§ Mr. Gallacher
On a point of Order. I have put down a very good Amendment and it is apparently being passed over. I cannot understand it.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member may have thought it was a very good Amendment, but, unfortunately, the Chair did not think so, and it is not being selected.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Clifton-Brown
I beg to move, in page 8, line 28, after "satisfied," to insert:on representations by the appropriate County Agricultural Executive Committee appointed under Part V of this Act.We are now moving from the stage where one is expected to be a good boy in farming and. coming to the stage where the big stick is appearing. According to the Minister, supervision is better than lifting up the big stick. We think that 266 this Amendment should appear at this stage in the Bill, to make quite clear who it is that will advise the Minister in future. We all agree that this will be done by the county executive committees, but that is only for the moment, and this Bill will last a long time. It should be stated that the people who are to advise the Minister are the committees, so that there is no chance of it being said that the Minister did not take the advice of a committee but did something off his own bat. I am not saying that this will be done now, but it is a possibility which may occur in the future. During the war we found that certain committees were not doing all that the Minister or the farmers thought they should do, and there will be a chance in a few years that a Minister may be tempted to say that he could not go to a committee because he knew it was not doing its job properly. We do not want to see that happening. We want it to be clear that the committees are the people to advise the Minister and we want to see it laid down in black and white.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Hurd
I beg to second the Amendment.
Ministers occassionally have representations made to them by individuals who may have a particular axe to grind. There are such things as anonymous letters and signed letters which are written out of spite to a Minister and serve no good cause. It is most desirable, therefore, that the Minister, in his own interest, should safeguard himself by acting only on the advice of the county executive committees. By doing that he will reinforce the good relations between the committees and the Ministers, because nothing' is more injurious to good relations than for the committees to feel that someone is going behind their backs and getting some action taken by the Minister If this part of the. Bill is to work at all, it will be dependent on the fullest confidence between the Minister and the executive committees. We do not want to see Ministers acting on a few private words, but on the recommendations of the committees.
§ Mr. T. Williams
I am rather surprised that the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) should have associated himself with this Amendment. I am sure he knows that the county executive committees are 267 the only bodies from which the Minister would expect to receive representations and advice. The insertion of these words is both unnecessary and undesirable. The hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel Clifton-Brown) cannot get out of his mind that Part II of this Bill is a big stick. He is willing to accept Part I, but is very reluctant to accept Part II. We have witnessed this on a fairly wide scale from the Opposition Benches. We made rapid progress on Part I, but the moment we came to deal with Part which introduces a quid fro quo in the form of control, our progress was very different. The Bill has been drafted on the basis that the Minister will be delegating his functions under Clause 69, subject to such conditions or restrictions as he may consider desirable, to the county executive committees. The county executive committees should be made absolutely and entirely responsible for day-to-day administration. It would be entirely wrong to attempt to circumscribe the Minister's powers of delegation in the way suggested. Nothing could then be done until after representation by the Minister's own agents to the Minister, which would be an absurdity, and no one knows that better than the hon. Member for Newbury.
If a county executive committee, responsible for day-to-day administration, is not to be able to place a person under supervision, or to give a direction until it has, first of all, made representations to the Minister, for him to say, "Yes, go ahead," then the whole business will be held up. The Government's intention, in producing this Bill, has been to set up county executive committees consisting of practical agriculturalists, men who have the confidence of their counties and the agricultural industry. They are to become the Minister's agents, under Clause 69, when power is delegated. Therefore,it is absurd that, having been appointed agents they can do nothing without first of all making representations to the Minister, and getting his word to go ahead. That is the object of the Amendment.
While the county executive committees are responsible to the Minister for day-to-day administration, the Minister is responsible to Parliament for all their actions, and it is constitutionally undesirable to insert a provision in the Bill 268 requiring the Minister to be satisfied, after representations have been made to him by his own agents, before they can do anything. That seems absurd, and could only retard and delay the county executive committees in doing their work. Further, if these words were inserted here, they would have to be repeated throughout the Bill. I hope hon. Members opposite will take it from me that there is nothing sinister in this form of administration. It has been going on for seven years; it was very effective during the war. I hope my predecessor did not act on the basis of an anonymous letter, or because someone whispered in his ear. I hope he acted, through his county executive committees, on the basis of their practical knowledge and good sense. Unless those committees carry with them the goodwill of the industry, administration will suffer. I hope the House will not accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I do not like this Amendment, and I did not like the remark made by the Minister, that it would only be from the county agricultural executive committees that he would take advice: They are not elected to be the sole parties who can give the Minister advice. It may be that a Member of Parliament, carrying out his job, will discover a situation which requires attention. He should be able to give the Minister advice. During the war, I had to raise, with the then Minister of Agriculture, questions about the bad advice and attitude of certain county agricultural committees. I had to fight against some of them occasionally. It is possible to have a county committee in one area which has a bias for grass. That would be dangerous. The decline of agriculture in this country, before the war, was due to the neglect of millions of acres of land. Special inducements had to be given to plough up that land. We have to see that the correct balance is maintained. As things are going at present, we are drifting back to where we were before the war.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I would not wish to do that, Sir. I only want to draw attention to the fact that it would be a bad thing for the Minister to leave these matters 269 entirely to the county agricultural committees. A committee in the north of England may adopt quite a different attitude from a committee in the south. There may be bias in favour of a particular form of management that would unbalance agriculture as a whole. I therefore ask the Minister to make the fullest possible use of the advice given by the county committees, but always to be prepared to take advice from Members of this House. We must ensure that an effective and efficient balance is kept between the county agricultural committees and the land that is under their consideration, so that our agriculture can prosper and not decline as it did before the war.
§ Major Mott-Radclyffe
There is nothing sinister in this Amendment at all. All we are seeking to do is to ensure that not merely will justice be done, but that it will seem to be done. Nobody is suggesting that the right hon. Gentleman would act against a farmer as a result of a whispering campaign, any more than anyone would suggest that his predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) had acted in that way. But we feel that where a supervision order is pending—which is a serious matter for the farmer concerned —it is only right that the farmer should be certain that the Minister has acted only through his responsible agents, the county agricultural executive committees.
§ Captain Crookshank
The Minister seemed very uncertain in his opposition to this Amendment which, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Windsor (Major Mott-Radclyffe) has just pointed out, has nothing sinister about it. First of all, the right hon. Gentleman said that it was unnecessary and undesirable to put these words into the Bill, because the county executive committees were the only people to whom he would look for advice. Then, towards the end of his speech, he said that the business of considering whether or not a supervision order would he made would be held up if the Minister had to wait for the advice of the county executive committees. The two statements do not tally. Either the right hon. Gentleman is going to take the advice of those committees or not. I do not know on which leg the right hon. Gentleman wants to stand.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Captain Crookshank
Splendid. Then the right hon. Gentleman had much better do what we say and put these words into the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman also said that it was the intention that agricultural executive committees should be absolutely and entirely responsible in these cases. If that is so—I do not quarrel with the decision that it should be so because that is what we are trying to put in as an Amendment—it is much better to put it in. We have heard, time and time again throughout this Bill, that the Minister is to do something about which we all agree but, unfortunately, it does not appear in black and white in the Bill. Here is a sample case. He says that he will take the advice of the county agricultural executive committees because that is the only way the Minister can be satisfied on a matter of this kind. If he says that he is to take that advice, I cannot see why that should not be put in the Bill. He said something to the effect that it would be unconstitutional. I do not know from where he got that. Is it unconstitutional to put in the fact that the Minister will take advice from his own servants? I do not know whether "unconstitutional" is the right word, but in a Bill we do not say that the Minister shall be guided by any servants in his own Department. Obviously, that is why they are there — to advise, guide and help. I did not think, until the Minister used that argument in that context, that anyone in the world thought that the county agricultural executive committees were servants of the Minister in that sense. He does not mean that these gentlemen, or ladies, who are to sit on these committees are to be held in the same position as the ordinary civil servants in Government Departments from the point of view of giving advice. Surely not; but that is what he implied in using that argument. If he likes to withdraw that—
§ Captain Crookshank
The position then becomes more confounded. Are these committees to be considered as civil servants giving advice in the Civil Service sense of the word, or are they not? We say, "No." We agree that they are there to give advice. The Minister also agrees that they are to give advice, and 271 he would not dream of acting in cases of this kind without their advice. Having agreed to that, the obvious thing to do is to put the words in the Bill I cannot see that there is any argument which the Minister has given against it, and unless he changes his mind, I would advise my hon. Friends to divide the House.
§ Mr. T. Williams
In view of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's determined effort to confuse the issue, I think that I should say a further word, with the leave of the House. That is, to remind the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that if he will read the first few words of Clause 12 he will see that where the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries is satisfied, he may do certain things. Clause 69 states that the Minister may make regulations providing for the delegation to a county agricultural executive committee of certain powers. The county executive committee, therefore, will be an executive body—an executive body acting for the Minister which need not tell the Minister every little thing they do during their day to day administration. That is why we call them county agricultural executive committees. There is no reason, therefore, to have these words in the Bill.
§ Mr. David Renton (Huntingdon)
The Minister's further remarks have done nothing to close the dangerous door left open by the Minister in Clause 12. I do not think that the Minister can, deny that under Clause 12, as it stands, it would be legally possible for him or one of his successors to act independently of representations and advice of the executive committees. I he fact that under Clause 69 the Minister may delegate such of his functions as he cares to specify does not mean that the danger will be removed. The Minister may so frame his regulations delegating powers to the executive committees as still to leave it open to him to carry on independently of them. That being so, and in view of the Minister's
§ previous remarks—for, as has been pointed out, there is not a great deal of disagreement as to the wishes to be fulfilled in this matter—I should have thought that the Minister would have been well advised to accept the Amendment. He is establishing a system—a hierarchy within the Civil Service. One will only have a successfully working Civil Service if there is no short-circuiting. That has always been the experience of the Services, whether Army, Navy or Civil Service. To leave this loophole open shows the lack of faith of the Minister, and he would do better to close it by accepting this simple Amendment.
§ Mr. Dye (Norfolk, South Western)
It seems that the Amendment which the Opposition are proposing to press is at complete variance with everything that they have said so far as the application of this Bill is concerned. They have always argued that they do not want farming from Whitehall, but the implication of this Amendment is that every supervisory order that is issued should come from Whitehall, after they have received the advice of the county agricultural executive committee.
§ Mr. Hollis
The hon. Member for South-West Norfolk (Mr. Dye) has put forward an argument which is equally incomprehensible. There is nothing in this Amendment which suggests that supervisory orders should be issued. The question of the extent to which supervisory orders should be issued is not touched by the Amendment. It is simply whether the Minister should have power to issue them uncontrollably or under certain circumstances, and the hon. Gentleman's argument, therefore, seems to be completely nonsensical.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 86; Noes, 270.275
|Division No. 232.]||AYES||[7.9 p.m|
|Amory, D. Heathcoal||Carson, E||Cuthbert, W. N|
|Baldwin, A. E||Challen, C||Darling, Sir W. Y|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Channon, H||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Beamish, Maj. T V H||Clarke, Col. R. S||Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.|
|Birch, Nigel||Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T (Richmond)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D C. (Wells)||Cole, T. L||Duthie, W. S.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J A.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr J G||Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Fyfe, Rt Hon. Sir D. P. M.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O. E.||Gage, C|
|Glyn, Sir R||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Smiles, LI.-Col. Sir W|
|Grant, Lady||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Gridley, Sir A.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Spence, H. R.|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Stuar., Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Haughton, S. G.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon, Sir C||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E||Touche, G. C.|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Hollis, M. C||Nicholson, G.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Hope, Lord J.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Wheatley, Colonel M, J.|
|Hurd, A.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Osborne, C.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Jeffreys, General Sir G||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Jennings, R.||Pickthorn, K.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)||Winterton, Rt. Hon Earl|
|Lambert, Hon. G||Prescott, Stanley,||York, C.|
|Langford-Holt, J.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Renton, D.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Ropner, Col. L.||Mr. Drewe and|
|Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)||Major Conant.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Dumpleton, C W||Kinley, J.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Dye, S.||Kirby, B. V.|
|Allen, A. C (Bosworth)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Lang, G.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Edelman, M.||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Leonard, W.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Bacon, Miss A||Evans, S N. (Wednesbury)||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Baird J.||Fairhurst, F.||Lyne, A. W.|
|Balfour, A.||Farthing, W. J||McAdam, W|
|Barstow, P. G.||Foot, M. M||McGhee, H. G.|
|Barton, C.||Forman, J. C.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Battley, J. R.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Mackay, R W. G. (Hull, N.W.)|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||McKinlay, A. S.|
|Benson, G.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Maclean, N. (Govan)|
|Berry, H.||Gallacher, W.||McLeavy, F.|
|Beswick, F||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Gibbins, J.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Binns, J.||Gilzean, A.||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Boardman, H.||Gooch, E. G.||Marquand, H. A.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Gordon-Walker, P. C||Mathers, G.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Granville, E. (Eye)||Medland, H. M.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Greenwood, A. W. J (Haywood)||Mellish, R. J.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Grenfell, D. R.||Messer, F.|
|Brock, D. (Halifax)||Grierson, E.||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E R|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Mitchison, G. R|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Gruffydd, Prof. W J||Monslow, W.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T||Gunter, R. J||Montague, F.|
|Buchanan, G.||Guy, W. H.||Moody, A S.|
|Burden, T. W.||Hairs, John E. (Wycombe)||Morgan, Dr. H. B|
|Burke, W. A.||Hale, Leslie||Morley, R.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Byers, Frank||Hardy, E. A||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Carmichael, James||Harrison, J.||Mort, D. L|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Moyle, A|
|Chamberlain, R. A||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Murray, J. D.|
|Champion, A. J.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Nally, W.|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Herbison, Miss M.||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Cocks, F. S||Hewitson Capt. M||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Coldrick, W||Hicks, G.||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|Collins, V. J.||Hobson, C. R||Oldfield, W. H|
|Colman, Miss G. M||House, G.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Hoy, J||Paget, R. T.|
|Cook, T. F.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Paling, Rt. Hon, Wilfred (Wentworth)|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Palmer, A. M. F|
|Corvedale, Viscount||Irving, W. J.||Pargiter, G. A|
|Crossman, R. H. S||Jay, D. P. T.||Parker, J|
|Daggar, G.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Paton, J. (Norwich)|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Pearson, A.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Peart, Capt T. F.|
|Deer, G.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Delargy, H. J||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|Diamond, J.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Dobbie, W||Kendall, W. D||Pritt, D. N.|
|Dodds, N. N||Kenyon, C.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Donovan, T.||Key, C. W.||Pryde, D. J.|
|Driberg, T. E. N||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Randall, H. E||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Ranger, J.||Sparks, J. A.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Rankin, J.||Stamford, W.||Watson, W. M.|
|Rees-Williams, D. H.||Steele, T.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Reeves, J.||Stephen, C.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Reid, T. (Swindon)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Rhodes, H.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Stross, Dr. B.||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Roberts, W (Cumberland, N)||Stubbs, A. E.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Swingler, S.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Royle, C.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Sargood, R.||Taylor, R. J, (Morpeth)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Scott-Elliot W||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Segal, Dr. S||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Williams, W. R (Heston)|
|Shackleton, E. A. A||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Williamson, T|
|Sharp, Granville||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Willis, E.|
|Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G R. (Ed'b'gh, E)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St Helens)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Shurmer, P||Thurtle, Ernest||Woodbum, A.|
|Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Timmons, J.||Woods, G. S.|
|Simmons, C. J.||Titterington, M. S.||Yates, V. F.|
|Skeffington, A. M.||Tolley, L.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Skinnard, F. W.||Turner-Samuels, M.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Smith, H N. (Nottingham, S)||Vernon, Maj. W. F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)||Viant, S. P.||Mr. Collindridge and|
|Sorensen, R. W||Wadsworth, G||Mr. Hannan|
I beg to move, in page 8, line 36, to leave out "appointed by the Minister," and to insert:to be selected from the panel of persons appointed under paragraph 5 of the Second Schedule of the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1923.In moving this Amendment may I first call attention to a printer's error on the Amendment paper. Reference is made to paragraph 6 of the Second Schedule, and it should be paragraph 5. We are now coming to a Clause which is causing more heartburning in the agricultural world than any other in the Bill. The Minister rather taunted us on this side of the House with having accepted Part I very quickly and making a considerable amount of fuss about Part II. May I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that the reason why Part I was passed through so quickly was that you decided that the first Amendment on the Order Paper should not be called. If that Amendment had been called, I can assure the Minister that he would not yet have arrived at Part II.
This is the Clause which forms the chains in which the industry has agreed to bind itself in return for what it is promised in Part I, and it is to see that justice is accorded to the landlord or the tenant if either is aggrieved that I am moving this Amendment. I should declare that I have some interest in this matter, and that I am, or rather was, on the panel of arbitrators. I have not acted for the last two years, and I do not intend to act—in fact, the Minister said upstairs that there were 276 some names on the panel that he would like to remove, and it is possible that by this time he has put his pencil through my name. The argument the Minister uses with regard to the arbitration Clause is that a tenant or a landlord is protected because he has to have a decision made by the county executive committee. May I call attention to the wording of this Clause where it says that the Minister must besatisfied that the owner of agricultural land is not fulfilling his responsibilities to manage …He has to be satisfied by going down one step in the ladder to the county executive committees, and the county executive committees accept advice from the district committees, while the district committees accept advice from some smaller committee. The danger that the agricultural industry sees is that this decision of the Minister's should be influenced through the various stages by a small committee who may not be practical agriculturists and who may not be the right sort of persons to deal with such a question.
I can assure the Minister that in spite of all the glowing words he used about the executive and district committees, they were not all angels, and it is in order to protect any aggrieved persons from a decision which is wrong that I hope the Minister will accept this Amendment. He knows full well that bad decisions were come to by executive committees during the war. I know that he will reply that it was the decision of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) that 277 there should be no appeal from dispossession cases. I do not defend that. I always condemned the fact that there was no right of appeal, and I am condemning it today. It is the inherent right of every Englishman to have the right of appeal to another tribunal if he is dissatisfied with a decision which has been given against him. That is all I am asking for, and the reason why I want the decision to be made by someone from the panel of arbitrators is that they are independent, and the industry would feel that a decision given by one of the members will not be affected by Ministerial influence. I hope to get the support of the leader of the Communist Party, the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), for this Amendment. I am sorry that he is not here. He supported this appeal on the Hill Farming Bill and it was carried, much to the annoyance, I believe, of the Minister. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not feel annoyed with hon. Members on both sides of the House who fall in with the suggestion which I have put forward.
The names on the panel of arbitrators are the names of those sent forward to the Lord Chief Justice, and they are drawn, from various professional bodies, having been selected for their practical knowledge and integrity. They are men who are familiar with the whole industry, and in my opinion they are men who will give a fair decision whether it is for or against the Minister. During the war we had decisions brought to light on several occasions which were bad decisions. There was no right of appeal from a dispossession order though there was the right of appeal when a landlord gave his tenant notice to quit and asked the county executive committee for a certificate that the tenant was not farming according to the rules of good husbandry. The decision of the county executive was upset on many occasions, and quite rightly too.
I was interested in one case where the owner of a farm was himself farming as a tenant. As a member of a district committee I helped to dispossess him of his farm. He owned a farm himself, and he said, "It I am farming badly, my tenant is farming worse and I will get rid of him." He applied to the county committee for a certificate of bad farming and we as a small committee advised the county executive of Worcester that the certificate should Lot be issued. There was a right of appeal 278 to the committee and both sides attended. At once the chairman of the executive committee, by his opening statement, showed that he was not there to decide whether the tenant was farming according to the rules of good husbandry, but he was going to make a decision on the fact that the landlord was a bad landlord. We felt at the very outset that we were up against a brick wail, and the decision was that the man was not farming according to good husbandry although we showed that he had never reaped the work that he had done in three years. That shows that an executive committee is not infallible. We appealed to the arbitrator of the same county in which this decision was made, and without any hesitation he upset the decision of the county executive committee. That illustrates what will happen under the new set-up if there is not some form of appeal. I know that the Minister has said that the county executive committees will be composed of practical men. No doubt some of them will be, but some of them will not be. What I want to point out is that of the set-up of 12 members it is proposed to include only three farmers, two landlords—
And two labourers. If there was an appeal from the decision of the executive committee on the question of labourers I should be very interested to know what it would be. The hon. Member for Northern Norfolk (Mr. Gooch) has got this particular grievance in his mind. If the agricultural labourers were interested in this Bill I should be willing that they be given equal representation. The landowners are interested in this Bill and they are only a small minority on the executive committee. It is for that reason that I and my hon. Friends maintian that an aggrieved person should have the right of appeal, and I hope that the Minister will see his way to give it. Let us realise what the absence of such an appeal during the war really meant. At the present time there is a Motion before the House signed by some 37 Members asking for a Royal Commission to be set up to deal with cases of dispossessed farmers during the war. I did not put my name to that, because I do not agree with many of the cases quoted, but it is to avoid grievances of that kind that I ask for the right of appeal to be included in the Bill.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. York
I beg to second the Amendment.
I want to deal with it in rather wider terms than those used by my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin). This is the first occasion on which this expression "representation to the Minister" occurs in the Bill, though it is there later on and it is also used in a number of cases, the most of which vary according to circumstances. The Solicitor-General on the Committee stage attempted to make it clear that this was an appeal. He said, in effect, that this was an appeal because the farmers concerned could make their case after it was considered by the full committee and in that sense it was an appeal; I wonder whether any rational man really considers that it is an appeal to take a case to a body, a considerable proportion of which has already judged the issue.
I am bound to say that I think that the great majority of people would reject that as any kind of appeal at all. I suggested to the Parliamentary Secretary on that occasion that at any rate the Minister's Land Commissioner might be a suitable person to bring a fresh mind to bear on the subject. I am afraid that owing to the fact that the Solicitor-General was unaware that there was such a person as a Land Commissioner—he took it to mean a member of the Land Commission, which is something quite different— that question was never taken up. The point we are making is that in an appeal against the decision of the committee a fresh mind should be brought to bear. My hon. Friend suggests that the single arbitrator should be the man to apply a fresh mind to the question, and that is reasonable because it has been the case to such an extent under the old powers. The Solicitor-General rejected our similar demands in Standing Committee because, he said, the Government did not want the whole matter to be re-opened. That in itself implies that the case has already been judged. If you refuse to accept the principle that a new mind should be brought in to consider the subject then surely you are also admitting that the case, on re-presentation to the Committee, has been prejudged.
I consider that the single arbitrator is a very reasonable compromise between 280 the two points of view. I know that some of my hon. Friends would like to see this particular provision that where supervision—a very heavy penalty—is to be inflicted on a man, the case should go to the land tribunal. I can see that there is some force in the argument of the Minister that that would add excessively to the work of the land tribunal, but here there are single arbitrators. They are all practical men who know their job and have had practice in this difficult matter of deciding points of fact. They have been used throughout the industry, they are trusted, and it seems to me that there would be no delay and complete fairness. On the one side, the man about to be placed under supervision would receive fair treatment and, on the other side, the Minister and his agents, the committees, would be quite certain that their case also would have adequate weight given to it. For these and other reasons which I will not develop now, I urge upon the Minister that this is a reasonable Amendment, and one which should be accepted.
§ Mr. T. Williams
I am rather surprised that the hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment should have concentrated so much upon appeal tribunals and dispossessions—as if dispossession had anything to do with this Clause. All the hon. Member's wartime experience is apparently vitiating his point of view at the moment, and because of that I do not think he sees the thing quite as clearly as might be the.case. It is true that in Committee hon. Members opposite tried to provide for appeal to the land tribunal before a person could be placed under supervision. That Amendment was rejected by the Standing Committee, and the present Amendment is designed to ignore the Committee once again and to- allow an arbitrator to decide whether a person should or should not be placed under supervision. That is contrary to the whole spirit of this Bill, which is designed on the basis of the control of the industry from within. Hon. Members opposite want it to be controlled from without. Indeed, this Amendment means control of the industry by an arbitrator, and not by a county agricultural committee.
The hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. York) referred to the heavy penalty imposed upon a person who is placed under supervision. What sort of heavy penalty, and 281 for what? After all, no person can be placed under supervision except for bad farming or bad estate management. Therefore, it cannot be described as a heavy penalty and, in any case it is only after a person has been receiving the advice, guidance, and help of a county agricultural committee for a considerable period and has, perhaps, had many warnings that a decision is finally taken to place him under a supervision order. Subsection (1) provides that before making a supervision order the Minister must afford the owner or occupier an opportunity to make representations to the county executive committee in writing, or by being heard by a person appointed by the Minister. That provision runs throughout the Bill, and the county agricultural committees are the persons who would hear the representations of the person concerned. After all, despite what the hon. Gentleman said about his particular county, I think that county executive committees throughout the country have been composed of reasonable men. When he refers to there being only three farmers on one particular committee I can only say that I do not know it. Throughout the period from 1939 to 1947 there have been, on the average, nearer nine than three farmers on each of these Committees.
§ Mr. Williams
The hon. Member speaks of the past when he refers to what happened during the war, then tries to relate that to the future, and the result is that no one knows just where he is at any given moment. If he will stand by his wartime experience when there were approximately nine farmers on every county executive committee, instead of thinking in terms of the possibility of a minimum of three in future, we shall understand what he is talking about. I do not accept the theory that either landowners or farmers, or technical agriculturists or agricultural scientists, are not able to decide whether or not a person should be placed under supervision. I feel that it is the county executive committees, which are responsible to the Minister—who is in turn responsible to Parliament—who should decide whether or not a person should be placed under supervision.
§ Mr. Edgar Granville (Eye)
Is the Minister saying that the appeal of the individual in such a case is to be made to the county agricultural committee, and that the same committee are responsible for issuing the order or recommending it to the Minister? In other words, is he saying that the appeal is to the same people who have in fact issued the Order through the Minister? The right hon. Gentleman knows, from his experience during the whole of the war, the number of times when the Minister did not exercise his power, which was the main cause for hundreds of injustices.
§ Mr. Williams
I do not accept the statement of the hon. Member. He suggests that there were hundreds of instances throughout the war, but so far as I have been able to ascertain there were very few instances indeed. Of course, during the war, there was no such body as the agricultural land tribunal. For every case where dispossession is proposed, as distinct from supervision, there is an appeal to the agricultural land tribunal. I could give the hon. Member figures for this year of the number of appeals that have been heard by the appeal tribunals. However, we are speaking now not about dispossessing a landowner but merely of placing a person under supervision in order to help him to improve his farming, and to reach a high standard of efficiency. It is not a proposal to "down" the person, as is frequently thought by some hon. Members opposite.
Who is more capable of deciding the issue whether a person should be put under supervision or not than the county executive committee? They have had the case of the particular farm under review for perhaps 12 months or 18 months before they reached that point. It is not a matter for an arbitrator but for the county executive committee, who know all the facts and the farmer, and know what they have done to try to help and advise him, and the warnings which they have given him. Before placing a person under supervision they will listen to any representations he may care to make. They will say, "You may bring along a friend, if you wish, a practical farmer or otherwise, to show cause why you should not be placed under supervision."
It seems to me that there could not be anything more democratic and more calculated to provide the atmosphere of 283 control of the industry from within than the policy that we are pursuing. It would clearly be wrong if the county executive committee—the appropriate body to which representations should be made—were sidestepped and the case submitted to an arbitrator. What would happen in the last analysis would be that the committee would learn only at second-hand, of the proceedings before the arbitrator and of the evidence submitted to him. We think that they must hear the views of the parties themselves and not learn them at second-hand. What is more, the party concerned would have no right of access to the county executive committee, if the Amendment now proposed were accepted. I do not know whether the mover and seconder of the Amendment appreciate that the landowner or tenant involved would have no right of access to the committee.
§ Mr. Williams
It would destroy the very basis of co-operation on which the Bill has been built up. The committees consist of practical agriculturists, whether they be landowners, farmers or agricultural workers. They are the persons who can best weigh all the evidence when representations are made. The Amendment would undermine completely the authority of the committees and divest them of the responsibility they carry. Despite the plea made by the mover and seconder, I ask the House without hesitation to reject the Amendment.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Captain Crookshank
From the speech of the Minister of Agriculture one might not have thought that this matter had been discussed before at all, or that the Amendment which we have moved, was defeated only by a majority of one in the Standing Committees. One would not have thought, for example, that two members of the right hon. Gentleman's own party opposite expressed views strongly in favour of the line we are taking. That is all left to me to bring to the attention of the House. I am very glad to do it. The object of the Report stage is that everybody should know all the facts. I would recall that the hon. and gallant Member for King's Lynn (Major Wise) said he hoped that the Minister would have another look at this 284 point. The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) who always had a great deal to say in the Committee, was in support of our view. It all arose because not until we reached Clause 101—as it now is—did it really come out what "making representations" in this case meant. The Minister quite rightly said that that was a thing which runs as a sort of thread right through the Bill. It was discovered that making representations "to a person appointed by the Minister" meant making them to the people who had taken the decision in the first place.
If the Minister will not accept our Amendment I beg him to redraft the words round about lines 32 to 34 so that anyone reading the Bill for the first time will understand what it means. In simple language, the effect of the Bill at the moment is, as it has now been discovered, that the Minister has to afford to the person an opportunityof making representations to the Minister, whether in writing or on being heard by a person appointed by the Minister.That is what the Bill says. The Minister may first offer an opportunity to people to make representations to himself, but in both cases "himself" means not the Minister as a physical entity, but the county agricultural executive committee. Therefore, we ought to write into the Bill that when there is a question of a supervision order the county executive committee shall afford the owner or occupier an opportunity of making representations to the county agricultural executive committee, whether in writing or on being heard by a person selected by the county executive committee. In fact, it is the committee themselves, in three different roles. The Minister's answer is that they are the right people all the time. If we accept that, let the right hon. Gentleman say so, so that any one reading Clause 12 will recognise that that is what it means. Ordinary people reading Clause 12 at present will think that the Minister will arrange that a person will have his case brought before a person appointed by the Minister and will never believe that the Minister is really going round and round in circles, and that it is the county executive committee acting for the Minister all the time.
The Minister charged us with wanting to get an appeal against orders of the 285 land tribunal, and said we were now trying to get a form of appeal before an arbitrator. As a matter of fact, that is not so. It is not surprising that he misunderstood, since our Amendment which deals with that matter was not called. If the Amendment which we had down for the recommittal stage had been called, the right hon. Gentle- man would have seen that it is still our desire to have an eventual appeal to the land tribunal. That is another matter. We are now talking about an earlier stage, where the Minister says, "You have a perfect right to go and make representations." The whole point at issue between us is: To whom are those representations to be made, before the supervision order is made? The right hon. Gentleman always comes back to the same point of playing down the effect of supervision orders. He says that, as a matter of fact, this is machinery which is meant to be very helpful. One would almost conceive that every farmer would go to his executive committee and ask, "Let me have a supervision order. It is such a delightful thing and is going to do me such a lot of good."
§ Captain Crookshank
I am learning some of the ideas at the back of the minds of hon. Members opposite. The Minister certainly gives us the impression that so far from being harmful it is something very helpful, and that everything will be very good when there is a supervision order. I do not think that the bulk of people look upon any form of disciplining, even the highest form which you in the Chair, Mr. Speaker, exercise over us, as any fun at all. The Home Secretary, as an old school-teacher, will know. One may realise in after years that it was very good. I do not suppose that at the time any of his victims thought it was such fun.
It may be that in the long run people who have been under supervision orders may think that that form of discipline was a good thing, but it does not follow that the Minister is correct in his bland assumption that everyone will enjoy themselves under a supervision order, and enjoy themselves particularly, because the county committees are such an agreeable body of men. It does not follow that they all feel that way, because they do not. They feel that they ought to be heard and 286 that they should be able to make representations to someone. Because of that we do not think it is right that the Bill should remain as drafted. In defending the general outline the Solicitor-General went so far as to say that the result of this was that the person affected is given the right of insisting on having his case known. That, I am sorry to say, was met by laughter by the Committee because it did not seem to be a very big concession. The Solicitor-General said—and indeed the Minister said it too:If you are to hinder and fetter agricultural committees by saying that they cannot arrive at any decision without knowing that it will be reviewed by somebody who is altogether independent it will be quite impossible for them to carry on and operate this Bill."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, Standing Committee A, 17th April, 1947, C. 974.]There was no laughter after that statement. It was a very strange one coming from one of our legal advisers. To say that anybody's actions are going, to be fettered by the mere knowledge that some decision they make may be taken to appeal—even the most wrongful decision—was rather shocking.
I ask the Minister to consider this again. There is a case here which was supported by some of his own hon. Friends, and if the Liberal Party had been present on that morning—I do not know where they were—we should have carried this Amendment at an earlier stage. No doubt the Liberal Party went to a party meeting and were not able to give us the support in the Lobby which they are morally giving us today. They agree with us on this issue, as many other people do. I ask the Minister to accede to the very wise alternative suggestion put forward by my hon. Friend or else let him redraft the words of the Bill and make it quite clear so that everybody really understands that making representations is a completely futile thing to do.
§ Mr. Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)
I join with the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) in his appeal to the Minister. I doubt whether I can make such a good speech in support of this Amendment as the Minister did. It was only his strong dogged Yorkshire tenacity which prevented him seeing the strength of his own argument. May I remind the House of the position. The Minister's words are very well worth reproduction. When dealing with this 287 Clause in Committee he expressed a view which did not go quite so far as the view he expressed today. He did not indicate at that time that a supervision order was something quite so desirable as he rather gave the House to understand this afternoon. The words he then used did not indicate that farmers were likely to jump at the opportunity of being placed under a supervision order. He said:… let me at once make it perfectly clear that a supervision order is not necessarily a disciplinary measure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 25th February, 1947; c. 208.]I emphasise the words "not necessarily." It is perfectly true that it is not necessarily a disciplinary measure, but the probability is that it is the first step towards a disciplinary measure. Therefore it is only right and fair that at that stage when the supervision order is first brought into action, the facts of the case should be ascertained where they are in dispute between the two parties concerned, on the one hand the county agricultural committee and on the other hand the farmer, whether he be the landlord or the tenant farmer. That is undoubtedly an issue, and in fact the Minister recognised it later on when he said:There is one thing that I should like to point out. He"—that is to say, the person who is likely to be put under the supervision order—will be tried"—I emphasise the words "be tried"—not by officials but by his own peers."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 25th February, 1947; c. 209.]—referring to the members of the county agricultural committee. When one uses the expression of a person being tried, surely it presupposes an entirely different attitude and atmosphere to someone who is gladly yielding to a suggestion that he should be put under a supervision order. In what he has said today the Minister has put an entirely different complexion on what supervision orders are and what they are going to mean to farmers than he did when he was discussing the matter upstairs. With regard to the actual procedure, let me again quote the Minister's words. He said:What will actually happen in practice"—I quite agree that it is what will actually happen in practice— 288is that members of a district committee will, perhaps, declare that a person's farm is not what it ought to be. They will have watched the farm over a long period of time"—I emphasise that expression to the House:They will have watched the farm over a long period of time"—that must mean that they have for a long time been in contact with the person whom it is proposed to put under a supervision order. They know one another's case. If one likes to use the analogy of a trial, they know one another's case from beginning to end. The Minister went on to say that they:… will have spoken to the farmer at the beginning, not in unpleasant terms, but in the terms of the old school tie.The Minister knows what representatives he is going to appoint to the Committees and so we must accept that they will speak in the terms of the old school tie, whatever that may mean. The Minister went on:They will say to him that things are not looking too good on field No. 444 or field No. 443, and they will do their best to advise him …and so on—It after all this advice, he still fails, then, finally, he is warned that he is likely to be put under a supervision order."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 25th February, 1947; c. 208.]The sole point we make in support of this Amendment is what is the advantage—what difference can it make—in giving to a person who is being served with a supervision order the right to make representations to the very people who have been looking over his farm, who have been in contact with him, who have been talking to him in terms of the "old school tie," who have then been talking to him in, apparently, somewhat different terms, and who, finally, have been suggesting to him that they are warning him he is to be put under a supervision order? What difference will it make to him, and what good will it be to him, to have the right to go back to those people and make representations, with or without a friend? I feel that the Minister is putting into the Bill a provision—perhaps unintentionally—the only result of which can be to mislead the farmer, or the person who is to be put under a supervision order, that he has some right of appeal against an order which will affect him, his farm and his career, whether as 289 a farmer or a landlord, for a considerable period of time.
It is all very well to say that there may be opportunities of appeal later on, but it cannot but be derogatory to his reputation, in whatever branch of the profession he may be practicing, to be put under a supervision order, and it is at the time he is put under that order that the matter should be independently assessed to see whether or not the facts justify the supervision order being made. It is utterly impossible for those facts to be assessed in an unbiased and independent way by the committee which has, through all that period of time, been working up to the point where finally it has come to the conclusion that a supervision order is necessary. I appeal to the House on grounds of fairness, honesty, straight dealing and common sense, to agree that the Amendment is right and proper, and to accept it.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Granville
I am glad to be able to support the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) and to express the hope that he will press this Amendment. I do not complain that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman took the opportunity of twitting the Liberal Party, but I would point out that the thing which we are debating tonight did not begin in the Committee upstairs, but when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was sitting on the Government Front Bench, with a Conservative Minister of Agriculture and a Socialist Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture beginning the first wartime experiment of the agricultural executive committees. We are now finding it extremely difficult to find fitting machinery whereby the small farmer—because it is the small farmer who has to fight for his independence here—can have a proper right of appeal in regard to supervision. The Minister knows that there have been good committees and bad committees—
§ Mr. Granville
—and there have been scores of occasions when it has been found that the only appeal which a small farmer had was an appeal through a committee which came up to the Minister, and I think there were about two occasions on which the Minister disagreed with a committees recommendations. There were 290 good committees in some counties and bad committees in other counties. What guarantee is there under the provisions of this Bill that the small farmer, who may have been struggling for 20 years in conditions for which he was not entirely responsible—
§ Mr. Granville
No, I am not dealing with dispossession, but with supervision. I happen to have represented an agricultural constituency for a good many years and this is not the first time we have had to discuss this problem. Will the Minister guarantee that all the things which he now promises are within the terms of the Bill? Will he guarantee that the committees are really going to assist the farmer to run the farm? Will he guarantee that the farmer's credit will not be damaged? Will he give an assurance that the farmer's standing and status in the local agricultural community will not be damaged? The right hon. Gentleman knows that he has never faced the problem that is involved in supervision. If the words of the Amendment are not appropriate, will the right hon. Gentleman find some appropriate form of words so that he can honestly say that he is finding an independent form of appeal for the small farmer when he is being subjected to supervision? Considering the experience we had with the war agricultural executive committees and the number of injustices and hardships that were caused, I am amazed that the best that a Labour Minister of Agriculture can do to safeguard the independence of small farmers is to provide this inadequate machinery. When this is known even to the right hon. Gentleman's own supporters in the country, it will be said that, whereas he had a great opportunity he has lost that opportunity by not giving the proper machinery.
I am very depressed by the Debate that has taken place. It has destroyed another one of my illusions. I was always under the impression that hon. Gentlemen opposite had the greatest interest in seeing that there was the very best husbandry of the land. I had always believed that they had some trust in the judgment of their peers on the county executive committees. I had always felt that with regard to this Bill, a great deal of which they support, they would not, 291 as they are doing tonight, play down the question of supervision. I do not know whether it is a question of playing up or playing down. I think hon. Gentlemen opposite said that the Minister was playing down the question of supervision, so perhaps it would be right to say that they are playing up the difficulties of supervision when they ought really to be doing propaganda in favour of it, if they believe in good husbandry. What we want to get out of this Bill, in return for what we are giving in Part I, which hon. Members opposite accept with the greatest alacrity, is the very best that can be got out of the land. Surely, it is a fact that all farmers are to some extent under supervision all the time by the executive committees? The executive committees are watching to see whether the land is being cultivated, whether it is in good heart, and whether there is good husbandry by the farmers. If not, how is it that any farm at any one time comes under the suspicion of the county committees? There is some watching going on all the time, and we feel that is right, if we are to get out of the Bill what we hope to get from it. There comes a point at which the watching which the executive committee must do becomes so positive that they have to tell the farmer, "We are going to watch your land for a year or i8 months in order to get to know what is happening on your farm, and if at the end of that time we feel that you really need help, we hope you will take the help that supervision gives.
It is right both in theory and in practice, and if it is not, it is up to hon. Gentlemen because they have representation in those areas. They know the farmers on the executive committees, and it is part of their job, as it is of ours, to see that the executive committees do their work properly. I hope we shall have the co-operation of all hon. Members opposite in trying to get farmers to co-operate with the executive committees. I hope they will not think them all unworthy and not to be trusted. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] But hon. Gentlemen opposite have been 292 talking tonight in that very strain—that the executive committees are there to "do down" their friends. What we want is that you should try to get co-operation. You should be out in your areas doing propaganda to show how important these executive committees are, showing that you do trust them, that they are to do a job of work in co-operation with this House—
I apologise, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Hon. Members should be doing propaganda to get farmers to accept the importance and the standing of these executive committees as bodies who are engaged, with them, in getting the very best out of the land in their areas. If that is so, and if the members of the executive committees have been running the farms until the time they have been put under supervision, how ridiculous it is that we should ask for some independent person, with no knowledge of the situation, to come in and act as judge in the case of an appeal. Hon. Members opposite say that somebody should come with a fresh mind; but it is not a fresh mind that is needed, it is somebody with full knowledge of what is going on in the farms. What is wanted is an impartial tribunal—impartial in the sense that they want the best out of the land, but with full knowledge of what is going on in the farms. Those are the people who, in the opinion of the Minister and most of us on this side, are best capable of judging whether the farms should be put under supervision.
§ Mr. Frank Byers (Dorset, Northern)
I am sorry to interrupt, but may I ask the hon. Lady whether she thinks there should be no appeal, as far as supervision is concerned? Does she agree with the Minister's idea of planning an appeal to the land tribunal?
At the moment I am talking about this Amendment and its relation to this Clause. This Amendment suggests that there should be an appeal to some persons selected from this panel who would not know the facts of the case but would come, as has been said, with a fresh mind—in this case with an uninformed mind. I say it is much better that the people to whom the appeal is 293 made should be people who know something about the situation. Therefore I appeal to the Minister to reject this Amendment, and I appeal to hon. Members opposite not to be led away by carping criticism, but to go to their constituencies and do propaganda as we on our side are doing propaganda.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Major Mott-Radclyffe
The real difference between hon. Members on this side and hon. Members opposite is in regard to what we think of a supervision order, and the stage at which an appeal to an independent person should be possible. There is a view held by many hon. Members opposite that a supervision order is a friendly act; that the recipient of a supervision order will welcome it with both hands and, if it comes at Christmas time, will put it on his mantelpiece with such Christmas cards as he may get. There is the other point of view, which we hold, that a supervision order will not be widely welcomed. The intention of the county committee may be all right, but a supervision order casts a slur on the man who receives it because, as the Minister said, it means that he is suspected of being a bad farmer or a bad landlord, and it may be the first step to something much more serious, namely, ultimate dispossession. We believe, therefore, that is only fair there should be an appeal to an independent source.
I agree that to attempt to ask the agricultural tribunal to listen to appeals against every supervision order would be to overload grossly that body. That is why we suggested that the appeal against a supervision order should go to an independent arbitrator from the panel under the 1923 Act. As a matter of fact, the right hon. Gentleman knows that there are several references in the Bill already to such an arbitrator. In Clauses 36 and 38 there is reference to an arbitrator from the panel laid down under the 1923 Act. It seems to us to be a curious form of appeal—though I do not think "appeal" is the right word to use—which is now suggested, namely, that a man appeals against a supervision order to the body of men who are issuing that order. Actually the word is "representations" but the average landowner or farmer reading the Bill, and not acquainted with the niceties of Parliamentary language, 294 seeing the word "representations" will take it to mean "appeal."
It would be better, if the right hon. Gentleman will not accept this, to cut out the phrase altogether and make it clear that the only form of representation which the recipient of a supervision order can make is to those who serve the order on him. Nobody suggests that every county committee is infallible. I know hon. Members opposite referred to them in Committee as "all-wise bodies of men," but "all-wise bodies of men," some of whom may be appointed by the Minister, are occasionally fallible. My hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) quoted in a different context cases where war agricultural executive committees had made unwise decisions and where appeals against those decisions had been upheld. The Minister said there was not injustice generally. I do not think we ought to be concerned with the question of whether injustice is done, or is likely to be done, in 50 or 100 cases. What we should be concerned with is to see, as far as is humanly possible, that no injustice is done in one single case because if this Parliament means anything, it means that the right of even one individual should be assured. That is why I beg the right hon. Gentleman to think about this Amendment again and, in order to gain the confidence of the farming community, to agree with us that an appeal against a supervision order should be made, not to those who serve it but to an independent arbitrator from the panel laid down under the 1923 Act.
§ Lord Willoughby de Eresby
When the right hon. Gentleman, in chiding us for having failed in our attempt to get an appeal to the land tribunal, said that we were now seeking to set up a panel to which an appeal could be made, he was slightly unfair. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) said that a great many of us did not realise until the later stages of the Bill in the Committee—until what is now Clause 101 was reached—that in point of fact the opportunity of making representations to the Minister only meant making representations to the agricultural executive committee which had already considered and decided upon the case. That knowledge came as a real shock, not 295 only to us but also, I think to hon. Members opposite on the Committee. As far as I remember, when we asked why the right hon. Gentleman took the trouble to provide an opportunity for making representations to the Minister, he said it was in case some new fact had come to light, which was not in the possession of the executive committee when they arrived at their decision. Tonight he told us that in point of fact the executive committee are the right people to deal with these questions, because they are the people in possession of all the facts. There is a psychological question involved here. It is important when a supervision notice is served, whether on a landlord or a farmer, that he should feel not only that justice is done, but that he has received justice from the Minister.
I can understand the arguments of the hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning), from her point of view. But, as has been pointed out, some of us take a slightly different view of a supervision order. If one feels there is no particular slur in receiving a supervision order, it is difficult to see why we should go to such pains to put into the Bill an opportunity for representations to be made to the Minister. If we took the point of view of the hon. Lady we should let the executive committee consider the case and decide on it. But, it would appear from the wording of the Clause that the Minister wants to give some opportunity for an appeal for further consideration of the case. In point of fact we have now found that any further consideration is to be by the people who have already taken a decision. It is leading the farmer or landlord "up the garden path," to leave words in the Bill which would lead to the belief that there is an appeal, but which would not be considered by any legal authority as giving a right of appeal.
§ Mr. J. H. Hare
Probably I am the only hon. Member who was not a member of the Standing Committee who has spoken in the Debate. Having listened to the arguments, I am convinced that my hon. Friends have put forward a case which has not been answered by the Minister. We have been taunted by the hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) who suggested that, presumably, we did not wish to get the best out of the land. We do not believe we can get the best out of the land, if at the same time perpetrate an injustice. We feel that a grave injustice is being done to the small farmer by not allowing him a proper right of appeal. The right hon. Gentleman is underestimating the opposition which his attitude this evening will create in the farming industry. Is his Bill designed to assist the farmers? Has he consulted the farmers? Do the farmers consider the attitude he is taking up will be helpful to them?—[HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."]— I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman is not going the right way about getting the good will of the industry first by trying to mislead farmers into thinking they have a right of appeal, and then when the cat is let out of the bag, saying that it is merely a question of putting people under supervision; that it is not so bad really and that they can be dealt with quite fairly. Those arguments will fool no one, and the Minister would be wise in his own interests, let alone those of farming, to give the farmer a proper opportunity for appeal, which is the normal right any Englishman would expect under those circumstances.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 260; Noes, 106.299
|Division No. 233.]||AYES.||[8.26 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Barton, C.||Brook, D. (Halifax)|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Battley, J. R.||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)|
|Allen, A. C (Bosworth)||Bechervaise, A. E||Brown, George (Belper)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Benson, G.||Brown, T. J. (Ince)|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Berry, H.||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Beswick, F.||Buchanan, G.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Bing, G. H. C||Burden, T. W.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Binns, J.||Burke, W. A.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Blyton, W. R||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs B||Boardman, H||Carmichael, James|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Bottomley, A. G.||Cattle, Mrs. B. A.|
|Baird J.||Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Champion, A. J.|
|Balfour, A.||Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Chelwynd, G. R.|
|Barstow, P. G||Braddock, Mrs. E. M (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Cobb, F. A.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Jeger, Dr. S W. (St Pancras, S.E.)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Coldrick, W.||John, W.||Rhodes, H.|
|Collins, V. J.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Colman, Miss G. M||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Cook, T. F.||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Royle, C.|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Sargood, R.|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Kenyon, C.||Scott-Elliot, W.|
|Corvedale, Viscount||Key, C. W.||Shackleton, E. A A|
|Crossman, R. H. S||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Sharp, Granville|
|Daggar, G.||Kinley, J.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Kirby, B. V.||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St Helens)|
|Davits, Harold (Look)||Lang, G.||Shurmer, P.|
|Deer, G.||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Delargy, H. J||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Simmons, C J.|
|Diamond, J.||Leonard, W.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Dobbie, W.||Leslie, J R.||Skeffngton-Lodge, T C|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lewis, T (Southampton)||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Driberg, T. E. N||Lindgren, G. S.||Smith, C (Colchester)|
|Dumpleton, C. W||McAdam, W.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Durbin, E. F. M||McGhee, H. G||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S)|
|Dye, S.||Mack, J. D||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|Edelman, M||Mackay, R W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Sorensen, R. W|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||McKinlay, A S.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||McLeavy, F||Sparks, J. A.|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Stamford, W.|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Steele, T.|
|Evans, S N (Wednesbury)||Mainwaring, W H.||Stross, Dr. B|
|Ewart, R||Mann, Mrs. J||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Fairhurst, F.||Manning, Mrs L. (Epping)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Farthing, W. J||Marquand, H A.||Swingler, S.|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Mathers, G.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Foot, M. M.||Mayhew, C. P.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Forman, J. C.||Medland, H. M||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Mellish, R. J.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Messer, F.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Thomson, Rt Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E)|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E R||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Gallacher, W||Mitchison, G. R.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Ganley, Mrs C S||Moody, A. S.||Timmons, J.|
|Gibbins, J.||Morgan, Dr. H. B||Titterington, M. F|
|Gibson, C. W||Morley, R.||Tolley, L.|
|Gilzean, A.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Mort, D. L.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C||Moyle, A||Usborne, Henry|
|Greenwood, A. W. J (Heywood)||Murray, J. D||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Grenfell, D. R||Nally, W||Viant, S. P.|
|Grey, C. F.||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Grierson, E.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P J. (Derby)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Watkins, T. E.|
|Guy, W. H.||Oldfield, W. H||Watson, W. M.|
|Haire, John E (Wycombe)||Oliver, G. H.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Hale, Leslie||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Hall, W. G.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R||Palmer, A. M F||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Pargiter, G A||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hardy, E. A||Parker, J||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Harrison, J.||Parkin, B. T.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Patan, J. (Norwich)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Pearson, A-||Williams, Rt. Hon. T (Don Valley)|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Peart, Capt. T. F.||Williamson, T.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Willis, E.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Wills, Mrs. E. A|
|Hicks, G||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Woodburn, A|
|House, G.||Price, M. Philips||Woods, G. S.|
|Hoy, J||Proctor, W. T.||Yates, V. F.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Pryde, D. J||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, NO||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Randall, H E||Zilliacus, K.|
|Irving, W. J.||Ranger, J.|
|Janner, B.||Rankin, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Rees-Williams, D R||Mr. Michael Stewart and|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Reeves, J||Mr. Collindridge.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Butcher, H. W.||Cooper-Key, E. M.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V H.||Byers, Frank||Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)|
|Beechman, N. A||Carson, E.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon H. F. C|
|Boles, Lt.-Col, D. C. (Wells)||Challen, C||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E|
|Bower, N.||Channon, H.||Cuthbert, W. N.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Clarke, Col. R. S||Darling, Sir W. Y.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Ramsay, Maj. S|
|Digby, S. W.||Kendall, W. D.||Renton, D.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Roberts, W (Cumberland, N)|
|Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. F. W.||Lancaster, Col. C G||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Drewe, C.||Langford-Holt, J.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T (Richmond)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W|
|Foster, W (Wigan)||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Smith, E. P (Ashford)|
|Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||Low, Brig. A. R. W||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Spearman, A. C. M|
|Gage, C.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Spence, H. R.|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Maude, J. C.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Grant, Lady||Medlicott, F.||Thorneycroft, G. E P (Monmouth)|
|Granville, E. (Eye)||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Touche, G. C.|
|Gridley, Sir A.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Vane, W. M. F|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Wadsworth, G.|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Haughton, S. G.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col Rt. Hon. Sir C||Nicholson, G.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Henderson, John (Catheart)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Orr-Ewing, I L.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hollis, M. C.||Osborne, C.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hope, Lord>l||Peto, Brig. C. H. M||York, C.|
|Hurd, A.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Jeffreys, General Sir G||Poole, O. B S. (Oswestry)||Mr. Studholme and|
|Jennings, R||Prescott, Stanley||Lleut.-Colonel Thorp.|
§ Mr. T. Williams
I beg to move, in page 9, line 15, to leave out from "Subsection," to the end of line 16, and to insert:as soon as may be after the expiration 01 twelve months from the coming into operation of the order, and, where one or more reviews have already been held under this Subsection in relation to the order, such a review shall be held as soon as may be after the expiration of twelve months from the previous or last such review.This Amendment and the subsequent Amendment in my name in page 9, to leave out lines 22 to 24, go together. They are necessary in view of the new Clause, which provides that in the case of each annual review, when either the owner or occupier is under supervision, either party may request the committee to dispossess the owner or occupier as the case may be. If the committee refuse, then one or the other may appeal to the land tribunal. In view of this new right which is attached to the annual review, it is clearly desirable that the first review should take place after the Minister's power of dispossession has arrived, namely, after the first 12 months of supervision. Under Clause 12 (2) as at present drafted, the first review would have to be held during the first 12 months' supervision, before the Minister has any power of dispossession at all. The effect of these two Amendments is to make sure that the first review shall take place as soon as possible after the first year of supervision has elapsed. Subsequent reviews would, of course, be approximately at annual 300 intervals. Hon. Members will appreciate the need for these two Amendments.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Lord Willoughby de Eresby
I beg to move, in page 9, line 16, at the end, to insert:and upon any change taking place in the ownership or occupation of the land or agricultural unit.There were certain complaints earlier today from the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) and other hon. Members opposite that they had not been able to master the meaning and intention of some of cur Amendments. This one will be well within the comprehension of all. Clause 12, as we all now know, is the Clause, which enables the Minister to place art owner or occupier under a supervision order. Subsection (2) lays down that when a supervision order is in force it must be reviewed from time to time, and paragraph (2, a) lays down that it shall be reviewed once every 12 months. We want to extend that provision so that the order will also be reviewed whenever the land or farm changes ownership. This is necessary and desirable. When a new farmer takes over a farm which is under a supervision order, there should be some form of valuation or assessment so that the Minister can see later what improvements have taken place during the 12 months, and so that possibly he may remove the supervision order. When a new tenant comes in, we think he should 301 have 12 clear months in which to reorganise the farm before it is again inspected with a view to seeing whether the supervision order can be removed. As the Minister no doubt is aware, we have several Amendments on the Order Paper which seek to ensure that when a new tenant or farmer comes in he is no longer subject to a supervision order. Whether or not those Amendments are accepted, the matter should be reviewed when a new tenant takes over, and he should have 12 clear months before it is reviewed again so that he can have a proper opportunity to improve the condition of the farm.
§ Colonel Clarke (East Grinstead)
I beg to second the Amendment.
What we are suggesting is in accordance with the best traditions of good estate management. It is exactly what any owner or his agent, or both, would do if they could. When a new tenant came in, they would look at the holding as he took it over so that they would know later whether or not he had improved it or whether he had let it down. It is in accordance with the custom of taking a schedule of condition. I hope the Amendment will be favourably received.
§ Mr. Marquand
We have every sympathy with the arguments put forward, and I do not think there is any difference between us. I suggest that the Amendment is really unnecessary. Clause 13 provides that:where a supervision order is in force in respect of an owner or occupier, any disposition of land to which the order relates … whereby some other person becomes the owner or occupier of that land shall not, unless approved by the Minister either before or after the disposition is completed, affect the continued operation of the supervision order.The saving words there to ensure the purpose expressed by hon. Members opposite are, "unless approved by the Minister." The Clause provides that where there is a change of ownership or occupation, any supervision order in relation to the land shall continue unless the new owner or occupier is approved by the Minister. Therefore, it will be open to the parties concerned to ask the Minister for his approval and, in that way, for the lifting of the supervision order. This will mean automatically that the question of the continuation of the supervision order will have to be reviewed. If the new owner is satisfactory, it will be possible 302 for the Minister to remove the order and let the new owner go in and continue to manage the property.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I do not think anybody on this side of the House and, I suspect, this applies also to quite a number of hon. Members opposite could accept such an easy and fallacious way out of the difficulties propounded by my hon. Friends. If the argument is carried to its logical conclusion it means that the Government propose that the disposition of all land, whether in ownership or by tenure, if the land has once been subjected to a supervision order, should be at the disposal and in the hands of the Government of the day. There was no such intention when this Bill was first drafted. These supervision orders are personal orders against an inefficient landlord or tenant. We in the Conservative Party wholly agree with His Majesty's Government that bad landlords and bad tenants should have some sanction against them if they are to get the advantages which some parts of this Bill confer.
These are personal disabilities under which only an incompetent landlord or tenant should labour. There comes a change and a new man comes along. Surely he should not be subjected to the disability which his predecessor suffered. Now the Paymaster-General is suggesting that the incoming landlord or tenant, if he wants to avoid the penalties of his predecessor, must get the Minister's sanction before he buys the land or becomes the tenant of it. Since when has one been obliged to go to a Government Department and ask permission to buy a piece of British land, which, after all, is the common heritage of all of us. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Most certainly. The eager anxiety with which the Co-operative movement in this country is trying to buy up the land of England—
I do not propose this time to allow the hon. Member to get so far away from the Amendment under discussion.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
With all respect, I think I am in Order in pointing out that there is a natural anxiety among all sections of the community, not limited to those who historically are regarded as the landowners of Great Britain, to own and cultivate the land of this country. We 303 welcome this interest which the Government of the day are showing in it. What we very much object to is the assumption that an incoming landowner or tenant, if he Wants to avoid the sanction of Clause 12, must get the Minister's permission before he buys the land or becomes the tenant, even though there has never been the slightest suggestion that he would be an incompetent landowner or tenant. We agree that if, after coming into such a place, a man continues the bad practices of the previous owner or tenant, he should himself be subject to a supervision order in his own turn, but he should wait until it has been proved that he is the sort of person who deserves that sort of sanction. The hon. Gentleman would not, I think, claim that he has ever himself either lived on the land, earned his living by it or been deeply concerned in the welfare of the people who do, and for him so easily to dismiss this as if all a man has to do is to ask the Minister's permission to become the landlord or tenant, is straining the credulity of this House a little far.
We believe that this Amendment should be carried and that, on any change taking place in the ownership or occupation of the land or of the agricultural unit concerned, the supervision order should lapse automatically, and that the incoming owner or tenant should be given a chance to prove that, as a free man in what we are always told is a free State, he can do his job properly. If he then fails to do it, we are at one with the Government in saying that sanctions should be imposed against him. This Amendment has the further effect that it will give a new owner or tenant a clear 12 months to put the old property in order and to show that he can so conduct himself that the penalties of this Clause need not be imposed against him. We look to the day—and I think we, almost alone in the State, believe in private ownership—when an ever increasing number of people will be able to own the soil of Britain. We are not in the least frightened of that development. We would like to ensure that the people who come along to establish their own stake in the country should not be penalised by the faults of their predecessors.
If the. Paymaster-General really has this sympathy, I wish he would 304 accept our method of giving expression to it. It would be very much better to accept our Amendment, and then perhaps he would be able to find it possible to omit Clause 13 from the Bill completely. If that could be done, the end would be served and the Bill would be simplified. There is a certain difference of opinion between us on this matter of supervision orders. We have always maintained that this supervision is really a personal matter, and it is utterly wrong that the stigma of supervision should be transferred from the person to the land. By this method, we are going to create in the countryside two different kind of markets for land—one for land where there is a supervision order in force, and another for land where there is not. I think the Minister will find that there is the greatest reluctance among farm tenants to take land where a supervision order is in force. The hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) rather talked as if she was coaching backward children for examination, and she seemed to think that the average farmer would be only too glad to welcome this supervision as being some form of assistance. I can assure her that the truth is the very opposite of that, and that there will be a great feeling of shame among farmers when the county agricultural committee does put a man under supervision, and that they will be extremely reluctant to take such a farm. I hope the Minister will change his mind, because it is not too much to ask that he should accept this Amendment and agree with our objective.
§ Mr. G. Williams
The Minister of Agriculture is usually a very logical man, and argues in a logical manner, but, as the Bill now stands, it does not really make sense, because it suggests that the man should be supposed to be guilty before he is proved so. If the police go looking round public houses to find landlords who sell drink after hours, they are perfectly justified in doing so, but if the ownership or tenancy should change, the police are surely not justified in snooping round to see that drinks are not being sold after hours. Similarly, because the owners of land have been bad farmers in the past, why should a new tenant be considered to be a bad farmer before he starts? In this way, the Bill almost savours of persecution. The Amendment should not have been necessary at all, because the Clause itself should have been omitted.
305 As the Bill stands, the new tenant coming in may well be the best farmer in the country, but if he has to take over a farm which is under a supervision order, he may be as shy as some of us on this side of the House are of red tape and refuse to take it over. The Minister will thereby be defeating his own object of bringing a good farmer to that farm to get the land back into good heart again. Equally, the landlord who owns the farm will also be losing a good farmer, simply because he will not face taking on a farm which is under a supervision order. I believe that what is really at the back of the Minister's mind in this matter is the idea that a change of ownership may be brought about by starting a bogus company, so that a man who is placed under a supervision order may form a new company and start up again. If the Minister wants to legislate against that sort of thing, he ought to be able to do so, and I am sure that if he takes the advice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he will receive a few tips on the way in which he should do it.
§ Mr. W. Roberts
I hope the Minister will not accept this Amendment. I think that the way in which he proposes to deal with this problem is the better way. I hope it will not be necessary in very many cases to carry on a supervision order from one tenant to another or from one owner to another, but I think it is quite right that the Minister should have the opportunity of doing so if necessary. In the past, it has far too often been the case that land which had gone down remained down, and that a farm which had been badly farmed by one tenant was taken over again by another bad tenant. It was often a cheap farm, on which the buildings were bad, and which only a bad tenant would take over. This is the sort of thing which Clause 13 will prevent. If it is not bad enough to be taken over completely, the fact that the Minister's approval to the new tenant is required will mean that the land would be put in order, so that a tenant who is reasonably likely to farm well will be selected. I think it is much the better way of bringing a farm up to the condition in which it was kept under previous tenants or owners, rather than assuming that, once the ownership or tenancy is changed, the supervision order will be immediately released. I hope it will not, in fact, be necessary in changes of that sort to carry 306 on the supervision order, but I think it is necessary and that the best way of handling the matter is by giving the Minister the power to continue the order. The hon. Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) never was in favour of any sort of sanctions, but—
That does not seem to me to have anything to do with the Amendment under discussion.
§ Mr. Roberts
I am sorry, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I will not pursue the matter further. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford set me a bad example in this matter. I think that this provision should be applied as a means of improving the farming or management of land. It is one that the Minister should preserve and I hope that he will not give way.
§ Lord Willoughby de Eresby
I am sorry to speak again, but, before we take a decision on this matter, I would like to bring the House back to the Amendment and what it seeks to do. The hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts) was very far removed from the Amendment in his speech, and I am afraid the Minister when he replied appeared to be replying to other Amendments which we have put down to Clause 13, and especially when he said that we wished to revoke a supervision order. That is not what this Amendment seeks to do at all. All it does ask is that there shall be a review when a new owner or occupier comes in, so that no new man takes over a farm unless there is some basis by which his work can be judged in the future.
If a review takes place when he takes over the farm, another review will have to take place in 12 months' time, when the Minister might possibly see that a great improvement has taken place and might be able to revoke the supervision order which, if he had nothing by which to judge the amount of improvement, he might not be able to do. I think that this is a most reasonable Amendment, and I am sorry that the Minister did not address 307 his remarks to it. As I say, this Amendment does not revoke a supervision order; all it says is that it shall be reviewed when a new tenant or a new occupier comes in.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
Quite a lot has been said by hon. Members opposite to the effect that this particular Subsection is unfair. In my view, it is as reasonable as anything could be. First of all, if this Amendment had been properly worded, the effect would have been that, as soon as there was a change of ownership, there would no longer be a question of whether the Minister should review it or not; the review would be automatic, and the supervision order would cease. Suppose the change of ownership is built upon an attempt by the old owner, who is under a supervision order, to avoid the effect of that order by getting somebody else in in his place. What is going to happen? Is he to be allowed to defeat both the order and the Minister? This Clause does not say "at the end of 12 months"; it says "during each year." In other words, as soon as the new owner comes on to the scene, the Minister may, and naturally would, look into the matter at once, and, if he finds everything in order he can remove the supervision order. I cannot understand what complaint there can be against that.
Opposition have done here is rather comical. Instead of making one condition apply, they have made a double condition apply. If they read the Amendment, they will see the position is that a review shall be held under this Subsection during each year that the order remains in force, and also, in the words of the Amendment,
upon any change taking place in the ownership or occupation of the land or agricultural unit.
Therefore, there are two things before the review takes place. That defeats the whole idea behind this Amendment, and it should be rejected.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
All I wanted to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman was whether he appreciated that we have no wish whatever that the supervision order should not be applied or re-applied if there had been any "phoney" business such as he suggested. All we ask is that there should be a technical review on a change of ownership. If, on review, it is proved that there has been some collusive action whereby the old owner or tenant remains in charge, although legally he should not, then we would have no objection to the order being continued.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 98; Noes, 260.311
|Division No. 234.]||AYES.||[9.5 p.m.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Drewe, C.||Lancaster, Col. C. G|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Langford-Holt, J.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. R.||Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M||Low, Brig. A. R. W.|
|Bower, N.||Gage, C.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Mackeson, Brig. H. R|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Glyn, Sir R.||Macpherson, Maj. N (Dumfries)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P G. T.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Grant, Lady||Marples, A. E.|
|Carson, E.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Challen, C.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Maude, J. C.|
|Channon, H.||Harvey, Air-Comdre A V.||Morrison, Maj, J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Clarke, Col. R. S||Haughton, S. G.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Headlam, Lieut.-Col Rt. Hon Sir C||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nicholson, G.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Hollis, M. C||Noble, Comdr. A. H P|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F C||Hope, Lord J.||Osborne, C.|
|Crosthwaile-Eyre, Col O. E||Hurd, A.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Pickthorn, K.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Jeffreys, General Sir G||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Jennings, R.||Poole, O. B S. (Oswestry)|
|Digby, S. W.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Prescott, Stanley|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Renton, D.|
|Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P W||Lambert, Hon. G.||Roberts, Maj P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Ropner, Col. L.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W||Studholme, H. G.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Smith, E. P (Ashford)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Smithers, Sir W.||Touche, G. C.||York, C.|
|Spearman, A. C. M||Vane, W. M F.|
|Spence, H. R.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||White, Sir D, (Fareham)||Major Ramsay and|
|Strauss, H. G (English Universities)||White, J. B (Canterbury)||Lieut.-Colonel Thorp.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Forman, J. C.||Medland, H. M|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith South)||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Mellish, R. J.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Messer, F.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Millington, Wing-Comdr E R|
|Attewell, H. C.||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Gibbins, J.||Moody, A. S.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs B||Gibson, C. W.||Morgan, Dr. H. B|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Gilzean, A||Morley, R.|
|Baird J||Glanville, J E. (Consett)||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Balfour, A.||Gooch, E. G.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Barstow, P. G||Gordon-Walker, P. C||Mort, D. L.|
|Barton, C.||Granville, E. (Eye)||Moyle, A,|
|Battley, J. R.||Greenwood, A. W. J (Heywood)||Murray, J. D|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Grenfell, D. R||Nally, W.|
|Benson, G.||Grey, C F||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Berry, H.||Grierson, E.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P J (Derby)|
|Beswick, F.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|Bing, G. H. C||Guy, W H||Oldfield, W. H|
|Blyton, W. R.||Haire, John E (Wycombe)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Boardman, H.||Hale, Leslie||Paget, R. T.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Hall, W. G.||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Palmer, A. M F|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Hardy, E. A.||Pargiter, G A|
|Brooke, T. J. (Rothwell)||Harrison, J.||Parker, J|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Parkin, B. T.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Paton, J. (Norwich)|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W T||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Pearson, A|
|Buchanan, G.||Herbison, Mist M.||Peart, Capt T. F.|
|Burden, T. W.||Hewitson, Capt. M||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Hobson, C. R.||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|Byers, Frank||House, G.||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Carmichael, James||Hoy J.||Price, M. Philips|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pryde, D. J.|
|Cobb, F. A||Hynd, H (Hackney, C.)||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Cocks, F. S.||Irving, W. J||Randall, H. E|
|Coldrick, W.||Janner, B.||Ranger, J.|
|Collindridge, F.||Jay, D. P. T.||Rankin, J.|
|Collins, V. J||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Rees-Williams, D. R.|
|Colman, Miss G. M||Jeger, Dr. S W (St. Pancras, S. E.)||Reeves, J.|
|Cook, T. F.||John, W.||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr G||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Rhodes, H|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Roberts, W (Cumberland, N)|
|Corvedale, Viscount||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Crossman, R. H. S||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Daggar, G.||Kendall, W. D||Royle, C.|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Kenyon, C.||Sargood, R|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Key, C. W||Soott-Elliot W|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Kinley, J.||Shackleton, E. A A|
|Davies, Hadyn (St Pancras, S. W.)||Kirby, B. V||Sharp, Granville|
|Deer, G.||Lang, G.||Shawcross, C. N (Widnes)|
|Delargy, H. J||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St Helens)|
|Diamond, J.||Leonard, W||Shurmer, P|
|Dobbie, W.||Leslie, J. R.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Dodds, N. N||Lewis, T (Southampton)||Simmons, C J.|
|Donovan, T.||Lindgren, G. S.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Driberg, T. E. N||Lipton, Lt.-Col M||Skeffington-Lodge, T C|
|Dumpleton, C. W||McAdam, W.||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Durbin, E. F. M||McGhee, H. G||Smith, C (Colchester)|
|Dye, S.||Mack, J. D.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon J. C.||McKay, J (Wallsend)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W)|
|Edelman, M.||Mackay, R. W G. (Hull, N. W.)||Sorensen, R. W|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||McKinlay, A S.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||McLeavy, F.||Sparks, J A|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Stamford, W|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Steele, T.|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Stress, Dr. B.|
|Ewart, R||Mann, Mrs. J||Stubbs, A. E|
|Fairhurst, F.||Manning, Mrs L. (Epping)||Swingler, S.|
|Farthing, W. J.||Marquand, H A||Taylor, H. B (Mansfield)|
|Fletcher, E. G. M (Islington, E)||Mathers, G.||Taylor, R. J (Morpeth)|
|Foot, M M.||Mayhew, C P||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Viant, S. P.||Williamson, T.|
|Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)||Willis, E.|
|Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Warbey, W. N.||Wills, Mrs. E. A|
|Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)||Watkins, T. E.||Wise, Major F. J|
|Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Watson, W. M.||Woodburn, A.|
|Thurtle, Ernest||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)||Woods, G. S.|
|Timmons, J||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)||Yates, V. F.|
|Titterington, M. F.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Tolley, L.||Wigg, Col. G. E.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G||Wilkins, W. A.||Zilliacus, K|
|Turner-Samuels, M.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Ungoed-Thomas, L||Williams, D. J. (Neath)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Usborne, Henry||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)||Mr. Snow and|
|Vernon, Maj. W. F||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)||Mr. Michael Stewart.|
§ The Solicitor-General
I beg to move, in page 9, to leave out lines 22 to 24.
This is consequential on the Amendment already made in page 9, line 15.
§ Amendment agreed to.