§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Noel Buxton)
I beg to move, "That the Lords Amendments be considered forthwith."
The House will permit me to make some preliminary observations before we take the Amendments one by one. The number of Amendments which have been made in another place is not very large, but I regret to say that some of them seem to travel a considerable distance from the principle of the agreement which was arrived at as representing the general consensus of opinion in the House. In considering the Amendments from another place we have acted upon the very strong desire that exists for harmonious working, but there are just a few of them which we find it impossible to accept. Two or three are upon matters of principle, and one affects the power of the central authority to ask for reconsideration of a wage fixed by a local authority. Another not so important deals with the notice that an officer of the Ministry should, in the opinion of their Lordships, give before a visit to a farm, and there is another which endeavours to include slow workers in the workers for whom general rates are to be laid down. There are two or three upon matters not of principle but of administrative feasibility, as, for instance, the proposal that a limit of age should be fixed for the workers for whom rates may be laid down. That is not really feasible and neither is it feasible that local committees should be responsible for the selection of the secretaries or other officers, for reasons which I may amplify later on, but in the main because in many cases there are groupings of counties in two's and complications would arise. I feel sure that on vital points, whether of principle or feasibility the House will view the matter in this light—that a general agreement was come to between all parties in the House and that it ought not to be lightly regarded or set aside in another place.
§ Lords Amendments considered accordingly.