HC Deb 12 March 1930 vol 236 cc1455-8

I beg to move, in page 8, line 35, at the end to insert the words: The expression 'agricultural land' shall include any land used for agricultural or pastoral purposes or for the purpose of poultry farming or as a market garden, orchard, allotment, or allotment garden, and any woodlands or land used for the purpose of afforestation. I believe that the House desires to have this Amendment.


We have had a very quiet and homely conversation with one another to-night, and before we depart I should like to call attention to this definition. I should rather think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Renfrew (Mr. MacRobert) has had something to do with this definition.


On the contrary, I proposed the definition before the Committee and it was defeated.


I know that the right hon. and learned Gentleman moved a definition, but if I read the one he proposed in Committee and the one we have here I would think they were Siamese twins, for they have a very strong relationship with each other. This is the old hackneyed definition which will not hold water five minutes in the Law Courts. There are several complaints which could be made about it. The wording could be pulled to pieces in the Law Courts. It is not comprehensive enough. You include poultry farming, market gardening, orchards, allotments, allotment gardens and woodlands, and you might even include graveyards. It is not comprehensive enough. If you wanted to make it so comprehensive that you would include in the definition every function for which land could be put in an agricultural sense, I could well imagine that the definition would run to a full page of the Order Paper. I want to protest against this definition. It comes up regularly in all Bills dealing with land. It came up in the Local Government Bill on the de-rating Clauses. The definition was very much the same, and I want to protest against it. I will not force it to a Division. I shall have to abide by it, but it is high time that someone rose in this House and protested against it.

I would like very much to see this made a test case in the Law Courts. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman opposite would knock holes in it in five minutes in the Courts. A definition of agri- cultural land would have to take another line altogether. I have suggested that line before. It should be based on valuation. I am speaking about the definition, not about administrative practice. It should be one which as sensible human beings we know would stand the test of the Law Courts. If you take the definition here, I know of land in the very heart of Glasgow which could be used for poultry farming or market gardening, and could come under the definition of agricultural land. It is in order to point out the ridiculousness of this so-called definition that I have entered this happy evening into a very quiet Scottish Debate. Let me say that I have heard hon. Members opposite complaining about the redress they have against the high-handed authority of the Crown. It is high time that the Scottish Members of the House developed the old temper of the Irish Members. I have seen this House held up over a question of hens being shot, never mind the question of landholdings in Scotland.


I listened with great interest to the delightful speech of the hon. Member; there is only one thing that would be more amusing than his speech, and that would be if he tried his hand at a definition.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, in page 9, line 10, after the word "drain," to insert the words "(whether open or closed)."

This would make the definition clearer.


The Amendment seems hardly necessary, because the word "watercourse" includes any drain, but there is no strong objection to the words, and if the right hon. and learned Gentleman is satisfied that it makes the Bill more explicit, we will accept it.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

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