§ (1) Where the landlord of any holding refuses or within a reasonable time fails to consent in manner required by Section 2 of the Act of 1908 to the making of any improvement comprised in Part I of the First Schedule to that Act, not being an improvement comprised in the Third Schedule to that Act, either absolutely or except upon 134 such terms as the tenant is unwilling to accept, the agricultural committee for the area in which the holding is situate may, on the application of the tenant and after giving the landlord or his representative an opportunity of being heard, direct that the improvement shall be treated for the purposes of the Act of 1908 as if it were an improvement comprised in Part II of the First Schedule to that Act, and any direction given by the agricultural committee under this Sub-section may be given subject to such conditions, if any, as the committee think fit.
§ (2) The Minister may by Regulation substitute such percentages or period as he thinks fit for the percentages and period mentioned in Sub-section (3) of Section 3 of the Act of 1908.
§ (3) Where a tenant desires to make on his holding or any part of his holding any improvement comprised in the Third Schedule to the Act of 1908 and the landlord refuses, or within a reasonable time fails, to agree in writing that the holding or that part of the holding shall be treated as a market garden, the agricultural committee for the area in which the holding is situate may, on the application of the tenant and after hearing the landlord or his representative, direct that Section 42 of the. Act of 1908 shall, either in respect of all the improvements comprised in the said Third Schedule or in respect of some only of those improvements, apply to the holding or to that part thereof, and the said Section shall apply accordingly as respects any improvements executed after the date on which the direction is given.
§ Any direction given by an agricultural committee under this Section shall be subject to such conditions, if any, as the committee may think fit to attach to the direction, and where any such direction is given the following provisions shall have effect:—
- (a) If the tenancy is terminated by notice to quit given by the tenant or by reason of the tenant becoming bankrupt or compounding with his creditors, the tenant shall not be entitled to compensation in respect of any such improvements as are specified in the direction unless the tenant not later than one month after the date on which the notice to quit is given or the date of the bankruptcy or composition, as the case may be, or such later date as may be agreed, produces to the landlord an offer in writing by a substantial and otherwise suitable person
135 (being an offer which is to hold good for a period of one month from the date on which it is produced), to accept a tenancy of the holding from the termination of the existing tenancy thereof, and on the terms and conditions of that tenancy, and, subject as hereinafter provided, to pay to the outgoing tenant all compensation for improvements payable under the Act of 1908 as amended by any other Act, or under the contract of tenancy, and the landlord fails to accept the offer within two months after the production thereof; and
- (b) If the landlord accepts any such offer the incoming tenant shall pay to the landlord on demand all sums payable to him by the outgoing tenant on the termination of the tenancy in respect of rent or breach of contract or otherwise in respect of the holding, and any amount so paid may, subject to any agreement between the outgoing tenant and incoming tenant, be deducted by the incoming tenant from any compensation payable by him to the outgoing tenant.
§ (4) The powers under this Section of an agricultural committee may in the case of a holding situate in a county borough for which an agricultural committee has not been appointed be exercised by the Minister.
§ (5) In the exercise of their powers under this Section the agricultural committee and the Minister shall have regard to the likelihood of the land being required for any purpose other than agriculture.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move to leave out the Clause.
This Clause is one of the most important Clauses in the Bill, and one of the most complicated. It begins by referring to the Act of 1908, and, unless you have the Act of 1908 before you, it is almost impossible to understand what the actual effect of Clause 9 will be. The Act of 1908 says:Compensation under this Act shall not be payable in respect of any improvement comprised in Part I of the First Schedule hereto, unless the landlord of the holding has, previously to the execution of the improvement, consented in writing to the making of the improvement, and any such consent may be given by the landlord unconditionally, or upon such terms as to compensation or otherwise as may be agreed upon between the landlord and the tenant, and, if any such agreement is made, any compensation payable under the agreement shall be substituted for compensation under this Act.Unless you look at Part I of the First Schedule there is not very much meaning to that, and this is what Part I says:
"Improvements to which consent of landlord is required:
and a large number of other things. The result of Sub-section (1) of this Clause, as I understand it, is that if the agricultural committee agrees, then the tenant has a right to compel the landlord to provide all these various improvements, amounting in all to sixteen, some of which I have read. In my part of the country there have been two or three silos erected, and I am informed—I am not erecting them myself—that the cost of erecting a modern silo upon the Canadian system, not by any manner of means a large one, is £500. Under this Clause, supposing a tenant chooses to say, "I think it would be a good thing to have a silo," he can go to the agricultural committee, and the agricultural committee can compel the landlord to erect a silo at the cost of £500. I do not know whether silos are going to be successful or not, but it does seem to me to be impossible to suggest that an agricultural committee can go to a man and compel him to erect a silo.
- (1) Erection, alteration or enlargement of buildings.
- (2) Formation of silos.
- (3) Laying down of permanent pasture.
- (4) Making and planting of osier beds."
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
They cannot compel a landlord to do it. They can either make the landlord do it or enable it to be done, and then claim compensation on the basis of the value to the incoming tenant.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That seems to me to be exactly the same thing. They can do it themselves, and claim compensation from the landlord, or make the landlord do it. I cannot see there is any difference. If I am wrong, I am only too glad to think I am wrong.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Take the erection, alteration or enlargement of buildings. The Government have insisted on their ploughing-up Clause. Take a farm of 300 acres. It may not have more than 30 or 40 acres arable, and it may, in parts of Leicestershire, for instance, have no arable land at all. With this policy of ploughing-up, it may be a very considerable portion of these grass farms are ploughed up, and as soon as they are ploughed up, it may be necessary at once to erect buildings. The cost of buildings, 137 I do not know, but I should say in all probability at present prices you could not erect anything like a small set of farm buildings under £4,000. At any rate, it will be very near that sum.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not wish in any kind of way to exaggerate. Take it, for the sake of argument, at £3,500, and £500 for the silo. That is £4,000. Whether the landlord has to find it in the way of compensation or money at the present moment, if he had eight or nine farms—and that would not be a large estate—he might easily be run into an expenditure of something like £30,000 on the whole of his estate. Where is he to get it? I am told he would have to pay 7 per cent, interest. His estate may be mortgaged already, but suppose he has to mortgage it, is it not very. probable that the majority of people in this country who have money will not readily consent to leave it on mortgage of real property after the experience of the legislation introduced by the Government? I am inclined to think there will be great difficulty in obtaining loans on mortgage.
I would like to deal with the Sub-section which deals with market gardens. The Act of 1908 says that a tenant shall not turn his farm or holding into a market garden without the consent of the landlord. As I understand this Bill, it does away with that safeguard in the Act of 1908, and compels a landlord to allow a tenant to turn his holding into a market garden, or fruit farm, or something of that sort. If the tenant goes, enormous compensation will have to be paid again by the landlord, and it was for that reason in the Act of 1908 that it was expressly stated that the tenant should not be able to turn a holding into a fruit farm or market garden without the express consent in writing of the landlord. All that is going to be swept away. I really do hope that the Government will pause before they put this additional burden, not on the landlord particularly, but upon the whole industry.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
My right hon. Friend with very great consistency moves to leave out all the principal Clauses of this Bill. As I believe he hates the Bill as a whole, I have no particular com- 138 plaint to make against his attitude, but whatever may be said against the other Clauses which he has tried to omit, I really do not think he has got a good case in respect to this Clause. This is a very simple Clause dealing with what has been for many years an acknowledged difficulty. There have been certain improvements called permanent improvements, which, as the law stands to-day, can only be carried out with the consent of the landlord. In some cases no difficulty arises. Progressive landlords allow tenants to carry out improvements which they regard as necessary for the proper cultivation, or the improvement of the cultivation of the farm. But you have certain landlords who are unprogressive, who stand in the way of progress. They will not allow a go-ahead farmer to carry out improvements which are real improvements, and which will greatly enhance the value of the land, the amount of food grown, and will profit both the farm, and ultimately the estate. They unreasonably refuse. I do not say it often happens, but I do say it does happen; and there is a difficulty with which we have to deal. I have very often been taunted with not having followed the Selborne Commission. My hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Colonel Royds) has frequently taunted me with that. He cannot do so in respect of this particular Clause. The Selborne Commission saw the difficulty. They saw how one unprogressive landlord might stop improvement in agriculture, it might be on a big estate, and therefore they provided means whereby the difficulty could be got over. Their plan is very similar to that of the Bill, except that instead of going to the Agricultural Committee, which we have put in the Bill, they suggested a certain panel of assessors to whom the tenant could appeal. We settled the question by putting the Agricultural Committee in the Bill.
This panel of assessors was to be set up for the various counties, or groups of counties. One-third were to be appointed by the Minister of Agriculture, one-third by the chairmen of the county councils, and one-third by the President of the Surveyors' Institute. If we had adopted that plan our Bill would have been absolutely on "all fours" with the recommendations of the Selborne Commission. Why did we not do it? Simply because since the Selborne Report was issued 139 these County Agricultural Committees have been set up. We thought that as they had been set up they would naturally be the proper bodies to do this work for which Lord Selborne and his colleagues suggested panels of assessors as a sort of ad hoc authorities, the Agricultural Committees being then nonexistent. We assert, therefore, that we wish to allow the tenant to go to the Agricultural Committee if he cannot get permission for permanent improvements, and the Agricultural Committee can give that permission. What happens then? The improvements will fall under Part II of the Schedule. My right hon. Friend rightly says that notice is to be given to the landlord, the effect of which is this: either the landlord has himself to do the improvements, in which case he Can charge interest—and we take powers under this Clause to vary the rate of interest, because existing rates are quite unsuitable here in view of the present value of money—or else the tenant may himself execute the improvements, and in that case he can get compensation, not at once, but at the end of his tenancy, but only such compensation as represents the value to the incoming tenant. If he does something that is not wise, and which does not really improve the holding; if he does something extraordinary, or following out some craze of his own which is not of real value and does not improve the value of the holding at all—that is, to the incoming tenant—naturally there would be no compensation.
I realise, however—and I did from the beginning, in the way this Clause was discussed in Committee—that there was some objection to the utilization of the Agricultural Committee as a judge in all cases as to whether an improvement should or should not be permitted. The reason for that is a certain distrust of some of the agricultural committees. On the whole, I think they are well constituted, but I know there are some—I am not going to specify any, that would not be fair—but there are some the composition of which has created a good deal of criticism. It might be said in some cases that the landlords were being compelled to allow improvements at their cost, or for which the tenant could get compensation by per- 140 sons acting as judges in whom they had no confidence. In Committee, Amendments were moved to substitute an arbitrator for the agricultural committee; other Amendments were moved giving an appeal from the agricultural committee to the arbitrator. The appeal from the agricultural committee to the arbitrator would not be a good plan. It would be cumbrous. If you send the matter to the agricultural committee, I think there should be no appeal against it. There was a suggestion to exclude the agricultural committee altogether. In many cases, however, they carry the confidence of the agricultural community; and also, the point settled by them will be done cheaply, whereas an arbitrator is much more expensive. But I admit there is something—a good deal—of force in the argument that the landlord should not be compelled to go to the agricultural committee. I am, therefore, prepared—and I hope this answer may shorten the proceedings on this Clause—to accept the Amendment standing in the names of the hon. Member for Cirencester (Mr. T. Davies), the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. E. Wood), and the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Richmond Division of Yorkshire (Lieut.-Colonel Murrough Wilson), as follows:(3) If in any case a landlord or tenant by notice in writing given to the other party shall so require the power which under this Section may be exercised by a committee shall in that ease be exercised by an arbitrator appointed and acting under and in accordance with the provisions of the Second Schedule to the Act of 1908.I am willing that the arbitrator shall take the place of the agricultural committee. I think that will go a very long way to meet the objections to the Clause. My right hon. Friend, in moving the rejection of the Clause, referred to the manner in which the Clause deals with the subject of market-gardens. He asked me how the Clause would apply to market-gardens. There is no doubt that there is a great deal of land which might be used beneficially for market-gardens, but a deadlock has occurred in-the matter of compensation. By the Market-Gardens Compensation Act, very heavy compensation is payable by the landlord to th3 tenant if he allows the holding, or part of the holding, to be used as a market-garden. That compensation has been so heavy that in most cases the landlords 141 have refused to allow the holdings to be used as market-gardens, and consequently intensive cultivation has been checked. We propose to get over that by applying what is called the Evesham Custom, a custom which, as hon. Members know, has worked extraordinarily well in the Evesham Valley. What generally happens is this: that when the tenant goes he produces another suitable person, who takes his place and takes over his liability, and the only case in which the landlord would pay compensation would be if he unreasonably refused to accept the successor as tenant. We propose to give legal validity in this Bill to the Evesham Custom, and apply it to the whole of the country. It has worked extremely well, and I see no reason why it should not work well all over. Here, again, I am prepared to meet the House in regard to Amendments. I wish to make the matter as clear as I can. There is an Amendment in the name of the same three hon. Gentlemen to whom I referred a few moments ago. It is in Sub-section (3), after the word "representative" ["the landlord or his representative"], to insert the words"and after being satisfied that the holding or part of the holding is suitable for the purposes of market gardening, and that it is in the national interest that it should be so treated and that there is no other land in the immediate neighbourhood of the holding or part of the holding suitable for market garden purposes and reasonably available to the tenant.The first part of this I am willing to accept, to the effect that the local committee or arbitrators must be satisfied that the holding or part of the holding is suitable for the purposes of market gardening before they give permission to turn the holding into a market garden. There is another Amendment, I think, on the next page—
§ Mr. E. WOOD
Is the right hon. Gentleman willing to consider favourably the Amendment immediately below the one to which he refers which directs the agricultural committee to take into consideration whether the land is likely to be needed for building, commercial, or public purposes?
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
No, Sir; I am not willing to accept that, for the simple reason that the substance is already in the Bill. If the hon. Gentleman will look at Sub-section (5) of the Clause he will see the matter there dealt with.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
No, I do not think you can lay down a definite limit. There are market gardens and vegetable gardens which could easily be started for less than five years, and I do not think we ought to put in an absolute limit of that sort, but there is already in the Bill, as I say, that instruction where the land is likely to be required for other than agricultural purposes. There is a further Amendment, the effect of which is that if the landlord desires and only a part of the holding is to be treated as a market garden, he can demand that the holding shall be a separate one. Here again is, I think, a reasonable Amendment.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
Well, the one to which I refer reads as follows:(c) If the direction relates to part only of the holding the direction may, on the application of the landlord, be given subject to the condition that the tenant shall consent to the division of the holding into two parts (one such part being the part to which the direction relates) to be held at rents agreed by the landlord and tenant or in default of agreement settled by the committee, but otherwise on the same terms and conditions as the original holding, so far as applicable.This, I think, is a reasonable proposal, which I am prepared to accept.
I have gone into these matters of detail because I want to make my position perfectly clear. I think the Clause is necessary, but to meet the deadlock that very often arises the Clause has been drawn in precisely the terms recommended by the Selborne Report. The Selborne Report recommended the legalisation and the adoption of the Evesham custom. It was in view of that fact that I am trying to guard against any real injustice by either the landlord or the tenant in regard to the appointment of an arbitrator where they distrust the agricultural committee. I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will not press this Amendment to reject this Clause to a division.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
The normal course will be to go to the agricultural committee, but if either party objects there will be an arbitrator. If they both agree of course the case will go to the agricultural committee. As to what is to happen in Scotland, that must be raised on the Scottish Clause. As the Bill stands now I believe the Scottish landlord takes the place of the arbitrator in England, but that must be argued on the Scottish Clause, and that point is not involved at this stage.
§ Captain FITZROY
The case which the right hon. Gentleman has made on this Clause has no doubt made it very much easier to debate this Amendment, and I for one do not propose to support the Amendment to delete the Clause. This appears to me to be a convenient time to discuss the whole of the Clause, and that course will probably shorten the discussion. My chief fear of the Clause was that T think this accumulation of unknown liabilities which may be put upon the landlord will have the effect of preventing capital being invested in the land and driving it away. What we want more than anything else, in order to develop the land to its utmost capacity, is not only to retain the capital now invested in the land, but to induce further capital to be invested in it.
I have an Amendment on the Paper which deals very much with the same 'question as the last Amendment to this Clause, which the right hon. Gentleman has told us he is willing to accept. That, however, does not meet the case entirely. No doubt it meets the case as the Bill appears in print, but this Bill has been considerably altered by the Government having re-introduced the Ploughing up Orders into this Bill. It is quite true that under the 1908 Act, to which this refers, the improvements which an owner may be called upon to make are to be considered as having regard to the interests of an incoming tenant. If the Bill became an Act as printed, that might be sufficient, but I have put down words "which would materially alter the character of the holding." That would be very satisfactory now these Ploughing up Orders are introduced. In the particular part of the country which I represent 144 there are many holdings with practically no buildings on them, and if these Ploughing up Orders are put into use you would undoubtedly alter the whole character of those holdings, and you would call upon the owner to incur a very large expenditure in equipping the farm, which would then become a mixed or arable farm, with buildings suitable for carrying on farming of that kind. That would materially alter the character of the holdings, but, at the same time, it would not affect the incoming tenant.
When an arbitrator was considering whether these buildings are to be erected on the farm he would only consider what the effect would be upon the incoming tenant, and he might order these buildings to be erected. If you introduce the words "materially alter the character of the holding," then an agricultural committee or arbitrator would have considerable hesitation in making an order for the erection of buildings on a farm of that kind. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to take that point into his further consideration and see whether he cannot include words of that character in the Amendment which he says he is going to accept. In my Amendment the liability is limited to one year's rent, and no doubt, in the ordinary course of events, these Ploughing up Orders, having been introduced, one year's rent would be quite sufficient for any improvements which he might be called upon to make on a farm in which it was not proposed to materially alter the character of that farm. If you are going to turn grass farms into arable farms, or mixed farms into dairy farms, it is obvious that not only will the words "materially alter the character of the holding" be required, but we also require words limiting the liability of the owner, for otherwise that liability is an unknown quantity, and I am convinced it will have the effect of preventing fresh capital being put into the land and will make those now owning land much more anxious to part with it than they are now.
I regret that owing to the way in which the right hon. Gentleman dealt with these Amendments it was quite impossible for me to follow him, and know exactly what the effect was going to be. I do not think it matters very much so far as the rejection of this Clause is concerned, because 145 no doubt most of us will be prepared to allow this Clause to go through and deal with the Amendments afterwards. I think it would have been more satisfactory if the right hon. Gentleman had waited TO bear what the House had to say about the Amendment. As the Amendment has been raised, I must enter a vigorous pro test against the absence from the Treasury Bench of anyone representing Scottish interests. The right hon. Gentle man said that the Scottish aspect of the case must be dealt with on the Scottish Clause. That means to say that the Scottish Members are to accept this Amendment without knowing how it is going to affect Scotland, and then, having accepted that, we have to wait until we reach the Scottish Clause, and we are asked to take something now which may have an injurious effect upon Scottish interests. I protest against the absence of the Secretary for Scotland and the Lord Advocate while this Clause is being discussed. I wish to put a definite question to the Solicitor-General. I want to know how this Clause will affect Scotland. The Parliamentary Secretary said that he proposes to accept the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Wood), which is to this effect—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Would it not be better to deal with that question when we reach the Amendment? We are now discussing the Clause as a whole.
In order to gain the support of hon. Gentlemen opposite for this Clause the Parliamentary Secretary has indicated to them the Amendments he will be willing to accept, and he has explained what those Amendments mean, although he did not explain them from the Scottish point of view. I am now asking the Government to explain this point.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The time to give those explanations will be when the Amendments are reached. The Minister would probably have been blamed if he had not at the outset given some sort of indication of the Amendments which he was prepared to accept. It seems that he is to be equally blamed when he has indicated the Amendments he is willing to accept, and it seems impossible to please the hon. and gallant Member.
The right hon. Gentleman not only indicated those Amendments, but he explained them.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
But they were not his Amendments to explain. Those Amendments are the private property of other hon. Members, and when we reach them they can be discussed fully and possibly at more than the full length.
In that case all I wish to say is that as it is quite impossible to understand what is in the mind of the Parliamentary Secretary on this question with regard to the Amendments he proposes to accept, it it impossible for me to support him on this Clause.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I am afraid this discussion puts us into a little difficulty. In view of what the Parliamentary Secretary has told us in regard to the Amendments he is willing to accept, I think a good many of my hon. Friends would not desire to vote against the Clause, particularly in the matter of the Evesham custom, which seems a reasonable proposal. I think there are a good many hon. Members who wish to vote for the next Amendment to omit Sub-section (1). I do not know whether it would be possible for you, Mr. Speaker, to take the discussion on this Amendment, and then put the next Amendment on the understanding that there would be no further discussion upon it.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That seems to me a great waste of time. Why not take the discussion now, because Sub-section (1) forms part of the Clause?
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
My suggestion is that Sub-section (1) should be put and divided upon without any further discussion, and then the Division would be on the second Amendment instead of the first.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have already put the question, that the first seven lines of the Clause stand part of the Bill. If that be objected to, the proper course is to vote against it, and if it be not objected to the proper course is not to vote against it.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the hon. and gallant Member objects to the whole of the Subsection, he must vote against the first 147 seven lines of the Clause, and that is the question now before the House.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
That does not commit us to voting against the whole Bill. We do not want to do that; we only want to vote against Sub-section (1).
§ Mr. SPEAKER
There it is. The first seven lines form part of Sub-section (1). If the right hon. Gentleman does not like what is in those first seven lines he must, obviously, vote against it.
§ Mr. E. WOOD
Would it be possible, if this Amendment were disposed of, to call the next Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Grantham?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If it is disposed of, and the first seven lines stand part of the Bill, and if hon. Members wish to vote against the rest of the Sub-section, I should like to see an Amendment to that effect.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
You cannot do that. While in Committee you may vote against every word and every line of the Bill, but hon. Members must remember that we are now on the Report stage. The Bill was, I think, five weeks in Committee, and it was there thoroughly thrashed out. At the present stage we are only revising the work of the Committee.
§ Mr. ACLAND
Might I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Pretyman) would practically gain all that he wants by Dividing on the question now being put. If he succeeded in getting these seven lines deleted there would still remain Sub-sections (2), (3) and (4) to which, I understand, he is not opposed.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
As long as it is understood that in dividing against this Amendment I am only dividing against Sub-section (1), I shall be satisfied. My objections to Sub-section (1) are twofold. The first is that it is cumulative. If it stood by itself it would not be so objectionable. It has one great advantage over Clause 7, and that is we are actually going to get something done upon the land which will be to the benefit of the industry. Money is to be spent by landlord or tenant which, we may hope, will add to the production of food. If the Clause stood by itself, with the Amend- 148 ment which the Minister proposes to accept, I should only then ask for some modification of the Schedule, as to which I shall have a word to say in a minute. But this is a cumulative burden to be added and to be read with the burden placed on the industry by Clauses 4 and 7. As my hon. and gallant Friend has pointed out, reading Clauses 4 and 9 together you get the power of issuing Ploughing-up Orders covering large areas of land. Under Clause 4 and under Clause 7 you compel an expenditure which is to be borne, directly or indirectly, by the landlord under the whole of this Bill. When you take Clauses 7 and 9 together, in the first place, you have a cumulative burden which will result in the owner of the land having to pay heavy compensation which may amount, approximately, to two years' rent in addition to the ordinary tenant right. That immense potential liability is placed upon him by Clause 9. There is a direct way in which the two Clauses will work to add to the burden. Under Clause 7 one of the most important items of compensation is the year's rent. Under this Clause, if a landlord spends money at the instance or request of the tenant and the tenant agrees to pay interest on it, that interest will be added to the rent, and will thereby directly add to the amount of compensation the landlord will have to pay in case he requires to resume possession of the land. Clauses 9 and 7 taken together add a very heavy burden, and therefore, so far as the first Sub-section is concerned, I am bound to vote against it.
The other point is the extraordinarily comprehensive character of the First Schedule of the Act of 1908 which is now to be dealt with under this Clause. It is pretty obvious to anyone who reads over the Schedule, which contains sixteen items, many very comprehensive, that it was drawn not at all with the idea with which this Clause is drawn—of scheduling certain lists of improvements which might really be vitally necessary and which the landlord might be compelled to execute or become responsible for—it was drawn with the intention of covering the whole ground of possible agricultural improvement. It could have been drawn up with no other object. Why should this House stand in the way of any landlord or tenant who desires to execute an agricultural improvement of any kind or sort or description? It would have been most 149 unwise if in preparing a schedule of agreed improvements it had been limited, but the Government in the hurried legislation of to-day did not take the trouble to examine it. They simply lifted the whole Schedule. It is easy and simple to say that what men are prepared to do jointly one man might together with the Agricultural Committee have the power to enforce as a whole on the other party. I am sure that if the Solicitor-General had been provided with agricultural assistance when he got out the Schedule he would have seen that it would have been better to leave particular items to stand in the Act of 1908 as matters of agreement between landlord and tenant, and to have taken out other special items which might properly be dealt with as they are in Clause 9. Had he done that I think the Bill would have been more presentable, and more in accord with common sense and thoughtful consideration for the interests concerned. Nothing of the kind has been done. The whole Schedule is lifted bodily. Paragraph (1), relating to the erection, alteration, and enlargement of buildings, is taken without any modification or qualification whatever. Then, again, paragraph (7), relating to the making or improvement of roads and bridges, might run to any sort of expense, while the application of water, which is referred to in paragraph (8), may be a vast business. I know that the Solicitor-General will say, and quite rightly, that he does not want me to exaggerate my case, that matters of this kind will be guarded by the arbitrator and the Agricultural Committee, and that we must not expect impossibilities. I admit that there will be great force in that answer, but I want to point out that the real mischief of this does not lie so much in its actual application, which in a great many cases may, perhaps, even be beneficial. I do not want to say that the principle which lies behind this Clause has not a great deal of good in it; but the point is that, by keeping this maximum Schedule and by the accumulation of these three Clauses, you are threatening capital out of the land. The number of cases in which this will occur may not be great, but there will be the fear that it may occur, Bill contains nothing to protect landlords or owners of land against having an immense burden, which they cannot 150 bear, put upon them by this kind of legislation.
The Government do not seem to have made any attempt to modify the feeling of insecurity that will be created in those who desire to expend capital in the purchase of land. They have brought in this Bill for the purpose of increasing the security of the tenant, but I venture to suggest that the security of the owner is at least as important as the security of the tenant, particularly when so many small owners are coming into existence. The more small owners that come into existence the better, and it is not to the advantage of the country or of the industry to destroy the security of the owner in order to give more security to the tenant. I do not think that that point has been guarded as it should have been. This Clause appears to me to have been drawn without the slightest regard to the alarm that it will cause, and to the accumulated burden that it will place upon any capital invested in land. Therefore, when this question is put, taking it as against the Clause, I shall certainly vote against it, although, as far as regards the Evesham custom, which is referred to later in the Clause, I have every sympathy with it. It affords a method whereby the land can be made to produce a larger amount of food without throwing any undue burden upon the industry, because the man who plants will have to take the risk unless he can pass it on to someone else. On the whole, I prefer the words as they stand in the Bill to the limit of five years suggested in one of the proposed Amendments. I do not think there ought to be either a maximum or a minimum. I was alarmed by the interjection of the Parliamentary Secretary that it might be possible to make an improvement which would become fruitful in less than five years. If it were obvious that within three or four years the land would be required for some purpose of development, it might, if that view were accepted, be considered wise to allow the land to be turned into a market garden, and, when the land was taken for the development purposes for which it was obviously intended, the unfortunate owner would have to pay compensation. I hardly think that the Government meant that, but the light hon. Gentleman interjected those words, and they frightened me. I do not know whether he really realised what he 151 was saying. Trees planted in a market garden do not do much in five years. They are only just beginning to bear, and to turn land into a market garden which, after five years, is to be used for housing, development, or some commercial purpose, would seem to be a most uneconomic and foolish procedure. That one man should undertake the expense, and that the loss should be put upon another, seems to be ridiculous. From the words of the Bill, I take it that the Government recognise and desire to provide for that; and I should have accepted that without any comment had it not been for the right hon. Gentleman's interjection. I hope, however, that the arbitrators will not take that view.
§ Mr. E. WOOD
Like my right hon. Friend who has just sat down, I find myself in a position of some difficulty. According to the order in which this Clause is being discussed, if we proceed to a Division on this Amendment, that Division will, in fact, be a Division for or against Sub-section (1). I rather hope that my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Fitzroy), who announced his intention of voting against the Amendment, on the hypothesis that in doing so he would be voting for the Clause, will feel able to reconsider his decision if it is made clear that in this Vote we shall only be voting on Sub-section (1).
§ Mr. WOOD
I do not want again to cover the ground which has already been covered so admirably by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Pretyman), but I want to offer one or two considerations to the Solicitor-General, and, if I can, to explain to him why I do not think that, if we divide against Sub-section (1), we shall be acting unreasonably or in any way that is undeserving of his sympathy and support.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir E. Cornwall)
We had better not get astray. The question is not whether Sub-section (1) is carried.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That is why I intervene now. If this Question be put from the Chair and negatived, then Clause 9 disappears. Therefore, the House is not voting on Sub-section (1). If the Amendment be negatived, then the first seven lines of the Clause stand part; but in the event of the Question being negatived, the whole Clause goes, and it is no use our going on discussing it on the supposition that the House is voting on Sub-section (1).
§ Mr. WOOD
If I may say so with great respect, what emerged from Mr. Speaker's ruling, at least in the minds of all my friends and of myself, was that the only way in which it was possible to vote against Sub-section (1) was to vote against the first seven lines of the Clause. I may have been wrong as to that, but I think I was substantially right in thinking that it was the only opportunity we had of voting against Sub-section (1) if we so desired.
Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY
May I say that that was certainly my reading of what Mr. Speaker said. I thought that, if these lines were taken out on the Division, that would remove Sub-section (1) from the Clause, and that we should then go on to the Amendments coming afterwards.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
What is quite clear is that the Question put from the Chair is that the first seven lines of the Clause stand part of the Bill. If that be negatived, those seven lines do not stand part of the Bill, and in effect the Amendment under discussion—namely, to leave out Clause 9—has been carried. Then the whole Clause falls. But, in the event of the seven lines standing part, then, of course, there is the possibility of discussing Sub-section (1).
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
If the right hon. Gentleman withdraws his Amendment then the hon. Member can move to leave out Sub-section (1)
§ Sir F. BANBURY
As I understand the position, it is this: Mr. Speaker proposed the Question that the first seven lines stand part of the Bill. We cannot negative that because the Government would not consent to it. My hon. Friends desire to move the omission of Sub-section (1) of Clause 9. If the Question is put that the first seven lines stand part, and that Question is carried—and there can be no doubt it will be carried—it will be impossible to move the omission of Sub-section (1) because the first seven lines of that Sub-section will already have been agreed to by the House. Therefore the only way in which my hon. Friend can vote against Sub-section (1) standing part, is by voting against the first seven lines.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
Do I understand that if the right hon. Gentleman withdraws his present Amendment you will then allow Sub-section (1) to be put to the House. If so, I appeal to him to do so.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I certainly thought my hon. Friends correctly understood the ruling of Mr. Speaker. I understood Mr. Speaker definitely to say that it was a practice which involved something like dilatory conduct to discuss this Amendment to leave out the Clause and also to discuss Sub-section (1). The suggestion now made is one which was definitely rejected by Mr. Speaker. So I understood, and I think my hon. Friends agree with me. Therefore he said that he would not allow them, if the Amendment were withdrawn, to discuss the deletion of Sub-section (1). Hence we proceeded upon the question that the first seven lines stand part, with this reservation granted to my hon. Friends, that if they voted that these seven lines should be deleted from the Clause their attitude should not be held to involve the fact that they were no longer able to criticise the question of the other Amendments which Mr. Speaker will allow. In other words, they had freedom in the later parts of Clause 9 and they were to have dealt with Sub-section (1) on this question of whether or not the seven lines stand part.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I entirely concur with what has been said by the Solicitor-General, with the further proviso that what we understood was that voting for this Amendment was our only way of expressing our desire to vote against Sub-section (1), and it would be understood that in voting against this Amendment we did not desire to delete the whole Clause but only to delete Sub-section (1). That was clearly understood, and we were to discuss it on that basis.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
It makes no difference. I quite understand it and I have not given any different ruling from that. I am pointing out the effect of the Amendment, that if it be carried the whole of the Clause falls. That must be borne in mind when hon. Members are speaking to the Amendment.
§ Mr. E. WOOD
It is very difficult to disentangle the Debate on the general Clause from the Debate on the merits or demerits of Sub-section (1). Though the pronouncement made at an earlier stage by the Parliamentary Secretary, as to his willingness to accept certain Amendments that appear lower down on the Paper, is valuable and represents a great sign of willingness to meet us in view of what passed in Committee when the Amendments were suggested, yet from my point of view I do not think it goes quite far enough, and I want to put to the Solicitor-General why I do not think on second thoughts that this Sub-section (1) is from their point of view necessary. My right hon. Friend read out a list of the improvements to which the first part of the Schedule referred. Hon. Members who may not be very familiar with all the items of that Schedule might be excused for thinking that if a landowner did not do what was supposed to be reasonable he was to blame, and was unreasonably refusing his consent. That is the language of the Clause. But I think hon. Members will agree that if a landowner does not on the whole, speaking generally, give his consent to the improvements provided for in the first Schedule, the reason is not that he is unreasonably unwilling, but that he really 155 does not see his way to undertake the liability that the Schedule imposes on him.
It is quite evident that if that be the real reason, the fear of a financial burden, especially in these days when expenses and that kind of charges are at least trebled, you will not get over the difficulty by merely getting an agricultural committee or arbitrator power to make an order. The only effect of that is that if I, an impecunious landowner, find myself unable to give my consent to a tenant who wishes either to build silos or erect buildings and all the rest of it, the only effect of an arbitrator or committee making an order is in fact to confer permanent fixity of tenure on the tenant, and assuming that the tenant goes ahead and does the work I, being still a very good and noble but impecunious landlord and unable to face the compensation for which I should be liable when he terminates his tenancy, am entirely debarred from giving him notice to quit for fear of the compensation I should be saddled with at the end. I do not really see the need of this. I do not deny that there may be cases in which, in the past or in the present, a certain amount of inconvenience has been caused to a certain number of tenants by a certain number of unreasonable landlords. Nobody who knows anything about it will maintain that they are anything but a small fraction of the whole. If we consider this Bill as a whole the hon. and gallant Member has already in the Bill, in Clause 4, powers to insist upon the necessary repairs in order to enable the land to be kept in a proper state of cultivation. That is the really important thing from his point of view, and when the matter was under discussion the Parliamentary Secretary was very careful to point out that he had no intention of including in the term "repairs," repairs for replacement and, still more, a fortiori new buildings.
§ Mr. WOOD
The Solicitor-General agrees with me. Therefore, if that be so, I fail to see the strong necessity that there is for this Sub-section, unless it be to meet cases which are really very few, in regard to which if those concerned have acted unreasonably you might wish to have compulsory power. I doubt whether it is worth while to impose an unknown 156 liability upon agricultural land with all the possibilities of far-reaching effects on mortgages involved in agricultural land, and everything else that is bound up in the capital. What will be very much wiser when you are dealing with this subject, is to be content with one thing at a time, and that is, to be content with the compensation provision, and not attempt to pile too much on the camel's back in one load. The whole situation as it was when the 1908 Act was passed, and up to the War, is amended by the decision to re-take the powers of compulsory cultivation, and all that follows it. If those powers are to be put into effect in certain parts of the country there will be the necessity of having proper buildings in order to enable the cultivation to be carried on. Therefore I do not regard this Sub-section as at all vital to the Clause as a whole. For my part, if my hon. Friend goes to a Division on the first seven lines of Sub-section (1), I shall vote with him on the assumption that in doing so I am voting against Sub-section (1), because it appears to me to be the only opportunity I shall have of doing it. Do not let us forget that in agriculture we are more than in anything else building on the capital of the last half century. The cost of buildings, the drainage and the whole bulk of agricultural capital was put into agricultural land fifty years ago and more, and anybody who has to replace it knows how increasingly difficult the replacement becomes. For all these reasons it would be an act of wisdom on the part of the Government to be content with what is wise and prudent and not attempt to do too much, because in attempting to do that they are not unlikely to find that the result is entirely different from that Which they expected, and that it will be averse from that which we all desire, namely, the encouragement of the agricultural industry.
I hope the Government will make a concession on this point. Many of us have been opposed to the control which has been granted in this Bill. We have now come to a Clause where the people who are going to exercise that control are also going to exercise control as to whether a large amount of money has to be spent either by the landlord or by the tenant in order that that control can be exercised. In other words, the tenant farmer is to be 157 ordered to do what he does not believe to be for the good of his land, the good of himself, or the good of the men employed on his farm,. The tenant farmer, on receiving this order to carry out some improvement which the Agricultural Committee thinks will be to the advantage of the community, will go to his landlord, and say, "I cannot carry out this improvement unless a big alteration is made in my farmstead." The landlord will then be in a position to say, "I am very sorry, but I have not the necessary capital. You have your security of tenure which this Act gives you, and you must carry out the improvement yourself." The tenant farmer then finds himself in the position of having to put a large sum into the buildings which are forced upon him by the control. The Government would be well advised to accept some such Amendment as the one proposed. The control has been given earlier in the Bill, and it is right now to remember that a vital alteration has been made in the Bill. The important question of control was deleted in Committee and has been put in again. At this period, therefore, the Government must consider that alteration, and I hope they will not turn down the proposal now made.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
This is a point which did not receive sufficient attention during the Committee stage. Though the Amendments that the hon. Gentleman suggested will make a considerable difference in making the Clause work, still the main objections to Sub-section 1 are immensely strengthened by Clause 4 as now modified. When he suggests that arbitration will get rid of the difficulty, I would point out that arbitrators are human and are therefore fallible, that the matters referred to in the Sub-section are matters of opinion, and when you consider the difficulty of the various questions which are referred to in the first Schedule, and the liability to have mistakes made, it might mean that an estate would be made practically bankrupt. Take the question of waterways, irrigation, roads, and bridges. It is obvious that in many cases the arbitrator cannot have an intimate knowledge of the conditions and possibilities of every situation with which he has to deal. I assume that these arbitrators are going to number about 1,000, and you cannot 158 get men who will be able to deal with every situation. There may be an enor mous cost involved if this Sub-section is passed in this form without any of the safeguards suggested by subsequent Amendments. The hon. Gentleman has not suggested that he is going to adopt any of those particular Amendments. Without them this Sub-section offers a very gloomy prospect to everybody connected with estates, which is not in the interests of good food production and agriculture generally, and I shall have no hesitation is giving a vote on this point, because if we are left without further safeguards, the results will be very serious. I am very anxious that the tenant farmers of this country should have fair treatment, and that there should be no obstacles to proper improvements being carried out, but I do not believe that the hardship that has been referred to is sufficient to justify the vast expense which would be caused by this Sub-section.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
The thoughtful and careful criticism of hon. Members demands some reply. The hon. Member who spoke last expressed some doubt as to whether arbitrators were human.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I find myself in exactly the same position. Standing at this box at 9 o'clock, I feel very human indeed and I desire to go to another part of the building. But is it not possible to take a less gloomy view of this Clause 1 I would invite the attention of my hon. Friend to the Act of 1908, and the portion of the Schedule on which the right hon. Member for Chelmsford said we were building hurried legislation. Under the Schedule, which contains three parts, certain improvements can be made. Some require the consent of the landlord to be given, some require notice to be given to the landlord, and some require neither consent nor notice. The whole covering principle of the Act of 1908 remains hereafter, and is in respect to those improvements which are scheduled. The compensation that can be obtained will be governed by the first Section of the first Clause of the Act of 1908, and I call 159 attention to it because it is important in considering the terms of the Act of 190S and the present Bill.Where the tenant of a holding has made thereon any improvement as mentioned in the First Schedule to this Act—that is, with or without the consent of, or with or without notice to the landlord—he shall subsequently, as in this Act mentioned, be entitled on the determination of his tenancy, on quitting his holding, to obtain from the landlord as compensation under this Act for his improvement such sum as fairly represents the value of the improvement to an incoming tenant.When the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) speaks of possible wasteful expenditure, he sees, in his mind, a tall silo going up at a cost of some thousands.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
There was another building to go up which would involve thousands. I must ask my right hon. Friend to abandon the great figures with which he deals in the City of London and to come back to the little country districts where £500 counts for a great deal.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
We have this great safeguard in respect of the powers which are to be exercised on the application of a tenant. It is not a question merely of the agricultural committee or of the arbitrator, who may be unwise, but to have an excellent safeguard in the common sense and the experience of the existing tenant, and if he embarks in schemes which are quite unsuited to the land, and quite useless to any tenant to whom his land may pass afterwards, he will get no compensation. Upon that I am quite certain that a sitting tenant will be very slow indeed to incur absurd or wasteful expenditure, because he would know that his own pocket would suffer. I hope hon. Members will observe that very important provision, and will note also that it is not a situation brought about entirely by this Bill. At the present time the sitting tenant has the power to require certain improvements in farming—those that are in the third part of the schedule—without even giving notice, and without the landlord's consent, and a good number of those might involve con- 160 siderable expenditure, subject always to this condition—that he would be guided by his own common sense in doing only what is of value to the land. When we are taunted with giving unrestricted or unqualified powers under this Bill, I say that such words are an exaggeration. It has been said, "You have already powers under Section 4"hat is quite right. We have taken power to deal with the question of the maintenance and clearance of drains, the maintenance and repair of hedges and the repair of buildings, but all that is really the upkeep of the farm, and does not relate to matters referred to in the Schedule, namely, the putting of new enterprise and light into the land itself. The Schedule deals with matters which will revivify and increase the productivity of the farm.
The right hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Pretyman) seemed, throughout his speech, to be dealing with what I might call the pathology of agriculture. He can see no case which is not disastrous to the landlord, and he says, "Do not increase the fear which this Bill is engendering."I think his argument was one which did rather increase the fear, because he dwelt upon the possibility of the landlord being involved in paying compensation, and he made no reference at all to the fact that there was this limitation to which I have referred. This Section throughout is to deal only with a difficulty which has been experienced since the Act of 1908 came into being. It has been found inconvenient that the Schedule in the Act of 1908 should be divided into three parts, and there are some portions of those items which appear in the first part, in respect of which a desire has been expressed that it should be possible, even without the consent of the landlord, to secure that the improvement shall be undertaken. It is in respect of meeting that difficulty that this Clause, carefully drawn and still retaining a restrictive measure of compensation, has been put before the House. When looked at fairly, and having regard to the safeguards, not put into the Bill because they exist already, it would be quite unfair to describe this Bill as a new Bill to put unfair and imprudent burdens on the landlord. This Clause is designed rather to remove the difficulties in which tenants have found themselves, and at the same time to safeguard and preserve restrictions which are necessary to landlords, good and bad alike.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The Solicitor-General made a very good case, but there are many Haws in it. He says, "Look at the first two lines of Section 2 of the Act of 1908,"which he said provided that the compensation given for these improvements will be only such as an arbitrator will consider to be legitimate, provided the improvements are useful to the new tenant. Let me give a few cases. I may say that he has forgotten, or perhaps he did not wish to allude to, the alteration made in Clause 4 with regard to ploughing up. I will deal with that later on and take first an ordinary case. The Solicitor-General says, "Thousands do not count for much in the City of London but count for a great deal in the country." That is not so at the present time. Let the hon. and learned Gentleman put up an excellent modern cowshed, for instance, and he will find that the cost runs into a good many thousands. Take the very simple case of a farm which is capable of being used as a dairy, and where to make it modern buildings costing, say,£6,000 require to be erected. The man may have got Frisian cattle, which are rather delicate, and wishes to house them. The landlord refuses consent but the tenant puts up the buildings. Eventually the tenant finds owing to changed conditions he cannot carry on, and he gives notice. An arbitrator is called in and the question arises whether the buildings would be advantageous to the new tenant. The new tenant will only give the old rent of£300 and will not pay the interest on the buildings and as agriculture is depressed at the time the landlord has to let at £300 and will have to pay compensation for the buildings. Now we come to the case under the alteration made in Clause 4. An agricultural committee order grass land to be ploughed up and buildings will have to be put up. When wheat has fallen, say, to 40s., and with a possible repeal of the guarantees by the Labour party, the farmer would leave in a year or two and the landlord again would have to pay for the buildings. I am much obliged to the Parliamentary Secretary for the concessions which he has made, but they do not go far enough. There is the fact that an arbitrator and not the Agricultural Committee is to decide, and there is the Evesham custom. I am not sure that the arbitrator would be able thoroughly to grasp the situation. If I 162 were called in as an arbitrator my first duty would be to read the Act, where I would see that certain things may be done. Therefore, whatever my views, might be, I would have to consider those things because Parliament would never put into a Bill that certain things could be done if it did not mean that they should be done.
Under those circumstances the landlord may have to pay large sums so that in the case of smaller men they will be faced with bankruptcy. Under the 1908 Act the man who had eventually to find the money was asked for his consent, but in this case the owner of the property who has to find the money eventually is not even asked for his consent. Surely if hon. Members will think how can they expect the prosperity of the country to go on if that sort of thing happens? Where is it going to end? Everybody who thinks he can get something out of somebody else will be pressing for legislation of this sort. We have had it in housing. It was supposed to be during the War, but it has gone on, and the result will be that no one will invest a shilling in real property in the end in this country. We saw what happened in Ireland when this sort of legislation took place and how eventually it was necessary for the State to find the money to buy out the land. I earnestly ask the Government before it is too late to reconsider their position. If they will not do so, personally I would far sooner that they nationalised the land at once.
§ Mr. GEORGE EDWARDS
I have been trying to ascertain what is the motive of the opposition of the right hon. Baronet and his friends. The right hon. Baronet gave us some enormous figures, which he calculates represent the sum required should the Clause be agreed to as it stands. No one knows better than he that one of the things necessary for good husbandry and for the prosperity of agriculture is that there should be good buildings on every farm, whether arable or dairy. If the right hon. Baronet and those who are opposing the Clause were to visit some of the counties they would find that good buildings suitable for farmers to cultivate their land and to produce food for the people are just the things which they have not got. Again, the argument is used that we are going to compel people to spend money in order 163 to take money that does not belong to them, but belongs to other people. I cannot find in this Clause, neither can I discover it in any other Clause in the Bill, that we are going to take from other people money which we have no right to take. The Clause says that if the landlord neglects or refuses to erect buildings necessary for the carrying on of this industry, then the Agricultural Committee may apply to the tenant. Listening to the remarks about the agricultural committees from the Benches on the other side, one would think that those committees were composed of Bolsheviks. Who are those agricultural committees, and from what class are they drawn? I know something of them, and my experience is that they are composed of farmers and landlords. There are very few Bolsheviks and anarchists, as hon. Gentlemen like to call Labour men, on those committees. On my committee there are four of us, but you can take a good many counties and you will not find one. Do you think that these agricultural committees are going to do what is not fair, and to indulge in confiscation and robbery against the very class they represent? No one knows better than the right hon. Baronet that no such thing will take place.
§ Mr. EDWARDS
I am glad the hon. Member for Chelmsford is in his place. As I listened to his speech I thought it was one of the most pessimistic that I ever heard about agriculture. Every attempt that we make is going to bring ruin and disaster, especially upon the
§ poor, pauperised landlord. I hope the Government will not give way any further on this Clause, for it is one of the most essential in the Bill. It will ensure that the man farming his land shall have buildings suitable for him to carry on his industry. Should the landlord neglect to do it, then the tenant himself will have the opportunity to put the buildings up, with the assurance that if he leaves the farm he will receive compensation for the improvement he has made to the property, which does not belong to him, and of which someone else coming in will reap the benefit. I hope the Government will persist, and that we shall have very few more days of this terrible obstruction of the business of the country.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I would really appeal to the House to end the discussion on the Clause. At the beginning I indicated that I would make certain concessions, which I was quite prepared to do. I hoped it would shorten the Debate, but it is not very encouraging to a Member in charge of the Bill, when he undertakes to make concessions on a Clause, which can only be made by detailed discussion of the Amendments, that we should have a two hours' Debate on the Clause as a whole. I appeal to the House to come to a decision on the Clause and to proceed to the detailed consideration that is really necessary.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out to the word 'the' in Subsection (1) ["tenant is unwilling to accept, the agricultural committee"] stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 143; Noes, 38.165
|Division No. 369.]||AYES.||[9.35 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Casey, T. W.||Gardiner, James|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Chadwick, Sir Robert||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C.M. S.||Churchman, Sir Arthur||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Glanville, Harold James|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid.)||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Davies, Altred Thomas (Lincoln)||Grundy, T. W.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Hanson, Sir Charles Augustin|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Edge, Captain William||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedweilty)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Hinds, John|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Hirst, G. H.|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Bruton, Sir James||Forestier-Walker, L.||Hood, Joseph|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)|
|Cape, Thomas||Galbraith, Samuel||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Johnson, Sir Stanley||Myers, Thomas||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Johnstone, Joseph||Neal, Arthur||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Parker, James||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Swan, J. E.|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Pratt, John William||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Prescott, Major W. H.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Tootill, Robert|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Purchase, H. G.||Turton, E. R.|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Vickers, Douglas|
|Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D.(Midlothian)||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Maddocks, Henry||Robertson, John||Whitla, Sir William|
|Mallalieu, F. W.||Royce, William Stapleton||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbrdge)|
|Manville, Edward||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Martin, Captain A. E.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wise, Frederick|
|Middlebrook, Sir William||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.||Sexton, James||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Morgan, Major D. Watts||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Morris, Richard||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Murray, Lieut.-Colonel A. (Aberdeen)||Simm, M. T.||Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Cautley, Henry S.||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Wheler, Lieut.-Colonel C. H.|
|Courthope, Major George L.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lort-Williams, J.||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Morrison, Hugh|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Pickering, Lieut.-Colonel Emil W.||Sir F. Banbury and Captain|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||FitzRoy.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Captain FITZROY
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the wordsProvided that in the case of any of the improvements comprised in Part I of the First Schedule of the Act of 1908 the execution of which would materially alter the character of the holding or involve capital expenditure of an amount greater than one year's rent of the holding a direction given by an agricultural committee shall not take effect until a period of six months has elapsed after the date on which notice of the direction having been made was given to the landlord of the holding, and the landlord may at any time during the said period appeal against the direction to an arbitrator. Any such appeal shall be determined by arbitration under the Act of 1908, and where any such appeal is made the direction shall not take effect pending such determination.I pointed out, in my remarks on the main question, the difference between this Amendment and that which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to accept at the end of the Clause. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that there is a considerable difference between them, and seeing that these Ploughing up orders are re-introduced into the Bill, the difference 166 as regards the material alterations in the buildings and the limit put on the amount of expense the owner may be put to will be very considerable. I, therefore, hope he can introduce into the Amendment which he proposes to accept some words equivalent to the proposal in my Amendment.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
I beg to second the Amendment. In so doing, I should like to point out to the House that while the Ploughing up orders are temporary and are in Part I of the Bill, which may be withdrawn at any time, Part II, under which an owner can be compelled to erect buildings, is permanent. Therefore, an owner may be ordered in consequence of a temporary Ploughing up order made under Part I, which may be repealed in a few years' time, to erect permanent buildings for all time for this ploughed-up land, which the tenant may be at liberty, as soon as times are bad and the guarantees are withdrawn, to lay down to grass without anyone's consent at all. The Parliamentary Secretary said the Clause would probably only apply to a 167 few cases. Here, therefore, we have another case of legislation for the whole agricultural industry merely because there are a few owners, as he says, who do not provide the necessary capital for their tenants. Here you are passing a Clause which will act detrimentally to the interests of all the owners of land, merely because a few owners are not satisfactory. The Amendment deserves all possible support, and I hope the Government will accept it.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I hope my hon. Friends will not press this Amendment, which does not go so far as the Amendment I propose to accept later in the Clause. This Amendment asks that in certain circumstances, and only in certain circumstances, such, for instance, as an improvement which will alter the character of the holding, or involve expenditure greater than a year's rent, there may be an appeal to an arbitrator. In the Amendment I propose to accept, which stands in the names of the hon. Member for Cirencester (Mr. T. Davies), the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. E. Wood) and the hon. and gallant Member for Richmond (Colonel M. Wilson), a landlord or a tenant is allowed the right to go to an arbitrator under any circumstances, whereas my hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment only applies to certain cases.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MURROUGH WILSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (3), after the word "representative" ["and after hearing the landlord or his representative"], to insert the words "and after being satisfied that the holding or part of the holding is suitable for the purposes of market gardening."
This is one of a series of Amendments relating to the Evesham Custom, which is now spreading all over the country. It originally arose in the Vale from which it takes its name, owing to the difficulties which arose, as many farmers wished to go in for intensive cultivation. The Act of 1908 raised difficulties which were got over by the landlord and the tenant coming to a mutual arrangement by what is known as the Evesham Custom, which is roughly this, that the tenant is allowed to put up any necessary buildings or plant trees to any extent, and to do work under the Act of 1908 without getting the con- 168 sent of the landlord, on condition that on vacating the holding he finds a suitable tenant under certain conditions. That system is spreading all over the country, and an attempt has been made to introduce Clauses to meet it in this Bill. The effect of this Amendment is to secure that the land taken under the Evesham Custom is suitable, and I think such a proviso is desirable.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I shall be glad to accept this Amendment. It is proposed to give power to call in an arbitrator before deciding whether the land is suitable for the purpose. We do not want intensive cultivation except on land which is suitable for the purpose. A great part of the land of this country is unsuitable, but certain parts are suitable, and we sought to meet the difficulty arising at the present time by the legalisation and general adoption of the Evesham Custom.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Lieut.-Colonel M. WILSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (3, a), to leave out the word "the" ["and on the terms and conditions of"].
The object of this and the two succeeding Amendments is this: As the Bill now stands, when a tenant and a landlord make an agreement in regard to another tenant taking the place of the original one, it is fixed by the Bill in accordance with the conditions of the old tenancy. I suggest it is rather unnecessary to tie down an original contract to that extent, and I suggest that the landlord and the tenant should be able to make such new-terms as may suit them. Conditions may have changed and a thousand and one things may have happened, and, failing agreement, they should be able to refer the matter to arbitration.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I cannot accept this Amendment and the following ones, which are consequential, because they are a complete divergence from the Evesham Custom. I think the Amendment would be quite unworkable. To put in words such as these would really defeat the object of the Bill.
§ Amendment negatived.169
§ Further Amendment made: In Subsection (3, a), leave out the words "for improvements."—[Sir A. Boscawen.]
§ Lieut.-Colonel M. WILSON
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (3, b), to insert a new paragraph—(c) If the direction relates to part only of the holding the direction may, on the application of the landlord, be given subject to the condition that the tenant shall consent to the division of the holding into two parts (one such part being the part to which the direction relates) to be held at rents agreed by the landlord and tenant or in default of agreement settled by the committee, but otherwise on the same terms and conditions as the original holding, so far as applicable.The object of this Amendment is to meet the case which continually arises on land generally suitable to come under the Evesham custom, where, as it often occurs, one portion of the holding is suitable far that purpose, and the other portion is not. Under these conditions it is considered necessary to divide the tenancy into two separate parts, treating one under the Evesham custom, and the other under the Agricultural Holdings Act.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I am willing to accept the Amendment. I think it is only fair that if only part of the holding is to be treated as a market garden there should be power on the part of the landlord to say that the. holding should be divided. In Committee it was proposed to do this in all cases, but that would not do.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Lieut.-Colonel M. WILSON
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (3, b), after the words last inserted, to insert the wordsProvided that where a tenant has been accepted in accordance with the above provision and on the terms and conditions of the existing tenancy, a new tenancy shall not be deemed to have been entered into for the purposes of Sub-section (3) of Section seven of this Act.10.0 P.M.
I am rather in doubt in my own mind as to what the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary said a few minutes ago in regard to an earlier Amendment. I understood him to say 170 that any question of rent would not come under this Sub-section, and I also understood him that he has agreed to accept this Amendment.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
Sub-section (3) of Clause 7 of the Bill, to which reference is made, says:
"The provisions of this Section relating to demands for arbitration as to the rent to be paid for a holding shall not apply where the demand is so made that the increase or reduction of the rent would take effect at some time before the expiration of two years from the commencement of the tenancy of the holding or from the date on which a previous increase or reduction of the rent took effect."
I cannot quite understand how this provision does not apply to a new tenancy. The introduction of a new tenant is undoubtedly a new tenancy. I do not see what object my hon. and gallant Friend has in wishing to exclude a case of this sort from the provisions of Sub-section (3).
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I quite understand it because my right hon. Friend was asked just now by the right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) whether the conditions of the new tenancy would apply to the adjustment of rent if it were so desired, and my right hon. Friend replied that it would be possible under Clause 7"Now he said it would not be. Perhaps I have misunderstood it. It would merely allow the adjustment of rent to be made without waiting two years for it. I think it is a very reasonable proposal. The new tenant may wish to have a lower rent or the landlord to have a higher one. Circumstances may have changed. It does seem out of place that he should necessarily wait for two years for an adjustment.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I do not want to interrupt my hon. Friend. I quite seethe point, but I have not really given full consideration to the matter. I shall be glad to accept the Amendment.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I said I had not given it full consideration in the sense 171 that it may be necessary to alter the wording elsewhere, but I think the principle is all right.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Lieut.-Colonel M. WILSON
I beg to move, after Sub-section (5), to insert a new Sub-section—(6) If in any case a landlord or tenant by notice in writing given to the other party shall so require the power which under this Section may be exercised by a committee shall in that case be exercised by an arbitrator appointed and acting under and in accordance with the provisions of the Second Schedule to the Act of 1908.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out the word "or" and to insert instead thereof the word "and".
If this Amendment is carried I shall move a further Amendment making it read, "If in any case a landlord and tenant by notice in writing given to the other party shall so agree." I do not think this proposal has been discussed, and it will stand a little consideration. I do not agree that either party ought to have the right to substitute an arbitrator for the Agricultural Committee. I quite agree that the two parties by agreement might substitute an arbitrator, but I can quite imagine the system working extremely badly if either party has the right independently of the other. We have to look to one party for the agricultural policy of a district. If a tenant asks his landlord's permission to make an alteration in his holding such as the taking down of fences, and so on, or any other of the possible improvements under Part I of Schedule 1 of the Act of 1908, I think the landlord ought to have an appeal to the body which is in charge of the agricultural policy of the district, so that he may say that the improvements which the tenant wishes him to make shall not be compensated for.
I do not think that question ought to be taken out of the purview of the Agricultural Committee by the mere wish of the tenant. Supposing the Committee is a forward one, and they are proposing to work hand in hand with the tenant. Supposing the Committee has required the tenant to plough up his land, and he asks the landowner's consent. In this case I do not think the landlord ought to be able to alter the venue and get the matter 172 decided by an arbitrator. Except by agreement of the two parties, I do not think the arbitrator ought to be brought in. I am afraid this proposal will cause friction between the Agricultural Committee and the arbitrator, and I suggest this only ought to be done by common agreement.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I cannot accept this proposal. It seems obviously fair that if either the landlord or the tenant has reason to think that he will get better justice, and the matter will be more properly considered by an arbitrator than the Agricultural Committee, he should have the right to demand an arbitrator. I cannot go back upon the principle which I have laid down this afternoon. If the Amendment took the form which my right hon. Friend has suggested, it would add nothing to the Bill, because without any Amendment whatever it is always possible for the two parties to agree to an arbitrator instead of going before the Agricultural Committee. We have only put in the Agricultural Committee first of all because they are the local agricultural authority, and they should have cognisance of these things.
There is another advantage in the Agricultural Committee, and it is that it will be far cheaper in the long run. I think in most cases both parties will agree to go to the Agricultural Committee. If there are reasons why a landlord wishes to go to an arbitrator, he ought to have that right, because very heavy expenditure may be put upon him, and it may be quite right that it should be placed upon him. The landlord may have blocked some improvement that is really necessary for the proper conduct of the farm, and, at the same time, he is running a big financial risk. If he feels that he would sooner have the matter settled by an arbitrator, J do not think the tenant-should have the right to prevent him.
I think it would have been much simpler to have had one body to which these cases should be referred. If one of the parties wishes to go to an arbitrator and the other does not, then there will be a sense of grievance from the very beginning, and the award will be questioned. Then comes the question of expense. If this matter goes to the agricultural committee there will be no expense, but under the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1908 173 there are expenses incidental to the arbitration which can be charged. I wish to ask a question as to how this proposal will apply to Scotland.
§ Amendment to proposed Amendment negatived.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed be there inserted in the Bill."
I wish to ask the Secretary for Scotland the effect of this Amendment which has been accepted without any discussion. I do not believe the House knows its real meaning. I want to know what would be its effect in Scotland, as I desire to know how to vote on this Amendment. It is useless to say that we should wait until the Scottish Clause comes on, and will the Secretary for Scotland therefore be so good as to answer the question put by the hon. and gallant Member for North Midlothian (Sir J. Hope), and tell us whether an appeal would lie from the arbitrator to the Land Court in Scotland.
§ Mr. MUNRO
I think the answer to this question is quite simple. So far as the Scottish Clause is concerned, if it remains in its present form, in Scotland the case contemplated by this Sub-section would go to the agricultural committee or the Land Court. In England it goes to the agricultural committee or to the arbitrator. The alternative in Scotland will be between the agricultural committee and the Land Court, and not between the agricultural committee and the arbitrator.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
Will the expense of these improvements be dealt with by the agricultural committee, and is there any appeal from that committee? If the matter is dealt with by an arbitrator, am I right in saying that 174 there is an appeal on a point of law by either party to the High Court 1 If the matter begins and ends with the agricultural committee, I understand neither the owner nor the tenant wishing to put themselves into their hands, and if an arbitrator is appointed they can appeal to the High Court, and that makes the position different.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
If it goes to the agricultural committee there is no appeal. If it goes to the arbitrator there is an appeal on questions of law only. It is left optional to either party to say whether they will go to an arbitrator or not. They know precisely where they are in either case.
Proposed words there inserted in the Bill.