HC Deb 30 November 1916 vol 88 cc609-12

(1) It shall be lawful for the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries or for the council of any county or county borough to accept any gift by will or otherwise to be applied wholly or mainly for the settlement or employment in agriculture on land in England or Wales of men who have served in any of His Majesty's naval or military forces, and to hold any land or estate or interest in land, the subject of any such gift and to administer the trusts affecting the gift, so, however, that all expenses incurred by the Board or the council in relation to any such trust shall be defrayed out of the trust property or the proceeds or income thereof, or out of money borrowed on the security of the trust property:

Provided that land so given to the Board shall not be deemed to be acquired by the Board under the Small Holdings Colonies Act, 1916, unless the gift is expressly made for the purposes of that Act.

(2) Any conveyance, appointment, de vise, or bequest of land or any estate or interest in land under this Act to the Board or to a council shall not be deemed to be a conveyance, appointment, devise, or bequest to a charitable use within the meaning of the Acts relating to charitable uses.

(3) Sub-section (1) of this Section shall apply to Scotland subject to the following modifications:

For references to the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, land in England and Wales, and county boroughs, references to the Board of Agriculture for Scotland, land in Scotland, and royal parliamentary and police burghs shall be respectively substituted.

(4) Sub-section (1) of this Section shall apply to Ireland subject to the following modifications: —

For references to the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, and to land in England and Wales, references to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, and to land in Ireland shall be respectively substituted.

The following Amendment stood on the Paper in the name of Mr. ANEURIN WILLIAMS: In Sub-section (1) after the word "borough" ["council of any county or county borough"] to insert the words: "or of any municipal borough or urban district council."


Several times since I have been in this House I have interested myself in trying to get extended to municipal boroughs or urban district councils the powers which in the particular Bill, as presented to Parliament, were only given to counties or county boroughs. I succeeded in the War Charities Bill, for instance, in getting the powers as to registration extended to urban district councils. This Bill proposes to empower counties and county boroughs to accept any gift, by will or otherwise, of land for the purposes of the Bill. I certainly did not, in reading the Bill, see why the power to accept such gifts should be confined to counties or county boroughs. I did not see, and I am not sure yet, why a municipal borough should not have the right to accept from one of its citizens a gift of land for the purpose of the settlement of soldiers or sailors coming from that borough. Speaking of the county of Surrey, where I live, I may say there are two municipal boroughs and a large urban district council near me, and I think it is extremely likely that gifts of land might be offered to these bodies which might not be offered to the county council. I have had the advantage of talking this matter over with the Secretary to the Board of Agriculture. He raises the objection that county councils and county boroughs have a regular staff for administering land under the Small Holdings Act, and he does not think it would be wise to encourage people to give land for this purpose to municipal boroughs or to urban district councils, which have not the staff for properly administering it. I am afraid that argument does not wholly convince me, because municipal boroughs and urban district councils, and even parish councils, have the power and duty of administering land under the Allotments Act, although not under the Small Holdings Act. I should, therefore, have thought it would be better to give this power to the municipal boroughs and to the urban district councils. However, as my right hon. Friend tells me he cannot accept this Amendment, I do not wish to move it.


Then the hon. Gentleman should not have made his speech.


Perhaps, then, I had better formally move it; and I do so in order that I may have an explanation from the Secretary to the Board of Agriculture.


We think it is rather important that persons willing to give land, or to leave it in their wills, for this purpose should be certain that the trustees who will be responsible for carrying out their intentions shall be a staff whose duty it is to look after the welfare of the soldiers or tenants who may be occupying the land they give or bequeath. A county council has, of course, the required staff, has an agricultural adviser, a land agent, and so on. If these gifts are administered by bodies of that kind, it will be certain that the tenants will be brought within the regular county organisation for looking after and helping small holders, who will be brought into societies for encouraging co-operation amongst small holders, and into schemes of agricultural instruction for small holders. There will be persons definitely responsible for looking after their welfare. Therefore the Board would like the Bill to stand in its present form, if the Committee so decide. If, however, we heard of any case where the owner wished to make an urban district council or a borough council trustee for carrying out his intentions, I undertake to have that considered and to suggest amending legislation. We do wish, however, in the first instance, to suggest to owners, so far as this Bill will suggest to them, that the authority which really will be best suited to see that their intentions, in perpetuity, are carried out is the authority which has a staff appointed for that purpose.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move, in Subsection (l), after the word "gift" ["trusts affecting the gift"], to insert the words "and for the purposes of those trusts to borrow money on the security of the trust. property."

I move this Amendment for the sake of greater clearness. My Amendment is included in the words that stand in the lines a little further down in the Sub-section, and they make the whole sense clearer by putting them in there.

Amendment agreed to.


I bog to move to leave out Sub-section (2), and to insert instead thereof (2) Any assurance under this Act to a Board or to a council shall not be deemed to be an assurance of charitable use within the meaning of the Mortmain and Charitable Uses Act, 1888. These words are better for our purpose, and clearer than those which I propose to omit.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as. amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported; as amended, considered; read the third time, and passed.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

Whereupon Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Maclean), pursuant to the Order of the House of the 22nd February, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."

Question put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Thirteen minutes; before Mine o'clock till Monday next, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 22nd February last.