§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Dr. Addison)
I beg to move, in page 6, line 25, to leave out from the word "take," to the first "the," in line 27, and to insert instead thereof the words:reasonable steps to reserve or enforce any right for securing.This Amendment is consequential on the Amendment that I moved at an earlier stage, and is to bring the Clause into accord with the discussion that took place at that time.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the word "reserve" that he proposes to insert here means that a very large number of existing leases between landlords and tenants will have to be redrawn? It occurs to me that that is so. We ought to be perfectly clear about that before the House accepts the new word in this context. Where a landlord has a right under the existing lease of enforcing the tenant to take action if the land gets into a neglected state, we ought to know whether the word "reserve" means that that will be so for the future, and whether the inclusion of the word might constitute a hardship?
§ Dr. ADDISON
I will certainly consider the point. If the right hon. Member will refer back to page 5, line 1, he will remember that we there inserted these words, and this Amendment is purely consequential upon that alteration.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I beg to move, in page 6, line 28, at the end, to insert the words:(c) the total expenditure involved would be justified having regard to any additional return which might reasonably be expected to be obtainable from the land after the execution of the works specified in the notice.2146 The House will remember that the Clause we are now discussing is one which gives power to the Minister to purchase land, and yesterday we got as far as the middle of page 6 of the Bill. Sub-section (5) says:In the event of any dispute between the Minister and any person upon whom a notice or a copy of a notice has been served in accordance with the provisions of the two last foregoing sub-sections as to whether:(a) the piece of land to which the notice relates is in a seriously neglected condition; or(c) any requirements of the notice ere unreasonable;then the person who objects may refer the dispute to a single arbitrator appointed by the Department. That is to say, if certain things are in dispute between the Minister who wants to get a piece of land, and the owner or occupier of that land, then that matter in dispute may be referred to a single arbitrator, and, consequently, if the arbitrator gives a decision against the Minister, nothing further is done in the matter.
I am moving another proviso which will enable the objector to have arbitration when he considers that the Minister is doing, not so much an unfair thing to him, but a stupid thing from the national point of view. If the owner of the land which the Minister has purchased under compulsion with public money, is convinced that the return, after the reconditioning of the land, would be so small as to make the reconditioning not worth while, he may say, "Let us have arbitration upon it." I cannot conceive that the House will object to this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) shakes his head. The right hon. Gentleman, after his long Parliamentary and public experience, will not suggest that public money ought to be spent on an article which, when put into condition, would not bring in more than the money it has cost. No person is going to spend £20 on a piece of land, when the return which he would get from reconditioning is only 20s. I am not objecting to reconditioning, but I am afraid that the discretion and the business acumen of the Minister will be superseded by his enthusiasm for the Bill, and may even allow his heart to get the better of his head, so that he 2147 will say, "Here's a wonderful thing! Let us recondition all the Welsh hills. Let us make them fit for heroes to get a living on." [An HON. MEMBER:" And the New Forest!"] That is an open space on which it might not be worth while to spend anything for reconditioning. It is a very remarkable thing that the right hon. Gentleman in his enthusiasm for public expenditure is apparently willing to spend public money on reconditioning land, in cases where, after it has been reconditioned, it will be found to be land on which it was not worth spending any money. He says, "Where the Socialist spends £1, I spend £2."
It cannot be suggested that this is an obstructive or unreasonable Motion. It is not. I am not saying that the owner of land should be able to stop this public money being spent. All I say is that the arbitrator appointed by agreement between the parties should be able to say whether public money should be spent. It seems to me such an obviously reasonable and businesslike arrangement, that I feel confident it will appeal to the Minister of Agriculture. Nothing we put forward is accepted, except after a lot of discussion. If the right hon. Gentleman would accept suitable Amendments at once, it would save a good deal of Parliamentary time. In the present case I rely upon the common sense of the Amendment to get the agreement of the House.
§ Dr. ADDISON
The Government cannot accept this Amendment. A good many landowners for a long time have not received a very good return on the expenditure on buildings and houses; we all recognise that. But suppose we had a case of neglected land, such as the one we have heard so much about, where all the buildings were much dilapidated, we should have to pay for all the reconditioning, and then might be stopped from proceeding further unless we could prove that we were going to get a, proper return on the expenditure. In the case of land which has got into this state the Amendment will increase our difficulty in putting this Clause into operation, and I cannot think that that result was present in the mind of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman when he put his Amendment on the Paper. That, how- 2148 ever, is the effect of it. It would be almost impossible in every case to show that the money that is to be spent on reconditioning is going to give a proper return, at all events a return in the immediate future. We must take a much longer vision than that of an immediate return in the way of dividends on the money spent. I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Captain BOURNE
I do not think that the Minister of Agriculture has quite put the Amendment to the House. It provides that it shall be open to a landlord on whom a notice is served to execute certain works to put up as a ground of objection to the arbitrator that to force him to do this work is to entail upon him an expenditure out of all proportion to the probable return. From the point of view of the private landowner, and the State, it is impossible to maintain the argument that money should be spent on reconditioning land which will give you no return; it is not a contestable proposition. It is not as though the country had plenty of money to spend or that private individuals had plenty of money to spend, and to expect this House, or anybody else, to spend vast sums of money on reclaiming land when the market value of ordinary land is a great deal below the cost of reclamation seems to me to be a perfectly indefensible proposition. If this Amendment is not inserted the Minister of Agriculture can spend money on the reclamation of land and may incur a loss, and he will then be obliged to sell that land to someone else who will scoop the benefit of the Minister's loss at the expense of the taxpayer. This is a Clause to subsidise landlords.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
I do not understand on what logical basis the right hon. Gentleman resists the Amendment. He is being asked to incorporate in the Bill a provision that there should be some obligation on him to show that the expenditure of public money he proposes will be justified. Is the Minister of Agriculture afraid that if he is called upon to show that this expenditure is justified, he will be unable to do so? The justification is that the Minister shall show that the expenditure will give an additional return, but quite apart from that it seems to me that no landlord, no private individual, would lay out money 2149 on land reclamation which would not be justified, and we in this House should at least be as careful of the public money we are spending on the reclamation of land as a private individual. From the beginning to the end of this Clause I can find no economic restrictions at all, no tests as to what is going to be the return to the taxpayer for the money expended, and the cynical attitude of the Minister in the way he has brushed this Amendment aside shows that it is the intention of the Government, with the support of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) to pour out public money irrespective of whether it is going to be justified or not, and irrespective of whether there is going to be any return for the expenditure. The Minister of Agriculture resists every conceivable test that can be applied to see whether the expenditure is justified. I hope the Amendment will be pressed to a Division in order that the country may realise the test which the Minister of Agriculture is prepared to allow to himself in the control of public expenditure.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I am glad that my right hon. and gallant Friend has moved this Amendment if only because of the reply it has elicited from the Minister of Agriculture. We are now discussing this Bill at the time when the country will be able to learn something of our proceedings, and I hope that this fact will be given proper publicity by the gentlemen of the Press and that the public outside will take note of the attitude of the Minister of Agriculture and the support he is receiving from the Leader of the Liberal party, who has put economy in the forefront of his programme. All we are asking for in this Amendment is that an owner, who knows the land, who has lived on the land, and who knows its capabilities, who has reason to doubt the expediency, from a financial point of view, of the State spending a large sum of money on its reclamation or improvement should be allowed to refer that point to the arbitrator, who is to be appointed by the President of the Surveyors' Institution. The Minister of Agriculture brushes this aside with contempt. The idea that when you are ladling out the money of the taxpayer you should impose tests and consider whether there will be a proper return for the expenditure appears to be so ridiculous as not to be worthy of consideration. The right hon. Gentleman 2150 and his associates, apparently, are still under the delusion that they are going to solve the great problems of this country by pouring out the taxpayers' money like water out of a bucket. On the contrary, they will only make things worse. Every time they add to the taxpayers' burden by any expenditure of money on works which are useless they are aggravating the problem of unemployment, and the difficulties which face agriculture.
§ Sir HENRY CAUTLEY
I read this Amendment in a somewhat different way to that of the right hon. and gallant Member who proposed it, and other of my hon. Friends. Under the framework of the Clause it is provided by Subsection (3) that under certain conditions the Minister can serve a notice on the owner to treat a piece of land and the question as to whether those conditions have been fulfilled come under Subsection (5), and it can be referred to arbitration in case of dispute. In the latter part of Clause 3, after it has gone to arbitration and the amount of compensation has been assessed, there is a loophole to the Minister to get out of all that he has done and all the expense and trouble to which he has put the landlord. That is to say, if he comes to the conclusion, having regard to the amount of compensation that has been awarded, that it will be unreasonable to carry on the proceedings he has commenced he can serve a further notice. The Amendment says that that is very hard on the landlord; and I think it is. The Amendment provides that if that notice is served the landowner shall have the right to go to the arbitrator to see whether the Minister was right in his view thatthe total expenditure involved would be justified having regard to any additional return which might reasonably be expected to be obtainable from the land after the execution of the works specified in the notice.If I am right in my view of the effect of the Amendment, and considering the words at the beginning of Sub-section (5):In the event of any dispute between the Minister and any person upon whom a notice or a copy of a notice has been served in accordance with the provisions of the two last foregoing sub-sectionswhich apply, of course, to either notice, to the original notice to treat or to the notice of abandonment, then the Amend- 2151 ment refers solely to the notice of abandonment, and I think it is quite proper that this loophole which has been given the Minister—as to whether he has rightly exercised his discretion—should also go to arbitration. I shall vote for the Amendment.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
I have some knowledge of the problem of land reclamation. It is almost impossible in many parts of the country to find land which you can reclaim with any hope of letting it at a profit or making a reasonable profit out of it after you have paid all the expenses of reclamation. I agree that it might be of great advantage to the community to reclaim certain areas of land, or to improve certain areas of land. A vast quantity of land in the West Country has been reclaimed for wheat growing, and for oat growing, when the price of cereals was high, but it has now gone back again to grass or to fallow. If we are to go on to these lands and bring them back to cultivation there should be some definite limit fixed on the amount we propose to spend. I do not want to say to the Minister of Agriculture that he must only reclaim land if he can show that there is going to be a profit. I doubt whether it will be possible to do that anywhere in this country, even in Wales, because they are not such good cultivators or so thrfity as people in other parts of the country.
Once again the Minister has absolutely turned down a proposal as if the money of the taxpayer was of no account whatever. I join with many of my hon. Friends in wishing to see a genuine return to the land all over the country, wherever possible, but I fear that unless the Amendment is incorporated in the Bill there will be a waste of money, and that within a year or two the country will be driven into reaction against people getting back to the land. We have heard a great deal from various speakers on this side of the House on this question, but
§ there are other hon. and right hon. Gentlemen present who could give us very valuable advice. At a time like this, on a matter of vital importance to the country, I think we might have some words from the Father of the House to help us out of our difficulty. This is one of his pet subjects, and I would feel deeply grateful to him if he could help us on this particular occasion.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I do not know what birds the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) is after, but he would have to be much quieter than he is in this House if he wanted to catch any bird. I was keeping Strictly to my point until the hon. Member interrupted. Unless we can have something further from the Government, in the shape of a definite guarantee, the House has absolutely no justification in taking any course other than the course of supporting the Amendment.
§ Sir ERNEST SHEPPERSON
I had no intention of intervening, but the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) invited those who had some experience on this subject to express their views. I have some peculiar knowledge with regard to the reclamation of land. There is a part of the country within the Fenland area where reclamation has taken place under private enterprise. Owing to the depth of the peat the reclaimed land will not produce corn or any other crops, and it has not given any return to those who spent their money on reclamation. I support the Amendment because I would like to save the taxpayer from such a loss of money as I have known private individuals to incur in the past.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 150; Noes, 235.2155
|Division No. 127.]||AYES.||[4.36 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Beaumont, M. W.||Bullock, Captain Malcolm|
|Albery, Irving James||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Butler, R. A.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Campbell, E. T.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Carver, Major W. H.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Bracken, B.||Cattle Stewart, Earl of|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Brass, Captain Sir William||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Briscoe, Richard George||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth,S.)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hartington, Marquess of||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Chamberlain Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Richardson, sir P. W, (Sur'y, Ch't'sy)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Haslam, Henry C.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Christie, J. A.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Ross, Major Ronald D.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Ruggies-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsay, Gainsbro)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Long, Major Hon. Eric||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Davison, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Lymington, Viscount||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Marjoribanks, Edward||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Meller, R. J.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Moore, sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Fermoy, Lord||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Fison, F. [...]. Clavering||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Muirhead, A. J.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Fremantie, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wardlaw-Ml[...]ne, J. S.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||O'Connor, T. J.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||O'Neill, Sir H.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Womersley, W. J.|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Reid, David D. (County Down)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Sir George Penny and Major the|
|Marquess of Titchfield.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Dagger, George||Hayes, John Henry|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Dalton, Hugh||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)|
|Altchison, Rt. Hon. Cralgie M.||Day, Harry||Herriotts, J.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)|
|Arnott, John||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hoffman, P. C.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Dukes, C.||Hopkin, Daniel|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Ede, James Chuter||Here-Belisha, Leslie|
|Ayles, Walter||Edmunds, J. E.||Horrabin, J. F.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Elmley, Viscount||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Foot, Isaac||Isaacs, George|
|Barr, James.||Freeman, Peter||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Batey, Joseph||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)||Johnston, Thomas|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)|
|Bellamy, Albert||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Gill, T, H.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Glassey, A. E.||Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)|
|Blindell, James||Gossling, A. G.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Gould, F.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Bowen, J. W.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln., Cent.)||Kinley, J.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Granville, E.||Kirkwood, D.|
|Bromley, J.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Knight, Holford|
|Brooke, W.||Groves, Thomas E.||Lang, Gordon|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Lathan, G.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Law, Albert (Bolton)|
|Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Law, A. (Rossendale)|
|Buchanan, G.||Hall, capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Lawrence, Susan|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)|
|Cameron, A. G.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Lawson, John James|
|Carter, W.||Harbord, A.||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)|
|Chater, Daniel||Hardie, George D.||Leach, w.|
|Clarke, J. S.||Harris, Percy A.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Lees, J.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Lloyd, C. Ellis|
|Compton, Joseph||Haycock, A. W.||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Hayday, Arthur||Longbottom, A. W.|
|Longden, F.||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Lunn, William||Palin, John Henry||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Palmer, E. T.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|McElwee, A.||Perry, S. F.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. philip|
|McEntee, V. L.||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|McKinlay, A.||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Stephen, Campbell|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Pole, Major D. G.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|MacNeill-Weir, L.||Potts, John S||Sutton, J. E.|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Taylor, W, B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|McShane, John James||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Raynes, W. R.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Thurtie, Ernest|
|Mansfield, W.||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Marcus, M.||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Tout, W. J.|
|Markham, S. F.||Ritson, J.||Townend, A. E.|
|Marley, J.||Romeril, H. G.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Marshall, Fred||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Vaughan, David|
|Mathers, George||Rothschild, J. de||Viant, S. P.|
|Matters, L. W.||Rowson, Guy||Walkden, A. G.|
|Maxton, James||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Walker, J.|
|Melville, Sir James||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor|
|Messer, Fred||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Middleton, G.||Sanders, W. S.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Mliner, Major J.||Sandham, E.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Moriey, Ralph||Sawyer, G. F.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Scott, James||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||West, F. R.|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Westwood, Joseph|
|Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, Ni||Sherwood, G. H.||White, H. G.|
|Mort, D. L.||Shield, George William||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Murnin, Hugh||Shillaker, J. F.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Shinwell, E.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Simmons, C. J.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Sitch, Charles H.||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester,Loughb'gh)|
|Oldfield, J. R.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)|
|Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.|
§ Sir E. SHEPPERSON
I beg to move, in page 6, line 40, after the word "Institution," to insert the words "or the president of the Land Agents' Society."
The Land Agents' Society is a chartered society, and I suggest that including this alternative consultation in the Bill would be helpful, because the Land Agents' Society is more likely to have local knowledge of local conditions than the Surveyors' Institution.
§ Lieut.-Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
I beg to second the Amendment.
The Land Agents' Society is the only society which exists specifically for those concerned in the management of land, and for the profession of land agency. It is a highly professional body and its members are admitted by examination. The amount of land which is in charge of members of the society, throughout the country, at the present time is well over 10,000,000 acres. The society is in close touch with Government Departments and has received, from time to time, the warm thanks of various Departments for assistance rendered on highly technical questions connected with land. There is, of course, no conflict whatever 2156 in this matter between the Land Agents' Society and the Chartered Surveyors' Institution—in fact, about 25 per cent. of the members of the Land Agents' Society are also members of the Surveyors' Institution—but I think it right to urge the claims of the Land Agents' Society that, in a matter of this kind, which concerns land in this country, in such important ways, if any dispute arises it should be open to the parties to have the choice of the president of the Chartered Surveyors' Institution or the president of the Land Agents' Society. The Minister was good enough, when this matter was raised in Committee, to say that he would give it consideration and I hope he will be able to accept the Amendment.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the DUCHY of LANCASTER (Mr. Attlee)
The hon. and gallant Member is quite right when he recalls that in Committee the Minister said he would have a look at this proposal but, at the same time, the right hon. Gentleman said he did not like it very much. The Minister entirely agrees, as we all agree, with the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment as to the high standing of the Land Agents' 2157 Society. It will, however, be recognised that the general rule in matters of this sort hitherto has been to put in the President of the Surveyors' Institution. The idea of putting in a reference of this sort is that, in the event of the parties failing to agree to an arbitrator, there should be named some definite and final person to whom the matter can be referred. I do not know how the suggested alternative would work out—whether the President of the Surveyors' Institution, and the President of the Land Agents' Society are to take turns, or in what way it would be arranged. Again there might be difficulty if one of the parties wanted the President of the Surveyors' Institution and the other wanted the President of the Land Agents' Society. On the whole, the Amendment would complicate the matter and, without casting the slightest slur on the high qualifications of members of the Land Agents' Society we consider it better to follow the usual precedent in this matter.
§ Mr. J. JONES
A few evenings ago we were discussing the Trade Disputes Bill. To-night we are discussing the Agricultural Land Bill and I notice that while strong objection was raised by hon. Members opposite, on the first occasion, to working people having any right to interfere in matters concerning industry, we are now told that particular organisations of technical experts connected with land ought to be allowed by statute to come in and interfere with Government land legislation. That is Sovietism. Yet this proposal comes from the very people who have been denouncing us for supporting so-called Bolshevism, because we claimed the right on behalf of the trade unionists of the country to take their part in industrial matters. I would like to ask right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench do they really agree with this kind of thing? Who are the members of the Surveyors' Institution? Who are these experts? I have been a member of a local authority for 26 years and I know that the experts "lead us up the garden" every time. When we decide upon a policy then the experts come in and God knows where we go. If the Government have the courage which they ought to have in these matters they will tell these bodies that they can come along in the 2158 ordinary way, but that they are to have no statutory right to interfere in Government legislation.
Who does the land agent represent? Generally, a landlord goes abroad for the best part of his life, or at any rate some part of it, and the land agent then looks after the landlord's affairs and looks after himself better. These are the people who claim the right, automatically, to come in and tell us in this House what should or should not be done. This Amendment ought not to be accepted because it simply means allowing a, body of people like surveyors or land agents to have this power of interference. They act for the other chap who knows nothing about it. He may claim, as he did during the Education Debates here, that he has all the brains, but he has to buy the brains; he has not got them himself. He has to ask somebody else to do the job for him. It is not right that our legislation should be hampered by these gentlemen and no statutory right of this kind should be given to them. If the trade union movement asked that its president, the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday) should be automatically appointed on committees dealing with industrial matters, what an outcry would be raised by hon. Members opposite. We would be told by them that we were claiming a privilege although they themselves are always asserting privileges here. They claim that they are the only people who know—and the more they talk the less we know. As far as I am concerned, I say that there should be no privilege for anybody and equal rights for all, and when a body of this kind puts forward special claims, those claims ought to be turned down. If we want any advice it ought to be advice given on behalf of every section of the community.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Captain BOURNE
I beg to move, in page 8, line 16, at the end, to insert the words:(8) If by reason of the execution by the Minister under this section of reclamation, drainage, or other work on any piece of land damage is caused to any land adjacent thereto, the Minister shall make good any such damage for which he would have been liable if he had been a private person.The object of this Amendment is to place upon the Minister a liability which un- 2159 doubtedly would fall on any statutory undertaker or even on any local authority who entered into land, by virtue of the Land Clauses (Consolidation) Act and, in so doing, caused injury to somebody else. As far as the ordinary statutory undertakers is concerned, I think this matter is dealt with in the case of Kirby versus The School Board for Harrogate, but I am not so clear that the same thing applies in the case of the Minister, because the position under this Measure is that the Minister may hold this land on behalf of the Crown, and it is a well-known principle of English law that you cannot sue the Crown, and therefore you cannot, incidentally, sue a Government Department in this respect at all. The kind of case which I have in mind is where the Minister takes land under the Land Clauses (Consolidation) Act and where the only access to that land, once you leave the King's highway, is by means of private service roads which were not constructed to bear heavy traffic. In order to carry out the necessary operations the Minister, or whoever undertakes the work on his behalf, may have to bring along that road steam engines and other machines, vastly in excess of the weight which the road was constructed to carry. I can assure the Minister that that is not an inconsiderable problem in rural life.
Supposing the result should be that these engines or waggons break culverts, or knock the bottom out of a road belonging to some other landowner, who also has to use this service road, such landowner may find himself put to considerable expense and trouble in repairing the damage unless some definite liability is placed on the Minister under this Bill. I have had some correspondence with the Department on the subject, and I understand that their defence is that if anybody is undertaking this work on behalf of the Minister, you can sue the individual and the Minister would have to pay, but I suggest that that is not a satisfactory position. The Minister takes these powers, and it is said that under Section 68 of the Land Clauses (Consolidation) Act he is liable for damage, but I am not clear that he is. As I read that Section it only refers to compensation where the action of a statutory undertaker interfered with rights and easements such as ancient lights or restrictive 2160 covenants. I am not clear that Section 68 of the Land Clauses (Consolidation) Act really covers this point, and, in any case, surely there should be some words to this effect in the present Bill. Short of putting in some definite words, 5.0 p.m. I am doubtful whether there is any liability on the Ministry, and therefore whether any person injured must not trust to repayment simply as an act of grace by the Department, to which he has no legal right. I do not think that people should be put into that position by this Bill.
§ Lieut.-Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
I beg to second the Amendment.
In all these questions of damage done by the State in any form, it should be borne in mind that the State should set a good example to individuals. There is no reason why, if the State commits damage in any of its activities, the State should be immune. It cannot be argued that everything that the State undertakes is for the benefit of all the component individuals who form the State. On the contrary, it may be quite a limited number of people that the action of the State is intended to benefit, but if the action of the State, intended to benefit a limited number only, should at the same time inflict damage upon any other limited number of people, then surely the State should express its willingness to settle any claim with the utmost promptitude, just as any individual ought to do so. The State should set the model in this respect, and it is because I think there is a tendency abroad in the minds of some people to think that the State can do no wrong that we ought to be very jealous in this House of guarding the rights and liberties of individuals. On that ground alone, apart from all technical reasons for which I think this Amendment should be supported, I desire to second the Amendment.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. Craigle Aitchison)
We are in entire agreement with the purpose of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne), who moved the Amendment, and the hon. and gallant Member for Maldon (Lieut.-Colonel Ruggles-Brise), who seconded it, but the view which we take, after very careful consideration, is that the Amendment is 2161 really unnecessary to effect that purpose. We understand that it is desired to make it quite plain that where damage is done to adjacent land, through operations on land that is taken by the State, liability will attach to the Crown. The hon, and gallant Member for Oxford has referred to the well accepted principle which exempts the Crown from liability, a principle that is not confined to land, but applies also to contracts; but I think the hon. and gallant Member failed to notice that the land to be taken under the provisions of this Bill will be land held on ordinary tenure by a Ministry of State. It is, accordingly, in quite a different position from land which is held by the Crown in virtue of the inherent rights of the Crown, land which, to use a technical term, is held jure coronæ.
In these circumstances, we are satisfied, after giving the matter very full consideration, that a claim would lie in respect of damage against the Minister under Section 68 of the Lands Clauses Act, 1845, and I need not remind the House that the Lands Clauses Act is incorporated in the Bill for the purposes of compensation in regard to any land that may be taken by the State and that may be damaged in consequence of operations under the Measure. Accordingly, I am in a position to assure the House that we have looked into this matter very carefully and that the Amendment is unnecessary. In these circumstances, we are anxious that this Amendment should not be pressed, because we feel that if it is pressed and we make a special provision for this particular case, we may cast some doubt upon the general rule of law that where land is held by a Department under the ordinary feudal tenure, liability attaches if any damage is done. Therefore, I hope the hon. and gallant Members will not press the Amendment.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
I have been interested in what the Scottish Lord Advocate has said, and I am curious to know if that is the view of the English law or of the Scots law only. As I understand the matter, under Section 68 of the Lands Clauses Act it is clear that in the assessment of compensation any damage done would be payable in respect of other land owned by the same owner as the person whose land had been taken, but surely, in the case of powers given to any undertaker, whether a private person 2162 or the Crown, authorised to put in operation powers under the Lands Clauses Act for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Bill, nobody could claim any damage for anything that occurred on other land.
That is the trouble. Private individuals always suffer where the land is acquired by a railway company or any other public body of undertakers; the person whose land was not taken has no remedy, either for a nuisance or tort, because this House gives statutory authority to them to carry out the purposes ordained by Act of Parliament under which they are acting. I am a little surprised to hear that an adjacent owner would have any right at all in this case. I am only speaking offhand from my recollection of the law, but I am deeply surprised to hear that if the person carrying out this work should happen to be the Government, the Government could be sued at all. I should have thought the Mover of the Amendment was right in his view of the law, though whether the Amendment which he has moved would carry out the object at which he aims, I am not so clear.
§ Brigadier-General CLIFTON BROWN
This is a very unsatisfactory way of meeting a point. We get an appeal from the Lord Advocate not to press this Amendment, because he does not understand what the law will say about it, and we have the situation of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) not agreeing with the interpretation given by the Lord Advocate. It is a very important point if the law is at all doubtful, and I think my hon. and gallant Friend should press for an assurance at least that before the Bill reaches another place the matter will be looked into again. The Lord Advocate has said he is quite prepared to acknowledge the justice of the case, that a neighbouring owner should get compensation for damage, but it should be made quite clear that he is to get it. There is an Amendment lower on the Paper which talks about works of maintenance. These works of maintenance are very large, and I gather that this particular Amendment would refer to all those works of maintenance; in other words, you might suffer damage from all those works of maintenance, which is a very big liability to take on, if you are a neigh- 2163 hour of a Government farm and suffer damage by fire from sparks falling on to hayricks and so on. It is a very important question, and if you are damaged by the owner of the Government farm, you should be requited. If there is any doubt in the matter, I do hope we shall get an assurance that it will be cleared up in another place.
§ Captain BOURNE
I do not wish to press the Amendment, but will the Minister of Agriculture give us an undertaking to give this matter further consideration before the Bill goes to another place? We all agree as to what we want, but the legal point is somewhat complicated and obscure, and I agree with the last speaker that it is of great importance that the thing should be made clear, if posible. I realise the legal difficulties, but if the right hon. Gentleman will look into the question between now and the time when the Bill reaches another place, I will not press the Amendment.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I will give that undertaking with pleasure. According to the understanding previously arrived at, the question has been looked into with great care by the Law Officers and our legal advisers, and their opinion has been given, with regard also to the Scottish law, by the Lord Advocate.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Captain BOURNE
I beg to move, in page 8, line 42, after the word "land," to insert the words "or hop gardens."
This Amendment and the one following, to insert "or osier-beds," are put down to ascertain why certain forms of agricultural land were omitted from the definition given in the Clause. It seems very inconvenient that in making the definition of agricultural land we should get varying definition in varying Acts. Some Acts included in agriculture what this Clause has here, but I think hop gardens have always been included. Some go wider and include forests, and so, if you use the word "agriculture," or the words "agricultural land" or "agricultural purposes" in any Act, you are uncertain what is meant. This Amendment has largely been put down in order to ascertain why a certain aspect of agriculture, and one that is normally re- 2164 garded as an agricultural occupation, is omitted from the Clause.
§ Dr. ADDISON
The definition is here included for the reason that it is desirable to have a definition, but I am advised that hop gardens are included in the expression "land as arable." The expression "osier-beds" is not included, and I should be willing to accept its inclusion.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment made: In page 8, line 42, at the end, insert the words "or osierbeds."—[Captain Bourne.]
§ Dr. ADDISON
I beg to move, in page 9, line 5, at the end, to insert the words:(d) the expression works of maintenance' means the repair or reconditioning of farmhouses, cottages, agricultural buildings, drains, embankments, ditches, bridges, fences, walls, hedges, gates, roads and water supply; and(e) the expression 'agricultural buildings' has the same meaning as in the Rating and Valuation (Apportionment) Act, 1928.This Amendment is put down as the result of an undertaking given after a very long discussion in Committee, when I promised a definition of "works of maintenance," in order to make clear what are the works referred to earlier in the Clause. I think that the definition which is embodied here covers the usual obligations of the agricultural landlord, and they are obviously works which, it not executed, would be likely to result in the land falling into an unsatisfactory condition. Hon. Members may call my attention to the expression "reconditioning." That is put in because it is quite clear that if, for instance, we had to deal with an antiquated cowshed 200 years old, it would not be sufficient to put a few tiles on the roof in order to make it watertight; it would have to be put into a condition to meet modern requirements. Otherwise, I think that it covers the various works which are generally understood as being included in the maintenance of land of this character.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
In this Amendment the right hon. Gentleman has endeavoured to meet the arguments which we raised in the discussion in Committee, 2165 and the only caveat which I have to enter is with regard to the use of the word "reconditioning." The right hon. Gentleman instanced the case of an old cowshed, and said that it needed something more than ordinary repairs. Surely if it is allowed to be used as a cowshed at all, under the Milk and Dairies Order, and Regulations of that kind, it has to be in fact a reconditioned cowshed before it is allowed to be used. How far can the word "reconditioning" apply to farmhouses? In regard to the reconditioning of an old picturesque Elizabethan Cotswold farmhouse, for instance, would the Minister under this Sub-section have power to compel the owner to modernise it completely? No doubt, possibly in the interests of scientific hygiene, it would be a good thing to do, but it would be at the expense of a great deal of the comfort and picturesqueness of England if we had to recondition all the old farmhouses in the country. I hope that the way in which the lawyers interpret this word will not be the kind of interpretation that they sometimes put on such redundant words. The word "reconditioning" here must be intended to mean something more than the ordinary use of the word "repair" as it appears in all the Housing Acts and Measures of that kind.
It is important in all these Statutes that words imposing obligations, not only upon the taxpayer, but upon private individuals, should be very carefully considered. While it may be necessary to recondition drains, embankments, ditches and the like, where it is a question of reclaiming land it is dangerous to use in an omnibus phrase of this kind the same word to cover dwelling-houses, agricultural buildings and various works other than the reclamation of land. It is one of those dangerous things that appear from time to time in Acts of Parliament, which Parliament ought to watch before passing them. Having said that, I wish to thank the right hon. Gentleman for having met the main request that was made in Committee that the question of what is meant by "works of maintenance" should be defined, and not left to prolonged litigation, which might have followed unless some fairly clear definition were included.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
I would appeal to the Minister to say whether, with the 2166 object of improving his Bill, he cannot dispense with the word "reconditioning"? It does not appear in the Bill, except in the margin of Clause 3, and it is a word that has only recently come into use at all. It is unknown to the law, and its meaning is absolutely uncertain. It is, apparently, meant to apply to "works of maintenance" which appear in Sub-section (3), the first words of which are:If after receiving a report under the last foregoing sub-section with respect to any piece of land the Minister is satisfied that the piece of land is in a seriously neglected condition and that the condition thereof has been caused by the failure of the owner thereof to execute thereon any necessary works of maintenance.To say that "works of maintenance" means "reconditioning," is to go back to the same thing. The word "repair" is a well known term of law, and is amply sufficient for the purpose. It means putting into substantial repair. "Reconditioning" might mean building a brand new building. "Repair" would mean making a building substantially fitted for the purpose for which it is used, and that, I gather, is the Minister's intention. I urge that in his own interest—not in any other wider interest at all—that it would be much better to leave the well-known term "repair," and he would be amply protected.
§ Mr. J. JONES
I am not a lawyer, thank God for that! I have heard so much of lawyers recently in this House, and I understand them less the more I listen to them. Some of us know something about reconditioning of property. Some of us are trustees of certain property, and we are bound at the end of the next five years to put the property back to the condition in which we got it 10 years ago. The landlord has a right to claim that we should put it back as he and his architectural advisers desire. They may ask us to produce a new building, and that is according to the law as it is at present understood. I would like to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) whether, if he were briefed upon the other side, he would not claim that the property should be placed as it was, and, ought not to be placed as it should be?
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
My point was as to the necessity of the word "reconditioning," and my argument was that "re- 2167 pair" is a word that has been construed by many judges, and is well known. "Reconditioning" is a new word, and will be subject to much litigation in future.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being present—
§ Mr. JONES
I do not pretend to be an agricultural expert, although I was born in the country, which some of the agricultural experts have never seen. Reconditioning is more important than so-called repairs. We in the towns, and particularly in the East End of London, know what "repairs" means. When they repair, you are being prepared for the next world. They do only just as much as they can in order to escape the sanitary inspector. So far as land is concerned, the idea is that the only repairs that the landlords will do are those which are sufficient to justify their drawing rent. That is the only idea they have. I suggest that "reconditioning" should mean putting the property on the land in as good a condition as the land itself.
People who live in cottages owned by the landowners, and whose lives are spent under conditions which are very often dictated by the landowners, ought to have their cottages kept in proper order. In the rural areas it is almost a privilege to get a little bit of repair work done apart from any question of reconditioning. The word "recondition" ought to mean the provision of proper accommodation for those who live upon the land and work it, and it ought not to be merely a question of studying the convenience of those who live away from the land but draw incomes from it, without doing any useful work. We who were brought up in the country but have come to the towns to try to get a living say that the word "recondition" as applied to the land ought not to mean merely the land which is cultivated, but also mean the cottages for the people who live on the land, so that they may be provided with decent housing conditions.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
There is one point on which we have not had much discussion. I presume that the Minister who is arranging to carry out these very considerable works has in mind the organisation through which he proposes to do the work. In the ordinary way the running of an agricultural estate involves a considerable staff—masons, joiners, bricklayers, are all required; there has to be a considerable organisation of skilled men and of materials. The carrying out of this scheme on the scale suggested by the Minister will be a work of considerable size and importance. Have the Ministry of Agriculture made any arrangements for doing building or drainage work or the various other repairs suggested? If so, is it proposed that they should set up a central staff to do the work, or how is it to be done? We all know that if the work is done by private contractors in each district it will be much more costly than if there were a properly organised staff to do it. What provision is the Minister making? What scheme has he thought out for undertaking this work? As far as I know, it is the first time that the Ministry of Agriculture have been charged with such duties, and I hope he will be able to give us the details before we endow him with the powers he seeks.
§ Dr. ADDISON
The right hon. and gallant Member is, I think, quite mistaken in his observations. There is no question here of whether the Ministry of Agriculture will have a staff of masons, bricklayers and others. The point is the question of inserting in the Bill words which will define what is meant by "works of maintenance." In this Amendment I am supplying such a definition. That is all that we are concerned with, and nothing further. As to "reconditioning," it does mean something more than repairing; it is meant to be more than repairing, though we do not mean the expensive enterprises about which the right hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) talked. All these Orders are subject to appeal, and the arbitrator will have to take into account whether the notices were reasonable, etc., when the case comes before him, and I am certain that no elaborate reconstruction will be required or approved by the arbitrator. At the same time, these words are necessary, I am 2169 advised, in view of the conflict as to what "repair" does mean. We have looked into the meaning of the term "repair," and have come to the conclusion that it might not indicate all that might be properly and fairly required. I have instanced the case of an antiquated cowshed which is not now, and perhaps has not been for a long time, used as a cowshed. Perhaps the fabric is good enough, but something more may be required than mending holes in the walls if it is, as a cowshed, to be brought up to the reasonable requirements of local authorities. That is what this Amendment means. We ought to include in the definition words which will have that effect, and I am advised that without this Amendment the position will not be clear.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I agree entirely with the right hon. Gentleman that probably we do require some word beyond the word "repair." I have had some experience of the word "reconditioning," having taken advantage of the Act under which one may be assisted to recondition houses. When, however, one has to recondition one does a great deal more than what the right hon. Gentleman has said in his references to making a cowshed which has tumbled down into a cowshed which could properly be used. The standard of reconditioning is very much higher than that. In many cases reconditioning has meant rebuilding a house, merely using the material again. With reference to what he said as to the arbitrator acting reasonably no doubt that is true, but that would be reasonable having regard to the words which are in the Measure. If some other words were used an arbitrator might say, "Well, this is quite enough to make the holding one which a farmer could use"; but if the word "reconditioning" were in the Measure, he might say, "I am bound by the word 'reconditioning,' and I am not able to say, having regard to the way in which 'reconditioning' is used in the Housing Acts, that this is not a reasonable reconditioning." In view of the difference of opinion in the House as to whether the right word is being used here, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider the effect of the word "reconditioning" in order to see whether there is some intermediate word which 2170 could be substituted, or whether we could be given some fuller definition of what is required to be done. The change could be made in another place.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
Can the right hon. Gentleman give me an answer to the questions I have put to him? He is definitely accepting a liability to execute certain works, and I ask him how he is going to execute them. He merely says that it is not necessary for us to consider that now. I suggest it will be necessary to have a, large organisation, and I want to know whether he has got it or is going to get it.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I must repeat that that point does not arise here. It is not a question of how the work is to be executed. If works are to be carried out by the Ministry or under their auspices, it is quite clear they will have to make suitable arrangements; but the particular way in which the work is to be carried out does not arise here.
§ Amendment agreed to.