§ The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:
7. Mr. T. WILLIAMS
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, if the case of Mr. Barratt of Knapp Cottage, King Farm, Corscombe, near Dorchester, has been brought to his notice; and whether he has agreed to allow him to see a copy of the report of the county agricultural executive committee so that he may reply to their submission.
§ Mr. Godber
My right hon. Friend has carefully considered Mr. Barratt's request that his landlord should be directed to provide gates and new farm buildings, 9 but he agrees with his predecessor's decision that this would not be justified. The reasons for this decision were set out in his predecessor's letters to the right hon. Gentleman of 5th April and 9th July, 1957, which I understand Mr. Barratt has seen. It is the practice to treat reports by the Department's officers and committee members as confidential. Mr. Barratt is already fully aware of the reasons for the decision.
Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer obviously reached this decision as the result of a report submitted to him by the county executive committee? Will he tell us how he thinks it is possible, if 16 gates are missing on a comparatively small farm, for the tenant farmer to fulfil his obligations under Part II of the Agriculture Act?
§ Mr. Godber
I would only say that this question of gates was looked into very closely. My right hon. Friend indicated that he thought that six gates would he adequate and that Mr. Barratt could replace these gates with the consent of the landlord and claim compensation when leaving at the end of his tenancy. In relation to all the other circumstances of this case, of which the right hon. Gentleman is very well aware, I do not think it would be right for my right hon. Friend to intervene further.
Mr. T. Williams
Surely, it is reasonable to expect the landlord to produce the gates that ought to be there? Is it not obviously the duty of the landlord to fulfil his obligations under Part II of the Act, just as much as the tenant should fulfil his? Does he not think that the county committee might meet the tenant farmer and the landlord in order to get a rational settlement?
§ Mr. Godber
I am very anxious to see a rational settlement, but in this case there are special circumstances. The landlord has gone a considerable way in assisting this tenant, and I think a little good will and more initiative on the part of the tenant to help himself would not be a bad thing.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Can my hon. Friend say whether the landlord is receiving sufficient rent to enable him to supply the gates?
§ Mr. J. Johnson
In view of the thoroughly unsatisfactory nature of the reply and the action of the Government in this case, I beg to give notice that I shall take an early opportunity to raise this matter on the Motion for the Adjournment.