HC Deb 09 October 1946 vol 427 cc226-47
Mr. R. S. Hudson

I beg to move, in page 8, line 35, to leave out from "regulations," to "and," in line 38.

These words, in effect—and they were deliberately inserted for that purpose—prevent any grant being made towards the erection or reconditioning of a cottage if that cottage is going to be what is ordinarily known as a tied cottage. We had a certain amount of discussion on this upstairs and we on this side of the House believe that if this particular restriction on the liberty of the Minister to make grants for the reconditioning and building of cottages is retained, it will, in effect, destroy a considerable part of the value of the Bill. I am aware that the history of tied cottages is a thorny one, and that certain hon. Members opposite hold very strong views on this matter, but in this case of hill farming I would ask hon. Members to try to disabuse their minds of any prejudice they may have based on past experience, and to look at the problem with which we are actually faced. We are trying to improve hill farming land, land which, by definition, is not capable of supporting sheep or cattle and which we believe, with improvements, should be capable. I do not need to go at great length into the reasons of this, or the reasons for the deterioration which this particular land has suffered within the memory of man, but it is abundantly clear that, if the efforts are to be successful and we are to get considerably increased head of stock on these lands, it is absolutely essential to have increased numbers of people to look after them. You will not get anyone in their senses— and in my submission you also ought not to ask the State—to make a contribution unless it is reasonably certain that that money will be fruitful for the purposes for which this Bill is being passed. It is quite clear that if the money is spent and then it is impossible to increase the head of livestock because you cannot get men to look after them, the Bill fails and the expenditure is wasted. Therefore, one of the cardinal issues of this matter is the provision of better and additional housing accommodation.

Hon. Members opposite seem to think that it is the duty of local authorities to provide additional living accommodation, not only in towns but also in the countryside. They may or may not be right, but it is abundantly clear that, in practice, local authorities will not, in view of the other calls on their energies, provide, and they cannot reasonably be expected to provide, the sort of accommodation required in the places where it will be required under this Bill. Hon. Members opposite, and many of us on this side of the House, think in general it is desirable that new cottages should be built as near as possible to existing congregations of persons near villages, but the whole essence of this problem of hill farming is that there are not villages anywhere near where the cottages are wanted. Therefore, by the very nature of things you are bound to put up a certain number some distance away, and possibly in what we in England and the home counties call isolated areas. If the local authorities do not do it, then the private individual ought to do it but, looking at it realistically, the private individual cannot be expected to sink a considerable sum of money upon which he will not get a full economic return unless he can be assured that the necessary labour will be available. in tact, the only way he can be so assured is to erect what is known as a tied cottage, because if he erects a cottage under the terms of Clause 9 so that anyone can take it, once lived in, the cottage becomes subject to rent restriction and he is deprived of any kind of certainty that the cottage which he has been asked to build will subserve the interest of the particular scheme with which we are concerned.

5.15 p.m.

It may well be, perhaps not in Scotland but certainly in the less remote parts of England, that an individual cottage may be built in close proximity not only to one farm, not only to the steading which it is supposed to serve, but to several farms. It is clear, therefore, that the man who builds the cottage under the provisions of Clause 9 will not have any security at all that the man who occupies the cottage will not work for him for a week, a month or a year and then take a job with one of the neighbouring farms, and then he will be out of all the money that he has spent on building or reconditioning the cottage. What is worse he will be out, or his tenant will be out, of all the money he has spent on the scheme because, ex hypothesi, unless he builds another cottage he will not have the labour to look after the stock. Therefore, we get into a situation which is really ludicrous, and I ask hon. Gentlemen to forget for a moment whatever may be their objections in the past or in general to tied cottages, and to look at this problem from the point of view of what will happen to the individual scheme.

I do not want to go into it at great length, and I hope that the House will not feel it is necessary to have a full dress Debate on the theory of tied cottages; if so, then there is a great deal that can be said on both sides. All I am suggesting is that in this particular case of grants being given by the Government to fulfil a specific purpose of a specific farm in a specific area, unless we allow the landlord or the tenant or the owner-occupier to be certain, when he has spent all this money, that he will have a house in which he can be sure that his labour will live, then no one in their senses will undertake the work and the Bill itself, which otherwise I hope will be of great value and which we have spent so much time in discussing, will be of little or no value.

Mr. Thornton-Kemsley (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Western)

When this Bill was presented first to the House in the early part of the year it did not contain this objectionable Clause which, as my right hon Friend has said, virtually nullifies the whole effect of the Bill. I regret very much, as he does and all hon. Members do on this side of the House, that the Minister should have given way to pressure within his own party, pressure exercised first from the ranks behind him and, later, at the Bournemouth Conference of the Socialist Party, and that he should on account of this pressure, have changed his mind and inserted this Clause. However, much as I regret that the right hon. Gentleman has so fallen from grace, I regret even more that the Secretary of State for Scotland should have so betrayed the interests of rural Scotland—where the problems are quite different in so many respects from those in England—as to have concurred in this surrender. But they are all in the same bed and "When father turns we all turn." [An HON. MEMBER: "How about Blackpool?"] When the Minister gives way to pressure, the Secretary of State must also yield.

I think it is agreed on all sides of the House that improved housing is very badly needed. I do not really think that would be argued about by anyone. If it were, we have only to refer to the two Reports which have been made on the hill farming position or, indeed, to quote the Cambridge Resolution at the Bournemouth Conference, which laid it down that it was necessary to ensure sufficient houses in the country. I will quote from the Balfour Report concerning the position in Scotland. On page 74, in paragraph 218, the Balfour Report says: There must be better housing. A little further down, in the next paragraph, it says: Housing is probably at its worst … in the remoter sheep farming districts. Another point which I think is accepted by everybody, is that the industry cannot afford this better housing in the sheep farming districts without help. Here I would quote again from the Balfour Report because I am speaking particularly of the Scottish position. In paragraph 128 it says: The general condition of hill sheep forming in Scotland … provides a gloomy picture. The industry is not operating on an economic basis … In a word, left to itself, hill sheep farming is a dying industry. The Report goes on to recommend that subsidies should be continued, that they should be graded so that the more remote districts get higher subsidies, and that grants should be available for new houses.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

I do not think the hon. Member is entitled to go into those much wider questions. This is really a narrow point, whether, as a condition of a grant in respect of the improvement of a cottage, it shall or shall not be permissible to prohibit the cottage being tied.

Mr. Thornton-Kemsley

I bow to your Ruling, Sir. The point I was trying to make is that the effect of the Bill will be nullified if the houses which are built under the terms of the Bill are not available for letting to shepherds, who will be unable therefore to manage the hill farms. I will abandon the points I was trying to make, and deal specifically with that issue. It seems to me that to deny this measure of assistance will react hardly on the shepherds themselves, whose cottages under a more discerning and less incompetent Government would fall to be improved under the terms of the Bill, and that it will in many respects nullify the effect of the Bill.

I will quickly bring myself into Order by asking a specific question. If a scheme is proposed in a case where the housing is definitely bad in regard to a hill farm, will a grant for the remainder of the work be given? If so, the whole effect of that grant may be marred by the failure to attract labour because of the lack of cottages. If a grant will not be made, the whole purpose of the Bill, which is to facilitate the regeneration and rehabilitation of hill farming land will be defeated. If a grant is given for a cottage, and the farmer wants to dismiss the shepherd in that cottage, the employee might be able to get some more work locally. He might be able to get work in one of the development schemes in the district, or on the roads, or in some other way. But the farmer would be left with no alternative accommodation for his shepherd. When we discussed this point in Committee, the Joint Undersecretary for Scotland said that it would be all right as it would be open to the farmer to go to the courts for an eviction order. But the farmer would be faced with the expense, inconvenience, and unpleasantness of going first to the agricultural executive committee to obtain a certificate to the effect that the cottage was necessary to the proper working of the farm. When he got that certificate, he would still have to go to the courts for an eviction order. If he were to get an order for possession, it is almost certain that the courts would give time to the tenant to find some alternative accommodation. What about the farmer during the whole of this time? That is the point to which the House should address itself. It is the point that goes to the root of the objection.

The hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. Scott-Elliot) spoke of a hill sheep farm in a glen with only one house which was obviously the only house in which the shepherd could live. What would happen to the farm and to the sheep while someone' who was not the shepherd was living there? The shepherd must be on the spot. That is essential at all times, but particularly in snowy weather. I deplore this attempt to introduce dectrinaire political considerations, when the sole consideration ought to be, in the words of the Explanatory Memorandum of the Bill, to facilitate the rehabilitation of hill farming land throughout the Kingdom.

5.30 p.m.

Mr. T. Williams

The effect of accepting this Amendment, as the right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) would be the first to appreciate, would be equivalent to deleting from the Bill the Clause which we accepted on the Committee stage and which was designed to ensure that grants should not be payable under the Bill for the erection of tied cottages. Whatever the arguments for or against may be, I certainly attach the greatest importance, both to the Clause and to this portion which the Amendment seeks to delete. The Clause has two objects, namely, to prevent the diversion to other uses than that of occupation by agricultural workers, or persons of like economic status, or cottages erected or improved by subsidies under the terms of this Bill, and secondly, to ensure, as far as practicable, that assistance given will not add to the number of tied cottages. That is the purpose, very simply stated, but it would be much more difficult to translate into legislation, since the number of Acts to be dealt with occupy no fewer than 250 lines of the Statute Book. Therefore, the Regulation referred to in the Clause became a necessity. The argument for and against the tied cottage has been going on for generations, and I do not think that I ought to cover the ground again this afternoon. Hon. Members opposite take a certain view, quite rightly, because they believe they are right; hon. Members sitting on these benches very largely, if not wholly, take a totally different view. The simple point I want to put to the House is this: This Bill neither abolishes tied cottages nor does it create them. Therefore, it does not seem to me to be one of those burning questions that ought to disturb the even flow of the Debate which we have so far had this afternoon.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

The right hon. Gentleman said that the Bill does not create or abolish the tied cottage. But it abolishes individual ones. Any tied cottage that a man wants to recondition will cease to be a tied cottage if he accepts a grant under the terms of the Bill.

Mr. Williams

I quite agree. If a number of houses are reconditioned and the grant is obtained, from being service occupancies they will automatically become tenancies, and to that extent the number of so-called tied houses will be fewer. But, broadly speaking, this Bill does not set out to deal with the question of rent restriction control. That is a matter for the Minister of Health.

I have no power to deal with rent restriction law, and the most we are endeavouring to do is to see to it that once Government funds are made available either for reconditioning a house or for erecting a new one, those houses at least will come under ordinary rent restriction law. Take a single case. I would not carry the argument further than this: The hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) has just been submitting to the House that unless there is a house on the hill farm, labour cannot be attracted to that farm, and he asked what, with all this new grass, reseeding and the rest, is to happen to the sheep or cattle? I need only put him a similar question. Can he induce modern-minded young men and women to go on to the hillsides to occupy houses out of which they may be turned, with their furniture, at any given moment. They may—I do not know. I would not argue the point lengthily, and I cannot argue it learnedly. It is, however, a two-sided argument.

I should have thought that so long as the Government are making available funds equal to 50 per cent. of the cost of reconditioning a house or of erecting a new house, for the farmer himself to charge the rent to the forthcoming tenant will be good business for the farmer, will not be bad business for the tenant, and the shepherd will be there to tend the sheep and cattle. If we were attempting, in this small Bill, completely to revolutionise the rent restriction law, that would be one thing, but we are doing nothing of the kind. We are merely insisting that where Government funds are made available for reconditioning, or for the erection of a new house, a tenancy must be created in every case. I think it is fair between landlord and tenant; I think that very likely there will be more happy and contented tenants in houses that are not tied in the old sense. Because of that I think it is a reasonable thing to do in a small Measure of this description, and not to interfere with the general law of rent control in this country.

Mr. York (Ripon)

The Minister said that this Bill neither abolishes nor creates tied cottages. My right hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) has shown him quite clearly that that is not so. It will, in fact, reduce considerably, or at any rate to some extent, the number of tied cottages on farms. There is no argument about that. To that extent the Minister is changing the law of rent restriction. My real criticism of what the Minister has just said is contained in the fact that by maintaining this mandatory regulation—that is what it is—he will make quite certain that the improvement of cottages admitted to be necessary will be held up. The Minister shakes his head. Let us consider for a moment what his regulation does. The wider question of the economics of the hill farm do not need to be discussed at this juncture, but I think it will be admitted on all sides that the rental value, or to put it another way, the profitability of a hill farm is of such small dimensions that any large outlay of a capital nature or of an income nature, will have to be met in some way, either by an appre- ciable rise in the amount of money which can be obtained from the produce of that holding, or from an increase in rent from the tenant.

In order properly to recondition cottages at the present high cost of building, a large sum of money will be needed. In addition to that, a large sum of money will probably be needed for the provision of modern amenities. I have very little doubt that when an owner-occupier, an owner or a tenant, comes to look at the figures of the money which he will have to find in order to carry out a scheme under this Bill, he will be frightened off the venture by the fact that the one really human improvement he wants to undertake will entirely upset the economy of his whole farm, and therefore may wreck the improvement venture he wishes to make to the land itself. It is no use our saying that we can spend unlimited money upon hill farms, because we know very well that there is a limited amount of income coming out of those farms. Therefore, unless some help is given to the owners or occupiers of those farms the man who will be most affected will be not the owner but either the farm tenant or the occupiers of the houses.

I know that I am knocking my head against a brick wall on this subject, but I say to the Minister that there is a middle way in this matter and that he would do a great service to the hill farming industry both in England and in Scotland if he could find a method of adopting that middle way. Instead of making this regulation mandatory, as it is at the present time, he could make is permissible. There are certain circumstances in which he knows now that no improvements can be made under the regulations as they will be made under this Clause. Perhaps there are a larger number of occasions on which the regulations will not have a deleterious effect, but in these two circumstances he may want to have a permissive power. If during the remaining stages of this Bill he will consider that sugestion, then this Debate will have been well worth while.

There is one anomaly which I would like to put to him. This morning in a newspaper I read of a wage earner somewhere in England who won the "penny pool." He netted £40,000. I hope that similar luck will fall in due course to some shepherd. Under this Bill, the owner or the owner-occupier of a farm, having spent probably £1,500 in putting up a cottage to house this lucky shepherd, will find that shepherd far richer than himself in possession of his cottage. I wish that shepherd every success. I want him to win that £40,000. There are anomalies on both sides of the case which are equally as far-fetched as that. I mention that one because it is as far-fetched on the one side, as many of the cases advanced by hon. Members opposite are of the other extreme. If the Minister will consider my suggestion of a permissive rather than a mandatory regulation, I believe he will have done a great deal of good for the purpose we have in mind.

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Harold Roberts (Birmingham, Handsworth)

I think we all agree with the Minister when he says that there is no need to get hot about this matter, which can be discussed in quite a temperate way. I do not come into this discussion with any particular knowledge of agriculture such as is possessed by many of my hon. Friends who have already spoken. I venture to say a word from a rather different point of view, that of general legislation. When we have a Measure dealing with a certain matter, as a rule, if we try to draft something completely unrelated to it into the Bill, we get into a tangle. This is a Bill intended to improve agriculture and, as I understand it, it was brought in with no Clause in it similar to the one under discussion. Many Members of the Government party take strong exception to what may be called the common practice of agriculture, namely, the tied cottage. They did what they were quite entitled to do. They put pressure on the Government to introduce a Clause which would have the effect that agricultural practice would be varied and the tied cottage should not prevail. From their point of view that was reasonable, but from the practical or legislative side it was not very convenient. Without professing to be an authority on the law of rent restriction, and admitting that I have been to the Library to consult a book to refresh my memory, I wish to say a word or two on the matter generally.

I think we may say that the tied cottage—the cottage going with the job—has been the usual practice in agriculture up and down the country. Until 1914 it was really unimportant whether or not there was a tenancy. In the first place, if there was a tenancy it could be terminated freely upon one week's notice, the man would have to go out, and he would have no answer whatever. The difference between service and tenancy only began to be important after the Rent Restriction Act of 1915. In passing, I should point out that this matter was not of great importance until the building of houses was killed by the Liberal Government with the assistance of the Labour Party of that time in the years 1909 and 1910. Building was killed by Liberal and Socialist legislation, and then this point cropped up. We find that the Government, faced with the desire that something should be done, have adopted this course, and the condition will be that only the landlord or a tenant may live in a house. I thought that the Minister at one stage of his remarks was referring to the unfortunate practice which we all deplore of these cottages being diverted for use by week-end people at high rents. I do not know whether he had that in mind though he gave that impression. I entirely agree with him on the point of policy but when one comes to work out the meaning of this Clause, it does not have the effect which he suggested. It has one or two rather strange effects. This is a cottage which we must assume probably has never been let at all. I see nothing whatever in this Clause to prevent the landlord from fixing whatever standard of rent he wishes to impose. That would be a standard rent in law. It is not a very convenient thing for an agricultural cottage to be fixed with a standard rent at a high figure.

We are told that the landlord will have no real grievance because he can go to the courts after securing a certificate from the war agricultural committee, and get the tenant out. He can do that if he can show that it is wanted for agriculture; but under the Rent Restrictions Act a certificate cannot be granted if it is shown that the tenant who has been working for this landlord is still employed in agriculture by another farmer. That is not necessarily a bad thing because the man is still working in agriculture. However, one has the practical consequence that landlords are far less likely to undertake schemes of rehabilitation when they have to face trouble of that kind. The majority take the view that there is enough trouble in life without looking for more. If the object of this Measure is to see that hill farms are rehabilitated on loan, any expression of this kind which is designed to alter general or farming practice is inappropriate. If farming practice is to be altered, it is better that that should be done as a matter of policy and general law and not in this way by a side wind affecting a small class of cases. Better still, it ought not to be undertaken by a Clause hastily introduced in response to pressure, a Clause which does not do what it sets out to do.

Mr. Gooch (Norfolk, Northern)

When the Bill was issued in its amended form, I ventured to put down an Amendment designed to eliminate the Clause in question. Much to my surprise, I found that my name, with that of my hon. Friend the Member for Thornbury (Mr. Alpass), was tacked on to the names of four hon. Members opposite. There is not the slightest collusion between us two and our hon. Friends opposite. What is more, I am afraid that what I have to say in support of the Amendment will be along very different lines from the arguments advanced on the Floor of the House. The Labour Party has declared itself against the tied cottage in agriculture again and again. I am glad that hon. Members opposite have stressed the question of the tied cottage, because it gives me the opportunity to follow along that line and emphasise points which have been made by my hon. Friends who sit on this side of the House. At conference after conference of the Labour Party, the evil of the tied cottage has been denounced. It really is today part of the accepted policy of the Labour Party, and I want to express my very great regret that the Minister should attempt, through this Bill, not only to approve the continuance of the tied cottage system, but encourage more tied cottages to be built, and built at public expense. I am strongly of opinion that the creation of a tenancy does not meet the position. This Party on this side of the House is no longer a purely industrial Party.

Mr. T. Williams

I do not know if I understand my hon. Friend rightly, but I thought I heard him say that he regretted that I was about to increase, under the terms of this Bill, the number of tied cottages. If that was the observation, I can only say to my hon. Friend that I am afraid that he is mistaken, and that, in fact, instead of there being more tied cottages, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southport (Mr. K. S. Hudson) said, to the extent that any house is reconditioned, there will be fewer and not more.

Mr. Gooch

With all due respect to what the Minister has said on this point, the two main points about which I am really concerned are not altogether questions of creating tenancies on a farm, but concern that the Minister should give a tenant the protection of the Rent Restriction Acts and that he should insist upon proof that alternative accommodation is available before that cottager can be dispossessed. I repeat with very great confidence that, by this Clause in this Bill, the Minister is actually encouraging the creation of more tied cottages, and at public expense.

All of us on this side of the House who have any knowledge of agriculture at all, and those of us who sit for purely rural Divisions, as many of us do, gave very definite pledges at the last Election that, if the people would send us to Parliament, we would abolish the tied cottage, and, as far as this Party is concerned, I do not think there was any elector in any rural Division at the last Election who had any doubt in his mind whatever as to where Labour Party candidates stood when they were talking about the tied cottage. The tied cottage in agriculture is a system which the farm workers have learned to dread for years, and the introduction of this Bill, bringing in, at the same time, provision for the creation of more tied cottages, is, as far as the purely rural Divisions are concerned, the breaking of that pledge, which we, in the name of the Party, gave to the electors in our Divisions.

It has been said again and again that the Englishman's home is his castle. I think we must add to that "except in rural England," and those of us who spend the bulk of our time in the countryside know very well that the tied cottage system acts harshly, not only upon the man himself, but upon his wife and children. We know very well that, even with the protection of the Clause which the Minister moved in Committee, it is possible for any farmer in the land who possesses one of these cottages to secure the eviction of a man just as easily as it has been up to now. We know that he and his goods, his wife and family, may very quickly be flung out on to the road without warning, and we say, and we have been saying for some years now: "Why should the farm worker be the man to whom such treatment is meted out, when similar treatment is not meted out to the occupants of any other type of cottage?" I want to refresh the memory of the Minister by reading—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I am sorry but I do not think we can have a Debate on the whole question of the tied cottage. This is a much simpler point—merely whether there should be a right of prohibition in regard to this particular grant —and I am afraid I must restrict the hon. Member to that point. I have, in fact, given him a great deal of latitude.

Mr. Alpass (Thornbury)

With all respect to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, hon. Members opposite have ranged over the whole problem and dealt with the tied cottage.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

I think it will be within your recollection, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and that of the House that, when I moved the Amendment standing in my name, I was at great pains not to deal with the principle, but was limiting myself to specific cases of hill farms. Should the Debate go wider now, I hesitate to think at what time we shall rise.

Mr. Gooch

Some of us introduced the question of doctrinaire Socialism in connection with this matter, and I suggest very definitely that the question of the abolition of the tied cottage in agriculture is not doctrinaire Socialism.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member is certainly entitled to make that remark and to answer the Opposition in that way, but he is not entitled to go into the whole question of the tied cottage. This is a much more limited question, and we cannot have a full-dress Debate on the question of the tied cottage on this limited Amendment

Mr. Gooch

I am very sorry about it, because I had expected, when I saw the Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of hon. Members opposite, an opportunity, not only to reply to some points they made, but to say that I strongly object to the inclusion of this Clause, and to bring, in support of my argument, the fact that, over and over again, the Labour Party, at conferences all over the place, have been on my side. If you now rule, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that I cannot discuss the tied cottage, I must resume my seat, but I wish you had allowed me a little more latitude.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I am sorry but the hon. Member is not entitled to go into the whole gamut of the advantages or disadvantages of the tied cottage. Mr. Alpass.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Alpass

We support this Amendment from an entirely different angle from that of hon. Members opposite. We support it because we have had expert opinion—as the National Agricultural Workers Union obtained an opinion from one who is regarded as one of the higher legal authorities in the country—and we are not satisfied that the conditions we desire for these farm workers will be secured under this Clause. If this Clause is adopted, a farmer who wants to get possession of a cottage which is let under a tenancy can go to the war agricultural committee and get a certificate to the effect that the cottage is wanted for the cultivation of the farm. Armed with that certificate he can go to the court and need not prove to the satisfaction of the court that reasonable alternative accommodation is available. We say that that state of affairs acts very detrimentally to the interests of the agricultural worker. It is a special privilege which is given to no other section of industry, and we suggest that, as other industrial occupations can be carried on successfully without such privilege, so could agriculture if farmers and others concerned were to concentrate on, and to apply themselves to, the problem.

I am not surprised, of course, at what I would call the "parental solicitude" of the right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) for seeing this Bill made law. We on this side of the House know the reason for that. He suggested that there would be difficulty in getting men to live in these places. What is one of the real causes for the lack of labour in agriculture today? It is the fact that men will not go into a cottage where they will be deprived of freedom and where there will be no security. I suggest to hon. Members opposite that their attitude on this question is in conflict with the statement made the other day by the Leader of the Opposition in a characteristic speech at Blackpool. One of the phrases he used was that one of the objectives of the Tory Party was to remove restrictions on freedom. I suppose it is a now objection, because I have never heard of it being implemented by them when they were in power. The attitude adopted by the Tory Party this afternoon with regard to this question is directly in conflict with that objective. What freedom is there, in the accepted sense of the word, for the farmworker who knows that at the whim and caprice of his employer his employment can he terminated and that in a very short while he and his family can be turned out on to the roadside? It is no good saying this sort of thing does not operate. Since 1942, 5,000 certificates have been granted by war agricultural committees in this country.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

How about hill farming?

Mr. Alpass

The same thing would apply there, and in nine out of ten cases an order for possession has been granted. My reply to the right hon. Member for South-port is that we shall find it increasingly difficult to get men to go and live in these isolated spots. Their wives and families rightly demand that there shall be some kind of social amenities provided for them. We suggest that, rather than ask men to go to these out of the way places, the houses should be built in villages or little groups.—[Laughter.]—I would point out to the right hon. Member for South-port that we listened to him with very great respect. This is not a laughing matter for the man who is subject to be turned out of his home, as many have been. It is a very serious matter. We suggest that the farmer should provide the workman with means of transport to and from his work and that his family should live in a community where they may enjoy the amenities they so badly need.

I will conclude by saying that we took this course in reference to this Amendment because we felt that the Amendment with regard to the alteration of and addition to one of the Schedules would be regarded as consequential and might be ruled out of Order. We hope to have an opportunity of elaborating our point when we come to that particular part of the Bill. We demand that no farm worker shall in any circumstances be evicted from his house unless reasonable alternative accommodation is provided for him, and that the judge in the county court shall decide whether the greater hardship rests on the man to be turned out or on the farmer who may have to put up with some inconvenience which he can, if he likes, easily overcome. I do not wish to elaborate this matter any further, nor do I wish the Minister to misunderstand our action or motive in regard to this Amendment. We have been advised on the highest authority that this Clause, which I believe was put down with the best of intentions, does not meet the situation. It will still leave the farmer the opportunity of going to the court and getting an order for possession. We hope that we shall have more latitude when we come to discuss the application, by moving an addition to the Schedule.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I hope the House is now willing to come to a decision.

Mr. Baldwin

I very much regret that politics have come into this question. Whatever the decision come to, this question will not affect hon. Members either on the opposite side of the House or on this. The man who is going to suffer is the farm workman.

Mr. Gooch

He suffers now.

Mr. Baldwin

Not very badly. This is a matter which should not have been debated on a Hill Farming Bill; it should have been left for some other occasion. The two prime movers who put pressure on the Minister to bring in this Clause do not, so far as I know—I stand to be corrected—represent one single hill farm. Therefore, I maintain—

Mr. Alpass

If I may interrupt the hon. Gentleman for a moment, I would point out that, although my hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Gooch) may not have any hill farms in his constituency, he is the president of the largest agricultural workers' union in the country, with a membership of 120,000, and I am sure everyone will admit he has authority to speak for them.

Mr. Baldwin

We are not discussing the farm labourers' union; we are discussing the question of whether cottages shall be built and reconditioned on the hill farms of England, Scotland and Wales. It is a matter of great regret that this heated argument about tied cottages has been brought into the Debate. There will be a future opportunity for debating that point when we can thrash it out better than on this occasion. This agitation is really aimed at the big landlords. I say that the big landlords are not affected by this question.

The tenant farmer and the owner occupier will sometimes be affected, but the farm worker will always be affected. What is the result of this Clause? I do not agree with those who have said that certain tied cottages will be done away with under this Bill, because I am certain that no owner of a cottage will be simple enough to recondition that cottage if it means that he has not got control of it, neither will any new cottages be built if it means that the builders of those cottages have not got control of them. Therefore, the people who will suffer are the working men who want to go into these reconditioned and new cottages.

On the Second Reading of the Bill, the hon. Member for Thornbury (Mr. Alpass) stated that people should not be turned out on to the roadside with no alternative accommodation. That might happen in a few cases, but in how many cases has that position arisen? If we are to create this legislation and get this prejudice in order to deal with one or two possible hardships, we shall create a great many more hardships for these people. The answer to the tied cottage is for the Minister of Health to build alternative accommodation.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That question again does not arise here. The only question is whether, where a grant is made, a condition may be made in regard to the type of occupation. That is really the only question before the House at the moment.

Mr. Baldwin

I am sorry if I have gone off the rails. I would like to mention the position existing in two counties which adjoin mine, represented by the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Watkins). During the Debate upstairs he said that out of 2,000 holdings in Radnorshire only ten were of over 1,000 acres. That means that practically the whole of the hill farmers in Brecon and Radnor are comparatively small farmers, and if this Clause is left in its present form in the Bill not one of those farmers will be able to recondition or build a cottage. They will not be in a financial position to do so, and they would be much more foolish than I have ever found them to be if they were to recondition their cottages and then find out that they had not got control of them.

Mr. Paget

Surely that is not so. A great many of these cottages are tenancies already. Not by any means all, and probably not even half of the agricultural cottages are service occupancies. Many are tenancies already, and the only difference between a tenancy and an occupancy will be that in the former case it will take a farmer a little longer to get his cottage if the man leaves his employment.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Baldwin

The small owner occupier in the counties that I have mentioned will be deprived of the opportunity of doing up their cottages and making them fit to live in. That applies to the great majority of hill farmers in England as well. They are mainly small farmers and they will be deprived of the opportunity of getting their men into the cottages. It has been said that the farm labourer does not want to live in one of these tied cottages. Would a farmer be foolish enough to recondition or build a cottage if he was not perfectly satisfied that he would get a tenant to go into it? I ask hon. Members who disagree with me to say how many tied cottages there are today which are not occupied by farm workers. In my own district we have council houses which were built for farm workers under the recent Act. Our tied cottages are occupied by farm workers, but the council houses are not. The reason is that if they go into the council houses they have to pay 13s. or 14s. a week, and they can go into the tied cottages for 3s.

I deplore the fact that political bias has entered into this Debate because I had hoped that if we kept heat out of the argument the Minister might have been prepared to reconsider his decision. Under the circumstances I am afraid that he will not do so. But I do ask him at this late stage to reconsider this point and in the Schedule to divide the reconditioning of cottages from the erection of new cottages. That will give those farmers who own cottages which require reconditioning the opportunity of doing them up, and they may still remain tied, but there should be conditions similar to those laid down in the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, namely if the owner of a reconditioned cottage sells it within so many years he has to refund the money and he is restricted as to the amount that he can charge for it. I think the farm workers would be protected and hon. Members opposite would feel satisfied that

the money spent by the State would not go into the pockets of the landlords.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 280; Noes, 124.

Division No. 283.] AYES 6.18 p.m.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty) McGovern, J.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Edwards, John (Blackburn) Mack, J. D.
Allighan, Garry Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Evans, John (Ogmore) Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)
Attewell, H. C. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) McKinlay, A. S.
Awbery, S. S. Fairhurst, F. Maclean, N. (Govan)
Ayles, W. H. Farthing, W. J. McLeavy, F.
Bacon, Miss A. Follick, M. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Baird, J. Fool, M. M. Macpherson, T. (Romford)
Balfour, A. Forman, J. C. Mainwaring, W. H.
Barstow, P. G. Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Mann, Mrs. J.
Barton, C. Freeman, Peter (Newport) Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
Battley, J. Ft. Gibbins, J. Mathers, G.
Bechervaise, A. E. Gibson, C. W. Medland, H. M.
Benson, G. Gilzean, A. Messer, F.
Berry, H. Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Middleton, Mrs. L.
Beswick, F. Goodrich, H. E. Mikardo, Ian
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A, (Ebbw Vale) Gordon-Walker, P. C. Mitchison, Maj. G. R,
Binns, J. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield) Monslow, W.
Blackburn, A. R. Grenfell, D. R. Montague, F.
Blyton, W. R. Grey, C. F. Moody, A. S.
Boardman, H. Grierson, E. Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Bottomley, A. G. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Morley R
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Morris P (Swansea, W.)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Gunter, Capt. R. J. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lowisham, E.)
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Guy, W. H. Mort, D. L.
Bramall, Major E. A. Haire, Fit.-Lieut. J. (Wycombe) Moyle, A.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Hale, Leslie Murray, J. D.
Brown, George (Belper) Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Nally, W.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Naylor, T. E.
Brown, W. J (Rugby) Harrison, J. Neal, H. (Claycross)
Buchanan, G. Henderson A. (Kingswinford) Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)
Burden, T. W. Herbison, Miss, M. Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)
Burke, W. A. Hewitson, Capt. M. Noel-Buxton, Lady
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Hobson, C. R. Oldfield, W. H.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Holman, P. Oliver, G. H.
Chamberlain, R. A. Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Orbach, M.
Champion, A. J. Horabin, T. L. Paget, R. T.
Chetwynd, Capt. G. R. Hubbard, T. Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentwoth)
Clitherow, Dr. R. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Palmer, A. M. F.
Cluse, W. S. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Parker, J.
Cocks, F. S. Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Paton, J. (Norwich)
Coldrick, W. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Pearson, A.
Collick, P. Janner, B. Peart, Capt. T. F.
Collindridge, F. Jay, D. P. T. Perrins, W.
Collins, V. J. Jager, G. (Winchester) Platts-Mills, J. F. F.
Colman, Miss G. M. Jager, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)
Comyns, Dr. L. John, W. Popplewell, E.
Cook, T. F. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Porter, (Warrington)
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Proctor, W. T.
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Keenan, W. Pryde, D. J.
Corlett, Dr. J. Kenyon, C. Pursey, Cmdr. H
Corvedale, Viscount Kinley, J. Randall, H. E.
Crawley, A. Kirby, B. V. Ranger, J.
Crossman, R. H. S. Kirkwood, D. Rankin, J.
Daggar, G. Layers, S. Rees-Williams, D. R
Daines, P. Lee, F. (Hulme) Reeves, J.
Davies, Edward (Burslem) Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Reid, T. (Swindon)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Leslie, J. R. Richards, R.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Levy, B. W. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Lewis, J. (Bolton) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lewis, T. (Southampton) Rogers, G. H. R.
Deer, G. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Scollan, T.
Diamond, J. Logan, D. G. Scott-Elliot, W.
Dobbie, W. Longden, F. Segal, Dr. S.
Dodds, N. N. Lyne, A. W. Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M.
Donovan, T. McAdam, W. Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Dumpleton, C. W. McAllister, G. Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (St. Helens)
Durbin, E. F. M. McGhee, H. G. Shurmer, P.
Silverman, J. (Erdington) Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin) Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) Thomas, John B. (Dover) White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Simmons, C. J. Thomas, George (Cardiff) White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Skeffington, A. M. Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Skeffington-Lodge, T. C. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton) Wigg, Col. G. E.
Skinnard, F. W. Thurtle, E. Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Smith, Ellis (Stoke) Tiffany, S. Wilkes, L.
Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.) Timmons, J. Wilkins, W. A.
Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.) Tolley, L. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Smith, T. (Normanton) Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Snow, Capt. J. W. Turner-Samuels, M. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Sorensen, R. W. Ungoed-Thomas, L. Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Soskice, Maj Sir F. Usborne, Henry Willis, E.
Sparks, J. A. Vernon, Maj. W. F. Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Stamford, W. Walkden, E. Wilson, J. H.
Stephen, C. Walker, G. H. Wyatt, W.
Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.) Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst) Yates, V. F.
Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.) Warbey, W. N. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Stross, Dr. B. Watson, W. M. Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Stubbs, A. E. Webb, M. (Bradford, C.) Zilliacus, K.
Summerskill, Dr. Edith Weitzman, D.
Symonds, A. L. Wells, P. L. (Faversham) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield) Wells, W. T. (Walsall) Mr. Joseph Henderson and
Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) West, D. G. Mr. Bing
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Aitken, Hon. Max. Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V. Osborne, C.
Allen, Lt-Col. Sir W. (Armagh) Haughton, S. G. Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Hogg, Hon. Q. Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Baldwin, A. E. Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J. P

ole, D. B. S. (Oswestry)

Barlow, Sir J. Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.) Raikes, H. V.
Baxter, A. B. Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Reid, Rt. Hon J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Jennings, R. Renton, D.
Birch, Nigel Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Keeling, E. R. Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Bowen, R. Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Bower, N. Lambert, Hon. G. Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Robinson, Wing-Comdr Roland
Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Ross, Sir R.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. C. T. Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Sanderson, Sir F.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n) Linstead, H. N. Savory, Prof. D. L.
Byers, Frank Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Scott, Lord W.
Challen, C. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Shephard, S. (Newark)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Lucas, Major Sir J. Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Cot. G. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Snadden, W. M.
Cooper-Key, E. M. MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Spearman, A. C. M.
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) McCallum, Maj. D. Spence, H. R.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Macdonald, Sir P. (Isle of Wight) Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Maclay, Hon. J. S. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Crowder, Capt. John E. MacLeod, Capt. J. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Cuthbert, W. N. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries) Sutcliffe, H.
Digby, S. W. Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Drayson, G. B. Marples, A. E. Touche, G. C.
Drewe, C. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Turton, R. H.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Maude, J. C. Vane, W. M. F.
Duthie, W. S. Medlicott, F. Wadsworth, G.
Eccles, D. M. Mellor, Sir J. Walker-Smith, D.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Wheatley Colonel M. J.
Erroll, F. J. Morris-Jones, Sir H. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M. Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) York, C.
Glyn, Sir R. Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G. Mullan, Lt. C. H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Grimston, R. V. Nicholson, G. Sir Arthur Young and
Gruffyd, Prof. W. J. Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Major Ramsay
Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H

Question put, and agreed to.