§ *MR. MONTAGU (Cambridgeshire, Chesterton)
May I ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the assurances given last session by the hon. Member for South Somerset on behalf of the Government in answer to protests against the postponement of the date of operation of the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1906; whether he has observed the reports of the conduct of Lord Egerton of Tatton and other landowners regarding their agreements with their 564 tenants; whether, seeing that it was anticipation of such conduct that led to protests against the suspension of the Act, he will, with the assistance of the President of the Board of Agriculture, inquire into the matter; and whether, if it be found that landowners are acting so as to prevent their tenants benefiting from the Act, the Government will take steps to bring the Act into force on 1st January, 1908.
§ Notice had also been given of the following Questions:—
§ MR. ROWLANDS (Kent, Dartford)
To ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the fact that certain landlords are taking steps to evade the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1906; and whether he will cause the matter to be inquired into, and, if necessary, take immediate action to prevent the will of Parliament being overridden.
§ MR. FULLERTON (Cumberland, Egremont)
To ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether his attention has been drawn to the action of Earl Egerton in giving notice to quit to the tenant farmers on his Knutsford estate, such notice expiring in June next; and whether the Government will take action to prevent Earl Egerton, or other landowners, from defeating the objects of a measure which the Government intended should benefit tenant farmers.
§ MR. ASQUITH
With regard to the notice given by Lord Egerton to his tenants, my noble friend the President of the Board of Agriculture is in communication with his Lordship with a view, if possible, to obtain information as to the precise object with which the notices have been given and the nature of the new agreements into which the tenants are to be asked to enter. We hope it will be found that the intention is merely to enter into fresh agreements which shall be more in accordance with the law as it now stands. With regard to the question which stands in the name of my hon. friend the Member for the Dartford Division, I would say that my noble friend is watching the operation of the Act very closely; and if it should appear, which I can scarcely believe will be the case, that the intentions of Parliament are being evaded, we shall not hesitate to take prompt action in the matter.