt with the functions of the Land Court and the Agricultural Commissioners, was rather confusing; and he ventured to think that the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Durham would go one step towards elucidating the mystery. If there was to be a Land Court at all and also a new body of Agricultural Commissioners, the establishment and constitution of which had been passed the previous night in silence, their respective functions should be clearly defined and clearly separated the one from the other. The duty laid on the Land Court by the first subsection ought to be explained in the most lucid way to the House, and so also should the duty to be laid on the Agricultural Commissioners. Fair rents were to be fixed by the Land Court. No doubt that was a judicial function, but the function described in the subsection was an administrative function, and the words "Agricultural Commissioners" ought to be substituted for the words "Land Courts."
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 6, line 35, to leave out the words, 'Land Court,' and insert the words 'Agricultural Commissioners.'"—(Mr. Lambton.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'Land Court' stand part of the Bill."
§ THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. SINCLAIR,) Forfarshire
said that one would imagine that there was some hidden result or purpose in the clause which he had not hitherto perceived 105 or appreciated. He was sorry that he could not accept the substitution of "Land Commissioners" for "Land Court." The Land Court was the authority to whom was committed the keeping of the register of the new holders, and the machinery for that was based on previous Acts. That was a natural arrangement, and the Land Court should therefore be responsible for the register. He did not think that hon. Members opposite quite appreciated that the application to be registered was only to be made, in the first place, after an agreement had been arrived at between the landlord and the new land holder. The Agricultural Commissioners were the practical executive authority which was to supervise and contribute to the creation of the new holdings. The first subsection had nothing whatever to do with that or with the operations of the Agricultural Commissioners. The first subsection said that if the landlord and any other person agreed in respect of any land "such person may apply to the Land Court to be registered as a new holder under this Act, and such person may thereupon apply accordingly, and subject to the provisions of this Act may be so registered." The register was to be kept in the Land Court's keeping.
§ MR. SINCLAIR said that that did not apply in this case. If the hon. Member looked back at Sub-section (10) he would see that the Land Court determined in respect of what land holdings for new holders might be constituted, and up to what date the power to constitute them otherwise than by agreement might be exercised. That was a perfectly simple proposition.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
said that the Secretary for Scotland had told them that this subsection referred only to cases of voluntary agreement, and that the Land Court had no functions to perform except to keep a record of the individuals who applied for new holdings. But at the end of the subsection occurred the phrase "may be so registered." With whom was that discretion left?
§ MR. WALTER LONG
Exactly. If any person agreed with the landlord in respect to certain land such person might apply to the Land Court to be registered a new holder, and subject to the provisions of the Act might be so registered. The discretion rested with the Land Court. He agreed with the hon. Member for Hertfordshire that it was no exaggeration to say that however carefully one might examine this Bill it was impossible, unless one were endowed with supernatural powers, and every virtue and the superior intelligence of the hon. and gallant Member for East Edinburgh, to separate the functions of those two august bodies—the Land Court and the Agricultural Commission. His hon. friend had counted the number of times that those two bodies were mentioned in the clause, and found that it was over twenty. He supposed that the Land Court was to keep the register of small holders, but why should not the Agricultural Commission also keep such a book? He was sure that he and his friends would vote for the cost of the supply of another book. The Secretary for Scotland seemed to think that nobody was to be considered in this matter except the landlord and the tenant, and that was the reason why the right hon. Gentleman got so confused on the points raised by the Opposition. But the general taxpayers of the country, who must meet the expense of the experiments to be made under this measure ought also to be considered. The Land Court was charged with the duty of seeing whether the applicants for registration had fulfilled the necessary conditions. They knew that the entry on the register was only the first step in the transaction.
§ MR. SINCLAIR said that a new holder would not be duly qualified for registration otherwise than by agreement who did not satisfy the Agricultural Commissioners as to his ability to fulfil the obligations incumbent upon him.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
asked if he was to understand that a man would not be eligible to avail himself of the pro visions of the Act until his name was registered.
§ MR. SINCLAIR said that supposing a landlord created a small holding on his estate there was no obligation on him to call upon the tenant to register his name. But if at any moment the landlord and tenant agreed that it would be to their mutual interest that the holding should in future be a holding under this Act, then there would be power to agree that the holding should be registered. The small holders of another character must first be registered. If the right hon. Gentleman's quarrel was with the Land Court the Government could not agree with him. If his quarrel was with the power of registration which was given to the Agricultural Commissioners it was a different matter.
§ MR. WALTER LONG said he could, not allow the right hon. Gentleman to deal with his argument by way of reply before he had completed it.
§ MR. SINCLAIR said he was simply explaining that if the right hon. Gentleman's quarrel was with the Land Court and if he wished to get that out of the Bill they could not agree with him, but if he wished that the registration should go to the Agricultural Commissioners that was a different matter.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
was obliged for the interruption, but he did not think the right hon. Gentleman was throwing any new light on the question before the House. The duties cast upon the Land Court were not of the mere perfunctory character which was represented. The application of this Bill would be in regard to the privileges conferred on the new holders under this measure, and nothing that the right hon. Gentleman had said had shaken his argument. They must I be thankful for small mercies when they were told, under a Radical Government, that the landlord was to be enabled to set up small holdings. He did not know how long that privilege would last; he supposed until the next Land Bill was brought in. Meanwhile it was thought that this Bill would produce such a glamour over the land that these two people who had hitherto got on very well together would suddenly discover that they wanted to go into this Court. That he did not think was likely. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the landlord and tenant had only to agree and the Land 108 Court would do the rest; but that was not the case at all. Let them take the ease of a man who had been indebted to his landlord for his improvements, he would come in under the Bill. It was quite obvious, unless they were absolutely mistaken in the view which they took of the effect of the preceding clause, that this was not a mere trivial matter. The argument of his hon. friend was that the Land Court ought not to be called in, and he could not conceive anything more reasonable than his proposal that this task should fall upon the Agricultural Commissioners. But the right hon. Gentleman said it must be the Land Court. He could not accept that proposition. If it were merely a matter of entering a man's name in a book there would be no justification for pressing the Amendment. But that was not the case and the right hon. Gentleman had not shown that it was so. They, on the contrary, said that this power of setting up the new holder ought to be exercised by the Agricultural Commissioners and not by the Land Court. The Government were making a large experiment which could only be successful at the cost of a large sum of money, a considerable portion of which would come out of the pockets of the taxpayers of England. For these reasons he supported the Amendment of his hon. friend.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
thought that the Agricultural Commissioners were likely to be more capable persons to deal with this matter than the Land Court. Under last year's Bill questions of this sort would have gone before the Agricultural Commissioners, but the Government were now setting up a Land Court to deal with such matters. The Land Court was an importation into the Bill, and an innovation. It was indeed the chief evil in the measure, and he supported the proposal to substitute the Agricultural Commissioners. He was afraid that the greater number of the new holdings would not be registered under this clause, because the proprietor would lose his control over the money which he had paid for equipment under the Crofters Act of 1886. Registration was either a serious matter or it was not. If it was a mere matter of form it would not be largely indulged in, but if it was a condition precedent to the granting of loans by the State it was a different 109 matter. The question, as he understood, had to come before the Agricultural Commissioners in the first place, and then before the Land Court. This would mean double work between the two authorities. It was somewhat like a Chinese puzzle, and if one bit was taken out of it it failed. These details were not necessary last year, and were not necessary now. They had not been told either in Committee upstairs or in the House why they were necessary. They had never heard the reason why the Land Court was pitchforked into the Bill.
§ *MR. SPEAKER said the hon. Member must only discuss the clause and not the general merits of the Bill.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON
argued that it, was not necessary to have a fresh organisation but supposed they would be told that the mind of Scotland was behind this Bill. He had, however, not heard a single expression of opinion in its favour.
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
thought that the discussion showed that the Opposition did not intend to destroy the Bill, but rather wished to facilitate its progress. If the landlord and tenant met together at the registrars and a book was produced in which the transaction was entered there would be an end of the matter. What would take place would be that both the landowner and the landholder would make application to the Land Court to be registered. A form would then be sent to each of them to fill up. It would be filled up and returned, and the Land Court would then have to refer the matter to the Agricultural Commissioners, who would have to send down and investgate the claim of both the landowner and the landholder to be registered. The Agricultural Commissioners would then report back to the Land Court and recommend registration. If the Amendment were accepted all that process would be avoided. They would apply at once to the Agricultural Commissioners who would at once investigate the circumstances of the case and report to the Land Court that an application had been made to register as a small holding a certain holding, and that after investigation they 110 recommended its registration. The Land Court would then write to the landowner and the landholder and notify them that the holding had been registered in their book as a small holding on such a day. Was not the proposal of his hon. friend more calculated to encourage the formation of small holdings by agreement than the round-about method favoured by the right hon. Gentleman? He did not think many people would avail themselves of the provisions of this clause, but he was quite sure that the simpler the clause was made the more would people avail themselves of the privilege. For these reasons he supported the Amendment of his hon. friend.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
said he had had occasion before to explain to the House that one of the objections that attached to the discussion of a Bill under closure by compartments was that the Government felt themselves absolved from giving any answer to the arguments adduced or even from taking the trouble to give a correct account of the Bill nominally in their charge. Everybody, even its authors, must approach Clause 7 with singular misgiving. Never in his experience had he seen a clause extending over two and a half pages of a Bill which brought into action so many different bodies. Most Governments in the past had endeavoured to bring in every separate Department in a separate clause, but when they read this bewildering piece of legislation they found the Land Court figuring in the first section, the Commissioner for small holdings in the third, and the Agricultural Commissioners in the sixth. And these three parties pursued their mazy dance through the remaining of the eighteen sub-sections of the clause in such a manner that even the strongest head might be made to feel confused by their evolutions. What was the defence of the Secretary for Scotland for putting in these Agricultural Commissioners—a new body which they had never been allowed to discuss either in the House or the Committee, though it figured so largely in this measure? The right hon. Gentleman had given two reasons, and both were founded on a misconception of fact with regard to his own measure. The right hon. Gentleman had told the House in the first place that Sub-section (1) dealt solely with existing holdings.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR said his right hon. friend beside him had reminded him that the words used by the right hon. Gentleman were "holdings already in existence." The sub-section dealt with nothing of the sort.
§ MR. SINCLAIR
pointed out that this subsection dealt with new holdings. But new holdings were of two classes. There might be holdings brought into existence after the passing of this Act, which had existed as fully equipped holdings previously and been afterwards brought under the operation of the Act. The other class of new holdings would be holdings actually created under the provisions of this Act.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR said he wished the right hon. Gentleman would remember that this was a Scottish and not an Irish Bill, and that when in connection with it they were speaking of new holdings they did not mean old holdings. Everybody but the draughtsman of the right hon. Gentleman would call a holding already in existence an old holding. The Government were not content with new legislation, but had to have a new terminology. If the House would look at the marginal note of this clause they would see that it said, "powers to facilitate the constitution of new holdings," and how a clause so described could be said by the authors of the Bill to be a clause for dealing with existing holdings passed his comprehension. So much for the right hon. Gentleman's first argument. His second argument was almost more unfortunate. It was that the persons to register the holdings, because the people in charge of the new holdings, were the Land Court, and the book was kept by the Land Court. He would venture to point out that if that were so access could be had to the book, but he did not believe it was in the possession of the Land Court. The 27th Section of the Crofters Holdings Act was an unrepealed section and by that section the record was to be kept in the Sheriff Court. It seemed to him, reading the two Acts together, that the book was not kept by the Land Court.112
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
asked what were they to think when the right hon. Gentleman addressed two arguments in favour of the Bill each of which was founded on misconception? He did not know whether that was the way in which the Bill was dealt with in Committee, but with all respect he must say the right hon. Gentleman ought to have made himself acquainted with the contents of the Bill after it came down stairs. The arguments in favour of the Bill having been dismissed—they had been abandoned by the right hon. Gentleman himself—what were the merits? The real point was whether the Land Court was to be the body to register these new holdings, or whether it was to be the Agricultural Commissioners. Clearly every sound argument tended in the direction of making those responsible for the holdings who created new ones. If they looked at Sub-sections (6) and (18), it must be clear to the House that it was the body responsible for the expenditure of public money, for the using of the taxpayers' money for the purposes of these new holdings, who should determine whether they should be registered or not. Was not that common sense? If anything further were required to justify the argument they found it in the next section relating to assistance given; and if assistance was to be granted by the Land Commission, ought it not to be registered by the Land Commission, and if it was to be registered by the Land Commission, where else could it be registered except where the right hon. Gentleman desired it to be registered, namely, in the book which for the moment he thought was in the custody of the Land Court, but was, in fact, in the custody of the Sheriff? If the administrative body had first to settle the propriety of the loan, surely they were the people who ought to register the holding. It was a most obvious and simple Amendment which his hon. friend had moved, and he should have thought that it would have been jumped at by the Government. If, however, they still adhered to the form of the Bill, he thought the Secretary for Scotland would agree that as the only two arguments which he had used had been abandoned by himself, he or one of 113 his colleagues should get up and give them a new version of the defence they proposed to urge against the suggestion which they had made from that side of the House. Any argument which had been advanced so far had been abandoned, and he ventured to think the time had come when they should have some more solid basis than had yet been found for maintaining the Bill in its present shape.
§ MR. LAMBTON
was understood to say that the Secretary for Scotland apparently did not quite understand the point. What he had submitted was that the Agricultural Commissioners had to satisfy themselves that the applicants were suitable persons for holdings, and, if under Section 6 the Agricultural Commissioners might make an advance of money, then it seemed to him absolutely impossible to maintain the Land Court in the position given it by Subsection (1), and at the same time protect the taxpayers and the Agricultural Commissioners against loss. The Agricultural Commissioners were responsible for the money advanced under the Bill, and they ought to be responsible for rejecting the holding.
§ MR. SINCLAIR said there were perfectly clear and definite functions for the Agricultural Commissioners and for the Land Court. A number of holdings were registered in the Landholders' Holding Book which were not new holdings, but which came within the operation of the Act, for instance under Clause 2. A number of holdings within the limits of the Act would be entitled to the facilities given by it entirely irrespective of the action114
§ and without the knowledge or help a all of the Agricultural Commissioners They had adopted as the procedure under this Bill the procedure of the Crofters Act of 1886, and just as under that Act responsibility for registration lay with the Crofters' Commissioners, so would responsibility for registrator lie with the Land Court under this Bill The right hon. Gentleman had made the perfectly fair point that he had stated that the Landholders' Register must be kept by the Land Commission. He was of course, in error, but he thought Members who were in Committee upstairs would do him the justice to say that it was a slip. They all knew from the discussions in Committee that the Land holders' Book was kept by the Sheriff's clerk, and, just as responsibility for entries lay with the Crofters' Commission under the Act of 1886, following that procedure responsibility for registration lay with the Land Court under this Bill. Entries were made in the Landholders' Holding Book of orders and applications which had been decided by the Crofters' Commission, and similarly entries would be made in the book kept by the Sheriff's clerk in each county of orders and applications decided by the Land Court, who were the only authority under the Bill entitled to send orders and applications for registration. The Land Court was the only body which would have cognisance of orders and applications, and it was to the Land Court, therefore, that they committed this duty of registration.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided—Ayes, 222; Noes, 64. (Division List No. 384.)117
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd)||Clough, William|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Black, Arthur W.||Clynes, J. R.|
|Alden, Percy||Bowerman, C. W.||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Brace, William||Cooper, G. J.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Branch, James||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon Herbert Henry||Brigg, John||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Bright, J. A.||Cory, Clifford John|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Cowan, W. H.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Cox, Harold|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Byles, William Pollard||Crooks, William|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Curran, Peter Francis|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Dalziel, James Henry|
|Beale, W. P.||Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)|
|Bell, Richard||Cawley, Sir Frederick||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Cheetham, John Frederick||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.)|
|Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S. Geo.||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Laidlaw, Robert||Richardson, A.|
|Duckworth, James||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Lambert, George||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Lamont, Norman||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Elibank, Master of||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Robinson, S.|
|Erskine, David C.||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Essex, R. W.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Runciman, Walter|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Lewis, John Herbert||Russell, T. W.|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Lough, Thomas||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Sears, J. E.|
|Ferens, T. R.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Seddon, J.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Macdonald, J. M. (FalkirkB'ghs)||Shackleton, David James|
|Findlay, Alexander||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B.)|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Macpherson, J. T.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||MaeVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||M'Callum, John M.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Fullerton, Hugh||M'Crae, George||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Snowden, P.|
|Gill, A. H.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||M'Micking, Major G.||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Glover, Thomas||Maddison, Frederick||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Mallet, Charles E.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Gooch, George Peabody||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Grant, Corrie||Marnham, F. J.||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Gulland, John W.||Massie, J.||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth|
|Gurdon, Rt Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Masterman, C. F. G.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Montagu, E. S.||Thorne, William|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Mooney, J. J.||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Hazleton, Richard||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Ure, Alexander|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Morrell, Philip||Verney, F. W.|
|Henry, Charles S.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Vivian, Henry|
|Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Hobart, Sir Robert||Murray, James||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Hodge, John||Myer, Horatio||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Nicholls, George||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster||Waring, Walter|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Nolan, Joseph||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Horniman, Emslie John||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Idris, T. H. W.||O'Grady, J.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Partington, Oswald||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Whitely, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Jenkins, J.||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen|
|Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Pullar, Sir Robert||Wilson, W. T. (Weshoughton)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Radford, G. H.|
|Jowett, F. W.||Raphael, Herbert H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro')|
|Kelley, George D.||Rees, J. D.|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Brotherton, Edward Allen||Craik, Sir Henry|
|Ashley, W. W.||Bull, Sir William James||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Butcher, Samuel Henry||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Castlereagh, Viscount||Du Cros, Harvey|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond.)||Cave, George||Faber, George Denison (York)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C. W.||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Fell, Arthur|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Ferguson, R. C. Munro|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey|
|Forster, Henry William||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Gordon, J.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Parkes, Ebenezer||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Thomson, W. Mitchell (Lanark)|
|Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Hunt, Rowland||Remnant, James Farquharson||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Younger, George|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.|
|Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.)||Sloan, Thomas Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir. Alexander Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Starkey, John R.|
|Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.|
Question put, and agreed to.
MR. SINCLAIR moved to insert words in Clause 7 requiring the Commissioner to ascertain "after due inquiry what demand for small holdings exists in any district, and after consultation (where practicable) with the landlord or landlords what land (if any) is available to meet that demand, under what conditions such land is cultivated, and what employment it affords." He said that when the Committee discussed this question it was suggested that it would not be proper when the Commissioner of Small Holdings went into a district to make his inquiry as to whether land was available for new holdings and whether there was any demand for them, to do so behind the back of the owner of that land. Such a course would, in practice, never be taken. It was not intended that the Commissioner should go down and make secret observations for himself, but that he should go rather in a friendly spirit to endeavour, in the first place, to carry out these schemes with the agreement of all concerned. He had promised to reconstruct the second subsection, and as amended it would read—
It shall be the duty of the Commissioner for Small Holdings to report from time to time to the Agricultural Commissioners, after due inquiry, what demand for small holdings exists in any district, and after consultation (where practicable) with the landlord or landlords what land (if any) is available to meet that demand, under what conditions such land is cultivated, and what employment it affords.
These words had been designed to meet the considerations he had mentioned, and they directed the attention of the Commissioner to the fact that he should have regard to the present conditions of cultivation of the land as being pertinent to his inquiry. His attention was also directed to the consideration of what employment the land at present afforded. He begged to move.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 7, line 1, to leave out, from the words 'Commissioners,' to end of line 3, and to insert the words 'after due inquiry what demands for small holdings exists in any district, and after consultation (where practicable) with the landlord or landlords what land (if any) is available to meet that demand, under what conditions such land is cultivated, and what employment it affords.'"—(Mr. Sinclair.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. WALTER LONG said he quite recognised that the Amendment was intended to meet the points which were raised upstairs, and he was much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for this concession. The Amendment, however, did not strike him as being a good specimen of artistic draughtsmanship. As for the consultation with the landlord, that could not, of course, take place if the landlord was away, and he might be residing in Australia. The right hon. Gentleman said that it was intended that the Commissioners should go down to these districts rather in a friendly spirit than otherwise. What was meant by that? He should have assumed that the Commissioner would have gone down in an entirely friendly spirit.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
The right hon. Gentleman cheered that statement, but his language did not imply that. The clause threw upon the Commissioner for Small Holdings an extremely invidious duty, because it laid upon them the obligation to inspect other people's property and there were a great many landowners who would resent it as an intrusion, because they would not believe that the 119 Commissioner was any better judge than they were of the needs of the locality. The words suggested that there should be consulation with the landlord, and that there should be an inquiry as to the demand for small holdings. Those provisions would ensure a certain amount of caution and care which would not have followed from the words in the original clause. The grave blot on the Amendment was that it took no note of the displacement of labour. That point, however, would be met by an Amendment which he intended to move.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ Mr. WALTER LONG moved to add after the word "demand" the words "without causing undue displacement of agricultural labourers, or others, presently employed on or about such land. "Reference had been made to Irish land legislation as the only precedent to be found for the general plan of the Government. In one part of Ireland they had had this system of small holdings in much larger and more general existence than in any other part of the United Kingdom. In some parts of North and Mid. Antrim small holdings of about twenty acres were the rule and not the exception, and in those parts of Ireland they had none of the social difficulties which were to be found in the South and West which had led men away from the development of industries. There they had a thrifty and industrious population, the land was suitable and fertile, and the holdings averaged about twenty acres. What had been the result? In both those divisions of Armagh there had been a steady decrease in the population. Hon. Members opposite would be living in a fool's paradise if they imagined that by any legislation of this kind for the extension of small holdings they were going to solve those social evils of depopulation which were affecting the rural districts. If they decided to establish small holdings in so singular and favourable a way to the new small holders, in the name of common justice they ought to have regard to those who were now living on the soil. If the experiment was a success, and if a 120 large number of small holdings were established, agricultural labourers must be displaced. The Amendment was intended to do two things. One was in connection with this section, and the other was to do something more at a later stage of the Bill. He submitted that they had no right to create small holdings in the general interest of the community, however excellent that object might be, if, in so doing, they deprived a section of the community in the locality of the living which they were getting and on which they were dependent. It was all very well to say that they would find employment on the small holdings, but that would not be so. If a man was to make a living on a small holding, he must have very little paid labour; he must depend on the exertions of himself and his family. If a farm of 200 acres of mixed cultivation was broken up into holdings of fifty acres each, what would become of the poor labourers? While the large farm would give employment all the year round to ten or twelve able-bodied men, the smaller holdings would not provide work for the same number. The labourers on a large farm not only got regular work, but they were provided with houses, and they had gardens which they could cultivate. He submitted that, unless the Commissioners were satisfied that small holdings could be established without unreasonable displacement of present labour, they ought not to take any steps for the setting up of the holdings. To set up small holdings and to prevent labourers from making their living would be a curse rather than a blessing, and it would do the very thing which ought not to be done in the way of driving people away from the rural districts. The Amendment should as a matter of justice be accepted. He hoped that on further reflection the Government would do now what they refused to do in Committee. If this legislation were to be the means of disturbing the opportunities of employment in the country districts, there would be hostility raised against the movement for small holdings before the ink of this measure was dry in the Statute Book. If the Bill was not to be thrown out, he wished it to pass with as few defects as possible. He was not pressing this in the interest of a 121 particular class, for, although the proposal he made was primarily in the interest of the labourers who would otherwise be displaced, it was equally in the interest of all other classes of the community that those men should not be unfairly dealt with. He begged to move.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment to the Bill—
In line 4, after the word 'demand,' to insert the words 'without causing undue displacement of agricultural labourers, or others, presently employed on or about such land.'"—(Mr. Long.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. SINCLAIR said the right hon. Gentleman knew well that the conditions of farm labour in Scotland differed from those prevalent in England. Farm servants in Scotland were migratory, and there was great scarcity of labour in many rural districts. Many of the larger farmers complained of the increasing difficulty in getting sufficient labour for their farms. This consideration had been pressed on the Government in the Standing Committee, and the Government agreed with the critics of the Bill in desiring that this consideration should be present to the mind of the Commissioner of small holdings. He had more confidence than the right hon. Gentleman in the likelihood of an increase in the population in the rural districts from the creation of small holdings in Scotland. He suggested that the phrase "or others" was indefinite and too wide in its meaning, and the words should be omitted. Subject to that modification the Government would accept the Amendment.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON
said he saw no harm in including the words "or others." He thought, however, the words "farm servants" more descriptive of the conditions in Scotland than the words in the Amendment.
§ MR. SINCLAIR
said if the right hon. Gentleman would accept the words "farm servants," which was a Scottish term, he would accept the Amendment.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON
said that would cover the case. After all, the 122 object of the Agricultural Commissioners was to make small holdings; it was not their business to consider the agricultural labourers or anybody else. It was, therefore, desirable that it should be present to their minds that in creating small holdings there might be considerable displacement of labour. He had never thought that by the creation of small farms they would add at all to the land ward population. He believed that the greatest amount of labour was given by the large farms in the highest state of cultivation, because the small agricultural farm was not so highly farmed as a rule, though there were a great many exceptions. If anything, there would be a decrease rather than an increase in the state of cultivation by the substitution of small farms for large ones. There were, however, other advantages in the change, and it was on the ground of these he wished small holdings to be created wherever practicable.
§ * MR. MURRAY (Aberdeenshire, E.)
said he was so deeply interested in this Bill that he felt it was his duty to state to the House his own experience. Many years of his childhood were spent on a small holding of twenty-five acres, for which his father paid a rent of £50 a year. His father afterwards took a small farm of 500 acres, and while living there he himself gathered some experience of the conditions of agriculture in Scotland. He had the greatest admiration for the right hon. Member for South Dublin, who had a knowledge of agriculture in England, but whose knowledge of agriculture in Scotland was not so complete. He could not agree with him that the creation of small holdings would lead to the displacement of farm servants. He attended a meeting of farm servants recently at Ellon, and he was assured by the men who were present that with a 35-acre holding a farm servant would not be very much better off financially as a holder than as a servant, but that socially he would be much better. A farm of 500 acres could be so divided as to leave room still for the labourers, and there would be no danger of displacement at all. The statements made in Committee by hon. Members opposite were taken from the Scottish newspapers, which were almost without exception dead 123 against this measure. There were two sides to every question, and unless both sides were heard a sound judgment could not be formed. On the previous day he had attended a meeting in the constituency of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and had the privilege of speaking to 1,000 farm labourers. A ploughman was in the chair, and moved a resolution which was seconded by a ploughman and carried with the greatest enthusiasm. He might be allowed to read that resolution—I beg to move that this meeting of ploughmen and farm servants support the Small Landholders (Scotland) Bill. That we consider it the most genuine scheme of Land Reform that has ever been proposed for Scotland. That it will help to stop rural depopulation and relieve the overcrowding of our towns and cities, and give ploughmen a chance to become their own masters on fair and reasonable conditions. That we consider that all opposers of the Bill are not friends of the ploughmen. That we give the Liberal Government our most enthusiastic support, and hope it will carry the Bill into law this session.No one looking at the faces of those earnest men, who gave him the most attentive hearing in spite of the noises of the fair all round, could realise anything else than that they were in earnest in this matter of small holdings. It was also his privilege to attend a meeting at Perth at which delegates from every part of Scotland except Orkney and Shetland were present, and their demeanour showed how deep was the undercurrent in favour of this Bill.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
said that the hon. Member was opening a very wide door of invitation to hon. Members to make Second Reading speeches. He would point out that the Amendment was a very narrow one—an Amendment on an Amendment—and the hon. Member should confine himself to that.
§ * MR. MURRAY
said he begged Mr. Speaker's pardon for not being better acquainted with the rules of the House. As a business man he had not yet got acclimatised to the forms of the House. He had come there to do things, but he was beginning to find out how not to do things. He regretted that he could not agree with the Amendment of the right hon. Member for South Dublin. In Aberdeenshire, where the farmers mostly 124 depended on stock and grass, it was as easy to attend to stock on a smaller holding as on a large farm; and he felt it his duty to plead the cause of the farm labourers from whom he sprang.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said that if the hon. Member had strayed into a very wide field, he had spoken with an earnestness and from a large personal experience which could not fail to impress hon. Members and enlist sympathy from all quarters of the House. As to the resolution passed by the farm labourers who attended the meeting the previous day in Fifeshire, he would say that whatever those farm servants thought of the criticisms which hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House had made on the Bill, those criticisms were made in real friendship and in their interests. The Amendment proposed by his right hon. friend was obviously necessary. The hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire seemed to think that large and highly cultivated farms could be cut up into small holdings without diminishing the amount of labour on the same area of land. As a general proposition he thought the hon. Gentleman was wrong. There might be exceptions here and there where the hon. Gentleman might be right, where small holdings were occupied by a similar number of heads of families; but he was convinced that that was not the universal rule. It should be remembered that the great advantage of small holdings as exhibited in Prance and elsewhere was that the same person was owner and cultivator, and that the wife and family gave an amount of work to the farm that was never asked for here, and if asked for, would never be given. They worked hard for long hours. It followed that if it was wished to keep a large number of heads of families on the land in this country the way to do it was not to cut up large farms into small holdings unless they went in for intensive cultivation. His hope for Scotland was in intensive cultivation, but that could not be done so well on small holdings of thirty or forty acres as on large farms where labour could be highly organised. He admitted that there were places in Scotland where intensive cultivation could be carried on on small holdings, 125 but these were not very many, especially in the county which the hon. Gentleman represented and in other districts. This was partly due to climatic conditions and the time of the year at which vegetables and the like came to maturity. Intensive cultivation could not be carried on there with profit and success compared with the South of England and the Channel Islands. He did not think the hon. Gentleman, those authority he admitted, would deny any of the propositions which he had ventured to lay down. Therefore small holdings were created where intensive cultivation was impossible. The number of heads of families on the land would be reduced and the evil of rural depopulation, which they all deplored, increased. He thought that the right hon., Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland was wrong in opposing the Amendment of his right hon. friend. He did not see that it could do any harm.
§ MR. McCRAE (Edinburgh, E.)
said he did not think there was any great difference between the two sides of the House as to the merits of the question: the right hon. Gentleman had been engaged for the most part in painting the lily. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin would strike out the words "or about" from his Amendment it would probably meet the views of the Secretary for Scotland. It must be remembered that the Scottish were a practical people and no Agricultural Commission or Land Court would propose to set up a small holding which would cause rural depopulation. He thought the best test of the matter was that the agricultural labourers were all enthusiastically in favour of the Bill. They had no fear of rural depopulation being caused by small I holdings. All that the Leader of the Opposition had said in regard to intensive cultivation was true. There were, however, various parts of Scotland where that argument did not apply and where large holdings could be cut up in order to create small holdings and increase the number of people on the land. He would suggest that the right hon. Member for South Dublin should now accept the proposal of the Secretary for Scotland and 126 allow the discussion on this point to come to an end.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said that the discussion had been carried on by practical people and he had been enjoying a feast which those practical people had provided for him. This was not a personal matter between the Secretary for Scotland, and himself. He did not want any do[...] words, and they clearly ought to be ejusdem generis, and if the right hon. Gentleman thought that "farm servants" would meet what was requisite he would be prepared to accept the Amendment in the amended form.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. THOMAS SHAW,) Hawick Burghs
assured the right hon. Gentleman that the expression would form a complete category of farm employees.
§ SIR J. DEWAR (Inverness)
said he was in sympathy with the object of the right hon. Gentleman, but he feared that under the words suggested shepherds would be left out.
§ MR. SINCLAIR
did not think his hon. friend need have any concern in this matter, because it had been mentioned in the Report of the Commissioners on Small Holdings and the Report of the Agricultural Commissioners, and the question had been fully considered.
§ Amendment to the Amendment (as amended by the substitution of the words "farm servants" for "agricultural labourers or others") agreed to.
§ Proposed words, as amended, there inserted in the Bill.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 7, line 5, to leave out the word 'new' and to insert the word 'small.'
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. J. F. MASON (Windsor)
who had given notice of his intention to move to leave out Subsection 5 of Clause 7, which was in the following terms—Where a new holding is constituted by agreement, the rent agreed between the landlord and the new holder shall not be altered by the Land 127 Court for a period of seven years from the term at which it first becomes payable,said he thought his object would be better attained if he moved an Amendment standing in the name of his noble friend the Member for the Thirsk Division of Yorkshire "to insert after the word 'not' the words 'if the same shall have been agreed upon for a specified period,' and after the word 'Court,' to insert the words during such period and shall not in any case be altered by the Land Court.'" The subsection dealt with the fixing of the rent of the land in case no such agreement as was contemplated had been come to between landlord and tenant. There was nothing more objectionable in the whole of the Rill than to have these rents fixed in this way. The tenant not knowing whether he was to have his rent lowered or raised, might deal unfairly with his small holding with a view to getting his rent lowered. The idle tenant might neglect the holding, and even the industrious small holder would be looking forward to the effect on his rent if he improved his plot of land. He saw no reason why where two people had had the good sense to see that it was in the interest of both to have a fixed rent for a specified time such an agreement should not be put beyond the power of revision by the Land Court during that period. Therefore he saw no reason why the Government should not accept this Amendment which he did not think contained an unreasonable suggestion.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
seconded, and said he made no apology for intervening in the debate because he spoke from some experience of land legislation in Ireland. He pointed out that the first advantage of recent Irish land legislation was the acquisition by the tenant of ownership, and another was that when a landlord and tenant had made a bargain, that bargain laid down for a number of years the fixed annual sum which the purchaser was to pay year in and year out. It was not denied that the fact that a tenant had a knowledge that his rent would be reviewed at intervals had led to tenants "running out" their land. It was not in human nature to expect that the result would be otherwise. It was asking too much from the moral 128 point of view to suppose that tenants would put their backs into the work of their farms if they knew that through being industrious they might have the rent increased or that through being idle they might get it diminished. Of course a tenant might be industrious and ingenious, but an idle man as the time came on for the rent fixing would have no inducement to work. Why should it be said that men were incapable of arriving at a bargain in a matter of this kind? He had always understood that in Scotland the cultivators of the soil had done better than the cultivators of the soil in England. Would it be said that these small cultivators of the soil would be unable to come to a bargain with their landlords as to the amount of money which they were prepared to pay? He hoped the Government would not take that view and inflict upon Scotland a system which had borne evil fruit in Ireland in regard to rent fixing, but that the tenants would be put upon conditions that would give them every inducement to cultivate the land. Unless it was said that those who were to benefit by this Bill were incapable of arriving at a reasonable bargain he saw no reason why the Amendment should not be accepted.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 7, line 14, after the word 'not' to insert the words 'if the same shall have been agreed upon for a specified period.'"—(Mr. J. F. Mason.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. SINCLAIR
said that the right hon. Gentleman had opened rather a wide field by the observations which he had addressed to the House. This Bill had nothing to do with purchase nor had it any real similarity to the Irish system of fair rent fixing. There was a wide difference between the two cases which ran right through the Bill and was founded on Scottish experience. He thought that the instances which the right hon. Gentleman had quoted of Irish tenants "running out" their land with a view to getting a reduction of rent were very rare. At all events they were in a large minority.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said that it was generally recognised during the debates of 1903 that the fact that new rents were going to be fixed at a given date had a depreciating effect upon the energy and enterprise of the tenant during the last two or three years of his tenancy.
§ MR. SINCLAIR
said that that might be so, but he must point out that there were other influences at work, because there was a purchase system running alongside the fair rent system and that had a great influence on the tenants. There was no free sale in this Bill, but the Government had provided compensation for the tenant for his own improvements. The object of this clause was to give some security to the land-lord that the agreement he had come to with the landholder should not be disturbed for a period of seven years. The hon. Member for Windsor wished to extend that period. On the previous day it was made a matter of censure upon the administration of the Crofters Act that only in regard to 6,000 out of some 24,000 holdings had fair rents been fixed. In his opinion that fact bore an entirely different complexion. It was to the credit of the Crofters Act that in a great number of cases the landowners and their crofters had been able to come to a satisfactory agreement for the cultivation of the land under the conditions of the Crofters Act. It had never been the intention of that Act to exclude such agreements, and following the policy of that Act the Government under this Bill would do all that was possible to encourage such agreements, and it was not necessary for the landholder to have his rent fixed by the Land Court. What they hoped was that it would be possible under this Bill for a large number of these people to make agreements satisfactory to both parties for a term of years. He had put in the limit of seven years because the tendency in Scotland of late years was to shorten leases. Formerly leases were made for fifteen, nineteen, or twenty-one years, but they were not now common and where they existed there was always a break. In some cases it was at the end of every five years, in others there was a break 130 at seven and fourteen years. Bearing that in mind the period for revision of rents which would actually come before the Land Commission was fixed by the Bill at seven years. The Government did not object to a longer term. It was a question for the landowner and the landholder, and while he questioned whether the landholder would be found willing to agree to the longer term suggested he had no objection to accepting the Amendment.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
, in the absence of his hon. friend the Member for Hertford, moved to add words which provided that if the landholder made use of his holding for subsidiary or auxiliary occupations the landowner could apply to the Land Court to readjust the rent. When the Bill was in Committee it was stated that in many parts of Scotland people could not live on a small holding without a subsidiary occupation, and it was thought very hard that fish curing which was carried on on some of these holdings should have to be stopped. Although it might be true that in some cases small holdings could not be carried on successfully unless the occupier had some other occupation, at the same time they did not want to make it possible for a prosperous tradesman in the town to come out into the country and take up a small holding and borrow money to put up buildings upon it merely for the purpose of a pleasure resort. It was difficult to draw the line as to where auxiliary occupation should cease, and nothing was done to meet that difficulty in the Committee, But this Amendment did meet that difficulty to some extent, because if it was found that a prosperous tradesman had acquired a small holding not for the purpose of its being used for the purposes of agriculture, but merely as a pleasure resort, the landlord could apply to the Land Court and claim for an increased rent on the ground that the holding was not used for the purpose intended, and if the Land Court considered that the application was reasonable they could increase the rent. This was a good Amendment because the kind of cases to which he referred were 131 bound to occur. He did not believe even the hon. Member for Dumfries-shire wanted the property of the landlord taken away for the purpose of making it a pleasure-ground for the prosperous tradesmen.
§ MR. ABEL SMITH (Hertfordshire, Hertford)
apologised for being absent when his Amendment came on for discussion. He might, however, be allowed to second it. It had been so ably moved by his hon. friend and so well explained that he had very little left to say. The words of the Amendment he had taken from Clause 9 of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman would remember that when the clause was under discussion in the Committee it was desired to prevent these holdings being used for a subsidiary occupation. It was desirable that a man whose principal occupation was the cultivation of his holding should have some auxiliary occupation to occupy his spare time in the winter months, but if the cultivation of his holding was subsidiary to his general occupation then it was only fair that the rent of the holding should be reviewed by the Land Court. The object of the Bill was to encourage the increase of a real agricultural population living on the land, and it was because that was considered by everybody in the House to be an object of national importance that this exceptional legislation was proposed. Therefore, it ought not to be used by those who got their living by some other occupation to obtain what was termed in England accommodation land. It would not be fair if a small tradesman, or some other person in a similar position, was treated in this exceptional way and have land which he would cultivate at odd times. It was generally agreed that those who were to be helped by the Bill ought at any rate to obtain the chief part of their living from the cultivation of their holdings. It had been suggested, and it was quite possible, that a man in possession of one of these holdings could be registered as a landholder under the Bill, and then might set up business upon the holding as a fish curer. If that occurred, an entirely new consideration would be set up, and it would be perfectly right, if the holder did anything 132 of that sort—setting up a business foreign to his occupation—that the terms and the rent under which he had the holding should be brought again under review. He hoped the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite would accept the Amendment.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 7, line 16, at the end, to insert the words, Provided that, if the landholder makes use of the holding for subsidiary or auxiliary occupations not agreed upon at the commencement of the tenancy, the landlord may apply to the Land Court for a readjustment of the rent of the holding, and the Land Court shall, in considering such readjustment of rent, take into account the use to which the holding is put.'"—(Sir F. Banbury.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. THOMAS SHAW,) Hawick Burghs
said he was sorry the Government could not accept the Amendment. The theory of the Crofters Act was as follows: In the first place, the small holder, as a condition of his tenancy, must not injure the holding. The landlord was entitled by law to require that the holding should be kept in fair cultivation, and under the Act of 1886 a forfeiture arose in two cases—First, where there was dilapidation of buildings, against which the landlord was entitled to protect himself; and, secondly, where there was deterioration of the holding to which he himself called attention. For the past twenty years that had acted in the best of ways. Seldom—he did not think ever—had this clause been called in question. The effect of cultivation under conditions of fixity of tenure and fair rent had been that the holdings had been let, they had been kept in a fair state of cultivation, the buildings had not dilapidated, and cases of forfeiture had not arisen. The proposal of the Amendment was that if a new holder was set up the landlord was to be entitled at the next fixing of the rent to take into account any subsidiary or auxiliary occupation in which the holder had engaged, although it had not injured the holding, the cultivation having gone on as before, and although it had not caused dilapidation of buildings. Perhaps the small holder might open a little shop in a part of his cottage, doing no harm to the 133 holding, and perhaps rather improving the cottage than otherwise. On a readjustment of rents, it was proposed by the Amendment that the landlord should be entitled to say that his tenant at the start was not a grocer and that he was entitled to have a larger rent in respect of that. He did not think that would be fair between the parties. Or suppose the small holder had children, and that one of his girls was fond of flowers, was perhaps connected with a University and of a scientific turn, and suppose he put up a small greenhouse in which she might sell flowers, would it be said, in such a case, that that was a subsidiary occupation? Or suppose a holder, finding that his neighbours had to go several miles to get their horses shod, put up a shed where his son, who had served his apprenticeship as a smith, could shoe horses, would that be a subsidiary occupation? Would his hon. friend really say that the Land Court should take such cases into account as a means of giving the landlord more rent? [OPPOSITION cries of "No."] The case they would all have in their minds was that in which recently a Post Office was started by a small holder for the convenience of the neighbourhood. It was found that the Post Office was a source of revenue to the small holder. Was it also to be made a source of revenue to the landlord? Such cases would arise under the Amendment, but he was sure the hon. Member who moved it could not have it in his mind that the landlord was to obtain the benefit of that which did no harm to the holding and left the cultivation practically as before.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said the right hon. Gentleman had pointed out that under the Act of 1886 the penalty for dilapidation of buildings or deterioration of holding was forfeiture, and in Clause 9 there was a definition of the kind of auxiliary pursuits which might be carried on if the landlords found them reasonable. But what would be the result if the landlord found them unreasonable?
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
said that the clause applied to the specific case of a new holding. The right hon. Gentleman knew that there were provisions in the 134 Bill with regard to the carrying out of new holdings, and the clause particularly applied to the case of a new holding in which it was quite manifest that the man had got the land for some purpose altogether other than that of cultivation, in which case the Land Court could put its veto upon the transaction. But the cases which were covered by the Amendment might include some small addition to the occupation which would not interfere with the cultivation, nor dilapidate the buildings or deteriorate the holding.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
asked whether he was correct in understanding that a holding, not carved out for the first time, came under the provisions of the Bill, and that a man could do anything else on that land provided it did not dilapidate the buildings or deteriorite it as an agricultural holding. If a man had sufficient effort and thought to run it as a small holding at the same time that he conducted some other business, was he enabled to do that?
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
Precisely. He did not mean that the man had to go to the Land Court for sanction, but if he did come before the Land Court, and the Land Court found the additional occupation not to be reasonable, they would disallow it, and the man would incur forfeiture under the Statute.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said he was very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. He felt he could not support the Amendment, for if he did so he would be going against the spirit of the observations he had made a few minutes ago. For his own part he believed that the less element of change they had, once they gave fixity of tenure, the better it would be.
§ MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON (Lanarkshire, N. W.)
said he agreed almost entirely with what the right hon. Gentleman had said; at the same time he thought the Lord Advocate had misunderstood a great deal of the purport of the Amendment. He had shown his skill in setting up a man of straw, only to proceed to lay him in 135 fragments on the floor. The right hon. Gentleman had suggested that the object of the Amendment was to enable the landlords, at the period for re-adjusting the rent, to come to the Land Court and ask that more rent should be given in respect of a subsidiary pursuit which the holder might follow. If the right hon. Gentleman read the Amendment, he would see that it applied in the first place to holdings in connection with which there was an agreement. His hon. friend had mentioned, as an illustration, fish-curing. If a landlord had said that he could not let the man have the holding for fish-curing or anything of that kind, all the Amendment provided was that if a man wilfully broke the agreement with the landlord into which he had entered not to start such a business, then that should be a ground for the landlord going to the Land Court, saying the bargain had been broken, and asking for a readjustment of rent at once. Under the clause, he could have a readjustment of rent at the normal period, at the end of seven years, but it might happen that an agreement was broken just at the beginning of the seven years, and for six years the landlord would have to go on without getting a readjustment of rent, whereas if this Amendment were adopted, he would be enabled to get a readjustment immediately. If he appeared before the Land Court unfairly, he would have to pay the expenses; that was the protection against an unfair appeal. He thought the reply of the right hon. Gentleman did not cover all the points raised by the Amendment, and he hoped the Government would reconsider it.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. URE,) Linlithgow
said it was quite obvious that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had not read the Amendment. To follow a subsidiary pursuit forbidden by agreement would be a breach of contract, but the Amendment did not apply merely to forbidden occupations, as the mover and seconder knew perfectly well. They would go to the Land Court to consider whether it was reasonable. If the man obeyed the order of the Land Court which said that the 136 occupation was unreasonable then the occupation ceased. The Amendment related exclusively to a subsidiary occupation.
§ SIR P. BANBURY
said the hon. and learned Gentleman was quite right in his definition, but that was not what was in his mind when he moved the Amendment. Having got his small holding and misrepresented himself in regard to his occupation, it seemed only fair that if the tenant started an industry the landlord should have an opportunity of going into the Court, because that industry ought to be subjected to an increased rent. There was nothing compulsory in the proposal. The Secretary for Scotland had told them over and over again that nothing could be better than the commonsense of the Commissioners in these matters, but in this case they desired to leave it to the commonsense of the landlord. He hoped the House would look at the question in a practical business-like way. In order to show their confidence in the Land Court he hoped his hon. friends would proceed to a division.
§ MR. J. D. WHITE (Dumbartonshire)
said that if they accepted this Amendment they would be going on the principle that if a small holder were to erect a hot-house or a smithy which had not been anticipated his rent would be raised in consequence. It was a fundamental principle of the Crofters Act which this Bill extended that the crofter's rent was not to be raised against him in consequence of his improvements, and in fixing his rent nothing that his predecessors had done was to be taken into account. The Amendment would be cutting at the very root of that principle.
§ SIR SAMUEL SCOTT (Marylebone, W.)
said that nobody desired to prevent a man putting up such a thing as a smithy. In any case the landlord would have to apply to the Land Court. When they proposed to put a little trust in the Land Court they were told by hon. Gentlemen opposite that they could not be trusted at all.
§ Question put.138
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 61; Noes, 240. (Division List No. 385.)139
|Acland-Hood, Rt Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Balcarres, Lord||Du Cros, Harvey||Moore, William|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Faber, George Denison (York)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Balfour, Rt Hn. A. J. (City Lond)||Fell, Arthur||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Fletcher, J. S.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Forster, Henry William||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Gordon, J.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Starkey, John R.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Helmsley, Viscount||Thomson, W. Mitchell (Lanark)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cave, George||Hunt, Rowland||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C. W.||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.)||Younger, George|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc.||Lowe, Sir Fran is William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir. Frederick Banbury and Mr. Abel Smith|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Gulland, John W.|
|Alden, Percy||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Gurdon, Rt Hn. Sir W. Brampton|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Cory, Clifford John||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Cox, Harold||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r.)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Cremer, Sir William Randal||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh.|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Crooks, William||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Crosfield, A. H.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Curran, Peter Francis||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.)||Henry, Charles S.|
|Beale, W. P.||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Duckworth, James||Hodge, John|
|Bell, Richard||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Holden, E. Hopkinson|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S. Geo.||Dunne, Major Martin (Walsall)||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd)||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Bethell T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Elibank, Master of||Hudson, Walter|
|Black, Arthur W.||Erskine, David C.||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Essex, R. W.||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Brace, William||Esslemont, George Birnie||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Everett, R. Lacey||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred|
|Branch, James||Fenwick, Charles||Jenkins, J.|
|Brigg, John||Ffrench, Peter||Johnson John (Gateshead)|
|Bright, J. A.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)|
|Brnnner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Findlay, Alexander||Jones, Sir D. (Brynmor Swansea)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Fuller, John Michael F.||Jowett, F. W.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Fullerton, Hugh||Kearley, Hudson E|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Gill, A. H.||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Kelley, George D.|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Glover, Thomas||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Gooch, George Peabody||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster|
|Clough, William||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Lamont, Norman|
|Clynes, J. R.||Greenwood, Hamar (York)||Lardner, James Carrigo Rushe|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Lough, Thomas||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Puestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (FalkirkBg'hs)||Radford, G. H.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Rainy, A. Rolland||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somers't, E.|
|Macpherson, J. T.||Raphael, Herbert H.||Tillett, Louis John|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Ure, Alexander|
|M'Callum, John M.||Rees, J. D.||Verney, F. W.|
|M'Crae, George||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n)||Vivian, Henry|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Richardson, A.||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Ridsdale, E. A.||Walters, John Tudor|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Maddison, Frederick||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Robinson, S.||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Waring, Walter|
|Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)||Rose, Charles Day||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Rowlands, J.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Marnham, F. J.||Runciman, Walter||Watt, Henry A.|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Russell, T. W.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Samuel, Herbert F. (Cleveland)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Montagu, E. S.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Mooney, J. J.||Sears, J. E.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Morrell, Philip||Seddon, J.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Shackleton, David James||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Murray, James||Sherwell, Arthur James||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarth'n|
|Myer, Horatio||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Napier, T. B.||Silcock, Thomas Ball||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Nicholls, George||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Wilson, J. H. (Worcestersh., N.)|
|Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Snowden, P.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|O'Grady, J.||Steadman, W. C.|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Partington, Oswald||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
§ SIR HENRY CRAIK (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities) moved the insertion of words to empower the Agricultural Commissioners to provide assistance "by way of loans either to the landlord or the landholder, and in the case of loan to the landlord the Commissioners shall be satisfied that the conditions of tenancy are reasonable as to the amount of rent and the estate regulations, and that they provide for a period of occupancy sufficient to give reasonable security of tenure." It seemed to him that the Government would be very unwise if they did not, in attempting to get the co-operation of the landlords in the formation of small holdings, give them the advantage of powers similar to those which had been given in other land improvement Acts, and especially the Drainage Act. The right hon. Gentleman would admit that if loans could be given in the way proposed, the cordial co-operation of the landlords was much more likely to be 140 obtained. He thought it was only fair that the advantages in the way of loans which were to be given to the small holders should be open to the landlord also. It would be in the interest of the Bill itself, and in accordance with precedent. The strict conditions laid down in the Amendment with regard to the terms on which the advances were to be made were reasonable, wise, and expedient. The landlords in many cases were only too anxious to extend small holdings, but they were unable to do so because they had not the necessary capital. He begged to move.
§ MR. LANE-FOX,
in seconding the Amendment, said that if small holdings were to be established on an absolutely economic basis the method proposed by his hon. friend was the easiest and most satisfactory. It was perfectly clear that the man who was in the best position to establish small holdings was the landlord. The main reason why small 141 holdings had not been more largely established was that the landlords had not the money, their estates being in many cases heavily mortgaged. He did not support the Amendment because it would throw an additional burden on the national Exchequer, but because he believed that the method proposed was the best way to secure the establishment of small holdings.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 7, line 29, after the word 'prescribe,' to insert the words' such assistance shall be provided by way of loans either to the landlord or to the landholder, and in the ease of loan to the landlord the Commissioners shall be satisfied that the conditions of tenancy are reasonable as to the amount of rent and the estate regulations and that they provide for a period of occupancy sufficient to give reasonable security of tenure.'"—(Sir Henry Craik.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ MR. SINCLAIR
said that the last three lines of the Amendment dealt with considerations which were already provided for in the Bill, and therefore the words were superfluous. In regard to the proposal that the Agricultural Commissioners should be empowered to give loans to landlords the criticism he had to make was that there was already discretion given to the Commissioners to make loans for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Bill. There was no specific provision for loans to landlords because loans to them did not appear to be necessary to carry out the provisions of the subclause now under consideration. The clause empowered the Agricultural Commissioners to provide assistance "for the purpose of dividing, fencing, or otherwise preparing or adapting the land, making occupation roads, or executing other works, such as works for the provision of drainage or water supply." All those works would be carried out by gift or loan as the Agricultural Commissioners might consider necessary. The "dwelling houses or other buildings" to be erected by the landholders were not to be provided by gift under any circumstances. For that purpose the landholder received a loan and came under an obligation to 142 pay it off. Therefore the first part of the Amendment contradicted the provisioin in the clause to which he had referred. It was competent for the Agricultural Commissioners to give loans to landlords, but they were not bound to do so. It had been recognised that the difficulty in the creation of small holdings had been the finding of money for the equipment of the land and the erection of buildings. The Bill proceeded on the plan which had been in operation in the congested districts in Scotland for the last ten years. That plan was that where suitable land was found and was to be applied for the purposes of small holdings it was equipped at the public expense in so far as fencing and the other purposes enumerated in the sub-clause were concerned. The justification for that was to be found in two considerations, namely, that it was not fair to lay upon the landlord, as the owner of the laud, the obligation of going to that expense, and that the work was to be carried out in the public interest. Possibly the landlord could not afford the expense. When in the public interest slum dwellings were pulled down in towns and new buildings erected money was frequently dropped by the transaction. While it was not right to lay this obligation on the land lord, it was on the other hand not possible or practicable to lay it on the tenant, because, if that were done, the gross rent which he would have to pay for the small holding would not be an economic rent. The loan to be granted was to facilitate the erection of dwelling houses and buildings. They had had experience of that for the past ten years. The Congested Districts Board had provided money for specific purposes to enable the land to be best used in the public interest while in occupation of the several tenants. That procedure was to be followed by the Agricultural Commissioners under this Bill. The money was not a gift either to the landlord or the tenant; it was money to be expended alike for the benefit of the landlord, the tenant, and the public. It really was a gift to the land. The Government did not wish to tie down the Agricultural Commissioners to carry out the work of providing loans in any particular way. The Government had provided sufficiently for the money 143 to be given by gift and loan, and the Commissioners, as trustees for the public, had the duty of seeing that those proceedings were carried out as efficiently and economically as possible. He could not accept the Amendment.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said that the complaint could not be made that the right hon. Gentleman had been too brief in his statement. Whether he had succeeded in making his position clear-to the House he left it to those who had listened to him to say. He confessed that he had not the faintest idea why the right hon. Gentleman had declined to accept one portion of the Amendment or why it was believed to conflict with the proposals in the Bill. The proposals in the Bill were quite simple. They were that the State should lend money for the creation of small holdings, and also for the provision of free gifts. At present they were entirely confined under the Amendment to the question of loans, and his hon. friend the Member for Barkston Ash had made it perfectly clear what were the grounds on which that Amendment had been moved. His argument was that the loans could be granted with greater advantage to the landowner than to the landholder. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Amendment was superfluous, and that it conflicted with the rest of the sub section. He did not see that. The sub-clause provided that loans were to be made for specific purposes to land holders, and his hon. friend wished by his Amendment some reference to be made to the landlord. The Secretary for Scotland said that there was power given to the Agricultural Commissioners to exercise discretion, and the Government did not want to tie their hands. The Government might not mean to tie their hands, but he contended they were doing so. Although it might be the case that the landowner could do the work more efficiently and economically than the landholder, no power was given in the sub-section by which the Agricultural Commissioners would be entitled to employ the landlord as an agent to do their work. He shared the view that the landowner would in many cases be able to do the work more efficiently and economically than the landholder, but 144 he had some natural apprehension of money being lent to the landlord to improve his own property, not because he was afraid of the way in which the money would be expended, but because the proposition was, to his mind, an unsound one, and the powers contained in the Bill might lead to the development of such a policy as might be adopted as the foundation for exercising greater control over the owner of the land in the administration of his estate. On that ground he did not think he would be able to vote for the Amendment, and he hoped that his hon. friend would be willing after the discussion that had taken place to withdraw it.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON
said he had always opposed the principle of loans being granted for the purposes contemplated, and in Committee he had pointed out the danger of embarking on this policy except for well defined specific purposes, such as to provide for experiments being made and object lessons being given to small holders. He had never agreed to lending money by the State promiscuously for the development of the land, nor to the State running the risk of taking upon itself the liabilities of landowners. This was the first step on a very long journey, and he could only express the greatest distrust of the whole policy involved in the granting of these loans. They were turning their backs upon the principle of economic success and starting on the basis of inevitable loss in the creation of small holdings. The right hon. Gentleman argued from the work of the Congested Districts Board as a precedent, but that was absolutely valueless in regard to the work they had now to consider. If they were to grant loans he would be inclined to do so on the best possible security so that no risk to the public Exchequer should be involved. The best possible way to secure that was by advancing money to the landlord who gave security to the State. Sometimes it was safe to advance money to the tenants, but more often it was safer to advance the money to the landlords. There was no reason why money should not be obtained to compensate a tenant quitting a holding without any loss to the State through the 145 landowners giving security. The right hon. Gentleman said he was not tying the hands of the Commissioners, but he was tying their hands in this very respect, because they could not give a loan to a landowner, and in nine cases out of ten they would not be able to give the loan without risk to the State. The whole scheme at present was based upon loss to the State, and, although he had always been opposed to giving State money to landowners, still he thought in this case it was the choice of the lesser evil, because if it was not justifiable to give loans to landowners for the equipment of the land it was still less justifiable to lend money under the policy of the right hon. Gentleman. As he had already argued, they could not take the congested districts as forming any precedent in regard to the difficulties which would fall upon this Commission, because their difficulties would be novel and of an exactly opposite character.
§ SIR HENRY CRAIK
said the Amendment he had moved might be right or wrong, but at all events it raised a clear issue and deserved a distinct answer. At the end of the long and rambling speech made in reply to it he was utterly confused as to the intention which was expressed in the Bill. It only obscured the argument which he put forward rightly or wrongly. The right hon. Gentleman said that the concluding words of the Amendment were unnecessary because the Bill already provided reasonable security of tenure for all tenants. He was not endeavouring to provide reasonable security for all tenants; he was seeking to provide that if they gave landlords assistance they should see that they treated their tenants properly. There were two kinds of assistance, that given by loan and that by gift, and he thought it should be open to them to give assistance to the landlords by loan as well as help the tenants by way of gift. If they were going to give assistance why not; give it to both of them?
§ MR. YOUNGER (Ayr Burghs)
doubted the policy of making advances to land lords in Scotland from State funds for the purposes specified in his hon. friend's 146 Amendment, but that proposition was really quite a useless one so long as compensation for failure was restricted to the cases of holdings formed under compulsion. No landlord was likely voluntarily to incur expenditure in the formation of such holdings so long as that provision stood, and he therefore would vote against the Amendment as he did not consider it of any practical use.
§ MR. J. F. MASON
said it was admitted that the small holdings to be constituted under the Bill would not be economic holdings, and that if the cost of fences, roads, etc., was thrown upon the tenants it would be beyond his means. The point was that the money spent on small holdings would be spent at the public expense. It would be public money spent for a public purpose, viz., that of keeping the people on the land. The question of extending the policy to giving loans to Scottish landowners out of English money was, he thought, a doubtful one.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
was understood to say that he gathered from the remarks of the Secretary for Scotland that unless some Amendment of this kind was introduced the landlords would be bound by these transactions. The Bill, however, recognised that a sum of money was going to be invested under a system that would produce a less amount than that which was given. The Government could proceed by either of the alternatives of gift or loan, but if they adopted the system of gift they might be asking a man to pay a higher rent in consequence of that gift of money quite apart from the economic value of the land. As to the system of loan he thought that this plan of buying the landlord out was a worse plan that that of keeping him there in order that he might make those improvements which were necessary and economical, because the loan involved repayment during a period of years, and therefore a charge was put upon the tenant side by side with the rent. That kind of thing had happened in Ireland where they had created new holdings and placed upon them new buildings and done the work of fencing and road making de novo. On the one hand they had the payment of the rent, 147 and on the other they had another set of circumstances under which the man was paying for his buildings, his roads, and the fencing of his farm. In Ireland they endeavoured to get out of the difficulty by pooling the two operations and having only one annual repayment. Under this Bill they bad no such opportunity. The right hon. Gentleman bowed the landlord out and subjected the man who was to conduct this experiment to a really more onerous obligation. He had to pay a fair rent fixed upon the agricultural value of the holding and to repay the sums which he had borrowed for the purposes of putting up his house and otherwise equipping the holding. If these transactions were to succeed over a large area of Scotland it would be found impossible to spread the repayment of the loans for the equipment over a long period. One final argument against this practice of buying the landlord out was that he would have to be brought in again under the guise of the State. They would have to arm the State with every power a landlord had over held. They would have to alter the size and shape of the holdings they had bought and strike new bargains, and yet under this Bill the value of the holdings had to be settled by one body and the method of the repayment of the loan by another. An experiment conducted on these lines could only fail.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ MR. WALTER LONG,
on behalf of Mr. COCHRANE, moved to add the following proviso to the clause—"Provided that when the Agricultural Commissioners are of opinion that, with a view to or as incidental to the registration of a new holder or holders, assistance should be provided by way of gift, such assistance shall be provided by the Agricultural Commissioners otherwise than by a grant of money to such new holder or holders; and provided, further, that a new holder to whom such assistance is provided shall not be entitled, on renunciation of his tenancy or removal from his holding, to compensation in respect of such assistance. He said that the Amendment raised a question of very great importance which had only been touched 148 upon in the previous discussion. It dealt with the proposal of the Government to grant a certain amount of money to new holders in the form of gifts. He found it very difficult to understand the Government's view in the matter. They had decided, however, that the money grants must take the form of gifts, and what the Amendment desired to urge was that if there was to be a gift it should be not in the form of money, but in money's worth. That had been found by owners of property in this country to be the only sound way to deal with a matter of this kind. It sometimes happened that owing to bad seasons and pressure of circumstances it was necessary for an owner to help his tenant over a time of difficulty by a grant; but where that was done it was invariably found wisest to arrange with the tenant in such a way that he got the value, but not the cash in hand. That was not because the man was dishonest, but, first, because the temptation to make other use of the money than that for which it was intended, and, secondly, because the landholder was not always the best judge of the best way in which the money should be spent upon the holding. It must be remembered that the men to whom these gifts were to be made were not strong men with experience of their own to go back upon. One of the difficulties under which they would labour would be that in all the work they did involving financial bargains they would deal in a small way, and without the assistance of co-operative societies they would never obtain the advantages obtained by the bigger men who were able to buy in larger quantities and deal generally in a bigger way. The second part of the Amendment was designed to clear up a difficulty which arose during the debates in Committee, and upon which the Government had not been able to express an opinion. The words were—And provided, further, that a new holder to whom such assistance is provided shall not be entitled, on renunciation of his tenancy or removal from his holding, to compensation in respect of such assistance.That was a proposition so obvious that it only had to be stated to meet with the general acceptance of the House. He 149 begged the Government to consider the first part of the Amendment. This was an experiment being made in Scotland for the first time in this extended manner. It had been made in Ireland with regard to the evicted tenants, and the results in many cases where money had been found for restoring those tenants had not been so satisfactory as one would like to see, and the precedents on which the Government had to rely were not-such, as to justify them in spending the public money in this way. He begged to move.
Amendment proposed to the B 11—
In page 7, line 29, after the word 'prescribed' to insert the words provided that when the Agricultural Commissioners are of opinion that, with a view to or as incidental to the registration of a new holder or holders, assistance should be provided by way of gift, such assistance shall be provided by the Agricultural Commissioners otherwise than by a grant of money to such new holder or holders; and provided further that a new holder to whom such assistance is provided shall not be entitled, on renunciation of his tenancy or removal from his holding, to compensation in respect of such assistance.'"—(Mr. Long.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ MR. J. D. WHITE
said that in considering the particular working of this Bill they ought to assume that in the majority of cases the Agricultural Commissioners would be reasonable men, and on that assumption he thought this matter might be fairly left to their discretion. The amount of money placed at their disposal was extremely limited, and the cases would be very few in which they would give a sum of money. They would most certainly prefer to spend it on the equipment of the holdings. In no case, however, should they lay down a hard and fast rule, because he could conceive exceptional cases where a money advance would be of more value than if that money was spent upon equipment. He was not impressed with the arguments against making these gifts, and the Government bad no idea of imitating at any rate that policy of doles which was such a characteristic feature of the late Government. If anything was to be given, whether in money or money's 150 worth, the idea was not to give it to a few favoured individuals. It was to be given to these men because a certain margin must be allowed for experiment. But the fundamental idea was that it should be a loan.
§ MR. YOUNGER
said he did not know that it was necessary that the Bill should contain the last portion of the Amendment, because a gift was a gift, and no man on leaving his holding could expect compensation for a gift But there was no doubt a great deal of force in the first part of the Amendment. It was a reasonable proposal, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would accept it.
§ MR. SINCLAIR
said it was absolutely foreign to their purpose or intention to give money where money was not wanted, or to do anything which would check the best energies and efforts of the small holders. They had in this provision followed the Act of 1897, establishing Congested Districts Commissioners, in which there was no limitation of the Commissioners' discretion in the sense suggested by the Amendment. They had exercised a wise discretion in carrying out the functions entrusted to their charge, and he thought there was some ground for adhering to the former practise in this respect. What he had said applied to the earlier part of the Amendment. In regard to the second portion, it was of course the case that no compensation was permitted in respect of subsidies. The words of the Crofters Act were perfectly definite, and they had never led to any confusion or mistake. The tenant was only entitled to compensation for improvements carried out by himself. He was advised that the words of the Amendment were really not necessary. He would ask the House to leave to the Agricultural Commissioners the discretion which they or their predecessors had hitherto possessed, and which had been exercised by them entirely in the spirit of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks, and so far without any detriment to the public.
§ MR. STARKEY (Nottinghamshire, Newark)
said a great amount of care should be exercised in safeguarding 151 the position in regard to how the money advanced was expended. The gifts were intended for the purposes of fencing, draining, and other matters under the Bill. If the landholder had a gift of money made to him and he spent a portion of it on draining, how was it possible afterwards to apportion that and see how much had been spent in other directions? The Secretary for Scotland had spoken just now of these presents of money as being gifts to the land; but if they put golden sovereigns into the land somebody would pick them up. Who was to be that somebody? That was what he would like to know. If the golden sovereigns were so put into the land it must follow that either the next landlord or the next landholder would be called upon, unwillingly upon the part of the Government perhaps, to pay for some of the improvements that had been made with the money advanced as a gift. It seemed to him an altogether unworkable proposition. If the money was given it ought to be given for a specific object; it ought to be clearly laid down for what object the money was given, and a record should be kept, so that when the tenant left at the end of his term there might be no doubt or difficulty as to what had been spent and how the gifts had been apportioned out.
§ SIR SAMUEL SCOTT
said that it was true that the Commissioners might give money to the landholder, but under the Bill there was absolutely no guarantee that the money would be applied to the purpose for which it was given; and he would defy all their Land Courts and all their agricultural Commissioners to utilise their power and authority in order to insist that the money, if it once reached the hands of the landholder, should be used in the manner that that House wished or supposed that it would be used. He was surprised that the Government did not see their way to accept the Amendment, which was reasonable, and gave the Commissioners power to equip the land; and after all, what was the money given for if it was not for the purpose of equipping the land and turning it into a successful small holding? He maintained that any offer of money without any guarantee how it 152 was to be expended was economically unsound, and if they were to speak of doles, as did the hon. Member opposite just now, this was the worst form of dole that could possibly be conceived.
§ MR. BEALE (Ayrshire, S.)
said that he was one of those who looked with very great suspicion upon a proposal to provide money for this purpose by way of gift at all. The reflection which always occurred to him was that when they lent money to persons who had not the wherewithal to provide for their necessities, they were not likely to be very flush for some time to come, and in the circumstances the gift and the loan became very nearly identical. He thought that in many of these cases it was better to call the money advanced a gift at once rather than to trust to any charge on a man's future prosperity for getting repayment. If it was to be a gift, he did not share the apprehension that the Commissioners would be so foolish as to put the cash into the hands of a man without providing all necessary safeguards. It would be absolutely impracticable for the Commissioners to stand by to see how every sovereign was spent. They must make the tenant, whom they believed to be a responsible man, to some extent the person who was to look after the expenditure of their money. He was very much inclined to agree with the observation of the right hon. Gentleman that the tenant who was removed from his tenancy should not pay the claim of the landlord for compensation for the equipment that had been put in for him. The sole question was whether it was a gift to the tenant or to the land lord. It took the form of an improvement of the holding, by which the landlord's rent would in future be measured; and therefore if they said that the landlord was not to pay compensation for it, they undoubtedly made him a present of it. If they said that the tenant might claim it, they were simply abrogating the gift from the landlord. Of the two, he thought that the more consistent course to adopt was that of letting the equipment be on the same footing as any other equipment so that the landlord would have to pay compensation for it, and then it 153 would be part of his holding of which he himself would get the benefit in dealing with the new tenant.
§ MR. ABEL SMITH
said he noticed that the Secretary for Scotland, in replying to his right hon. friend, had cited the procedure under the Congested Districts Acts in Ireland, and had said that as far as he was concerned there was no reason why the system should not be extended to the operations of this Bill when it became an Act of Parliament. But the circumstances of the West of Ireland and of the Western Highlands were such as to make gifts of money suitable. The people in those districts were not on a sound economic basis, and that was the sole reason why Parliament assented to make gifts in those cases. But how different were the conditions which prevailed in the Low lands of Scotland where this Bill was to come into operation. If the Bill was to be put into operation in the way proposed it would be a failure from the first. Its object was to encourage the farming of small holdings in the Lowlands of Scotland, which were not under the Crofters Act, so that a large number of people might be able to make a living on the land and that the population of the rural districts might be increased. He submitted in the first place that these gifts were altogether inappropriate to conditions such as those which obtained in the Lowlands, and if any advances were to be made they ought to be by way of loan either to the landowner or to the landholder, and the person who got the benefit of the loan ought to enter into a contract to repay it in a certain period. That was the only businesslike footing on which a matter such as this could be placed. Every single matter they were discussing under this long clause arose from the complicated arrangement which the right hon. Gentleman had gone out of his way to make. He would take the case of a man who was the legal owner of land upon which they desired to create a small holding. It was quite obvious that the equipment of that small holding would cost a lot of money. The holder might be perfectly willing to equip it if he had the necessary capital, and they desired that 154 the Commissioners should be allowed to step in and provide the money. As they refused to make the loan to the owner, the next most sensible course was to buy the owner out either through the local authority or through some central authority; then the Commissioner could spend what public money had been placed in their hands for this purpose in equipping the holdings, and none of these complications and muddles would arise. If the Bill remained in its present form complications were bound to arise. Another way was to make the advance to the man they were going to place in occupation of the holding. That would be a sensible thing to do if the small holder could give the necessary security. Under this Bill they were giving fixity of tenure and the holders would be able to pass on their holdings to their successors. The system proposed was sure to lead to a great deal of confusion and litigation. Supposing this money was spent upon improving the condition of the land: the increased value derived from the expenditure of that money must belong to some one. It very often happened that in improving land the money spent by the present holder and his predecessors was worth more than the fee simple of the land itself. There would be the real practical value which had arisen from the money advanced by the State, and no one would know to whom it belonged. This proposal was only on a par with a great many other provisions in the Bill which must lead to endless confusion.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he could not understand the argument of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. An hour ago he refused to accept an Amendment on the ground that the Land Court could not be trusted to do certain things. Either the Government must be of opinion that the Commissioners did not need any direction at all or else they must put proper directions in the Bill. It was necessary that in a new Act like this some guidance should be given to the Commissioners. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire had said that money might be given by way, of gift to persons who were not flush of it. The object of the Amendment of his hon. friend was to 155 provide for that. If they gave money to people who were not flush what was likely to occur? The money would not return interest immediately, because in these cases that meant a lot of hard work first. He wished to point out that if they put £50 into the pocket of a man who had not had any money for a long time he might possibly spend it, not in a whiskey factory, but in whiskey pure and simple. It would be much safer to make the gift in stock. The Secretary for Scotland had said that the Government were not going to make gifts where money was not required. He would remind the Lord Advocate that he could not act for the Commissioners, and unless they inserted this Amendment the matter would be entirely in their hands. Surely Scotland was part of England, where money was required more than in any other part, and once they gave money to a Scotsman they knew how difficult it was to get it back again.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
apologised for the mistake, and said he meant Great Britain. Instead of gifts of money what was wanted was stock and implements which were necessary for the cultivation of the soil. It was not the money they required; they could not dig with a sovereign. They had been told that the second part of the Amendment was unnecessary because the intention of the words suggested was covered by the Crofters Act, and would be carried out. If that were so, why should not the words be inserted? If the Amendment was not inserted the Commissioners might be led into an error because they might not know that the Crofters Act applied. He thought he had shown that there were very good reasons for accepting the Amendment.
§ MR. COCHRANE (Ayrshire, N.)
said he quite agreed that if they set up these small holdings they must provide the equipment. But they must take care that the equipment was provided. The Bill provided that assistance might be provided by way of 156 gift; was the gift to be made to the landlord or to the tenant? The Secretary for Scotland had said that money was only to be given where it was wanted. Who was going to decide at what point of solvency a small holder was in need of money? If he was insolvent, he would be a very unsuitable person to put into a holding at all. If the Commissioners were to decide, at what stage of solvency would they consider the small holder was a proper person to receive a gift of money? To give gifts of money was an easy way to please one's friends, but he held that more damage was done, more individuality ruined, and more self-effort prevented by making gifts of money than in any other way. Besides, a gift of money was not required in the present case. If the right hon. Gentleman would consult those engaged in the administration of the Congested Districts Board, he would find that a great deal of harm was done by indiscriminate gifts of money. A gift of money was not necessary under this Bill, because the Commissioners could give a man a loan to build houses, and they had power to make a gift of the necessary equipment in the way of fencing, draining, and otherwise. He asked the Secretary for Scotland to define the person to whom a gift was to be made. The gift must be to somebody. Was it to be to the landlord or the small holder? If it was to be to the landlord, let him say so. If it was to be to the tenant, was he to be entitled to borrow on the security of the improvements made by the expenditure of the money in the expectation that he would receive compensation at the end of his tenure? He thought that was a fair question.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said it arose very distinctly. If the gift was to be to the tenant to make improvements, was he at the end of the lease to be entitled to compensation from the landlord for the improvements made? It was obvious that, if improvements were made with money given as a gift to the tenant and if no compensation was to be paid at the end of the lease, it was a gift to the landlord to whom the land belonged. 157 This was a point that should be cleared up. There was no need for concealment of any kind. If the landlord was to compensate the tenant for the improvements, then what was proposed in the clause was a way of extracting a gift from the landlord. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire said he would not give a gift of money under any circumstances.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said his hon. friend showed his wisdom in making that suggestion. He wanted the small holdings to be properly equipped, and that the money given as a gift should be expended under the supervision of the small holder.
§ paymaster. No one who had the interests of the tenants at heart could say that the provision in the Bill was a wise one. The right hon. Gentleman in Committee stated that the money was not to be a gift to the tenant, because it was to be laid out in the public interest. If it was to be laid out in the public interest, they should endeavour to have the holdings equipped in a proper manner, and they should call into their councils the landlords who knew something about the question. He hoped that by suitable provision, such as the Agricultural Commissioners would be able to make, the equipment would be proper and suitable to the holding, and that the character of the tenant would be such as to give their scheme some probability of success. He objected entirely to the pauperising effect of a scheme for giving people money out of the public Exchequer.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 41; Noes, 209. (Division List No. 386.)159
|Acland-Hood, Rt Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Craik, Sir Henry||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fell, Arthur||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Fletcher, J. S.||Starkey, John R.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Forster, Henry William||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Gordon, J.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Helmsley, Viscount||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Cave, George||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Magnus, Sir Philip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Abel Smith and Mr. Younger.|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Berridge, T. H. D.||Clynes, J. R.|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Black, Arthur W.||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd|
|Astbury, John Meir||Brace, William||Cory, Clifford John|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Bramsdon, T. A.||Cox, Harold|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Branch, James||Cremer, Sir William Randal|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Brigg, John||Crooks, William|
|Barnes, G. N.||Brunner, J. F. L. (Lanes, Leigh)||Crosfield, A. H.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Curran, Peter Francis|
|Beale, W. P.||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Byles, William Pollard||Daviess, Timothy (Fulham)|
|Beek, A. Cecil||Cawley, Sir Frederick||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)|
|Bell, Richard||Cheetham, John Frederick||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Invirness-sh.)|
|Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S. Geo.||Clough, William||Duncan C. (Barrow-in-Furness|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Shackleton, David James|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Elibank, Master of||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Erskire, David C.||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Essex, R. W.||M'Callum, John M.||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Esslemont, George Birrie||M'Crae, George||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Everett, R. Lacey||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Fenwick, Charles||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Snowden, P.|
|Ferens, T. R.||Maddison, Frederick||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Findlay, Alexander||Mallet, Charles E.||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Steadman, W. C.|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Gill, A. H.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Glover, Thomas||Marnham, F. J.||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Massie, J.||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Gooch, George Peabody||Masterman, C. F. G.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Tillett, Louis John|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Murray, James||Tomkinson, James|
|Hazleton, Richard||Myer, Horatio||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Napier, T. B.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Newnes, Sir George (Swansea)||Ure, Alexander|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nicholls, George||Verney, F. W.|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Vivian, Henry|
|Henry, Charles S.||Nolan, Joseph||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent|
|Hobart, Sir Robert||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wardle, George J.|
|Hodge, John||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Waring, Walter|
|Holden, E. Hopkinson||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Partington, Oswald||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Hudson, Walter||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Hyde, Clarendon||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Idris, T. H. W.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Weir, James Galloway|
|Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Jenkins, J.||Radford, G. H.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Raphael, Herbert H.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Rees, J. D.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarth'n|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Richardson, A.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Jowett, F. W.||Rickett, J. Compton||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Ridsdale, E. A.||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Kelley, George D.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Robinson, S.||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lamont, Norman||Rowlands, J.||Winfrey, R.|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Russell, T. W.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Lough, Thomas||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Lupton, Arnold||Sears, J. E.|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Seddon, J.|
§ SIR F. BANBURY moved an Amendment to the provision that where a tenant's land is taken for new holdings compensation shall be paid for injury "in respect of the land forming part or the whole of his tenancy." The Amendment provided that the clause should read "in respect of the land to be occupied by a new holder, or new holders, or of any farm, including the farm buildings, of which such land forms part or the whole." He said he was always willing to learn, and in the 160 Committee he noticed that this Amendment was down in the name of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire, but unfortunately that hon. Gentleman was unable to move it because the Secretary for Scotland had applied the closure. The Amendment seemed so good to him that he had put it down on the Paper in his own name in the hope that it would not be treated in the same way as it had been upstairs. It was an extremely important Amendment, and its object was very clear. Under the Bill as it stood the 161 land in the occupation of a tenant, or a part of it, might be taken from him and divided into small holdings. It might be that it was necessary to dispossess an existing tenant in order to secure a public benefit, but it was an entirely new procedure in the history of the country that anything of the sort should be done unless compensation were given to the existing tenant for any loss that he sustained. Supposing that a tenant had 300 acres of land, and 100 of those acres were taken from him to create small holdings, it was not likely that the worst land would be taken. In all probability it would be the best land, leaving to the existing tenant 200 acres of the worst land. Then the buildings necessary for a 300 acre farm would be too large, and would involve proportionately increased expense for repairs. The Bill provided that compensation should be paid for damage or injury done to any tenant in respect of the land forming part or the whole of his tenancy, but nothing was said as to compensation being paid for damage being done to the farm buildings. He presumed that his Amendment would meet with some sympathy from the Solicitor-General for Scotland. He did not believe himself that it went further than the intention of the Secretary for Scotland, but it made the matter more clear. If that were so, he was sure he would have the support of everyone who desired that the Bill should be a success. He did not think that the Solicitor-General for Scotland believed that the Amendment was in any way intended to injure or kill the Bill.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he was glad to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman say "No." His object was to prevent soreness arising between people. The Bill provided that the landlord should be compensated, but not the sitting tenant, and nothing could be worse than that. It was desirable that people who in the future were to live on these small holdings should be friends. Everybody knew that much could be done by them to help each other in the way of lending a horse or an implement for a particular job; but that would not be the case unless there was a friendly feeling 162 between neighbouring farmers. If the sitting tenant found that he was left out of compensation for damage done to his tenancy he would not look with favour on the new holder, but would regard him as an interloper. In his Amendment he had taken a simple and practical view of the question, and he repeated that it would not interfere with the principle of the Bill; and under these circumstances he sincerely hoped that the Solicitor-General would accept the Amendment, or give very clear reasons—and no one was better capable of doing that—for not doing so.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY (Yorkshire, N.R., Thirsk)
seconded the Amendment and said he hoped the Government would accept it. They had no means of knowing what the opinion of the Government on this matter was, because the clause was not discussed in Committee. It was one of the many clauses of the Bill that were carried through, without any discussion, by means of the closure. He did not think it would be denied by those who were acquainted with agriculture that if any compensation was to be paid it should be paid to the tenant, because if land was taken away from his farm he had left on his hands buildings which were too large for the remaining acreage. Therefore to take away some of his land and leave him with buildings which were not required without giving the tenant compensation was a great injustice. It might be said that the compensation should be paid to the landlord, but his hon. friend did not take up that view, and neither did he, because it must be remembered that during the time for which his lease ran the tenant kept the farm on and would have to incur the cost of maintaining the buildings. Therefore the injury in the first instance would be done to the tenant and not to the landlord, and the compensation should be given to the tenant. Farm buildings were provided to meet the requirements of the acreage of the farm, and if the acreage of a farm was diminished by carving small holdings out of it, buildings which were practically useless to him would be left on the hands of the tenant. Therefore, if the Government did not see their way to accept the Amendment 163 there would be a considerable gap in the scheme of compensation they contemplated. He could hardly believe that the Government could wish to bring into existence this class of small holder under such circumstances that an antagonism would exist between him and his neighbour. His hon. friend had pointed out how necessary it was that farmers in the same neighbourhood should be on friendly terms, and undoubtedly he was correct in what he had stated. There were many cases in which large farmers had to ask their neighbours who were small farmers to help them with their work, and he had known cases in which, a small farmer having sustained the loss of a cow or a horse through accident, a book was sent round and the friends and neighbours put their hands into their pockets to assist the small farmer who had sustained the loss. If the small holder was going to be started under circumstances which left a rankling feeling in the mind of the larger farmer he did not think that it would be to the advantage of the former. If the tenant did not receive the fullest compensation a great injustice would be committed which would certainly not conduce to the success of the Bill.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 7, lines 34 and 35, to leave out the words 'to any tenant in respect of the land forming part or the whole of his tenancy,' and to insert the words 'in respect of the land to be occupied by a new holder, or new holders, or of any farm, including the farm buildings, of which such land forms part or the whole.'"—(Sir F. Banbury.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'to any tenant in respect of' stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. URE
said that although the Government did not propose to accept the Amendment he agreed it was not destructive of the Bill, and they had every desire to give effect to the views put forward by the mover and seconder. It was the desire of the Government that the tenant farmer should have compensation for injury done to him by carving a small holding out of his farm. The terms of the Amendment, however, would confine the Agricultural Commissioners' award 164 to damages for land and buildings. Accordingly the Government had placed on the Paper an Amendment providing that compensation should be paid to the tenant farmer for all injury done to his tenancy by the taking of land. This would give the Commissioners a freer hand.
§ MR. COURTHOPE (Sussex, Rye)
thought the Solicitor-General for Scotland had shown some reason which should induce his hon. friend to consider the desirability of pressing this Amendment. At the same time he said he did not quite understand the expression "in respect of the land forming part."
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said it might be that he was ignorant, but the words "in respect of the land forming part" hardly seemed to him to be English; but according to the right hon. Gentleman it appeared to be Scottish, but if the Amendment of the Government really carried out the meaning of his Amendment he would be willing to accept it. He would withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 7, lines 34 and 35, to leave out the words 'of the land forming,' and insert the words 'that the land forms.'"—(Mr. Ure.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON moved the addition of words providing that "when new holdings are constituted otherwise than by agreement, the landlord shall be entitled to receive from the Agricultural Commissioners the rent due in respect of the land so taken in the event of the landholder becoming bankrupt or being otherwise unable to pay such rent." He said that he put this Amendment on the Paper because the point with which it dealt had only been partially covered by the new clause which the Government accepted on the previous day. That 165 new clause safeguarded the landlord where the value of the improvements and the out-growing crop was sufficient compensation for the rent due to him, but it was possible that there might be cases where the value of the improvements and of the out-growing crops was not sufficient to safeguard the landlord, and he thought it would be necessary for the Government to accept these words, or some such form of words, to meet that contingency. He begged to move.
§ SIR HENRY CRAIK
said he was glad to second this Amendment. It was only carrying out more completely the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman had been good enough to accept from him on the previous day. In that case the landlord was entitled to set off against the payments he was bound to make under the Bill for improvements the rent due to him, but supposing no rent was due it was obviously unjust and hard that the landlord should lose all right of compensation in case of the landholder becoming bankrupt.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 7, line 36, after the word 'agreed,' to insert the words 'and when new holdings are constituted otherwise than by agreement the landlord shall be entitled to receive from the Agricultural Commissioners the rent due in respect of the land so taken in the event of the landholder or landholders becoming bankrupt or being otherwise unable to pay such rent.'"—(Mr. Mitchell-Thomson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ MR. URE
said the hon. Member was quite right, the new clause accepted yesterday did not entirely cover the position: there might be cases where the compensation was less than the rent due. But the Government could not accept the Amendment, because it would make the Agricultural Commissioners guarantors of the landlord's rent. Under the Prime Minister's clause the landlord got full compensation in respect that the holding became vacant on account of the bankruptcy of the tenant, but the Government declined to make themselves guarantors for the landlord's rent indefinitely.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said the hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to be under a misapprehension. There was no question of the Agricultural Commissioners becoming guarantors of rent indefinitely. All the Amendment said was that "in the event of the tenant becoming bankrupt or being otherwise unable to pay such rent." He did not know whether the latter words were those to which the hon. and learned Gentleman objected. If they were he suggested that his hon. friend should leave the Amendment at the word "bankrupt." He maintained that the Amendment would do exactly what Clause 16 would do as interpreted by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and that it was a better form of words, because under the clause litigation would be necessary, while under the Amendment there could be no litigation. If the hon. and learned Gentleman wished to make the Bill a success it was necessary to diminish as much as possible the chances of litigation. The great difficulty in this case was that there were complications which arose which necessitated a man's either going to the Land Court or consulting a solicitor. He could do nothing for himself and his self-reliance was destroyed. The backbone of Scotsmen in the past had been their self reliance, and that was now being destroyed, because the Bill would not allow them to make their own terms, but insisted on every occasion on sending them to the Land Court or some other tribunal. He hoped that in the interests of simplicity the hon. and learned Gentleman would reconsider his decision and accept the Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY
pointed out that Clause 16 provided that compensation should be paid by the Agricultural Commissioners to the landlord in respect of any loss arising out of the termination of a tenancy under certain circumstances. But where the loss arose not out of the termination of the tenancy, but out of the bankruptcy of the tenant, it seemed to him to present a very different state of affairs. The clause further said that any damage or injury done to the landlord by the constitution or enlargement of a holding through depreciation of the letting value 167 of the land was to be the subject of compensation. That was known as the Prime Minister's clause, and he submitted that the case contemplated by his hon. friend was not in the least met by it. He did not think that anybody, not even a lawyer, would maintain that the clause would wholly cover all cases where the tenant had gone bankrupt. After all, the Solicitor-General seemed to look upon it as a fearful thing that the Agricultural Commissioners should be called upon to guarantee the financial stability of their own tenant. They foisted the tenant upon the landlord irrespective of whether he wanted him or not, and regardless of whether or not the land was suitable to the purposes of a small holding in the opinion of the landowner; and he submitted, therefore, if the Commissioners in their wisdom were so sure that the tenant would be successful, why should they not give this guarantee as to his financial stability? It seemed to him monstrous to foist on the landlord a tenant who might have nothing behind him, or who might not have sufficient intelligence to farm successfully, and then, if the tenant went bankrupt, to allow the loss to fall entirely on the landlord, who had had nothing to do with the matter. Another reason why the Commissioners should give this guarantee was that, if landlords knew that they were safe, they would be encouraged to be more liberal than they otherwise would be in giving credit during bad seasons. Everyone knew that it was a matter of great utility to the tenant if the landlord gave liberal credit, especially where the crops were bad and where the tenant had difficulty in making both ends meet; and the landlord would be prepared to give this credit if he had some guarantee that he would not be subject to loss if the tenant became bankrupt. Therefore, it would be a very good thing to accept the Amendment, and he thought that if the Government were anxious to carry out the pledge given by the Prime Minister in the spirit in which it was given—which after all, he thought was a good deal more liberal than the words by which it was proposed to carry it out—they could not do otherwise than reconsider the attitude which they had adopted on this subject.
§ MR. URE
said the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London had stated that he had used the word "indefinitely" when he addressed the House. He would explain what he meant. The tenant was often in arrear with his rent one or two years, but the landlord did not seek to press the technical condition and make the tenancy forfeit. The landlord might, if he chose, continue with the tenant in arrears for an indefinite series of years without pressing him for payment of his rent. Supposing that the landlord did take that course, that the rent went on accumulating from year to year for a period of five, six, or seven years or more, that then the landlord came to the conclusion that he had gone far enough and he then removed the tenant and there was forfeiture, in such circumstances, if this Amendment were carried, the Commissioners would have to pay five, six, seven, or eight years arrears of rent, though practically they had not had any part in allowing the tenant to remain in arrear for so long a period. They had never been consulted about it, though it must have appeared quite obvious to the landlord that the man could never pay his rent. That would be landing the Commissioners into what he called an indefinite obligation. It might be reasonable to say that the Commissioners should pay one year or two years arrears, but that was provided for under Clause 16, on which he would suggest it would be proper to consider an Amendment. But the phrase used in the Amendment would be most inappropriate to be inserted at this part of the Bill, because they were dealing with the injury done to the tenant. In Clause 16 they dealt with eventualities, but in this clause they were dealing exclusively with what happened at the time the new holding was made.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said he fully appreciated the force of the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument, and it was interesting to observe as they went further into these debates not only how closely they got into analogy with Irish land legislation, but with what extraordinary accuracy incident after incident occurred, which showed that in the trail of the unfortunate policy of the 169 Government followed the same difficulties that had been experienced in Ireland. He agreed with the Solicitor-General that they could not in justice call upon the 'Commissioners to pay out of public money large sums for arrears, but he wished to say what a comment that was on the policy of the Government; for they must remember what were the circumstances to which the hon. and learned Gentleman himself had referred. They had the case of a landlord who, believing in his tenant as a man who would struggle through in time, but who might be submerged by the acts of others who were creditors, brought forward his claim for arrears of rent, and so stood between the man and his creditors; he saved the tenant from ruin by coming between him and the ordinary creditors, by thus making his claim for arrears.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
No, the tenant could not borrow, but he had understood the hon. and learned Gentleman to refer to cases where the landlord had allowed the tenant to get into arrears with his rent, and which arrears would be in existence when the new system was put in force by this Bill; I that was to say, that when this Bill was put into operation the Commissioners would become responsible for what the tenant owed to the landlord.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said the hon. and learned Gentleman had not quite appreciated the fact that they agreed with him that they could not put on the Commissioners the liability for accumulated arrears; but at the same time the result, undesirable in itself, was the inevitable consequence of the policy of the Government in stepping in between the tenant and his landlord and assuming responsibility which had hitherto belonged to the landlord. He would suggest, at all events, that the Government might impose a limitation of a year or two; he thought it would be a fair 170 compromise if the Commissioners were liable for two years arrears of rent. But what was the second objection of the hon. and learned Gentleman? It was that the Amendment was proposed to be inserted in the wrong part of the Bill. He was very glad that the Solicitor-General had made that objection when they were favoured with the presence of the Prime Minister. He entirely admitted that this was an objection which could be urged against not only the present Amendment but against many others. But what other course could they adopt? The Solicitor-General told them that the proper place for the Amendment was Clause 16. He admitted that in all probability from the artistic point of view, and probably from the business point of view, the Solicitor-General was right. But if the Amendment were not moved now it might not be possible to move it at all, because, under the guillotine, the proper place in the Bill might not be reached. If the Government would accept two years liability, that would be a reasonable compromise. Was it fair to disregard the debt which a generous landlord had allowed an embarrassed tenant to incur? Surely that was not what was ordinarily meant by the word "justice."
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Sir H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN,) Stirling Burghs
said that the Solicitor-General had pointed out that this question ought to be discussed on Clause 16. The right hon. Gentleman replied that Clause 16 might never be reached, and cited him as the sort of arch-fiend in this dispensation. It so happened that Clause 16 was the first clause to be taken at to-morrow's sitting. So that the right hon. Gentleman's instance of the evil effects of the guillotine was not altogether happy. Nor could he carry his complaint very far. Yesterday the House was told that Clause 3 was the most important clause in the whole Bill, and that fearful results would ensue if it were not discussed. Yet the right hon. Gentleman and his friends, with some difficulty, kept up a discussion on comparatively immaterial Amendments to the first clause and so prevented the discussion of Clause 3. [OPPOSITION cries of "No."]
§ MR. COURTHOPE (Sussex, Rye)
urged the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether it was wise to deprive the landlord of the prerogative of mercy. Everybody who had been connected with the land knew what an enormous number of tenants had been saved from temporary embarrassment by the credit allowed them by the landlord. Not only was direct credit allowed the tenants by the landlord in the matter of arrears of rent, but the local tradesmen—the manure merchants and the seedsmen—would almost invariably allow the tenant credit too. It would be a very great hindrance to the operation of the Bill if that prerogative of mercy were entirely done away with. Some limited guarantee of rent should be given by the Commissioners, and he hoped the right hon. and learned Gentleman would consider this suggestion. When it was said that the Commissioners had no voice in this prerogative of mercy shown by the landlord to the tenant he would like to remind the House that the landlord had no voice in the selection of the tenants, and was not able to make any inquiries about them. He thought this was a matter upon which some compromise might very well be arrived at.
§ MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON
said he was in a difficulty as to what he ought to do under the circumstances, because the Solicitor-General had argued this Amendment on its merits and the Prime Minister had suggested that it should come in upon another clause in a different portion of the Bill. He pressed the acceptance of the Amendment upon its merits. If he could be assured that the Amendment would receive some consideration he would be perfectly prepared to move it to-morrow. Upon that understanding he begged leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. WALTER LONG moved to amend the clause by providing for the "compulsory purchase" of such land as the Agricultural Commissioners required for the constitution of new holdings in cases where the landlord refused to negotiate or to come to an agreement. He did not think that he had ever 172 before moved anything containing the words "compulsory purchase." The explanation, however, was quite simple, because in this case it was a choice of evils. The policy of the Government was one of perpetual tenancy and hiring, and he thought that was a mistake. The only way a man could be made to take a real interest in his holding was by making him its actual owner. They had heard a great many speeches, not only on the English but on the Scottish Bill, in which this view had been put forward. The suggestion of the Government was that this should now be done' by security of tenure, to achieve which they were giving some of the conditions of ownership without the responsibilities. He did not believe in that, and there were many people on both sides of the House who did not believe in it. It was because he believed that compulsory purchase was better than compulsory hiring that this extraordinary Amendment appeared in his name. It recognised that there must be some compulsion, and he did not think it could be denied that it was in accordance with the general principle of the Bill. He admitted that the Government were entitled to their own view, and that they might not be able to accept this particular Amendment, but he would suggest that they should introduce some words to meet the point he had raised. The Government said that they were giving security of tenure to the tenant, but he believed they were going further than that. He believed they were shutting the door on purchase in future, and that was the greatest mistake they could possibly make. The House had been told repeatedly that the Government had the experience of the Crofters Act, but he would remind them that in legislation of this kind the experience of one generation was absolutely unreliable. Before real experience of land tenure could be obtained in this country, they must get into the second generation, to the time when land had passed from the first tenant under the Act to his successor. It was well known that in the early days of the Irish land legislation there was every reason to believe that it would be entirely successful, but it developed defects of its own. They knew now that 173 there was in Ireland a system of land purchase which was to cost £120,000,000, besides all the money which had been voted under preceding Acts. Now the Government were going to add to these financial risks in future, because they were making purchase difficult. He believed the only solution of the question was to make men the absolute owners of their holdings for the time being, so that they could devise to whom they thought right as their successors. He believed that was the only system by which to make the land system of this country successful. He did not expect the Government to accept the Amendment, but he hoped they would be willing to say something even at the eleventh hour in regard to the policy of purchase which, as expressed in the Amendment, would vastly improve the prospects of the Bill.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 8, line 6, after the word 'for' to insert the words 'the compulsory purchase of such land or part thereof as is necessary for.'"—(Mr. Walter Long.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ MR. URE
said the right hon. Gentleman must have forgotten that more than a quarter of a century had passed since Parliament decreed that every owner of land in this country, when the public interest demanded it, was compelled to part with that portion of his land which perhaps he most desired to keep to a person whom he possibly loathed, subject to conditions laid down by Act of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman quite rightly did not expect the Government to accept this Amendment. The Government had, rightly or wrongly, chosen their path. They had, rightly or wrongly, rightly as they thought, deliberately rejected the policy of purchase and adopted the policy of hiring. They believed it was the better. The right hon. Gentleman had said they had no precedent for compulsory hiring. He thought there was in a region of which I the right hon. Gentleman had not thought—the region of patents and invention. If a patentee chose to refuse to give a licence for the use of his patent, he could be compelled to give a licence—that was 174 to say, to hire out his patent, He could be compelled not only to hire, but to hire on terms which were fixed for him by an outside authority. The Government believed their Bill would effect an economic and social revolution in Scotland, and whenever they had a great social revolution the less change they made in the habits and customs of the people, and in the existing system, the better security they would have for stability of tenure and the safety of the change. The Government had also had in view the amount of money required. Everybody knew that purchase required three times the amount of money that was required for hiring. Having all these considerations in view, and having before them the example of the Crofters Act, which they believed to be an unqualified success, they felt assured that the course they had chosen was the safe course, and the one best calculated to promote agricultural prosperity in Scotland.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he had listened with interest, as he always did, to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman, but also with some surprise to the reason which he had given why the Government had adopted a system of compulsory hiring instead of compulsory purchase, and why they regarded it as a Conservative measure. It embodied a smaller change, said the learned Gentleman, in the existing system; the Government desired to pose as moderate revolutionists, and they thought it would be more moderate to have compulsory hiring than compulsory purchase. He did not deny that the Government were revolutionists, but he was inclined to deny that the particular kind of amateur revolution they proposed to carry out would be placed on a more stable foundation by that means. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said "we are assured," "we have come to the conclusion," "we have shown," "we have considered the case," "we are confident," and so forth. Who were "we"? Not the occupants of the Treasury Bench, but the Scottish Office. From other Members of the Government, among them the Chief Secretary for Ireland, the House had heard the strongest doctrines in favour of purchase as against hiring. The hon. 175 and learned Gentleman was not in the House when the Chief Secretary for Ireland made the speech to which he referred. The Chief Secretary was always expressing an earnest and anxious hope that land purchase in Ireland could be made to work more quickly and successfully than now. What was the difference between the conditions of Ireland and Scotland in this matter? It might be the opinion of the Scottish Office that all the advantages to be got from ownership could be got one-third more cheaply from hiring, but it was not the opinion of the Irish Office, nor of any Government in Europe, and it was preposterous to lay it down as a canon of policy. The hon. and learned Gentleman had ignored some of the fundamental instincts of human nature. If they were to presuppose this affectionate interest in a particular plot of land, they could depend upon it that that interest carried with it a desire to see that the land should go to successors. There were certain advantages to be derived from ownership and certain advantages to be derived from tenancy and labour wholly divorced from ownership, but the plan of the Government was so contrived as to get the full advantage from neither. In England, while a farm servant might be born, and live, and die in the same village, in Scotland he moved about under his yearly agreement from one farm to another. This migration had its advantages. But the Government were going to bind people to the holding without giving them the inducement to cultivate the holding to the best advantage, which could only be got by ownership. Under this ambiguous tenure, which was the tenure neither of freeholder nor of occupier, they would lose the advantages of either system. That was the advantage of ownership, but when it came to a question of hiring they did not get it nor the advantage of the more flexible system which at present prevailed in Scotland. The Government were not going to encourage the people to cultivate a holding with that loving care which they could only get through a system of ownership, but they were going to bind them to the holding without giving them the inducement to cultivate it to the best advantage. The Government never 176 answered any argument nor brought the smallest analogy from any other country in favour of their system. They always based themselves upon the Crofters Act, with its 30,000 holders separated from the rest of the country by climatic conditions, and, in contradiction to their own experience in Ireland, in contradiction to what took place in Prussia when the land system was transformed, or in Denmark, and in defiance of all that had happened in France, they insisted that this petty experiment, carried on in a small corner of these islands, should be applied to a great area wholly different from it in every condition. No other country, old or new, had been idiotic enough to apply this foolish system which it had occurred to the Scottish Office to adopt. These considerations should give pause to every serious man who considered the magnitude of the problem with which these gentlemen were dabbling and playing, and give them ground to think that the universal experience of mankind was not to be put aside because the Secretary for Scotland happened to be pleased with a system of land legislation which had been applied to 30,000 holders of land in the extreme north and west of Scotland. For these reasons he pressed the House to adopt the Amendment.
§ MR. MOLTENO (Dumfriesshire)
said the right hon. Gentleman had observed that there was no state in Europe which had ever attempted anything of this character, but he had named one where the success of it had been conspicuous throughout the world, and that was Denmark. Had he studied the latest Report of the Board of Trade made by Major Craigie on the land tenure system of Denmark? What did that Report say about Denmark? It said—An investigation into this subject makes it clear that while there has been a transfer of a large proportion of the agricultural land in Denmark from the hands of the larger landlords to those of the occupying tenants or yeomen, the movement is not a recent feature coincident with the later agricultural development, but one which had its origin in a series of enactments in the latter half of the eighteenth century. The great bulk of the country at that time was held under the old form of estate known as 'Soedegaard,' divided by law into two distinct categories, (1) the 'Hovedgaard,' or demesne and (2) the 'Bondergaarde,' or farms let to tenants. The 177 law differentiated between those two species of property, and the proprietary rights of the landlord over the tenanted lands were so arranged as to give the occupiers a claim to continue on the soil so long as they complied with certain conditions of tenure fixed, not by the landlord, but by the State.It was on that system the principle of this Bill was based.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
admitted that he had not the Report in his mind, but he understood that most people attributed the prosperity of Denmark to the multitude of small owners which it contained.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
asked if they were to understand that this Bill was merely a preparation for small ownership.
§ * MR. MOLTENO
said his object was to show that the system in Denmark was not suddenly carried out by a system of ownership, but that it had sprung up gradually under a system of that kind now proposed. As to the question of ownership it did not concern the Government to make one person rather than another the absolute owner of the land, but to secure that those who occupied the land had full security for their energy, enterprise and capital.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 80; Noes, 269. (Division List No. 387.)181
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Faber, George Denison (York)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Ashley, W. W.||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Moore, William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fell, Arthur||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Balfour, Rt Hn. A. J. (City Lond.||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick Georg)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N)||Fletcher, J. S.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Forster, Henry William||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Gordon, J.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Helmsley, Viscount||Starkey, John R.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Cave, George||Hunt, Rowland||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C. W||Kimber, Sir Henry||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Walker, Col W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Younger, George|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Magnus, Sir Philip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Doughty, Sir George||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Beale, W. P.||Brigg, John|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Beauchamp, E.||Bright, J. A.|
|Alden, Percy||Beck, A. Cecil||Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Bell, Richard||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Bellairs, Carlyon||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Astbury, John Meir||Berridge, T. H. D.||Byles, William Pollard|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex Romf'rd||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Black, Arthur W.||Causton, Rt. Hn Richard Knight|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Bowerman, C. W.||Cawley, Sir Frederick|
|Barnes, G. N.||Brace, William||Cheetham, John Frederick|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Bramsdon, T. A.||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.||Branch, James||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.|
|Clough, William||Horniman, Emslie John||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Hudson, Walter||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hyde, Clarendon||Pollard, Dr.|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Illingworth, Percy H.||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Cooper, G. J.||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Radford, G. H.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Jardine, Sir J.||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Cory, Clifford John||Jenkins, J.||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'|
|Cox, Harold||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Rees, J. D.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Richardson, A.|
|Crooks, William||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Jowett, F. W.||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Kearley, Hudson E.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Kekewich, Sir George||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Kelley, George D.||Robinson, S.|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Laidlaw, Robert||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Rose, Charles Day|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Rowlands, J.|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Russell, T. W.|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lewis, John Herbert||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Lough, Thomas||Sears, J. E.|
|Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall)||Lupton, Arnold||Seddon, J.|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Shackleton, David James|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B|
|Elibank, Master of||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Erskine, David C.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Essex, R. W.||Macpherson, J. T.||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Everett, R. Lacey||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Fenwick, Charles||M'C'allum, John M.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Ferens, T. R.||M'Crae, George||Snowden, P.|
|Ffrench, Peter||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Findlay, Alexander||M'Micking, Major G.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Maddison, Frederick||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Mallet, Charles E.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||Markham, Arthur Basil||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Gill, A. H.||Marnham, F. J.||Taylor, Theodore G (Radcliffe)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn Herbert John||Massie, J.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Glover, Thomas||Micklem, Nathaniel||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset E)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Molteno, Percy Alport||Tomkinson, James|
|Gooch, George Peabody||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Grant, Corrie||Montagu, E. S.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Montgomery, H. G.||Ure, Alexander|
|Gulland, John W.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Verney, F. W.|
|Gurdon, Rt. Hn Sir W. Brampton||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Vivian, Henry|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Morrell, Philip||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Walters, John Tudor|
|Harmsworth Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh||Murray, James||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Myer, Horatio||Wardle, George J.|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Napier, T. B.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Harwood, George||Newnes, F. (Notts, Basetlaw)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Newnes, Sir George (Swansea)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Hazleton, Richard||Nicholls, George||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Weir, James Galloway|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Nolan, Joseph||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Henry, Charles S.||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||O'Grady, J.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Hobart, Sir Robert||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthn|
|Hodge, John||Partington, Oswald||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Holden, E. Hopkinson||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Wilson, Hon. C. H. W. (Hull, W.|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)||Winfrey, R.|
|Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)||Yoxall, James Henry|
Bill read a second time.
§ And, it being after half-past Ten of the clock, Mr. SPEAKER, proceeded pursuant to the Order of the House of the 5th August, successively to put forthwith the Question on any Amendments moved by the Government, of which notice had been given.
In page 8, line 17, at end, to insert the words 'one or more.'
In page 8, line 24, at end, to insert the words 'making the scheme effective and of.'
In page 8, line 31, to leave out the words 'of the land forming,' and to insert the words 'that the land forms.'
In page 8, line 39, to leave out from the word 'order,' to the word 'the,' in line 40, and to insert the words 'under section eleven of.'
In page 9, line 4, at end, to insert the words 'one or more.'
In page 9, line 7, after the word 'required,' to insert the words 'due compensation to such amount as may be agreed or, as in case of dispute, may be determined by the Land Court being made for surface damage.'
In page 10, line 29, to leave out the words 'as if he were the lawful assignee.'
In page 11, line 2, after the word 'to,' to insert the words 'or in modification of.'
In page 11, line 4, after the word 'shall,' to insert the words 'by himself or his family.'
In page 11, line 8, at end, to insert the words 'and not inconsistent with cultivation of the holding.'
In page 11, line 40, after the word 'nuisance," to insert the words 'or the provision of a water supply.'
In page 12, line 31, after the word 'of,' to insert the words 'resumption by a landlord, or in the case of an existing yearly tenant or.'
In page 12, line 33, to leave out the words 'termination of the lease,' and to insert the words 'date of resumption or date when such tenant or leaseholder becomes a landholder, as the case may be.'
In page 12, line 36, to leave out the words 'the landlord or the leaseholder,' and to insert the words 'any party interested.'
In page 12, line 37, at beginning, to insert the words The procedure in connection with.
In page 12 line 38, to leave out the words 'dealt with as shall,' and to insert "regulated as may.'"—(Mr. Sinclair.)
§ Amendments agreed to.
§ Bill, as amended (by the Standing Committee), to be further considered to-morrow.