§ Again considered in Committee.
§ [Mr. DENNIS HERBERT in the Chair.]
§ Miss LAWRENCE
When the proceedings were interrupted, I was in the middle of an explanation of a small but somewhat difficult question. How difficult it can be is seen by the two Amendments on the Paper. That which I now move was put down after consultation with those who actually do this business. The difficulty is that we have had two different definitions of persons of the working class. Those two definitions are by no means the same. The definition of "persons of the working class" includes in actual practice very many persons who could not be called labourers. The second largest class of persons actually housed on the London County Council housing estates, is made up of clerks. Then there are many other classes of persons of that character who are classed as persons of the working class, by the kind consent of the Minister, but who by no means could ever be persons of the labouring class. It is a very awkward and bad thing to have two definitions of persons when you desire to proceed with the derating of property. Those who have to deal with these matters assert that any rating qualification which depends on the sort of tenant is in itself highly unsatisfactory. It is highly unsatisfactory because you have to conduct personal inquiries before you can rate or de-rate any house and it gives the authorities a great deal of trouble.
Secondly, the qualification may change from year to year, or in the case of this property even from week to weak. That will introduce an undesirable complexity 1038 into rating matters. Those to whom I have spoken, who are persons of great experience in these matters, express their very strong desire for some criterion that can be applied to the property and not to the tenant. These inquiries as to whether a person is of the labouring class—he may be a clerk or a school teacher or someone who is very doubtfully a person of the labouring class—are troublesome and unnecessary Further they may be disagreeable to the housing authorities, whose precepts have so much extended since the Act of 1906.
After a great deal of consideration and after having consulted experts, I have put down this Amendment, which attaches she cottage garden to the size of the house and the rental value of the house and not to the class of tenant. The words of the Amendment are taken from the Housing Act of 1925. Houses of this rental are the houses of which the landlord is bound to do the repairs. It is clear that a very small house with a cottage garden is, prima facie, likely to be occupied by a person of the class that we have in mind. But from the point of view of the rating authority, the convenience of being able to take up your records and to mark off the houses which are to be de-rated and those which are not, is a thing that can hardly be exaggerated. Hon. Members opposite are never tired of speaking of economy. Here is a piece of economy for them. We have voted £150,000 of good money for the execution of the complicated manœuvres recommended in this Bill. Every 6d. that we can take off that work is a 6d. worth consideration by this Committee. I put this proposal forward at-a clear, workable and understandable thing, which any rating officer can apply without doubt or fear.
I do not think that the Amendment can be properly described as the hon. Member described it—as perfectly clear, workable and understandable; for if she will read the Amendment into the Clause she will find that it is extremely difficult to understand and is in fact defective in drafting. But I do not want to dwell on that point, because I think that the intention of the hon. Member is clear. I would again remind the Committee that we are not here de-rating or proposing to de- 1039 rate any agricultural property for the first time; we are dealing with agricultural property which is to a large extent already de-rated, and all that we are doing is to increase the de-rating from 75 per cent. to 100 per cent. Therefore, when the hon. Member brings forward a proposal of this kind as a means of effecting economy, I would point out that there can be no possible economy, because the separation of the properties which are in receipt of relief has already been effected. It does not help one to separate properties where in fact they are already separated.
What is the justification for the proposal to alter the words of the Bill? The hon. Member alluded to this as a new definition, but she is herself not unaware that this is not a new definition but is a definition which dates back to the Act of 1896. Although it is perhaps not exactly the expression that we should use if we were beginning to-day for the first time to deal with this matter, and although the expression "labouring class" is one which enables a good many of us to come under that definition as we understand it to-day, yet I think that the practical point to which we have to address our mind is this: Has this definition given rise in practice to any difficulty? I submit that it has not. It was significant that although the hon. Member said that it might give rise to difficulties, and she said that she had consulted people who had expressed strong views, nevertheless she did not bring forward evidence to show that any serious doubts have arisen in this connection as to what was meant. Therefore, I put it to the Committee that this definition, having stood the test of time, having provided a test by which properties could be separated ever since 1896 when they first got the relief of 50 per cent., which was in 1923 increased to 75 per cent., there is now no occasion to alter it.
I had better say a word on the particular proposal that the hon. Member has put forward. We must try to keep clear in our minds what it is that we are trying to do here. We are defining a cottage garden. We say that a cottage garden exceeding a quarter of an acre has to be separated, and it is understood that one exceeding that area is to be treated as agricultural land and there- 1040 after is to enjoy the benefit of any proposals for de-rating agricultural land. But here it is not merely to be a garden attached to a cottage but a garden attached to a cottage occupied by persons of a particular class. The reason for that is perfectly obvious. It is not to arouse the susceptibilities of the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Paling), for instance. This is no invidious distinction. On the contrary this is to say that the persons who do not belong to the labouring class are not to have their gardens treated as agricultural land and de-rated, even if they exceed a quarter of an acre. Why is that stated? Again I think it is not very difficult to see why. It is because it has been assumed, we may take it, during the last 32 years, that a person in the labouring class if he had a garden exceeding a quarter of an acre would be using it for the purpose of producing useful food, whereas a person of a more wealthy class might very well have a garden exceeding a quarter of an acre which he desired to use solely fox the purposes of horticulture. It is not desired to give the benefit of de-rating to such a person.
What does the hon. Member for East Ham North (Miss Lawrence) propose? She does not propose that we should continue this definition which, as I said, has worked in practice. She is going to make the test the rent of a particular cottage and, in justification of that proposal, she says it is extremely unlikely that a small house would be inhabited by anybody but a person of the labouring class or, as she terms it, the working class. Are we sure that that is the case? Is not one of the complaints frequently made in all parts of the House of Commons, in connection with the difficulties of housing in the rural districts, that wealthy people come out of the towns, take these small cottages and use them for week-end or holiday purposes, to the exclusion of persons of the working class or the labouring class1? It would appear that in this matter we shall have to protect the working class or labouring class against the hon. Member for East Ham. She wants to say that a person who has been fortunate enough to obtain one of these small houses at a small rent for week-end purposes, may enlarge indefinitely the pleasure garden attached to the cottage and have the benefit of the de-rating of agricultural land. I do 1041 not know that such is the intention of the hon. Member; but I think the Committee will see that that would be the effect of the Amendment, and in these circumstances, I cannot imagine that she would desire to press it.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
The right hon. Gentleman concluded his remarks without referring to the main question. What is his definition of "labouring class"? That is the main point which the hon. Member for East Ham (Miss Lawrence) desire to have cleared up and I think she argued logically that it would be helpful to assessment committees if they knew what was the Minister's definition of the term. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Act of 1896 as the starting point of legislation of this kind. Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that the terms "cottage garden" and "exceeding a quarter of an acre" are mentioned in the 1896 Act?
§ Sir K. WOOD indicated assent.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Are we to understand, then, that the 25 per cent. relief of 1896 and the 50 per cent. relief of 1923 have been given to any member of the labouring class who has a cottage garden exceeding a quarter of an acre in size? If that is the law, the right hon. Gentleman ought to be able to tell us what is the definition of "labouring class." He at this moment is responsible to the nation for providing a definition, because this is his Bill, and if he fails to provide a definition we must find ways and means of doing so at a price. If it is the case that a definition has been in existence for 30 years it may be that assessment committees and rating authorities all over the country have shirked the duty of applying that definition and that thousands of people may have failed to get the relief to which they were entitled owing to the lack of clarity concerning this matter. It seems clear from the right hon. Gentleman's statement that he has not attempted to seek any information. Because there may have been no complaints from unfortunate people who have been deprived of what they were legally entitled to the right hon. Gentleman does rot think that there is any need for further elucidation.
The sum mentioned in the Amendment of 10 shillings a week rental is not such 1042 a fabulous sum. I know a number of local authorities are seeking the right hon. Gentleman's assistance and sympathy in cases where rents almost amounting to that sum are being charged for council houses under the 1919 Act. The workers can no longer afford to pay these rents and are asking to be relieved of some of this heavy burden. I know that council houses have not gardens exceeding a quarter of an acre for each house, and that a tenant of that type would not come under the terms of this Bill, but there may be cases of smaller houses with larger gardens, inhabited by persons who belong to the labouring class, but who would not receive any advantage under this Measure unless and until the interpretation of the term "labouring class" is made much clearer than it has been made up to the present. The rating authorities ought to know more definitely to whom this Bill and similar Measures apply.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I think we have all the same purpose in view, and what, the Minister has said seems to agree with the idea that this advantage should only apply to those who can properly be described by the rather vague terms of "labouring class" or "working class." I am inclined to agree with the right hon. Gentleman that at present there is a good deal of abuse owing to well-to-do people from the towns buying or leasing small cottages in the country. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Because there is a shortage of housing accommodation in the rural areas. Just in the same way, the Rent Restriction Act may be open to objection, but it is necessary in order to meet the conditions of the times. There is a famine in labourers' cottages in the country and I do not want to encourage people from the towns to take up cottages of that type and convert them to purposes of amusement, when they already have houses in the towns. I suggest, however, that the Amendment which appears later on in the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Miss Lawrence)—to insert the wordswithin the meaning of the National Health Insurance Acts"—proposes a more practical way of achieving her purpose. This definition is always a difficult one. The hon. Member herself knows that on the Housing Committee of the London County Council, 1043 we were constantly faced with the difficulty of interpreting the term "working class" and a great deal of criticism has been levelled against the occupiers of houses which were built, ostensibly for the working class, on various housing estates in and around London because of the difficulty of interpretation. We found it practically impossible to interpret those words in such a way as to give general satisfaction. The suggestion that the difficulty might be got over by utilising the phraseology of the Insurance Acts seems a practical proposal, and is, at any rate, worthy of consideration by the Minister. All we want to do is to see that the advantage of these provisions should go to the right people and not to people for whom they are not intended.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Captain BOURNE
I beg to move, in page 3, line 2, to leave out the word "dwelling-houses," and to insert instead thereof the word "farm-houses."
This Amendment is to be taken in conjunction with the definition of the word "farm-house" which appears in the Amendment later on the Order Paper proposing to add to the Clause the words:'Farm house' means a dwelling-house forming part of an agricultural hereditament which is occupied solely for the purpose of cultivating such hereditament within the meaning of paragraph (e) of Section five of the Agricultural Rates Act, 1896.In Section 5 of the Agricultural Rates Act of 1896 it is laid down that a farmhouse must be assessed for purposes of rating at what it is worth to the farmer for the purposes of occupation, with the holding which he cultivates. It is understood that the Agricultural Rates Act of 1896, which is now continued by the Expiring Laws Continuance Act, will lapse permanently on 1st April next year. A great deal of apprehension is felt that one of the effects of this Measure may be to put up assessments on farmhouses over and above the present level. In many parts of the country there is little doubt that farmhouses would let for a considerably higher rent if they were let for other purposes than for occupation by a farmer, for the purpose of cultivating the land. So long as a farmhouse is used for the purposes of cultiva- 1044 tion, and for that purpose only, we are anxious that the assessment should not be raised.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I hope to be able to give my hon. and gallant Friend the assurance which he requires. The present law on this matter, as he has said, is contained in Section 5 of the Agricultural Rates Act, 1896, which states:Where any hereditament consists partly of agricultural land and partly of buildings, the gross estimated rental of the buildings, valued separately, in pursuance of this Act, from the agricultural land shall, while the buildings are used only for the cultivation of the said land be calculated not on the structural cost but on the rent at which they would be expected to be let to a tenant from year to year if they could only be so used, but the total gross estimated rent value shall not be increased by the said separate value.It is true that the Agricultural Rates Act of 1896 comes to an end some time next year, but as the hon. and gallant Member knows we shall be dealing in other Bills with matters of this kind, and we shall then have to come to a decision in this connection. The hon. and gallant Member will have full opportunity on a future occasion of raising this point but this Bill does not affect the position in any way. It is, therefore, not necessary to press the Amendment upon the Committee. The law is plain at the moment and these matters will be dealt with in our Bill in November when the larger question will be raised. That question has been the subject of a Memorandum which hon. Members, no doubt, have carefully studied and digested by this time. I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will be satisfied with this explanation.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. RILEY
I beg to move, in page 3, line 4, after the word "garden," to insert the words "allotment or allotment garden."
The purpose of this Amendment is to make quite sure that buildings, such as glasshouses or huts for allotment holders, shall be entitled to the relief which is intended for buildings defined in this part of the Clause. I suggest that this Amendment, being eminently reasonable, is one that can be accepted. As the Clause reads, agricultural buildingsmeans buildings…occupied together with agricultural land or being or forming 1045 part of a market garden, and in either case used solely in connection with agricultural operations thereon.While allotments are included in the definition of agricultural land, they are not included in this definition which relates to buildings, and the object of my Amendment is to clarify the meaning of the definition, and to make it clear that allotments or allotment gardens shall have the benefit of this Bill. It is generally true that in the past small buildings on allotments, and even glasshouses, have not universally been assessed for rating, but in recent years the practice of assessing such buildings for rating has been growing.
§ Mr. HARNEY
"Agricultural buildings" are denned asbuildings…occupied together with agricultural land.What "agricultural land" is, is defined in the first part of the Sub-section, Then it says:or forming part of a market garden.In looking at the first part of the Subsection, I find that a market garden is agricultural land. It occurs to me that it would lead to confusion if the definition stood as it does now, for "agricultural buildings" means something more than buildings attached to agricultural land, and means also buildings attached to market gardens.
I am much obliged to the hon. and learned Member for drawing attention to the point, which is a pertinent one in respect to the definition of agricultural buildings. May I first deal with the Amendment? You must take the definition of agricultural buildings as a whole. "Agricultural buildings" in this part of the Clausemeans buildings…occupied together with agricultural land.If you turn to the first part of the Subsection, you find there a definition of a comprehensive character showing what is included in the term "agricultural land," and among the things included in "agricultural land" are "orchards or allotments." Therefore, it is clear that "agricultural land" includes allotments, and the buildings which are occupied together with allotments are buildings which would be agricultural buildings within the meaning of this part of the Clause, and would therefore come in for rating relief.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
If that is so, the section includes unnecessary words, which would make it doubtful in the mind of any assessing authority as to whether allotments are included. If the definition read:Agricultural buildings means buildings occupied together with agricultural land used solely in connection with agricultural operations thereon,we should have a definition which was entirely coherent with the previous definition, and which included everything in the first definition of agricultural land. But if you put in the words "market garden," you impliedly leave out allotments and allotment gardens. It would make the definition watertight if you left out the words "market garden," and made the definition refer to agricultural buildings used solely for agricultural purposes.
That was the point to which I was coming, the point that war raised by the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney). I desire co give the Committee an explanation why we have thought it necessary to include in this part of the definition the words "being or forming part of a market garden," whereas we have not brought in allotments or any of the other kinds of property which go to make up the definition of agricultural land. In the case of market gardens, there are glass structures which may be considered to be buildings covering practically the whole of the land; the whole land is, in fact, buildings. Therefore, it seemed to us that there might be some difficulty in bringing such buildings within a definition which speaks of "buildings occupied together with agricultural land," because if they occupied the whole of the agricultural land, it might be argued that they could not be buildings occupied together with the land. That is the reason why we thought it necessary to differentiate between market gardens and other kinds of agricultural land.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1047
§ Mr. HARRIS
I beg to move, in page 3, line 4, to leave out the word "solely."
This word is open to confusion. I quite understand that the purpose of the Minister is to see that agricultural buildings are not exploited in order to escape assessment for rates, but I can see the insertion of the word "solely" leading to all sorts of difficulties. Take the case of a motor which is used in a milk round, and which might be installed inside an agricultural building. It is used to deliver milk for the greater part of the week, and in the week-end it might be used for other purposes. I suggest that that is quite a possible use of an agricultural building. Then take the case of a cart used for transport purposes being installed inside an agricultural building; the cart is mainly but not solely used for agricultural purposes, being partly used for the purposes of a common carrier. In the country villages this is very usual. Under the Clause as worded, if the cart or motorcar were used for any other purpose except agriculture, the agricultural building would lose the advantage of the provisions of this Bill. I would suggest, therefore, that it would be wise to omit the word "solely," and let the Clause read quite clearly what is the intention of the Committee.
I understand that this Amendment is to be read in conjunction with the next Amendment in the name of the hon. Gentleman—in page 3, line 5, to leave out the words "agricultural operations thereon," and to insert instead thereof the words "the business carried on on the said land."
§ Mr. HARRIS
Not necessarily. What we are driving at is to prevent a vehicle or anything being stored in an agricultural building depriving that building of relief.
The words to which the hon. Member must address his attention are the words that follow "solely":in connection with agricultural operations thereon.
§ Mr. HARNEY
Supposing one of a group of agricultural buildings is used sometimes as a garage. Is it intended that that building should not be derated? If it were put up for agricul- 1048 tural purposes, but was not used solely for those purposes, would it outlaw the whole of the buildings in that group, or only outlaw the particular building, or any of them?
I think that it would be the hereditament which would be concerned, but if the suggestion be that, for instance, a motor vehicle, which was generally used for agricultural operations, was occasionally used for some other purpose, I do not think that that would in any way invalidate the relief on the building, as long as it was used in connection with agriculture.
§ Mr. HARRIS
Can we put in the word "mainly"? The word "solely" is very complete, and covers everything.
I am advised that, as far as this word is concerned, there would be no ambiguity about it, unless the object of the hon. Member is to allow other operations than those of agricultural operations to benefit under the Bill. I understand that that is not his object. If that be so, I am advised that there is no difficulty about the words as they stand.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Dennis Herbert)
The next Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) is not in order here—in page 3, line 5, at the end, to insert the words "'In this Act' means in this Act and in the principal Act."
§ Mr. HARNEY
I would suggest that it is most important that the Government should consider my Amendment, which is important in this way. You are now dealing with Clause 2, which purports to give a definition of expressions used in the Act. It gives the definition of one expression "agricultural land" and of another, "agricultural buildings." I submit that I am entitled to ask for this definition which, if it is not given, will lead to great difficulties.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must put down an Amendment in the proper place on the definition Clause at the end of the Bill. I do not select it here.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
Clause 2, as it now stands, will, in our judgment, sooner or later be a subvention to landlordism. About £4,750,000 raised by the general community is to be given under this Clause to relieve agricultural land of the remaining portion of its local rates. The argument was used earlier in the proceedings by an hon. Member opposite that the rating relief given by previous Acts had not as a matter of fact resulted in increasing land value. That is at least disputable, and there are certain parts of the country where land rent, for whatever cause, has indisputably been raised. There has been a great increase in the number of owner occupiers, men who were compelled to purchase their land at peak prices, which were undoubtedly swallowed up by the owners of the land. There are certain parts of the country where agricultural land is selling at a higher price now than 15 or 20 years ago. Land adjacent to the towns, which is presently rated at its agricultural value, is in many cases undoubtedly being held up for a rise owing to expected industrial uses which will be made of it.
I am barred from using illustrations from Scotland at the moment, but there are great tracts in Scotland, which are rated presently at their agricultural value, and which are being held up for possible industrial developments, not only building developments, but also expected developments such as the Forth and Clyde Canal. Owners of this land are, under the provisions of Clause 2, going to receive a subvention from the general community. There are no safeguards whereby we can be assured that the bona fide agriculturist shall, under this clause, be relieved of rating upon his tools of production. There is no safeguard whatever, and sooner or later the subvention will fall into the category known as pure land rental.
In Scotland, the position is even worse. There the tenant farmer to-day is completely de-rated on his agricultural land, and the owner is rated upon the 1050 remaining fourth, but, under the provisions of this Bill, the owner is now to be de-rated of his fourth on the sole condition that he shares the swag with the tenant during the continuance of the tenancy. In other words the tenant farmer is not now only to be de-rated entirely, but he is to receive 50 per cent. of the subvention which the landlord is to get, so that the tenant farmer in Scotland is actually going to be in pocket as the result of the provisions of this Bill. Certainly he is going to be in pocket during the continuance of the existing tenancy. That existing tenancy will vary. Some tenancies will fall in this year, some next, and so on, but sooner or later this de-rating without safeguards means an increase of land rents and will mean an additional subvention to the landlord class in this country. Because we believe that, because we believe that there are other more satisfactory methods which can be taken—which I would not be allowed to expatiate upon to-night—to relieve agriculture or the implements of agriculture, or, as the economists would probably call them, the tools of agriculture from imposts which those tools ought not to be called upon to bear, methods which would not necessarily and inevitably result in an increase of land rent, we hope the Committee will reject this Clause.
§ Mr. HARDIE
During the discussion of this Clause there have been a great many points of view put forward by those from Scotland. Scottish Members have received a great many communications from those interested under the Clause, but I am speaking now about what I know from my own personal observation. From my earliest days at school, when the holidays were arranged to suit the agricultural work of the district, I can look back upon all that comes under this Clause with something of the practical touch. Every one of the things that are included under Clause 2 might be claimed by some to be improvements. We know in Scotland that, under our system there, the fight has always been to get some guarantee that where a man makes any kind of improvement, he shall be able to get the results of his own labours. Because that has failed, I reason that the same thing will take place in this case, in whatever form relief comes. Just as every improvement has been taken by the landlord in the past, so 1051 logically and from experience every relief given by de-rating is bound to go the same way. If the Government had been sincere about helping agriculture, it need not have taken this second-hand and roundabout way of doing it.
This Clause emphasises that it is lip-service to agriculture which the Government pays. A Government understanding agriculture thoroughly would not have hesitated to free agriculture altogether, but there is only one way of freeing agriculture. That is not by a system of de-rating, but by giving those engaged in agriculture that freedom and those conditions which set aside the present-day fears that agriculturists have about their own work. That is what has lain behind our troubles in Scotland. That is what nearly ruined Irish agriculture. The power of the landlord meant that every improvement lowered a little the surplus the tenant required for his own existence. There you had a land going to wreck. A sound agricultural policy would take the whole agricultural land, free not only from these things but from everything that prevents the higher development of agriculture. Our land system in this country has prevented the development of agriculture. I had hoped that the Minister was going to make some special provision for Scotland on this Clause, because we have more difficulties of an agricultural kind than there are in England and Wales. If the Government had been sincere, as it is not, these things would have been carried out. I still hope that even now those who are really interested in agriculture and who do not merely pay lip-service to it, but who want to see the basic industry of the country free, will see that this Clause is defeated.
§ Mr. RILEY
I want to call attention to the enormous obligation which the country will undertake in the future for the relief of agriculture. Last week I put a question to the Minister of Health as to the amount of rates for which agricultural land and buildings would have been liable last year if it had not been for the operation of the Agricultural Rates Acts of 1906 and 1923. The reply I received was that in England and Wales agricultural land would have been liable for £12,400,000. In view of 1052 the fact that under this Clause agricultural land and buildings will, as from next year, be entirely free from rates, the general taxation of the country will have to find, on the basis of the answer given me by the Minister, at least £12,500,000 per annum for those rates, and I doubt whether that is the full figure. Agriculture has been receiving relief on a lower scale since 1896, and I venture to say that the total amount which has already been contributed to its relief is not less than from £100,000,000 to £130,000,000. I agree with the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) that one could be more or less reconciled to this enormous contribution being made to agriculture if one were satisfied that reasonable steps had been taken to see that the relief really assisted the people for whom it was intended.
I do not argue that the additional sum of £4,750,000 which this Bill provides will pass immediately to the owners of land. There is no doubt that for some few years the cultivating farmers may derive some benefit from it, but what is quite certain is that in the course of years this sum will be transformed into increased land values and increased rents. About that there can be no question whatever. Therefore, the least which any Government responsible for public expenditure could have done would have been to take some safeguarding steps to make sure that the relief assisted agriculture. In the Corn Production Act of 1917 it was laid down that the owners of land should not be entitled to raise rents as the result of the assistance they received and that in the fixing of rents the assistance given should not be taken into account. Why is there no safeguard of that kind in this Bill? It is because the Government are following the traditional policy of assisting their political friends, the landed interests of this country. That policy ought not to commend itself to hon. Members here representing national interests. There is also one other objection, and perhaps a more weighty one. What has been the result of giving blocks of national money to assist in subsidising industries? We can see what has happened in the case of agriculture since 1896. Farmers were first relieved of 50 per cent., and since 1923 have been relieved of 75 per cent. of rates on land and farm buildings, and yet agriculture is 1053 still demanding more. Is agriculture any better off to-day as a result of this relief than it was in 1896? It is clear from the experience of the past that this policy of rate relief does not meet the problem, and I think this Clause ought to be rejected.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
I rise only because of a few words which occur in the speech of the hon. Member for Dews-bury (Mr. Riley). He seems to think that because agriculture has been getting something in the neighbourhood of £12,500,000 it is getting more than it deserves, and he fears also, I gather, that this additional relief will go into the pockets of the landowners. There is no reason for that fear, however. But as regards his first argument, let us investigate his figures. The agricultural produce of this country is worth, probably, something in the neighbourhood of £250,000,000. The sum of 2½ per cent. on £250,000,000 is not very much. In addition, there is the agricultural produce imported which could be grown in this country, amounting to something like £200,000,000. Supposing we had a system of safeguarding applied to agriculture—the hon. Member himself mentioned safeguarding—and put on a duty of 33⅓ per cent., what an enormous assistance we should get then. The hon. Member argues that £12,500,000 is an enormous sum to give to the assistance of agriculture, but under a policy of safeguarding agriculture would get £60,000,000 or £70,000,000
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
The hon. Member for Dewsbury might also consider the position of the co-operative societies, who are comparatively immune from the present system of taxation. In common fairness he ought to do that when talking of the position of agriculture. I do not know whether I shall be in order in discussing it, but are we quite satisfied with the definition of agricultural land and buildings in the Clause 1 This definition is a very old one and on the whole, with some exceptions, it has, I think, worked well, but the discussion this afternoon has brought forward certain points, and I would ask the Minister to consider—not between now and the Report stage, but between now and the introduction of the next Bill, if the Conservative party is 1054 in power after the next election—whether the definition could be amended in some way. I do not think the Committee can feel very grateful to the Liberal party for the Amendment they brought in. If they had succeeded in their efforts to rate sporting rights I am inclined to think that where land was infested with rabbits and the owner endeavoured to shoot them an effort would have been made to rate him in respect of sporting rights.
On a point of Order. I wonder how far any hon. Member from this side would be allowed to go in replying to the hon. and gallant Member, who is now dealing with something which is not in Clause 2.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. and gallant Member will be allowed to make a reply to what the hon. and gallant Member is now saying if he gets the opportunity to speak on this Amendment.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
I am dealing now with the question of sports, and I hope I may say something on the subject of sporting rights, and call attention to the possibility of what might happen if that mythical pheasant attacked the mangold wurzel and the farmer attempted to defend himself. Under the Liberal Amendment he would be totally unable to do so. We are very grateful to the Liberal party for the amusement they have afforded us, and I am very glad we have got the definitions we have.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
In the last dying minutes of the discussion of this Clause I wish to point out that, as it now stands, agriculture is to have free services paid for by the rest of the community, loads will be made by the taxpayer, tic development of electricity schemes will be carried out at the cost of the taxpayer, and education and all the other services will be given gratuitously to the agricultural interests. The argument has been put forward that this rate relief will benefit the landowner. Undoubtedly it will. It has been said before, and there is no harm in saying it again. In the Corn Production Act certain Clauses were inserted with the object of preventing landowners benefiting, but despite those Clauses we know what happened. The 1055 advantages of that Act went to the land owners when they were selling their land, and the same thing will happen here. I do not blame the Conservative party for being kind to their friends, but I do blame the lethargy of the public outside in not being so keen in defending their interests as are the Conservatives in defending the interests of their friends. Their friends will be remarkably well suited by this subtle and well devised scheme. Hon. Members opposite have been condemning us for our bureaucratic tendencies, but the administration of this Act, and especially of these Clauses, will entail the services of a highly-paid body of bureaucrats, paid by the taxpayer, to protect the land-owners interests and give agriculture free services. We know what will happen when the landowner is selling his property with these advantages attached thereto. Hon. Members opposite, knowing they will have a solid vote for the Clause in the Lobby, can afford to smile, but the time will come when the people will rouse themselves
§ and wreck this Bill. If we can do anything to wreck it in the course of its passage through the House we will do so. I am only adumbrating the old truth that the landlord stands to gain as long as we do not challenge him. If you are anxious to help agriculture you would have done what was proposed under the Agricultural Rates Act, 1923, and unrated improvements, I remember well that I moved an Amendment to that effect. The Government would not consider it. No unrating of the agricultural workers' improvements, but every relief for the land; but as the agricultural worker does not own much—
§ It being half-past Seven of the clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 28th June, to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at half-past Seven of the Clock at this day's sitting.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 279: Noes, 110.1059
|Division No. 224.]||AYES.||[7.30 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cassels, J. D.||Eden, Captain Anthony|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Albery, Irving James||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Elliot, Major Walter E.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Ellis, R. G.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith|
|Apsley, Lord||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Chapman, Sir S.||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Chilcott, Sir Warden||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Christie, J. A.||Fermoy, Lord|
|Atkinson, C.||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Fielden, E. B.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Clarry, Reginald George||Finburgh, S.|
|Balniel, Lord||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Ford, Sir P. J.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Forrest, W.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Foster, Sir Harry S.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Colman, N. C. D.||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Bennett, A. J.||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Cooper, A. Duff||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Bethel, A.||Cope, Major Sir William||Ganzonl, Sir John|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Couper, J. B.||Gates, Percy|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Crott||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Brass, Captain W.||Crawfurd, H. E.||Grace, John|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Grant, Sir J. A.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Dalkeith, Earl of||Griffith, F. Kingsley|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Ysovll)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hacking, Douglas H.|
|Burman, J. B.||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Drewe, C.||Hamilton, Sir George|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Meller, R. J.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. McI. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Harland, A.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Harney, E. A.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n A Kinc'dlne, C.)|
|Headlam, Lieut-Colonel C. M.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hohier, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Hopkins, J, W. W.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Streatfelld, Captain S. R.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Nuttall, Ellis||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Hurst, Gerald B.||Oakley, T.||Tasker, R-Inigo.|
|Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Templeton, W. P.|
|Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Thorn, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Iveagh, Countess of||Perring, Sir William George||Thompson, Luke (Sundsrland)|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Palo, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Pilcher, G.||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Preston, William||Waddington, R.|
|Kindersley, Major G. M.||Price, Major C. W. M.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on Hull)|
|King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Raine, Sir Waiter||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Ramsden, E.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Lamb, J. Q||Raid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Held, D. D. (County Down)||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Remer, J. R.||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Little, Dr. E. Graham||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Wells, S. R.|
|Livingston, A. M.||Rice, Sir Frederick||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymole|
|Looker, Herbert William||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Lumley, L. R.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Ropner, Major L.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Ruggies-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Withers, John James|
|McLean, Major A.||Russell, Alexander West-(Tynemouth)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Macmillan, Captain H.||Rye, F. G.||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Salmon, Major I.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wood, Sir S. Hill-(High Peak)|
|Mac Robert, Alexander M.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Yorburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Malone, Major P. B.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Margesson, Captain D.||Savery, S. S.||Mr. Penny and Captain Wallace.|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Gardner, J. P.||Lansbury, George|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro)||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Lawrence, Susan|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Gibbins, Joseph||Lee, F.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Gillett, George M.||Lindley, F. W.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Gosling, Harry||Lowth, T.|
|Barnes, A.||Graham, Rt. Hon-Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lunn, William|
|Barr, J.||Greenall, T.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)|
|Batey, Joseph||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Bowerman, Rt Hon. Charles W.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Briant, Frank||Groves, T.||March, S.|
|Broad, F. A.||Grundy, T. W.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Bromfield, William||Hall, F. (York, W. R, Normanton)||Oliver, George Harold|
|Bromley, J.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Paling, W.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hardie, George D.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hayday, Arthur||Potts, John S.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Cape, Thomas||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Riley, Ben|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hirst, G. H.||Ritson, J.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Eliand)|
|Connolly, M.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Sakiatvaia, Shapurji|
|Cove, W. G.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Scurr, John|
|Day, Harry||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston).|
|Dennison, R.||Kelly, W. T.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Duncan, C.||Kennedy, T.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Dunnico, H.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Shinwell, E.|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Sitch, Charless H.||Thurtle, Ernest||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Slesser, Sir Henry H.||Tinker, John Joseph||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Townend, A. E.||Windsor, Walter|
|Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Varley, Frank B.||Wright, W.|
|Snell, Harry||Viant, S. P.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Stephen, Campbell||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Wellock, Wiltred||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Charles Edwards.|
|Sutton, J. E.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|