HC Deb 25 January 1954 vol 522 cc1560-76

I, Robert Munday, late of Culleys & Batts Farms, Marlborough, and now of the above address contend that I was wrongfully dispossessed of my farm and my living taken away. My goods were sold and the resultant moneys withheld for a considerable time. The Swindon auctioneer said that he could not pay me until he received authority to do so! This, despite the fact I owed no one a penny. A well-known firm of Salisbury auctioneers gave me notice for failing to sign an agreement, after nine years. That statement was false—the agreement had been signed. The original notice to quit was taken and a substitute put in its place. Solicitors will not bring my case to court although they have been paid to do so. I fought for this country in the Great War and this is my reward. My life's work has been wiped out. I ruined my health working too hard so that my farm would pay, and now I have no living, either. I feel that a grave injustice has been done to me, and the facts of this case should be brought to the public notice. I have proof of all my statements and the names of all those concerned. These may be seen at my home address at any time.

Bob Munday."

He adds at the end: Remember—it could happen to you. I do not know the gentleman but, whether the whole of that letter is untrue or not, the fact remains that he has no right of appeal on the facts and merits of his case to a traditional court of English law.

Since last Tuesday we have had a tremendous Press—one of the biggest Presses on the subject which I have seen for a long time. The comments came from newspapers of all political shades of opinion. I want to thank the Press for the support they gave me and I ask them to continue the struggle for justice for a body of decent people who are not well organised and who need all the help they can get.

This is not a party matter. A principle of English justice is at stake, the maintenance of which alone can bring peace, happiness and truth. Other men are on strike today, stopping production. Why do not the Government take as drastic action with them as they take with the farmers?

We are spending millions of pounds, shown in the Estimates every year, to defend freedom. We fought two wars for freedom. In those two wars thousands died or were wounded in a cause made sacred by Him who died for the freedom of the individual. Let us in our generation be worthy of those sacrifices made for us. Let us make sure those sacrifices were not made in vain. I give the Minister fair warning: we shall continue the fight until dispossessed farmers have a right of appeal in open court on the facts and merits of their complaints.

8.58 p.m.

Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)

I find myself in some difficulty in following the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers), because one possible consequence of what he said would involve legislation and it is not in order on the Adjournment to recommend anything which would require legislation. Most of the powers to which my hon. Friend referred, however, are powers which are permissive rather than compulsory upon the Minister. Much of the case which my hon. Friend has made tonight could be met by the Minister under those permissive powers without any alteration to the statute at all. It is on that pre-supposition that I should like to address the House for a moment or two.

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend when he implies that we must have very sound grounds indeed for adopting a procedure which, on a matter such as this, does not permit the individual to appeal to the court of law. I would not, however, automatically rule out the prospect of justice being achieved simply because of that. To some extent it must depend upon the procedure which the Minister has followed under the 1947 Act and the machinery which he has established under that Act. Whether or not fairness can be achieved must to some extent depend on how he operates the Act. The procedure of the agricultural executive committees, the Minister and the agricultural land tribunals seems to me, on the whole, to have worked satisfactorily.

Sir W. Smithers

My hon. Friend has not seen the letters.

Major Legge-Bourke

I think that on the whole they have worked satisfactorily, but one knows that there are many cases, or at least several cases, such as my hon. Friend has raised, which make all of us think a little. There is one case in particular which I can never forget. It happened during the Second World War and before the 1947 Act was in existence, but it was dealt with under very much the same procedure. A farmer, who had been put under what amounted to supervision during the war, refused to obey the instructions of a war agricultural executive committee, as it then was, and eventually the police were called to accompany the committee's representative to see the farmer. He refused to vacate the farm, as he had been told to do, and opened rapid fire with a double barrel shotgun. That particular farmer was killed by a policeman in the execution of his duty.

That was an extreme form of a possible sense of injustice which might arise under the Act of 1947. I think that I am right in saying that no such case has occurred since the Act was passed. For that we may be thankful, but, nevertheless, I think that throughout the industry both landlords and owner occupiers and tenants have all had cause from time to time to wonder whether the procedure which is followed by the Minister under the Act is entirely as it should be.

I believe that one of the fundamental troubles at the moment in the actual operation of the 1947 Act lies in the way in which the agricultural executive committees have managed the supervision part of it before the question of dispossession comes up at all. There are many farmers, whether owner-occupiers or tenant farmers, who feel that the supervision procedure is not working as well as it should do. I believe that, in general, the knowledge of the district committees and the main agricultural executive committees in each county enables them to be in as good a position as anyone to judge whether or not supervision will do any good.

It seems to be quite possible under the Act as it stands today for the committees themselves to be able to advise the Minister as to whether or not there is a case for dispossession or for allowing the farmer to carry on with a kindly word of advice and help from the committee. I do not think that it is in the least necessary to change the Act in order to have that done, and I think I should be in order in making that recommendation tonight. I would suggest to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary that the supervision practice of the agricultural executive committees has not been all that it should be and that there is no need for the Minister to operate that practice if he would be prepared to take the opinion of the agricultural executive committee in each county straight away as to whether or not any particular case is one for immediate application for dispossession.

I personally heartily dislike the dispossession procedure, and I feel that it would be, in order to do what I want to do, necessary to make Amendments to the Act. As perhaps that would be out of order, I do not propose to make these recommendations.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)

I think the Minister could help me about this. I do not know whether these dispossession orders can be dealt with administratively or whether to do so requires an amendment of the statute.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (Mr. G. R. H. Nugent)

I think that it is part of the administration to deal with dispossession orders and that the process of supervision is part also. Therefore, I do not think that my hon. Friend has strayed out of order yet.

Major Legge-Bourke

I am grateful to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary for his help. The point which I am trying to make is this. If it is a question of altering the appeal machinery against dispossession, or if it is a case of eliminating out of the Act altogether the right of the Ministry to dispossess in certain cases, that would require legislation, and because that would require legislation it would be wrong for me tonight to make any recommendations as to what the procedure should be. That was the point I was trying to make. [An Hon. Member: "You have made it."] All I am trying to do is to suggest other ways in which the Act might be administered, and that, I think, is in order.

I have made the suggestion that the Minister might allow to fall into disuse that part of the Act dealing with super- vision. If the agricultural executive committee and the advisory service for agriculture are doing their jobs properly, no farmer who is likely to make any progress should be allowed to get into the position where it is necessary for him to be supervised. And if he fails to comply with the advice given to him by those two bodies, there is a case to be put up for an application for dispossession if the country thinks that this Act is necessary, as apparently is does. If an application by the Minister for dispossession is advisable, the question is whether or not the appeal machinery is operating, as set out in the Act, properly and fairly. My own feeling is that, in general—I do not mean without exception—the agricultural land tribunals have won a considerable reputation for fairness throughout the farming industry; but when we come across cases such as those cited by my hon. Friend tonight, it is inevitable that great concern is felt by the people who have suffered.

One difficulty here, which I wish to draw particularly to the attention of the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, is that when we dispossess a farmer he is not only dispossessed of his industrial life but also of his house and home as well. That is perhaps the main trouble in this business. If a farmer is farming badly and will not take the advice of the National Advisory Service or obey the instructions of the agricultural executive committee, in view of their high standards, I think he will probably never make a success of the farm. Therefore, when these cases come up there is a stronger ground for saying that he should be prevented from farming the land. The question arises, however, as to whether he ought at the same time to be dispossessed of his house and home.

I see nothing in the Act to prevent the final arbiters in this matter deciding that the farmer should be able to stay in his house and home at least until he has had an opportunity of getting another, although, at the same time, he may be told that he cannot farm the land any more and he may even have been compensated for the purchase of the farm. I should like an assurance from the Joint Parliamentary Secretary that in cases where dispossession has taken place no unnecessary hardship has been caused so far as house and home are concerned. I know what is in the mind of my hon. Friend. Probably he would like to alter the Act, and in many ways I would too, but we cannot discuss that question. All we can do is to see that the Act as it stands is administered as fairly as possible. The biggest ground for complaint about unfairness is the power in the Act to dispossess a farmer of his house and home and his farm at the same time.

There are many administrative difficulties, because if a farmer is dispossessed of his land it is not always possible to get someone else to farm it unless a home is provided at the same time. There is nothing in the Act to prevent the agricultural executive committee itself farming the land of which a farmer has been dispossessed until such time as that man has found himself a new home. As soon as that has been done, then the agricultural executive committee should get rid of the land as quickly as possible by selling it.

There are many young farmers who want land today and cannot get it because the price is so high. I should not think that the price for land of a dispossessed farmer should be as high as that for farmland in first-class order. For all I know the suggestion that I have made may have been operated in that way already, but I submit that it is one method by which a grievance or a sense of grievance by an individual, such as my hon. Friend has referred to tonight, can be removed.

Finally, may I say this. I am quite convinced that the country as a whole was wise to accept the Agriculture Act, 1947, in its general principles. It would have been a great mistake for anyone at any time to suggest that the Act should be ended altogether. But I think what we must ensure is that the Act is administered as fairly as possible. I am satisfied from what I have seen in my own district and in other districts which I have visited that, on the whole, agricultural executive committees have acted fairly. They are composed of men of public spirit and great experience who try to be as fair as possible. But they are only human, and because they are human they sometimes make mistakes. What we want from the Minister tonight is an assurance that every possible effort is made to ensure that there has not been a mistake before the final decision is taken; and that when a final decision is taken full consideration is given to the fact that not only is a man being deprived of the means of his livelihood, but also of his house and home.

Mr. Thomas Steele (Dunbartonshire, West)

Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman care to develop his argument a little further? He has argued that if a farmer is dispossessed of his land he ought to be left in the home until such time as another house is found for him. He seems to be in the same position as a farm worker who loses his job. Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman prepared to advocate that a farm worker who has lost his job should be left in the house until he finds another?

Major Legge-Bourke

I am quite prepared to answer that question although it may not be strictly relevant to the debate. There is a big difference with a farmer. He is the occupier of the farm, and he has sunk a great deal of capital init. The man who occupies a tied cottage and works for a farmer knows the terms upon which he gets the house before he accepts the job.

Mr. James H. Hoy (Leith)

So does the farmer.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I do not think we should pursue that matter further.

9.15 p.m.

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

Following what my hon. and gallant Friend has said, I wish merely to ask the Minister to be kind enough to consider one aspect of this matter which has been brought to my attention in my part of the country. That is, not only whether in all cases the Act is administered fairly, but whether it is also administered humanely.

The particular cases which I have in mind are those where, for reasons beyond a farmer's control, through illness or, say, temporary financial difficulty, his farming may have deteriorated. I have had reports in such cases of farmers being evicted. Is my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary satisfied that in all cases such circumstances are taken fairly into account and that the Act is not applied harshly and without fair consideration of such circumstances?

Sir W. Smithers

Before the Minister replies, may I emphasise one point made by my hon. and gallant Friend?

Mr. Steele

The hon. Member has spoken once.

Sir W. Smithers

Can I not have the leave of the House to make a second point?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member can speak if he has the leave of the House.

Sir W. Smithers

On the question of supervision, if my hon. Friend looks through the correspondence before making up his mind, he will see that many inspections were purely perfunctory; the farm was not inspected except at a distance, and the decision went against the farmer.

9.17 p.m.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (Mr. G. R. H. Nugent)

While I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) on the warmth and sincerity of his feelings on the subject, I am not able to agree with very much that he said. I am glad to have the opportunity in the time that is available to answer his points, I hope, fully. I hope that when he has a view of the whole administration and the ideas behind it, he may be less critical than he is now of this piece of legislative machinery.

First, may I reply to the point put to me by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke)? He suggested that county agricultural committees should farm land until the outgoing farmer has found a house. We are in great difficulty always in dispossession cases, because with most farms it is impossible to farm the land unless the farmer is living in the farmhouse. It means, therefore, that when the dispossession order operates, the farmer concerned is obliged to give up the farmhouse.

There have been occasions sometimes when, because of the nature of the farm and the accommodation, it has been possible to allow the farmer to stay on. Quite naturally, where this has been possible, it has been done. Nobody likes these cases. It is most unpleasant to be responsible for them. Nobody likes having to turn a man out of his farm. Even less does anybody like having to turn him out of his house. On the other hand, the Minister has a statutory responsibility to see a certain standard of husbandry maintained, and it well may be necessary to have the possession of the farmhouse for the incoming farmer to farm the land after the previous man goes out.

The difficulty of my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion is that nowadays county agricultural committees do not work by way of farming land. They do not have a management apparatus. They have as far as possible given up the land that they were farming as an emergency measure during the war. In the main, I think that that commands the support of hon. Members throughout the House and, I am certain, of the taxpayer, because it was a very expensive operation. [HON MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Therefore, there simply is not the machinery today for county agricultural committees to take over a farm, which might be, perhaps, 20 miles from their office, and to manage it for two or three years or whatever the time may be until the outgoing farmer vacates the farmhouse. More particularly, if there were a large stock and cows to milk it would be quite impossible for the committee to farm it from a long distance. So, although I will have another look at the matter I am afraid that I cannot promise my hon. and gallant Friend much prospect of our being able to do much with that point.

I appreciate particularly the remarks of my hon. and gallant Friend about the county agricultural committees and their quality. The amount of criticism which we have from some quarters is a serious handicap to their work and entirely unfair, and it is good to hear them receiving their fair share of encouragement and praise in the House this evening. I was also glad to hear my hon. and gallant Friend say, with certain qualifications, that he thought the system of agricultural tribunals had worked well. But he still wanted to know about individual cases.

To turn to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington, I feel that I should go briefly through the procedure that is operated under the 1947 Act and the way in which the machinery works. When the farming of a holding has become seriously sub-standard the county agricultural committee considers putting it under supervision. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely suggested that that supervision was not working satisfactorily and that it would be a good thing if it were dropped. He suggested that when the county committee considered a holding where the husbandry was very bad, instead of putting it under supervision, they should decide straightaway whether the farmer should be dispossessed or should be allowed to continue.

In practice we have found that the procedure of supervision is a very valuable one, as the figures show. Since the Act came into being close on 4,000 supervision orders for husbandry have been made and of them some 2,200 have been revoked and 293 allowed to lapse. About 1,000 remain still in force. In something like 91 per cent. of cases, after a period of supervision, the farmer has improved sufficiently to be able to carry on by himself. Supervision, therefore, provides a very valuable piece of machinery for improving the standard of the holding. That, after all, is the whole object of the exercise. The county committees and the Minister only turn to dispossession when every kind of advice has been given and has been either ignored or not understood and simply not carried out.

The county committee interviews the fanner and unless he can satisfy it that he has sound plans to raise his farming to a reasonable level it makes a supervision order and gives him directions about aspects that need improvement. During this process the farmer tells the committee his particular difficulties and the committee will ensure that he receives full benefit from production grants, the marginal production scheme, and so on. The farmer then has at least a year in which to bring his holding into a reasonable state of cultivation and husbandry, with the full help of the National Agricultural Advisory Service. It is only if he shows no reasonable signs of improving after this that the committee considers making a proposal for an order to dispossess him. As I have said, in fact some 91 per cent. improve.

If, after hearing the farmer's representations, the committee decides to make a proposal to dispossess, he can appeal to the agricultural land tribunal who will completely re-hear the case. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington is taking note of this, step by step, because I feel that it shows that the procedure is careful, and I can assure him that it is conscientiously followed.

The chairman of the tribunal is a lawyer of not less than seven years' standing—comparable in calibre to a county court judge—appointed by the Lord Chancellor, and he sits with two other members, one selected from a panel of landowners and the other from a panel of farmers. At the present time there is a limited appeal to the High Court on points of law, but the Bill now before the House will broaden the appeal on points of law considerably.

Some comment has been made about the appropriateness of the land tribunal for hearing this kind of case. I know that when the Act was being put on the Statute Book the House gave a great deal of thought to determining the most suitable body. Obviously there is the alternative of the county court to hear such a case. But there are several considerations which have to be kept in mind. First of all, it is a highly expert business to judge what is a reasonable standard of husbandry on a holding.

Therefore, there is immediately a strong case for setting up a special tribunal. The tribunal which is set up has a highly qualified lawyer as its chairman, but he is a man who is continually doing the job and so he gets the atmosphere of it, and he has with him an expert in the landowning interests and an expert in the farming interests. In addition, almost invariably the tribunal goes to the farm which is under consideration so that it can see for itself just what is the nature of the case. From the point of view of getting a court or a tribunal which is well qualified to deal with a highly technical matter, the tribunal is well qualified.

There is also the consideration of time. County court lists are already extremely congested, and if to what is already there were added these various cases there would undoubtedly be many months' delay.

With regard to costs, although the tribunal has a highly qualified legal man as chairman, it is nevertheless conducted in a relatively informal manner so that costs to the parties concerned can be kept to a minimum. The parties can be, and often are, represented by counsel, but they need not be unless they wish it.

The general design of these bodies was well thought out, and I believe that in practice it has justified itself. My hon. Friend's contention that the tribunals are not independent and just is not confirmed by the history of the past six years. The two bodies which are most directly concerned with the operation of the tribunals, the Country Landowners' Association and the National Fanners' Union, both openly acknowledge that they are well satisfied with the way they work and consider that they operate both fairly and efficiently. So much for my hon. Friend's charges against the system and its working.

My hon. Friend also attacks the very basis of the Act. The statutory authority is Part II of the 1947 Act. The Act deals comprehensively with the whole industry. Part I guarantees the maintenance of a stable and efficient agricultural industry producing food at minimum prices consistent with proper remuneration and living conditions for farmers and workers and an adequate return on capital invested in the industry.

Part II gives the Minister power to ensure that our farms produce what the nation needs and, by the machinery which I have described, to ensure that a reasonable standard of husbandry is maintained. Part III, with the Agricultural Holdings Act,1948, gives tenant farmers security of tenure against a notice to quit, except with the approval of the Minister.

This is the statutory structure to safeguard the agricultural industry on the basis of full production. It rests on the view that, in a hungry, unsettled world, our dependence on imported food should be reduced to a minimum, and that the fullest use should be made of our limited farming land. To allow good farm land to go out of production or to be seriously under-productive is obviously against the national interests in time of war or of shortage.

When world supplies are easier, as now, the policy is still valid. Apart from the practical contribution to our balance of payments problem, the industry must be kept fully productive as a fourth line of defence in a national emergency, as well as against possible world shortages. The British taxpayer will not be willing to support home agriculture in this condition unless the Government can give him at least an assurance that a reasonable standard of husbandry is being maintained. Indeed, one of the strongest arguments for maintaining the present degree of support is that the industry is annually increasing its efficiency, and, therefore, other things being equal, that policy is likely to cost progressively less as the years go by.

The abolition of Part II of the 1947 Act would almost certainly lead to the disappearance of Part I, and the exposure of British agriculture to the full force of the competition of supplies of food from all parts of the world. Part III probably could not stand on its own, and would also disappear. To give my hon. Friend his way would directly endanger the economic security of our farming industry, and, with it, the tenant's security of tenure. Would my hon. Friend then campaign for those who fail financially and are sold up, or for those who are given notice to quit by their landlords?

Sir W. Smithers

As the Parliamentary Secretary asks me a question, may I tell him that all I am asking for is a right of appeal on points of fact or merit? I am not saying that all he says is not true, but where there is a complaint, the British citizen should have a right of appeal on points of fact and merit, and not only on points of law, which I understand the present Bill only allows.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

On a point of order. It seems to me that this could not be done without the introduction of legislation, and I understood that it was not possible to deal with alterations in legislation or advocate new legislation on an Adjournment Motion.

Mr. Speaker

I did not hear the speech of the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers), but, if he suggests alterations in the present statutory provisions which exist which would involve legislation, that would be out of order on an Adjournment Motion.

Mr. Ede

You will have heard, Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary virtually state that it would lead to the successive repeal of separate Parts of the Act.

Mr. Nugent

In reply to my hon. Friend, may I point out that he has attacked the whole structure of the 1947 Act, and that I am explaining to him what is the general philosophy of the Act, as well as the procedure? If Part II of the Act, which he attacked, was removed from the Act, the whole structure would collapse, and what would the consequences then be? I strongly commend to my hon. Friend the suggestion that he should listen to what I am saying, because these consequences would follow.

The question I was asking him was this. Would the hon. Gentleman then campaign for those who fail financially and are sold up, or for those who were given notice to quit by their landlords, and what comfort could he give them? Does he think that the farming community would find his sympathy a satisfactory substitute for the comprehensive stability which they have now? In such circumstances, home production would fall drastically, and does he think that the nation would welcome that endangering of their food supplies? The fact is that hard cases make bad laws, and everybody knows that. The cases cited by my hon. Friend have been properly and fairly tried under Part II of the Act.

The fact is that those who have written to my hon. Friend have failed in their cases before the tribunal. I agree that the consequences are serious for those people, and indeed they have my sincere sympathy as human beings. But that is no reason for saying that the result was unjust, any more than among those who have failed in courts of law and consequently suffer hardship or difficulty. My hon. Friend should bear in mind also that Part II of this Act is part of a great agricultural policy which is of fundamental benefit to the whole nation and at the same time is protecting the agricultural community from far more widespread hardship than in the cases complained of.

Finally, my hon. Friend makes charges of harsh injustice against county and district committees. I was particularly glad when my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely commended their work. It cannot be said too often that these committees are made up of thousands of leading farm workers, farmers and landowners throughout the country, who are willing to give up time and energy to work in partnership with the Minister to help in the production of the food which the nation needs. No one knows better than they the personal hardship involved in dispossession cases, and only the force of the nation's needs persuades them to carry out their many duties, including this onerous work.

To try to frighten them out of it by continuous mud-slinging achieves a degree of ignorant irresponsibility hard to beat. Let those who plead in the name of justice refrain from such miserable injustices as this. There is a principle of law that if you come to equity, you must come with clean hands. I commend this principle to my hon. Friend in this connection.

9.37 p.m.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)

I entirely support what my hon. Friend has said. Nothing could be more dangerous than that the feeling should get around in the country that those who are unable to achieve certain standards of production in the farming industry should be protected by the procedure suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers). It would be damaging to the sympathy which exists between the people and the farming industry.

For many years we have been trying to build up understanding and sympathy between townsman or city dweller and the farmer on matters of this sort. It is most unfortunate that this sort of matter should be raised in this way, because it will be widely misunderstood as being an attempt to insulate these matters from the ordinary laws of efficiency, which must apply in any free enterprise country such as we hope to rebuild within this nation.

I would refer to an extraordinary resolution passed this afternoon at a meeting outside which purported to put the views of farmers from all over the country. If one took the resolution which was passed at that meeting seriously—it objected to the importation of food on a large scale into this country without the permission of the farmers of this country—Heaven knows what the feeling of the people in the rest of the country would be about the agricultural community. Luckily most commonsense people will not take that resolution seriously. Unless that is the case very grave damage will have been done. It is not the right of the farmers of this country, protected as they are in markets and guaranteed as they are as regards prices, to dictate to the housewife what she is allowed to buy in this country.

That smacks of something which was said a few years ago—and which it now seems almost impossible to believe—by a right hon. Gentleman of the party opposite to the effect that the people in Whitehall knew better what the housewife should eat and buy than did the housewife herself. I think that was said by one of the right hon. Friends of the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), but I will not embarrass the right hon. Gentleman tonight by going into the details.

It would be most unfortunate if the farmers of this country tried to emulate the right hon. Friend of the right hon. Member for South Shields and attempted to dictate to the housewife what she should be allowed to buy when they themselves claim the right, and have the right, of a guaranteed market and a guaranteed price for their products. If such an attempt were taken seriously—I am quite certain that it will not be by the country as a whole—nothing could do more damage to the agricultural industry than a resolution of that sort passed, I believe, in mock solemnity—at least I hope it was mock solemnity—by those who purport to represent the farmers of this country.

I believe it is fair to say that there is more support on both sides of this Chamber today for the agriculturist, for the farmer and for the farm worker than has been the case for a very long time. The sort of thing about which I am speaking is only going to make a great deal of trouble and the position on both sides of the House extremely difficult, just as would be the case if the recommendations of my hon. Friend had been supported and accepted by the Ministry of Agriculture.

I am very glad that the Parliamentary Secretary took the line he did. I think it was a very wise one to take. I am sure that every word he said is true and represents the feelings of all those who stand for the best interests in agriculture. It is a view that is supported by all responsible people who are themselves agriculturists, and it is only those who are outside agriculture and who want to butt in who say, "Oh well, there is some legal argument behind this authority, but we can make trouble," and who fight against that common sense and that reasonable and typical British point of view.

If one is guaranteed something very largely at the public expense, then one must achieve a certain measure of efficiency in order to earn it. If only people would realise that they cannot get what they think they should get unless they earn it, what a much happier country this would be. I support everything that the Parliamentary Secretary said.

Question put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Seventeen Minutes to Ten o'clock.