§ (1) In the Crofters Acts and this Act (hereinafter referred to collectively as the Landholders Acts) the word "holding" means and includes—
- (i) As from the commencement of this Act, every holding which at the commencement of this Act is held by
1370 a crofter to whom in respect of such holding the Act of 1886 applies (hereinafter referred to as an existing crofter);
- (ii) As from the commencement of this Act, and subject as hereinafter provided, every holding which at the commencement of this Act is held by
1371 a tenant from year to year who resides on or within two miles from the holding, and by himself or his family cultivates the holding with or without hired labour (hereinafter referred to as an existing yearly tenant);
- (iii.) As from the termination of the lease and subject as hereinafter provided, every holding which at the commencement of this Act is held under a lease for a term longer than one year by a tenant who resides on or within two miles from the holding, and by himself or his family cultivates the holding with or without hired labour (such tenant, or his heir or successor, as the case may be, holding under the lease at the termination thereof being hereinafter referred to as a qualified leaseholder):
§ Provided that such tenant from year to year or leaseholder—
- (a) shall be held an existing yearly tenant or a qualified leaseholder within the meaning of this Section in every case where it is agreed between the landlord and tenant or leaseholder, or in the event of dispute proved to the satisfaction of the Land Court, that such tenant or leaseholder or his predecessor in the same family has provided or paid for the whole or the greater part of the buildings or other permanent improvements on the holding without receiving from the landlord or any predecessor in title payment or fair consideration therefor; and
- (b) in every other case shall not be held an existing yearly tenant or a qualified leaseholder within the meaning of this Section, but shall in respect of the holding be subject to the provisions of this Act regarding statutory small tenants as from the date at which he is registered as a statutory small tenant;
§ (iv.) As from the date of registration, every holding which is constituted by the registration of an applicant in respect thereof on his application under the provisions of this Act respecting the constitution of new holdings (hereinafter referred to as a new holder).
§ (2) In the Landholders Acts the word "landholder" means and includes, as from the respective dates above mentioned, 1372 every existing crofter, every existing yearly tenant, every qualified leaseholder, and every new holder, and the successors of every such person in the holding being his heirs or legatees.
§ Mr. BRYCE
(who had given notice of an Amendment, in Sub-section (1), paragraph (ii.), to leave out the words "and subject as hereinafter provided"):
My object in putting forward this Amendment is simply to call attention to the very curious proceedings in connection with this Bill. The Bill is not at all the Bill which left the House on Second Reading. It has been totally changed. In so far as it affects smallholders, it was at one time a Bill applying to the whole of Scotland. Now it applies in a totally different form. The House of Commons, apart from the Grand Committee, has no idea of what the present Bill is. The Government have acted in a very odd manner with regard to the measure. It was Lord Pentland's Bill; it passed through the House of Commons twice, and was sent up to the House of Lords, where it was twice rejected.
§ Mr. BRYCE
If there was another opportunity of alluding to these circumstances I should be happy to take it. However, in obedience to your ruling, I will endeavour to find another opportunity of referring to the very curious proceedings of the Government in this matter, and will now speak only about the particular changes which have been effected. It was an essential part of the original Bill that the same principle should be applied to all parts of Scotland. That was the original foundation of the Bill as outlined by Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, and we have never been able to understand why that principle was departed from. We shall be glad to hear from the Lord Advocate what has induced him to depart from the advocacy which he always gave to the principles of the Bill, which he used to say were perfect and wanted no alteration. If they wanted no alteration I cannot understand why he has altered them as they have been altered. The Bill, as it now stands, is being accepted by Scotland in a kind of sullen acquiescence. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It has not been welcomed by the supporters of the Government. [An HON. MEMBER: Yes, it has."] My information is different; I shall be 1373 glad to hear from other hon. Members that their experience is not the same as mine. In my part of the country there is a sullen acquiescence in the Bill, and I believe that the Government will suffer very seriously if they proceed with the compromise. I shall not press this Amendment to a Division, as under the circumstances there is no hope of getting sufficient support to make it worth while. I wished simply to call attention to the extraordinary circumstances which have distinguished the conduct of this Bill, and I will not move the Amendment.
§ Mr. MORTON
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), at the end of paragraph (ii), to insert the words:Any leaseholder who by himself or his family has provided the buildings or equipment on his holding shall be a qualified leaseholder from the commencement of this Act.On a former occasion the Grand Committee passed a proposal similar to this, but by some wicked influence the House was induced to strike it out. It was, however, such a good Clause that even a number of Tory Members voted for it in Grand Committee. I shall be glad to know why the Lord Advocate opposes the proposal now. In order to get at the opinion of the Lord Advocate, and with a view to doing justice to those who have made their improvements themselves, I beg to move.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL for SCOTLAND (Mr. Hunter)
It is quite evident that this Amendment cannot be accepted, because it will be seen from the wording of the Clause that you are dealing with a holding, and the effect of the introduction of the Amendment would be to define a holding as a leaseholder. It would render the Clause more or less nonsensical. In any event, the question of exceptions is fully dealt with under subsequent provisions.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. URE
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), paragraph (iii.) (a), after the word "shall," ["shall be held an existing yearly 1374 tenant"] to insert the words, "unless disqualified under Section 26 of this Act." There are a great number of exceptions under Clause 26, and we desire that it shall apply to the case of the qualified leaseholder.
§ Mr. SCOTT DICKSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), paragraph (iii.) (a), after the word "held," ["shall be held"] to insert the words "as from the date of registration."
I do not propose to move this as it stands, as I am afraid it is not complete. There are other words required in order to make the Clause operative. The form in which I propose to move the Amendment is this: to add after the word "held" ["shall be held"] the words "as from the date of registration, application for which may be made by either the landlord or tenant or leaseholder to the Land Court which shall dispose of such application as they think fit."
The reason for moving these words is that we think it desirable that the question of whether a holding is a holding under the Statute should be determined definitely at as early a period as possible. The matter should not be allowed to hang over to an indefinite period. The result of the words would be that the constitution of the holding would only date from the registration and that every landholder, landlord or tenant would apply at once to the Court, and his application would be determined by the Court. An end, therefore, would be put to the period of indefiniteness, and all parties would know at once whether this or that piece of ground was or was not a holding in the sense of the Statute.
§ Mr. URE
I am afraid I cannot accept the Amendment, and for this reason: There is no register provided for in this Bill except for new holders. The right hon. and learned Gentleman will recollect that after a long discussion in Committee about this matter, as to who should take the initiative in getting proof, we ultimately came to the conclusion that there was no necessity for anyone to take the initiative or for any register to be provided. There will be no period of indefiniteness. If a man is a statutory leaseholder he is; if a landlord he is, and nobody will dispute either fact. If any difficulty should arise I will make proposals to deal with it summarily.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
In the interests of the leaseholder as well as that of the landholder this Amendment seems desirable, and we ought to see that justice is done. A man may be a tenant for a time and may have made improvements; or it may be that some of his predecessors have made improvements. The burden of proof that is cast upon him may be very difficult to carry out. If we have this registration no difficulty at all will arise. It is a comparatively small point, but not an unimportant one.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
It is not very difficult for the landlord to say what repairs have been done, but the longer it is put off the more difficult it is for the tenant or his successors to say what improvements really have been made. The sooner you get the matter registered, the better it will be for the people whom we are supposed to be benefiting at the present moment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Amendments made: In Sub-section (1), paragraph (iii.) (b), after the word "shall" ["but shall in respect"], insert the words "unless disqualified under Section 26 of this Act,"—[Mr. Ure.]
§ In Sub-section (1), paragraph (iii.), (b), leave out the words "as from the date at which he is registered as a statutory small tenant,"—[Mr. Ure.]
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
My Amendment is to add to Sub-section (2) the words,(3) In the application of the Lands Valuation (Scotland) Acts to a holding under this Act the expression "lessee" in Section 4 of the Lands Valuation (Scotland) Act, 1895, shall include a landholder in the same way as if a landholder were a lessee holding under a lease or agreement, the stipulated duration of which is twenty-one years or under from the date of entry under the same.I understand that the Lord Advocate would prefer this Amendment to come on later and to be moved by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, so I will not move it now.