§ MR. SPEAKER
I have to report that the following message has been received from the House of Lords:—
That they do not insist on certain of their Amendments to the Small Holdings and Allotments Bill to which the Commons have disagreed; that they do not insist on certain other of their Amendments, but propose others in lieu thereof to which they desire the concurrence of this House.
That they agree to certain of the Amendments made by the Commons to the Amendments made by the Lords to the said Bill without Amendment; that they disagree to one other of the Amendments, but propose an Amendment in lieu thereof, to which they desire the concurrence of this House, and disagree to one other of the Amendments, for which disagreement they assign their reason.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. HARCOURT, Lancashire, Rossendale)
said since the House rose last night he had spared no time and no labour to effect conciliation, and he believed and trusted that he had been and should be successful in this. There were six Amendments which had come down from the House of Lords, and he would state generally what they were. The first was an Amendment to Clause 21, to insert after the word "allotment," "and no dwelling house shall be erected for occupation on any allotment of less than three acres." He proposed to ask the House to amend that Amendment by substituting "one acre" for "three acres." An Amendment had come down to them agreed by the Government in the other House on the subject of home farms. These words would be inserted in Clause 30, "or form part of the home farm, attached to, and usually occupied with the mansion house." He would move to agree to those words. On the subject of ancient monuments, of which he had spoken yesterday, another Amendment had come down to which he should move to agree. It omitted the words which were formerly in, "of historic interest," which might cover battlefields and other things that were not being dealt with. In the first schedule, a mere drafting Amendment had been inserted which he would also ask the House to agree to—in line 6, page 25, to insert "except document of title." Then there were the words which were inserted in Committee upstairs, at the desire of his friend the Member for Nowcastle-under-Lyme, under a clause of the Schedule, "assessment to rating and taxation." He had made a gallant fight for those words, which were not his own. He felt that he could no longer insist upon them, and, as he had also explained to the House on Report, he believed them to be of no importance, and had no meaning where they were inserted. Finally, another Amendment came down to them substituting arbitration for valuation in the hiring under the Schedule. That was not an Amendment which he could recommend the House to accept, but in place of it he would propose an Amendment which would give to the sitting tenant, the farmer to be displaced, the right to arbitration which he at present possessed under the Agricultural Holdings Act, but of which, under the terms of the Schedule, he might have 420 been deprived as the Bill stood. Those were the whole of the Amendments which came to them from the House of Lords, and he asked the House to deal with them as he suggested.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Lords' reasons for disagreeing to one of the Commons Amendments to the Lords Amendments, and Lords Amendments to the Bill, and Lords Amendments to Commons Amendments to Lords Amendments be considered forth with."—(Mr. Harcourt.)
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Lords reason and Amendments considered.
In page 10, line 12, after the word 'allotment' to insert the words, erect a dwelling on not less than three acres,'
§ Read a second time.
§ MR. HARCOURT moved to substitute "one" for "three."
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Wimbledon)
said he was opposed to the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman in, and personally he was in favour of the Amendment of the Lords. He was bound to say that it seemed to him that three acres was an area small enough upon which to erect a dwelling.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Lords Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
In page 15, line 27, to insert the words, 'or form part of the home farm attached to, and usually occupied with, the mansion house,'
§ Agreed to.
In the First Schedule, page 25, line 40, to insert the following new paragraph:—'The matters to be referred to a valuer before the ending of any tenancy created by compulsory hiring, shall, on the application of either party, be ordered by the Board to be determined by arbitration instead of by a valuer, provided that any costs of the arbitration which the Board may deem to have been incurred by reason of such matters being referred to arbitration instead of to a valuer shall be paid by the party applying for arbitration,'"—
§ Read a second time.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said that it was impossible for the Government to accept the Amendment of the Lords, because it 421 violated the whole principle that they had asserted from the first—that the rent under hiring must be fixed by valuation. He, therefore, proposed to leave out all the words of the Lords Amendment and to substitute another Amendment providing that, if the land hired was in the occupation of the tenant, he might by notice in writing served on the council before the determination of his tenancy, require that any claim by him against the council might be referred to arbitration under the Agricultural Holdings Acts, and not by valuation under this Bill. This gave the tenant the same right to arbitration for compensation on quitting his holding now obtainable by him under the Agricultural Holdings Acts.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
regretted very much that the right hon. Gentleman had felt himself to be unable to accept the Lords' Amendment. He could not conceive why there should be this difficulty. The right hon. Gentleman said he had been opposed to arbitration in this respect throughout the proceedings on this Bill, and that was perfectly true. But what was the only ground upon which objection was taken to this proposal? Simply the ground of cost. By the Amendment inserted by the Lords which they were now considering the right hon. Gentleman had been deprived of the last shred of excuse for objecting to the proposal. The Amendment affected equally the owner and the tenant; and he could only suppose that, in the opinion of some of the right hon. Gentleman's supporters, the landlord was of such a dreadful and evil disposition, that the right hon. Gentleman could not screw up his courage to grant the landlord even this little justice. The benefit of the Amendment was left to the sitting tenant. He had always felt that the case of the sitting tenant had not received sufficient attention, though the Opposition had moved Amendments providing that, when deprived of his holding to promote small holdings, he should be entitled to every compensation that he would have been entitled to if he had received his notice to quit otherwise. The Amendment, therefore, would place the sitting tenant in the position he ought to have occupied in the Bill from the outset. He had no choice but to accept the right hon. Gentleman's proposal, for he could not move an Amendment with any hope of 422 success. But he could not refrain from pointing out that the right hon. Gentleman had addressed the House in different tones from those which he adopted the previous night. Since the right hon. Gentleman made that speech he had carefully searched all the Amendments in order to discover any of the wrecking, destructive character attributed to the House of Lords the previous evening. He had been unable to find one; and he thought that the best refutation of the charges made against the Lords was to be found in the attitude they had maintained throughout these proceedings—namely, a desire to make the measure useful and workable. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh!"] Some hon. Members opposite by that exhibition intended to convey that they did not believe it. He did not know of a single Amendment with regard to which hon. Gentlemen had been able to prove the slightest intention of wrecking the Bill. It was easy to make insinuations and charges of that kind but it was not so easy to prove them. He would not say anything further, because at the close of their proceedings he wished to say nothing of a controversial character, and he would conclude by saying he was heartily glad—and he was sure that opinion was shared by all his friends sitting behind him—that there was a reasonable prospect of the Bill passing into law.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir W. ROBSON, South Shields)
thought that something should be said in justification of the action of the Government in refusing to accept this Amendment. The Amendment proposed arbitration instead of valuation, and the parties had to apply to the Board of Agriculture for an order. The Amendment also provided that the parties should be called upon to pay the extra cost as between arbitration and valuation, and the Board would have to assess the difference. That meant that a Board sitting in London would have to consider whether in a particular case the cost of a valuation had been increased by the substitution of arbitration. That would be a very difficult task, indeed. It had been said by those interested in the opposite point of view that something should be said by way of explanation of the Bill on the question as it affected the tenants. As the Bill stood, the valuer would have to consider two things affecting the interest 423 of the tenant. In the first place, the sitting tenant called upon to give up his land for small holdings would have the ordinary rights of an outgoing tenant in regard to his improvements. That compensation under the existing law would he assessed by arbitration under the Agricultural Holdings Act. But the tenant might conceivably have a claim for severance, if he were turned out before he had completed his period of occupation. Under the Bill, that claim would be dealt with by the valuer. It had been urged in another place that such claims ought also to be submitted to arbitration, so far as the tenants were concerned, but he thought those Lords who had discussed the point with the representatives of the Government were disposed to agree that these claims for severance would be very rare indeed, and that it was not worth while to take them out of the valuer's competence, and put them into other hands. The Government believed that the Bill should pass as it stood in that respect. There was only one other point on which he desired to make some observations, and that was with regard to the duties of the valuers. It had been pointed out that as a matter of law the valuer was not bound to receive evidence, and that the difference between the valuer and the arbitrator was that the arbitrator was a judge and that the valuer was a man of business. But that did not moan that the valuer would not make proper inquiries; the schedule of the Bill expressly provided that the valuer should be entitled to receive information on any point affecting the value of the land. The valuer must not go down to the land, walk over it, and thon give his opinion founded on his views and theories as to what it ought to be worth. There had been some apprehension expressed in another place as to how the valuers would perform their duties. They would be instructed by the Board of Agriculture that they must perform their duties in a way which would be likely to give satisfaction to the parties. The difference between a valuation and an arbitration would in practice be greatly minimised. With regard to the tenant's right to arbitration, the Government proposed to leave him the right that he had under the present law.
§ Lords Amendment disagreed to, and Amendment, in lieu thereof, to the effect stated by Mr. Harcourt, agreed to.