HC Deb 11 July 1923 vol 166 cc1395-8

In determining for the purposes of Section twelve of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act, 1923, what rent is properly payable in respect of a holding, an arbiter shall not take into account any relief to occupiers of agricultural lands and heritages effected by the Agricultural Rates (Scotland) Acts, 1896 to 1923."—[Mr. Falconer.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

I am much indebted to you, Mr. Speaker, for your further consideration of this Clause. The point which you mentioned had escaped my notice, or was out of my mind, when I had the honour of the interview with you. The object of this Clause is a very simple one, but it raises in a sharp way the question as to whether, in certain circumstances, the occupier is to have the benefit of the relief given to him, and it is not to be regarded as belonging to any extent to the landlord. I understand—


May I just say that I should perhaps have added, in giving my ruling, that it is confined to cases where rent is already fixed by arbitration, and not to wider cases? I should be obliged to rule out of order the fifth new Clause, standing in the name of the right hon. Member for Tiverton ["Securing benefit of Act to occupier"]—which goes very much wider than does that of the hon. Member, so that discussion on this Clause will be kept within the terms of the Clause.

4.0 P.M.


I do not propose to discuss the general question outside of this Clause, and I have purposely narrowed my Clause so as to limit it to the cases where, under Statute, the amount of a rent is fixed, either by arbitration or by a Land Court. I am relieved from troubling the House at any considerable length on this question by the fact that I am given to understand that, in principle, the Government accept the Clause, and while they have views as to making it a better one, so far as draftsmanship and scope are concerned, these views, so far as indicated to me, entirely meet with my approval. I think the lines on which I understand the Government propose to deal with this matter are better and rather wider than those of my Clause. As the Government proposal could not be moved at this stage, I am bound to move my Clause, leaving it to them, between now and the consideration of the Bill in another place, to insert the Clause which they put forward, and leaving that, of course, to be dealt with by this House when it comes back. So far as I am concerned, I am quite prepared to accept the Clause on the lines proposed by the Government. I am not going to say anything more on this subject, except to remark that, apart from the merits of this particular case which will be dealt with under this Clause, it is important that the House should in this way lay down the principle that, wherever they properly can, they will protect the occupier from any attempt to give the benefit of the rates, which are intended for his benefit, to the owner on a change of tenancy.


I beg to second the Motion.

I am glad the Government are prepared to extend the principle, which has already been laid down under Section 6 of the Act of 1906, to cover the cases to which my hon. Friend has referred, and that they propose to deal with this matter, under which the tenant will get full protection, and subsequently the advantage of any relief provided for him by this Bill.


As I explained to the hon. Member for Forfar (Mr. Falconer), I am willing to accept this Amendment. It will probably be necessary to amend the Clause to a certain extent, in order to make it more effective for the purposes he has in view. I am not able to make that Amendment on the Report stage, as it is not on the Paper, but I shall have it moved in another place.


Can the hon. and learned Gentleman read it?


Certainly. It is as follows: The relief to occupiers of agricultural lands and heritages effected by the Agricultural Rates (Scotland) Acts, 1896 to 1923, shall not be taken into account by the landlord in fixing a fair rent for a holding under the Small Landholders (Scotland) Acts, 1886 to 1919, or by an arbiter in determining, for the purposes of Section 12 of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act, 1923, what rent is proposed payable in respect of a holding.


I wish to thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for reading the Clause which the Government intend to insert. All the hon. Members who are associated with me in this matter will agree that the terms he suggests are an improvement on those put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Forfar (Mr. Falconer).


May I say, in agreeing with my hon. Friends who have spoken, how pleased we on this side of the House are with the generous terms of the Government's new Clause. I am particularly satisfied with them.


I am also particularly pleased, that the Government have accepted this Amendment, but I should like to impress on the English Members what a tremendous advantage it is to the Scottish Members that they have separate Acts dealing with these matters. What an enormous advantage it would be to us in England if we could have a similar Clause passed, relating particularly to the small holdings in this country, which would prevent their rents being raised by this remission of rates. This is just an example of how Scotsmen, by standing out for their own conditions and legislation, have an advantage over others.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.