§ (1) Where a tenant who quits a holding after the commencement of this Act on so quitting proves to the satisfaction of an arbitrator appointed under the Act of 1908 that the value of the holding to an incoming tenant has been increased during the tenancy by the continuous adoption of a standard of farming more beneficial to the holding than the standard required by the contract of tenancy or by custom, the arbitrator shall award to the tenant such compensation as in his opinion represents the benefit accrued to the holding by the adoption of that standard:
§ Provided that—
- (a) This Section shall not apply in any case unless a record of the condition of the holding has been made under this Act or in respect of any matter arising before the date of the record so made; and
- (b) Compensation shall not be payable under this Section unless the tenant has, before the determination of the tenancy, given notice in writing to the landlord of his intention to claim such compensation; and
- (c)The arbitrator in assessing the value of the benefit accrued to the holding shall make due allowance for any compensation agreed or awarded to be paid to the tenant for any improvement specified in the First Schedule to the Act of 1908 which has caused or contributed to the. benefit.
§ (2)The continuous adoption of such a beneficial standard of farming as aforesaid shall be treated as an improvement for the purposes of this Part of this Act.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "farming" ["standard of farming 175 more beneficial"], to insert the words, "or a system of farming which has been."
In Committee it was suggested it would be better to use the word "standard," rather than "system," but on reconsideration we have come to the conclusion it would be wiser to put in both words, and I beg therefore to move this Amendment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
A system of farming may mean almost anything, and something very different from the "standard required by the contract of tenancy or by custom." The insertion of the words "or system" would only make the matter still more complicated than it is already. The Clause apparently is governed by the words "contract of tenancy or by custom, "and I do not know exactly what better word than "standard" could be used. If "system" means anything better, I do not know what it can be. I should have thought the phrase "standard of farming" was quite sufficient without going into the question of systems. I take it a system is quite different from a standard; the latter refers to something already done, but nothing may have been done under a system. Perhaps I might have some explanation on this point.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he proposes also to say "a standard or system" later on in the Clause, where the standard required by the contract of tenancy is referred to.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I never heard of a contract of tenancy which required a particular system of farming, although, of course, it does not follow that there are not such contracts. The usual contract of tenancy, however, leaves the farmer free to farm according to any system he likes as long as he observes the rules of good husbandry: there is nothing to say that he shall follow dairy farming, arable farming, or anything else. I think that this is a most muddling Clause now, and I cannot imagine the amount of litigation that it will cause.
§ Mr. HOHLER
I trust that the Parliamentary Secretary will give more consideration to this Clause. I do not 176 understand what a "standard" of farming means, as distinguished from good farming, and that is involved by custom. From my experience I am satisfied that a judge would be puzzled by the term, and it is not interpreted anywhere in the Bill. I gather, also, that the word "system" is going to be inserted later on, where reference is now made to "a standard of farming more beneficial to the holding than the standard required by the contract of tenancy of by custom"; and that the words "or by custom" are to be taken out.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
My hon and learned Friend will see that by an Amendment to Clause 25, which I have mentioned more than once, I propose to cover by a general provision all obligations implied by custom.
§ Mr. HOHLER
It would be more convenient to farmers to find a reference to custom in this very Clause, rather than to have to look at Clause 25. I do ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell the House what is meant by the words "standard or system." They have never found expression in any legislation dealing with agriculture or in the Common Law before, and I fail entirely to understand them. What can the right hon. Gentleman suggest that is better for agriculture than the custom of the country? Why introduce the words "standard or system"? I speak in ignorance, but I know of nothing better than the custom of the country. If plantations and the like are meant, they are already dealt with under the Schedule. We ought to have a clear definition of what these words mean. I know perfectly well what will happen. There is no doubt the Government will carry this unless it is amended in another place. It will go before an arbitrator, who will say to himself, "This Act of Parliament introduces the words 'standard or system.' I do not know what it means. I suppose Parliament must have meant something by these words. I must put some interpretation upon them."Then it will go from Court to Court, and ultimately it will be resolved by the House of Lords. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us definitely in regard to this Act, which is wholly a revolution in agriculture and law as we know it, what he means by the word "system," otherwise it is idle, if not impertinent, to introduce such an Amendment to this House.
§ Mr. J. GARDINER
I am very much surprised at the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Pretyman) saying there were no conditions in leases in England in reference to rotation.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I said nothing of the kind. I said there were no conditions as to any particular system of farming.
§ Mr. GARDINER
In Scotch leases these conditions are inserted, and the system of rotation of cropping is all important. If that system is altered and made more beneficial to the holding I consider that that is an improved system. So far as standard is concerned, if the system is not improved, but continued on the old level, but additional mowing and other beneficial application to the soil, or if there is no hay and straw sold, which is permissible under the lease, that I consider is the standard, the difference between standard and system being in the first place the rotation of cropping, and, hi the second place, the increased fertility of the soil.
Sir J. HOPE
I should like to understand now whether if these words are accepted that will imply that the system of farming which is laid down by the lease can be altered without the consent of both parties. It seems to me that that question is now being raised. There was an Amendment down in the Committee stage to add the words "not being a system expressly prohibited by the contract of tenancy." It seems to me, from what the hon. Member (Mr. Gardiner) has just said, that if we accept these words there is a risk that we may alter the whole conditions of the lease under this Clause.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
The only reason why I propose these words is this. We have heard a great deal about the Selborne Report. The words in the Selborne Report are "a system of farming."In Committee we discussed whether the word "system" or "standard" was the better, and there was great divergence of opinion, but on the whole the Committee thought "standard" was the better word. It was subsequently suggested by more than one hon. Member that we should put in both words, and I undertook to do so on Report. That pledge covers everything that could be covered when dealing with such a question as 178 continuous high farming. In order to cover it fully and properly both words are necessary. It has been suggested that this will give some special compensation to a tenant which he would not otherwise be entitled to. There is an Amendment of mine lower down to add a new Subsection:—Nothing in this Section shall entitle a tenant to recover in respect of an improvement specified in the First Schedule or the Third Schedule to the Act of 1908 any compensation which he would not be entitled to recover if this Section had not been passed.If by adopting a higher form of farming improvements are made which are contained in either of these schedules the tenant will not for that reason be entitled to any compensation he would not otherwise have got under that section. Therefore I do not think that any of the fears which have been raised are likely to occur if we adopt both words. If we want continuous high farming both words are necessary. When my hon. and learned friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Hohler) taunts me with having left out "the custom of the country" I ask him to look at my Amendment to Clause 25, which says:References to the terms, conditions, or requirements of a contract of tenancy of a holding shall be construed as including references to any obligations, conditions, or liabilities implied by the custom of the country in respect of the holding.That is more inclusive than the words which I propose to leave out, and it also has this advantage that I have not to go on putting down "the custom of the country" every time a reference is made. It is because I want to make these recommendations of the Commission a reality, to cover anything that I think we ought to have both words.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: In Subsection (1), after the word "standard" ["the standard required"], insert the words "or system."
§ Leave out the words "or by custom" ["tenancy or by custom"].
§ After the word "standard" ["adoption of that standard"], insert the words "or system"—[Sir A. Boscawen.]
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out paragraph (a). 179 Paragraph (a) provides thatThis Section shall not apply in any case unless a record of the condition of the holding has been made under this Act or in respect of any matter arising before the date of the record so made.As it stands with the proviso, this Clause would exclude a claim being made by a tenant in respect of any improvement which happened before a record of the holding had been under the Act. That would mean for some considerable time after the passing of the Act. That is not fair to the tenant, having regard to the object of this Clause. It should be within the competence of the arbitrator, where a tenant proves continuous high farming, irrespective of whether a record has been made or not, subsequent to the passing of this Act, to award compensation under this Clause for continuous high farming.
§ Major MACKENZIE WOOD
I beg to second the Amendment. The record spoken of here is not a new idea because a record of the holding was made possible under the Act of 1908. All we are citing is that a record can be used for this purpose whether made under this Bill by Section 20 or under the Act of 1908. There is no difference in the record in the two cases. The onus of proving that the holding has become better is upon the tenant. If he can discharge that onus it does not matter by what means he does it. If the Parliamentary Secretary cannot accept this Amendment, perhaps he would explain why he draws a distinction between the record under one Act and under the other.
Sir J. HOPE
This Amendment is put forward by the Farmers' Union for Scotland. I think that the last speaker spoke in favour of another Amendment in which is the compromise on the point proposed by the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture, and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will consider that compromise fair.
I will be very glad to withdraw my Amendment if the hon. Gentleman will be prepared to accept the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member (Sir J. Hope).
§ Major WHELER
I cannot see why a high farmer should not keep a record if necessary. We are dealing with cases in 180 which a man has done a lot to improve his farm by high farming. I cannot understand why the farmer should not have kept a record of these cases, and therefore I oppose the Amendment.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
There are really two Amendments. The first is that the compensation should be payable whether the record is made or not; I could not agree to that. In the Selborne Report it is laid down distinctly that compensation for high farming should be payable only if a record has been made. It is a fair principle. We want to pay only where a man has improved his farm by continuous high farming. We want to be sure that that has been done. Therefore, there must be a record. There is an Amendment later on the Paper, in Subsection (1, a), after the word "Act," to insert the words, "or under the Act of 1908," and if agreeable to the House I would accept that as a compromise. It would include a record made either under this Act or the previous Act.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Further Amendments made: In subsection (1, a), after the word "Act," insert the words "or under the Act of 1908."
§ In Sub-section (1, b), leave out the word "determination," and insert instead thereof the word "termination"—[Sir A. Boscawen.]
Amendment proposed: After Subsection (1), insert a new Sub-section—
(2) Nothing in this Section shall entitle a tenant to recover in respect of an improvement specified in the First Schedule or the Third Schedule to the Act of 1908 any compensation which he would not be entitled to recover if this Section had not been passed."—[Sir A. Boscawen.]
I am not quite sure how far this Amendment goes. It seems to me to ride right through the whole of the Clause. The objects of this Clause are to ensure compensation for continuance of intensive farming. The Amendment, I understand, prevents the tenant obtaining compensation in respect of any of these improvements in the First and Third Schedules of the Act of 1908, but when one looks at those Schedules they seem to include nearly every possible improvement that the tenant could make in pursuing his system of high farming. I would be grateful for an explanation.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
The Amendment is necessary. If not inserted, the effect will be that, under Clause 10, the tenant farmer can entirely override the provisions of Clause 9. What he could do in carrying out a system of continuous high farming would be to execute permanent improvements or make market garden improvements without getting the consent of the landlord, or the Agricultural Committee, or an arbitrator under Clause 9, and then he could claim compensation for the permanent improvements, or very heavy compensation for the market garden improvements.
§ Mr. TOWNLEY
Under this Bill I suppose he will get compensation for having ploughed up grass land, and, under the Third Schedule of the Act of 1908, he will also get compensation for laying it down again.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
Very likely that might happen unless we had this Amendment, which distinctly limits him exercising a power which he could only otherwise exercise under Clause 9.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: In Subsection (2), after the word "standard," insert the words "or system."—[Sir A. Boscawen.]