§ As amended (in Standing Committee), considered.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
Before the House proceeds to the consideration of the Amendments to this Bill, I desire to move that the Bill be recommitted to a Committee of the Whole House in respect to Clause 4. That Clause proposes to set up a separate Board of Agriculture for Scotland.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The point which the hon. Member (Mr. Bathurst) is going to take is that the Bill, as it now comes down to this House, does not relate wholly to Scotland.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
The hon. Gentleman opposite has slightly anticipated what I was about to say. Clause 4 proposes to set up a separate Board of Agriculture for Scotland, and to vest in that Board all the powers which are at present vested in the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries with the single exception of their duties relating to fisheries. What I want to point out to the House is that this Clause, at any rate, of the Bill, which is otherwise possibly exclusively Scottish, deals with a matter which is by no means exclusively or even mainly Scottish. As this Bill left this House, and was referred by yourself, Mr. Speaker, to the Standing Committee upon Scottish Bills, it contained references to 1286 certain Commissioners who were to have certain powers defined by the Bill. As it comes back to this House, there is mentioned for the first time a separate Board of Agriculture for Scotland. I can only indicate the strength of feeling which is being demonstrated and given expression to by agriculturists throughout England, by informing the House that since it became known to English agriculturists that the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries would no longer have entire control of the administration of the Diseases of Animals Act throughout the whole of Great Britain, every single meeting that has been held since in England in which important agricultural associations have taken part, has passed unanimous resolutions requesting the House not to allow this Clause to be passed into law.
During the last month not only have the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture themselves passed a resolution by two votes to one against the inclusion of these provisions to set up a separate Board of Agriculture, but on 13th October, at a meeting of the North-Eastern Agricultural Federation, one of the largest associations of agriculturists in England whose interests are particularly affected by regulations affecting what goes on on the border between England and Scotland—passed a unanimous resolution against the inclusion of this Clause, as being one that seriously affects English agricultural interests. On 19th October, at a large agricultural conference at York attended by over three hundred farmers, mostly connected with the North of England, a unanimous resolution was again passed protesting against setting up a separate Department of Agriculture in Scotland with all the powers of the present Board. Last week, at a meeting of the Council of the Central and Associated Chambers of Agriculture, held in London, a very strongly worded resolution of protest was passed unanimously. This meeting was largely attended by Liberals, and expressions of opinion on the subject was voiced by two or three distinguished politicians who were formerly Members of this House on the other side. This strongly worded resolution was directed against the inclusion of this Clause as likely very largely to undo the splendid work that has been carried on for so long for the benefit of the whole of Great Britain by the British Board of Agriculture and Fisheries. 1287 What we fear most is that the prompt action on the part of the central authority, which has enabled us in Great Britain in the last thirty years practically to stamp out the more serious live-stock diseases in this country, will be lessened in the future. With centralisation under one authority there was equality of treatment in the country, but under separate Departments the serious danger of cattle and other diseases arising and spreading in Scotland and coming over the border would become a serious menace to English agriculture. It was the laxity of administration as regards live-stock diseases in this country that was responsible for our having the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries set up to perform the excellent work which it has performed since it was established. Forty years ago, in the 'sixties, cattle plague was raging throughout the country, and its devastations caused immense disturbance and enormous loss to the tenant farmers, both in Scotland and in England. Later on, in the two following decades, pluro-pneumonia and foot-and-mouth disease caused such alarm and loss as to render the cultivation of the land, and the breeding of live-stock in this country, an extremely precarious industry; but, thanks to the efficiency and prompt action on the part of a unified Department, we are able to boast to-day that there is no feeling of unrest among agriculturists throughout Great Britain as regards these very serious diseases that ravaged the country thirty and forty years ago. It would be a positive calamity if the administration of the Board were now to be split up between two authorities.
I am quite prepared to admit that it is impossible under the existing law, without the repeal of the Act of 1896, for store cattle to be admitted from Canada or any other country where these diseases are known to exist. But I should like to remind the House that the great danger with regard to the admission of cattle from Canada, as the hon. Member for Lichfield pointed out when he attended an important deputation to Lord Carrington when he first became President of the Board, is this, that, whereas Canada can issue regulations affecting the movement and controlling the export of live stock throughout the whole of the Dominion, it is the land frontier which creates the danger, because, unfortunately, there is no uniformity of administration in the United States. Every State is a law unto itself 1288 and that constitutes the danger of allowing Canadian stock being sent into this country for the reason that they must pass through a country where there is no uniformity of administration and no safeguard against the passage of these diseases across the border. Exactly the same thing will arise if you put it into the power of the Scottish Board to make regulations of its own affecting live stock diseases in this country.
This is not merely a Scottish matter. The majority of live stock in Great Britain are to be found in England. Assuming for one minute that a Scottish Board attempted to promulgate regulations in order to control such diseases in Scotland—we have very great doubt whether under local pressure it would be possible to do it—even so the difficulty of dealing with those diseases on the border will be simply immeasurable. There are farms on the border to-day, part in Scotland and part in England. How are you to deal with them? Foot-and-mouth disease, of which we have had such a bitter experience in the last twelve months, is bound to spread unless there is prompt notification and prompt action as the result of that notification, and the Board of Agriculture as it exists to-day is worthy of all praise and credit for the prompt action it has taken under very difficult conditions when this disease broke out during the last few months. But no precautions which the Board of Agriculture in England can take are going to be effective if it is possible for a Board in Scotland to issue its own regulations. They may be totally different and more lax than the regulations in England. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I do not base my case upon possible laxity, but rather upon the lack of uniformity. That is quite enough for my purpose. Remember how easily foot-and-mouth disease can be carried and how difficult it is to check its progress. Birds can carry it; foxes can carry it; cats can carry it; hares can carry it. How are you, without anything but a land frontier between these two countries, to prevent the disease passing from one country to another? It is impossible in the nature of things.
This is not only a producer's question. It is every bit as much a consumers' question. If hon. Members will look at what happened thirty or forty years ago, they will find that it was not only a very heavy tax upon the producer, but that on account of these diseases very heavy cost was incurred to the consumer. If meat becomes scarce from lack of supply the consumer 1289 must suffer. In my opinion such legislation as this affecting most seriously English as well as Scotch agriculture would be the most retrograde step ever yet taken on the part of an enlightened country in regard to its agricultural interests. We are told there are differences in the conditions between England and Scotland. I will only say as regards that, that there are differences in the conditions prevailing in Scotland itself, and I say there are far greater differences between the Highlands of Scotland and the Lowlands, than between the Lowlands of Scotland and the greater part of England. The case cannot be based on such an argument as that. All I say is that, if the House decides to treat this as a purely Scottish matter and set up separate Boards of Agriculture for Scotland and England greater injury will thereby be done to British agriculture as a whole than anyone has ever attempted before, either Government or private Member, since the days the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries was set up in Whitehall.
I most earnestly entreat the House not to regard this as a party question. £170,000,000 is now invested in the form of British live stock, and the sole reason why it is possible to make the live stock industry of this country the success which it is and thereby to some extent to reinstate British agriculture after the serious depression which took place twenty-five to thirty years ago, is the confidence that has been felt by live-stock owners in the strong and centralised administration of the one Department in Whitehall. I do appeal to the House most strongly to do nothing short sighted in this matter. Let the Scotchmen have their Small Holdings Bill if they like, and let them have such Clauses as will ensure their making their small holdings a success. We do not grudge them that if they consider it is for the interests of Scottish agriculture, but as English agriculturists we protest most strongly and vehemently against the introduction of such a Clause as this which would not only largely upset the excellent and wise administration of our Board of Agriculture in this country, but would, in my humble opinion, result in nothing short of disaster, not merely to the producers, but also to the consumers in Great Britain.
§ Sir COURTENAY WARNER
I rise to second the Motion made by the hon. Gentleman opposite. I do so as a supporter of the general principles of the Bill, and as one who wants to see devolution 1290 carried out as far as possible, but I recognise in this particular Clause there is something more than ordinary devolution. These regulations with regard to the diseases of animals are so important that they should be made for the whole country. Land boundaries are insufficient for quarantine and regulations establishing land boundaries are very difficult to carry out. Even if Scotland had complete devolution and management of their own affairs, I think it would be unwise of her not to agree to a central body for the whole of Great Britain to make regulations with regard to the diseases of animals and matters of that kind, that are of such importance. I do not want to hinder the progress of this Bill or to delay the House of Commons, but I would remind hon. Members that the difficulties in cases where there are land boundaries are enormous. I want to see these regulations that affect the farmers of the whole country preserved under one authority. We have seen the enormous difficulty and the outcry that has arisen against regulations when there is a land boundary in the case of county and county when there has been an outbreak, of swine fever. I am told that under the present system Scotch sheep are excluded from Ireland because they have to pass through an English county. If this authority is delegated to Scotland I do not suppose it would prevent that in any way. I think at the present moment the Board of Agriculture is content to allow Scotch sheep to pass over to Ireland if they do not go through an infected county. A neglect of this precaution would do enormous injury to agriculture. I am not in any sense mistrusting my Scottish friends on agricultural subjects. We all know they are the finest agriculturists in the world except Denmark and Ireland, which is now beating them, but in the years past they were the finest agriculturists in the world, and I am quite sure they will be the first to realise the importance of these regulations being kept in central hands. May I emphasise what has been already said by the hon. Gentleman opposite, and that is that every English agriculture body is opposed to the delegation of this authority, and that the Scottish farmers are themselves, I believe, opposed to it. My hon. Friends say that they do not agree with them in political subjects generally. I think the resolutions passed by the Scottish farmers—I am not talking about Scotchmen generally, because there are a good 1291 many Scotchmen who do not know much about farming—are against delegation. The farmers of Scotland, by a considerable majority, would prefer these regulations to be kept in central hands, and I am very pleased to second this Amendment. I hope the Lord Advocate will look into this matter, and see if he cannot make this concession.
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
The English agriculturists who have spoken have argued in favour of committing tins Bill to a Committee of the Whole House. There is a difference of opinion as to whether the agricultural needs of Scotland would be best managed by a separate Department for Scotland. May I point out to the House what is contained in the resolution passed at Perth, with which the two previous speakers imagine themselves to be in entire agreement? That resolution sets forth thatthe creation of a Scottish Department of the present Board, fully staffed, with offices in Edinburgh. …I know in the past we often asked the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Long) for the smallest accommodation of this kind, but we never could get it.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. I attended at least five conferences of agriculturists in Scotland, and I expressed myself rather in favour of this proposal as regards Edinburgh. I may point out, however, that Scottish agriculturists were so undecided about the matter that there never was a majority of them who voted in favour of such a proposal.
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
Personally I have often pleaded for a much more modest provision than was asked for at Perth, and both the right hon. Gentlemen opposite and his successors have always resolutely declined to give it. The resolution proceedsand the chairman with a seat in the House of Commons, and a consultative council consisting of persons engaged in and connected with agriculture.That practically means independent management of Scottish agriculture. If you had a department of that kind its mission would be to serve the interests of agriculture in Scotland according to Scottish needs, but I suppose, in the view of my right hon. Friend and others, if the needs of Scottish agriculture differ from the needs of English agriculture, then Scotland will have to go to the wall. The 1292 alternative proposal is to set up a Board of Agriculture under the Scottish Office. An Amendment was moved in that direction at Perth, but both those proposals differ vitally from the proposal in the Bill. There is very little distinction as a matter of practical working between these proposals, because you would get practically an independent Scottish authority charged with the supervision of the agricultural interests of Scotland. It is unnecessary to recommit the Bill to get either of the solutions which were advocated and supported at Perth. The agriculturists at Perth, whether right or wrong, were unanimously against the provision in the Bill as it stands, but they were in favour alike of a practically independent body.
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
If you had the Chairman of the Scotch Department with a seat in the House of Commons it would mean that that Minister would be responsible to the Scottish Members in the House, and Scottish agricultural interests would have to be taken separately. The resolution says:—A Chairman of a Scottish Board of Agriculture with a seat in the House of Commons.
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
That does not really concern my point, nor does it concern the matter before the House. The first part of the resolution refers to the advantage of having the control of cattle diseases under one Board, and that means the British Board as it stands now. If you had a Board with the Chairman sitting in the House of Commons the agricultural interests of Scotland would have to be considered separately from the agricultural interests of England. I understand hon. Members wish that English interests should predominate over Scotch interests, but that is not the view of the agriculturists at Perth. There may be certain advantages in having one control. If the Board of Agriculture in Ireland is fit to be trusted in a matter of this kind, there is no reason whatever for supposing that a Scottish Board of Agriculture would be less reliable than the Board of Agriculture in Ireland. I think it would be more reliable. I should not despair of being able to set up a Scottish Board of Agriculture more effective and reliable than the British Board.
§ Mr. COURTHOPE
I think the right hon. Gentleman has rather misunderstood the arguments used by my hon. Friends who Moved and Seconded this Amendment. Our arguments are based on the case of the diseases of animals. It is on the ground that diseases of animals affect British rather than merely Scottish interests that we argued that this Bill should be recommitted in respect of this Clause of the Bill and not in regard to the whole Bill, which deals with this question in order that English Members as well as Scottish Members will have an opportunity of expressing their opinion upon it. It is with that part of the resolution of the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture which was passed at their meeting at Perth that we entirely agree. It was not a matter as to whether they should have Commissioners, a Department in Edinburgh under the Board, or a Chairman with a seat in the House of Commons, because those points were absolutely immaterial. The resolution passed at Perth agreed that the administration of the diseases of animals regulations should be under one Department, and that is the ground of our quarrel with this Bill as it is now drafted. [An HON. MEMBER: "They suggested a Sub-Department."] There is a great deal of difference between a Sub-Department and an independent Department. I was very glad indeed to hear the hon. Member for Lichfield seconding this Motion. He has earned the respect of everyone as being a staunch representative of British agriculture. On this point I would like to mention a speech that was made last Tuesday by another leading supporter of British agriculture (Sir Francis Channing) who, speaking at a meeting of the Associated Chamber of Agriculture, made some strong remarks against Clause 4 of this Bill. Many other leading agriculturists, including Major Craigie, have also spoken against this provision.
Most of the arguments used have been intended to show that this is more a British matter rather than a Scottish matter. It is a matter of common knowledge to everyone who has studied the question of the disease of animals with relation to the regulations of our trade with foreign countries that the advantages Great Britain has enjoyed so long in being able to send pedigree stock to foreign countries rests only on the great rigidity and strictness with which the regulations affecting diseases of animals are administered. We are given privileges which no other country possesses for sending stock to those 1294 countries, and this has been the greatest possible advantage to both English and Scottish agriculture. It is well known that the United States and the Argentine recognise no boundaries except the sea. If there is any laxity of administration, as there is reason to believe there might be in regard to the diseases of animals regulations in Scotland, the whole of Great Britain will at once lose the advantages which she possesses in this direction. There is reason for believing that there might be a laxity of administration in Scotland. I am not casting any aspersion upon the Scotch Office, but it is known that there is a prevailing opinion amongst a certain number of Scotchmen in favour of relaxing the administration dealing with the importation of stocks. I know the Lord Advocate will reply that that requires legislation, but legislation would be very much easier in case it was brought forward on behalf of the Scottish Board of Agriculture than it would be in the case of the English Board of Agriculture, because the great majority of the agriculturists of Great Britain are opposed to changing the law for the reason that the whole country, and not Scotland alone, would be adversely affected.
I think it is perfectly certain that if there was a division of administration in this matter between the two countries the risk would be so great before the new Scottish Department had got into harness that the English Board would have to treat Scotland exactly as it has to treat a foreign country with regard to the movement of animals. There would have to be the same kind of restriction and exclusion. That would be a very undesirable thing, and it certainly would be a most disastrous thing for Scottish and Irish agriculture. I hope the Scottish Members will bear this point in mind in considering this question. I wish to refer once more to the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last, and who dealt with a point which I omitted to mention before. He said Scotland was just as well qualified to have a Department of its own as ourselves. Certainly, if Scotland were an island, I should not have the slightest objection, but it has a land frontier, and that makes the whole difference, as everyone who has studied the question must be very well aware. I hope the Government will see their way to accept this Motion and to recommit the Bill in respect of Clause 4, so as to give all the Members of the House an opportunity of discussing it in detail.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
There is a good deal of misapprehension, with regard to this matter. May I venture to remind hon. Members opposite that Ireland has had a separate Board for ten years and no difficulty has occurred. The two Boards interchange information. The English Board has been perfectly satisfied with the steps taken in Ireland, and there has been no occasion for a general prohibition of cattle from Ireland. The trade in animals of all kinds is enormously greater with Ireland than with Scotland. Ireland sends annually more than double the number of swine to this country than the whole of Scotland possesses. They send over 350,000, and the whole of Scotland does not possess more than 175,000 all told. It is the same with cattle. I would venture to suggest to hon. Gentlemen opposite that there is a very simple remedy for all their troubles. The local authorities possess the powers to stop any cattle coming from Scotland. What occurred on the last occasion when there was an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Edinburgh? Immediately the counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, and Durham, exercised their powers and made orders prohibiting cattle from Scotland coming into their areas. If a separate Board were set up for Scotland it would, as in the case of Ireland, communicate with the English Board should an outbreak occur, and inform the English Board exactly what it was doing. If the English Board was not satisfied, they could issue an order against Scotch cattle.
We are not satisfied with the English Board, and we want a Scottish Board, because we feel we can do much better. I have here a schedule of all the outbreaks of diseases which have occurred in Ireland. I am glad to say there has been an enormous reduction in the number of outbreaks since there has been a separate Board. I venture to think we should have the same result in Scotland. We want to be like Denmark, and clear out swine fever altogether. Let me give an experience from my own county. There was an outbreak of black scab. The English Board did not go to investigate it; it was too far off. They simply advertised the fact. What were the actual facts? In a small back garden in a remote part of Dumfriesshire, far away from where the potatoes are grown, a case of black scab occurred. The Board advertised the fact without giving any opportunity for anyone to ascertain whether there was any real danger, and the result was that an 1296 embargo was put upon our potatoes. Let me contrast that with what occurred in Ireland. As soon as an outbreak of black scab took place in Ireland an inspector was sent down and the place was examined. The potatoes were all destroyed, the ground was levelled, and no crops were allowed to be sold there. The result was that, whilst British potatoes were excluded from the markets, Irish potatoes were allowed to go free. These are advantages we desire to get for Scotland. Can anyone suggest Scotland is incapable of finding men who can do for Scotland what Scotchmen can do for every part of the world? An effective Board would diminish the risk of disease enormously. This is a bogey which appeals to those who have not studied the facts. When the facts are examined it will be seen there is no danger whatever.
§ Mr. STANIER
One might suppose from the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite that the attack on this side of the House had become a party matter. I can assure them that is not the case. We are acting purely and simply in the interests of the agriculturists of this country. One of my hon. Friends quoted Major Craigie's speech on Tuesday last at the Central Chamber of Agriculture. I wish he had gone further and given that gentleman's statement in full, because it sums up the matter in a clear and concise manner. Speaking as a late official of the Board of Agriculture in this country and also as a Scotchman, he used these words:—He condemned the Clause in the Bill on three grounds: first, as a Scotchman, he objected most strongly to the breaking up of the administration of the Cattle Diseases Acts; secondly, he objected as one who, as the Council would remember, had taken part in the education which brought about the establishment of the Board of Agriculture, very largely on the ground of the necessity for uniform administration within the whole of Great Britain; and, lastly, he objected as one who had been for a considerable period familiar with the official work of the Board of Agriculture.One hon. Gentleman just now spoke of the counties in the north being able to bring forward rules and regulations prohibiting cattle affected with disease passing over their boundaries, but I can assure the House, as chairman of an executive committee, that there is very often a great deal of argument and difference of opinion, sometimes with a good deal of warmth, between my committee and the counties on our border. If those differences of opinion occur between bordering counties the land of which is roughly speaking similar, would there not be a greater difference of opinion between the farmers of this country and the farmers of Scotland, 1297 where the lands are absolutely different? What is the good of comparing Ireland with Scotland or Ireland with England? You cannot compare any of the figures or statistics given by the Board of Agriculture in Ireland with those in this country at the present time. I have often tried to quote them and to use them as argument, but the deeper you go into them the more you find you cannot compare them. If you set up a separate Department for Scotland, you will not be able to compare England with Scotland, and the confusion will be greater.
There is also the question of cost to be considered. The increase would be enormous. You would have to duplicate your staff and officials, and even now you complain there is not enough money to pay these men. The cost to this country and to Scotland would foe very largely increased. I regard the whole thing as a great retrograde movement. I look at the matter purely in the light of safeguarding the live stock and crops of this country. If you cannot have uniform administration, undoubtedly, as the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Courthope) said, our live stock will not be received in other countries in the same way as it is to-day. It is the uniform action of the Board of Agriculture which enables buyers on the Continent to arrive at an understanding as to what has actually taken place in this country and to know what are the rules and regulations which they must see carried out in order to procure live stock in this country. If you create this separate Board of Agriculture, you will upset not only the farmers of England, but the farmers of Scotland as well. I am in favour of a Department for Scotland, but not a separate Board. You can have that Department working out the different points regarding Scotland, but, if you do not have central control, you will undoubtedly in the very near future be very sorry you ever smuggled this proposal through in a Scotch Smallholders Bill. I very much hope those Members who are advocating this Clause will think very seriously before they carry it any further.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE for SCOTLAND (Mr. Ure)
I must offer an uncompromising opposition to the proposal made by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. C. Bathurst). I have purposely refrained from joining in this Debate because, being merely a lawyer with no practical knowledge of the contagious diseases to which 1298 animals are subject, I was anxious to learn from those better acquainted with these matters than myself what was the precise mischief or disaster which English agriculturists would suffer if a Scottish Board of Agriculture was set up with complete and absolute control of the administration of the Contagious Diseases Animals Act. That is the only proposition the House has to consider. I was an interested auditor of the Debate which took place on this subject upwards of four years ago, and I think I am in the recollection of those who were present then when I say the whole Debate turned upon the proposition that if a Scotch Board of Agriculture were set up it would straightway admit foreign cattle. It was not until the Debate was nearly concluded that hon. Gentlemen who opposed powers being given to a Scotch Board discovered it would require a repeal of the Statute of 1896 in order that that mischief might befall them, and accordingly that Debate concluded without anyone being able to answer the simple question I put again to-day. Since then I have read all the speeches made by agriculturists of Scotland on this subject. I read them prompted by a spirit of curiosity. I read the resolutions that were passed by the English Chambers of Agriculture. I have listened to the speeches made to-day, and I have not yet got an answer to my simple question: What is the mischief or disaster that would befall English agriculture if the Scottish Board of Agriculture had confided to it the administration of the Contagious Diseases Animals Act? We are eager to avoid laxity of administration, because we know as well as hon. Members opposite do that laxity of administration is fatal in a matter of this kind. Do they think for one moment that a Scottish Board of Agriculture is going to be lax in the administration of the Contagious Diseases Animals Act? We realise the great danger of that; we realise that promptitude is the very essence of administration in regard to it, and the one reason why I am favouring the administration of this by a Scottish Board is because such a Board will have confided to it a power which will enable it to act with promptitude and to avoid laxity of administration. It is on those grounds I strongly support the proposition contained in this Bill.
Let me disabuse the minds of hon. Members opposite that this proposal is being smuggled through. It is the central feature of the Bill. We propose to set up a strong Board of Agriculture in Scotland 1299 with a view to administering all matters connected with agriculture. Can it be said we are discriminating between the powers which it is intended to deprive our Board of Agriculture? What are the powers which it is essential it should possess if agriculture is to be properly administered? If I were asked to discriminate among the various powers to be entrusted to such a Board I would select the administration of the Contagious Diseases Animals Act as the first power I was given. I would rather deprive it of almost any other power. And if we were to agree to deprive it of the power to administer this Act in its own way, I do not think our position will be safe in our native country.
§ Mr. LONG
The Lord Advocate, in the speech he has just delivered, allows us to make no mistake as to the situation. He not only tells us he will not listen to the proposition advanced, but he frankly admits that, speaking with authority as the head of the Scottish Government in this House, the one thing he would ask for, if he were to differentiate between the different powers the power to be conferred on the Scottish Department, would be the administration of the Contagious Diseases Animals Act. The Lord Advocate, in this matter, is in entire and direct disagreement with the great bulk of Scottish Agriculturists, and with the vast majority of Scotchmen who are connected with the breeding, raising, and selling of cattle. The resolution to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leith referred, and which was carried by 88 to 44 at this particular meeting, is confirmation in the most definite terms that in the opinion of the great majority at that representative meeting they should resist altogether the suggestion upon which the Lord Advocate bases his main ground for his advocacy of this Bill. The Lord Advocate asks a question to which he says he has been unable to obtain an answer. I will presently endeavour to give him a reply, but, before doing so, I want to state very briefly the reasons which mainly govern me in supporting the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for South Wilts made in a very excellent speech just now.
So far the Debate has taken the lines of discussing the desirability or the reverse of establishing a Board of Agriculture in Scotland. I want to emphasise what my hon. Friend said in his opening remarks I absolutely decline to look at this as a purely Scottish question, and I think we 1300 have good reasons for complaining when we find ourselves for the first time since the Second Reading discussion of this question on the floor of the House of Commons, dealing with it in its present form. Let the House remember what has happened in the interval. The Second Reading Debate did not take place on this Bill; it was on a private Member's Bill, which raised the bitterest controversy, and which is much opposed in many quarters, not only in England and Wales, but in Scotland. I do not think there was anybody who thought for a moment that that Bill had a real chance of passing into law. But the Bill was removed from the consideration down here, and went to a Grand Committee, Why? If it had been a Government Bill it would never have been sent to one of the Grand Committees, and, at any rate, if it had been so sent, it would have gone with a full knowledge of the House, that the proposals contained in it were made on the authority of the Government. But there was nothing of the kind in this case. This has only become a Government Bill since it passed through Committee upstairs. [An HON. MEMBER: "It was adopted by the Government before it passed through the Committee?"] That makes very little difference; the fact remains the Bill had been made a Government Bill since it was under consideration in this House, and it does not matter whether the arrangement between the Scottish Members and the Government was come to in Committee or afterwards. It was subsequent to discussion in this House, and this is the first time that we are dealing with it in the form of a Government Bill.
I am asked why do I believe that this Bill would not have been sent to a Standing Committee if it had been a Government Bill. I admit that with the present Government anything is possible, and it might have been possible for this Bill, as a Government Bill, to have been sent upstairs. But whether you agree with the princple embodied in it or not, I say there are reasons why it would not have been sent upstairs. Of course, I am only dealing with that part which proposes to set up a Scottish Board of Agriculture. No man can deny that you are making a radical change in the administration of the country in this respect, and you are doing it in what I believe to be an unprecedented way. We have had reference made to the Board of Agriculture for Ireland. How was that Department set up? It was done by statute; it was done in the 1301 face of the country and of Parliament. But you are not doing that now.
Another precedent has been quoted. You have established a Government in South Africa—the latest experience we have had in the setting up of Colonial Governments. What did they do there? They did exactly the same as has been done here. They centralised the control of agriculture in the hands of the Minister of Agriculture for the Union Government, and everybody knows that the present Prime Minister of South Africa is the Minister for Agriculture. They further established provincial assembly, and gave them power to deal with agriculture. But how? As defined by statute by Parliament. You are not doing that here. You are doing here what I believe has never been done before. You are not in your statute defining what shall be the powers of your Scottish Board of Agriculture. This is a very interesting fact. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite who have been defending this Bill outside this House have used the argument that no part of it definitely transfers powers with regard to the administration of the Contagious Diseases Animals Act to the Scottish Board. Indeed, by one or two speeches it has been indicated that it is possible that that transfer may not take place. But that argument cannot be put forward again after the statement just made by the Lord Advocate. What is the proposal in the Bill? What do you propose to do? You have now got a Board of Agriculture for the United Kingdom. I was the head of that Department for a period of five years, and I mention that fact because I do not want the House to think that I am referring to my own administration without admitting the fact that I held that position. But quite apart from that I wish to say that whatever credit may be due to past Presidents of the Department the credit is really due to the great body of Civil Servants who do the work of the Department. I say its record is a remarkable one. It is an extraordinary record.
But you are going to alter it. How are you altering it? You are actually doing it by conferring upon the Secretary for Scotland for the time being the unchallenged right to take from the Board of Agriculture which represents the United Kingdom whatever powers he thinks right and to take them merely with the consent of the Treasury. For the purposes of my argument the consent of the Treasury may be 1302 dismissed, as obviously it would apply only to the financial aspects of the question. You do not pay the President of the existing Board of Agriculture the compliment of bringing him into conference with the Scottish Secretary. He is to be allowed to take what powers he likes and to transfer them from the Board of Agriculture to the Scottish Board. What do we find next? We find in another Sub-section of the same Clause that having done this, the Scottish Secretary having made his choice of what he thinks ought to be the powers to be taken away from the Central Board, you give him the absolute right to make such regulations he chooses for the control of the Scottish Board.
And here I come to the answer to the question which the Lord Advocate says has been frequently asked. The advocacy of those hon. Gentlemen who have supported the Bill as it stands is destroyed by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leith, who has made many speeches on the subject, and whose remarks in the very admirable Debate which took place in the Scottish Chamber will have made it clear that in regard to the administration of the Diseases of Animals Act he would not transfer these powers. Upon what grounds has the Bill been defended to-day? The hon. Member for Dumfries told us of a case of trouble with potato disease, but with that exception there has not been a single grievance alleged to show that under the administration of the Central Board Scotland has suffered. The Debate so far has proceeded solely on the lines that Scotland ought to have a separate Board of Agriculture. If that is the ground, no doubt you can provide a grievance. Men far less competent than are Members of this House are able to find grievances, but if it is your case that the administration hitherto has been unsatisfactory, then I say you have no right to deal with it as you are dealing with it in a Bill which does not settle the question by statutory and definite provision, but proposes to give absolutely unique powers to one Minister and enables him to take away the powers belonging to another Minister, and himself to control the subordinate officers who are to be appointed by him. What was the hon. Member's other suggestion? He told us that he wanted a Department of the Scottish Board of Agriculture presided over by a chairman who should sit in this House, 1303 and therefore be responsible to the Scottish Members. That is a new theory of Government altogether. A Minister who sits in this House is responsible, not to one or the other branch of Members, but to the House as a whole. Supposing that there must be a head of this Department, who is going to have full control of the actions of his subordinates, who is that head proposed to be by this Bill? You take away the power of the present Board of Agriculture to settle all questions for the whole country, and you propose to appoint a Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, who is to have the right to sit in this House. Under whom do you put him? You say you want better attention to your business and better work done for agriculture. But you take him away from the Ministry and you put him under the Scottish Secretary, who may have no more knowledge of Scottish agriculture than any one of us here. The general complaint of Scottish Members is that the Secretary for Scotland has already too much to do, and yet you make this gigantic change, for which I honestly believe there is no precedent, not by Act of Parliament, defining the powers clearly and distinctly, but you make it in what I must call an unfair way. You do not disclose to the House and to the country what you really propose to do. You leave these powers to be exercised by a Minister of a future time, and you leave us not knowing so fully as we ought to know what is to be the precise use the Secretary for Scotland is going to make of these powers.
We shall have to argue this again on Clause 4, therefore I will only say a general word or two now. The Lord Advocate says he has never had an answer to the question why we fear this interference with the administration of the Diseases of Animals Act. I have had a great many years' experience in the administration of that Act. Let me refer to one case. During those five years I had to deal with a very serious and almost fatal disease when it has attacked people in Great Britain. The hon. Member for Leith suggested in his speech at Edinburgh that these difficulties might be got over by some form of conference. That suggestion has been made in different quarters. The proposal is wholly unworkable. Rather than have a conference between the respective Ministers as to their powers under the Diseases of Animals Act, I think you had 1304 far better leave each Minister to do his own work, because conference means, delay and confusion of all kinds, and it will not work for a moment. I have something more than my own opinion upon this matter. The Lord Advocate says we are afraid. No, we are not afraid, because if these powers are conferred upon a Scottish Board of Agriculture you will find it will be the bounden duty of any English Minister of Agriculture to impose restrictions and bring into existence limitations, which will not injure England but which will injure Scotland, which is a country from which so many cattle come into England. The injury to Scotland will be far greater than the injury to England. When I was dealing with rabies I was unable to convince the Irish Government—I think it was the only matter on which I had a disagreement with Sir Horace Plunkett—that rabies could be stamped out. They were unwilling to adopt the rigorous precautions we adopted in this country. What was the result? We had this country absolutely free of that disease for three years before Ireland could call herself clear. Who suffered there? Not England, because our dog owners were as free to deal with dogs as ever. Ireland suffered because we would not allow her dogs to come into this country, and it interfered with all breeders of dogs, and all those who had greyhounds, etc. All that business was seriously injured, and Ireland bitterly complained. That was the result of her administration.
Reference has been made to other diseases, particularly cattle diseases. I understood that the English Board of Agriculture had rendered splendid services in this connection, and I confess that I am astonished that this Debate should be going on—involving, as it does inevitably, the English Board of Agriculture—in the entire absence from the beginning up to this moment of the President of the Board of Agriculture. I think he ought to have been here to tell us what he believes are the views of that Department. What has been briefly the history of that Department? As the hon. Member for South Wiltshire says, for forty years the losses were stupendous, to be counted in millions of money, all caused by the loss of cattle. What has happened since then? Not only have we built up a magnificent system which has given security of health to our stock throughout the country, not only have we increased our stock, not only have we made the trade infinitely more valuable 1305 and greater than it was, but we have done something more than that. We have established an enormous trade, to be counted only in millions, with foreign countries who have come to this country chiefly because they know they are buying animals from a country from whence they will go to their own land absolutely free from any risk of disease of any kind. It is true that there have been some outbreaks recently.
The Lord Advocate says we need not be afraid that the Scottish Department will not be as prompt as we should be in England. I think Scotland will probably be able to provide plenty of capable educated men who will act in their own opinion promptly if they thought it necessary. That is the point of the whole thing. It is of the utmost value to have one man at the head of all this administration to whom alone reference is to be made, who alone is to be in possession of the necessary information, and who can at the moment his mind is made up, after a general survey of the whole country, act for the whole country. That is to say, you are to have one opinion, not two opinions, as to what is necessary to be done and when it should be done. You say the Scottish Department will act as promptly as we do. They may act in some cases when it is necessary, and they may act in some cases when it is not necessary. What was the complaint uttered by a Scottish speaker at the meeting the other day? He opposed the proposal, and pointed out that quite recently there was an outbreak of disease in this country, and that the Irish Department thought it necessary to exclude cattle from both England and Scotland, although English cattle only were affected. You are not going to reduce difficulties, you are going to increase them by increasing the number of those responsible for agriculture.
Agriculture is, for many reasons, the most important industry in this country. It has had to fight—I do not care what Government is in office—a very hard battle in order to get fair play. Whether it is taxation, whether it is legislation, whatever it may be, the case for agriculture has had to be sternly fought by anybody who sits in a Cabinet, whether it be Conservative or Liberal. By this action you are going to weaken the hands of successive Ministers of Agriculture. At present the Minister speaks in the Cabinet with all the authority and power derived from the fact that he controls and represents Great Britain. You are going to 1306 refuse him that right in the future, and are only going to allow him to speak in the Cabinet for England; and you are going to allow the Secretary for Scotland, little as he may know about Scottish agriculture, to speak for Scotland. I say that is a fatal mistake. It is a retrogade step not justified by the experience of the past. Everything we have learnt shows the powers should be centralised, and you are exposing to grave risk cattle to the value of many millions of money. I am confident that you will arouse in the minds of agriculturists the greatest possible anxiety. You may be determined to do it. If so, it should have been done in the full light of day in this House, and the House should have had an opportunity of discussing the matter in Committee as they cannot on the Report stage. I say, with the hon. Member for Leith, that I do not doubt for a moment if these proposals had been in Committee of the Whole House, that it would have been quite easy to have arrived at a common agreement on a scheme which would have enabled a British Department of Agriculture, sitting in Edinburgh, to deal with questions like those of agricultural education. But to take away from the Minister for Agriculture these great powers which have been so well exercised, and by their wise exercise have put this country in its present position in regard to the health of stock, is to take a step which is retrograde, which should never be taken at all, and which, if taken, should be attended by the ordinary securities of Parliamentary procedure. Therefore, without hesitation I support the Motion of my hon. Friend that this Clause, before we go any further, should be recommitted to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ Mr. BECK
Three Members only have spoken in favour of the proposal of this Bill. The hon. Member (Mr. Munro-Ferguson) treated this proposal in the most curious way, because the very part of it that we object to he also objected to, and he urged upon us a policy which I think all of us will agree upon. The hon. Member (Mr. Molteno) spoke about potatoes, and that was his sole contribution. The Lord Advocate merely said it was so and gave us no argument in its favour whatever. I do not know anything about the Bill—I know better than to put my head into a swarm of Scotch bees—but I discover to my horror and surprise, that under this so-called purely Scotch Bill, even our English agriculture is in grave peril. I have never had such a small 1307 opinion of the business-like capacities of the Scotch Members as to-day, because they seem to me to be fighting for a mere shadow. They say the Board of Agriculture is inefficiently administered as regards Scotland. We say, "Have your own department, have men employed who will bring to the notice of a President of the Board of Agriculture anything concerning Scotland, but for goodness sake do not divide these two countries, united as they are by nature, into two separate agricultural departments." Every foreign country recognises Great Britain as a unit because it is surrounded by sea. Now you want to divide this natural unit up into two parts. You will raise endless difficulties. Is it not really wasting the time of the Committee for any Member to talk, because the arguments which have already been brought forward in such profusion have never been answered. If this Bill is the blessing to Scotland which I understand it is—and I hope the rest of it is better than this part which, I have looked into—Scotch Members are gravely lacking in duty to their country by standing out on this perfectly trivial point as to whether they can get better administration by a department of their own. If they are going to stand out for a separate Board of Agriculture, it ceases to be a trivial point and becomes a point on which every British agriculturist will inevitably oppose them, and certainly those who sit for rural constituencies are bound, however much we may agree with Scotch Members in other things, to fight this proposal tooth and nail as long as this remains in it.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
I am induced to rise in order to contradict a statement made at the commencement of his observations by the Lord Advocate, in which he was entirely wrong. In commenting upon the Debate in 1907 he told the House it was only at the very close of that Debate that Members began to find out that, as far as the importation of pleuro-pneumonia was concerned, it was prevented by the Statute of 1906. What on earth can the Lord Advocate have been about? Probably he did not hear that Debate, or possibly he has as little experience of that part of the question as he tells us he has practical experience with regard to it, because, as a matter of fact, that statement was announced in the very speech in which the Bill of 1907 was introduced. It was one of the earliest statements made on the question. The 1308 Lord Advocate asked what is the danger to this country of these proposals. I will tell him one which I do not think has been mentioned as yet. At the present moment the Continent is reeking everywhere with foot-and-mouth disease. That makes it more and more difficult to protect this country from it. That accounts for many outbreaks we have recently had in Scotland and in England. There is no doubt that the facility with which this disease can be carried enormously adds to the danger in this country when the Continent is in the condition in which it is at present with regard to foot-and-mouth disease. When once an outbreak of that kind occurs it is the most difficult thing in the world to control, and it never can be controlled unless by a most thoroughly experienced staff. Let me give an instance of what happened in the first year of the creation of the Board of Agriculture. There was an importation of animals from Denmark, and one morning, when I was attending a Cabinet, a message was sent in to me from the head of the Agricultural Department saying that foot-and-mouth disease had been discovered in the London Meat Market, and although the utmost energy was shown, although no man ever was served better by a new staff than I was, and although within forty-eight hours all the animals that were known to have the disease were traced and slaughtered, yet it spread, I believe, to twenty-four different countries, and it took many months before the thing was finally extirpated.
Suppose you create your new Department in Scotland, and this is the moment that you desire to do so. You have it in your power, I suppose, to force this Bill through Parliament. Suppose, which is perfectly possible, that shortly afterwards there is an outbreak in Scotland. What staff have you got? Have you got a staff of experience? I admit the Lord Advocate will have a very intellectual, intelligent and most capable staff, but what is the use of their intellect and ability if they are totally without experience as to how to deal with these outbreaks? This is no exaggeration. This is a matter which demands the most serious and careful attention of the Government as to whether, whatever may be the merits of creating a Board of Agriculture at some time or other in Scotland, this is not a singularly inopportune and dangerous moment. Everybody of experience who has had to deal with these matters, and I really do not think there is any Member now who has I had a longer or harder experience in 1309 dealing with these questions than I have, knows that in dealing with these outbreaks uniformity of treatment and guidance by one mind is essential to success. Then can anyone deny that it is a retrograde step to appoint a divided instead of a central authority? Now I have given the right hon. Gentleman one or two answers to questions which perhaps he has not received before. The hon. Member (Mr. Molteno) pointed to Ireland and argued from that what an advantage it would be to Scotland. I daresay it may be, but he has altogether forgotten what it might be to England. Supposing an inexperienced staff has been unable to cope with a sudden outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease within three or four months from now, and it spread all over England. What would be our position then? The right hon. Gentleman entirely forgets the difference of frontier which they have. One is a sea frontier and the other a land frontier, and the difficulties of guarding a land frontier, of course, are enormous. They are difficulties of which none but those who have had to deal with them have the smallest idea. Do not let it be supposed that I am indifferent to the just and the right claims of Scotland. Have a Scottish Department of the Board of Agriculture with all the pleasure in the world, but, as regards these cattle diseases, for heaven's sake be content with what you have at present. Be content with that which, on the whole, has been infinitely more successful here than in any other country in the world, and do not embark on a course which is contrary to the best experience.
§ Sir W. MENZIES
I suppose this proposal of the Scottish Members has come on the House as a great surprise. I think instead of hearing speeches from a number of hon. Gentlemen who were not on the Committee we should hear the voice of the Scottish Conservative Members who were on the Committee. It would be very illuminating for us to hear exactly what they think of a Scottish Chamber of Agriculture. I can assure the House that we in Scotland are entirely unanimous in the wish that we should have a Board of Agriculture for Scotland. If anyone came into this House he would suppose that the only purpose of a Board of Agriculture for Scotland would be when diseases of animals came up. The Board of Agriculture is to promote agriculture, to aid it in every way and to promote forestry and everything else. Surely it is not beyond the ingenuity of Members of Parliament 1310 on that side to frame some Amendment when the Clause does come forward, so that, in the case of disease, there shall be unison and unanimity of conduct between the two Boards. What we in Scotland want is a separate Board of Agriculture for Scotland with a Member of Parliament at the head of it on that bench replying for Scotland, in order that we may make some progress. I trust if there is any objection we shall hear about it from Scottish Members now.
§ Sir GEORGE YOUNGER
I am very pleased to accept the challenge of my hon. Friend (Sir W. Menzies) to say a word on this question. None of us on this side of the House have intervened because we regarded this as a purely English question. It is not so much a question whether or not the Board should have power to administer the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act in Scotland as whether the Bill should be recommitted in respect of the Clause which deals with that matter. That is the point we are dealing with now, and although you, Mr. Speaker, have admitted of considerable latitude in dealing with it, I do not know that it could have been dealt with at all without that liberty having been given. So far as we are concerned on this side of the House, I agree with the hon. Member for South Lanark (Sir W. Menzies) that it might be quite easy to construct an Amendment to exempt from the authority of the Secretary for Scotland a particular question. This is a very much broader question. You cannot deal with it on the Report stage of the Bill in the same way as in Committee. There is very much greater freedom of debate in Committee than on Report, and I think English Members who are interested in this question are perfectly entitled to ask that that freedom of debate should be granted to them which is denied on this stage. That is the point they are asking for. It is very reasonable, and I do not know why the Lord Advocate should object to it, except that I think he himself rather drifted into the general question and mistook the narrow point at issue. But speaking for myself on the wider question, I do think there is a very great deal to be said for the maintenance of the management and administration of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act under the one head. I know that agricultural opinion has expressed itself strongly on that point. I think if we are to have a Department of Agriculture in Scotland, which is to be a separate Department of 1311 the Board of Agriculture, it ought not to be under the Secretary for Scotland, but under a Minister directly responsible to this House. I understand that the Government object to appoint a Minister for that purpose. They are always making appointments, and I do not know why in this case they object. I do not suppose that there is the slightest chance of getting a Minister appointed. We do think that there should be a retention of this administration under one head.
§ Mr. ROBERT HARCOURT
I am glad that the hon. Baronet (Sir G. Younger) has brought the House back to the strict interpretation of the Motion. I do not desire to discuss the broad issues which have been discussed this afternoon. I will deal only with the Motion for the re-committal of the Bill. The Motion was not on the Paper this afternoon. So far as I know, the course to be taken in respect of this Bill was perfectly clearly indicated on the Second Reading when the Government stated that if they were not going to adopt the Bill, they were going to give it very favourable consideration. I ventured to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Long), and to point out that the Bill had been actually adopted by the Government before we reached Clause 4. I also pointed out that in the Grand Committee we enjoyed the presence of fifteen English Members. Therefore if there was any grievance felt by the hon. Member for the Wilton Division of Wiltshire (Mr. C. Bathurst), the hon. Member for the Newport Division of Shropshire (Mr. Stanier), and other hon. Members, I cannot understand why they were not advised of the facts by the Members of the Scottish Unionist party who were members of the Committee. I do not understand why they did not get themselves appointed members of the Committee. I believe it is not difficult to get added to a Committee. I do not understand why this matter was not discussed at the proper time. It seems to me that hon. Members opposite had ample opportunity for having it discussed. While the Bill was going through Committee the point now raised was dealt with, and although I fully recognise that the speeches which have been made are not obstructive at all, I hold that hon. Members opposite neglected their opportunity at the proper time.
§ Mr. SCOTT DICKSON
: The speech of hon. Member (Mr. Harcourt) seems to me 1312 to be an extraordinary one. He must be aware that nobody objects to agriculturists having English gentlemen to represent them. I say that an Amendment was proposed by the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) to substitute for the Secretary for Scotland the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries. The hon. Member was not there to vote against it. I notice further that later on the hon. Member for Buteshire (Mr. Harry Hope) moved that the transfer of powers should not include powers and duties under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act. I think the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Harcourt) was not present on that occasion.
§ Mr. SCOTT DICKSON
I did not suggest that the hon. Member had not a most excellent reason, and I am sure all of us will agree that no better reason could be given, but when an hon. Gentleman who is in that position comes down here and lectures us for bringing forward an obstructive Motion, I must say that it savours to me as something which does not come from him with a very good grace.
§ Colonel GREIG
I would ask the House to take its memory back to the discussion which took place on the Second Reading of the Bill—the Bill which was printed on 9th February, 1911. The object of the Bill wasTo encourage the formation of Small Agricultural Holdings in Scotland, and to amend the law relating to the tenure of such Holdings (including Crofters' Holdings); to establish Agricultural Commissioners for Scotland; and for other purposes connected therewith.Therefore, all the provisions with reference to the establishment of a Board of Agriculture for Scotland were fully before the country.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
There was nothing in the Bill as it left this House with reference to a separate Department of Agriculture for Scotland.
§ Colonel GREIG
I will read the Clause which deals with that matter in the Bill as presented. Clause 4, Sub-section (1), reads thus:—It shall be lawful for His Majesty, on the recommendation of the Secretary for Scotland, at any time after the commencement of this Act, and from time 1313 to time as vacancies occur, to appoint not more than three persons to be designated the Agricultural Commissioners for Scotland (in this Act referred to as the Agricultural Commissioners) and to appoint one of such persons to be Chairman of the Commissioners.
§ Colonel GREIG
Sub-section (2) of the Clause is in the following terms:—The Agricultural Commissioners shall be charged with the general duty of promoting the interests of agriculture, forestry, and other rural industries in Scotland, and shall also exercise and perform any powers and duties which are or may be conferred on or transferred to them under the provisions of this Act. In the discharge of their duties they shall comply with such instructions or regulations as may from time to time be issued by the Secretary for Scotland, and they shall submit an annual report of their proceedings to him, which report shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament.Sub-section (10) says:—It shall be lawful for the Secretary for Scotland from time to time by order under his hand—(a) To direct that from and after the date fixed by the order such powers and duties of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries exerciseable in or in relation to Scotland as may with the consent of the Treasury be specified in the order, shall be transferred to the Agricultural Commissioners.I shall now pass to the Bill as amended, but before doing so I would point out that when the Second Reading Debate took place I was present, and not one of the Members representing the Scottish agricultural constituencies got up to offer any objection to that part of the Bill. I will read the Clause as it stands after passing through the Grand Committee, premising that we had a full discussion on this very point. If hon. Members opposite can draw any distinction between the Clause I have read and the Clause I am going to read, I shall admire their ingenuity. Clause 4, Sub-section (1), in the amended Bill says:—It shall be lawful for His Majesty on the recommendation of the Secretary for Scotland, at any time after the commencement 1314 of this Act, and from time to time as vacancies occur, to appoint not more than three persons to be designated the Board of Agriculture for Scotland (in this Act referred to as the Board) and to appoint one of such persons to be Chairman of the Board. Any act or thing required or authorised to be done by the Board may be done by one or more of the members thereof as the Secretary for Scotland may from time to time direct.I admit that there is an alteration there. In the original Bill they were called "Commissioners"; in the Bill, as amended, they are called "the Board of Agriculture," but there is not an atom of alteration otherwise. Sub-section (2) says:The Board shall be charged with the general duty of promoting the interests of agriculture, forestry, and other rural industries in Scotland, and shall also exercise and perform any powers and duties which are or may be conferred on or transferred to them under the provisions of this Act. In the discharge of their duties they shall comply with such instructions or regulations as may from time to time be issued by the Secretary for Scotland, and they shall submit an annual report of their proceedings to him, which report shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament.Sub-section (11) of the amended Bill says:It shall be lawful for the Secretary for Scotland from time to time by order under his hand—(a) To direct that from and after the date fixed by the order such powers and duties of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries exerciseable in or in relation to Scotland as may with the consent of the Treasury be specified in the order, shall be transferred to the Board, either unconditionally or subject to such conditions as may with the like consent be prescribed in the order;The Bill was discussed on the Second Reading and no objection was made to that part of the Bill. It was discussed in Grand Committee and there was an alteration made in the name. I notice that there is a proposal that the Chairman of the new Board, as it is called, should be a Member of this House, but what we say is essential here is that there shall be a separate and independent Department for Scotland. That is opposed by hon. Members opposite on the assumption that Scotland is unable 1315 to manage her agricultural affairs. The speech of the hon. Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Long), was based upon that assumption. It is true that there was a suggestion made in a speech earlier in the day that there would be a laxity of administration in Scotland. That was withdrawn, and in substitution for that it was suggested that there would be lack of uniformity. Of course, there would be lack of uniformity, when you have countries where the conditions are different, but to suggest for one moment that Scottish agriculturists are unable to manage what is after all one of the main things in relation to agriculture, is surely to libel Scottish agriculturists. What is the reason for raising this question at this stage of the Bill? We never heard of this before. Is it because hon. Members opposite are beginning to shirk the rest of the Bill. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Certainly not."] Why are English Members asking the recommittal of the Bill? This goes very much deeper than would appear from this discussion. We are looking forward to the time when there will be a Parliament in Scotland. If you are going to say that, because of possible lack of uniformity between England, Scotland, and Ireland, Scotland is not to have a separate Parliament, where are you going to stop? Take one instance. It is said with regard to the laws of local sanitary administration, "We do not want to retain in England control over them in Scotland." Those laws are just as much local, there are just as great possibilities of evil effects, and there is just as much chance of the transmission of disease from the other side of the border in those matters as of diseases of animals; and yet no one would oppose the transfer of those powers to Scottish control. I do not say that hon. Members opposite do not really honestly fear this, but I say that they cannot conscientiously say that in this respect only is Scotland to be deprived of the control of its own affairs. To raise this point now at this stage of the Debate, in face of the facts I have stated, is to show that they are not very much in favour of the rest of the Bill.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
The speech of the hon. Member who has just spoken (Colonel Greig) is a striking instance of the evil done by this Grand Committee system. Scotch Members are very anxious to have Scotch Members discussing their 1316 Bills. They apparently object very much to any Englishman having a say in it when it comes down here. The reason for not objecting to this particular Section before is a very simple one. These particular words were not in the Bill when it came before the House on a Second Reading. And also, it being a Scotch Bill, some English agricultural Members were inclined to let the Scotch people settle it, if they could, among themselves. Our only reason for interfering now is that it really affects the welfare of the agriculture of the whole kingdom. I do not know if Scotch Members opposite really want to get this Bill through. If so I would strongly suggest to them that they are not adopting the kind of tactics conducive to that end. There is a very strong feeling in England against this proposal to set up a new Board of Agriculture for Scotland. It must be recognised that in Scotland itself there is a very strong feeling against giving to a local board of agriculture in Scotland the administration for the Animal Diseases Acts. If hon. Members do not want to intensify English opposition to the other parts of the Bill I would strongly advise them to give this House an opportunity of discussing in Committee this one particular Clause, to which opposition is taken by both English and Scottish Members. The hon. Baronet opposite says that all that is required is to move an Amendment which will except this Board in Scotland from having the power of administrating the Diseases of Animals Acts. I do not think that he could have listened to the speech of the Lord Advocate. If he had done so, he would have realised that the first and primary duty to be given to the Board of Agriculture in Scotland would be the Administration of Diseases of Animals Acts. It is impossible to reconcile those two speeches.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
I do not want to go over that argument, as it has been all threshed out already. Our main argument against it is that it all tends to give a greater chance for the diseases of animals to be spread in both countries. The hon. Member who spoke last said that we were opposing this Clause because we had no faith in the Scotch agriculturists. That is a very unfair charge. We do not in the least wish to insinuate that Scotch agriculturists are not quite as good as Englishmen. 1317 In a great many cases they have in Scotland far more advanced methods of agriculture than the English people. What we do say is that it would do injury to the agriculture of both England and Scotland to have two separate bodies both administering the Diseases of Animals Acts. Speaking for myself, I say it is absolutely essential that the administration of the Acts should be under one body, and I do not honestly care whether that one body is in Scotland or in England. All I say is that there must be one body having complete control over the diseases of animals in the two countries. That is the point on which I lay most stress. It is only begging the question to say that we do not trust the Scottish agriculturists. I look in vain for some argument in favour of this change. One hon. Member said that if there was a separate Board of Agriculture Scotland would have complete control, and they would not have any embargo on their cattle because there was an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in England. Do you really mean to say, if there were separate Boards of Agriculture in Scotland and in England, and you had an outbreak of disease in England, that the Irish Board of Agriculture would admit Scotch cattle into Ireland? Ireland would, like the Argentine and all the big South American ports, look upon England and Scotland as one country agriculturally, for the very simple reason that there is no sea boundary between the two countries, and therefore, no matter how many Boards of Agriculture you set up, even if you have separate Boards for England, Scotland, and Wales, the other countries would continue to regard England, Scotland, and Wales as one individual agricultural country.
Therefore, it is ridiculous to say, that by setting up this Board for Scotland you are going to do anything in the way of promoting freer trade between Scotland and Ireland. Another hon. Member said that they were going to stamp out diseases in Scotland much more quickly than the Board of Agriculture in England had been able to do. He said, "We will stamp out swine fever in Scotland at once." The only ground apparently for saying that is that the Scotch people keep much fewer pigs than the English people, and therefore it would be easier to stamp out that disease. The hon. Member had no justification for such a statement, and must be sorry now that he had the audacity to make it. No possible good can come to Scotland itself from setting up a Board 1318 with these particular powers. I must join with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand (Mr. Long) in his protest against the absence of the new President of the Board of Agriculture (Mr. Runciman). Surely this is one of the most important Bills which concern the administration of agriculture in this country, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman might have made his appearance on this occasion when a Debate affecting the agricultural interests of England was in progress. I regret his absence, and hope that he is applying his time to learning the elementary principles of agriculture, which we are led to believe he is not acquainted with at the present moment. I would respectfully suggest to Scotch Members that if they want to get this Bill through they would do themselves no harm in having this particular Clause committed, and I sincerely hope that they will do so.
§ Mr. WEIGALL
The only concern that the English agriculturist has in this matter is the administration of the Disease of Animals Act. So far as the appointment of Commissioners is concerned for the interior agricultural economy of Scotland, I for one do not see any objection; but, as an English agriculturist, may I add my answer to the Lord Advocate. He asked how we were going to be hurt in England if this Board of Agriculture was going to be set up in Scotland. The answer is this. It is everything to the agriculturist to be secure in the investment of his capital. It is everything to the farmers of this country that they should not have a feeling of insecurity in the moving capital of the farm. If you are going to have a separate administration of these Acts you will create a feeling of insecurity among all the farmers of this country. Every English agriculturist knows perfectly well that we cannot maintain our herds at the pre-eminence to which they have arrived without incursions of Scotch blood. And if you create any feeling of insecurity as between Scotland and England you will cause an enormous loss to the farmers of both countries.
If you are going to introduce a separate form of legislation for the administration of these Acts you will introduce a feeling of insecurity which must in the end reflect on Scottish agriculturists all round. With regard to the statements of hon. Members opposite that we should have raised this matter before, I say we have never had an opportunity, because as the Bill 1319 was formerly drawn there was only the mention of these Commissioners, and anyone could imagine that they were intended merely for local purposes. So far as these local purposes are concerned, I have no doubt that the appointment of these Commissioners would do no harm to us as English agriculturists. I only rise to make my protest as an humble agriculturist representing an agricultural constituency, and I feel perfectly sure that so far as the stock-breeders of this country are concerned, you are going to do them an irreparable injury. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite realise that what the agriculturist is chiefly dependent upon for his prosperity, however small it may be, is the pre-eminence of our stockbreeding. That has been brought about simply because other countries realised that we were more free from disease than any other country in the world. If you preserve that you preserve the most valuable asset that the farmers of this country have got, and I do most earnestly appeal to right hon. and hon. Membrs opposite, before they allow this separate Board of Agriculture for Scotland to be set up, to remember that in doing so they cannot fail to strike a very severe blow at the most valuable asset that the stock-farmers of this country possess.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Member who spoke last on the other side (Colonel Greig) attempted to show by reading extracts that the Bill, before it was amended, did not differ from the Bill as it is now. I will not argue upon the difference between "Board" and "Commissioners," though personally I think there is a considerable difference between them, but I fail to see how Section 11 of Clause 4 can possibly be reconciled with the Clause as it originally stood. Section 11 of Clause 4 contains a decree, which I am sorry has now become a common practice among Radical Members, both official and non-official, of incorporating in a Bill a Clause which gives power to the Treasury to do certain things of which the House of Commons has no knowledge whatever. If that Clause were the only one in dispute, I should be in favour of recommitting it in order that it might be considered by Committee of the Whole House. That Clause alone is sufficient to damn this particular Bill. The hon. Member who spoke last on the other side said there was no difference between the two Clauses. Will he support us if we put the Clause back into the form in which 1320 it originally was. I do not find any eager expression of opinion from Scotch Members in support of that suggestion. My hon. Friend behind me says that that would not be enough; but it is too much for Scotch Members, who want the whole thing. They will give away nothing to English Members, who after all are "the predominant partner," to use the words of an ex-Scotch Liberal Prime Minister of England. After all, England is the predominant partner, and is entitled to some little consideration. The hon. Member for Montrose Burghs asks why we did not take action earlier, and why we did not become Members of the Scotch Committee. The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that it is impossible for an English Member to become a Member of the Scotch Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] There were only fifteen, I believe, while the English Members of the House number about 480. Fifteen out of 480 is a very small proportion, and it is almost impossible for an English Member to become a Member of the Scotch Committee. For the sake of argument, supposing that fifteen English Members joined the Scotch Committee with the desire of speaking upon this Clause, how could they represent 480 English Members who were not on the Committee?
I submit that all these measures ought to be committed to the Whole House. The least hon. Members opposite can do is to see that every single opportunity is afforded to every Member of the House to express his view, either by vote or by voice, on all matters of importance, and certainly on all matters relating to England. In days gone by I used to read every private Member's Bill brought into the House. I do not think many hon. Members have done that, and I do not cast the least blame on them for not doing so; but it is idle to say because an English Member does not go through every single private Member's Bill which is brought in, looking at every Clause, and then demand to be appointed to the Committee upstairs, that he has no right to move in the House that the Bill should be recommitted when he finds on the Report stage that it contains a Clause vitally affecting the interests of this country. Not only ought he to do so, but it is his duty to do so, and this practice of endeavouring to smuggle through Bills upstairs which are in the interests of certain sections of the House, when the majority of the House do not know its contents, is a reprehensible practice, and one which ought to be 1321 stopped. We are told that it is necessary to have a Scotch Minister with a salary, to whom Scottish Members may address questions. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] An hon. Member opposite says "Hear, hear." I have never objected, and I do not believe a single hon. Member on my side of the House has ever objected to Scotch Members asking questions merely because they are Scotchmen. We have never said that every office must be filled by an Englishman; we draw no distinction between Members representing different parts of Great Britain. We certainly recognise no distinction between English, Welsh, and Scotch Members, and we are quite willing that they should be able to address their question to a Scottish Minister if he be capable, and whether he happens to be a Scotchman or one of those Ministers who have taken refuge in those quiet Scotch havens for certain Englishmen who are not appreciated on their proper merits by English constituents. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why do you not go to Scotland?"] There is no necessity why I should go to Scotland, because I am taken at my proper worth, and returned to this House by a majority greater than any majority in Scotland. I am quite content to stay where I am.
I have listened to the whole of this Debate, and I have not heard a single reliable argument advanced as to why this Clause should not be recommitted. No Member can get up and say that the Clause does not touch England. Nor can he say that English Members have had an opportunity of discussing it. I therefore appeal to hon. Members opposite to show their sympathy, which I am sure they feel, to English Members, on whichever side of the House they sit, and allow them to have an opportunity in Committee of discussing this Clause. Are they afraid that the arguments which will be advanced would be completely unanswerable, or that fallacious arguments might be put forth which would be exposed by people capable of answering them? Is their love of free speech, which has been demonstrated to be such a varying character lately, such that on this particular question, which vitally affects not only Scotland but England, they would decline to allow this one small favour? I call it favour because they have the power in their hands. Now that this particular Chamber is the predominant one, ought it not to be occasionally influenced by arguments and not merely depend upon the counting of noses. I see the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy 1322 smiles, and I recognise that he has been converted by my argument. I am afraid I have not gone so far as to get his vote, though I can see by the expression of his countenance that he agrees with every word I have said. Let him for once cast off the shadow and tyranny of the Whips and come with us into the Lobby.
§ Captain GILMOUR
We are asked why there is all this bother and disturbance at this period, and why more was not heard of it before. As one of the Unionist Members of the Committee, I confess that I am not as well versed in Parliamentary procedure, either in Committee or elsewhere, as are many other hon. Members, but so far as my recollection carries me, and so far as the proceedings in Committee are concerned, not only did we speak on the subject, but we, as Unionist Members from Scotland, made our protest on this Clause and divided against it. Furthermore, we made it perfectly clear that in our opinion the power ought to be in the hands of the President of the Board of Agriculture. I think it is perfectly clear to the House, as it certainly was to the Committee upstairs, that the Unionist Members of the Committee in what they did voiced the opinion of the agriculturists of Scotland.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I deprecate the introduction into the Bill of any question as between England and Scotland, because, in my opinion, it is not a question between those two countries at all. The question is one which affects the whole agricultural interest of the United Kingdom. It does not affect the Scottish farmer simply, it also affects the English farmers. The whole question is whether there shall be one single authority to control the diseases of animals in the United Kingdom. That is the point. I think it is really a pity that we should be discussing questions such as the fitness of Scotchmen to manage their own agriculture, as to which I have not the remotest doubt. Our duty as Members of this legislative assembly is to try and do our best for our constituents. Here is a plain issue which we have to decide, not according to something which will happen or may happen, but according to its merits. It cannot be suggested that the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture and the North of England Chamber of Agriculture have brought this subject forward for the purpose of obstructing this Bill. No one could make such a suggestion. The question is one of importance to farmers on the border. Sheep are 1323 passing from Scotland into this country and from this country into Scotland constantly, so that it is obviously in the interests of agriculture as a whole, whether they be English sheep or Scotch sheep, that they should come under the same control. There is this further point: it is obvious that the movement of stock from the other side of the border to this side would require two separate orders.
Look at the enormous trouble and inconvenience which will be caused to agriculturists on both sides of the border if there are two authorities. There is a movement of stock from Ireland to this country, and practically Ireland is the only country from which stock is exported to England. But between Scotland and England there is a continuous and free movement of stock across the border—at all times, from all quarters, and under all conditions—and surely this point which has been raised is at least one for argument and for discussion in
§ Committee. The position we take up on these benches is that this is a debatable question, that it is not a Scotch question, and that it is a question which affects the whole of the United Kingdom. On behalf of the farmers on both sides of the border I ask the House of Commons not to prejudge this question, not to look at it as one between Scotland and England, not to consider it with regard to what has happened, or to what has not happened in Committee, but to realise that it is a subject which concerns the whole agricultural interest of the United Kingdom, and which, therefore, ought to be discussed in Committee of the Whole House. If we refuse to do that we shall give to agriculturists on both sides of the border very good reason to complain of the action of this House.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be recommitted to a Committee of the Whole House, in respect of Clause 4."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 113; Noes, 197.1325
|Division No. 365.]||AYES.||[6.15 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Nield, Herbert|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Falle, B. G.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Fleming, Valentine||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Astor, Waldorf||Forster, Henry William||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Foster, Philip Staveley||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gardner, Ernest||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gilmour, Captain John||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Grant, J. A.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Barnston, H.||Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Barrie, H. T.||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Stanier, Beville|
|Benn, Ion H. (Greenwich)||Harris, Henry Percy||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Bird, A.||Hills, John Waller||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Burn, Col. C. R.||Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Touche, George Alexander|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Hunt, Rowland||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Kerry, Earl of||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cassel, Felix||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Ward, Arnold S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Cator, John||Kirkwood, John H. M.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Weigall, Capt. A. G.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Clay, Capt. H. H. Spender||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Clyde, James Avon||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Courthope, George Loyd||MacCaw, Win. J. MacGeagh||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Mackinder, H. J.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Dairymple, Viscount||Macmaster, Donald||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Dalziel, D. (Brixton)||Malcolm, Ian||Younger, Sir George|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Mount, William Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Doughty, Sir George||Newdegate, F. A.||Mr. Charles Bathurst and Mr. Cecil Beck.|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Newman, John R. P.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Barnes, George N.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Benn, W. (T. Hamlets, S. George)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Norton, Captain Cecil W.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Nuttall, Harry|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Dowd, John|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Grady, James|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Bryce, John Annan||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Henry, Sir Charles S.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Higham, John Sharp||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Hinds, John||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hudson, Walter||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Clough, William||Hunter, W. (Govan)||Radford, George Heynes|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Cowan, W. H.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Crean, Eugene||Jowett, Frederick William||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Joyce, Michael||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Keating, Matthew||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Rowlands, James|
|Davies, Timothy, (Lincs., Louth)||Kelly, Edward||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Dawes, James Arthur||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Dewar, Sir J. A.||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Dillon, John||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Donelan, Capt. A.||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Sheehy, David|
|Doris, William||Leach, Charles||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Duffy, William J.||Lewis, John Herbert||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Logan, John William||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Snowden, Philip|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lundon, Thomas||Tennant, Harold John|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||McGhee, Richard||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Macpherson, James Ian||Wardle, George J.|
|Falconer, James||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Waring, Walter|
|Farrell, James Patrick||M'Callum, John M.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Ferens, T. R.||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Ffrench, Peter||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Field, William||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Webb, H.|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Martin, J.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Gilhooly, James||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Masterman, C. F. G.||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|Glanville, H. J.||Meagher, Michael||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Meeham, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Goldstone, Frank||Menzies, Sir Walter||Wiles, Thomas|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Millar, James Duncan||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||Molteno, Percy Alport||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Guiney, P.||Morrell, Philip||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Hackett, John||Munro, Robert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Nolan, Joseph|
§ Bill, as amended, considered.
§ Pluralist Farming.
§ It shall not be lawful after the passing of this Act to continue the present system of pluralist farming.
§ It shall not be lawful after the passing of this Act, without the consent of the Land Court, for any holding by one individual to exceed five hundred acres arable land.1326
§ When there is a farm held under lease by a pluralist farmer, and on which he does not reside, such farm or farms shall be available for the formation of small land holdings under this Act.
§ The benefits of the Ground Game Act, 1881, are hereby extended to all landholders under this Act in the Highland crofting counties as defined in the Act of 1886, and it shall be lawful for such landholders to fish for trout in any loch or stream situated on the holding or common 1327 grazing appertaining thereto, subject to statutory regulations as to methods of fishing and close time.
§ Deer Forests.
§ Existing deer forests shall be fenced in such a manner as to prevent deer escaping on the adjoining lands.
§ It shall not be competent for proprietors to extend deer forests or create new forests, except with the consent of the Land Court.
§ Waste or Skinned Lands.
§ Waste or skinned lands, that is lands from which peats have been removed, situated in the Island of Lewis and similar localities, are hereby declared to be lands available for the purposes of this Act; and such lands may be utilised for the erection of fishermen's dwellings notwithstanding the fact that they at present form part of the crofter's common grazing.
§ Mr. MORTON
I took the opportunity during the Recess of seeing my Constituents regarding this Bill, being the Bill in which they are most interested. The general opinion was that the Bill was weak, and that it had been much weakened by the Amendments that had been accepted. They asked me, and I put down the new Clauses which are on the Paper, but I am afraid that the Lord Advocate will not accept any of them. If he would I should be glad to move them, but, as I understand the matter now, perhaps it would be wasting time to discuss them, and, under the circumstances, owing to the lateness of the Session, and the lateness of the season, and the lateness of the night, I do not propose to move these new Clauses.
§ Establishment of General and Central Councils of Agriculture.
§ For the purpose of assisting the Department in carrying out the objects of this Act there shall be established—
- (a) a general council of agriculture (in this Act referred to as the "general council"); and
- (b) a central council of agriculture (in this Act referred to as the "central council").
§ By this Bill the Government propose to carry on very valuable and important work 1328 with the object of improving and developing the agricultural industry in Scotland. In the words of Sub-section (2) of Clause (4) "The Board shall be charged with the general duty of promoting the interests of agriculture, forestry, and other rural industries in Scotland," and, again in Sub-section (4) of the same Clause we read "it shall be the duty of the Board to promote, aid, and develop instruction in agriculture, forestry, and other rural industries." We on this side of the House welcome and approve of this work being done. We recognise that technical instruction can be of the greatest possible value. We consider that, perhaps, too late in the day, we are now beginning to do something to give our people that technical instruction that has been given to other people abroad, and also in our Oversea Dominions. We recognise that our holders, and especially our small holders, must be equipped with the newest kind of instruction and the best and most up-to-date methods of carrying on their business, but that instruction can only be of use and can only be made the most of if that work is carried on in accordance with public opinion and with local requirements. In each district of Scotland we have various types of agriculture; it is of no use beginning to give to one district, which is, say, a dairy district, instruction in another branch of the industry in which it is not particularly interested. Besides that we know how very conservative and slow to adopt new methods the Scottish people are. We know that it will take a very great deal of time and energy on the part of those instructors of technical education to get our people to adopt new methods very quickly. The object of these Clauses is to bring all this work within the reach of the people by having them directly represented in councils that will have an advisory power. We know the wild field covered by all this technical work, and we know how our agricultural colleges, experimental and research stations, can form schools which may give poultry instruction and other instruction to our smallholders, and how much all that and all the instructions given by itinerant instructors may do for our people. This new Clause provides that all that shall be carried out along the lines of the people's desires and of local requirements. We propose to act on the Irish model and to create a general council with advisory powers. We propose also that there should be district committees to voice the requirements of each of the four districts that we suggest should be created. We 1329 propose also a central council, to be drawn from the general council. All these bodies will, as in the case of the Irish Department of Agriculture, have advisory powers only. Contrast such a proposal with the proposal contained in the Bill. Under the Bill there is to be an autocratic Board set up. We have seen enough of the Scottish Education Department to know the harmful effect that an autocratic Board can have. We know that at the present time the Scottish Education Department is doing an immense amount of injury to the educational interests of Scotland by its autocratic methods of procedure. It is out of touch with public opinion and local requirements. The proposed Board is to be on the same lines, and therefore, we consider that it is not the best possible Board to carry on this work. We have adopted the Irish model, because we recognise that the Irish Department of Agriculture is doing real good work. It has proved itself to be a Department that can do an immense amount of service for the people. It has done much to enable the smallholders of Ireland to adopt new methods and to improve the general manner of conducting their industry. We see how the Irish Department has proved itself a success; therefore in creating a Department for Scotland, with the great object of doing something for the development of the Scottish agricultural industry, we say that we cannot do better than adopt the Irish model and give the Scottish people the right of having something to say in the conduct of this business. I would appeal to Irish Members were they present not to deny to Scotland what they themselves have got. I appeal to Liberal Members not to vote simply on party lines and deny our people some control over this work. We can only have the full fruition of all this good work if we take the people along with it and conduct the work in line with public opinion and local requirements. It is for that reason that we have framed the Clause which I have the honour now to move.
§ Captain GILMOUR
I second the proposed new Clause, in the first place, because the demand for a council of the nature outlined is general among the agriculturists of Scotland. All who listened to the recent discussion will agree that, while there may have been differences of opinion on various points, one thing was made amply clear, namely, that the agriculturists of Scotland desire that there should be set up in connection with the Department of Agriculture a consultative 1330 council. They base their desire on the ground that by such a council the Board would be kept in close and constant touch with agricultural opinion throughout the country. In the words of one speaker, they want a practical council to assist and advise the Department to be created in Scotland. It is amply evident that agricultural opinion in Scotland is ripe for some council of this kind. As to the details, so far as I am personally concerned, I think representatives might well be chosen by the county councils of Scotland. I should like also to see the various agricultural bodies have some say in the nomination of the council. There is also the question of the agricultural colleges. However the council may be constituted, we urge on behalf of the agriculturists of Scotland that something of this nature should be put into operation. Our main reason is that we feel that a Department or Board such as is proposed under this Bill, unless there is added to it some council of the nature suggested, will become autocratic, like many another Government Department, and that the state of agriculture in Scotland will be worse rather than better. Looking at all the facts of the case, I think we are making and urging upon the Government a course which will in no way detract from or reduce the power of the executive of this new Board, but one which will keep the Board closely in touch with agricultural opinion and give the agriculturists of Scotland the opportunity of expressing their views. We have had an excellent example of the use and utility of such a council in connection with the present Board of Agriculture in this country, where there has been set up a scheme for the furtherance of horse breeding. The Board have called in for their assistance the guidance of an advisory council, which has worked most harmoniously and whose work has tended greatly to increase the value of the efforts made in that direction. Having such a practical example before us, I think the time has come when in considering this matter the Government should give careful thought to the proposal now made.
§ Mr. URE
There are so many objections to this proposal that it is really a little difficult to know where to begin. It will be in the interests of the rapid dispatch of public business if I confine myself to objections which go to the root of the proposal and are unanswerable. It so chances that in this case there is such an objection, namely, that you can more efficiently 1331 achieve the object aimed at by voluntary act than by a statutory enactment. The desire of the hon. Member is to bring to bear the educated agricultural opinion of Scotland with a view to advising and guiding the actions of the newly-created Board of Agriculture. How does the hon. Member propose to achieve that object? The proposed Clause would set up by a grandiose process a general council. To do what? To meet, not frequently but once a year, in order to discuss topics of public interest relative to this measure. What is to hinder the intelligent agriculturists of Scotland—the Chambers of Agriculture, the Highland Agricultural Societies, and the rest—from electing a General Council, if they prefer that to their own organisation, to meet once a year to discuss topics of interest? By an equally grandiose process there is brought into existence a second body, entitled the Central Council. What is it to do? It is, if and when asked by the Board of Agriculture, to discuss such questions as the Board dictates. The Board is not bound to pay the smallest attention to anything the council recommends, and certainly it is not bound to take action upon the recommendations. What is the use of a statutory enactment to end in such futilities? At present the intelligent agriculturists of Scotland are able, if they please, to elect a council, which can pass resolutions when it pleases, on whatever topics it pleases, and send them to the Board of Agriculture, with a polite request that the Board will take them into consideration and act upon them if it thinks fit. So that by voluntary act the agriculturists of Scotland can much more efficiently achieve the very object which the hon. Member has in view. I am not saying for a single moment that the Board of Agriculture would disregard any advice given by the agriculturists of Scotland; I am not saying that they might not welcome resolutions passed and reasons given for pursuing a particular line of action. The desired object is not precluded by anything in the Bill, but may be very much better achieved if agriculturists meet and pass such resolutions and send them to the Board of Agriculture if and when they wish.
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
In the Committee upstairs I proposed for the consideration of Members that the model of the Advisory Council of the Irish Board 1332 should be followed, and the suggestion then met with a favourable reception. The Lord Advocate now says that the object aimed at can be achieved better voluntarily than by Statute. I agree with the right hon. Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Walter Long) that the weak point in the constitution of the Scottish Board of Agriculture is the absence of any statutory regulations affecting it. I think the Council ought to be statutory. The Chambers of Agriculture in Scotland have already passed resolutions, and it is our business as Scottish representatives, in so far as we agree with those resolutions, to submit them to the judgment of this House. At that recent conference at Perth—I agree with the Lord Advocate that the debate was very well conducted—every agriculturist was in favour of an advisory council, of a properly equipped Board—for which we have no security, the matter being now left to the discretion of the Scottish Executive—and a chairman of that Board with a seat in Parliament. To my mind these three points hang together in the Amendment proposed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bute. It therefore has my entire support.
On these points I would submit some general considerations in favour of that proposal. If this House would bring this new Department under representative control, it would be well, instead of it being another limb, a withered limb, of the great tree of administration which overshadows Scotland and which has been the curse of our administration. It is said that we are moving towards devolution proposals; to the increase of representative national and local control. Here is a proposal to increase representative, intelligible control over the action of the Executive, yet in this Bill the scheme as it stands is without this advisory council, without security for a properly equipped Department, and for a chairman of that Department having a seat in this House. A scheme is proposed which in effect rivets more firmly the fetters of bureaucratic government, from which Scotland, more than any other part of the United Kingdom, suffers. No one in England can realise what it means to us Scottish representatives, representative of agriculture or representatives of Scotland in this House, to be able to get up against those responsible for the agricultural order and administration of our country. Our questions are always put off by some written statement by a permanent official, 1333 who, it appears, cannot be trammelled for a moment, even by the advice of an advisory council of competent agricultural representatives. If we find that out in Parliament the case is far worse when we find ourselves in Scotland.
A man in England wants an explanation of the executive, educational or agricultural policy of the day; or an inquiry into local Government administration. He comes down to this House and tackles the Minister directly responsible. We have nobody directly responsible for agriculture, or, indeed, in this House for any of the Departments. If we cannot have that security ourselves, at least let our bureaucracy be brought into touch with the representatives of great interests like that of agriculture. We Scotchmen have to be satisfied here on agriculture with third-hand answers. The voice is the voice of Jacob always, but the hand is always that of the permanent official—and a very heavy hand it is. It is one that is rapidly crushing the powers of self-government out of Scotland. Here at last is an opportunity of departing from this intolerable system. We are opening out a new field of administration, and one in which owing to the long controversy which has raged around the proposals of this Bill great interest has been aroused. Is that vital interest now taken in agriculture to be choked, and the life to be taken out of the new departure from which we had hoped so much under the Scottish Board by placing those responsible for it behind the perdah, and adding yet another to the veiled prophets who administer Scotland?
This proposal, taken in conjunction with those two other points, is really of vital interest to this measure; a far greater measure than the subject we were discussing earlier. I think this Amendment is moved under circumstances which ought to give it the favourable consideration of this House. Consider how agriculturists fare without an advisory council at present. Agriculture jostles along in Dover Street along with legislation, local government, education, and lunacy, and with the business of other Scottish Departments. Not only has agriculture got to jostle along in that Department, but in the Department that supervises it, in the Scottish Education Department, the head of the Department turns from superannuation schemes and education distribution grants to the improvement of the breed of pigs! I maintain that under these conditions, under the conditions of the Bill, say, that there is a 1334 certain need of a centre, and a new person at Dover Street who has the confidence of the agriculturists of Scotland. I hold that that these advisory councils are an essential element in the scheme, and I much regret the answer the Lord Advocate has given.
§ Mr. SCOTT DICKSON
I do think that the Lord Advocate has not given sufficient attention to this aspect of the matter. Surely if the Irish Board has worked so well we might well copy the example by adopting the proposal which my hon. Friends have made. The Lord Advocate said that the object aimed at could be achieved by voluntary effort, but it is surely perfectly clear that if statutory recognition were given to these councils they would occupy a very different position to that of any voluntary association. I confess it seems to me that this is so because the council, having been created by Parliament, the Board, I think, would undoubtedly pay a great deal more attention to a council so constituted than to any voluntary body. I submit that this is a proposal which does not in the least interfere with the principle of the Bill, which would add valuable machinery, would give that machinery the imprimateur of Parliament, and therefore give it a status which constituted voluntarily it would never have.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
When we discussed this question in the Committee stage the Lord Advocate promised carefully to consider the propriety of adding an advisory council of some kind. May I express my personal regret that he has given such a very uncompromising answer to my hon. Friend's Motion. This is a very important question, and it becomes more important when you consider the attitude of this House towards the opinion, and the very effective and strongly expressed opinion of the only voluntary body we have at the present moment to reckon with. How did the Lord Advocate treat the opinion of the Chamber of Agriculture this afternoon? He flouted it. How are we to suppose that the Agricultural Commissioners are not going to do the same thing to any voluntary association? I do not believe that bureaucracy ever pays much heed to these institutions. One does not find that it is their natural habit. They generally resent interference of that kind. They tend to get hide-bound, and they do not readily listen to outside opinion. Gentlemen opposite are always talking largely of their trust in the people, and they are 1335 those who deny what they ask. I think it is very unfortunate. The Lord Advocate is responsible for having raised a most reasonable hope that an advisory council of one kind or another would be embodied in the Bill. He must not forget the Chamber of Agriculture, for while it was
§ divided on the point under discussion earlier in the day, it was unanimous upon this particular question.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read the second time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 109; Noes, 195.1337
|Division No. 366.]||AYES.||[6.55 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Faber, Captain W. B. (Hants, W.)||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Falle, B. G.||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Fleming, Valentine||Newman, John R. P.|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Forster, William Henry||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Foster, Philip Staveley||Nield, Herbert|
|Astor, Waldorf||Gardner, Ernest||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Baird, J. L.||Haddock, George Bahr||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hamersley, A. St. George||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Barnston, H.||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Barrie, H. T.||Harris, Henry Percy||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts., Wilton)||Henderson, Major Harold (Berkshire)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hills, John Waller||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Bird, A.||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Boyton, J.||Hume-Williams, W. E.||Stanier, Beville|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Hunt, Rowland||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath)||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Joynson-Hicks, William||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Kerry, Earl of||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Cassel, Felix||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Cator, John||Kirkwood, J. H. M.||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Ward, Arnold S. (Herts., Watford)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Weigall, Capt. A. G.|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Mackinder, H. J.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Dairymple, Viscount||Macmaster, Donald||Younger, Sir George|
|Dalziel, D. (Brixton)||Malcolm, Ian|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Mount, William Arthur||Mr. H. Hope and Captain Gilmour.|
|Eyres-Monsell, B. M.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Cowan, W. H.||Fitzgibbon, John|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Crean, Eugene||Gilhooly, James|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Crumley, Patrick||Gladstone, W. G. C.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Glanville, H. J.|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Barnes, George N.||Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Goldstone, Frank|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Dawes, J. A.||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts., St. George)||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Greig, Colonel J. W.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Devlin, Joseph||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Dewar, Sir J. A.||Gulney, P.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Dillon, John||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Donelan, Capt. A.||Hackett, J.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Doris, W.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Duffy, William J.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Hayward, Evan|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Esslemont, George Birnie||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Clough, William||Falconer, J.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Farrell, James Patrick||Henderson, J. M'D. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Ferens, T. R.||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Ffrench, Peter||Higham, John Sharp|
|Cotton, William Francis||Field, William||Hinds, John|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Masterman, C. F. G.||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Meagher, Michael||Rowlands, James|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Hudson, Walter||Menzies, Sir Walter||Samuel, J. (Stockton)|
|Hunter, W. (Govan)||Millar, James Duncan||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Molteno, Percy Alport||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Morrell, Philip||Sheehy, David|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Munro, R.||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'lets, Stepney)||Nolan, Joseph||Snowden, Philip|
|Joyce, Michael||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Keating, M.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Dowd, John||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Grady, James||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|King, J. (Somerset, N.)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Wardle, George J.|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Pease, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Rotherham)||Waring, Walter|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Pollard, Sir George H.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Logan, John William||Power, Patrick Joseph||Watt, Henry A.|
|Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Webb, H.|
|Lundon, T.||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Pringle, William M. R.||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|McGhee, Richard||Radford, George Heynes||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Wiles, Thomas|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|M'Laren, F. W. S. (Linc, Spalding)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
§ Advances to Tenants for the Purchase of Holdings.
§ "The Department, out of the Agriculture (Scotland) Fund, may, if satisfied with the security, advance to any tenant, for the purpose of purchasing his holding, the whole or any less part of the price of such holding, on such terms and conditions as the Department may, with the sanction of the Treasury, prescribe."
The House may remember that on the Second Reading Debate my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) said that one provision we desire to see added to the Bill was a provision such as that contained in this new Clause. When the Lord Advocate replied for the Government he said:—
It has been further suggested that you should not impose an exclusive system, and that we should give an opportunity to the men who desire rather to become proprietors than tenants. I quite agree it would be very well to introduce that alternative, and if I understood the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ayr Burghs rightly, that is his proposal.
§ That is exactly the proposal which I ask the House to adopt. I do not think it requires any lengthy argument to commend it. We have heard again and again about the magic of peasant proprietorship and how men will endeavour to develop their land better even though they have fixture of tenure and fair rents, if they 1338 have the prospect of becoming peasant proprietors. And although the provisions of this Bill tend to give fixity of tenure, and to secure fair rents, and all the rest of it, the right hon. Gentleman opposite admitted at that time that it would be well to produce the alternative system of purchase. If the House will look at the proposal they will see it is no new importation at all. It is merely giving the power to the Board out of the Agriculture (Scotland) Fund, if they are satisfied with the security, to advance to any tenant for the purpose of purchasing his holding the whole or any less part of the price of such holding on such terms and conditions as the Department may, with the sanction of the Treasury, prescribe. What conceivable objection can there be to giving the Board that power if they are satisfied with the security to make the advance to the tenant to enable him to buy his holding. They may make advances to enable him to improve his holding, and what objection can there be to making such advances as to enable him to purchase his holding? It seems to me the proposal is one that can hardly be objected to by any land reformer. I shall listen with interest to what objections there may be urged against it. I think this proposal is one that would improve the Bill, and in that view I recommend it to the House.1339
§ Major ANSTRUTHER-GRAY
I second the Motion. It cannot do any possible harm. It is a very distinct advantage, I think, that the small holder should have an opportunity of purchasing his holding. If the Government could accept this new Clause it would tend to remove some of our objections to the Bill, and it would do good all round.
§ Mr. URE
I am afraid I must oppose this Clause, and I will tell the right hon. Gentleman opposite why. He is quite right in what he says that on the Second Reading of the Bill, in answer to the speech made by the hon. Member for Ayr Burghs, I said it might be well to introduce into the Bill an alternative. That is to say, that the Board of Agriculture and Small Holdings Commissioners might have power not merely to take land by compulsion on lease, but also to take land by compulsion on purchase. I adhered to that view in the Committee upstairs, but when I gave expression to it Member after Member rose and fell upon it, and the attack not coming from my own side alone but from the other side also. I think the hon. Baronet (Sir G. Younger) will remember no favour whatever was shown to the power of compulsory purchase being given to the newly constituted Board of Agriculture and the Purchase Commissioners. And accordingly it will be found that no such alternative powers are conferred, and no one approves of conferring such powers upon them. That was the whole length I went, on the Second Reading of the Bill, or in Committee; but it falls very far short of the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman opposite in this new Clause, because he proposes that powers should be given to advancing public money not in the case of compulsory purchase but in a voluntary transaction of sale and purchase between landowner and tenants. To that I never gave my assent. I am strongly opposed in the principle of advancing money on such conditions, and I think it will be strongly opposed in this House. I refused to give my assent to advancing money for any such purpose; and really, if hon. Members opposite will reflect that none of them raised their voices in favour of the alternative proposal suggested on the Second Reading of the Bill, it would be entirely out of the question to give this power now by a side-wind, as it were, for something which has no relation to the real principle of this Bill, and which, in principle, most of the Scottish Members regard with aversion.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
I do not think the Lord Advocate is quite fair to us upon this question of purchase. I would remind him he is riding off on another horse altogether when he talks about the compulsory purchase of land. What I said in my Second Reading speech was that among other forms of tenure there should be the opportunity of right to purchase, and I understood the right hon. Gentleman to agree with me that that was a very desirable condition to import into the Bill. I am in no way blaming him for his failure in not trying to carry that proposal in Committee because I quite agree he was rent by Gentlemen behind him the moment he indicated any desire to proceed in that direction. He was regarded as an outcast by his Friends, and that is a somewhat unusual position for the right hon. Gentleman to occupy. This is one of the few occasions undoubtedly in which he was right and they were wrong. We specifically moved the inclusion of these words. One of my hon. Friends moved to include the words, "acquisition of holdings by the occupier"—in Clause 6, I think—and everyone of us voted for it. I have a list here of the Division in the report of the proceedings in the Standing Committee, and it shows that every one of us voted for it. But I am bound to say there was a unanimous vote on that other side, including the Lord Advocate, against it. In dealing with this matter there is no necessity for any recrimination between the Lord Advocate and ourselves because he is not to blame. It is like holding a red rag up to a bull to say a word about the purchase of holdings to Liberal Members for Scotch constituencies. I cannot understand it except that they regard every small landowner as certain to become a Conservative in course of time. That is the reason they oppose it. It is a blot upon the Bill that we do not give the opportunity of encouraging the purchase of small holdings. There are certain things you cannot do unless you have the power to purchase land or to feu it. You have neither in this Bill, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leith will agree with me that unless you have these powers there are many useful things you cannot do. Therefore it is essential, if we are to have a Bill which embodies fixity of tenure, to have an Amendment of this kind, and I shall support the Clause.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I rise to oppose this new Clause, because I know that Scottish constituencies are satisfied that 1341 there is no desire for any principle of purchase. In the Highland counties, for which I am able to speak, they have had experience for some twenty or twenty-five years of the system of crofting tenancies. They have fixity of tenure, fair rent, and all the advantages of possession without any of its disadvantages. Every crofter in the Highlands is quite satisfied with the present system. The people in the north have no desire to purchase at any cost, and apart from the fact that there is no desire on the part of the people of Scotland to purchase their own holdings, how is it possible under this Bill to adopt a system of purchase. A sum of £200,000 per annum has been promised for this system by the Treasury. Supposing we were to grant power to purchase with such a limited amount, the money would be expended in a very short time. In Sutherlandshire we bought a piece of land in one part, and in another part we simply acquired it. We let it out under the crofting system of tenancy, and we found that for every one person we could put on a holding by purchase we could put fifteen or sixteen persons on the land under the system of tenancy. For these reasons, first, because there is no desire on the part of the people of Scotland to purchase their holdings; secondly, because we have only a limited amount of money which we wish to put to the best possible use, I say that we ought not to accept this Clause, and I shall unhesitatingly vote against it.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I do not agree with the hon. Member who has just spoken that there is no desire in Scotland to purchase. The hon. Member has been speaking for a big part of Scotland with a sparse population which has been under the Crofters Act for some time. It was the rating question which knocked out any idea of a purchasing system in the north, but I feel sure as time goes on, the tenants will be very glad indeed to have an opportunity of purchasing their own holdings. This proposal will give certain opportunities in certain individual cases to allow people to purchase their holdings where they desire it, and where it would be an advantage for them to do so. The proposal contained in this new Clause is amply safeguarded because the matter has to go before the Treasury and has got to be looked into by the Commissioners. It was quite unnecessary, as the Lord Advocate pointed out, to suppose that the Liberal party generally ever accepted an 1342 Amendment of this sort, but that is no reason why such an Amendment should not be brought up. Over and over again during the last week or two I have seen some Liberal Members glorying in the fact that this Government has brought the people within sight of the promised land. That is exactly what you have done—you have brought the people within sight of the land, but you do not mean to let them own it.
There is absolutely nothing in the shape of fixity of tenure at all in this Bill. One hon. Member spoke of the fixity of tenure which was given to the crofters. With so much fixity of tenure it is very curious that a great many more tenants have not remained there. The whole idea of fixity of tenure established by this Bill is a sham and a delusion. There is a certain amount of security of tenure, but there is a great deal of difference between security and fixity of tenure, much more than between the quibble about fair rent and equitable rent. The whole idea so far as I can make out is, that they go back and talk about fixity of tenure in the country when, as a matter of fact, a man can be turned out for 101 things, and it cannot be fixity of tenure if a man can be turned out for one thing. They spend their time abusing the landlords, but on no account is the landlord to be eliminated. We hear a great deal about the iron girdle of land monopoly, but that is the very thing you are trying to keep. I thought hon. Members opposite wanted to do away with land monopoly, but in this case you are preventing the people of Scotland, or rather more of the people of Scotland owning their own land. You talk about getting back the land for the people, but you are doing everything in your power to prevent them owning a small pitch even of a few acres. At present the tenant can be turned out for several things, and as the matter stands at present you are going to force a great many tenants to put their money into bricks and mortar on another man's land without allowing them a chance of building on their own land. I am sure a tenant would take double the interest in the matter if he felt he was putting these improvements upon his own land. A great many of them take other crofts when they get married, and have no intention of coming back to the old home, and that home will be lost at the end of their father's time. If there were a purchase system then they would want to come back to their old home, a 1343 privilege which hon. Members opposite are going to deny them.
There are three systems of holding. In the first place, there is the system of three tenancies which we have now; secondly, there is the system of dual tenancy, which you are proposing now to inflict upon Scotland; and, thirdly, there is the proprietary system. I am certain that the system of dual tenancy is the worst. The hon. Member opposite raised the question of expense, and he said that was one of his main objections. He has suddenly become very economical in these matters for a Member of the Liberal party, but I will tell him where he can find the money. It would not take so very much money, and a regular purchase system would not in the long run cost so much as the right hon. Gentleman's salary; and if hon. Members opposite who are so anxious to get the people of Scotland back to the land would deny themselves their salary of £400 a year for a few years they would be able to purchase most of the holdings in Scotland.
§ Sir J. JARDINE
I am not going to indulge in any invective against hon. Gentlemen holding different opinions, and I will confine my remarks to that part of Scotland which for ten years I have been keeping an eye on the agricultural conditions and ascertaining the wishes of the people. I am going to refer to the county of Roxburgh, which is famous in the agricultural annals of Scotland. I do not think the crofters are inclined to take advantage of any great land Bill, and amongst the ploughmen and bailiffs with whom I have come into contact who are anxious to get a footing on the land and become farmers I have never heard any demand for purchase, and so far as I can ascertain their wishes they are satisfied with the principle which this Bill brings in. I have consulted many other people as to their means, and the invariable answer I receive is that, while they have sufficient money to stock a farm they have not sufficient to buy a farm, and I think that is a very cogent argument in connection with this class of people. They manage to save about £100 or £200 after twenty or thirty years' service and acquaintance with all the operations of agriculture, and they consider that is enough to make a start with.
To every Scotchman the money argument is one of enormous importance. The money the Treasury will provide will be sufficient for putting a great many people 1344 on the land under the dual system of this Bill, and the proportion would be fifteen under this system to one under the purchase system. These people who have been deprived for so long of all chance of raising themselves in the world are now most anxious for the speediest way of getting on. Instead of emigrating to Canada they would like to stay in their own country and create a better home than they have got, and have "nae mair flittin'." We have money enough under the proposed plan to make a start in that way, although I do not think we have enough money to make a start under the purchase system. Many other countries have this kind of dual system, such as India and Belgium. The class of people interested in this Bill have been waiting for a whole generation to get a footing on the land, and they have been deeply disappointed at the delay in passing this measure. The system which is advocated by hon. Members opposite is quite unsuitable. There is a great need of making haste to put the people on the land with a good sound tenant right in scores, and not in ones and twos, and that is the prominent merit of this Bill.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
I remember, on the Committee, the Lord Advocate expressed views in the direction of the purchase system, and no sooner had he done this than his Friends sprang upon him and he abandoned that principle.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
The right hon. Gentleman said there was this difference between the Amendment of my hon. Friend and the views which he expressed on the Committee. If I understand him aright, he was prepared to consider it. At all events, provided it was compulsory purchase. My hon. Friend's proposal, on the other hand, relates only to voluntary purchase, and that I understood the Lord Advocate to say was an idea he could not entertain for a moment. If he did not say that, I misunderstood him. At all events, he was not prepared to support the Amendment. If the object is good, what does it matter whether the purchase is to be by compulsion or whether it is to be voluntary? It depends, of course, entirely upon the circumstances under which an arrangement of that sort is carried out. For my own part, if agriculture is flourishing, and if there is a reasonable prospect of it flourishing in the future, I have no 1345 hesitation in saying ownership of land is the best possible tenure in the world, both for the man who has to cultivate it and for the land itself, because it offers every inducement in the world to do the land, as it is called, as well as it possibly can be done.
I do not speak altogether without experience on this subject, because in Lincolnshire, the county which I used to represent, there were one thousand freeholds. In those days they prospered and flourished in a most remarkable degree. No people in the world were prouder of their little holdings and of the manner in which they were cultivated, and they delighted in showing you their samples of corn and pointing out how they compared with the best samples grown by their brother farmers, farming perhaps thousands of acres. Then came that unfortunate period of agricultural depression when prices began to drop, and these poor little men fell on evil times. Now the whole situation has changed again, and prices have risen considerably of late. It is a common complaint now how much more the food of the poor people costs them than it did some few years ago, and I do not see much prospect of any improvement in that respect until the time arrives when we shall carry, as undoubtedly we shall carry some day, our proposals of Tariff Reform. Why is there this marked hostility to proposals which are made to facilitate the ownership of land? Would it not be popular with the people in Scotland? Is that not one of the things they desire most in the world? I must say, having listened to the whole Debate, I really have heard nothing to justify the unbending opposition to the Amendment of my hon. Friend. I am afraid it is no use making appeals to the Lord Advocate when he has once made up his mind, but I cannot see why some hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House should not support us in an Amendment which would lead to the advantage of great numbers of the smaller people of Scotland.
§ Mr. MUNRO
Listening to some of the speeches delivered from the other side of the House, one would be apt to suppose there was some provision in this Bill whereby tenants in Scotland were to be disabled from purchasing their holdings even if they wished to do so. That, of course, is not the Bill. The truth of the matter is that where we separate is on a matter of principle, and that is whether State money should be applied 1346 for that purpose. When one considers whether that principle shall be applied to Scotland or not, it is surely not asking too much that heed should be paid to the opinion of the majority of the people of Scotland as voiced through their Members in this House. I desire to emphasise what has already been said with regard to opinion in the north of Scotland on this matter. I am fairly familiar with that part of the country, and I am bound to say I have never heard any expression of a desire by any crofter in the north of Scotland in the direction indicated by this new Clause. I speak with much more diffidence with regard to the south of Scotland, though I have spent a considerable part of my life there. It is significant, however, that one should have had the testimony of the hon. Member for Roxburgh (Sir J. Jardine), and that at the conference at Perth, of which we have heard so much, not a single word was spoken in favour of the principle of purchase. All I can say is that if there is any particularly strong feeling in that direction in the south of Scotland, those who entertain the feeling have kept wonderfully silent with regard to it up to now. You have security of tenure provided under the conditions which the Bill embodies at present, but security of tenure would not be present under many conditions which one can figure if the tenant were to become the purchaser of his holding. Suppose bad times came again, what would be the position of a man who owned his holding? A tenant may give up his tenancy, but a man who owns his holding is tied to it and cannot get rid of it.
The experience of other countries is often referred to in this connection. I read quite recently that during bad times in France where this system of purchase, I suppose, abounds, the number of compulsory sales of small holdings rose by 110 per cent. in ten years. I have also read that in Denmark during comparatively recent times there were £60,000,000 of mortgages on the small holdings which are owned there. Surely to sell up a man compulsorily under, say, foreclosure in England is just about as bad as to evict under the old system in Scotland. However desirable it may be for a man to purchase his holding if that is his wish, we do respectfully protest against the employment of State money to subsidise what we consider to be both an inferior and in Scotland an alien principle.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I confess I do not really understand the somewhat blind and unreasoning opposition to purchase of hon. Gentlemen opposite or their objection to the particular Amendment before the House. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down said there is no desire to purchase in the north of Scotland. I do not know a great deal about the conditions there, but I know the southern counties of Scotland very well. I go about them a good deal, and I have constantly met men who are trying to save money and would like to save money to enable them to become owners of a small piece of land. The difficulty is they cannot find the money both to buy the land and to stock it. It is all a question of pounds, shillings, and pence. Do let hon. Gentlemen opposite realise what we are now proposing? Some who have not heard the Debate might think we were proposing compulsory purchase by the State. It is purely a permissive Amendment. If there be no desire to purchase, then the Amendment will have no effect. The Bill will never come into operation unless there is a desire to purchase. Why, under those circumstances, hon. Gentlemen should really stand in the way I confess I cannot see, unless they found themselves on a broad opposition to all purchase and to all ownership of land by small holders. I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman who spoke last in condemning that system. It has led France and Denmark to prosperity. It is going on in Austria to-day, and it has triumphed in New Zealand over the tenant-holding system. After a system of land tenure was first instituted, there was a reversion to a system of purchase. More than that. It is in successful operation in Ireland to-day. It has saved agriculture in Ireland. It really seems strange that in this year 1911 we in Great Britain should have to pay a very large sum of money to rescue Ireland from that very state of dual ownership into which hon. Gentlemen are now trying to thrust Scotland. Whether you take the particular question of this Amendment or the general question, I venture to say the opinions expressed by hon. Gentlemen opposite are really not warranted by the facts. I suggest they should consider the facts seriously. This is purely a permissive Amendment, and, if indeed they are right—which I doubt—in saying there is no desire on the part of smallholders in Scotland to own their holdings, then this Amendment will have no effect whatever, and they need have no anxiety in putting it into the Bill.
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
I am bound to confess I do not take any deep interest in this Amendment. I think the principle of both voluntary and compulsory purchase ought to have been embodied in the Bill. There are many objects mentioned in the Bill which cannot be met under the tenure of the Bill, and which you can only meet either by voluntary or compulsory purchase or by feuing, and that the Government have refused to put in. I think they have made a great mistake. The crofter is a very important element in the community, but he is not everybody, and what we are dealing with mainly under this Bill are the general agricultural, horticultural, and sylvi-cultural interests of Scotland, which are great economic interests. The crofter tenure is no help at all for sylvi-and horticulture. I should say certainly in Scotland, as in England, State aid for the purchase of holdings ought not to be necessary. A distribution of the soil is taking place in England in a large measure without any aid from the State. The only question is how far land will be rendered unsaleable under the provisions of the Bill. If land is rendered unsaleable, then I admit some other steps will be necessary, and probably purchase is one of them. The land may be rendered unsaleable in two ways: either by having too great a complexity of tenure in the relations between landlord and tenant, or the burden of compensation may be such that either free sale or purchase would be found the only way to keep the bottom in the Act. I will just give an example of what I mean. A valuation was taken of the improvements of a tenant of a £6 10s. croft at Lentran, in Inverness-shire. The valuation amounted to £260, which is nearly about sixty years' purchase. If there were many such "Lentrans" on an estate the bottom would be knocked out of the Act. That estate would be rendered unsaleable by the operation of the Act. If claims of that kind were presented there would be no means by which the crofter could get his compensation. In the case I have mentioned, the compensation due to the outgoing tenant would have to be drawn from the other resources of the holding. It could not be drawn from the croft. I forget what the acreage was. [An HON. MEMBER: "Thirteen acres."] The rent was £6 10s. gross, and that would represent £5 net. The expenditure is £500, and the compensation payable is sixty years without purchasing the holding. Unless there can be a limit to claims of that kind an estate would soon become 1349 bankrupt. I do not know whether there will be a large number of claims for compensation, but supposing there are, supposing, for instance, that there are a dozen or two in the Island of Lewes, all wanting at the same time, how could compensation be given? They would not get it at all. This matter must be dealt with either through free sale or free purchase. In cases of that kind you might have to deal by means of free purchase. I believe there is no general desire to institute free sale, but, so far as the owner is concerned, it would be an infinitely lighter burden than the compensation payable in these cases, which would mean paying £12 a year out of other properties for the honour of being made proprietor of the croft. I think it is a matter of primary importance that there should be reserved in the Bill the power suggested unless the Government is prepared to give free sale, which is another way out. Therefore I support the proviso.
§ Mr. STANIER
I should not like it to go forth that the hon. Member for Wick rather led us to believe the people in Scotland do not want the particular line which is worked out in this Bill. If the hon. Gentleman had taken the trouble to study the proceedings in the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture he would have found that at a number of large meetings this land purchase scheme worked out through Mr. Jesse Collings's Bill, had been unanimously approved by the directorate of that body and that resolutions in favour of it had been carried by the Chamber. It should not, therefore, go forth that in Scotland no one has ever advocated the idea. It is very amusing to think that the Lord Advocate, who has always been making such very strong speeches on the subject of the land monopoly, and how it was to be brought to an end, should now turn round and say: "You must not have this Clause at any cost." How is it the Government is advocating it in Ireland, though no doubt they are pushing it forward there at the bidding of Irishmen? But why should they deny it to Scotland? The Lord Advocate tells us that in his part of Scotland it is not wanted. But it is very curious when I was in Beauly recently I met a man who immediately told me he wanted to buy his holding if only some such scheme as that foreshadowed in the Amendment now before the House had been in existence. That may be an isolated case; still it is strange I should have stumbled up against 1350 it when I was up there. I think we ought to have this Clause in the Bill. There are many cases in which it will be wanted. I cannot see that it will do any harm at all, and I am sure that many people in Scotland would be only too pleased, when these great land sales are taking place, to try and get the Treasury, through the Board of Agriculture, to make advances in order to enable them to buy.
§ Mr. COWAN
I wish to controvert the statement made so frequently on this side of the House that there is no demand or desire for purchase in Scotland. Speaking for that part of the county of Aberdeenshire which I have the honour to represent, and speaking too from my own knowledge of the whole country, I say there is an undoubted demand for purchase, that there are a large number of smallholders who desire to become freeholders, as well as a large number who wish to become small cultivators on the basis of purchase rather than of tenancy. In this House one is accustomed to find diametrical opposite views as between the two sides on almost all matters of policy, but one seldom witnesses such an extraordinary divergence as this on mere matters of fact. On this side of the House almost every speaker has told us that there is no desire for purchase in Scotland, and on the other side almost every speaker has said that from his own knowledge he is enabled to say there is such a desire. What is the explanation of this extraordinary difference of opinion? The fact is both statements are true. There is no demand in Scotland for that sort of purchase of which our Friends on the other side speak.
The demand in Scotland for purchase is a demand for what the Lord Advocate has described as compulsory purchase, and that is the form of purchase which is desired in my own Constituency. It is a form of purchase which I have recommended in two election addresses, it is a form endorsed by my Constituents, and I am clear in my own mind that if the people were offered a system of compulsory purchase which would enable them to obtain their land at a fair and not an inflated price—at a price fixed by an impartial public authority—there is no question whatever that they would desire to have such a scheme. We are told that there are no funds available for the purpose. Those who are opposed to the whole principle of the Bill, those who are supporting it with extreme reluctance and more as a matter of party policy and tactics, no 1351 doubt would be glad to divert the funds which are set aside for the working of the tenancy portion of the Bill in favour of an illusory purchase scheme, because thereby the Bill would be practically wrecked. I have no desire or intention of lending myself to any scheme of that sort. This is a Tenancy Bill, and it is quite impossible to draft a system of purchase on it. For that reason, strongly as I believe in compulsory purchase, I shall still vote with a good conscience for the Amendment.
§ Mr. BAIRD
There appears to be a great variety of reasons which induce hon. Gentlemen opposite to take one view or another on this Amendment. The hon. Member for the Wick Burghs objects to the principle embodied in it. It seems extraordinary that it should be right to give State money to enable a man to build a house on the land, and that it should be wrong to give State money to enable him to own the land, without which the house is perfectly useless. That, I take it, is the principle advocated by the hon. Member for Wick. Then another hon. Member is quite content if the principle of compulsion is applied to private land to be sold at a fair price. I do not know what he calls a fair price. I should say the market price of land is fair, as is the market price in the case of any other commodity fair. There is any amount of land in the market at the present day. Half Scotland is practically for sale, and there are no buyers. There is any amount of land in Scotland for which no single buyer is forthcoming. [An HON. MEMBER: "Where is it?"] All over the country. I do not know whether the strict attention of the hon. Member to his duties here has prevented him knowing what is going on in Scotland, otherwise he would be well aware of the vast number of estates up for sale. But one must go a little deeper for the reasons which inspire hon. Members opposite. According to their lights—they are sound enough—they hope that the tenants will get the land for nothing. That being so, is it not ridiculous not to put in a provision to enable them to get it at a fair price or any other price?
It does seem an extraordinary thing that you have people leaving Scotland and going to a new country where there is a kind of tenure in existence such as is proposed to be set up in this Bill, and where the first object of a man is to endeavour to get his own bit of land. If you want 1352 to keep people in this country, surely it is advisable to enable them to own a bit of soil in their own country. Why make them go to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or any other Colony in order to get a bit of land. [AN HON. MEMBER: "They get it for nothing."] Of course if they are content to go to the backwoods and put up their own houses they may get a bit of land for nothing. But that is not the way in which emigrants ordinarily go about the business. There is always land to be found for sale near the railways in nearly all our great Colonies, and people leave Scotland in order to try and acquire some of those holdings. Why should they not have an opportunity of doing so in Scotland itself? That is a matter well worth discussing. To say that nobody desires to buy land in Scotland, and that it is right to advance the money to build houses, but wrong to make it possible that State money should be advanced in order that land should be purchased, and ownership extended, is a curious kind of argument. There is another question which is fundamental; that is the difference between the crofting system and the system that obtains in the Lowlands. A great part of Scotland in the crofting district has been deserted by the lairds or rented by some wealthy southerner who, by hiring the crofters as gillies, enables them to eke out a living there. To such men their estates are absolute toys and nothing else. To maintain that the crofter desires in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred to own his own land is ridiculous. It is his own, so long as he pays no rent and somebody else buys his house for him. There are other parts of Scotland where that does not obtain, where the claim is better, and where everybody is agreed as to the necessity of increasing the number of holdings, whether of occupiers or of tenants, and where it is desirable to have more men on the land. But why the hon. Members opposite should say that although there is a number of these people who desire to take tenancies and rent land there is nobody who desires to buy, I cannot understand, except on the principle that they have been going about the country—whether they have been misreported or not I do not know—but the impressions their speeches have given to their hearers was that if only they were sufficiently supported by the votes of those people in due course the laird will disappear and the land will belong to the people. That is the crude 1353 notion they have been spreading. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] You have said the laird is disappearing. Is that the object of the Bill? Is that what the hon. Member desires? Is this a Bill to kill the lairds or to help the people?
§ Mr. BAIRD
It is not an Amendment to make every person a laird, but to enable advances to be made where there is proper security and a desire to purchase. You have done it in Ireland, and it has been a wonderful success. This is a conditional Clause. There is no ground for opposing it except with the object of securing that present occupants shall get the land not at a fair rent, or at a fair price, but for nothing. Your refusal to put in this Clause throws away your case, and shows that you have not the real interest of Scotchmen at heart, because you will not give them the chance of doing in their own country what they can do in Canada, Australia, and every civilised country under the sun.
§ Mr. J. M. HENDERSON
I rather feel with my hon. Friend the Member for Leith Burghs (Mr. Munro-Ferguson) that there is not much interest in this Amendment, because although I am, and always have been, in favour of giving facilities for purchasing land, I do not see that this Amendment does it. It goes such a little way and deals with a fund which is otherwise appropriated under the Bill. The hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Mr. Cowan) says this is a tenancy Bill, and that it makes no provision whatever for purchase by a holding tenant. I should like to have seen some such provision made, but unfortunately the feeling of the majority of Members from the north is against it. We are told there is no desire whatever for a tenant owning his holding. I challenge that statement entirely. I will take the experience of my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire. He made it a distinct plank in his election address. He spoke of it frequently at many, many meetings, as I did myself, and yet he was returned to the House with one of the best majorities of any Scottish Member. I am quite certain that there is such a desire. I do not say that it is widespread, and I do not say that if a man can get fixity of tenure, at a fair rent, and all this assistance, that he may care for purchase. But there is something in the feeling of ownership 1354 which makes a man put more into a house or land than he would otherwise do as a tenant. The instances that were cited in favour of that are Ireland, Denmark, and France, but my hon. Friend the Member for Wick Burghs (Mr. Munro) said that there were an enormous number of mortgage sales in Denmark and France. The obvious answer to that is, that if a man cannot as an owner make a holding pay, surely there is less chance of his being able to make it pay as a tenant. The retort to it is that in Ireland there are hardly any arrears of the instalments due from the tenants.
I know that there is a feeling amongst certain Members on this side of the House that nobody should own land at all, that it is a sort of immoral purchase, and that they treat the principle of Scotch small ownership accordingly. Yet the very same people who object to that voted millions of the country's money to establish the same thing in Ireland. Why is it so good for Ireland and so bad for Scotland? We have been told that Ireland is prospering and that Ireland is going to go ahead, even of Scotland, and I believe that the co-operative system and the way that they work on their holdings will make it very likely that they will, unless we get on and get the same privileges that they have. I have never seen any reason why we should not have the same facilities in Scotland as they have in Ireland. I know there is a very strong feeling among Scottish Members, particularly among those who represent the towns, and who do not know much about agricultural matters, that if they could keep the number of landlords few it would be easier to deal with them. This Amendment does not really touch the question at all. If you want to enable purchase to be carried out under this Bill it will be necessary to recast the Bill entirely. The Bill allocates £200,000 for the purpose of building dwelling houses and other buildings, and I do not see that by this Amendment you provide any money for the purpose of purchase, and therefore I do not believe there is any interest in it.
§ Mr. MALCOLM
Unlike the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I take considerable interest in this new Clause. I do not know what has come over my fellow countrymen. I always understood they were not inclined to look a gift-horse in the mouth. Here is a gift-horse, and yet many of them have looked it in the mouth. I agree that under one of the Clauses there 1355 is not nearly enough money to establish voluntary purchase on a large scale. But it is my experience, seeing how you dealt with Irish land purchase, that once you establish the principle of voluntary purchase, it does not much matter how large the sum of money is to be, because you can always apply a certain form of pressure with which the Treasury is familiar, and that pressure will enable the amount granted to the Agriculture (Scotland) Fund to be largely increased. I cannot conceive why it should be a party question as to whether or not we should vote for this Amendment. I think it is of paramount importance that where we can for our own country we should try to get this system of optional purchase into the Bill. I understand from many of those who have spoken that there is no desire for voluntary purchase in Scotland. That is certainly not my own experience, either in the south or west, and I do resent it when I am told that the Members from the North do not desire it. Those who live in the west and south do not see why they should be dragooned by the Gentlemen from the north, who do not desire purchase, who live under a much more favourable tenancy than those who live in the south or west and are not technically known as crofters. Land hunger I do not think there is in the sense that it is so well known in Ireland, yet there is a seaboard which approximates to that of Ireland. I think the people there would be appeased if the system of optional land purchase were agreed upon as proposed in this Clause. I can speak from considerable experience in Ireland as to the extraordinary results upon the morale and material prosperity of the people who have purchased their holdings owing to the extraordinary generosity of the British Treasury. I should like similar treatment to be meted out to tenant farmers in Scotland and in England. There seems to be no question of principle. Several hon. Gentlemen have really held up their hands in horror against this Clause as though it were a matter of principle in giving public money for voluntary purchase. No such thing. We have already spent £105,000,000 of the British taxpayers' money in purchasing holdings in Ireland. If the security is good in Ireland I think it would be better in England and in Scotland, and I am perfectly convinced that what one hon. Member said is true, that you can get far better work and far more contentment out of a man who owns his own bit of land than 1356 you will out of a tenant farmer, however secure he may be in his tenure. Therefore, although I admit that at present there is not enough money in the Scottish Agricultural funds to carry on purchase for a very long period, or to a very large extent, still I think it is immensely important to allow this principle to go into the Bill and squeeze the Treasury hereafter, and then I think if party spirit could be put aside on this important point we should have done a very good day's work for Scotland.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Malcolm) said no principle was involved in this Amendment. The principle is not the question of purchase or of leasehold, but whether State funds shall be provided for purchase, and invariably the result of providing State funds for the purchase of land has been to raise the price. The price has been raised by six years' purchase in Ireland alone. The result in the Colonies has been that the price of land has gone up by leaps and bounds in spite of an impartial tribunal presiding over decisions as to land values. The principle is that if you bring in an unlimited purse for the purchase of land without pressing the land into sale, the price of the land goes up. Hon. Members opposite have extolled private ownership in land. I heartily concur. I believe there is nothing so good for the land as to be owned by a man who has to make a living out of it, but, on the other hand, there is nothing so good for a man as to have sufficient land, but only sufficient, to make a living out of it. I believe in private ownership. When a man owns land he will do more for it than if he leases it. He will tend it better, and fence and drain and weed it and maintain its nutritive properties infinitely better if he owns it. But how are you to get the people to own land since the land is now in the hands of the few, when it is wanted and needed by the many? You can persuade a man to sell his land in two different ways. One is by offering a high price for it. If he will not take £10 an acre for it give him £20. If he will not take £20 give him £30, and if he will not take £30 give him £40. You can persuade anyone to sell if you offer him a high enough price. On the other hand, you can persuade him to sell by putting on a graduated system of taxation, so that he cannot afford to hold it in idleness. The evil is not land monopoly in 1357 itself, but land idleness, and it is because land monopoly leads to land idleness that we oppose land monopoly.
You may, on the other hand, compel him to sell by a system of compulsory purchase. I believe you have no right whatever to use State funds for the purchase of land from one man to give it to another, unless, concurrently with that, you have a system of graduated land taxation. If you have not that system of land taxation you have nothing to induce a man to sell. You can compel him to sell by law, and set up an impartial tribunal, as is done in Australia and New Zealand, but this impartial tribunal has been guided in its decisions by the general upward trend in land values, and they have invariably given their decisions according to that gradual rise, and thus they have not been able to keep down the price of land to a normal limit. Consequently more has been given for the land than it was worth. More has been given in Ireland to-day than it is worth, because you have placed at the disposal of the Irish people an unlimited purse, and on the other hand you have not pressed land into sale. The hon. Member (Mr. Munro) is against small ownership in land on the ground that it almost invariably becomes mortgaged and very often there is a large number of sales. If a man cannot pay his interest on his mortgage he cannot pay his rent, if it is leasehold. It is as a rule easier to pay interest on a mortgage than to pay ordinary rent, so that he loses in either case. He is sold up if it is mortgaged, or he is evicted if it is leased. Therefore I consider the fact that a man mortgages his land is no objection whatever to private ownership in small areas.
I believe the ideal for an agricultural country is to have a maximum number of land users consistent with a man having no more than he can use effectively and economically. In that way you get all the land into use and you get its best use and its maximum productivity, and therefore the maximum increase of the national wealth, but the question is how you can bring about that small ownership. It is a bad bargain for the State to supply unlimited funds for that purpose. In New Zealand they have called a halt. The resources of that Colony have been taxed in order to supply an enormous amount of money for the purchase of land because of this tendency to increase in price, and during recent years in New Zealand and Australia they have greatly limited the 1358 State purchase of land and the provision of State funds and, instead, they have put on an enormous increase in the graduated tax, so that if a man has 5,000 or 10,000, or 100,000 acres of land in comparative idleness, he is induced by the pressure of the tax to become a small holdings commissioner himself. He goes about and looks for people to use his land, and he reduces the area to that upon which he thinks he can pay the tax. It may be 10,000 acres or 5,000 acres—it depends on its value. He cuts the land up into small holdings, and makes it available at the price which people can afford to pay. The price then becomes a normal economic price which the user can pay when he puts it to its best use. I believe in the purchase of land and in small holdings, but I believe we should not place State funds at the disposal of those who want land until first of all we have a system of graduated taxation of land values by which we can bring the land into the market at its use value.
§ Mr. J. WARD
The argument has been used with reference to Ireland as though it were applicable to the case under discussion to-day. I do not think land purchase in Ireland has had a fair trial yet. I know there were men who were quite as sympathetic to Ireland as anyone can De imagined to be in the House now, who were utterly opposed to the policy, and prophesied that after a fair trial its advantages might not be so apparent as they seem to be at present. Mr. Michael Davitt himself opposed the scheme from beginning to end, believing that, sooner or later, it would end, as peasant proprietorship has ended in many other countries, in not altogether the best system of land cultivation and ownership which could be devised. It is assumed that the Amendment is put forward officially by the Conservative party as their policy relating to land. I understand that the Amendment is moved by at least the Scottish section of the Conservative party as their solution of the land problem in Scotland.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
If the hon. Gentleman will excuse me for interrupting, I would point out that it is merely to give another option to the Commission in dealing with the money. You cannot in a Bill like this adumbrate schemes.
§ Mr. J. WARD
At any rate, the principle of it is the same, whether you attempt 1359 it on a small scale or not. Once you adopt the principle of using State funds for the purpose of creating small ownerships, I should say that you would be obliged to extend the principle, and the question we have to consider is whether this is a correct principle. I remember attending the Industrial Remuneration Conference when I was a youngster of nineteen, and just beginning to think of public affairs. I remember hearing a paper read at the conference by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) on some of the systems of land tenure. I hope that somewhere among my papers I will be able to find the paper which he read. He took the whole of the land systems of Europe particularly, and dealt with them. He dealt with the establishment of peasant proprietorships in France, and pointed out that while they were largely instituted with the idea of people getting away from a system of oppression in the shape of great landlords, they had resulted as a matter of fact in a much more awkward system of ownership for the tenants themselves. He referred to the number of proprietorships that went into the market every year, and he wound up by pointing out the disadvantages of small ownership as compared with small holderships, the two principles being entirely in opposition to each other. He declared at that conference that of the systems of land tenure there were in the country peasant proprietorship was the most horrible form of tyranny you could impose upon an agrarian population. I do not know whether he holds that view now. I hope I may be able to rake up the actual paper he read. I was wondering if the view of the Conservative party had been reversed in relation to this proposition—whether they had altered their tactics from what they were years ago. In that paper the right hon. Gentleman was only following out the expressed policy of the Conservative party relating to this matter which is now before the House. It is well known that at the same time the late Lord Salisbury, then Leader of the Conservative party, went to Newport and delivered one of the most violent speeches against this proposal which is now before the House that has ever been delivered by a prominent statesman. I cannot understand why this Amendment has been brought forward to-day unless we are to take it for granted that the Conservative party on this, as on many other matters, have entirely altered their position.
§ Captain GILMOUR
I wish to say a few words in regard to this Clause, which I heartily support. I think it is quite evident that those hon. Members who are refusing to listen to the proposal are refusing to give to the agriculturists of Scotland, and particularly small agriculturists, that right which all other Scotchmen look upon as part of their heritage. I venture to say that there is no country where the desire to own their own property in the shape of a piece of land has been more strong than in Scotland. I know that there are in most counties in Scotland a certain number of men who are very desirous of becoming actual owners rather than tenants. The reason why this Amendment is proposed is perfectly evident. It is quite clear that, owing to the manner in which this measure was drafted originally, it would be impossible for us to graft upon it a thorough system of land purchase. Speaking for myself and some of my friends, and also for my Leader, I have to say that there are those of us on this side at least who would have earnestly desired, if the opportunity had been given in this measure, to support a larger, more extensive policy of purchase. I believe myself that this is a thing which the House of Commons has no right to withhold from the people of Scotland. After all, all that we are proposing is that on certain conditions, and in a very limited manner, men who are tilling the soil, and who have a desire, as is evidenced by the fact that many are going to other countries, to become proprietors, should have the opportunity of doing so.
In every great city there are innumerable men who make a little money in their ordinary business, and who, as one sees every day, on coming out from that city purchase, if possible, a portion of land, be it ever so small. That feeling which animates those men, and which is carried out in practice, is a feeling which is in the minds of many agriculturists, and I think that hon. Members are denying to the people of Scotland that which undoubtedly we have granted to the agriculturists of Ireland. Whatever hon. Members may think as to the success or failure of the Irish scheme, it is quite clear that the Irish people and the Irish peasants are only too willing to take advantage of it, judging from the amount of money which is being spent by the Imperial Treasury. I wish to say something in regard to what fell from the hon. Member for Stirlingshire (Dr. Chapple). The ideal of some hon. Members on the 1361 Government side of the House as to what should be regarded as progress in the agriculture of Scotland is indeed a curious one. According to hon. Members opposite men are only to hold sufficient land on which to make a living. On what basis does the hon. Member for Stirlingshire work? According to him the only measure of land that a man ought to hold is a small holding. That is to say, no man in Scotland is to have an opportunity of improving his position.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
The hon. Member is not representing correctly what I said. I said the State's ideal is to have the maximum number of men using areas of land, that they can put it to the best use.
§ Captain GILMOUR
I cannot see where I am doing the hon. Member an injustice. It is quite clear that the ideal set up is that which hon. Members are endeavouring to carry out in this Bill, namely, a system of small holderships. They are going to give the agriculturists of Scotland the great benefit of having a portion of land on which they can make a living. Therefore it seems to me they are forgetting altogether that in agriculture, as in everything else, there must be graduation. If hon. Members on the other side of the House are going to lay down that no agriculturist in Scotland is to have an opportunity of becoming owner of the soil, and not only that, but is not to have the advantage of going from a small holding to a large holding, where he may make progress in connection with the husbandry of his country, then I say that you are inflicting a grievous wrong on the agriculturists of Scotland, and I think it is high time that a protest was made.
§ Mr. ANNAN BRYCE
The real objection to this proposal is that taken in connection with the other proposals in the Bill, if you once introduce the principle of purchase at the cost of the State you will inevitably tend to ruin, as the purchase Acts in Ireland have ruined, the operation of what has been called improperly a dual system of ownership. Mr. Gladstone's Act of 1881 never had a chance, because the subsequent Acts of Lord Ashbourne and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) destroyed the operation of Mr. Gladstone's Act. Similarly, if you have voluntary purchase at the expense of the State, as proposed by the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman, you will tend eventually to destroy the operation of the other Clauses of this Act. That is the real objection that the people of Scotland have. They feel that if you once embark upon this system of purchase at the cost of the State we shall get upon a landslide which may end in a demand for enormous sums of money, such as the Irish land purchase scheme has instituted. I was surprised to hear hon. Gentlemen who spoke on the other side talk quite gaily of the desirability of having for Scotland a scheme such as is now in operation in Ireland. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are always talking about the price of Consols. They do not seem to consider what the price of Consols would be if we had on top of the £200,000,000 which will eventually have to be issued, another £200,000,000 for Scotland, and perhaps £700,000,000 or £800,000,000 for England.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 88: Noes, 148.1363
|Division No. 367.]||AYES.||[8.40 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Clyde, J. Avon||Hope, Harry (Bute)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Courthope, George Loyd||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Hunt, Rowland|
|Astor, Waldorf||Craik, Sir Henry||Hunter, Sir Charles (Bath)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Dalrymple, Viscount||Kerry, Earl of|
|Balcarres, Lord||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Kirkwood, J. H. M.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Dixon, Charles Harvey||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Barlow, Montagu (Salford, South)||Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Barnston, H.||Eyres-Monsell (Bolton, M.)||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)|
|Barrie, H. T.||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Mackinder, Halford J.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts., Wilton)||Fleming, Valentine||Macmaster, Donald|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Foster, Philip Staveley||Malcolm, Ian|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Gardner, Ernest||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Bird, A.||Gilmour, Captain J.||Mount, William Arthur|
|Boyton, James||Goldman, C. S.||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Grant, J. A.||Newman, John R. P.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Gretton, John||Nield, Herbert|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Campion, W. R.||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Cassel, Felix||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Cator, John||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Cave, George||Hills, John Waller||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Salter, Arthur Clavell||Thynne, Lord Alexander||Whyte, A. F.|
|Sanderson, Lancelot||Touche, George Alexander||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Stanier, Beville||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir|
|Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)||G. Younger and the Marquess of Tullibardine|
|Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)||Welgall, Capt. A. G.|
|Talbot, Lord Edmund||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Griffith, Ellis J.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||O'Dowd, John|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Gulland, John William||O'Grady, James|
|Allen, A. A. (Dumbartonshire)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Hackett, John||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Brady, P. J.||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Hayden, John Patrick||Radford, G. H.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Helme, Norval Watson||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Higham, John Sharp||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Clough, William||Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Rowlands, James|
|Cotton, William Francis||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Cowan, W. H.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Samuel, J. (Stockton)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Joyce, Michael||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Keating, Matthew||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Dawes, J. A.||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Snowden, P.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld., Cockerm'th)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Dewar, Sir J. A.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Dillon, John||Lewis, John Herbert||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Donelan, Capt. A.||Logan, John William||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Doris, William||Lundon, Thomas||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Duffy, William J.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||McGhee, Richard||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Macpherson, James Ian||Webb, H.|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||M'Callum, John M.||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Wiles, Thomas|
|Falconer, James||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Meagher, Michael||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Menzies, Sir Walter||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Field, William||Millar, James Duncan||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Gibson, Sir James Puckering||Mooney, John J.|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Goldstone, Frank||Munro, Robert||Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Wedgwood Benn|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Nolan, Joseph|
§ Voluntary Agreements.
§ Nothing in this Act contained shall prejudice or in any way affect the right of any owner of land, which is not a holding held by a landholder, other than a new holder, or by a statutory small tenant within the meaning of this Act, to constitute and equip the same of whatever extent for the purposes of an agricultural holding, and to let the same to any other person at such rent, for such period, and on such terms and conditions as may be 1364 agreed on between them, and none of the provisions of this Act shall, except by the joint consent of such owner and such other person, apply to such holding.
§ The purpose of the Clause was to make it possible for the proprietor in Scotland, notwithstanding the passage of this Bill, on his own land to equip and let to the smallholder, a smallholding on terms to be voluntarily agreed. In other words, it was to save the possibility in future of a voluntary bargain, which, as the Bill stands, is impossible. It is fair to say that as the Clause was drawn it went further 1365 than the object for which it was put on the Paper. The words in the last portion of the Clause are, "none of the provisions of this Act shall, except by the joint consent of such owner and tenant, apply to such holdings" voluntarily constituted by the landlord at his own expense on his own land, and I propose to qualify the words in this way—"none of the provisions of this Act, with the exception of those relating to the circumstances of new holdings." This would save and leave open, in the case of holdings made in future of more than fifty acres in extent, the possibility of such an interference with a holding under the general scheme, and for the purpose of breaking it up into smaller holdings for smallholders. I do not know whether it will be necessary to press this Clause in order to save the possibility of free bargaining in the future. I understand from a hint which the Lord Advocate gave me a few minutes ago that he intends to alter the Bill in other respects in such a way as will remove every such voluntary holding in future from the tentacles of the Bill, and I understand he proposes to delete Sub-section (4) of Clause 33. If the Lord Advocate tells me that he is going to delete Sub-section (4) of Clause 33, so far as I can see, the purpose I have in view will be met, because such voluntarily created holdings in the future will be free. If the Lord Advocate tells me he is going to delete the Sub-section to which I have referred, I shall not press my proposal.
§ Mr. URE
I cannot accept the Clause which stands on the Paper, though I quite understand the object which my hon. Friend has in view. He desires that voluntary bargains between landlord and tenant should be untouched by this Bill. They are untouched by the Bill, and I intend them to be untouched by the Bill, under 150 acres. Of course, if large tracts are taken and large farms are constituted over 150 acres, it would never do to say that they must be for ever outside the purports of the Bill. I give the undertaking to delete Sub-section (4) of Clause 33, which is one that creates some difficulty, and then there will be found sufficient protection under the provisions of Clause 32.
§ Clause, by leave, withdrawn.1366
§ Compensation to be fixed by Arbitration.
§ Where under the seventh and seventeenth Sections of this Act the Land Court are authorised to fix and determine any sum payable to landlord or tenant in name of compensation or for damage or injury, or where the Land Court are authorised under any provision of the Landholders' Acts to fix and determine the abatement of rent to be allowed to the tenant in respect of land taken to constitute one or more new holdings, it shall be lawful, notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the said Acts, for the landlord or the tenant concerned to require that the sum payable or the abatement to be allowed shall be fixed and determined not by the Land Court but by arbitration, in accordance with the Second Schedule to the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act of 1908, the Land Court being substituted for the Board in said Schedule, and where in terms of that Schedule a person is appointed as arbiter for such purpose by the Land Court his award shall come in place of a decision or determination of the Land Court on any claim or question to which it lawfully relates, and his remuneration and expenses shall be paid by the Land Court: Provided that such arbiter shall be chosen from a list to be drawn up and revised from time to time by the Land Court, with the advice and assistance of the advisory council, of persons possessing practical knowledge of the agricultural conditions of the county in which they reside and having experience in arbitrations, the list to consist, if possible, of not less than five persons from each county.
§ This Clause deals with a very important proposal in the Bill, which empowers the Land Court to create small holdings. The Bill also makes the Land Court the body which has to fix the amount to be paid for these small holdings. By that procedure the Land Court is both made the judge as to the compensation to be paid and the Court which is to create the holding. Such a proposal is not consistent with the ordinary ideas of justice or equity. We can all recognise that the success of this small holdings movement will depend upon the price at which a smallholder is put in. If the smallholder is to make a success of his holding he must be put in at a bed rock price. When it is the Land Court that creates the holding, and when they have so 1367 much at stake, surely some other impartial tribunal should fix the amount to be paid for the holding. That is the meaning of this new Clause, and I cannot but think that the substitution of another tribunal for the Land Court to fix the price will rather tend to increase confidence in the doings of the Land Court, and will enable the Bill to be approved of more generally in the country. I submit this proposal in no spirit of political partisanship at all, but merely that the fixing of the sum to be paid should not be done by the same body which creates the holding. I think it is only fair that it should be done by another body.
§ Captain GILMOUR
I beg to second the Motion. So far as I am concerned, I see no justice in the present arrangement of the Bill, unless there is some addition of this nature. It is only common fairness to the industry of agriculture and to the proprietors of the soil that some other means should be taken of fixing the amount of the payment rather than that it should be left to the Land Court, and I think this new Clause which my hon. Friend has moved is well deserving, not only of the attention of Members of the Government, but of hon. Members on the other side.
§ Mr. URE
I am afraid I cannot accept the proposal of the hon. Member. I am setting up in this Bill an impartial tribunal for the purpose of deciding the very question which he proposes to withdraw and to submit to, I think, an inferior tribunal. It is an entire misapprehension to suppose that in deciding the question of compensation the Land Court is deciding its own cause, or that there is any reason whatever to apprehend that it will act unfairly in fixing the amount of compensation. Hon. Members must recollect that we are setting up a Land Court for the very purpose of securing an impartial tribunal. We are not leaving the Members of the Board of Agriculture to decide the question of compensation. The Board of
§ Agriculture has in the first place to consider and decide the question whether or not the land is to be acquired compulsorily, and it is only after they fail to make an arrangement that the Board of Agriculture go before the Land Court and ask the Land Court to decide as between them and the landlord. The Land Court is a purely judicial function and it would be a sorry thing if, when we take the trouble to set up a judicial tribunal for the purpose of securing impartiality, we should straight away proceed to set it aside and substitute another and less satisfactory tribunal for the purpose of deciding the very question it was to decide. It is because we desire to secure an impartial tribunal that we are setting up the Land Court to decide when any dispute or difference arises.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I understand now that on the Land Court we will have a gentleman of legal knowledge, and that a gentleman of very high legal knowledge and attainments will be in charge of it. The Lord Advocate himself said that the last person he could possibly trust to be an impartial judge in those matters was a judge. I understand now we are to have a judge, a member of the Court of Session. But this impartial Land Court is to be nominated by the originator or promoter of this Bill, though I believe he will try to be as impartial as he can, he certainly will not be above suspicion in the eyes of the more prejudiced, shall I say, farmers in Scotland. I do not think it can possibly be looked on as absolutely impartial. What the people I are asking is exactly the same thing for which some of our Friends below the Gangway are asking—representation, and no doubt we shall have the Labour party voting with the Government on this Amendment, which is exactly contrary to what they are asking for.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 83; Noes, 147.1369
|Division No. 368]||AYES.||[8.58 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Courthope, G. Loyd|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Bird, Alfred||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Boyton, James||Dalrymple, Viscount|
|Astor, Waldorf||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Burn, Col. C. R.||Dixon, C. H.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Du Cros, Arthur Philip|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Campion, W. R.||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants, W.)|
|Barnston, H.||Cassel, Felix||Fleming, Valentine|
|Barrie, H. T.||Cator, John||Foster, Philip Staveley|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Cave, George||Gardner, Ernest|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Clyde, James Avon||Goldman, C. S.|
|Grant, J. A.||Macmaster, Donald||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Gretton, John||Malcolm, Ian||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Hamersley, A. St. George||Mount, William Arthur||Touche, George Alexander|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Newman, John R. P.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Hill, Sir Clement L.||Perkins, Walter F.||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Hills, J. W.||Peto, Basil Edward||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Weigall, Capt. A. G.|
|Hunt, Rowland||Pretyman, E. G.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Kerry, Earl of||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Kirkwood, John H. M.||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Younger, Sir George|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Stanier, Beville||Mr. H. Hope and Captain Gilmour.|
|Mackinder, Halford J.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Munro, Robert|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Griffith, Ellis J. (Anglesey)||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Gulland, John W.||Nolan, Joseph|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Hackett, J.||O'Dowd, John|
|Barnes, George N.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||O'Grady, James|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Brady, P. J.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bryce, John Annan||Hayden, John Patrick||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Radford, G. H.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Higham, John Sharp||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Clough, William||Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rowlands, James|
|Cowan, William Henry||Jones, H. Hadyn (Merioneth)||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Crumley, Patrick||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney)||Samuel, J. (Stockton)|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Joyce, Michael||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Keating, M.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Dawes, J. A.||King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lambert, George (Devon, Molton)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Dewar, Sir J. A.||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Dillon, John||Levy, Sir Maurice||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Doris, William||Logan, John William||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Duffy, William J.||Lundon, T.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||McGhee, Richard||Watt, Henry A.|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. J. T.||Webb, H.|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Macpherson, James Ian||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||M'Callum, John M.||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Falconer, J.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Wiles, Thomas|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Meagher, Michael||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Field, William||Menzies, Sir Walter||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Millar, James Duncan||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Gibson, Sir James P.||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Mooney, John J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Goldstone, Frank||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Mr. Illingworth and Captain Guest.|
Question, "That those words be added to the Clause," put, and agreed to.