HC Deb 21 July 1915 vol 73 cc1624-6

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 3rd February, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."


I desire to ask the Secretary for Scotland a question about the formation of the Committee which was named by the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries for England and Wales. It refers to the creation of a Committee, over which the late President of the Board of Agriculture presided, to take into consideration what is to be done for the disabled sailors and soldiers in regard to employing them on the land. I raised this question on the Bill dealing with disabled soldiers and sailors, and I pointed out that in the Bill only three lines were devoted to the whole of the suggestions made by the Committee appointed by this House. On that Report the one subject which the Committee did not feel at liberty to go into fully was the question of the placing of sailors and soldiers on the land, and the Report says— Various schemes have been placed before us aiming at the settlement of disabled sailors and soldiers on the land. We think the matter is of great importance, but we are unable to express any opinion on the merits of this scheme because these proposals are of a tentative character, and would require more elaboration before we could give attention to them. The Committee thought that this was a question too wide for them to deal with. I should like to say that one recommendation in the Report was that Scotland and Ireland should have separate Committees to deal with these disabled soldiers, and that was rejected by the framers of the Bill. Now we have this Committee set up not to deal with the placing of soldiers and sailors upon the land so far as the whole of the United Kingdom and Ireland are concerned, but simply to report what should be done with regard to England and Wales. If you appoint a Committee to consider one aspect of the subject which was not dealt with exhaustively by the Committee which was appointed to inquire into it, why should you appoint a Committee to deal with a question which really affects the whole of the country? It seems to me that you cannot have it both ways. I want to know what is to be the position of Scotland in this matter. If you are going to have an inquiry to see what you can do to put soldiers and sailors on the land, Scotland should certainly come into consideration as well. I discussed this matter on the Bill when it was considered on Report and pointed out that you had not taken a single suggestion contained in the Report of the Committee. The one thing they did suggest was that you should refer it to a Committee. Now you have referred it to a Committee you are only going to consider it in relation to England and Wales. I should be glad to know why Scotland is left out.


I do not think it at all follows because you have a Committee for a certain purpose for England and Wales that it is necessarily advisable to have a similar Committee for Scotland. The procedure in dealing with the land question in England and Wales is entirely different from that which obtains in Scot- land. I saw the notice of the appointment of this Committee and considered whether it was desirable at the present time to set up a Committee for Scotland, and I came to the conclusion that it was not necessarily desirable because there was one for England that there should be one for Scotland. Of course, in the case of England, the question of small holdings is a matter primarily left to the county councils, whereas in Scotland we have a special Act of Parliament dealing with small holdings, and I cannot help thinking, as at present advised, though I am quite open to conviction, that the Board of Agriculture is the proper authority to consider this matter, and that they can consider it with an amount of acquired knowledge and experience after some three years' working which no Committee could possess. My present view is that the matter is better left to the Board of Agriculture than to adopt the procedure of setting up a Special Committee for Scotland.


Perhaps I may be allowed to say that to-morrow we intend to take, in the first place, the Committee stage of the Price of Coal (Limitation) Bill, and then the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill,

Question put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-six minutes before Eleven o'clock.