HC Deb 02 November 1930 vol 134 cc231-9

Any agreement between a landlord and an incoming tenant providing that the incoming tenant shall pay au outgoing tenant's claim for compensation under this Act or under the Act of 1908 shall not be enforceable so far as it relates to such payment.—[Lieut.-Colonel A. Murray.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Lieut.-Colonel MURRAY

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

This is a Clause of some importance. In Committee I moved a Clause in very similar words to that which I am now moving, providing that it would not be lawful for the landlord to transfer to the incoming tenant any claim for compensation to the outgoing tenant. My recollection is that the Government were good enough to say that they would consider this matter on Report, and it was in view of that I placed the Clause on the Paper. It is really self-explanatory. It would remedy any existing evil of an incoming tenant being saddled with the claim which the Act intended the landlord to bear. I submit it is a wholly reasonable addition to the Bill. If it were possible for a landlord to get an incoming tenant to bear the claim the whole case on which this Bill is founded, for maintaining the increased compensation to give greater security, falls to the ground. I venture, therefore, to suggest this Clause to the House, and in doing so to tell the right hon. Gentleman that we on this side lay great stress upon it.

Major M. WOOD

I beg to second the Motion.

The Clause does not in any way alter the compensation which would have to be paid in such a case. The difficulty that it is meant to remedy is this. Very often when a tenant goes out and a new one comes in, the incoming tenant undertakes to pay all the compensation in respect of improvements that the landlord would have to pay to the outgoing tenant. That unfortunately cannot be determined at the time the outgoing tenant leaves the farm, but it has to be paid, and in some cases it amounts to several hundred pounds. The incoming tenant, if he is made to agree to take on this burden, is taking on a burden the amount of which he does not and cannot know. It is unfair, therefore, that he should be put into such a position, and we suggest by this Clause that the payment of the compensation should be a matter entirely for the landlord and the outgoing tenant. If that is done, the incoming tenant can make an agreement with the landlord to pay a proper rent, which, if he likes, can take account of that; but. if he does that, the incoming tenant will know exactly how much he is committed to, and there would be no danger of such things happening as I have indicated, and which, I am assured, do very often happen in cases of this, kind.


It is quite true that we had some conversation about this proposal in Committee, and I made certain statements, but my statements did not commit me, very much. This is what I said: If the Amendment be withdrawn, we will look into the matter. Well, I have looked into the matter, and I have taken advice from those who are better able to form a judgment on this matter than I am, and having looked into the matter, I have come to the conclusion that we were perfectly right in resisting the Amendment in Committee. I propose, therefore, to resist it again now. I have tried very hard and very honestly to ascertain what the hon. and gallant Member really wants and why he wants it: but I cannot see in what way any harm is done by such an arrangement as this being permitted. A considerable proportion of the compensation payable in each case is for temporary improvements, such as manure, temporary pasture, and so on, the whole benefit of which may reasonably be expected to be derived by the incoming tenant, and why, therefore, the, incoming tenant should not be allowed to enter into an agreement of this sort to pay the outgoer I cannot for the life of me understand. Why not? Then with regard to permanent improvements, such as buildings, no doubt in those cases the incoming tenant does not enter into an agreement to pay the outgoer, but if the landlord and the tenant think fit to enter into such an arrangement, I cannot see any reason in that case why it should not be permitted. If the incoming tenant under any such arrangement pays compensation to the outgoing tenant in respect of improvements, he becomes entitled under Section 7 of the Act of 1908 to claim compensation in respect of improvements when he quits exactly in same way as if he had executed the improvements, and therefore his position is in no way damnified by his entering into this agreement, and as this agreement is very often a very convenient one and saves a good deal of trouble, and may save expense and time, and as the tenant is put in no worse a position what ever by entering into it, it seems to me very unnecessary that we should forbid such an arrangement in the future. For those reasons I hope the House will not accept the new Clause.


I wish to support the Clause in a sentence or two. I do not think it is calculated to injure the landlord, and in my opinion it would considerably help the incoming tenant. We want to encourage men who are not possessed of too large fortunes to go in for farming. Take a man who occupies the position of a foreman or farm manager, and who has not too much capital. In my opinion, if the incoming tenant has to pay compensation it would deter any such men from becoming tenant farmers. When a man is asked to become a tenant farmer, it is quite true that he shall take into consideration all the facts that relate to the tenancy. If he has got to pay £500, or some such sum by way of compensation, he offers a smaller rent in order that he may be able to pay the sum, and if he does not pay the compensation he pays a bigger rent. The only difference, it seems to me, is that the landlord receives in annual increments the amount that is represented by the compensation, and it enables a poor man to become a farmer, and possibly a prosperous farmer, because very often these men are the best class of farmers we have in the country; and with the increased value of stock and implements such men will practically be put out of the possibility of farming unless some such Amendment as this is agreed to.


This raises a matter of considerable importance. By the Act of 1908 compensation is awarded to an outgoing tenant for improvements which are of value to the holding and to the incoming tenant, and hitherto it has been permissible, and I think rightly so, for the landlord to pass on the payment for that improvement to the man who becomes liable to reap the benefit of it, namely, the incoming tenant, but by this Bill, under Clause 7, a new state of affairs arises. There are now going to be large amounts of money payable for compensation for disturbance, which in no way increases the value of the holding to the incoming tenant or to anybody else, and therefore one has to consider whether there should not be a new view taken of the passing on of the payment of compensation to the incoming tenant. In Committee I was opposed to a great deal of this large compensation for disturbance, but I think when we see that the passing on of a heavy claim for compensa- tion for disturbance to the incoming tenant is going to have the effect of putting a burden upon a new man going into the industry, we are bound to recognise that it is a cumbrous method of obtaining security of tenure. Therefore, I think when this Clause is proposed, if we look at the matter dispassionately, neither from a tenant's nor a landlord's point of view, but from the point of view of the industry and how the land is going to be worked better in the future, we are bound to recognise that the passing on of these heavy compensation claims for disturbance to the incoming tenant is going to bind a burden on these latter which will have a serious effect upon new men coming into the industry in future-Therefore I think it is not quite sufficient to say, "No" to this new Clause, and I think there is a good deal in it which can be supported. If the hon. and gallant Member who moved it could have curtailed his Clause to refer merely to the claims for improvements which are of benefit to the incoming tenant, I think they might be passed on to him, but I think the compensation for disturbance is not right to be passed on to the incoming tenant, and I should like to see the proposal altered so that claims for compensation for disturbance only should not be passed on.

Captain D. BROWN

I represent a North of England constituency, and I have been to a good deal of trouble to ascertain the views of farmers in my constituency in regard to this Bill, and this is the great complaint I have found. They state that they do not see how new men are able to do farming if they are going to pay the amounts required to restock the farm and pay these lump sums which the landlord sometimes demands of them, and it seems to me that the time has come when something should be done to meet this point of view. Presumably, the landlord would have banking facilities which the farmer would not have, and in fairness, therefore, I do not think these heavy charges should be put upon the incoming tenant. If the hon. and gallant Member who moved the Clause takes it to a Division, I must support it.

5.0 P.M.


I am very interested in this discussion, because I think it is about the first time in my connection with this House that I have ever heard such an interest taken in the incoming tenant. The complaint made against the House of Commons always is that they take a great interest in the outgoing tenant but none in the incoming tenant, and now we have the interest taken in the incoming tenant, but I am bound to say that it throws a little daylight on the way Clause 7 will act, because every speaker so far has recognised that Clause 7 is going to throw a heavy burden on to somebody. All this discussion has been as to who should bear it, but I would point out that whoever bears it, landlord or tenant, the industry has got to bear it, and surely what we ought to try to do is to relieve the industry, and to try to make it easier to get capital into the industry in any form. Here we have another thing which people who are dealing with land, whether as landlords or as tenants, value very much, and that is their independence or freedom of action; but here is a proposal which says that although a tenant may be a man of large means, and although his landlord may be a man of small means, such as an incumbent, that where a tenant can find the money and is willing to find it, and the landlord cannot find the money, then it is to be forbidden by law for them to make an arrangement which may be satisfactory to both. I do most strongly protest against imposing burdens upon industry. Then, the whole trouble is, who is to bear them? I only rise to support my right hon. Friend in opposing this, because I am sure it is against the interests of the whole industry. Supposing it is true, though I am not sure it is true now, and I think it is very doubtful in the future, that the landlords will be better able to bear a burden of this kind than the tenant, but admitting that in the majority of cases it is so, why in the minority of cases, where it is not so, should the tenant be forbidden to enter into this agreement. I very much hope my right hon. Friend will adhere to his Resolution.


I hope the House will not be led away by the speeches made by the hon. Members from Scotland, for I am perfectly certain the acceptance of this Clause would add very considerably to the cost to be borne both by the outgoing and the incoming tenant. What is the present position? Under the law as it stands today, the landlord is responsible to the outgoing tenant for compensation for his improvements. When he lets his land to the incoming tenant, what he says to the incoming tenant is this: "These improvements, for which I am liable, are for the benefit of the land. You will reap the benefit of these improvements, and when you go out you will be compensated exactly on the same footing. It will be to your advantage, as well as to mine, to have only one set of costs; therefore, we will agree that you shall be bound by the valuation that will be made between the landlord and the outgoing tenant. But, further than that, as you are going to pay, I will agree that your valuer shall act on behalf of both landlord and incoming tenant, and, therefore, there will be only one valuation." And, as a matter of fact, there is only one valuation, that made between the outgoing tenant and the incoming tenant, whereby the incoming tenant gets this further advantage, and the landlord also gets the advantage, in that the incoming tenant is more likely to be careful that too great a valuation is not paid to the outgoing tenant. But the real benefit is that only one valuation takes place.

Now it is suggested that a heavy fine may possibly be put upon the landlord because of some notice to quit he has given being improper. Obviously the

arrangement will be made, when the incoming tenant takes his farm, that he will not agree to pay such compensation as is awarded for wrongful restraint. I have known such agreements made, and when the House remembers that the agreement for letting a farm is made some time before these valuations are made, the general agreement will be made like this: "I will agree to pay such compensation as is awarded for improvements, and not excluding any claim that may be awarded in respect of any claim for compensation for disturbance." I cannot understand why it should be suggested that a landlord can pass on such a liability as that for compensation for wrongful disturbance, and because of removal under the provisions of this Bill. If it is so, possibly he will be in a position to demand a premium from a tenant for going in, and no tenant will pay such a premium if the premium is high, or will agree to pay a premium of an indefinite character of which he has no means of judging the amount. I hope this proposal will not be accepted, and I strongly support the Minister.

Question put, "That the Clause be lead a Second time."

The House divided: Ayes, 61;, Noes, 236.

Division No. 346.] AYES. [5.6 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D. Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Adamson, Rt. Hon. William Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth) Sitch, Charles H.
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Smith, W. A. (Wellingborough)
Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.) Hinds, John Swan, J. E.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Hirst, G. H. Taylor, J.
Bramsdon, Sir Thomas Hogge, James Myles Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)
Breese, Major Charles E. Holmes, J. Stanley Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Briant, Frank Irving, Dan Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)
Brown, Captain D. C. Johnstone, Joseph Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Tootill, Robert
Cairns, John Kenyan, Barnet Waterson, A. E.
Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield) Lawson, John J. White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Lunn, William Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Mills, John Edmund Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E)
Davison. J. E. (Smethwick) Morgan, Major D. Watts Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)
Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South) Myers, Thomas Wintringham, T.
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon) Parry. Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Entwistle, Major C. F. Rendall, Atheistan
Gardiner, James Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Sprinq) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Glanville, Harold James Roberts, Frederick D. (W. Bromwich) Lieut.-Colonel A. Murray and Major
Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne) Scott. A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Mackenzie Wood.
Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central) Sexton, James
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Barnett, Major R. W. Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish
Ainsworth, Captain Charles Barnston, Major Harry Bethell, Sir John Henry
Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James Barrand, A. R. Betterton, Henry B.
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Barrie, Rt Hon. H.T. (Lon'derry,.N.) Bigland, Alfred
Atkey, A. R. Beauchamp, Sir Edward Birchall, Major J. Dearman
Baird, Sir John Lawrence Beckett, Hon. Gervase Blair, Reginald
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk) Blake, Sir Francis Douglas
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes) Boles, Lieut.-Colonel D. F.
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G. Bellairs, Commander Carlyon w. Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith
Banner, Sir John S. Harmood Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h) Bowyer, Captain G. E. W,
Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals) Bennett, Thomas Jewell Bridgeman, William Clive
Briggs, Harold Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian) Purchase, H. G.
Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H. Hopkins, John W. W. Rae, H. Norman
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A. Hotchkln, Captain Stafford Vere Rankin, Captain James S.
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster) Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.
Butcher, Sir John George Hurd, Percy A. Reid, D. D.
Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R. Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B, Remer, J. R.
Carr, W. Theodore Inskip, Thomas Walk r H. Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)
Casey, T. W. Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S. Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)
Cautley, Henry S. Jephcott, A. R. Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin Jesson, C. Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.(Birm., W.) Jodrell, Neville Paul Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)
Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood) Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Rodger, A. K.
Churchman, Sir Arthur Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly) Roundell, Colonel R. F.
Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender Joynson-Hicks, Sir William Royden, Sir Thomas
Clough, Robert Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund
Coates, Major Sir Edward F. King, Captain Henry Douglas Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)
Coats, Sir Stuart Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K. Lane-Fox, G. R. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Colfox. Major Wm. Phillips Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.) Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)
Collins, Sir G. P. (Greenock) Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales) Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.
Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale Lloyd, George Butler Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Coote, William (Tyrone, South) Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n) Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)
Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South) Lorden, John William Seager, Sir William
Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid) Loseby, Captain C. E. Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Lowe, Sir Francis William Simm, M. T.
Curzon, Commander Viscount M Donald. Dr. Bouverle F. P. Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander
Davies, Thomas (Cirencester) M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W. Stanier, Captain Sir Seville
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan) Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Stanton, Charles B.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury) Starkey, Captain John R.
Dennlss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham) Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Steel, Major s. Strang
Dixon, Captain Herbert Macquisten, F. A. Stephenson, Lieut-Colonel H. K.
Doyle, N. Grattan Mallaby-Deeley, Harry Stevens. Marshall
Du Pre, Colonel William Baring Mallalieu, F. W. Sturrock, J. Leng
Edge, Captain William Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.) Sugden, W. H.
Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark) Marriott, John Arthur Ransome Sutherland, Sir William
Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M. Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B. Thomas-Stanford, Charles
Falcon, Captain Michael Molson, Major John Elsdale Thorpe, Captain John Henry
Falle, Major Sir Bertram G. Moore-Brabazon, Lieut-Col. J. T. C. Townley, Maximilian G.
Farquharson, Major A. C. Moreing, Captain Algernon H. Tryon, Major George Clement
Fell, Sir Arthur Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash Turton, E. R.
FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A. Morrison, Hugh Waddington, R.
Ford, Patrick Johnston Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor
Forrest, Walter Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Walton, J. (York, W.R., Don Valley)
Fraser, Major Sir Keith Murray, John (Leeds, West) Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)
Gange, E. Stanley Murray, Major William (Dumfries) Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)
Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C. Neal, Arthur Watson, Captain John Bertrand
Gardner, Ernest Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley) Wheler, Lieut.-Colonel C. H.
Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Whitla, Sir William
Gilmour, Lieut-Colonel John Nicholl, Commander Sir Edward Williams. Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)
Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A. Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster) Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud
Grant, James A. Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield) Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert
Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.) Nield, Sir Herbert Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)
Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H. Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)
Greer, Harry Ormsby-Gore. Captain Hon. W. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)
Gritten, W. G. Howard Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)
Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E. Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L. Wilson-Fox, Henry
Hamilton, Major c. G. C Parker, James Wise, Frederick
Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton) Pearce, Sir William Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)
Harris, Sir Henry Percy Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Haslam, Lewis Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.) Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston) Pennefather, De Fonblanque Yate, Colonel Charles Edward
Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.) Percy, Charles Yeo, Sir Alfred William
Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil) Perring, William George Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)
Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon Pilditch, Sir Philip Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)
Hlider, Lieut.-Colonel Frank Pinkham, Lieut. Colonel Charles Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)
Hoare, Lieut-Colonel Sir S. J. G. Pollock, Sir Ernest M. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G. Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.
Hood, Joseph Pulley, Charles Thornton

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and agreed to.

The following proposed new clause stood on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member of Wellingborough (Mr. Walter Smith) and other hon. Members: