HC Deb 17 November 1911 vol 31 cc767-88

(1) 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 to time as vacancies occur, to appoint not more than five persons, to be designated the Scottish Land Court (in this Act referred to as the Land Court) and to appoint one of such persons to be Chairman of the Court.

(2) One of the said persons (in this Act referred to as the legal member) shall be a person who at the date of his appointment shall be an advocate of the Scottish bar of not less than ten years' standing.

(3) One of the said persons shall be a person who can speak the Gaelic language.

(4) It shall be lawful for the Secretary for Scotland to remove any member of the Land Court for inability or misbehaviour. Every order of removal shall state the reasons for which it is made, and no such order shall come into operation until it has lain before both Houses of Parliament for not less than thirty days, nor if either House passes a resolution objecting to it.

(5) If and when the legal member is temporarily unable to attend, or his office is vacant, the Secretary for Scotland may appoint to act temporarily in his place any person having the qualification required for holding the office of legal member and the person so appointed shall during such inability or vacancy have the same powers and perform the same duties as if he were the legal member.

(6) The Secretary for Scotland shall from time to time appoint a fit person to act as principal clerk to the Land Court.

(7) The Land Court may appoint or employ such assessors, surveyors, law agents, valuers, clerks, messengers, and other persons required for the due performance of their duties, as the Treasury, on the recommendation of the Secretary for Scotland, may sanction.

(8) Any Crofters Commissioner or officer of the Crofters Commission in office at the commencement of this Act, who may not be appointed a member or an officer of the Land Court, shall receive such compensation as the Treasury may determine.

(9) There shall be paid to the Chairman of the Land Court a salary not exceeding two thousand pounds a year, and to each of the other members a salary not exceeding twelve hundred pounds a year, and such salaries shall be charged on and paid out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, or the growing produce thereof.

(10) There shall be paid to each of the other persons appointed or employed under this section such salary or remuneration as the Treasury may sanction; and all such salaries and remuneration and the expenses of the Land Court incurred in the execution of their duties, to such amount as may be sanctioned by the Treasury, shall be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament.

(11) The Land Court shall submit such estimates and keep such accounts of their receipts and expenditure, and their accounts shall be audited in accordance with such regulations, as the Treasury may direct.

(12) It shall be lawful for the Land Court from time to time to make rules for conducting the business of the Court.


I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (9), to add the words,

"The chairman shall have the same right to a retiring annuity proportionate to his salary, subject to the like conditions and incidents as if he had been appointed a judge of the Court of Session, and every such annuity shall be charged and paid as aforesaid."


I would make a final appeal to the Lord Advocate to let us know the name of the gentleman who is to be appointed chairman of the Court. Reference has already been made to the precedent with regard to the Insurance Bill. In that case the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he is prepared to give the English names at once. This Bill has now reached the stage of being nearly passed, and this is the last chance we shall have of asking whether we can get the name while the Bill is still before the House.


I really cannot see what relation there is between the creation of the Land Court and the particular individual who is to be appointed chairman of the Court for this reason: The Bill does not guarantee that the chairman may not be changed from time to time. The House must not suppose that we should alter the salary or the pension rights because of the particular individual who holds the position. The proposal is to give the chairman of the Court the position and status of a judge of the Court of Session. That position would not be given unless it can be accompanied by a pension just as a judge of the Court of Session enjoys a pension. Our desire is to secure the best man we can get for the office, and to make it an office which shall be coveted. His position will stand above that of a sheriff, and, as the House is aware, a sheriff enjoys pension rights. We are all agreed that the chairman of the Land Court will be appointed to discharge very important duties, and that he will have large powers conferred upon him. We ought to do what we can to secure the best man.


In this matter I am very much in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Central Division of Glasgow (Mr. Scott Dickson). It has been customary in cases of this kind for the names of the persons to be appointed to be given to the House before the House loses hold of a Bill. Mention has been made of the Insurance Bill, but there are many others which could be cited. It is inconceivable that at this moment the Scottish Office do not know the gentleman they are going to make chairman of the Land Court. It is unthinkable that the Scottish Office, which neglects matters very much we all agree, even on this side of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]. Well, there are two Gentlemen who do not agree. I do not wish to be tempted to give illustrations. I would say that any person in the position of Secretary for Scotland may be expected to know the name, and I say he has neglected his duty if he has not made up his mind as to the gentleman he is going to appoint. I think this is a matter in which the Scottish Office might have taken the House into their confidence. I think at this moment even we ought to be told who the gentleman is who would be appointed chairman of this Court. Already rumour mentions several people. Some of them I would give a pension to and others I would not. It is, therefore, a matter of consideration before the House makes up its mind when it is going to give £1,500 a year to a gentleman after fifteen years' service, that it should know to whom it is to be given.


I am very glad we have at last got an articulate voice on the other side backing up the demands which we have made on this side of the House. But we want not merely the name of the chairman, but those of the other four members. Considering the enormous power which they will wield under this Bill we should also have been told who is the clever and dignified person who is to preside over the Court, and not only clever and dignified, but also, as we are told, absolutely infallible in his own Court—a marvellous combination.

Colonel GREIG

Under Clause 3 of this Act it is provided that His Majesty may, on the recommendation of the Secretary for Scotland, after the commencement of this Act and from time to time, appoint not more than five persons, and so on. If the Act does not pass there will not be that power and even if the names were agreed on by the advisers of His Majesty, His Majesty has not yet had an opportunity of seeing them, and they should not be given to the House until he has had that opportunity.


In order to give the Scottish Office a wider choice, I beg to move an Amendment to substitute for the words "an advocate of the Scottish Bar," the words "a member of the legal profession in Scotland." The Scottish Bar gives the Scottish Office a very limited choice.


On a point of Order—

The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)

I do not think this is in order.


Clause 3 has been committed to the whole House.


We are simply dealing with the Amendment on page 6 of the Orders of the Day.


May I join in the protest against not giving these names. It is quite customary when Votes such as these are instituted by Acts of Parliament to give the names in this House. As my hon. Friend (Sir H. Dalziel) has said, rumours are going about as to the gentlemen who are to get these appointments. May I ask is Sheriff Kennedy to get the chairmanship, because it is quite freely said that he is, and if he is not, who is? I should also like to know the names of the bucolic members of the Court. There are also rumours about them, but I do not want to specify the names.


I am not very clear that the value of the chairman of the Land Court is necessarily increased by giving him this salary and a pension, but as we are voting considerable additional sums of money for this purpose, I think we ought to know what we are voting for. Unless we have the name of this gentleman we are voting in ignorance. I shall therefore vote against it.


If it goes to a Division I shall certainly vote against it also, for two reasons. First, I do not think that the Committee has been treated properly in regard to this matter, and, in the second place, I do not consider, in view of the enormous demand we have for various purposes in Scotland, that we are entitled to vote this amount of money without a better assurance that it will be well spent than we have had up to the present time. Two thousand pounds a year, and, I think, about fifteen hundred a year pension, I should vote against, because I think that at a time when there are such demands for purposes of greater urgency in Scotland the people would, quite rightly, say that this money might have been better spent. That will be the opinion of the electors of Scotland when the matter is put before them. As a protest against this vast sum being spent while people are starving throughout Scotland, I shall vote against the proposal.


I think at the least the Government might have waited until they had found out what work there is to do before raising this question of a pension. I think we are entitled to have the name

of the chairman by this time, and even the names of the two bucolic gentlemen who have been mentioned. I do not know why the names should not be given. Everything will depend for the working of this Act on the gentlemen who are engaged, and they should be gentlemen who know something about the matter. Unless we can get some satisfactory statement from the Lord Advocate or somebody else, I shall join my colleagues in voting against the proposal.


I am only a paltry English Member, but, as I have a vote on the matter, I shall join in the protest against giving a pension to a gentleman after only fifteen years' service, especially as there is nothing contributory about it. I am sure that the hon. Baronet the Member for Hammersmith (Sir W. Bull) will support us in the Lobby, because he believes in thrift. This gentleman who is to receive a pension is not even going to pay into the pension fund; and someone behind me suggests that he may be a failure all the time. That is just it. A gentleman is pitchforked into a position, which he may be wholly unfit to fill by reason of his incompetence, and at the end of fifteen years you give him £1,500 a year by Act of Parliament, while in this House you have to squeeze out anything for the poor. It is perfectly disgraceful on a Friday to be considering the giving of a pension of £1,500 in this way.

Question put. "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes. 87; Noes, 58.

Division No. 393.] AYES. [5.40 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour) Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Kilbride, Denis
Acland, Francis Dyke Dewar, Sir J. A. Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld., Cockerm'th)
Ainsworth, John Stirling Dillon, John Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Donelan, Captain A. Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)
Baker, Harold T. (Accrington) Doris, W. Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) MacVeagh, Jeremiah
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Falconer, J. M'Micking, Major Gilbert
Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts., St. George) Greig, Colonel James William Meagher, Michael
Brady, Patrick Joseph Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) Menzies, Sir Walter
Brunner, J. F. L. Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Millar, James Duncan
Bryce, John Annan Hackett, John Molteno, Percy Alport
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.) Morgan, George Hay
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Munro, Robert
Byles, Sir William Pollard Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Nannetti, Joseph P.
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Hayden, John Patrick Nolan, Joseph
Clancy, John Joseph Henry, Sir Charles S. O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Hinds, John O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)
Cowan, William Henry Hughes, Spencer Leigh Phillips, John (Longford, S.)
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Hunter, W. (Govan) Pollard, Sir George H.
Crumley, Patrick Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Cullinan, John Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Power, Patrick Joseph
Davies, David (Montgomery Co.) Kelly, Edward Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Kennedy, Vincent Paul Reddy, Michael
Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan) Young, William (Perth, East)
Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Roche, John (Galway, E.) Webb, H.
Sheehy, David White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.Gulland and Mr. Dudley Ward.
Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim) Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)
Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)
Adamson, William Goldstone, Frank Perkins, Walter Frank
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) Painter, Joseph
Amery, L. C. M. S. Henderson, Major H. (Abingdon) Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Anstruther-Gray, Major William Hodge, John Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Arkwright, John Stanhope Hope, Harry (Bute) Ronaldshay, Earl of
Balcarres, Lord Horne, Wm. E. (Surrey, Guildford) Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Barnes, George N. Hunt, Rowland Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Barnston, H. Lansbury, George Talbot, Lord Edmund
Bridgeman, W. Clive Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Thomas, James Henry (Derby)
Bull, Sir William James Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey) Tullibardine, Marquess of
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee Valentia, Viscount
Clyde, James Avon Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Ward, Arnold S. (Herts, Watford)
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Mackinder, Halford J. Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Courthope, G. Loyd Malcolm, Ian Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Craig, Captain James (Down, E.) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Yate, Colonel C. E.
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C. Younger, Sir George
Esslemont, George Birnie O'Grady, James
Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead) O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)
Gardner, Ernest Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir H. Dalziel and Mr. Watt.
Gastrell, Major W. Houghton Parker, James (Halifax)
Glanville, Harold James Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)

Question put, and agreed to.


I beg to move "That the Bill be now read the third time."


(rising amid general cheers to speak for the first time as Leader of the Unionist party): I intend to occupy the time of the House for only a few minutes. It is to deal merely with one part of the Bill, and that part seems so unimportant to the Government that the Minister for Agriculture, who is immediately concerned, has not been present at all during the Debates in connection with this Bill. The subject to which I wish to refer is the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, and the best way to administer it. I am not sorry that on the first occasion on which I have to speak in my new position it should be on a subject which does not offer any temptation for strong language. It is a subject which cannot possibly arouse any excitement. Nevertheless, as so often happens in our Debates, it is really in my opinion far more important for the well-being of the country than many subjects which excite the keenest party passion. The whole question is as to the best method of administering the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act in this island of Great Britain. It is not that there is any conflict of interest between England and Scotland. The interests of England and Scotland in this matter are absolutely identical. That is shown most clearly by the fact that at a most representative gathering of those who know most and care most about agriculture in Scotland precisely the same view was taken as that which has been taken by men of the same position in every part of England. It has also been suggested that we object to this arrangement because we think that the administration of the Scottish Board will be ineffective. I should be the last man to make that suggestion. I do not think it for a moment. That is not our case. Our case is not that the Scottish administration will be bad, but that it will be different, and that what is needed in this island is absolute uniformity in the administration of the Act. In making that claim I think we have every justification from what has happened in the past. Hon. Members now hardly realise what a terrible curse these diseases have been to the agriculturist in the past. We have not suffered from them to the same extent recently, but everyone knows that that is only because there has been instant and absolute precautions of every kind taken to prevent the disease wherever it apabsolute precautions of every kind taken why all efforts to stamp it out before were ineffective was simply because there was no uniform system throughout the country, and that therefore there was no possibility of dealing in the same spirit and with equal rapidity with every part of the Kingdom as soon as the disease appeared.

I should like to put how, in my view, it will injure Scotland, and also England if this proposal of the Government be carried out. We had on this question, as we have on other questions which are much more important, the advantage of being an island, and the Government really by their proposal are throwing away a large part of that advantage. Let the House consider what that advantage is? A very important part of the business of stock raising in this country is the selling of stock to foreign countries. It is especially important in regard to pedigree stock in Scotland, inasmuch as we have almost a monopoly. Why? The Board of Agriculture at first was not popular—was, I think, very unpopular It has become popular in what is the easiest way, perhaps, for either men of bodies to become popular—that is by being successful. It has secured the confidence of this country; more than that, it has secured the confidence of other countries. That is the reason why there is absolute freedom now in exporting our stock to these other countries. I put it to the House, and to hon. Members who do not agree with us: Is there not at least a danger that if it is known that there are two systems of administration of these Acts that the same confidence will not continue? Is there no danger that there will not be the same freedom in our exporting trade? If so, undoubtedly Scotland will suffer in proportion, just as England will suffer by the change.

There is another disadvantage which is more purely Scottish. At present, if the disease breaks out in any part of Scotland it is treated in precisely the same way in which it is treated in England. A cordon is drawn around the infected area, and all other parts of the country are free. Suppose it happens—and it might happen quite irrespective of administration in Scotland—that there was an outbreak of this disease in many parts of Scotland at the same time? Is it not certain that there would immediately be an outcry on the part of agriculturists in England—an outcry so strong that the President of the Board of Agriculture, even if he thought it unnecessary, might have to yield to it—to draw the cordon not around the infected areas, but at the border itself? If that occurred, does anyone think that, although it would be bad for for England, it would not be far worse for Scotland?

There is only one other aspect of this question to which I would like to call the attention of the House. When I was first a candidate for Parliament for one of the Divisions of Glasgow, this was a subject that gave me a great deal of trouble. Glasgow is the largest Scottish port, and is very much interested in being allowed to receive Canadian cattle free. And there was—and I am sure still is—a division of interests even amongst the agriculturists. Some wanted them, and some wanted them kept out. In Glasgow in my time—I fancy my right hon. Friend behind me will say there has been no change—the hecklers were very much on the spot. They tried to get from me a promise to vote against this embargo on foreign cattle. I got out of it in a way that is familiar, I am sure, to all parts of the House, by promising to give the matter my careful consideration. The Prime Minister, I think, was not equally successful. That back-door was not open to him. He had to give a definite pledge when he was faced with the same difficulty.

It is not merely that there is a division of interest on this question in Scotland, and perhaps in England, but in Canada also there is a very strong feeling about it. The Canadian people and the Canadian Government dislike this embargo very much. I am speaking from memory, but I am sure my memory would not betray me on a matter of such importance. I think at the last Conference, or if not the last the previous one, Sir Wilfrid Laurier pressed this matter upon the Government, and even went so far as to suggest that this embargo was in reality Protection in disguise. Well, suppose that embargo were removed. Those who would suffer most, apart from the spread of the disease, which might arise from it, would be the people who raise store cattle in Ireland. Inevitably I shall be in strong conflict with Nationalist Members who sit below the Gangway, but on this matter I am not in conflict with them. It always has been a part of our policy, and it always will be my desire to help, in every possible way, in developing the resources of Ireland, and there is nothing which I should like more than to enable us to make Ireland feel she has an economic interest in having the closest possible connection with Great Britain. For that reason I, for one, would give Preference to store cattle from Ireland in Great Britain, even over Canada, but I should do it openly and honestly, and not under any disguise. When I examined this question I did come to the conclusion that we were justified, apart altogether from Protection, in excluding these Canadian cattle, and I will tell the House why.

No matter how careful the Canadian Government may be in its administration, the fact that they have, an immense frontier which borders upon another country makes it at least possible, and I think probable, that disease from the United States might come into the United Kingdom through Canada. For that reason I think we are justified even under present conditions in continuing the embargo, but I put this point very strongly. Will not our position be enormously weakened if we make this new arrangement? The Canadian Government may come to us and say, and I think they will very likely say: "You have two systems of administration in your island. You allow cattle to pass from Scotland to England; there is no one administrative body for both. Why do you do it? Because you have confidence in the Scotch Administration. Let us prove our administration is equally good, and how can you refuse to give us the same privilege you give to Scotland?" I say, in my opinion, these are considerations which ought to have the utmost weight with the Government in dealing with this question.

Let me say now in conclusion, that I have no desire—none whatever—for the centralisation of government. I think that is the weakness on the part of Gentlemen who sit upon the benches opposite more than of myself and my Friends. We do not like it; we desire the largest possible measure of local self-government so long as it is sensible. We desire that we should make the utmost possible use of local knowledge, local interest, and local experience. That is our desire. But everyone must admit that there are some subjects which can only be dealt with by close administration coming from a central Government, and if there are any such subjects surely the stamping out of disease is one of those subjects, and should be dealt with by a central body. I do not deny for a moment that there may be advantages, and perhaps considerable advantages, in a separate Board of Agriculture for Scotland, but in my judgment these advantages are not equal to what they are going to cost. In my opinion the best result would be obtained by a Board of Agriculture for Great Britain with a strong local body, combining all the knowledge and experience available, constituted in Scotland. That is my case. But if for any reason, political or otherwise, the Government feel bound to create this separate Board, and if in order to satisfy Scotch Members, and if, curious as it seems, they want another representative of Scotland to sit on the Front Bench—I should have thought there were enough Scotch Members there for all Parliamentary needs—I should have no objection to having a Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture. I do not object to that, but I do say that this is a far too serious matter to be subdivided. Even if you have this separate Board of Agriculture for Scotland, at any rate you ought to have one Board dealing solely and with complete responsibility with these diseases throughout the whole island, one Board on which Scotland would be adequately represented, but that Board should be under the control of the President of the Board of Agriculture in this country. That is my view. I am not going to say anything in regard to what has been the subject of discussion on the general aspects of the Bill. I will only say that my colleagues from Scotland who sit on these benches do not intend to vote against the Third Reading of this Bill. I take their view, and I agree with them, but I am bound to add that the points I have now raised seem to be of so much greater importance than the Government imagine, that if they were the issue I should feel bound to vote against the Bill. I do not think it is necessary to take that course, but I hope we shall have some other opportunity of reconsidering this question, and I urge upon the Government that they should at least carefully consider whether the course I have put forward is the right one. I should much like to hear what the new President of the Board of Agriculture himself has to say in justification of the change.


I count myself exceedingly fortunate; in the unavoidable absence of the Prime Minister, on his behalf and on behalf of my colleagues on this bench and my hon. Friends behind me, to have the opportunity of tendering a very hearty welcome to the right hon. Gentleman upon taking up the highly responsible position he now occupies, and I beg to offer him our hearty congratulations. I do so with all the more hearty goodwill because I have the honour and privilege of enjoying the right hon. Gentleman's friendship, and further, because the place, not of his birth, but of his education and upbringing, is the same happy quarter of Scotland in which I was educated. I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this is not a question of international politics, and not a question to be carried to extremes, but a question of efficient administration. It is from that point of view, and that point of view alone, that I have to regard this question. I do not profess to have any technical knowledge about dealing with cattle, but I think I understand most of the problems in regard to the administration of agriculture in Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman has undoubtedly exaggerated the advantages of what has been called uniformity. He has said, and quite truly, that he does not challenge, nor do any hon. or right hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House challenge, the efficiency of the administration of agricultural affairs by a Scottish Board of Agriculture. He is willing, as I understand those who sit on his side of the House are willing, to postulate a thoroughly efficient Board, a Board as efficient as the English Board, and that is quite sufficient for my argument. If there is anything which requires prompt and rapid action, it is an outbreak of cattle disease, and I should myself have thought a Scotch Board of Agriculture thoroughly equipped as our Board will be, was in a better position to deal promptly and rapidly with an outbreak of disease than would be a Board situated at a distance. It is very difficult to see how any mischief would result to England in consequence of setting up a Scotch Board to administer our own agricultural affairs.

I have asked for information as to what kind of mischief our countrymen across the border fear if a Scotch Board of Agriculture is set up armed with power to deal with the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Acts. A great many attempts have been made to demonstrate England would suffer, but they have hopelessly come to grief. The right hon. Gentleman has offered two instances, one of which is new and the other of which is not. He referred to the exportation of cattle to foreign parts. I cannot for the life of me see how the confidence of importers of cattle in foreign countries would be undermined if they knew there was an efficient Scotch Board dealing with Scotch affairs and an efficient English Board dealing with English affairs, because between two such Boards there could be no difference of administration. There must be uniformity if both are efficient in administration. Therefore, I think, so far as regards the exportation of cattle to foreign countries is concerned, the right hon. Gentleman's case fails. He figured another case, the case of an outbreak of disease in one or more counties in Scotland. He said: What would the Scotch Board do? The Scotch Board would instantly draw a cordon round the particular district affected by the disease. Would an English Board act otherwise? If the Scotch Board did draw a cordon round the affected county, would not that be an appropriate method to take, and is it anything to the purpose to say there might be some nervousness on the part of Englishmen, who would straightway in a moment of panic insist on their Board of Agriculture in London drawing a line across the border between the two countries. Why? The Scottish Board would have acted with perfect efficiency and promptitude and would have acted exactly as they themselves would have acted.

I cannot really see what disaster, danger, mischief, or evils hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite can really think will result if we have a Board of Agriculture in Scotland armed with these powers. I really would like to ask the House to consider whether it is worth our while to set up a separate Board of Agriculture for Scotland and at the same moment to withdraw from it the power of dealing with just one of the most important things it could possibly be called upon to handle. Does the House not realise, if we are really to have promptitude of action—and promptitude is everything in this matter—we are infinitely better with our own Board armed with full powers than we should be if having set up our Board we deprive it of this power and render it necessary, if the emergency arose, for it to refer the matter to a Board in England, which by no possibility could act with the same rapid power as could a Scotch Board. I submit to the House, therefore, that this is a really tremendously exaggerated evil suggested by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and that none of the mischief which they prognosticate is likely to actually happen if Scotland has, as I hope it will have, a Board of Agriculture which will be an example to the world.


Having represented an agricultural constituency for many years, I ask the leave of the House to express to my right hon. Friend thanks for the speech he has made this afternoon. I can assure him that nothing he could have said could have given more universal satisfaction to the agricultural community throughout England than the observations he has made to-night. The Lord Advocate has asked over and over again for reasons against this Bill. He has suggested that if the Scotch Board is to have the same power as the English Board, and to frame a cordon around suspected districts, that will be amply sufficient in itself, and the English Board need not trouble itself. But he must remember that the interests the English Board have to safeguard are immeasurably greater than those which will be entrusted to the Scottish Board, and the English Board will have to be satisfied of the absolute and perfect efficiency of the manner in which the work is carried out in Scotland. I would like to point out this difference. The Board of Agriculture in England has a perfectly trained and experienced staff who, in the case of an outbreak, can be depended on to act with promptitude and knowledge, as they know exactly how to deal with it. But in Scotland you will have to form your staff, and how can it be proved to the perfect satisfaction of the English Board that they are acting with the same promptness and forming a cordon in the same way as in England? It is so long since I represented the English Board of Agriculture that I speak merely from memory. But so far as I understand the position with regard to pleuropneumonia, animals cannot be admitted into this country; in fact, they are prevented by Statute from leaving the wharf at which they arrive. But in the case of foot-and-mouth disease it is different. Animals from foot-and-disease countries, if there is no pleuropneumonia, are admitted by orders. The power of issuing these orders will be transferred to the Board in Scotland to be used at their discretion, and a case might conceivably arise under which the animals would be permitted by one of these orders to come into Scotland from some other country, whereas, in the opinion of the English Board, they ought not to be so allowed. I remember a very serious case where through a mistake on the part of the Board of Agriculture, owing to pressure being put on the Treasury, the orders were issued permitting the entry of animals. They were allowed to come from a country which turned out, in spite of all that they had learned from the authorities in that country, to be infected with foot-and-mouth disease. The next thing that happened was that two cargoes appeared at the mouth of the Thames, reeking with foot-and-mouth disease. What happened in one case might conceivably happen in another. The English Board of Agriculture have learned experience from that misfortune, but if I am right in supposing that under this Bill the power of making orders for the entrance of animals into Scotland would rest with the Scottish Board and not the English Board, I have given a reason why there might naturally and properly be a serious anxiety on the part of the Board of Agriculture in England. Something more than this joint control is necessary. Absolute uniformity of action is vital and essential if we are to keep out these diseases and all the frightful mischiefs they would inflict upon the community in this country, not only the agricultural community, but the whole community, once we allowed this country to be again infected with this disease, which has caused such intolerable mischief and loss in the past, and which would do an infinity of mischief in the future.


I am entirely at one with the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, especially in reference to the importation of cattle from Canada. I have always been strongly opposed to that, solely for the good of the small people of this country, and especially the small holders, who would be rendered liable to the greatest possible chance of ruin. I disagree with him in assuming that there is unanimous opinion in Canada in favour of removing these restrictions. I believe the Canadians are learning more wisdom and that it is far better to keep their cattle than to send starving beasts over here as they did.

We are, however, dealing with a condition of things which may never arise. If the Government attach so much importance to the proposal to establish a Scottish Board of Agriculture, why should they not say so openly, and why should they not put it in the Bill? Under the Bill as it stands there is nothing but power given to the Secretary for Scotland to do as he pleases, at any time he likes. He need never do it at all. It is left entirely to his discretion to bring this Board into being. That is not a power we ought to give to any individual. If the thing is good, let the Government bring down their measure in straightforward fashion and say they are going to do it. We had little or practically no discussion upon this point in Committee. There was an important discussion on a Clause which gave the Secretary for Scotland power to break up the Congested Districts Board and all the good it has done, by a mere wave of the hand. The Lord Advocate very kindly consented to withdraw that power from the Secretary for Scotland. This was only meant to be a Bill for the formation of Small Holdings and for putting people on the land. I have never heard a single voice from Scotland in favour of setting up a separate Board of Agriculture. There may be a few persons who want jobs. The curse, of our country is that we have too many people who want jobs, and the object of the Bill, as I understood, was to create an independent class of people occupying a portion of the soil to which they are entitled at a fair and equitable rent. I do not share the fear that anything very serious would happen if we have a Scottish Board of Agriculture, but I think they have ground for fearing that something might happen. There might be a diversion of opinion as to administration, and if there was very great evil might arise. I am exceedingly glad that it is not intended to divide upon this question. I assure the Lord Advocate that this is not a Bill for the setting up of a separate Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, but for the promotion of small holdings.

Another point which specially appeals to me is that under the Bill as it stands, as far as we recognise it and know it, we have something like £200,000 for the development of small holdings. How much of that is going to be taken out of the Department of Agriculture? There is no information whatever on these points. We should very much like to know, before a penny of the money is taken away from the development of small holdings, whether any of the money, which is little enough for the purpose, is to go to set up a Department of Agriculture and pay another series of high-priced officials. So far as I know, the Department is managed admirably. I never heard in my experience a single case justifying complaint against the administration of the Board. I had some serious cases of disease in my own district. I only had to complain here to the President of the Board of Agriculture and competent men were at once sent down to inquire and report into the whole thing. I trust sincerely if ever this question comes up before us again the Government will consider the remarks I have made in connection with it.


I think the Lord Advocate is misunderstanding our position in two respects. In the first place, I think he underrates the dangers which we think will inevitably occur by this division of Boards. In the second place, it seems to me that he has not done justice to that portion of the speech of the Leader of this side of the House, in which he dealt with the quite possible action of a subordinate Board in Scotland capable of taking prompt measures and acting in accordance with a general line settled for the whole country. I do not think the Lord Advocate has any justification in asking for a separate Board in Scotland on the ground that it would be able to take more prompt action than a Board in England, because that is not the point we have ever denied. We admit that a Board in Edinburgh would probably be able to take more prompt action. It would be able to take just as prompt action if it were subordinate to the general Board, with the same President, for both countries, and if that Board in Edinburgh were carrying out the same general policy. The general policy has nothing to do with promptitude. Promptitude is a matter of administration, general policy is a matter of policy. They are two totally distinct things. The subordinate body in Edinburgh is responsible for promptitude, and the general body in London is responsible for the general policy. I see no answer in what the right hon. Gentleman has put forward to the point which was put forward by the Leader of this side of the House.

There is a matter which has not been referred to, and which, I think, will indicate why we attach so much importance to this unity of area within which you are to treat these diseases of animals. I wish to refer to the boundaries Memorandum of Lord Selborne, which preceded the creation of the Union of South Africa. One of the chief reasons which Lord Selborne gave for the unification of South Africa is contained in this sentence, which I quote from the Blue-book:— Scab, rinderpest, East African coast fever, locust, are each in their degree a constant menace to the farmer. The plagues of nature know no artificial boundaries between Colonies: the farmers, however, in their warfare against these plagues are heavily handicapped by the multiplicity of authorities. If one South African authority, exercising undisputed powers from the Cape to the Zambesi, were to carry out one consistent policy in support of the fanners, it is probable that within a few years, not only would dread pests like the East African coast fever have disappeared, but scab might become rare among South African sheep, and the scourge of locust might have passed into the record of a bad dream. That is a striking passage, and gives one of the chief reasons for the unification of South Africa which was subsequently accomplished. What we claim is that you could have some authority of a subordinate kind in Edinburgh, as under present conditions, while maintaining your central board in London. You could have a systematic and united policy for the whole country. It has not been without interest that I have noticed that hon. Members below the Gangway wish to know who are to be the Members of the Board of Agriculture. I venture to say that not a little of that anxiety was for the purpose of indexing to those Gentlemen the policy they would follow in regard to the introduction of cattle from Canada. I represent a constituency which has a great deal of interest in this matter. My reply has always been, "If you can give veterinary reasons for excluding Canadian cattle I will support them, but if you can give no veterinary reasons, I think a Free Trade Government is bound to allow Canadian cattle to be brought into this country [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I think these "Hear, hears" are fairly indicative of the policy hon. Members would pursue in this matter, and of the pressure that will be brought to bear on the Board of Agriculture in Scotland. We believe that a different policy in Scotland from that followed in England is a danger you will have to look to.


May I ask how that danger could arise?


If you have one policy in England and another policy in Scotland, you will have constant pressure brought to bear on the Board of Agriculture for the protection of the pedigree exports, and you will have constant pressure on the Board of Agriculture in England on the appearance of the slightest disease in Scotland to exclude wholly from this country Scottish cattle. The case put by the Leader of the Opposition was a case in point. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman appreciates what the position in this matter is. It is a question of nervousness in foreign countries following upon the nervousness of exporters in this country, following upon the pressure on the Board of Agriculture. South Africa sees the importance of this question, and I venture to say that the Lord Advocate has given no answer whatever to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bootle, because the matter of promptitude is one which does not go to the root of our position at all.


I am afraid the hon. Gentleman opposite does not appreciate that, this is a matter to be dealt with by Act of Parliament. It is not a matter which rests with the Board of Agriculture at all, either in this country or the other. It rests with this House, with an Act of Parliament which the hon. Member will have to see repealed before the danger which he fears can possibly arise. My clear conviction is that adequate protection can be given against cattle disease, either through a British Board in London or through a properly equipped Scotch Board in Scotland. I doubt whether in point of fact there will be a penny to choose between them, but I do think it absolutely essential, if there is to be adequate protection from disease, that the Scotch Board should be properly equipped, and the cost attending a properly equipped Board would be about £60,000 a year. In Ireland it is very much higher. I am putting it at a minimum. I do not think you can do it under £60,000 a year. We have never had the slightest, assurance on the part of the Government that £60,000 would be available.

Another point of importance is that there should be an Advisory Council. That has been refused. More important than all is that the Department should be represented in this House so that Scotch Members and English Members, if they liked, could call the policy of the Department to account. That provision also has been refused. The cause of alarm in the future does not arise at all from the fact that there is to be a Scotch Board instead of a sub-Department of the British Board to consult Scotch agricultural interests. But the danger is that you are setting up a temporary Board, and in the interregnum obviously contemplated by the Bill when there is a gradual severance from the British Board without setting up a reliable Board in Scotland, a great danger might be run, not only by Scotch breeders but by other agricultural interests in the country. That is the real danger. I was glad to note that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bonar Law) did not bar the possibility of giving support to a Scotch Board. The only objection he made was the cost of the new posts. There would be no such cost. The Vice-President of the Irish Board sits in this House. There is no reason whatever why the chairman of the Scotch Board should not sit in this House. The allocation of work under the Scotch Board could readily be made so that the chairman might sit here, and sit here he should if the Scotch Board is to be really effective. That is one of the weak parts of the Bill which have not yet been remedied. It would not cost a penny more money, and it would bring efficiency to the Board. That is what is really needed to meet the complaints from the other side.


There is one point in connection with the administration of the Diseases of Animals Act which has not yet been touched on, and that is the large movement of stock from Scotland to England and from England to Scotland. We have a very large movement indeed of store sheep from Scotland into England, and a large movement of store cattle, principally from Cumberland and Westmoreland into Scotland. Besides that we have a continuous movement of fat stock from Scotland into the large North of England markets, principally Newcastle and Wakefield. What the Scotch farmers are afraid of, and I think the Lord Advocate has never taken this point into consideration, is that if the movement of stock is to be administered by different authorities as he proposes, the English administration may suddenly cut off the movement of store stock from Scotland down into England, just at the time that there are store stock sales being held which would do irreparable damage to the Scotch stockholders. The English administration being naturally cut off from Scotland, being independent of the Scottish public, and not being responsible to Scottish public opinion, might very naturally allow regulations to be made by the county local authorities which would interfere most seriously with the movement of stock just at the time when the stock is ready to be allowed into the English markets. Let us consider how all that might affect the small holders—that body which you are so anxious to create. If there is any fear that the small holders' stock might not, after passing into the hands of the dealers, get into the southern markets, where it naturally should go, what sort of a price are those small holders going to get from the dealers when these men go round to buy the cattle? Would not the argument be used by the dealers that prices are down so much, because there is a fear—mind you, only a fear—that the Scottish stock is going to be shut out of Northumberland, or whatever part of England it may be, because the administration of this Diseases Act will be by different authorities which are out of touch and irresponsible to the people. Therefore, the Scotch farmers see that there is a real practical danger being brought to their doors, and it is because of that the stockholders of Scotland are so largely against separation from Scotland in this respect.


I wish to ask a question in regard to the agricultural colleges. The Bill provides that the Board shall "promote, aid and develop instruction in agriculture." I want to know whether there is any intention to interfere with the present agricultural colleges established in Scotland, which both in the south of Scotland and in the north are doing a very great deal of good. I should like to have some assurance or declaration from the Government that these colleges will not be abandoned or interfered with in the very useful work which they are at present doing.


May I ask what the salaries of these gentlemen are going to be? I think that should be considered.


I am not in a position to give the Noble Lord an answer to that question, but as regards the preceding question of my hon. Friend, I do not think he is justified in entertaining any apprehension in regard to the agricultural colleges in Scotland. So far as the provisions of this Bill are concerned, I do not think they are affected in the least.

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

Adjourned accordingly, at Twenty minutes before Seven o'clock, till Monday next, 20th November.