HC Deb 24 June 1958 vol 590 cc253-73

(1) The tenant of an agricultural holding may in the prescribed manner and after giving the landlord of the holding notice in writing of the proposed application apply to the Agricultural Land Tribunal for a certificate that the landlord is not fulfilling his responsibilities in accordance with the rules of good estate management and the Tribunal if satisfied that the landlord is not fulfilling his said responsibilities shall grant such a certificate and shall give such directions to the landlord as the Tribunal is satisfied are required to secure that the landlord fulfils his responsibilities to manage the land in accordance with the rules of good estate management.

(2) If any person to whom a direction is given under this section contravenes or fails to comply with the direction he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred pounds.—[Mr. Willey.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

3.40 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

I can speak with some brevity, because I expect that the Clause will be accepted by the Government. All that it does is to provide a measure of equity between the landlord and tenant. It is accepted by hon. Members on both sides of the House that the Bill very properly places certain new obligations upon the landlord. Clause 4 which has had the support of hon. Members on both sides, places upon the landlord obligations to comply with certain statutory requirements.

We wish to go rather further. We feel that the definition of good estate management which still remains should be reinforced by some sanction. In the course of our discussions upon the Bill we have considered the imposition of sanctions upon the tenant in this matter, and hon. Members on this side feel not only that the definition should remain but that there should be an obligation upon the landlord to maintain a standard of good estate management, just as there is upon the tenant. I should have thought that that proposition would be equally acceptable to both sides of the House. I concede at once that some sanctions can already be called in aid against the landlord. I realise that the tenant can plead in aid the Maintenance, Repairs and Insurance of Fixed Equipment Regulations, 1948. But the new Clause provides that the tribunal should have a general residuary power to make the necessary directions in respect of good estate management.

My reason for anticipating the acceptance of the Clause is that in Standing Committee the Minister said: Good estate management is defined as management to enable an occupier of the land who is reasonably skilled in husbandry to maintain sufficient production in respect of both the kind of production and its quality and quantity. We have to remember that good estate management serves the occupier by giving him the facilities to do his job on the farm. … It is right to require the Tribunal to serve directions in cases where, having regard to the requirements of good estate management, there is a reasonable case for them and also to do it only in those cases where the ordinary remedies available to the tenant do not apply. … Where he has those remedies, for instance, under his tenancy agreement, or under the model Clauses of the Agriculture Regulations, 1948, he ought to use them. Those will cover practically all repairs. He went on to say that the purpose of the Clause was to catch repairs which slip through an agreement or the model clauses to which I have referred."—[OFFICIAT REPORT, Standing Committee A, 21st May, 1958; c. 749–50.] I should have thought that there was no issue of principle between us. The right hon. Gentleman went out of his way to justify the imposition of directions to secure good estate management at large, and that is the very purpose that we are endeavouring to secure in the Clause.

3.45 p.m.

I would mention another factor which is not unimportant. We have been discussing the right of the landlord to appear before the tribunal and seek a sanction by way of notice to quit. I think that everyone would concede that in those circumstances it is only fair and equitable to allow the tenant to issue a counter-notice. This is a very salutary provision. Where one party has the right to go to a tribunal it is only fair that the other party should be provided with the means to state a case against, by means of a counter-notice. If it is not done in this case the provision will be unfair to the tenant. In this further respect I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would welcome the provision. I should have thought that this simply drafted and explicit new Clause would be non-controversial and, therefore, readily acceptable to the Government.

I concede that difficulties arise whenever one provides sanctions. We do not wish to appear anxious to impose new penalties, but if we provide directions we must provide a sanction, and the only effective one is to provide a penalty by way of fine. I hope that with that explanation, and in the realisation that the Clause is clearly in accord with the objects of the Bill and the provisions affecting landlord and tenant, the right hon. Gentleman will agree that it is proper to provide a sanction, on the ground of good estate management, and be willing to accept the new Clause.

Mr. Sidney Dye (Norfolk, South-West)

I beg to second the Motion.

The Bill seeks to give the landlord and tenant system a new lease of life, with the landlord having rather the stronger hand than at present. If we are to continue the landlord and tenant system in agriculture we should establish beyond doubt that the good tenant should be able, through the land tribunals, to seek redress against the bad landlord, who is not maintaining the fixed equipment of the holding in a proper manner. To have sound agriculture we must have good estate management, and that must clearly be seen to be the case. Where the system falls down we ought to provide a specific way in which the tenant who suffers can obtain redress. That is the purpose behind the Clause.

I, too, should not have thought there would be any difference of opinion between hon. Members on the two sides of the House. I should have thought that everybody would agree that our agricultural land is far too precious to be left in the ownership and management of landlords who will not do their full duty by the land and by their tenants. We are asking for specific powers to enable the tenant to seek rectification where the landlord is not carrying out his functions in the way that we would want. We must strive for higher agricultural standards year by year. We fully recognise that British agriculture has made progress and it should not be allowed to go backward because of the failure of the landlord to carry out his obligations. There are many good tenants and we want them to have the right beyond doubt of obtaining redress.

At present, the landlord can get rid of a bad tenant. I do not think that there is anywhere the power for a good tenant to get rid of a bad landlord. All we are asking for is that the sanction of law should be given to the good tenant to enforce his landlord to carry out his duties as a landlord in accordance with what are now accepted as proper standards of estate management.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John Hare)

I hate to disappoint the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey). Listening to him, I almost became convinced that he was right and I was wrong to take the attitude that I have to take. As I have learnt during the last few weeks, his powers of persuasion are very considerable, but those powers are not backed with the logic which he infers he has to back his case.

I dislike being in any way suspicious, but I regard the proposed new Clause as perhaps being a rather ingenious way of restoring the power of supervision and direction. I do not want to go into that general argument, because we have discussed it during the various stages of the Bill. The hon. Gentleman was good enough to remind me of what I said in Committee on Clause 4, dealing with a similar portion of the subject of the proposed new Clause.

May I remind the House of our views on fixed equipment directions? It can possibly be argued that the value of disciplinary powers was not to be found in the power to supervise and dispossess, but in the power to serve fixed equipment directions, either under a supervision order or in isolation under Section 14 (3). The fixed equipment directions have given the tenant what he wanted. But, in fact, without the power of dispossession, they would be useless.

There is power under the 1947 Act to deal with non-compliance, but the total penalty is a fine of only £100. This procedure is useless, since £100 in relation to the total cost of the work is far too small and I think that probably £200, as suggested in the proposed new Clause, is equally inadequate. The effective power was the power to enter, do the work and recover the cost. Unless that power exists, I do not see how the hon. Gentleman could hope that his new Clause would effectively operate.

The tenant has adequate remedies for neglect of repairs in his right of recovery through the courts under paragraph 13 of what we know as the model Clauses which were embodied in the Schedule of the regulations dealing with maintenance, repair and insurance of fixed equipment. When there is neglect in making improvements the tenant has the right to obtain his requirements through Section 50 of the 1948 Act. When the new powers which are given to the tenant under Clause 4 of the Bill are added to this right, a considerable power is built up which the tenant can use against the landlord who is not doing his duty.

Even if the proposed new Clause could be made effective with the penalties envisaged, there is the danger that the State would be merely relieving the tenant of the need to use the remedies which are available to the tenant under the various provisions which I have just described.

Turning to the special features of the proposed new Clause, the first point is that the tenant is given a statutory right to apply for a certificate of bad estate management upon which the power to serve directions will rest. The old disciplinary powers did not give him any such right. If he complained, the State did not necessarily have to take action. So in this respect, the proposed new Clause is a greater interference with the landlord than anything that is contained in the 1948 Act.

I have already mentioned that the inadequate means of enforcement—that is, a fine of up to £200, which, if the proposed new Clause were passed, would make it rather ineffective—is a further reason why we would not be wise to accept the argument put forward by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North, supported by his hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Dye). Nothing short of the old power of dispossession or very heavy inhuman penalties can provide adequate backing for fixed equipment directions. We are not prepared to go as far as that, nor is the hon. Member, judging from the fine that he proposes.

With those points in mind, attractive as the proposition may be on paper and attractive though the hon. Members for Sunderland, North and Norfolk, South-West may have made it appear to the House, I can but advise my hon. Friends to reject the proposed new Clause, despite the moderate and reasonable way in which it has been moved and seconded.

4.0 p.m.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

When the Minister started by saying that the Clause was an attempt to restore the supervisory and directive powers of Part II of the Bill it seemed to me that although my hon. Friends may have put the matter attractively, as far as he was concerned, at any rate, they had not put it comprehensively, because he cannot understand in the least what the new Clause is about.

The whole point of the Bill is that the Government are moving out of agriculture as a supervisor and director. Estate management ceases to be the concern of the Government and they no longer propose to enforce it. Good husbandry ceases to be the affair of Government and they are no longer prepared to enforce it. Rents, and, indeed, all the costings which go to the prices which they still guarantee, cease to be the affair of Government, and they contract out. That leaves a vacuum.

If the Government are ceasing to concern themselves with good estate management, it seems desirable to provide that the tenant, who may no longer rely on the Government, can at least take action himself. That is what the Clause provides. It is the very opposite to the provisions of Part II, which were that the Government should take this responsibility. The Clause provides that in the absence of the Government the tenant shall have the right to do it himself.

Various objections have been put forward to this. First, it is said that it is already covered by paragraph 13 of the model Clauses. I would point out, first, that the model Clauses are not compulsory and, secondly, that the Bill has put landlords in a very strong position to be able to dictate substantially the terms of the tenancies which they grant. The demand for farms greatly exceeds the supply. We know that that is the position in farms as it is in housing. The Government are giving the landowner the whip hand. They are leaving him free to settle the terms of the contract, and he can exclude any of the model clauses he chooses. But even the model clauses do not provide machinery one quarter as effective or as immediate as that provided by the new Clause.

The Minister then refers us to Section 50 of the 1948 Act. That, too, deals with something quite different. It deals with improvements which the tenant wants to put up himself and for which he wants the landlord's consent. If the landlord will not consent, the tenant can apply to the Minister for consent and have claims in respect of that improvement, in the event of the tenancy coming to an end, as though the landlord had consented to the improvements which the tenant produced. That is a very long way from this Clause.

As a final argument, the Minister says that the old Part II did not give the powers. I should be repeating myself if I said that it was quite unnecessary to give them when the Government made this their own concern and when estate management was the concern of the local agricultural committee, which was there to enforce it. That has gone, and nothing at all has been put in its place.

The landlord can do all these things. He can go to the rent tribunal and ask for a certificate of bad husbandry. On that, he can bring in the great sanction of taking the man from his home. He is taking the man not only from his business, but from his home, which is a very formidable sanction. This is essentially a partnership of agriculture, in which both the landlord and the tenant have a duty.

In all conscience, that is the justification of the landlord system, because landlordism in agriculture is not a passive thing; it involves duties which, if well organised, play a great part in the effectiveness of agricultural production. Is there any semblance of justice in saying that when the State steps out of this obligation the land tribunal for bad husbandry shall be provided for the landlord, but nothing shall be provided for the tenant when the landlord fails in his obligation?

The Minister says that the sanction which we have provided here is inadequate. I do not think that it is. If the landlord fails to comply with the order, proceedings can be taken and a fine up to £200 can be imposed. If he still does not comply with his obligations, the land tribunal can be approached again and the procedure can be followed until he does.

If the Minister is serious in criticising this and saying that it would be more effective to provide that the tenant may do the work and charge the landlord with the things the omission of which has caused complaint, when he obtains his certificate, that would be an addition which I personally think would be convenient and which I should welcome. It could certainly be introduced in another place if the Minister undertook to do so. Do not let us lose this proposal simply because the Minister feels that the sanction is inadequate.

I would not mind taking the sanction out altogether and making such a provision on obtaining the certificate from the land tribunal. It is very much simpler, more direct and more available a procedure than going to the courts under the lease, even if the lease carries the right provision. The tenant could then go there and, having got his certificate, could do the work.

We should remember that failure to comply with the duties of a good landlord is not necessarily failure to put up a new building when requested. It is failure to do his repairs and to deal with the communal water supply. It is failure to deal with the drainage system affecting drains off the farm. It is failure to deal with ditches which take the water off the farm. It is failure to do many things which makes it impossible for a man to farm his farm decently. Once he has got this certificate that authorises him, either on or off the farm, on the land of the landlord, to do what the landlord has omitted to do. There we have an effective sanction, which will solve this very real difficulty, which we know exists.

At present, there is a blank. The Government have stepped out, and they have left nothing to fill up the vacuum. They have not given the tenant effective power to protect himself when they withdraw the protection which they formerly gave him. I ask the Minister, at this stage, because, clearly he did not understand what this Clause is about, to reconsider this, because whatever else we can say, this is surely a very reasonable demand.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), said that he would be disappointed if the Minister did not accept the Clause. I confess that I would not be disappointed, because blessed are they who expect nothing, because they will not be disappointed.

We know from the attitude of the Minister that he is there definitely to protect the landlord against the farmer, and when he says that if this Clause were adopted it would mean a greater interference with the landlord, he is quite right. We believe that, in certain circumstances, the State and the community should have the right to a greater interference with the landlord, if it is necessary in the interests of good husbandry and increased food production.

Not only are the landlords and the farmers interested, but the community and the State also come in. When the State gives large sums of money every year in subsidies which find their way into the pockets of the landlords in increased rents, the State is entitled to interfere, if necessary, in the matter of bad estate management.

As the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) said, it not only applies to fixed equipment. Good husbandry means other things as well. I have in mind a landlord in my own constituency who proceeded to enter on a farmer's land without giving adequate notice—not giving more than 24 hours' notice—plough up the land and plant trees upon it. I submit that the tenant should have a right to go to the Land Court and prevent the landlord, in the interests of good agriculture, from doing anything like that. I know that it would cause something of a sensation if the farmer applied to the Land Court and a penalty of £200 were inflicted on Lord Strathclyde, who happens to be the Minister who speaks on agricultural matters in the House of Lords.

These are cases in which the State is definitely interested in giving the farmer an equal opportunity to see that the landlord fulfils his obligations to carry out good husbandry. The Minister has shown that all that he is concerned about, as he says, is to see that there is no greater interference with the landlord. He is for the landlord against the farmer, and for the landlord against the community all the time.

4.15 p.m.

Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)

I, too, wish to say a few words in support of this Clause. I think that it is a good one, of which the Minister would be well advised to take note.

The Minister is an unusual Minister, something like a Test match cricketer named Bailey, going in to bat No. 5 or No. 6, giving nothing away, and a complete stonewaller. He has a habit of telling this side of the House how persuasive we are, but he, too, lacks nothing in the art of persuasion. I listened to him very carefully as he said that the farmer already has sufficient means and methods of safeguarding himself. I do not believe that for a moment, because I have had experience of cases in my own constituency. There was also one very glaring case of a young man in Dorset.

I will not bore the House with long quotations, because we have had Questions in the House about Mr. J. F. Barratt, of Knapp Cottage, Vimy Farm, Corscombe, near Dorchester. The Minister knows all about this young man, and it is no good his talking about model clauses, because this young man has been banging his head against a wall for months. He is a well-known Dorset farmer, and the condition of his farm was well known. Yet he cannot get any further forward with the means of safeguarding himself which the Minister has said are now available, and have been available for some time, for young farmers of this sort. This is the one quotation that I wish to make about this farm: The General Purposes Committee which visited the holding consisted of two landlords and the county secretary … Prior to their visit I had the very great pleasure of conducting perhaps one of the largest and best farmers in the South-West over the holding. He spent the whole afternoon with me in spite of heavy rain examining every field. He then came to the same conclusion as the above officials of the N.A.A.S. that this was an obvious case of very bad estate management. He also agreed that the Minister's ruling is completely contrary to the facts. In addition, he pointed out that in his opinion I was banging my head against 'the Tory wall', and in spite of the injustice of the case they would not admit their errors. There are these cases which come up before Members of this House, and we ask Questions about them, but get no further forward. When the Minister tells me that it is possible for a tenant to defend himself, I say that it is not so. I did not believe the Minister when he told me that what could happen in the final resort is that the tenant could take his landlord to court. Of course, so can anyone, but it is an expensive game, and people in this small farming community have not got the financial backing with which to take a wealthy landlord to court and make him admit his faults.

I submit that there is need for a sanction of this kind. Lawyers like my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) can talk in legal jargon about equity and all the other means of getting a fair deal, but we are in a more mundane sphere and talk of something that cuts both ways. We should like to see a Statute that cuts both ways, not merely giving a fair deal to the landlord but giving it to the small farmer as well.

I ask the Minister to look at oases like this again, so as to provide more safeguards for such people. People like Mr. Barratt have no safeguards whatever. He will be forced out of his farm and livelihood and may be forced to leave the district. Even at this stage, I ask the Minister to look at the matter again.

Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)

I should like the Minister to reconsider his position, because I hope that we shall have a reply to the extremely important point which was raised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget).

The Minister referred to the powers in Section 50 of the 1948 Act. My hon. and learned Friend has pointed out that he could not have read that Section. The Section, a copy of which I have here, deals with the approval of the Minister to consent in certain cases. If the farmer wishes to have improvements he must seek the consent of the landlord. That is quite a different matter from what we are suggesting in the new Clause moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey).

We are seeking to give the tenant opportunities to impress upon his landlord the need for good estate management. My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) has said that it would be virtually impossible for the normal tenant to take his landlord to the courts. Such a procedure is costly; it is inconvenient. It would be far better to have the tribunal procedure. Even if there were no sanction, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton said, even the granting of a certificate would be adequate in certain cases.

The simple fact is that the Government are, in the Bill, showing bias towards the landlord. They are, as my hon. Friends have said over and over again, shelving their responsibility. The whole policy of the Government, the removal of certain powers and responsibility for good estate management and good husbandry, illustrates that the Government are following the ideological doctrine of past Tory Governments, and in this sense they are being doctrinaire. We have argued this over and over again. The refusal of the Minister to look at this new Clause sympathetically shows again that the party opposite is being doctrinaire. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite do not wish the Government, the State, representing producers and consumers, to have responsibility.

What is the responsibility we wish the State to have? To see that landlords shall manage their estates well and efficiently. We wish the State to be responsible for agriculture, and that we should have good estate management. I hope that the Minister, instead of refusing to consider our new Clause sympathetically, and following a doctrinaire policy, will look at this again, will not be doctrinaire and will try to keep agriculture out of politics in the sense that his ideology may not have this effect. It is reasonable to suggest that provision should be made for a tenant to make representations if he feels that the landlord should provide good estate management. Even if the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to accept full power, the new Clause would still enable the granting of a certificate, which would in certain circumstances, I am sure, have a beneficial effect.

I hope that we shall have a better reply to the case for the new Clause than we have had yet. Section 50 of the 1948 Act has nothing to do with this new Clause. That deals with an entirely different situation.

Mr. George Darling (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

With all due respect to the Minister, I think that he was misleading the House when he said that the tenant is already sufficiently protected against a bad landlord. He quoted the model clauses and also Section 50 of the 1948 Act which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) have demolished. He also mentioned Clause 4 of the Bill.

I should like the right hon. Gentleman to look again at Clause 4. We had a discussion on this matter in Committee, but I think it is worth pointing out again that the protection which the Minister thinks is given by Clause 4 does not, in fact, exist. The operative words of subsection (2) are: The Tribunal shall not direct the landlord to carry out work under the foregoing subsection unless they are satisfied— (a) that it is reasonable so to do having regard … to the period for which the holding may be expected to remain a separate holding … The landlord can go to the tribunal and say that at some time in the future he will make rearrangements on his farms and on that holding in particular. In those circumstances the tribunal will have to decide in the landlord's favour and the tenant will lose the protection which the Minister is trying to assure us he will get under that Clause.

Subsection (2) of that Clause goes on to say that the Tribunal will have regard to any other material considerations. The landlord can bring in anything under the words "any other material consideration", and if he can make a case before the tribunal that the holding should not be improved, the tenant has no protection under the Clause.

I would ask the Minister to give us a further assurance about subsection (8) of Clause 4, which he quoted as giving protection to the tenant. When will it come into operation? We have still to find out what the appointed day is. So far as I can see the tenant is not at present sufficiently protected. The Bill weighs everything in the landlord's favour. For that reason, I cannot for the life of me see why this very modest new Clause should not be accepted. There cannot be equity unless such a new Clause is included in the Bill.

Mr. Hare

I have listened to the arguments put forward by hon. Members opposite. As I expected, they have supported the speeches made previously by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) and the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Dye). The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) says that demand for farms exceeds supply. I am delighted to hear that he admits that the Government's agricultural policy over the last few years has created such confidence in the farming industry in the Government's policy. I am delighted that the hon. and learned Member shares my view about the prosperity of the farming industry and the confidence which that industry has in the Government.

Mr. Paget

Can the right hon. Gentleman recollect any time when the demand for farms did not exceed the supply.

Mr. Hare

Yes. When the hon. and learned Gentleman and I were a little younger, in 1930 and 1931, and possibly a little before and after those years, the greater demand than supply which exists today certainly did not exist. However, I do not want to make a purely party point on this.

The hon. and learned Gentleman was supported by the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart), who, I think, was more honest than the hon. and learned Member, because the hon. Member for Workington said quite clearly, "I think that the normal rights which are available to the tenant through the courts are too expensive. I would much rather that all this should be done for him by the right to go to the tribunal." He was much more straightforward than the hon. and learned Member for Northampton.

I am saying that there are these considerable powers which are available to the tenant through the three main sources which I mentioned: first, the model clauses and the ability to secure return for repairs if the landlord fails to carry them out; secondly, Section 50 of the 1948 Act, which enables the tenant to go in and make the repairs or improvements at his own expense and then receive compensation when his tenancy ends: and, finally, the new security which is given to the tenant under Clause 4 of the Bill. These are very considerable rights which the tenant has, and if properly exercised, I believe that they will secure his case.

4.30 p.m.

The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) raised the case of Mr. John Barratt. It is a little difficult for me to remember the full details. As far as I remember it, a landlord, who was not well off, had spent a considerable amount of money on the holding. He was not receiving a very high rent. The tenant asked for certain improvements to be made. The case went to the county agriculture executive committee, which took the view that it was not a matter in which it was right to intervene, on the basis that, if the tenant wished those improvements to be made, he could have taken advantage of Section 50 of the 1948 Act.

In view of the amount of money already spent by the landlord on the holding and the rent, it was not, in the Committee's opinion, right or just to intervene. I will check that when I have more time, but I think that that is the answer to the particular case which the hon. Member for Rugby had in mind.

Mr. J. Johnson

Perhaps the Minister will tell us what the answer to this question is. If the tenant is aggrieved, as, of course, he is very much, what is his next step beyond appeal to the county agriculture executive committee, where he does not think that he has had a fair deal? We want something above that, as is suggested in the new Clause; a higher authority to which he can go.

Mr. Hare

I hope that I made it clear that, in the opinion of the local people, who are probably better able to judge than the hon. Member for Rugby, who does not live in that part of the country, or I, it was up to the particular tenant to take the advantage of Section 50 of the 1948 Act and do the work himself. If his tenancy lapses, he is given a valuation and he is recouped for the value of the improvement he makes on behalf of the landlord.

As I say, persuasive and reasonable though the arguments have been, I would still ask my hon. Friends to reject the new Clause.

Mr. A. J. Champion (Derbyshire, South-East)

My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) said that the Minister was nothing but a stonewaller. I must say that the right hon. Gentleman does not do it in as grim a manner as some stonewallers I have seen on the cricket field. However, judging by what he said about the prosperity of the industry under the Government, I can only think that when he was last in Ireland he kissed the Blarney Stone. If he is trying to persuade the agricultural industry that it is more prosperous under the present Government than it ever was before, he is the only one who knows anything at all about the industry who would suggest any such thing.

Mr. Hare

I do not want to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I was merely thanking the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) for the unsolicited tribute he paid to the prosperity of farming in his speech.

Mr. Champion

The fact that there is still prosperity remaining is due entirely to the 1947 Act and the Government of that day.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. J. B. Godber)

The hon. Gentleman should not believe that.

Mr. Champion

I ask the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to look at farmers' incomes over the period since he has been in his present office and the Government have been in power. The fact is that farmers' incomes are down, and farmers are about the only section of the community whose incomes have fallen in that time. Moreover, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) so clearly showed, their share of the national income has fallen, too.

I agree with the Minister that there is a demand for farms far exceeding the supply today. I can remember a time in the 'thirties, also, when the demand for farms was not up to the supply. The Tory Government of that day produced such conditions in agriculture that people would not keep their farms going and the landlords just could not get tenants for many of their farms.

Of course, the right hon. Gentleman has refused the blandishments of my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey). The Government have produced a Bill which, as it stands, is weighted wholly in favour of the landlord and against the tenant, except in so far as it gives the tenant a right to go to the tribunal and take some process against the landlord so that he may carry out requirements placed upon him by Acts of Parliament and regulations made under them.

The Minister recognises, also, that the Bill has this further effect. The repeal of Part II of the 1947 Act removes all sanctions against the bad landlord who continually neglects his job and his estate, apart from some provisions of the 1948 Agricultural Holdings Act which, I am bound to admit—I am sure that the Minister will agree—are complicated and have not the simplicity of action provided for in the new Clause. What we propose would give a simplicity of action to the tenant which would enable him to proceed against a bad landlord in a reasonably easy way, without resort to the courts.

No one can pretend that there are not bad landlords now, landlords who have for generations neglected to provide the farmer with reasonably efficient fixed equipment with which to farm the land. The position has been deteriorating. The landlord and tenant system may break down under the bad landlord. It is our task in this House, and it ought to be the task of the Government, to find a way to deal with the really bad landlord.

Under the 1947 Act, there was power to deal with a bad landlord by supervision

and eventual dispossession if he did not mend his ways. The Minister has said that the tenant had no power to complain, but everyone knows that the county agriculture executive committees, knowing the circumstances of those cases and, perhaps, hearing from the tenant himself, did have the right, even the duty, to intervene and place a bad landlord under supervision, eventually dispossessing him if he did not do the job of a good landlord and provide the tenant with reasonably efficient fixed equipment. These rights were there. They are being removed by the Government in the Bill.

All we are saying is that we ought, at least, to preserve some right for the tenant to complain against a bad landlord and have some sanction against him. It has been said that the amount put in the Clause is not enough. I would say that even the act of the tribunal in granting a certificate would itself be a useful measure, even if the sanction of the fine we suggest is opposed. I certainly think that, if a landlord had had a certificate of bad estate management against him, his right to go to the tribunal and ask for possession of the farm would be lessened as a result.

We regard the Minister's reply as quite unsatisfactory. We regard him as representing the landlords against the tenants. In the interest of the tenant, we shall divide the House against him.

Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 210, Noes 247.

Division No. 169.] AYES [4.40 p.m.
Ainsley, J. W. Burke, W. A. Dye, S.
Albu, A. H. Burton, Miss F. E. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)
Awbery, S. S. Callaghan, L. J. Edwards, Robert (Bilston)
Bacon, Miss Alice Carmichael, J. Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)
Balfour, A. Champion, A. J. Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Chetwynd, G. R. Fernyhough, E.
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Clunie, J. Finch, H. J.
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.) Coldrick, W. Fitch, E. A.
Beswick, Frank Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury) Forman, J. C.
Blackburn, F. Cove, W. G. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)
Blenkinsop, A. Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then)
Blyton, W. R. Cronin, J. D. Gibson, C. W.
Boardman, H. Crossman, R. H. S. Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.
Bonham Carter, Mark Cullen, Mrs. A. Greenwood, Anthony
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Darling, George (Hillsborough) Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.) Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Grey, C. F.
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Bowles, F. G. Deer, G. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)
Boyd, T. C. Diamond, John Griffiths, William (Exchange)
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Dodds, N. N. Grimond, J.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Donnelly, D. L. Hale, Leslie
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Hamilton, W. W. MacDermot, Niall Royle, C.
Hannan, W. McGhee, H. G. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) McGovern, J. Shurmer, P. L. E.
Hastings, S. Molnnes, J. Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Hayman, F. H. McLeavy, Frank Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Healey, Denis MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Mahon, Simon Skeffington, A. M.
Herbison, Miss M. Mann, Mrs. Jean Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Hewitson, Capt. M. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Slater, J. (Sedgefield)
Holman, P. Mason, Roy Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Holt, A. F. Mitchison, G. R. Snow, J. W.
Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Monslow, W. Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank
Howell, Denis (All Saints) Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Sparks, J. A.
Hoy, J. H. Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.) Spriggs, Leslie
Hubbard, T. F. Mort, D. L. Steele, T.
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Moss, R. Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Moyle, A. Stonehouse, John
Hunter, A. E. Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Stones, W. (Consett)
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.) Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Oliver, G. H. Swingler, S. T.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. C. A. Orbach, M. Sylvester, G. O.
Janner, B. Oswald, T. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Owen, W. J. Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Jeger, George (Goole) Paget, R. T. Tomney, F.
Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs. S.) Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Viant, S. P.
Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Wade, D. W.
Johnson, James (Rugby) Calmer, A. M. F. Watkins, T. E.
Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Parker, J. West, D. G.
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Paton, John Wheeldon, W. E.
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Pearson, A. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Peart, T. F. Wigg, George
Kenyon, C. Pentland, N. Wilkins, W. A.
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Popplewell, E. Willey, Frederick
King, Dr. H. M. Probert, A. R. Williams, David (Neath)
Lawson, G. M. Proctor, W. T. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Lee, Frederick (Newton) Randall, H. E. Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Rankin, John Winterbottom, Richard
Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Redhead, E. C. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Lewis, Arthur Reid, William Woof, R. E.
Lindgren, G. S. Reynolds, G. W. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Lipton, Marcus Rhodes, H. Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Logan, D. G. Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Roberts, Albert (Normanton) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
McCann, J. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Mr. J. Taylor and Mr. J. T. Price.
MacColl, J. E. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Agnew, Sir Peter Carr, Robert Fisher, Nigel
Aitken, W. T. Cary, Sir Robert Fletcher-Cooke, C.
Alport, C. J. M. Chichester-Clark, R. Fort, R.
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)
Arbuthnot, John Cole, Norman Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)
Armstrong, C. W. Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Gammans, Lady
Astor, Hon. J. J. Cooke, Robert Garner-Evans, E. H.
Atkins, H. E. Cooper, A. E. Glover, D.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Cooper-Key, E. M. Glyn, Col. Richard H.
Baldwin, A. E. Corfield, Capt. F. V. Godber, J. B.
Balniel, Lord Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Goodhart, Philip
Barber, Anthony Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Gough, C. F. H.
Barlow, Sir John Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Gower, H. R.
Barter, John Cunningham, Knox Graham, Sir Fergus
Batsford, Brian Currie, G. B. H. Grant, W. (Woodside)
Beamish, Col. Tufton Dance, J. C. G. Green, A.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Davidson, Viscountess Gresham Cooke, R.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Deedes, W. F. Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Digby, Simon Wingfield Gurden, Harold
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Dodds-Parker, A. D. Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.
Bishop, F. P. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)
Black, C. W. Drayson, G. B. Harris, Reader (Heston)
Body, R. F. du Cann, E. D. L. Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)
Bossom, Sir Alfred Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Duncan, Sir James Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)
Boyle, Sir Edward Duthie, W. S. Hay, John
Braine, B. R. Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Elliott, R. W. (Newcastle upon Tyne, N.) Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.
Brooman-White, R. C. Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Henderson, John (Cathcart)
Bryan, P. Erroll, F. J. Henderson-Stewart, Sir James
Burden, F. F. A. Farey-Jones, F. W. Hesketh, R. F.
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Fell, A. Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.
Campbell, Sir David Finlay, Graeme Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry Robertson, Sir David
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Mckibbin, Alan Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n) Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Holland-Martin, C. J. McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Roper, Sir Harold
Hope, Lord John McLean, Neil (Inverness) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Hornby, R. P. Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Russell, R. S.
Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Horobin, Sir Ian Maddan, Martin Sharples, R. C.
Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Shepherd, William
Howard, John (Test) Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark) Smithers, Peter (Winohester)
Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Spearman, Sir Alexander
Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Markham, Major Sir Frank Speir, R. M.
Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Marlowe, A. A. H. Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Hulbert, Sir Norman Marshall, Douglas Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Hurd, A. R. Mathew, R. Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.) Maudling, Rt. Hon. R. Stoddart-Soott, col. Sir Malcolm
Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun) Mawby, R. L. Storey, S.
Hyde, Montgomery Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Studholme, Sir Henry
Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh Summers, Sir Spencer
Iremonger, T. L. Moore, Sir Thomas Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Morrison, John (Salisbury) Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Nabarro, G. D. N. Teeling, W.
Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Nairn, D. L. S. Temple, John M.
Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam) Neave, Airey Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Nicholls, Harmar Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green) Nicolson, N. (G'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch) Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)
Joseph, Sir Keith Noble, Michael (Argyll) Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Kaberry, D. Nugent, G. R. H. Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
Kerby, Capt. H. B. Oakshott, H. D. Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Kerr, Sir Hamilton O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Kershaw, J. A. Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Vane, W. M. F.
Kirk, P. M. Page, R. G. Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Lambton, Viscount Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale) Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.
Langford-Holt, J. A. Peel, W. J. Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
Leather, E. H. C. Peyton, J. W. W. Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Leavey, J. A. Pike, Miss Mervyn Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Webbe, Sir H.
Leburn, W. G. Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Webster, David
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Pitman, I. J. Whitelaw, W. S. I.
Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Pitt, Miss E. M. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Pott, H. P. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Lindsay, Martin (Solihull) Powell, J. Enoch Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Linstead, Sir H. N. Price, David (Eastleigh) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Wood, Hon. R.
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Redmayne, M. Woollam, John Victor
Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby Rees-Davies, W. R. Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Renton, D. L. M.
McAdden, S. J. Ridsdale, J. E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Macdonald, Sir Peter Rippon, A. G. F. Mr. E. Wakefield and
Mr. Gibson-Watt.