HC Deb 14 December 1911 vol 32 cc2670-3

Lords Amendment: In Sub-section (3) insert paragraph (c).

[Sub-section (3) A person shall not be held an existing yearly tenant or a qualified leaseholder under this Act in respect of—

  1. (a) Any land the present rent of which within the meaning of this Act exceeds fifty pounds in money, unless such land (exclusive of any common pasture, or grazing, held or to be held therewith) does not exceed fifty acres (but without prejudice to the power of the Land Court, in determining from time to time a fair rent, to fix a rent exceeding fifty pounds); or
  2. (b) Any land being garden ground only, appurtenant to a house, or any land to which as the site of or as required for the protection of or for access to an ancient monument or other object of historical or archaeological interest the Land Court determine that the Landholders' Acts should not apply; or
  3. (c) Any land within the Parliamentary, police, or municipal boundary of any burgh or police burgh; or
  4. (d) Any land being a market garden within the meaning of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act, 1908; or
  5. (e) Any land being or forming part of any glebe, or any small holding under the Small Holdings Act, 1892, or any allotment under the Allotments (Scotland) Act, 1892, or the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1894; or
  6. (f) Any land that is not a holding within the meaning of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act, 1908; or
  7. (g)Any land being woodland, or being or forming part of the home farm of any estate, or of any policy or park, or of any pleasure ground or other land used for the amenity or convenience of any residence or farmsteading; or being permanent grass park held for the purposes of a business or calling not primarily, agricultural or pastoral, including that of butcher, cattle-dealer, and the like; or
  8. (h) Any land bonâ fide held and used for purposes of public recreation; or
  9. 2671
  10. (i) Any land acquired, whether compulsorily or by agreement, for any undertaking of a public nature, under the authority of any Act of Parliament or any Order having the force of an Act of Parliament.]
Motion made and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—[Mr. Ure.]


I beg to move, as an Amendment, that paragraph (c) be omitted from the Sub-section.

I am very sorry to trouble the House at this time of night, but I am also very sorry that these Amendments from the other place should have been brought on without notice and without us having had an opportunity of considering them. This Clause was, I know, introduced into the Bill of 1906. But from that time onwards, both in the boroughs and in the county of Sutherlandshire, and in other boroughs it has been objected to by a number of tenants within the municipal borough area. There are some persons who did not come under the Crofters Act because their rent was a little over £30, but under £50, which would bring them within this Act. They desire to have the benefit of the Act just the same as their neighbours on the other side of the road. The Act not only applies to burghs in Sutherlandshire, but to burghs in other counties, and my hon. Friend the Member for the Northern burghs in a telegram to me expresses his regret at his inability to be here to-night to help to get this matter put right, if possible. We succeeded last summer in Scottish Grand Committee in getting the Bill altered, not exactly as we wanted, but before we separated in August the Lord Advocate promised me that he would have this matter put right so far as the burgh of Dornoch, with which I was more closely connected, was concerned. The Lord Advocate very properly fulfilled his promise, and when the Bill came before this House he made my Amendment a Government Amendment, and moved that the Clause should be omitted from the Bill, and it was omitted. The Bill went to the House of Lords. Curiously enough, without any consultation with the Scottish Members, or any one else that I am aware of, the Secretary for Scotland threw overboard the Lord Advocate and his promise as to Amendment altogether, and let the thing go with hardly a protest.

I know I am not speaking for a large number, but they are poor people, and therefore beneath the notice, I suppose, of some people. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I claim, however, for them that they ought to have fair play and ought to be treated properly. These people will not come under the Act simply because they happen to be within the municipal area. I want to ask the Lord Advocate to fulfil his promise and ask the House of Lords to leave out this Clause, or to make some alteration whereby the crofting counties can be relieved of the difficulty they are in. I offered to compromise the matter by consenting to an Amendment, namely, that this should apply only to the crofting counties as defined by the Crofters' Act of 1886, but, failing to get any promise that it should be put in, all I can do now in the interest of my Constituents—and I have got no personal interest in this matter—is to move to omit these words, and I trust the House will see that fair play is given.

It is all very well to say that the Bill is an agreed Bill. Well, so it was understood, but it was agreed not to put this in. Moreover, the Lords have very much weakened the Bill. But that is a matter which I do not, of course, desire to discuss now. The Bill has been very much weakened by the concession given to the opposite party, and that ought to be borne in mind. All I want to take care is that my Constituents who have applied to me to protect them are protected, and as fairly as other people. I notice the Front Bench laughing at me. I suppose those people of £5,000 and £2,000 a year do not care about these things, but I am here to endeavour to protect these poor crofters and to see that they have fair play. I regret that we have not had proper notice-and proper time to consider the matter. I therefore move to disagree with the words inserted by the House of Lords.


I do not think my hon. Friend is entitled to complain that this has been brought before the House to-night. He will probably remember that at a much earlier stage of our proceedings yesterday the Prime Minister intimated that these proceedings would be taken to-night. I have considerable sympathy with my hon. Friend's objection to this Amendment being inserted. As he knows very well, my own opinion has wavered on this matter, and ultimately the scheme went in favour of my hon. Friend, and I did my best for him; but the force of circumstances was too strong for me, and I must frankly own that a great deal of difference of opinion prevails among the boroughs of Scotland with regard to this question. Under these circumstances I really do not think my hon. Friend should persist in his objection. I would suggest to him that next Session a skilfully-framed one-clause Bill would probably silence all the interests of Dornoch, but at this stage of the proceedings I think it would be unwise for my hon. Friend to persist in his objection, and so risk the loss of an extremely valuable measure. Under these circumstances may I appeal to my hon. Friend to withdraw his objection?


I quite admit the Lord Advocate has redeemed his promise so far as that went; but I cannot withdraw this. If the House likes to deprive these poor people of what is just and right let them do it.

Proposed Amendment to Lords Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.

Other Lords Amendments put, and agreed to.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 24th October, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."