§ (4) The compensation payable under this Section shall be a sum representing such loss or expense directly attributable to the quitting of the holding as the tenant may unavoidably incur upon or in connection with the sale or removal of his household goods or his implements of husbandry, fixtures, farm produce or farm stock on or used in connection with the holding, and shall include any expenses reasonably incurred by him in the preparation of his claim for compensation (not being costs of an arbitration to determine the amount of the compensation), and also a sum equal to one year's rent of the holding, or, where the notice to quit is given without good and sufficient cause and for reasons inconsistent with good estate management, such sum, not being less than one year's rent nor more than four years' rent or the holding, as the arbitrator may think proper.
§ (5) Compensation shall not be payable under this Section—
- (a) in respect of the sale of any goods, implements, fixtures, produce or stock unless the tenant has before the sale given the landlord a reasonable opportunity of making a valuation thereof; or
- (b) unless the tenant has before the termination of the tenancy given notice in writing to the landlord of his intention to make a claim for compensation under this Section;
- (c) where the tenant with whom the contract of tenancy was made has died within three months before the date of the notice to quit; or
- (d) if in a case in which the tenant under Section twenty-three of the Act of 1908 accepts a notice to quit part of his holding as a notice to quit the entire holding, the part of the holding affected by the notice given by the landlord, together with any other part of the holding affected by any previous notice given under that Section by the landlord to the tenant, is less than one-fourth part of the original holding, or the holding as proposed to be diminished is reasonably capable of being cultivated as a separate holding except compensation in respect of the part of the holding to which the notice to quit related; or
- (e) where the holding was let to the tenant by a corporation carrying on
2272 a railway, dock, canal, water, or other undertaking, and possession of the holding is required by the corporation for the purpose for which it was acquired by the corporation; or
- (f) in the case of a permanent grass park which the landlord has been in the habit of letting annually for seasonal grazing, and which has since the fourth day of August, nineteen hundred and fourteen been let to a tenant for a definite and limited period for cultivation as arable land, on the condition that the tenant shall along with the last or waygoing crop sow permanent grass seeds supplied by the landlord, unless the Minister is of opinion that in the national interest the ground should continue to be cultivated as arable land.
§ (6) In any case where a tenant holds two or more holdings, whether from the same landlord or different landlords, and receives notice to quit one or more but not all of the holdings, the compensation for disturbance in respect of the holding or holdings shall be reduced by such amount as is shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator to represent the reduction (if any) of the loss attributable to the notice to quit by reason of the continuance in possession by the tenant of the other holding or holdings.
§ (7) The landlord shall, on the written application of the tenant of a holding to whom he has given a notice to quit which does not state the reasons for which it is given, furnish to the tenant within twenty-eight days after the receipt of the application a state-men in writing of the reasons for the giving of the notice, and if he fails so to do the notice shall be deemed to have been given without good and sufficient cause and for reasons inconsistent with good estate management.
§ (8) If any question arises as to whether compensation is payable under this Section or as to the amount payable by way of compensation under this Section the question shall, in default of agreement, be determined by arbitration under the Act of 1908.
§ (9) Compensation payable under this Section shall be in addition to any compensation to which the tenant may be entitled in respect of improvements, and shall be payable notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary.
§ Amendment proposed [18th November]: In Sub-section (4) to leave out the word "four" ["four years' rent"] and insert instead thereof the word "two."—[Mr. Pretyman.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'four' stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. GARDINER
I was under the impression that on this particular question those hon. Members on this side of the House, as well as those on the opposite side, were in agreement. Again and again I have heard the statement made by those 2273 who are interested in agriculture that a landlord who evicted a tenant capriciously should be punished in a very material manner, and I must confess my surprise to find this Amendment on the Paper. On whatever point we may differ I am sure we should agree that a landlord who has turned out a tenant without any good or sufficient reason, and does it capriciously, should pay the penalty provided for under the Bill. Of course, it is a maximum and not a minimum penalty. There may be cases where an arbitrator, for some reason or other, might find it almost impossible to make public the circumstances, and which might be difficult to prove, and yet the landlord might want to get rid of the tenant. In such a case the arbitrator would certainly not give the full year's penalty. Why the hon. and gallant Gentleman who seconded this Amendment should desire that money should be supplied to men of this class I do not know. The class of landlord that the Bill is intended to reach is the undesirable landlord, and I am quite sure that landlords in the country have no desire that such a man should be protected. Therefore I join in opposing the Amendment.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I do not desire to press this Amendment if the general feeling be that it is only going to hit undesirable landlords.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not know whether my right hon. Friend intends withdrawing this Amendment but before he does I should like to say a few words upon it. It has been stated that no one desires to assist an undesirable landlord, but that is a platitude which on the face of it may appeal to people who have not really gone into what is really at the bottom of this question. Whether a man is a desirable or an undesirable landlord seems to me to have nothing to do with the matter. What is the real situation? Supposing a certain man takes a farm just the same as he might hire a horse or take a house. He takes it for a year, and he takes it of his own free will, and there is nothing to compel him to take it.
§ In the majority of cases—
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted; and 40 Members being found present—
§ Sir F. BANBURY
What are the real facts of this case? A man takes a farm on a yearly agreement of his own free 2274 will. Practically every landlord would be only too glad to let upon a 7, 14, or 21 years' lease, but tenants, as a rule, do not take farms upon a long lease and insist upon a yearly agreement. The average tenant farmer is by no manner of means a stupid man of business. I do not know anyone better able to look after his own interests. He took the farm of his own free will on the understanding that he could give it up if times were bad, and of course the landlord could give him notice if for any reason, good or bad, he desired to resume possession. Hon. Members seem to forget that the land belongs to the landlord, and not to anybody else. It is proposed that while the option to give up the farm at the end of the agreement, of course on a year's notice, which is the general custom, is left to the tenant if it suits him or if the times become bad and he finds it difficult to earn a livelihood—
I think I have heard this recitation twice on other Amendments. Let us come to the strict point whether it is to be two years or four. That is the only point before us.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Yes, there has been considerable discussion on various points, but, with due deference, I do not think I made these remarks yesterday. I wanted to make them because of the arguments of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Pretyman) who wishes to withdraw the Amendment and of the hon. Member who has just left the House (Mr. Gardiner), that in the case of bad landlords four years ought to apply. I was going to say that was a bad argument, and that, while you were preserving to the tenant the arrangement into which he had entered voluntarily, you were taking away the same right from the landlord and endeavouring to deprive him of his property. Having taken away from the landlord the right to recover his property without paying certain compensation, you say that if he desires to recover it he must pay four years' rent in addition to the compensation to be paid under the Agricultural Holdings Act. My right hon. Friend the Solicitor-General (Sir Ernest Pollock) says "No" when I say "four years' rent." Of course the Bill says "compensation up to four years' rent."
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of AGRICULTURE (Sir Arthur Boscawen)
There is a minimum in the Bill.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Yes, but the tenant farmer, if requested to leave, will try and get as much as he possibly can and will at once claim the maximum amount that can be given. There seems to be a prejudice against anybody who wants to maintain the sanctity of contracts, providing the breaking of contracts will result in an advantage to the many and in a pecuniary loss to the few, and, as the many have votes and the few have not, right and justice are to be sacrificed in order to obtain those votes. I think that two years' rent is far too much, and the idea that the maximum should be four years' rent is simply absurd. It will tend to render the ownership of land absolutely impossible. It is not as if land had been owned in order to get the last farthing out of it. If you are going to impose penalties of this sort, it will mean that no capital will be put in the land, and, where there is capital, it will be employed by large farmers, in many cases owners of land, and the ordinary tenant farmer will cease to exist. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford is a supporter of justice and the rights of property and the maintenance of contracts, irrespective whether it be farmers, landlords, or anybody else, but to put in a penalty of four years' rent because a man carries out an agreement into which he has entered voluntarily with somebody else is to my mind an impossible suggestion.
§ Mr. E. GARDNER
I should like to say two or three words why I think this four years' penalty is very unjust. Of course, it is a platitude to say that we all condemn the capricious giver of notices to quit, but how many are there throughout the Kingdom? Does any hon. or right hon. Gentleman know of any, and, if so, how many? The other day we discussed the clause with regard to the mismanagement of estates, and the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill said that he only knew two cases to which that section or sub-section would apply. I 2276 wonder how many cases he knows to which this sub-section applies. It is a penal provision. It is only compensation in part. We have already passed a clause giving the tenant compensation. Whether he has to quit because notice is given to him in accordance with the rules of good husbandry or for any other reason, the same damage is done to him. He loses the expenses of moving to another farm. It was, however, considered that one year's rent and his expenses were sufficient. I venture to suggest that all beyond that is a penalty on the landlord for giving this notice. It is not fair to call it compensation to the tenant. I do not know whether the House has considered what this provision means in connection with two or three other Clauses of the Bill. Take, for instance, Sub-section (2) of this Clause, which says that where after the commencement of the Act the landlord of a holding refuses to go to arbitration on the question of rent he is considered then to give notice capriciously. It is all very well to say there is a minimum and a maximum, but the point remains that the landowner runs the risk of incurring the maximum penalties if within a reasonable time he fails to go to arbitration. He is then to be considered to have given notice arbitrarily, and he thereby runs a risk of paying four years' rent and other expenses. Suppose a landlord has agreed with a tenant within a recent period as to the rent of a holding and at the same time there are other men perfectly willing to take that farm at that rent. Supposing, rather than lower that rent or run the risk of going before an arbitrator, he would prefer to farm the land himself. Is it fair he should run the risk without any penalty? Take Subsection (3), which provides that the tenant, after taking a farm under the circumstances I have described, two years later calls on the landlord to have a revision of the rent. Is it fair, the landlord and tenant having agreed within this short time to a certain rent, that the tenant should have a right to claim to have it revised?
We have for two or three days been reviewing the whole of this Clause. We must really get to actual details. The only question here is between two years and four years, and I cannot permit any speaker to go back and review the whole Clause.
§ Mr. GARDNER
With all respect, I do not think I am doing that. However, I will deal now with Sub-section (7), which provides that the landlord is to state his reasons for giving the notice to quit. Everybody knows there may be many reasons, and good ones too, for giving notice—reasons which cannot be published. The result is the landlord does not give his reasons. If he gives notice to quit he comes under this Penalty Clause and runs the risk of having to pay four years' rent. This really amounts to giving fixity of tenure. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill tells us that the Government are opposed to fixity of tenure and of course I accept his statement. He may flatter himself that there is no fixity of tenure in this Bill, but I say that this Sub-section added to the penalty of four years, is quite equal to fixity of tenure. I suggest that four years is not necessary. It is unjust. The tenant is to get his compensation for leaving and removing which amounts to an extra two or three years' rent, and I say that that is a penalty that ought not to be placed on the great body of land owners in this country simply because one, two or three of their number happen to be stupid men who have no consideration for their tenants. I think the tenant farmers themselves are very wrong in pressing this Amendment. It is bound to drive all those who dread its effect to do the best they can to do without tenants at all and to either sell their land or to farm it themselves. I have heard no good argument for this four years. It is said it has been arrived at in an agreement between the right hon. Gentleman and the National Farmers' Union, and I have heard it supported on that ground. But hon. Members of this House do not profess for a moment that they represent any one but themselves and they bind nobody but themselves. I decline to believe that the leaders of the farmers' union have any right to bind their members. I do not believe that the National Union of Farmers represents anything like the bulk of the farmers in this country, and I will go further and say that I do not believe the leaders of that union—the extreme men among them—represent a majority of the membership. If there had been no such agreement as has been suggested, and if this had been dealt with strictly on its merits, I believe it would have been realised that it is a most unjust and 2278 unnecessary penalty to put on the landlord. It would do the tenants harm in the long run and it puts on an overwhelming number of owners in this country a serious burden which may make them seek to farm more and more of their land themselves. I am sorry the Amendment has been withdrawn because if the Sub-section had not been weighted by the agreement which has been so frequently referred to I believe it would not have been inserted in the Bill.
I am glad my right hon. Friend, the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Pretyman), has offered to withdraw the Amendment. Personally however I agree considerably with the remarks of the last speaker which, I take it, were really directed against the Clause as a whole. I think most of us feel that, if we are going to get any good at all from this Bill, we must encourage the tenant, although I think that the fining of the landlord is very unpopular. I am bound to admit that most of the people whom I know dislike this principle of giving security by fining the landlord, and for that reason are largely opposed to this Clause. If this Clause is to become law, and if any security is to be achieved by it, I think we must put in some maximum penalty I think that such penalties are not to the advantage of the tenant farmers, many of whom are opposed to this principle, but I think that if it is to be carried into force at all a maximum must be fixed.
§ Mr. TOWNLEY
I intervene because my name happens to be down in connection with this Amendment, and because the hon. Member for West Perth (Mr. Gardiner) alluded to the fact that he had heard so many of us constantly say that we did not in any way wish to prevent bad landlords from being penalised. I certainly do not wish to defend the wicked whims of the wilful landlord, but I think that this penalty of four years' rent is excessive in certain cases. I know that the four years' rent is the maximum, and I have no doubt that that is what the right hon. Gentleman will say in answer to me; but to my mind the great difference between arable and pasture land has to be considered. In the case of arable land, a large proportion is rented at something like £1 an acre, and a man has a vast amount of capital 2279 in the soil. The penalty of four years' rent which the arbitrator might allow would not in that case be excessive, and probably would not be remunerative to the occupier. Pasture land, on the other hand, may be worth £5 or £6 an acre, and the possible penalty of four years' rent, that is to say, £20 or £24 an acre, is unnecessarily large. I have no doubt that the arbitrator will see that the tenant does not get that amount of compensation, as there is a great deal which he can move off the ground almost at once; but I put my name down to this Amendment in order to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to that difference, and to ask him whether he cannot make the penalty of four years' rent apply only to arable land, while the two years' rent might be the maximum for mature land.
§ Mr. JAMESON
A point which strikes me very much, as an advocate, is the possible effect on an arbitrator's mind of such a high maximum as four years. The argument on the other side is, of course, that the arbitrator will just adjust matters, and
§ that four years' rent, if it is out of the question, will not be given, but only one year, or half a year, or two years. It is rather difficult, however, to get that into an arbitrator's mind. When he has his mind directed to four years by the words of the Statute, he is apt to argue that, since the Statute ties him down to a maximum of four years, the Legislature must have thought that something in the neighbourhood of four years was an appropriate compensation to allow. I think that that will be the sort of inclination of arbitrators' minds all over the country, and will grow up into a sort of tendency among the whole class of arbitrators, for one knows that they all work on more or less the same lines. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill if he cannot see some way of eradicating that fault from it. Personally, I should be much more content to see no maximum at all than to see such a high maximum as four years' rent expressed.
§ Question put, "That the word 'four' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 106; Noes, 5.2279
|Division No. 365.]||AYES.||[12.40 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Gregory, Holman||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Greig, Colonel James William||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Grundy, T. W.||Myers, Thomas|
|Atkey, A. R.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Neal, Arthur|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Hallas, Eldred||Parker, James|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hartshorn, Vernon||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hayday, Arthur||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Hinds, John||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Hirst, G. H.||Robertson, John|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm.,W.)||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)|
|Clay, Lieut-Colonel H. H. Spender||Hopkins, John W. W.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Howard, Major S. G.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Johnstone, Joseph||Sexton, James|
|Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Edge, Captain William||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Kenyon, Barnet||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Starkey, Captain John R.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Wignall, James|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Foreman, Henry||Lynn, R. J.||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Forestler-Walker, L.||M'Curdy, Rt. Hon. C. A.||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Wise, Frederick|
|Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Gardiner, James||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Matthews, David|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Morrison, Hugh|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)||Sir F. Banbury and Mr. E. Gardner.|
|Jameson. J. Gordon|
Lieut.-Colonel Sir J. HOPE
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (4), to insert the wordsProvided that the sum equal to one year's rent of the holding, or the sum being not less than one year's rent nor more than four years' rent of the holding shall not be payable in the case of a permanent grass park held for the purpose of a business or calling not primarily agricultural or pastoral, including that of butcher, cattle dealer, and the like.These words are taken from the Small Landholders' Act (Scotland), 1911, where it is laid down that the holders of this class of subject should not be registered as existing small holders or landholders or yearly tenants, so there is a precedent for this class of holding not being considered as an ordinary agricultural holding. In fact, it really is accommodation land. I am not suggesting that all compensation should be excluded. I propose retaining all the compensation in the remainder of Sub-section (4), only excluding that to this class of subject of one year's rent in case of ordinary eviction and four years' in case of capricious, in fact, retaining the law as it is at present practically with regard to this class of subject. I would point out also that with regard to future lets of this class of subject, as the Bill stands it will be quite easy to evade it by only letting the subject for less than a year. As the Bill stands, you are giving a special bonus to a certain class who happen to be in possession from year to year and who have continued in occupation from year to year because it happens to suit them, and they will get this special advantage—that in the future it will be quite easy to let such accommodation land to butchers and graziers for ten months or less, and so avoid the whole of this compensation. If this Amendment is not accepted, I cannot see how it would not be possible to exact this four years' rent compensation for capricious eviction in the case of a golf course. Suppose a golf course is let and they grow their potatoes on part of the land. It is not primarily agricultural, but if the Amendment is not accepted it might be taken for an agricultural holding, and a rich Company could, if the landlord wanted to resume any part of it, obtain four years' rent for capricious eviction, even though it had only been let to the Company on a lease. It seems to me unless the Amendment is accepted we are introducing quite a new 2282 class of holding under cover of the Bill and one to which there is no demand that the Bill should apply. It is accommodation land and land used by butchers and cattle-dealers, and in many cases probably it may be a question of only an odd field or two which has been let for some time to a butcher. In some cases, I admit, the land is let for less than a year to a butcher or a grazier and in some cases, where the landowner has been inclined to accommodate his neighbour and perhaps never thought of this Bill being introduced, the butcher goes on continuously taking it for a good number of years, and he will be the man who is caught. The future owner will not be caught and the future occupier under the Act will not benefit. It is only the present occupier, and as the Bill stands it is neither logical nor fair unless the Amendment is accepted. The Parliamentary Secretary accepted another Amendment in Committee, dealing with land which has been temporarily ploughed up during the war, but this Amendment got mixed up with others in Committee and was never properly discussed, though it is a far more important and far-reaching Amendment than the one the right hon. Gentleman accepted on similar lines.
§ Colonel Sir A. SPROT
I beg to second the Amendment. I have in mind a very large number of cases of this sort. There are in various places grass parks which are let to butchers, graziers, and so forth. These are very often in the neighbourhood of towns, or in other cases they are on high ground some five hundred or six hundred feet above the sea, where the soil is poor. There are, as a rule, no buildings on the fields and there may be a caretaker's cottage or a shepherd's cottage or something of that sort and I think it is to the advantage of the public that these fields should be used in this way and it would be unfair and unjust altogether if the penalties which are mentioned in this Bill should apply to these holdings.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I regret that I cannot for several reasons accept this Amendment. First of all, it sets up a third scale of compensation. We have two scales already, one for capricious eviction and one for non-capricious notice to quit. In the case of capricious eviction it comprises expenses of removal 2283 and up to four years' rent. In the case of the non-capricious notice to quit it comprises expenses of removal and one year's rent. Now, in this case of a permanent grass farm let to a cattle-dealer or butcher or grazier a third scale is proposed which is only to be cost of removal. It would be very inconvenient to have no less than three different scales of compensation.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
We wish to make this Act as clear as we can, and the more complications you introduce the less easy will it be to construe it.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
We have broad distinctions now; compensation for what is called capricious eviction and compensation for what is called non-capricious eviction, and I do not see that we should be called upon to introduce a third scale. That is not all. Let me take the point put by the mover of the Amendment. This is what he calls a permanent grass farm, which term he uses in respect of Scotland. In England we should call it a permanent pasture, which is practically the same thing. It is very common that the grazing is let to a butcher or a cattle dealer from year to year. The farm is not let as a separate distinct tenancy, but simply the grazing, and if that is so the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1908, does not apply.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
That is not so in practice. The reason the butcher takes the field is not for the grass the stock get out of it, but in order that he may have a run for his animals. He takes it from year to year for that purpose.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
There are butchers in Scotland who take these farms, as possibly they do in England, not for the purpose of having a run, but for the purpose of rearing cattle. There are many Scotch butchers in the habit of rearing cattle.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I listened to what my right hon. Friend (Mr. Pretyman) said, but I personally know of a great many cases where there is no definite agricultural tenancy at all, but where the grazing is merely taken from year 2284 to year, and where, therefore, the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1908, as amended by this Act would not apply.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
Because the Agricultural Holdings Act is confined to agricultural tenancies, and if the grazing is merely let for a short period from year to year that is not an agricultural tenancy. The Act of 1908 as amended by this Act would not apply, and the compensation would not be payable. Supposing, however, that there is a definite agricultural holding and supposing the Act does apply. Supposing you have a regular yearly tenancy, why should the butcher or the cattle dealer or the grazier not be considered? My hon. Friend (Sir A. Sprot) particularly mentioned the grazier. Is not the work of the grazier a form of agriculture? Is it not a form of farming? Why should he be deprived of compensation? It seems to me that his less might be greater almost than anybody else's. He might lose a very valuable connection. He might lose goodwill in a particular neighbourhood, and he might be unable to carry on his other business, because you take away the particular fields that he has been holding from year to year as part of his business. Under these circumstances, seeing that compensation for disturbance is to be given to make up the other undefined losses that the tenant may suffer by reason of having to go, it would be most unjust to deprive the butcher or the cattle dealer or the grazier of the benefits of this Bill. If a man merely likes to take the grazing for a certain period every year, he would not get compensation, but if he is a regular tenant and has a holding like any other tenant on yearly tenancy, then he is entitled to compensation.
§ 1.0 P.M.
§ Major W. MURRAY
The case is this, that where an owner lets to a butcher or a grazier fields in the neighbourhood of a village for a year, unless he gives notice to quit then the tenant continues in occupation of those, fields from year to year by tacit relocation. The owner will be liable for one or four years' rent for capricious eviction if he does give notice and tries to put his tenant out. I do not think that anyone hitherto has 2285 ever let fields in the neighbourhood of villages on that understanding. It would be quite easy to get out of it next year, but this year there is likely to be a considerable penalty of from one to four years' rent placed upon any owner who may up to the present have let a field to a butcher or a grazier for a year.
§ Major M. WOOD
The object of this Amendment is to prevent compensation being given to a person who is a tenant of land under such circumstances that in no case would he be putting any capital into the land. The object of the Clause is to benefit a tenant who is likely to sink capital in a piece of land, so that if he is turned out he will get the benefit of that capital. In many cases butchers and others who have these grass parks would do nothing to the ground. If that is so, I see no reason why they should have compensation, seeing that the object of the compensation is to repay to the tenant capital which he has sunk in the land. There is a somewhat similar case. Take the case of the grazier who has a golf course or any piece of land which is let every year, or which may perhaps be put up for auction by the agent or the golf club. Is that an agricultural holding?
§ Major M. WOOD
It might be construed as such, but if it is not, then I am satisfied. I know of cases where land has been in the hands of tenants for several years and they have had it year after year automatically. They are tenants on exactly the same terms as a butcher would be the tenant of a piece of land which he occupies so that he can but his cattle there for a few days while they are waiting to go to market or for any other purpose.
§ Captain FITZROY
It seems to me that the Parliamentary Secretary really does not understand this question. There is no doubt that the particular kind of land that we are, dealing with is not or the tenants are not entitled to the same compensation as are tenants of agricultural holdings. It is an entirely different sort of land. It is land known as accommodation land. This Bill is for the production of food, and under no interpretation whatever could the paying of compensation in this 2286 case have any effect whatever on the production of food in this country. It may be that a tenant of this kind of accommodation land, if given notice to quit, would, in comparison with other tenants of holdings, suffer hardship if he did not get compensation. But the particular class of land which is being dealt with in this Amendment is a totally different question, I agree with the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down. If the Parliamentary Secretary had realised that this land was in a totally different category and he was prepared to consider it, and to see if he could not give it a different consideration, all would have been well. That would have been the proper way to deal with it. But simply to claim that, because there is great difficulty in setting up another category of tenant, therefore this kind of legislation should be passed, seems to me not the way to deal with this question. Cannot he even now say that he will give consideration in another place to accommodation land held in a totally different manner from an ordinary holding rented from year to year by a tenant farmer?
Lieut.-Colonel SPENDER CLAY
I understand from the right hon. Gentleman that, if the accommodation land is let on a yearly tenancy, the farmer is entitled to compensation, but I would like to give an instance which seems to me to show that a butcher should not be paid compensation. As I was coming down to the House to-day, I noticed a number of sheep in Hyde Park, used by butchers in different parts of London. I think if the First Commissioner of Works, who, I suppose, represents the landlord in this case, chose to let out the grazing parks of London on a yearly tenancy, a butcher would be entitled to four years' compensation for capricious eviction. It cannot follow from that that he has been improving land to any extent in Hyde Park. I certainly think that a case has been made out for treating this sort of accommodation land on quite different terms from other land which is improved. I cannot, therefore, help thinking there is considerable substance in this Amendment, and I shall certainly support it if it goes to a Division.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I believe this matter comes under what is known in the Scottish phrase as "tacit relocation," but I think 2287 there is danger of some confusion arising if I deal with the Scottish system. I think confusion has arisen in some of the speakers' minds. If there is a tenancy, then the Acts would apply; but if there is no tenancy, then the Act of 1908 and this Bill, if it becomes an Act, would not apply. In the case where a butcher is allowed to make use of a field for the purpose of turning in his sheep for a short time, under what we know in England as the practice of agistment, there is not a tenancy, and the provision does not apply. But in Scotland there is some difference about it, and if there is some real tenancy implied, tacitly or otherwise, in the occupation by a butcher for the purpose referred to, and if it can be shown that it would become a holding within the meaning of the Acts, then my right hon. Friend would be quite ready to consider that question, and to deal with it in an appropriate place in the Bill, or, if there is not an opportunity in the further Clauses of the Bill, then in another place. He is quite ready, therefore, to give consideration to any case that has really been made out as suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend who spoke last. But it is quite impossible to accept this Amendment, and I think the real ground is as stated by my right Friend, and I think that in the case represented to the House there is not a demise or a tenancy, and the Acts therefore do not apply.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I much appreciate what the learned Solicitor-General has said, and it does go a little further to meet us than the Parliamentary Secretary went, but I do not think it goes quite far enough. I hope my hon. Friend will go to a Division, unless we can get a distinct undertaking that the whole question will be considered in all its bearings from the point of view that ordinary accommodation land used for business, irrespective of being let for the mere chance of grazing or from year to year, ought not to be brought within this compensation. I think the Parliamentary Secretary hardly realises how far the argument he used carries us. The argument he used was that because, incidental to the requirements of food production, on which this Bill is founded, an ordinary tenant farmer is to receive compensation, therefore everybody else connected with the agricultural industry can set up a claim because 2288 his business would be injured if he did not get similar compensation. If that principle is to be adopted in this House, you are adopting a most serious new departure and creating a really impossible position, which would upset the whole business interests of the country.
We have been discussing this question far too much from the point of view of whether it injures or does not injure a particular individual. There can be no defence of this Bill, or of compensation at all, on the principle between man and man. Where there is defence for it, it is to get a bigger food production, and it must be strictly limited to that, unless the House is to get on a slippery slope, the ultimate ending of which no man can foresee. This shows the difficulties brought about by this particular form of legislation. We are prepared to face those difficulties, but we do desire to minimise them as much as we can. You have a large amount of this land, and particularly land which is likely to be required shortly for development of various kinds near towns. It is quite a chance whether land of this kind happens to be let under a demise or an agistment. If the land is what we call in Lincoln "agistment," it happens to be land for grazing. There may be two fields adjoining under exactly similar circumstances. One happens to be let under an agistment agreement, and the other from year to year. The circumstances are exactly the same, and in both cases it is accommodation land, and the effect of this will be to prevent this kind of letting. In all those cases, there is going to be something given to the present tenant. The present tenant will get something to which he has no right and which he never expected, at the expense of someone else who may be grievously injured. Nobody will let under these conditions in future. It is unreasonable unless it is necessary. If it is necessary in the national interest, people must be prepared to make sacrifices. But it is not necessary. Take the case of the owner of what may be a very important part of his small income. When he wishes to resume possession of a piece of land which he intends to use for building or development purposes, which a tenant has taken knowing it is to be so used and knowing he is to have it only for a 2289 year or two until it is developed, the poor landlord has to make him a present of a year's rent when the tenancy expires. What justification is there for it? I can see none. All I ask is, that the Parliamentary Secretary shall give an undertaking to consider the whole question from this point of view before the Bill reaches another place. If he gives us anything short of that undertaking, I hope the Amendment will be carried to a Division.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will not be driven further by the appeals of hon. Members who are very much interested in this particular question. I think the right hon. Gentleman has already given a sufficient undertaking to the mover of this Amendment. As a matter of fact I was a little bit disappointed with the Solicitor-General when he made a concession. There has been a lot of talk indulged in by supporters of the Amendment. They say again and again that this is a food production Bill. The parties affected by this Amendment are engaged in producing food. I know case after case of men who are in the habit of taking grass land for rearing catle and not using the land as runs for—
§ Captain FITZROY
That is not the kind of holding to which we are referring. We are not referring to holdings used for rearing cattle. What we have in mind is accommodation land where, say, a cab proprietor can put up his horse.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
The holdings I am speaking of are included in the Amendment. It is not such a small matter as the hon. and gallant Member would have the House believe. The mover of the Amendment gave the show away when he said that this was an important and far-reaching matter. It is an important matter, because, there is a lot of land in Scotland of the character included in the Amendment. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary and the Solicitor-General will be very careful, and if they are to give consideration to this question I hope they will discuss it not only with the landlord interest in the House but with other interests.
§ Mr. TOWNLEY
A point to which I would draw attention is the regrettable absence of the Minister of Health, because 2290 this applies to small accommodation land all round the villages and it is exactly the kind of land that would be taken for houses. Someone has to pay compensation, and it appears to me you are going to add one to four years' rent to the cost of the building of houses.
Sir J. HOPE
I protest that this cannot be cleared up one way or the other. Our trouble largely arises on the differences of the law in Scotland and in England. We have not the benefit of the presence of the Secretary for Scotland or the Lord Advocate or the Solicitor-General for Scotland. I want to know where we stand. Exactly the same procedure was followed when this Amendment was raised in Committee. It was stated then by the Parliamentary Secretary that he would do what he could on Report. We asked the Solicitor-General for a clear definition of the law, and he said, "I suggest that we come to a decision and if these points arise they will be dealt with with greater wisdom and knowledge upon Report." Now we are told that the greater wisdom and knowledge have to be taken to another place, and we have no one here to go into the Scottish side of the question. There is a very serious difference in the holding in Scotland. The Parliamentary Secretary made a great point of the fact that in England these subjects were let year by year, and therefore the compensation would not apply. If he is right in that it should not apply to similar subjects in Scotland. Unless I get an assurance from the Lord Advocate to the contrary, I believe that compensation will have to be paid on similar subjects in Scotland. The position is that in Scotland subjects are let by the year, and then they continue on tacit relocation. Unless we get some satisfactory statement from the Parliamentary Secretary or the Secretary for Scotland I shall certainly press this to a Division as a protest against the way Scotland is treated under this Bill.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I do not think we can get the thing put right if any alteration is made at this point or in this place, and for this reason: We do not get much forwarder if we look at the exact purpose for which the land is used. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adamson) urged that the Amendment included the cattle dealer, and said quite truly that many cattle dealers were also cattle breeders and 2291 rearers. There is the question of the distinction between the compensation which a man gets if he has notice to quit a field in which he has put his cattle for the period between the time when he bought them and the next market day when he sold them, and for the field which he was using actually for rearing stock. One is used purely for the purpose of cattle dealing—that is accommodation land, just as a butcher uses a field—and the other is used for definitely agricultural purposes. I do not think you can make any differentiation on those lines. The place for defining it, if further definition is necessary, is later in the Bill and in the Schedule, when some alteration is made in the definition of "holding." I think hon. Members ought to be satisfied if they get an assurance that the Secretary for Scotland or someone definitely representing the Scottish Office shall be here when the question can come up as to any alteration that is necessary in the definition. Because I let an agricultural holding to a butcher I do not see any reason why he should not get the compensation granted under the Bill if I disturb him capriciously.
§ Mr. WILSON-FOX
I should like to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give the very small concession which is asked for. We do not want to be driven into the Lobby to vote against the Government. We are supporters of the Government, and all we are asking is that the Parliamentary Secretary should undertake to give the really new point which has arisen this afternoon full consideration, and to see if they can deal with it in another place. That is not a great deal to ask, and if that is given we will be fully satisfied and will not go into the Lobby against the Government.
§ Mr. JAMESON
I do not think there is any doubt that leases from year to year fall under the category of agricultural holdings. There is a special provision in the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1908 which says that in the case of leases from year to year six months' notice shall be given before the termination of the lease, and obviously therefore you need a written notice.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
An appeal has been made to me. I want to make the position perfectly clear so far as I am 2292 concerned. First of all we cannot accept this Amendment. Secondly, we cannot depart from the principle if it is an agricultural holding at all in that case compensation must be paid. But I will draw the attention of my Noble Friend the Minister of Agriculture to this, and I have no doubt the matter will be considered in another place. But I want to make it quite clear that we cannot as a Government depart from the principle and draw a distinction between one agricultural holding and another.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (4), to insert the wordsProvided that in any case where the arbitrator determines that the notice to quit was given without good and sufficient cause, and for reasons inconsistent with good estate management, and awards additional compensation on account of the notice having been so given, and the landlord thereupon makes to the tenant an offer in writing to withdraw the notice to quit and the tenant in the opinion of the arbitrator unreasonably refuses or fails to accept the offer the compensation so originally awarded as aforesaid shall be reduced by such sum as the arbitrator may think proper.I do not know if the point of this Amendment is already met, but if not I think the proposal is one which should be inserted, as it would afford an opportunity to withdraw a notice, and if the tenant unreasonably refused to accept the offer then the arbitrator would have power to reduce the sum awarded.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I do not think this case is covered. The Amendment is one which could not be accepted, because after the holding of the arbitration, and subsequent to the quitting of the holding and to the loss and expense having been incurred, then in respect of all these matters the proposal is that an opportunity should be given to the landlord to withdraw the notice with consequential results. The tenant would have incurred the expense, and the arbitration is to find out what expense is incurred. It is really impossible to put the tenant in a position as if those things had never happened.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
The dividing line between what is consistent and inconsistent with good estate management is exceedingly narrow. The owner may have resumed possession of the land for some good purpose, but the arbitrator may 2293 think it was unreasonable to disturb the tenant. When the owner finds out his error the Amendment provides that he should have the opportunity of putting it right, and that he should not be condemned in the extreme penalty which this Bill imposes. Different arbitrators may take different views as to what is or is not consistent with good estate management. If the Amendment is not passed the effect will be to place well-disposed persons in a very dangerous and unfair position, and will cause them to be mulcted in very heavy damages when they acted in what they conceived to be the best interests.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I am very anxious we should not be arguing on false grounds on this kind of proposal. It is most unfortunate that we on this side should be arguing these cases as though from the point of view that we were trying to prevent the landlord from paying compensation, and hon. Gentlemen on the other side were trying to get as much compensation as possible. That is not the object, and I am glad an hon. Member opposite agrees. Our object is at the least expense to the industry to give greater security and to get higher food production. Is our object to get the biggest compensation you can or to keep the tenant on the farm? Our object is to let a man stay on his farm as long as possible. This Amendment enables him to stay on his farm if he likes, and if that object can be attained there would be some advantage both to the landlord and the tenant in arriving at it. I cannot believe that the right hon. Gentleman is going to refuse this Amendment, because if he does it puts the Bill in a wholly wrong light. It will go forth that the object of the Bill is to get as much compensation from a man as possible and give it to another, and this will not secure the avowed object of the Bill, which is to increase the production of food by giving greater security of tenure.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I think my right hon. Friend has given me a lecture which I am afraid I do not deserve, because his argument is based on rather imperfect premises. Let me remind the House of the position. At an earlier stage of this Clause my right hon. Friend put in words which follow Sub-section (1) of this Bill and probably, my right hon. Friend 2294 has not got the terms of that Amendment. The words are:Provided that compensation shall not be payable under this section in any case where the landlord has made to the tenant an offer in writing to withdraw the notice to quit, and the tenant has unreasonably refused or failed to accept the offer.We have already put into the Bill a locus pœnitentiœ for the landlord to withdraw his notice.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
Yes. Although the landlord may have given the notice to quit, the landlord either on further advice may be inclined to withdraw the notice, and if so he would come within the proviso. The tenant might say, "It is true that you gave me notice and now you withdraw it, but I am going to hold you to it." If a tenant did that he might not get compensation. The landlord can reverse the mistake he made in the first instance, and I think that is right and proper, and safeguards the position of the landlord. Look what this Amendment does. It comes at a point where we have been discussing under Subsection (4) the compensation payable in respect of quitting. That is to say it is based upon this, that the notice has been complied with, costs and expenses having been incurred and the arbitration is to decide how much is to be paid to the tenant in respect of what has happened by the removal of his household goods, fixtures, farm produce and farm stock used in connection with the holding. That is what he has suffered and that is what the arbitration is to be.
When that arbitration has come to a conclusion, and the arbitrator has decided the amount to be paid in respect of the fact, then my hon. and gallant Friend suggests that there should be a separate opportunity for the landlord to try and upset the facts after the award has been made, and that there should be a further offer to withdraw the notice to quit, and in consequence of that the arbitrator should then be asked to modify his award to meet the new circumstances. Really it is impossible to suggest that after the arbitrator has decided upon the facts, and after the tenant has agreed you ought as a right to give to the landlord an opportunity of saying "as you were." You cannot say "as you were" at a 2295 time when it is impossible to restore persons to the status quo. As we have already put into the Bill the proviso which I have read, I hope my right hon. Friend will see the position is that the landlord can withdraw from the position he originally took up, but he is not entitled to reverse the position upon the facts when they have taken place.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
How shall we know that the notice is consistent with good estate management? Why could not that point have been put before the arbitrator in the first instance? If you had the point of law decided then the owner would know how to act.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I do not think that it is a point of law. It is a question of fact, and any landlord would be much better advised if he would seek the advice of some person like my hon. Friend, who would give him excellent advice, and would probably be able to tell him whether he was likely to put himself in peril or not.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I was under the impression that the reason for which he gives notice is for reasons connected with good estate management. The arbitrator may say it is a capricious eviction. The owner might be under the impression that he was not giving notice for capricious reasons, and the arbitrator might decide that it is. My right hon. Friend says, "Why do you not get advice from some good person who will tell you whether the notice to quit is given for reasons consistent with good estate management or for capricious reasons." My hon. and gallant Friend says there is no definition to say what is good estate management, and nobody can tell the decision the arbitrator may give. My hon. Friend says in the event of the arbitrator deciding that the reason given was not sufficient to allow him to say that the notice to quit was given in accordance with the rules of good husbandry, the landlord might say, "I did not intend giving notice for a capricious motive and I withdraw it." If there has been expense incurred the arbitrator may award such compensation as he thinks fit with the facts as they have occurred. He has, however, to take into consideration the fact that the landlord has withdrawn the notice and that the tenant may have an opportunity of returning to his holding. My 2296 hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Colonel Royds) assures me that I have not made a mistake and that that is what is meant. I see the difficulty in which the Government are placed. I had a case before an arbitrator once in which I won, but it took a considerable amount of time and it might be that the arbitrator might delay his decision. I suppose that what is in the mind of the Government is that it might be decided after the tenant had gone that the eviction was capricious. Then, if the landlord said, "that was not my intention and I wish to withdraw my notice," it might be difficult to get the tenant back. I admit that difficulty, but would it not be possible to say, if it was decided, before the tenant left, that the landlord had given notice for capricious reasons, that the landlord should be enabled to withdraw that notice? My hon. Friend (Mr. Lane-Fox) says that he has words which would carry out the intention I have expressed.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
By inserting the words, "before the notice to quit expires" or if there were a given time—a month or two—that would enable the suggestion to be carried out.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
Even that would be impossible. The compensation is to take place in respect of the expense and loss unavoidably incurred by the tenant by the sale of the stock and removal of his household goods and so on, and until these things have happened it is impossible to hold the arbitration. You have got to deal with the facts that have taken place. It does not help the Amendment to suggest putting in new words "before the expiration of the notice to quit," because before that the facts will not be ripe for submission to the arbitrator. The hon. Member does overlook the fact that by my hon. Friend's Amendment there will be an opportunity to the landlord, who has been incautious or imprudent in serving a notice to quit, to withdraw his notice. I do not think, human affairs being as complex as they are, that it is possible to give the landlord more than one chance of this kind.
§ Captain FITZROY
The right hon. Gentleman has stated that it was a question of fact, and not of law, as to whether a man has received notice to quit for reasons consistent or inconsistent with good estate management, but clearly it is a matter of law, and not of fact. I am 2297 certain that before long, after this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, such cases will arise, and lawyers will have to decide them. Apart from that, these cases are decided by Clause 9 of the Agricultural Holdings Act, which definitely says that the arbitrator may at any stage of the proceedings, if so directed by the county court judge—which may be done on the application of either party—state in the form of a special case for the opinion of the Court any question of law arising in the course of the arbitration. All we want is to make sure, in the case where a man may have given notice to quit and the question is in course of arbitration, that, if it was determined that he had thoughtlessly given this notice to quit, the tenant should have an opportunity of remaining on the farm. That seems to be very reasonable, and, if this Amendment were further amended to cover this, that would meet the case.
§ Dr. MURRAY
The right hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Pretyman) reminded us that this Bill was for the purpose of increasing food production. If this Amendment is carried it will tend to decrease food production, because of the feeling of insecurity which it will give to the tenant farmer. I do not refer to the majority of landlords, but if a certain type of landlord felt sure that, even after he had put the tenant to all the trouble and expense arising out of a notice to quit, he could recall it when he found that the award was against him it would tend to make him more ready to give capricious notices to quit. I support the Government against their own supporters on this occasion. I do not feel the need for any opposition on this side when they have such a splendid opposition on their own.
I must remind the House that this is not the Committee stage of the Bill. If these detailed Amendments are discussed at such length, it will be incumbent on me to exercise my power under the Standing Order more strictly with regard to the selection of Amendments. I am most anxious to give hon. Members an opportunity of putting their points, but if there are long discussions on each Amendment it will be impossible to do that, and I shall have to pass over a great number of Amendments if hon. Members will not be 2298 content to state their case and have a decision taken on it.
§ Amendment negatived.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
On a point of Order. Before my hon. Friend behind me (Major W. Murray) moves his Amendment, may I point out that the Amendment refers to certain things which can or cannot be done under the Small Holdings Act, 1892. That Act, as far as it applies to England and Wales, has been repealed.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has given to me notice that he wishes to substitute the Act of 1907.
§ Major W. MURRAY
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (4), to insert the wordsProvided that the sum equal to one year's rent of the holding, or the sum not being less than one year's rent nor more than four years' rent of the holding, shall not be payable in the case of a holding which the landlord desires to resume for the purpose of constituting thereon small holdings within the meaning of the Small Holdings Act, 1892, provided that the whole area of the holding so resumed be used for the said purpose.I am well conscious that this Amendment may be said to be opposed in some measure to the central idea of the Bill, which is to safeguard the position of the tenant farmer; but I have put it down because I think Part II of the Bill very much neglects the position of the farm servant and the small holder, and in the hope that at this stage the Government will give us some indication of what is their policy in respect to those two classes now, when this Bill is going to become law. Under this Bill no landlord, so far as I can understand, is ever likely in future to split up farms into one or more holdings. Though some may not think it, no landlord is likely either to take a farm, cut it up, and make it into two two-pair horse holdings to enable one or two farm servants to go on it where there was only one tenant before. The only result will be that if these things are done at all in the future they will be done by the county council, or in Scotland by the central authority, and at the instance of the State. That result would, I think, be unfortunate. It is quite possible in a year or two men will be very unwilling that the money of the State should be spent to encourage the constitution of 2299 this smaller class of holding, and that is one reason why I put down the Amendment, because I feel that the smaller class of holdings are of the very greatest importance to the nation.
If the hon. Member will permit me for a moment. I am still seeking for information about the Act of 1892. The intimation of the hon. and gallant Gentleman was that he wished to substitute 1907 for 1892. I now discover there is no such Act, and that the point he is pursuing appears to be a Scottish point. If that is so, it must be raised on the Scottish Clause and not on the Bill as a whole.
§ Major MURRAY
I am very sorry if I have not got hold of the right Act, but the right Act is that of 1908; that brings this matter in.
§ 2.0 P.M.
Would it not be much better then to transfer the discussion to the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major M. Wood)?
§ Major WOOD
The only difference is that in my Amendment I have placed a limit of the amount of land in which the farmer tenant may be in possession for the purpose of compensation.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I venture to suggest that the same subject can be dealt with on the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major M. Wood) which I think is quite clear. There is a 2300 grave doubt to which Act my hon. Friend behind me (Major W. Murray) is referring. It is true there is a Small Holding and Allotment Act for England and Wales, 1907, but whether it does as it is purported to do in this Amendment is very doubtful, and I have had no opportunity of looking it up.
I think that makes it clear. We must take the discussion on the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major M. Wood) on page 2258 of the Order Paper. Then the hon. and gallant Member who is now-moving his Amendment can move what amendments he desires to that Amendment.
§ Captain Sir B. STANIER
I beg to move, in Sub-section (5, b), after the word "has" ["unless the tenant has before the termination"], to insert the words "not less than six months."
The reason I move this Amendment is to follow the request of the Minister in charge of the Bill that we should get the Bill as clear as possible and without complications. There is not the shadow of doubt that this is a highly complicated Bill. That being so, I think we ought to have a stated time in order to carry this present matter out. If hon. Members will refer to the Bill they will see we have now come to that part when compensation shall not be payable under this Section—that is for disturbance. We take it in this way, that in respect of the sale of any goods, fixtures, produce and stock, we should have six months. It is very important that we should have a considerable time to carry out these arrangements. The time is wanted to give a reasonable opportunity to the landlord to decide whether he should withdraw his notice to quit, in view of the Government's Amendment giving that option. Before he can decide whether he will withdraw the notice or not, he will have to go into the question of whether he should take up a valuation or whether there should be a sale. If you have a valuation, tremendous lists have to be made and gone through, and considerable time is taken up. I know this by experience, because I have had the pleasure or otherwise of taking over several farms by valuation, and you cannot do it unless you have considerable time, and I think that ought to be a stated time.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
I beg to second the Amendment. I think the Government will see that it is necessary that there should be some definite period to give the landlord time. Whether the period of six months is too long or not is a matter of opinion, but that some definite and stated time should be introduced into the Clause I think the Government will probably agree.
§ Major WOOD
I think there is some reason for putting in a term, but I think that six months is too long. I should have thought three months, at any rate, if not even less, would be quite sufficient to enable a landlord to take stock of the farm, and I hope the Government will not consent to six months being given.
§ Mr. J. GARDINER
I should like to support the appeal of the hon. Member opposite. It is most reasonable that some time should be inserted. It may be that six months is too long, and possibly three months would be sufficient to meet the case.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I think this is a question which requires a good deal more examination. Hon. Members will remember that there is a time limit beyond which the tenant cannot make a claim for compensation. Sub-section (2) of Clause 12 of the Bill states:Any such claim as is mentioned in this section shall cease to be enforceable after the expiration of two months from the termination of the tenancy unless particulars thereof have been given by the landlord to the tenant or by the tenant to the landlord, as the case may be, before the expiration of that period.Therefore, there is a time limit at which the tenant must give notice of the claim he is going to make, but does anybody suppose that after the Bill is passed no compensation will be claimed by the tenant? I think in all cases there will be a claim made for compensation. Now, what is the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend? He proposes that six months before the termination of the tenancy there should be a notice given, and what is the notice? It is merely a notice that he is going to claim compensation. If you read the Clause as if the Amendment were inserted, it is as follows:Unless the tenant has, six months before the termination of the tenancy, given notice in writing to the landlord of his intention to make a claim for compensation under this section.2302 Suppose a tenant six months before has allowed that time to elapse, and suddenly, when the expiration of the tenancy is drawing near, wishes to make his claim, because he has not fulfilled that condition he is to have no compensation at all. That would be a very unfortunate result, and I am quite certain that my hon. Friends behind me, who are quite ready to accept the general principle of the Bill, would not desire to bring that about. The right hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Pretyman) has said to-day, as often before, that it would be quite unfair to imagine that, because they criticise the details of the Bill, he and his friends have any general opposition to compensation being given in proper cases. What real safeguard do you get for a landlord when you put in what is really a pitfall to the tenant? Let me assume that we take a shorter time than six months, such as one month or two months. All these time limits are really nothing but pitfalls for the tenant, and they are nearly always got over in this way, that you say, "Unless upon reasonable grounds he has failed to do so," with the result that the reasonable grounds are nearly always held to have prevailed What is the notice that is going to be given? It is not a notice that he is to give details of what he is claiming, it is merely that the tenant has to give a general notice, saying six months before the end of the tenancy that he intends to claim compensation. The only effect of putting in the words of the Amendment would be that in every case, upon receiving a notice to quit, a letter would be written as follows: "Sir, referring to your notice to quit received by me, I beg to give notice that it is my intention to make a claim for compensation under this Section."
You will have done nothing to safeguard the position of the landlord. You will not have helped the landlord at all, because he will assume, as all my hon. and right hon. Friends have agreed, that claims for compensation will be made under this Act. On the other hand, you put the tenant at the disadvantage that unless he complies with this condition precedent no compensation will be payable. Is it therefore really worth while putting in a term which is really no safeguard to the landlord at all? The landlord will know before he gives the notice to quit that he will be under the liability to pay this compensation, and he will, in fact, be in no better position by a pro- 2303 vision saying that notice of the claim must be given. On the other hand, that which looks like a safeguard for the landlord may be a very serious pitfall for the tenant. I venture to suggest that hon. Members who may think that there is some advantage should pause a long time before they press it, because it will be taken as putting an impediment in the way of the tenant obtaining compensation without giving any adequate or corresponding advantage to the landlord.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COURTHOPE
I cannot congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend upon the argument which he has just brought before the House. It would have been admirable if he were trying to delete the Sub-section, but the Government themselves think it necessary that there should be written notice from the tenant to the landlord of the intention to make a claim, and all that my hon. Friends and I are trying to do is to secure that that written notice shall be given within such reasonable time as to allow the landlord to make the necessary arrangements for valuation and proper representation of his interests. If the learned Solicitor-General had a very intimate personal acquaintance with rural matters and the relationships between landlord and tenant, he would know that there are very frequent cases under the existing law in which there is grave doubt as to whether a claim will be made. I have known cases of dispute as to whether the landlord or the tenant had given the notice to quit. Both have agreed that notice has been given and accepted, and yet there has been a dispute as to which party has given it. It is a common thing that the termination or the negotiations for the termination of a tenancy commence at some casual meeting, possibly in the market place. The tenant comes and says to his landlord that he is rather unsettled and thinks that he may have better opportunities elsewhere. Very often it really amounts to a request to the landlord to waive the full formal notice required by the terms of the agreement. The first document putting the arrangement in writing comes from the landlord, but it is often a matter of dispute as to whether in law the tenant or the landlord has given the notice. That must be the vital thing in a case of this kind, because, if it be the tenant who has given the notice, no claim for compensa- 2304 tion can arise. If, on the other hand, there be doubt as to the source from which the notice emanated, and if the tenant intends to make a claim, it is only reasonable and right that the landlord should have proper notice of such intention. I do hope that the Government will see their way to make their own proposal reasonable and practicable. I am not wedded to the six months, but, if they resist this Amendment, there is not the slightest justification for retaining the Sub-section in the Bill at all.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I really think that my right hon. Friend is not going the right way to get this Debate concluded at an early date, as we all hope it will be. It appears to me to be a fixed principle with him that not one word or line of the Bill is to be altered—
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
Even when suggestions are made from all sides of the House. Really, as my hon. Friend (Lieut.-Colonel Courthope) has pointed out, my right hon. and learned Friend's speech was directed entirely against his own Sub-section. Every word of criticism against the proposal for a period within which the notice should be given, could have been properly directed against the proposal of the Sub-section that any notice should be given at all. Surely it is reasonable, if the Government think that notice should be given, that it should be given within sufficient time to be fair to both parties. The speech of the Solicitor-General really did not deal with the point at all. I do hope that the Government will give way on this point to the extent of three months. I believe that my hon. Friend would be satisfied with a period of three months, which it is suggested from both sides of the House would be fair. There is one point which requires safeguarding. This period of three months should not prejudice anybody who might otherwise be precluded from giving three months' notice through his notice to quit expiring within three months of the Act coming into operation. If my right hon. Friend will accept three months, undertaking when the Bill comes up in another place to insert a safeguard covering those cases, I think it would satisfy the feeling on both sides of the House. Hon. Gentlemen who have experience and knowledge of agriculture 2305 consider this would be fair to both parties, and, if my right hon. Friend really wants to get his Bill through, as we all do, without any heat or undue feeling, and as rapidly as possible, I must ask him to make some concession of this character. If he does so, we will give him every possible help. Otherwise, we shall have to go to a Division, and much time will be wasted.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
My right hon. Friend on many occasions has accepted a number of Amendments in an endeavour to meet the views of hon. Members, and I cannot help thinking, if we are to get on with the Bill rapidly, that it would be better to try and draw an accurate picture of the facts, rather than to suggest that the attitude of my right hon. Friend has been one of impossibility right through. I think my right hon. Friend (Mr. Pretyman), on reconsideration, will probably think that his language was a little too strong. The last thing that we desire is to engender heat. We are trying to make the Bill as good a working Bill as possible. It has occurred to me that there is a ground on which one might argue more strongly for a time limit. We put in the Bill a proviso giving the landlord the opportunity of withdrawing the notice, and it is perhaps the fair thing for the landlord to have the notice of claim given to him within such time as will give him the opportunity of withdrawing the notice to quit, if he be so minded. That would be better than leaving this Clause without any time limit at all. If a time limit had been suggested on that ground, I think a good case could have been made out for it. That proviso has weight, in my mind. I do not think that it is wise to put in anything like six or even three months. In the case of unreasonable disturbance, under the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1908, two months' notice is required, but in the case of the Small Holdings Act, 1910, and the Small Colonies Act, no notice at all is required. You have no actual precedent in any of the statutes which you can follow, but, if my hon. Friend would be content, say, with one month, I am perfectly ready to agree. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] It is now really a question of bidding.
§ Sir B. STANIER
If the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree to two months, I will withdraw the Amendment.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I think I may be released with two months and goodwill restored, and then got all the benefit of having made a gracious and acceptable concession. I therefore accept it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Further Amendments made: In Subsection (5, b), after the word "has" ["has before the termination "], insert the words "not less than two months."— [Sir B. Stanier.]
§ At end of Sub-section (5, b) insert the word "or."—[Sir A. Boscawen.]
§ Major M. WOOD
I beg to move, in Sub-section (5), to leave out paragraph (c).
This Sub-section was not in the Bill when it was introduced and it was inserted in Committee as part of the deal about which we have heard so much during the Report stage. Under the provisions of this Sub-section no compensation is to be paid under this Clause where the tenant with whom the contract of tenancy was made has died within three months of the date of the notice to quit. When this Amendment was proposed to be put in it was commended on the ground that it had the support of the Scottish Farmers' Union. I took occasion to say I was quite certain that the union would not assent to this Sub-section when they realised. what it meant, and I was interested to find that at the next meeting of the Executive of the union a resolution was passed condemning the Sub-section and calling for its excision. Nobody is bound by the agreement that was made on the occasion referred to except those, who made it, and I do not think that even in the case of those who made it they are really bound in this case, because it was quite obvious that some of those who were parties to the agreement were under a misapprehension as to what the Subsection really meant.
In the Committee the Parliamentary Secretary in one of his rare slips told us that the Sub-section only applied to yearly tenancies. That is not the case, as I am sure he realises now, because it applies equally to yearly tenancies and to leases. It seems to me rather unfortunate when we come down here to try and present a case for the excision of 2307 part of the agreement we are to be told that no matter how good our case is the Parliamentary Secretary is bound by the agreement and cannot get away from it. I would like the House to look at exactly what will happen if this particular Subsection is passed. If a tenant having a yearly tenancy dies, it will be open for the landlord immediately to give notice to quit, and no compensation at all will be payable to the representatives of the tenant—to his widow or to any other legal representative. In the case of a lease it is somewhat different. If a man takes a lease for five, seven, or 14 years, and dies two years after he has taken it the Sub-section I agree would not apply. But if the tenant dies within two years and three months of the other end of the tenancy, or a break in the tenancy, it will be open under the present law for the landlord to give notice to quit to the legal representative of the deceased tenant and he will thus be able to get out of paying any compensation at all. In the average lease in Scotland there is a break, and this provision, therefore, is going to be of most serious importance to farmers in Scotland. It will probably be of still more serious importance to farmers in England because of the fact that yearly tenancies there are the rule rather than leases. In considering this question one must look at what the compensation payable under the Section is meant to be. Sometimes we are told it is a penalty or a fine. At other times they say it is a return for capital assumed to have been sunk in the land. Hon. Members must really elect which it is going to be and they must stick to it. In my opinion there is no doubt as to what it is. I take the explanation which has been given over and over again by the Parliamentary Secretary, that the object of this Clause is to give security to capital, and that means that this compensation which is going to be paid after the tenant leaves is a return to him for the capital which has been sunk in the farm during the currency of the tenancy. It is true that it is taken at a fixed figure, but that is simply putting a liquidated figure upon this capital which is assumed to have been sunk. It may be a rough-and-ready method of computing it, but still, that is the principle, and, if that be so, then I say that a tenant's representatives ought to have that capital returned 2308 to them, even although the tenant who was actually responsible for sinking the capital has died. If you do not do that, you are taking away the security of capital which it was alleged that this Clause would give. It was argued by the right hon. Gentleman in Committee that the reason for putting this restriction on the giving of compensation is that you are importing into this new Bill a provision which is already in the Act of 1908. In the 1908 Act, however, compensation is only given for capricious eviction, and I quite agree that the amount of compensation in excess of one year's rental is in the nature of a penalty. Where, however, a tenant simply gets the year's rental, and does not hold that he has been capriciously evicted, the year's rental is a return for capital sunk, and is not a penalty at all. Therefore, a tenant's widow who has been turned out is entitled to that capital which her husband has put into the farm during his lifetime. If this Clause is going to be passed as it stands, it will mean that a landlord is enabled to step in when a tenant dies and fine the poor widow, or it may be the family, of that tenant, and take away from them part of the capital which he has sunk in the land, relying upon the undertaking of the Government that by this Bill they were going to give him security for his capital. So long as this paragraph stands, I say that this Bill in this particular instance is going to be very unjust, and I am certain that it will cause a great deal of ill-feeling throughout the farming community, and will do a great deal of harm in many homes which the Bill was expected to protect.
§ Mr. J GARDINER
I beg to second the Amendment. I quite agree that this affects Scotland more than England, and, as this Bill is intended to bring about greater food production, and has been described as giving security of capital to the tenant, I want to point out what will be the result of this paragraph so far, at any rate, as Scotland is concerned. It will entirely change the present law. In every lease in Scotland that I have ever read it has been laid down that the farm or holding is let to the tenant, his heirs and successors.
§ Mr. GARDINER
I have never seen a lease in Scotland that has not contained that condition. It is the common law of 2309 Scotland. That condition is put in for a two-fold purpose—not only that any benefit should go to the heirs and successors of the tenant, but that the heirs and successors of the tenant should be responsible for the delinquencies of the tenant or any loss that he might cause to the holding. As one who has had to pay the penalty, I am speaking from actual experience and knowledge. In Committee the Secretary for Scotland, in whom we have perfect confidence, promised to reconsider this and do something on the Report stage. I can understand that the right hon. Gentleman, who has to attend to four or five offices rolled into one, and who is very inadequately remunerated, may have had too much work to do to enable him to redeem in time the promise that he made, but at any rate the point is one which affects Scotland very materially. The agricultural bodies in Scotland, the leading journals, and all who know exactly the position of agriculture in Scotland, are with us. I have met landlord after landlord and tenant after tenant, and the former have stated that they do not desire this provision in any Bill relating to Scotland, while the latter are practically unanimous in thinking that it will hurt them very materially.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I regret that I cannot accept this Amendment. My hon. and gallant Friend who moved it said that it was part of the arrangement that was made in Committee. That is true, and as far as that arrangement goes it certainly binds the Government.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
Because I gave an undertaking that we would insert this exception in the Bill. Hon. Members know perfectly well that, when a Minister in charge of a Bill gives a definite undertaking, he is, usually at any rate, honourably bound to adhere to it, and as far as I am personally concerned I feel bound by that position. Of course, the House may take any action that it likes in the matter.
§ Mr. GARDINER
I am very sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but, if I remember correctly, the arrangement made in Committee applied to yearly tenancies, and it was distinctly stated—
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I am coming to that. I made the agreement because I believed that it was a perfectly right and proper one, and I will give my reasons. In the first place, it is the law in all cases at the present time. According to the Act of 1908, under which compensation can be claimed for unreasonable disturbance, it does not apply in a case in which the death of the tenant has occurred within three months of the notice. That is precisely the proposal of this paragraph, which merely extends to all cases of compensation for disturbance the law as regards compensation for capricious disturbance under the Act of 1908. Under the Acquisition of Land Act and the Land Settlement Act the same rule applies. Again, under the Act of 1914, it applies to sales. Therefore, we are acting strictly in accordance with precedent and with all existing legislation when we ask for this exemption. I agree that the previous Acts may be wrong and may require reviewing, and that this may be the right opportunity at which to review those particular decisions; but the ground on which I accept this exception is this: The contract of tenancy is made by a landlord with a particular individual, who has got certain qualifications, who he believes would be a good farmer, who he thinks will understand the particular farm on which he is engaged. A contract of tenancy is made not with the family, but with the individual farmer.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
One of the reasons I have stated over and over again for giving compensation is that the farmer will have to leave the farm he understands and go to another one. Obviously in the case of death, such a consideration does not apply. That being the case, I do not see why compensation should be paid to the family if within three months of death notice to quit is given. The farmer who died may have been a very good farmer. He may have had the necessary personal qualification for that farm, but it does not follow that any member of his family possesses similar qualifications. If they do, what will happen? The landlord will 2311 allow the son, or it may be the widow, if competent, to carry on the farm, and therefore no question of compensation arises. But if no member of the family is qualified—and that is a matter, after all, which must rest in the discretion of the landlord—why should he be bound either to take a man who, in his opinion, will be a thoroughly unsuitable tenant or else pay heavy compensation? It would be absolutely unfair. The hon. Member below the gangway, to whose opinions I always listen with interest, was in error in saying this affects Scotland a great deal more than England. On the contrary it affects England a great deal more than Scotland. Indeed the mover said so, so that though the two hon. Members agree with the Amendment, they do not agree on the reasons for the Amendment. In England we usually have yearly tenancies. Notice can be given to quit within three months of the date of termination. When there is a lease you cannot give notice within three months to terminate the tenancy.
§ Major WOOD indicated dissent.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
How can you? If a farm is held on a lease which is not, at the time of death, nor within three months after determinable, this exception does not apply, and cannot apply. It will apply if at the time of death there was only three months left before the termination of the lease.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
Under the Bill as it stands it is quite impossible that it should apply in the case of a lease. It can only apply in a yearly tenancy. I quite agree that by the principle of tacit relocation a lease in Scotland, unless notice is given on either side on termination, becomes a yearly tenancy. When it does become a yearly teancy this principle will apply, but so long as the lease is running it cannot apply, and therefore, as a matter of fact, this exception will have much less effect in Scotland than it has in England. For the reasons I have given we cannot accept the Amendment. The exceptions are made by mutual consent, with the assent of the National Farmers' Union of England, and with the assent of an 2312 hon. Member who I think was entitled to speak for the National Farmers' Union of Scotland. We cannot go back upon this exception which is made to the Clause and I must ask the House not to accept the Amendment.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COURTHOPE
I am very glad that, I think for the first on the Report stage, I find myself in complete agreement with my right hon. Friend. I have only risen to give one additional point to those which he has already so ably put for resisting the Amendment. For all practical purposes, on the death of a tenant, if the late tenant's family is to remain in occupation of the farm, the landlord is in the position of starting a new tenancy without the possibility, which every prudent landlord exercises at the commencement of a tenancy, of inquiring not only as to the suitability of the individuals, but whether he or she is sufficiently endowed with working capital to be able to farm with prospects of success, and anyone who has anything to do with land management nowadays knows how absolutely essential a sufficiency of working capital is for successful farming. It is just as important for the tenant as for the landlord, and for the interests of the estate generally, that the landlord should satisfy himself before letting a farm that there is sufficient working capital for the tenant to make a success of farming operations. It very frequently arises after the death of a tenant that he may have a large family which is spread about, his means are distributed amongst the family and the individual member of the family who might wish to stay on at the farm has not got anything approaching sufficient working capital to stay there without ruining not only the farm but himself. That is a very frequent case, and it would be a serious blow to agriculture, and to farmers as well as landlords, if the owner was compelled, as he would be practically compelled, to keep an unsuitable person or one inadequately possessed of working capital to farm with success for an indefinite period in occupation of the farm. I hope the Government will stand very firm and will not accept the Amendment.
§ Colonel PENRY WILLIAMS
I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will adhere to this Amendment, and will press it to a Division. Really, I think the Amendment 2313 and the discussion we have had on it, shows the difficulty there is for any ordinary Member who is not a lawyer to understand the Bill. I am not quite clear in my mind whether this provision applies to all compensation or only to compensation for capricious dismissal, and I should like enlightenment on that point. But on the broad point as to whether this compensation shall be payable to the executive or to the widow of a man who dies, I think really compensation of this kind is part of the deceased tenant's estate, and I do not believe any landowner or any hon. Member opposite wishes to penalise the widow or the legal representative of a deceased tenant. If the compensation was payable to the tenant himself, it ought to form part of the tenant's estate and pass to his legal representative, in the same way that any other asset would pass on death. Really, I do not think the argument that there may not be anyone who is capable of carrying on the farm applies. When a doctor dies, his widow is entitled to sell the practice—the value of it is part of the assets of the deceased doctor. She is not capable of carrying on the practice, and there may be no one else capable of carrying it on, and I really think the Government ought to consider the acceptance of my hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment. Then I understand the right hon. Gentleman is entirely wrong about Scotch leases. I understand that the Scottish lease can be terminated by one year or two years' notice, and that if the notice has been given then the man may be deprived of his compensation if the tenancy has two years plus three months to run. If the Secretary for Scotland is going to reply, I hope he will make that point quite clear.
§ Mr. ACLAND
We certainly need an explanation of the actual facts in regard to custom in Scotland, because things seem to be rather different there from those in England. If it is a fact that in Scotland, although the custom is in many districts that there are leases which are to the tenant, his heirs and assigns, that, in spite of that, the lease can be broken on two years' notice, the Amendment has some substance in it, and we ought to have the matter cleared up. In regard to England the position is clear. Speaking from one's own personal experience, one makes an agreement and accepts the tenant as a man. You do not think particularly of his wife. I try not to think 2314 about any of his domestic arrangements, even whether the lady who happens to be living with him in his farm is his wife or not. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I take up his banker's references, but I do not take up his domestic references. I think whether he is going to be the best man to cultivate the farm and whether he has sufficient capital to put into it. The way one deals with the case of a son is this: If a man has a son who is working with him on the farm, and he is in all respects the best sort of man to succeed him, one puts the son into the agreement before the death of the father. The thing does not wait until there is a death. It is a very frequent occurrence that the son says, "May I be joint tenant with my father, in order that if he dies I may succeed to the tenancy?" That is a differentiation entirely from the case of the doctor.
If you are aiming, as this Bill aims, at the improvement of cultivation, it is very difficult to say to the landowner that unless he accepts the widow or son of the previous tenant he is to be under a penalty. If the landowner says, as landowners normally do now in England, "I want to be sure, on the death of the previous tenant, that I have as tenant on this farm the best man, a man with the best experience and with the best capital, who will do the best by the farm," then it is very difficult to justify putting him under the penalty of having to pay a year's rent if he selects anyone except the widow or the son of the previous tenant. If you are going in for improvement of cultivation, and the higher standard of cultivation, surely the landlord ought to be free, without these penalties, to select the man who is likely to pursue the highest standard of cultivation and be able to put the greatest amount of energy and capital into the farm. That is how the matter appeals to me from my ordinary knowledge and practice as an English landowner. I am justified in saying that the tenancy is made with the man and not with the family.
I do not think that normally, if the son shows that he is really capable of carrying on his father's farm, there is any difficulty. It is the way of least resistance to accept the son in that case. Where an entirely new man comes in he may say, "I want this or that alteration made. I want the bathroom removed. I want this 2315 or that partition to be made." He comes in with new ideas, but when the son of a deceased tenant comes in as his father's successor he will be willing to carry on the farm in exactly the same way as his father had carried it on. He has got to like the place and to know it, and he does not want these incidental improvements to be made as in the case of the new tenant. The presumption is that if the landowner legitimately and conscientiously can do so he will allow the son to carry on the tenancy of his father; but if you are going to get the highest possible standard of cultivation, and if you think that the son is not likely to carry that out, you should be free to select another tenant from among the sons of other tenants, who are always waiting for farms and buzzing round with their applications as soon as a farm is vacant. I do not think it is generally assumed by tenants themselves that the widow has something like a customary right of succession. I do not think when the ordinary tenant is thinking about security that he is thinking about his widow's security or his son's security. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the capital he puts in?"] I refuse to assume the idea; I cannot conceive, except from the point of unexhausted manurial improvements, for which the man gets compensation, that there is anything which the tenant normally puts into the farm at present or is likely to put into the farm in future which justifies his widow or his son in expecting some special compensation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why the Bill at all?"] Why the Bill at all? From the point of view of the man himself. He takes a farm and puts in his capital, and he wants to feel that he has some security against disturbance. He wants to feel that his son, if he is going to be as good a tenant as he is himself, has some prospect of succeeding him, but I am not acquainted with anything which the tenant puts into the farm which ought to give in England, under the custom in England—and these things are very much affected by custom and understanding between landlord and tenant—gives the tenant the right to expect that some special compensation shall be made to his son or his widow when he dies. If you ask the ordinary farmer in England he would say as Tennyson said, "Death closeth all," and that the landlord at the 2316 point of his death has the right to decide whether he shall take the farm back into his own hands or to whom he shall let it, without there being the heavy presumption which is created by these sums of compensation in favour of the widow of the recent tenant. Now that the Secretary for Scotland is here, and as pertinent points have been raised in regard to the different practice in Scotland compared with that of England, the House would like an explanation from him.
§ The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. Munro)
As a direct appeal has been made to me, I shall address the House for a few moments upon this interesting question. So far as I understand my right hon. Friend who has just sat down, he agrees with my right hon. Friend beside me so far as the English case is concerned, but suggests that there may be a difference in the case of Scotland, and that there should be a somewhat different treatment. As he proceeded with his speech, I noticed that a distinct difference existed between him and the hon. and gallant Member who moved this Amendment. Under these circumstances, it is rather difficult to know to whom one has to reply. The point was made that this is a very difficult Clause. The hon. and gallant Member for Middlesbrough (Colonel P. Williams) said that this was a Clause or Bill which no one but a lawyer could understand, and I heard behind me that even lawyers might have difficulty in doing so. I do not think it is so difficult. If my hon. Friend will look at the beginning of the Clause he will see that compensation shall not be payable under this Clause in four specified cases, and in regard to compensation for disturbance, as has been pointed out by my right hon. Friend beside me very definitely, this Act exactly follows the precedent of the Act of 1908. When my hon. and gallant Friend goes on to refer to the assets of deceased persons, I would point out that the notice to quit does not come from the landlord, but from another quarter altogether, and we are not concerned, therefore, about the passing of the assets of an estate to a successor. That is really quite beside the mark, and, if that be so, I do not really see that the Scottish case differs in any material from the English case. My hon. and gallant Friend seems to agree there is no difference between the two cases. My hon. 2317 Friend the Member for West Perth (Mr. J. Gardiner) says this is a Scottish rather than an English point. I leave them to settle their difference.
§ Major HOWARD
It has been agreed by all the House that compensation should be given when a notice to quit is given to a farmer in respect of his holding. All the speakers who are in favour of the Clause in the Bill suggest that there is a difference when a man dies; but, so far as I know in this country, all tenancies go on and the widow or the son continues in the farm, providing they do not give notice or the landlord does not give notice, and in the particular sub-paragraph (c) with which we are dealing it says, "within three months before the date of the notice to quit." The only difference, it appears to me, is that when the landlord gives notice to a farmer he has to give compensation, but where a man dies his unfortunate widow who is left on the form or his son, who is equally capable of keeping a farm on, the landlord can give notice, and he is not called upon to pay compensation. We have heard it from the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill that, because it was not in other Acts that he should get compensation, it ought to be the same in this. It was the failure of the other Acts which made this necessary, and, therefore, I do not think the fact that it was not in the other Acts holds good so far as this Bill is concerned. An hon Member said there might not be sufficient money in a family. If he understood agriculture he would know it is not always the money. I have seen some of the wealthiest men farm badly. Give me the farmer with brains and common-sense, even without a great deal of money, and he will cultivate the land in such a way that it will very soon produce him sufficient money. I am sorry the Government are making an exception—a monstrous exception—that when a notice is given to a widow or son of a 2318 farmer, there should be no compensation. I may be told that they receive compensation for manure, and so on, but there are improvements in cultivation on which you cannot get a return in compensation. Those improvements go on for many years after cultivation, and, simply because a man is dead, his wife or son is not to have compensation is, I think, one of the greatest blots on the Bill.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I have not made a speech yet on this Bill, and I do not propose to suggest I have any great agricultural experience. I am only intervening because of the application this has to Scotland, which has not been cleared up by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary for Scotland. I cannot for the life of me understand what the reluctance is on the part of Members of this House to agree to this Amendment. So far as I have been able to ascertain, if the tenant were evicted by the landlord, in addition to all the other compensations that he would receive for what one generally describes as unexhausted improvements, he would also receive in amount a year's rent of the tenancy which he held, which is intended to secure the capital he has invested. Is that right and proper? I understand the position is that the man, over and above that which is provided in other Acts of Parliament, would receive this additional amount, equal to one year's rent, which at the moment in the Bill is suggested as a kind of insurance of the capital which the man has invested in the land. That happens when the landlord gets rid of him, but if, instead of the landlord getting rid of him, the Lord gets rid of him, there is no compensation. If the man dies and leaves a widow and son, they are to receive nothing of this insurance money, because in their case it is the Lord who has intervened and not the landlord. There is no notice to quit from the Lord. [An HON. MEMBER: "He is not subject to Acts of Parliament."] Therefore the case is more entitled to receive our consideration. My right hon. Friend beside me, who represents a peculiar view of agriculture, and has rendered enormous support to the Government in this particular Bill, made a speech just now to which I listened with very great interest, and I think I appreciated his point. He said he had always been in the habit as a landlord of making this arrangement with the man. It may be that the widow or the son is not the 2319 right person to go on with the farm. I am not looking at this from the farmer's point of view at all. I do not know anything about the farmer's point of view. I am looking at it from what appears to me the common-sense point of view. If a man were on a farm of my right hon..Friend, no one says to the son or widow, "You are compelled to go on farming this land." That is not compulsory. If you get rid of the man you must pay him this year's rent over and above everything else, which is the insurance of the capital he has put into the land, but if the man dies the widow and family are not entitled to what the man would get. It is not the man's capital that is put into the land; it is the family capital. The wife is generally a working woman on the farm and has a number of functions to perform, and as such is a partner with her husband. But if her husband dies she may be evicted and she cannot take with her into her new life this one year's rent. I ask right hon. Gentlemen opposite who are interested in the land to tell me what it is that hinders them from agreeing to fair treatment of the widow. Suppose this had been a question affecting soldiers and sailors. The Bill is intended to produce more food. We made exceptional arrangements during the War in order to produce more food. If a man fell in the War we provided for his widow and children; but under this Bill, if a man dies in the course of his farming and the widow and the family have been partners and shareholders in the farm, apparently right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are quite prepared to allow the widow and the family to walk out of the farm without compensation. Will some of them tell me what are the arguments in favour of that?
I respectfully submit that the Secretary for Scotland has not met the point with regard to the break in the lease. It is quite true that you cannot give a year's or two years' notice to a man to quit, unless there is a break. But all the Scottish leases have breaks in them. An hon. Member put a maximum case in which it might happen that there would be an interval of 27 months in which the widow of a tenant could go out without compensation. The Secretary for Scotland did not meet that case and did not say that was impossible. We are speaking in the presence of men who farm land in Scot- 2320 land and who represent farming constituencies. Surely if hon. Members opposite are going to consider anything, it is the knowledge and experience of Scottish Members who farm land under these conditions and who get up and say frankly that this does not meet the case.
§ Major WOOD
We on this side have tried to put up a case for the Amendment. Whether it is right or wrong there has been no attempt to meet it by the Secretary for Scotland. He was asked to explain a question of law. He contented himself with trying to make out a difference between myself and my hon. Friend (Mr. Gardiner). There is really no difference between me and my hon. Friend. What we both wanted from the Secretary for Scotland was an authoritative statement of the law, and he did not give it, although he was well qualified to do so. So far as I am aware there is no difference between the law in England and the law in Scotland on this matter. A Clause of this kind would hit yearly tenants much more than tenants on lease. As yearly tenants are more common in England than in Scotland, the Clause has a larger bearing on England. I challenge the Secretary for Scotland to say that that is not the case. He was asked a specific question. The Parliamentary Secretary had already said that this applied only to leases in the particular cases where the tenant died within three months of the end of the lease. That is not so. The Secretary for Scotland knows quite well that that is not so and I think he ought to have said so. Something has been said about a break in a lease, and other people seem to interpret that as meaning that a lease is not as sacred in Scotland as in England. That is not the case. A break in a lease is simply an agreement in the lease whereby it may be terminated at, say, five years or seven years. It means, in practice, that there are two leases put into one.
In spite of what the Parliamentary Secretary said, if a tenant dies within two and a quarter years of either a break of lease or the end of a lease he will be caught under this Sub-section in the same way as if he were a yearly tenant. The law lays it down that a year's notice must be given, and that not more than two years' notice may be given. Therefore, if within three months of the death 2321 of a tenant it comes within these two years, it will be open to the landlord to give notice to quit, and by doing that he will escape liability to pay compensation. The right hon. Gentleman throughout the course of this Bill has said that its object was to give security of capital, and we now suggest that the capital of a tenant who died should be as secure, no more and no less, than the capital of a tenant who happens not to die. and if he does die it is the more necessary in common humanity that that security should be available for his dependants. The right hon. Gentleman in Committee admitted that the object of the Clause was to do what I say. He said:The whole object of this Clause is to give them security of capital and, though it does not give fixity of tenure, I think it gives in a very ample manner what is called security for capital. … The object we had in view was to give that security to the farmer that would enable him to do his best, and to farm to the best possible advantage in the national interest.If this Sub-section is allowed to stand, you are doing a monstrous injustice to people at the very time when they need your protection most.
The cause of the widow and the orphan is very often pleaded in this House, and with great effect. It is a plea to which the House always listens with a great deal of attention and consideration. I think the House generally feels that if protection and consideration should be given to anybody, it should be given to widows and orphans. That plea has, I think, been more often urged from the Benches opposite than from these, and for the reason probably that it is an extremely effective plea. I am not going to suggest that on this issue consideration for the widow and the orphan is confined to these Benches. I am quite sure hon. Members opposite who are anxious to give full protection to the landowners are anxious also to avoid cases of hardship. We have had Amendments discussed yesterday which had for their purpose the protection of the landlord from being compelled to give compensation in cases where it was in the general interest and in the interests of the estate that the tenant should give notice. Here we have a case of a tenant receiving notice, not from a landlord, but from even a higher power than a landlord. His tenancy is terminated by death, and we are dealing with the case 2322 of the family who remain. I can see very good reasons why the landlord should wish to terminate the tenancy. It may be an entirely different thing to have a good farmer on an estate and after his death to leave it in the hands of the widow and children who may not be proper and suitable tenants. That is not the issue we want to contest. In a case of that kind we think that compensation ought to be given for the reason that compensation is made in any case for substantial loss. Just when the resources available are most important, the widow and children are exposed to the very loss from which they would have been sheltered if the prop and support of the household had been left. There is the hardship, because of the natural event and because of what is the greatest of all losses—
The hon. and gallant Member is repeating arguments which have been used four or five times already.
That being the case, I will not continue. But those arguments have not been replied to, and while it may be an improper thing to repeatedly knock at a door if the door is not opened there is some excuse for going on. In deference to what you, Sir, have said, I will not continue either argument or speech, but simply submit that this Amendment is worthy of more consideration.
Sir J. HOPE
I think the Scottish Farmers' Union are seeking too much, and I suggest that they should consider a compromise which I wish to put on behalf of the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture. The Scottish Farmers' Union rather seem to think that they are the only representatives of agriculture and of the farmers throughout Scotland, but it must be remembered that there is the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture, which has some 60 associations scattered all over Scotland and which has very decided opinions, which I have been asked to represent. The compromise which they suggest is that the compensation in the case of death should not be payable if the landlord cannot take on the widow or children consistently with good estate management, but that if he should refuse to take on the heirs capriciously, then the heirs should have the same ground for compensation as those which are pro- 2323 vided for capricious disturbance. It seems to me that that is a very good basis for some compromise. I hope in another place, where there will be compromises on other matters as well as this, that the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture proposal for a compromise on this point will be considered, and with sympathy. I had given notice of an Amendment on this subject, but in view of the position taken up by the Government I do not press it.
§ General Sir IVOR PHILIPPS
The suggestion has been made of some compromise Amendment being accepted in another place. As a House of Commons man, I much prefer to see these things done in this place. Once a Bill leaves
§ this House we do not know what is going to happen to it. Personally, I prefer that we should always make a Bill as good as possible, and I do not see why the Government should not assist us to do so. I have heard some very strong arguments, which I am not going to repeat in view of your ruling, but I do think we ought to hear something from the Government as to why they are not prepared to accept the proposal put forward. I am a farmer myself, and I think it is a most reasonable proposal.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out down to the word 'three' ["three months"] stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 128; Noes, 36.2325
|Division No. 366.]||AYES.||[3.41 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Grant, James A.||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Greer, Harry||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Greig, Colonel James William||Purchase, H. G.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hall, Rr-Admi Sir W. (Liv'p'l,W.D'by)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Barrand, A. R.||Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Bell, Lieut-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Simm, M. T.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hopkins, John W. W.||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's)||Hurd, Percy A.||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Birm.,W.)||Jameson, J. Gordon||Townley, Maximillan G.|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Jesson, C.||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-Upon-Hull)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Courthope, Major George L.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Wason, John Cathcart|
|Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Whitla, Sir William|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Wignall, James|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H.(Univ., Wales)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Davidson,J.C.C.(Hemel Hempstead)||Lorden, John William||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||M'Guffin, Samuel||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Edge, Captain William||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wise, Frederick|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Mitchell, William Lane||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Morris, Richard||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||Morrison, Hugh||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Parker, James|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Hinds, John||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Holmes, J. Stanley||Myers, Thomas|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Howard, Major S. G.||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Johnstone, Joseph||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Kiley, James D.||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Gardiner, James||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Glanville, Harold James||Mills, John Edmund||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Robertson, John||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Waterson, A. E.||Wintringham, T.|
|Sturrock, J. Leng||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)||Wilkle, Alexander||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)||Major Mackenzie Wood and Mr.|
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I beg to move, in Sub-section (5, e), after the word "undertaking," to insert the words "or by a Government Department or a local authority."
This paragraph applies to the case of great corporations acquiring land for small holdings if, before they set up small holdings, it is let temporarily, and my Amendment makes it clear that it includes also similar land held by a Government Department or a local authority.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I suppose this covers the case where a Government Department have given notice in order to take land for small holdings. Am I right in gathering that where at the instance, say, of a Government Department, and a County Committee, the landowner has given notice to terminate the tenancy, so far as a few fields are concerned, which he has been induced to resume to let them as smallholdings to ex-service men, he nevertheless will have to pay compensation as regards those fields?
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
This only applies to the case of a public authority who acquire land for smallholdings if before they set up the smallholdings they let the land temporarily. As regards the landlord who might wish to resume part of the farm for the purpose of smallholdings, that case is covered by paragraph (d), which we have passed.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: In Subsection (5, e), after the word "corporation" ["corporation for"], insert the words "department or authority."—[Sir A. Boscawen.]
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I beg to move, in Sub-section (5, e), after the word "purpose," to insert the words "[not being the use of the land for agriculture]."
In this we are only dealing with the case where land is let temporarily, pending the time for which it is to be used for the purpose for which it was acquired. If a public authority let it temporarily to a tenant during this interval, and then dispossessed that tenant, and put in another tenant, I think that they ought 2326 to pay. For that purpose I propose this Amendment.
§ Major WOOD
Supposing a town council were to acquire land for housing purposes, would that come in the definition under this Sub-section?
Sir A, BOSCAWEN
Certainly, if a town council acquire land for housing, and know they cannot use it for a year, and for that short period let it, the tenant would know from the beginning that he had only got a temporary tenancy. In those conditions we do not think that compensation should be paid.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
Whatever compensation is given must be without exception, because it is given in the interests of the security of tenure of the tenant. I agree that there should be exceptions where a tenant takes land knowing it is only temporarily let, and that it has been scheduled for a prior purpose, but that must apply to cases of private individuals as well as to cases of corporations and railways. Supposing a man is occupying a farm which he has held from a private owner, and suppose the local authority purchased the land for the purpose contemplated in this Amendment, and purchase it without notice having been given by the landowner, and the local authority then find the tenant in occupation. They have bought it definitely for one of the purposes contemplated. They then give the tenant notice to quit, because they are going to use it for public purposes. Will they have to pay compensation to that tenant? I think that they should, because I do not think that the tenant had the knowledge or expectation that the letting was only temporary. That is a case that will happen.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I quite agree with my right hon. Friend that in the case which he states where a corporation buy an estate for any purpose whatever, and there are sitting tenants, and they give notice to quit to these sitting tenants, 2327 they would have to pay full compensation. He will see the words in the sub section, "where the holding was let to the tenant by the corporation." In that case it was let by the landlord.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: In Subsection (5, e), after the word "corporation" ["corporation, or"], insert the words "department or authority."
§ In Sub-section (5, f), leave out the words "grass park," and insert instead thereof the word "pasture."
§ After the word "fourteen," insert the words "and before the commencement of this Act."
§ Leave out the words "supplied by the landlord."—[Sir A. Boscawen.]
§ Mr. INSKIP
On a point of Order. May I state that the Amendment standing in my name, which has been passed over, was one which my right hon. Friend indicated he was prepared to accept.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
The matter of the selection of Amendments is entirely for you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but had this Amendment been moved, I should have been prepared to accept it.
§ Further Amendment made: In Subsection (5, f) leave out the words "unless the Minister is of opinion that in the national interest the ground should continue to be cultivated as arable land."—[Mr. Inskip.]
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (5), to insert a new paragraph—(g) where the landlord desires to resume possession of the land in order to cultivate it himself or place a member of his family upon it.Those are the precise words used by the Prime Minister in his speech in the Caxton Hall. He was referring to the case of notices to quit, and he said that there were five conditions where the farmer may receive notice to quit, and the third of those conditions was where the landlord desires to get possession of the land in order to cultivate it himself, 2328 or place a member of his family on it. That is generally applicable to the case of all smallholdings. Those are cases which he said he would put into a separate category. This case is not put in a separate category. I move my Amendment to draw the attention of the House to it, not necessarily with the object of pressing the Amendment to a Division, but I think it is important that we should consider this case from the point of view both of the tenant farmer and of their owner. Put ourselves first in the position of the tenant farmer. He receives a notice to quit. If it is the case that the owner wishes to resume the possession of the holding, from the point of view of the tenant farmer the notice is just as inconvenient, perhaps, as if it had been given for bad farming. We have all come to the conclusion, I think, that if the tenant farmer receives notice to quit when he is not in default that he certainly is entitled, at this time of day, to some further consideration than what he previously received. The only point is the amount.
Put ourselves in the position of the owner of the land. It must not by any means be assumed that the resumption of the possession of a farm is usually by a large owner. I should say it is mostly, as the Prime Minister suggested in his speech, or usually the small owner who desires to resume possession of the farm. Let me make the case clear by giving a specific illustration which has been brought to my notice. A farmer's widow in Bedfordshire let a farm for five years to a tenant until her son came of age, or would be old enough to farm the farm. The son was educated and brought up to be, in five years' time, competent to take the farm and manage it. The tenant knew perfectly well the conditions of tenancy. The Parliamentary Secretary has just said that if land is let for a particular purpose and time in the knowledge of the tenant no compensation ought to be paid. There he was referring to a public authority. Precisely the same thing occurs, and very much oftener, in the case of private individuals. This lady, when she let the farm, acquainted the tenant with the fact that she could only let it for five years, for at that time her son would take it over and farm it, as did his father. This point is of vital importance, and I should like the attention of the Parliamentary Secre- 2329 tary to what I am saying, and a complete answer, for in this matter the Prime Minister's reputation is at stake as well as that of the Parliamentary Secretary.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
If this Bill becomes law, and this lady wishes to regain possession of the farm which her husband farmed, and let temporarily, she has got to pay compensation. I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary: Supposing she gave notice would the compensation she would have to pay be on the higher scale of four years or on the lower scale of one year's rent plus the cost of removing?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
If my hon. and gallant Friend will look at page 11 of the Bill he will see that "(5) Compensation shall not be payable under this Section," and so on.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
I am quite aware of that, but the case I am referring to is not one of the included cases.
§ 4.0. P.M.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
I do, and I have been endeavouring to state the case both from the point of view of the tenant and the owner. If the Parliamentary Secretary will make a note of that, and tell me what the position will be, whether the compensation will be paid on the higher or lower scale, and why, I shall be glad, because I do not know? I have endeavoured to show how necessary it is in every case to fix a sum which shall be fair, or as fair as possible. For the credit of the land I have endeavoured to show how very essential it is that the compensation claimed on the part of the tenant should not be pressed to the full, and that a moderate sum should be fixed which everybody would know they would have to pay, or receive. If a tenant is dispossessed through no fault of his own he should receive some compensation. My opinion is that he should receive a certain sum to cover everything. Everybody would then know what they would get as well as the others know what they would have to pay. This Bill puts forward an undefined and uncertain liability. 2330 No one knows what sum will be payable. That position must affect the financial credit of the land and everyone connected with it.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is not now arguing his own Amendment: he is going back to previous proceedings.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
I will content myself in conclusion by saying that I have put the case from both points of view.
§ This is an extremely important Amendment. I desire to put forward reasons why it should be accepted different to those put forward by my hon. and gallant Friend. I want to take the case of a, landowner who, whether as the result of this Bill, or other reasons, is farming his own land. He has lost his son in the War, as have a good many, and has no one to succeed him. He has a grandson, perhaps a boy of six or seven. He and his family desire that the estate which has been farmed by them shall remain and be farmed by their successor, the grandson. The boy may not be of age for 15 or 16 years. One of two things has to be done; either the landowner would have to arrange to have the land managed by executors through a bailiff, executors who will have little or no interest in the matter, and will not be able to supervise it as the former owner, or his successor would, and, therefore, especially as there is a likelihood of there being not too much ready money about, or he considers it better to arrange to let the land until the grandson, the new owner comes of age. Now that is a very reasonable proposition and, if that is so, and if they are able to find one or two tenants as the case may be who, when the case is explained to them, are ready to take possession of the land and farm it for a fixed period on the understanding that, at the end of that fixed period, they will have to surrender it to the now owner when he comes of age, why on earth should the landlord be compelled to pay a sum, which, as my hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Colonel Royds) says he is not certain whether it is one year's or four years' rent, or whatever it may be? It may be a large sum; it may amount, under certain circumstances, to as much as four years' purchase of the whole land. 2331 Why on earth should the landlord be forced to pay that amount? It may cripple him very seriously and prevent his carrying on the land and farming it well. It is quite a mistake to suppose that country landowners are rich people. It is really quite the reverse. Probably, when the hon. Gentleman opposite get, as they wish, houses for nothing, they will be much better off.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Why pay large compensation to a person who is willing, and has entered into an agreement, to surrender the land at a certain date? I do not want to take up the time of the House unnecessarily. I think I have put my point. It is quite a reasonable one, and one which, owing to the unfortunate state of affairs which resulted during the War, is by no means uncommon, and which, I think, deserves the very serious consideration of the Government, quite apart from what the Prime Minister said at the Caxton Hall.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I have no fault to find with my hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Colonel Royds) for bringing this Amendment forward. I realise that it is an important point. It is a point which we considered in Committee at considerable length, and one which has, I admit, a great deal of substance in it. It is very natural that objection should be taken to the case where the landlord quite properly desires to take his land in hand, or wishes to put a son or some member of his family on the land as tenant. I fully realise that there may be cases where there will be some hardship under the Bill as it stands to-day. At the same time it is almost impossible to draft any Bill which does not inflict hardship in certain individual cases, and this Bill is no exception to that rule. As my hon. and gallant Friend most fairly said, you have to look at the matter from the point of view of the tenant farmer. What is the principle of this Bill and of this Clause which we have been discussing at some length? It gives compensation for capital, compensation to a man who has placed a certain amount of capital in the farm, and we have carried that out by adopting the principle of compensation for disturb- 2332 ance, the terms of which we have already fixed in this House. If the tenant has to leave his farm, and has to give up, as has been pointed out in this House, a certain amount of local goodwill, if he has to give up a farm he knows, and to go to another to which he is a stranger, it makes no difference to him—and my hon. and gallant Friend fully recognises it—whether the motive inspiring his removal is a good motive or a bad motive, whether he has to go because the landlord wishes for some reason or other to get rid of him and to put in another tenant, or to farm himself or to put a member of his family on his farm; whether the notice be good or bad, whether the purpose be a public purpose or a private purpose, equally the tenant is dispossessed of his farm and, therefore, equally, in our opinion, he is entitled to compensation for disturbance.
I would put another point which I think is very important and material. I have, speaking generally, the highest respect for English landlords, but of course landlords might very easily take advantage of a proposal like this in a way which we should all disapprove. It might very easily arise nowadays when we have some new landlords who behave very differently from the old landlords. If this Amendment were carried, what on earth would there be to prevent such a landlord escaping altogether paying compensation for disturbance by giving notice, taking the land in hand for one or two years, and then re-letting it? The whole of this compensation for disturbance in this Clause might be rendered entirely nugatory on certain estates, and because it would open wide the door to such evasion, I feel bound to resist it, as well as for other reasons. My hon. and gallant Friend asked whether it would be a case of capricious eviction inconsistent with good estate management, and whether compensation would be payable upon the higher or lower scale, where a landlord gave notice in order that he might farm the land himself, or that some member of his family might farm it. The compensation payable is a matter for the arbitrator, but I cannot conceive that there is any arbitrator alive or likely to be born who in such a case would hold that it was an eviction without good and sufficient cause, and for reasons inconsistent with good estate management. I 2333 cannot lay down the law, though I may say I have consulted my right hon. and learned Friend, the Solicitor-General, who concurs entirely in what I have stated. The matter must be left to the arbitrator, but I can say that when we drafted this Clause we certainly never had in mind that the higher form of compensation for capricious eviction could possibly be held to apply to such a case. We only considered that it would apply in extreme cases of capricious eviction, of which happily there are very few in the country. While I have a good deal of sympathy with the object of the Amendment, for the two reasons that I have given—namely, that the tenant is equally damnified whatever may be the motive inspiring the landlord giving him notice, and that it would lead to wholesale evasion or the possibility of wholesale evasion—I must ask the House not to accept it.
§ Mr. ACLAND
There are three cases of hard lines which leap to the mind. Obviously, one is the case of this Amendment where a man wants to resume land which he has formerly occupied in order to cultivate it himself or that one of his family may cultivate it. That is a common case. Mine happens to be such a case. I came into an estate early in middle life not having been trained a farmer. I succeeded to two farms on which I lost money. I could not afford to go on losing money, and I let them. In eight or nine years' time my son may be perfectly capable of farming those farms to good advantage, and it may be a good thing to train him. Take our case, a farmer may die and his son at the time may not be old enough to take on the farm. For a few years the widow lets the farm to another man, until such time as her son can take it over. It is obvious there would be hardship in that case. Again, there are cases in which the landowner, in order to play up to the county council has cut pieces off his farm and let them to ex-service men as smallholdings or bits of grassland to be used for poultry or pig-rearing. That has happened in my case. The county council could have come into the parish and taken the land, and it would have suited me better, and I should not have had to pay compensation under this Bill. But I thought the proper thing to do was to give notice to tenants to surrender possession of fields on their farms in order 2334 that they might be handed over to the ex-service men. In those cases I may have the pleasure of losing a year's rent in order that the ex-service men may get their grass lands.
These are obviously cases of hardship. I do not however think you can possibly look into the question of motive. This whole Bill exists for the purpose of encouraging tenants to put more energy, capital and work into their farms, and to give them a greater feeling of permanency. You have to make it as proof as you can against cases of the kind I have referred to, however unfair the burden may be that you place on the landowner. You cannot enquire as to what was done with the land, or else you will create all sorts of ways of driving a coach and horses through the Clauses of the Bill. If the landlord is to pay, let him pay up. The main purpose of the Bill is to encourage men to think and believe that they have got extra security, and, therefore, even if the landlord is money out of pocket, I do not think you should look at motives at all. As an hon. and gallant Member said just now, the thing must be watertight. The tenant is to get his compensation in any circumstances.
§ Major M. WOOD
I hope I may express my pleasure that the Parliamentary Secretary, has at last got back to the principle of this Bill, and recognises that the intention is to give security to capital. I must say he seemed to have forgotten that a little while ago. I want to reply to one particular observation made by the hon. and gallant Member who introduced this Amendment. He said it was a copy of the words of the Prime Minister. That may be so, but the Prime Minister, although he put in the proviso, he did not mention Clause 7 as it appears in this Bill. He said that the Government was going to give security of tenure, but they were not going to give security of tenure where the landlord desired to resume possession of the land in order to cultivate it himself, or place a member of his family upon it. Had this Bill given security of tenure, I should have been quite prepared to assent to that particular reservation, and, indeed, we have in Scotland at the present time over 50,000 smallholders enjoying that very security of tenure which we have been advocating. That security of tenure is subject to a reservation exactly of this 2335 kind, and had security of tenure been given in this Bill I should agree that this Amendment was a proper one to be incorporated in it.
§ Captain FITZROY
The Parliamentary Secretary is quite right in saying that this question was very fully considered in Committee, and there appeared to be a general agreement that, if this case could be met in the Bill, a genuine case had been made out for doing all that we could to encourage the occupation of land by owners cultivating it themselves, without putting any undue hardship on them. A great deal of the misunderstanding on this question has arisen from the use in the Amendment of the word "landlord." No doubt that word is taken from the speech of the Prime Minister, but the word "landlord" gives the impression that he is a man who owns a considerable quantity of land, and who may wish to resume part of his property for his own occupation. That case, to my mind, is not the real case of hardship which arises under this Bill as it is now. The real case of hardship is that of the small man who has purchased a bit of land with a view to occupying it himself. Several instances have been brought to my notice recently of ex-service men who have served throughout the War, and, on being demobilised, have bought small farms with a view to settling on them. In many of these cases that was done before the introduction of this Bill, but they will come under it when they have to give notice to the occupying tenant. One instance was that of a married ex-service man who served throughout the War and, on being demobilised, purchased a farm, intending to settle on it with his wife and family as soon as he could get rid of the sitting tenants. The tenants who now occupy that farm are two bachelors, who escaped military service by reason of their being farmers. Surely no one would suggest that it is not a great hardship that that ex-service man, having, without any knowledge of this Bill coming into law, purchased this land, should now be called upon to pay that extra amount of compensation to the tenants who are now there. There is no doubt whatever that instances of hardship such as I have quoted are quite as unjust as those in which a tenant may be called upon to vacate his farm without compensation, and we must bear that in mind. I fully 2336 realise the extreme difficulty of putting anything in this Bill which would prevent unscrupulous landowners from evading compensation by giving notice to quit on the ground that they wished to have the farm for their own use; but, unjust as I think this provision will be to owners who wish to take possession of their land with a view to occupying it themselves, I do not see how the injustice can be met by a provision in the Bill.
§ Mr. JAMESON
I think this is a very important Amendment, and it should have been more sympathetically entertained. After all, the argument against it seems to be that you must approach this on the basis that the tenant ought to be given, and by this Bill is going to be given, a vested interest in the land, and should not be put out of it except under a heavy penalty to the landlord. But, after all, you ought to take into consideration that down to the present time the assumption of the law is that the land belongs to the man who owns it—the landowner—and it ought to follow from that if the landowner bonâ fide wants to take back the land in order to farm it himself, or to put one of his family on it, he ought not to be subjected to the extra penalties over and above the payment of compensation for capital that has been sunk in the land to which the Clause subjects him. Take the ease of the old laird, the old family that has been on the soil for a long time. They have to come down in this world altogether. They have probably to go back to the state they were in about 1700, that is to say, that if they are going to keep their land at all they will not have to be content with simply drawing the rent. They will have either to work at some other business or have to work on the land itself. They will have to farm, and why, when we are faced with this new situation of the terrible trouble that has fallen on landowners in consequence of the War, and when they are trying to keep their acres and work them themselves, they are to be subjected to this very heavy penalty, is more than one can see. On the other hand there is the very hard case of the farmers who have recently bought their land. That has occurred very largely in Scotland. Big estates have been sold, and the farmers have bought the farms, and they are there to cultivate them as cultivating owners. Perhaps the farmer 2337 then dies, and there is not a member of his family that is just able to take up the farm in the meantime. What has he got to do? He has to get another farmer somewhere to carry on the farm and pay him rent, and the family has to be a rent-drawing family till perhaps a son, who was a boy at the time, grows up and is able to farm his father's land again. The tenant is only supposed to be a temporary tenant, but he cannot be got out again. I suppose I cannot call that fixity of tenure, but it is a good imitation of it, and if the land is to be taken up by the cultivating family again he has to be bought out at a very great penalty. Both the old landowner who is faced with almost the necessity of taking up and farming his land and the farmer landowner who has bought the land will be subjected to a great penalty if an Amendment like this is not put in, and in justice to them you ought to start with the assumption that the people who have, after all, made the contract and taken the land for a limited period ought not to be regarded as suffering a very great hardship if they are paid compensation for the capital sunk in the land and had to give it up without getting the extra bonus that this Clause gives them.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MURROUGH WILSON
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (5, f), to insert a new paragraph—(g) to a tenant or sub-tenant where a holding or allotment has been sub-let without the consent of the owner.This is an Amendment of some substance and worthy of attention. One effect of it is that if notice is given to a tenant to quit, in regard to a holding or allotment where he has sub-let it without the knowledge of the landlord, no compensation will be paid to him. The necessity for this arose when allotments were brought in; but I should like to put the matter on the general ground. The whole idea of the Bill is to give compensation for disturbance. In a case where a man sub-lets his land there is no question of disturbance and no question of compensation being required, because obviously the sub-tenant is the person who is going to be affected and not the original tenant. The original tenant did not want the land or he would not have sub-let it. Therefore, so far as he is concerned, he is not entitled to compensation. The words "sub-tenant" are inserted in the Amend- 2338 ment in order to avoid collusion. We want to avoid the idea of the tenant and the sub-tenant working together and then taking the compensation which might be paid.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
My right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has pointed out that the purpose of this Bill is, as far as possible, to give something like security to the tenant farmer who may be able to secure compensation in all legitimate cases. The Mover of the Amendment bases his case on where a tenant has sub-let without the consent of the owner. That assignment or sub-letting without the consent of the owner does not necessarily involve very serious damage to the tenant, because it may be that he is able to secure relief under the Conveyancing Act of 1881 and the Act of 1892. For a long time past legislation has been in favour of granting relief where these assignments or sub-lettings have occurred without the consent of the owner, and I suggest that it would be rather a retrograde step to take away the compensation due to a man because he has granted a small portion of his holding for allotments to persons who required to take those allotments from him. That is the case which the hon. Member has in mind: subletting, for the purpose of allotment, a small portion of the holding. In so far as the tenant has been guilty of a breach of covenant in doing so he can secure immunity from that Act in the ordinary course under the Conveyancing Acts, 1888 and 1892. Is he, therefore, because he has committed this fault, for which he can easily obtain relief—because he has sub-let a small portion of his holdings in the interest of the system of creating as many allotments as possible—to receive no compensation from his landlord in respect of his holding? That would be going a great deal to far, and would be cutting away the security that we desire to maintain for the tenant. With regard to the sub-tenant, I do not quite follow the Amendment, because the sub-tenant under the Bill would have to look to his immediate landlord, who would be the tenant, for the purpose of obtaining compensation. In all the circumstances of the case and keeping in mind, the great importance of making the se- 2339 curity of the tenant as clear as possible, I do not think it would be right to include this Sub-clause and to say that where a breach of covenant has been committed there should be no compensation for the tenant. There seems to be no sufficient ground for it, and I would urge the House not to accept the Amendment.
§ Sir A. SPROT
I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that this is covered by what has already been passed. Earlier in the Clause it says:unless the tenant … had at the date of the notice failed to comply within a reasonable time with any notice in writing by the landlord served on him requiring him to remedy any breach of any term or condition of the tenancy being a breach which was capable of being remedied.Surely that would rule out the case of a tenant who had sub-let the land without the consent of the landlord? I speak with great diffidence, but it strikes me that that is so.
If a portion of the land had been let for allotments, the outgoing tenant should not be paid for such portion, and I think it would be scarcely payable. If that is not clear, I think it should be made clear.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. ROYCE
I beg to move, in Sub-section (6), to leave out the wordsthe compensation for disturbance in respect of the holding or holdings shall be reduced by such amount as is shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator to represent the reduction (if any) of the loss attributable to the notice to quit by reason of the continuance in possession by the tenant of the other holding or holdings,and to insert instead thereof the wordsexcept the one he resides on or, in the event of him not residing on any, the special one selected by him, he shall not be able to claim compensation unless it can be proved to the satisfaction of the arbitrator that the loss of this land would materially depreciate the value of the holding he resides on or, in the event of him not residing on it, the one named by him.This subject was discussed in Committee, and the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill made some concession, but the concession, in my opinion, is altogether insufficient. Therefore, I am compelled to move this Amendment, and I hope by this time the right hon. Gentleman has had an opportunity to consider the whole subject, and that he has altered 2340 his mind. An Amendment was brought forward by my hon. and gallant Friend behind me just now to compensate the widow, but it struck me that it would be a matter of excessive compensation to the widow if she happened to be the widow of a man who possessed many farms. Really, so far as regards the possession of the farms, I have no concern. I would not in any case, under any circumstances, limit the capacity of any man who desires to make advancement and to acquire land, but when he has acquired that land under the terms of this Bill, if it becomes law, it comes very near to security of tenure, and very near heredity, and, consequently, it would be very difficult in the future for any other person not now in possession of land to obtain it. I ask the House to realise the position in rural districts, where there are growing up young people who will be forced to leave the country in order to get a piece of land. I would not invade the rights of any man. I do not care whether a man be a multiple farmer or the farmer of one farm. In the case of the latter I would do everything I could, I would not limit the compensation due on dismissal, and he should have the greatest possible security. His roof-tree should be sacred, and he should not be subject to eviction, but when it becomes a question of a dozen roof-trees or more, I am not so much concerned. As to the compensation given to a man when his farm is taken from him I have different views from those of right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench. I do not regard it as compensation at the present time; I regard it as an endowment we are giving him, and at the expense of the landlord.
§ Mr. ROYCE
Now is the time to decide whether we should give compensation to those who deserve it or to those who do not deserve it. A multiple farmer may be the possessor of 20 farms, or a limited liability company may be concerned. I know a limited liability company which has become possessed of much land. It has been ruthless in the eviction or re- 2341 moval of tenants, and it has paid no compensation. Now you are going to endow that company with compensation in the event of any of its farms being required for the use of ex-service men and smallholders. That ought not to be. I would ask the Government to refuse compensation, at any rate in those cases where land is required by the State. I know the right hon. Gentleman will say that it does not matter by whom it is taken or for what purpose it is taken, if the farmer is dispossessed. I would give a man his own farm. I would not limit the size of the farm; it might be 500 or 1,000 acres; but when he has selected it he should not be allowed to receive compensation for any other farm. I know of an instance where a man with one farm obtained, two other farms where tenants went to Australia. Why should we give compensation in that case? I ask the House to refuse to give no compensation to multiple farmers.
§ Mr. G. EDWARDS
I beg to second the Amendment. I am extremely interested in the small man, and especially the ex-service man. If this Amendment is not carried, it will put great difficulties in the way of the ex-service man, and it will increase rent beyond what they could afford to pay.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
This Amendment deals with the very difficult case of the multiple farmer, the man who farms more than one holding, whether held for the same landlord or different landlords. We recognise that in a case of that sort the compensation payable under this Clause ought to be diminished in the event of his being dispossessed of only one of the holdings or not of all of his holdings. I think the House will have gathered from the speech of the Mover that we had done nothing in the Bill to diminish the compensation in that case. I know he did refer to it at the beginning, but nothing of the kind was suggested towards the end of his speech. We have dealt with it, and on a very fair principle. In so far as the loss of the multiple farmer is reduced by the fact that he is allowed to retain one or more holdings, and is only dispossessed of one, then pro tanto the compensation will be diminished. I think that is a principle which is fair, which is adequate, and which thoroughly meets the case, but in practice I do not think 2342 the hon. Member's proposal would work at all. It would put a premium on farm contracts being drawn up to defeat the Clause. Land agents are quite clever enough to do that, and it might mean that by breaking up holdings into more than one holding, having the residence in one agreement and the greater part of the land in the other, the compensation under this Clause might be evaded. My hon. Friend always has in mind these big multiple farmers, some of whom, I believe, are neighbours of his in the county where he lives. There are in that and other neighbourhoods, people who add field to field, but after all, the greater number of multiple farmers are the small men that my hon. Friend who seconded the Amendment specially had in mind. I know endless cases, especially in the case of fruit farming and market gardening, where a man began with a small holding of about three acres, and where he has gone on and got a field here and a field there and another somewhere else. If the hon. Member would go to the Vale of Evesham he would find the highest form of intensive cultivation, and most of those are men who live on their farms and cultivate about 50 acres, and in nearly every case they have by degrees taken a little bit extra here and there and built up their own farms. There are very many smallholders in this country who have made their way in the world from very small beginnings, and have gradually built up a small holding comprised of more than one holding. If you were in those cases to say they were only to get compensation for the holdings on which their house happened to be situated, or the one holding they might select, I venture to say you would do a great injustice to a most deserving class, a class of progressive people who go ahead from the smallest beginnings and who deserve the utmost encouragement that this House can give them. I maintain that the proposals of the Government are fair and reasonable, that the multiple farmer shall receive compensation under the Bill, but diminished by the same amount as his loss is diminished through the fact that he retains other holdings. We discussed this Amendment fully in Committee and the decision so far from being a hole-and-corner decision was come to by a free vote of the Committee. It is a fair solution, much fairer than that of my hon. 2343 Friend opposite and I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Sir A. SPROT
I have tabled an Amendment to the same effect as this and for that reason I support this proposal and hope that my hon. Friend will divide upon it. In the agricultural community multiple farms are a very unpopular institution. All progressive land reformers contend that the land should be made accessible to the people, and when a man holds several farms he is in reality keeping out other possible farmers. That is a thing which the State ought to discourage. I agree that the multiple farmer in these cases should receive compensation for his principal holding, or that on which his dwelling-house is situate, or for the one which he chooses to select, but should be debarred from getting compensation for the other farms, which ought to be thrown on the market to allow some other men to come in and start farming.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Gentleman opposite is a little premature if he thinks that I am in favour of his Amendment. When he said that the result of this Bill would be that a very small amount of land would be readily obtainable he was quite right. We have been told all through that compensation should be paid to people who made a loss on leaving a holding. I think that there is no right to compensation, but the hon. Gentleman has taken the view that where a man did 2344 go out of his holding he did suffer loss, and should receive compensation because he was removed and lost the opportunity of earning a living, and because there was an actual loss at the moment. If that is right, what does it matter whether a man has a small holding or a large one? It used to be said, but was not true, that there was one law for the poor and another for the rich, but now apparently we are to have a certain law for the poor which will give them the benefit and another law for the rich which will take away from them what they have.
§ It being Five of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next (22nd November).
§ The remaining Government Order was read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3, till Monday next, pursuant to the Resolution of the House of this day.
§ Adjourned at One minute after Five o'clock.