HC Deb 17 November 1911 vol 31 cc729-31

(1) The provisions of the Act of 1886, relative to the enlargement of holdings, are hereby extended to an application for enlargement of a holding by a single land holder or two or more landholders, and shall apply in the case of an application by a single landholder as nearly as may be in the same manner and to the same effect as in the case of an application by two or more landholders:

Provided that all applications for enlargement under Section 11 of the Act of 1886 shall be made to the Board, and Subsections 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, and 18 of the Section of this Act relative to the constitution of new holdings shall, with the necessary modifications, apply as fully for the purpose of applications for enlargement as for the purpose of the constitution of new holdings; and the expressions "application" and "applicants," where occurring in Section 12 or Section 21 of the Act of 1886, shall be construed as meaning an application from the Board under Sub-section 9 aforesaid and the persons referred to in such application.

(2) Section 13 of the Act of 1886 with the exception of Sub-section (3) (e) there of shall cease to have effect, provided that land shall not be deemed available land for the enlargement of a holding unless it is land in respect of which a person would be admissible to registration as a new holder under this Act, and, if arable land, unless it lies contiguous or near to land already in the occupancy of the landholder making the application; and provided further that a holding shall not be enlarged so that the present rent or acreage thereof shall exceed the present rent or acreage competent for a new holding under this Act.


I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after "(3)" ["with the exception of Sub-section (3) (e)"], to insert the words "(c) and."

Let me explain what it is I want. In the Crofters Holdings (Scotland) Act, Clause 13, Sub-section (3), paragraph (c) reads:— If the land forms part of an existing farm or other holding unless the rent or annual letting value of such farm or holding shall exceed £100. The reason I move the Amendment is to point out to the House that in all probability if you leave in a Clause of this sort you will reduce the whole of the North of Scotland to the state of the Island of Lewis at this time. If you put in this Clause there would still be a great many big sheep farms outside it, and you would still be keeping a few farms of fairly decent size which would be rate-paying properties in the district. I have no intention at all to safeguard the big farms. None of the small crofters pay rates at all; and if the course of action suggested be pursued you will very shortly reduce the whole district to a non-rate paying district altogether; or leave the rates to be paid by one individual—I do not mean a landowner or a farmer—but perhaps the shopkeeper. Possibly there may be a good objection to the amount of £100, and people hoping to get this Clause have probably put in their farms at £100. But you can make it £80; I will not stick to £100. That will get rid of those people who have been trying to dodge the Clause. That will still safeguard farms of a certain size, and leave a great many farms over and above to cut at. This is a question of rates more than anything else.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I am sorry I cannot accept the Amendment at this stage, and for the best of all possible reasons, that I have had no opportunity of considering what the effect of it would be. The House should know that we deliberately kept out of our Bill Clause 13 of the Crofters Act, with one exception, to which I called the attention of the House. After that decision come to by the Committee, we could not do anything now. But I need hardly say, though we could not agree to the insertion of this Clause, I will carefully consider the matter. It might have a serious effect. On the other hand, it may be very reasonable. I undertake, on behalf of the Government, to consider the question.


I think what the Lord Advocate said is quite reasonable. I have not considered fully the whole of the Amendment, but possibly later it may be found that something can be done. Meantime I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.