HC Deb 31 October 1957 vol 575 cc369-70
2. Mr. Mikardo

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has given further consideration to the question of Scarlett's Farm near Twyford, details of which have been put before him; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Amory

In April, 1956, the landlords of this farm applied to the Berkshire Agricultural Executive Committee for a certificate that it was not being cultivated in accordance with the rules of good husbandry. The Committee, after considering representations by the landlords and the tenant, gave notice of its proposal to grant the application. This proposal was upheld by the Agricultural Land Tribunal, on appeal. The landlords have since served a notice to quit and the tenant has, I understand, moved to a smaller farm.

It is open to a Committee, when the case for a certificate appears to it to be made out on the facts, to make a supervision order instead of granting a certificate to the landlord; but this alternative is adopted only in exceptional circumstances. In this case, the tenant had been given clearly to understand in November, 1954, and August. 1955, that the Committee was not satisfied with his standard of husbandry and was considering whether to make a supervision order. In these circumstances there were, in my view, reasonable grounds for the Committee's proposal to grant a certificate when the Landlord applied for one in April, 1956.

Mr. Mikardo

Is not it clear from the right hon. Gentleman's statement that what happened in this case was that this farmer was, so to speak, put on trial for a year or so to see whether he should be put under supervision, and that, before that trial was ended, while he was honourably carrying out what was asked of him, and without waiting for the results of it, instead of being put under supervision he was evicted from his farm? Although it may be—no doubt, it is so—that all the regulations were properly carried out, does not this undoubtedly amount to a denial of natural justice in this case?

Mr. Amory

I do not think so. The two things, supervision and the granting of a certificate of bad husbandry, are rather separate. I would point out that the farmer concerned particularly asked not to be put under supervision, and when the Committee looked at the farm to consider whether a certificate of bad husbandry should be given it decided then that no improvement had taken place.

Mr. Remnant

Is not it correct to say that the parties concerned acted strictly within their entitlement under the laws of this country relating to farms and that if the farmer concerned had taken part of the advice which was tendered to him he might still have been there? Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the constituency of Wokingham, which I represent here, the unhelpful assistance of the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) in agricultural matters is not required?

Mr. Amory

I agree with the first two parts of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. I think I will not comment on the third.