§ Mr. Willey
I beg to move, in page 12, to leave out lines 22 to 27.
This matter covered by this Amendment was discussed in Standing Committee. We are dealing with a provision of the 1947 Act which affects smallholdings. If I may summarise the Minister's argument against our proposal to take out this paragraph, he suggested that we had already wide powers under Section 57 and for that reason he was satisfied that he need not rely on Section 53.
I will briefly state to him the main points made by several of my right hon. and hon. Friends in Standing Committee. The first is that this deals with good estate management. In the different responsibilities of smallholdings, it seems 442 that this specific provision imposing duties of good estate management should remain.
The other point, which is rather different, and it is for the right hon. Gentleman himself to judge, is that if, by way of a paragraph in this Schedule, the right hon. Gentleman divests himself of this power, it might be interpreted as a lessening of his interest in smallholdings This was a point which some of my hon. Friends made in Committee. I suggested to the right hon. Gentleman that he might well have discussions with the local authorities about this, and we raise the matter again now because we were not altogether satisfied with the right hon. Gentleman's reply in Committee, and because we would much rather that Section 53 remained.
§ Mr. Hare
I should like to reassure the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) straight away that if I refuse to accept his Amendment it does not in any way mean that my interest in smallholdings is lessened. That is far from being a reflection of my feelings on this matter.
This Amendment would retain my power to direct smallholdings authorities to observe the rules of good estate management in managing their smallholdings land. At present, it is quite correct, as the hon. Gentleman pointed out, that Section 53 of the 1947 Act exempts smallholdings authorities from the provisions of Part II in regard to supervision orders, directions and dispossession. It puts in their place a special power of direction to carry out work to remedy bad management, and so forth, and if the authority disregards the direction there is power to enter, do the work and recover the cost.
There are sound reasons for not accepting the Amendment. First, I have made inquiries since we had the discussion during the Committee stage, when I said that this power had, in fact, never been used, and I find that not only has it never been used but that none of my predecessors in office since the passing of the Act have even contemplated using it. Therefore, this is a rather academic matter. I know the dislike of the hon. Gentleman 443 opposite to the disappearance of the disciplinary side of Part II, but it is somewhat illogical to treat local authorities which are smallholdings authorities in a particular way, when the disciplinary powers have gone where owner-occupiers and others are concerned.
It is true that under Section 57 of the 1947 Act the Ministry will continue to have the power, where a smallholdings authority is not performing its functions satisfactorily, to direct it to exercise the functions in a required manner, or to take over those functions itself. It is the normal type of reserve power which is exercised with local authorities, and the repeal of Part II does not affect these reserve powers.
I have taken legal advice, and, though I understand that there may be some doubt whether we should be able to give a direction in respect of estate management after the repeal of Section 53, I am advised that if we cannot do that, the reserve powers under the second limb of Section 57 are, in fact, unimpaired, so that we could still take over any functions of a smallholding authority, including estate management matters. Therefore, we would still have the power, after the repeal of Section 53, to deal with smallholdings authorities which have defaulted in respect of these responsibilities for good estate management.
May I now summarise what I have said? It is a pity to single out this type of authority in a particular way when we are doing away with the disciplinary powers of Part II over other members of the farming community. Secondly, I think that it is a fairly academic matter, in that not only have the powers under Section 53 never been used, but neither the right hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) nor any of my predecessors have ever contemplated using them. For these reasons, I would ask the hon. Gentleman whether he can withdraw his Amendment.
§ Mr. Paget
I am a little intrigued by the right hon. Gentleman's logic. I should have thought that one of the best justifications for having a birch rod is that one has never had occasion to use it. If we have a disciplinary power which is so effective that nobody has ever behaved badly enough for bringing it into being, I should have thought that that provided a full justification for that 444 disciplinary power. There might be a case against bringing a new power into existence, but when we have this power in reserve, and when the end product, as they say in "Any Questions", is a smallholding authority that gives entire satisfaction to everybody, why should one go monkeying about with it? Why not leave it alone? That is all we are asking.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. Willey
I beg to move, in page 13, line 42, at the end to insert:Provided that membership of a county agricultural executive committee shall not disqualify a farmer or an owner of agricultural land from being included in such panels.This Amendment deals with a matter which we regard as of considerable importance. The Parliamentary Secretary will remember that I made an inquiry in Committee, and my right hon, and hon. Friends were surprised at the response we received from the hon. Gentleman. I say at once that by way of this Amendment we are raising the general principle, and I accept straight away that, if this Amendment is accepted, there would have to be certain consequential Amendments.
The principle which we are raising is simple, and I should have thought a most acceptable one. At present, the members of the county committees are debarred from sitting on or being eligible to sit on the tribunals because they exercise judicial functions, but one of the major purposes of the Bill—and one has only to look at the present Schedule to see with what thoroughness the Government have pursued their intentions—is to divest the county committees of all their judicial or quasi-judicial functions. In this new situation, it seems to us wrong to continue to debar members of the county committees from being eligible for membership of the panels from which the members of the tribunal are collected. We raise this matter again on two counts.
The first one, which is surely very relevant, as hon. Members on both sides of the House would probably agree, is that at present these people are exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions. They have all the experience that ought to be made available to the tribunals, which, as a result of the Bill, are taking over the work from these committees. Surely, in view of their experience, these people ought to be specially eligible to serve in this capacity.
445 The second reason, and it is not unimportant, is also a point which I have emphasised throughout our discussions on the Bill. If the Government insist on their present attitude, this is an explicit vote of no confidence in these committees, which is not justified in the light of the Franks Committee's Report. Unless the Government accept the Amendment, they will be saying that we should debar the very people who have been exercising this function from exercising it in future. Their action could not be construed as otherwise than as a vote of no confidence in the activities of those people so far.
We must regard the Amendment as an expression of confidence in and a tribute to the work of the members of the committees. If the Government do not accept the Amendment they will be robbing the tribunals of people specially qualified to serve on them, and saying not only that those people should not undertake the functions which they now exercise, but that they have been exercising them in an unsatisfactory manner hitherto.
§ Mr. Hare
I have some sympathy with the Amendment, but, having given this matter a great deal of consideration and having considered the argument for both sides, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot accept it.
The hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), correctly pointed out that under existing legislation members of C.A.E.C.s are rightly debarred from being members of the tribunals. The hon. Member explained the logic behind that decision which was incorporated in the 1947 Act. It is true that that argument will disappear when the Bill becomes law and that instead of going through the county agricultural executive committees cases will go straight to the tribunals. However, it is also true that members of C.A.E.C.s are rightly known to be agents of the Minister of Agriculture in the counties in which they serve, and experience has shown that people may doubt a system in which, on the one hand, a man is acting as part of the Government in one part of his duties, and, on the other, part of his duties con- 446 sists of acting as a member of the judiciary.
As the House knows, in accordance with the Franks Committee's recommendations, I am giving to the Lord Chancellor and to the tribunals my place in these judicial matters, and, having done that, it would be inconsistent to allow my own agents to serve on the tribunals when the principle of the Bill is that the tribunals should be completely independent of Ministers.
§ Mr. Hare
That is a somewhat irrelevant interruption to the objective argument which I am trying to make.
I see the force of the practical consideration which the hon. Member for Sunderland, North mentioned, that a number of suitable people who are willing to serve on C.A.E.C.s would also be suitable to serve on the tribunals. In many ways, it might even make things easier if I could have accepted the Amendment. Having gone along with the hon. Member some way in this argument, I cannot accept his contention that to reject the Amendment is to express a vote of no confidence in county agricultural executive committee members.
As the hon. Member knows perfectly well, that is very far from the truth. I have paid genuine tribute in the past—and I repeat it now—to members of county agricultural executive committees for the way they have carried out their duties, some of which duties they have found to be unpleasant. They have always undertaken them with restraint, good judgment and skill, and it is in no way a criticism of them that I must now refuse to accept the Amendment. I must refuse to accept it because the whole principle of the tribunals is that they should be entirely separate from the Ministry.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Williams (Don Valley)
I am rather surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should reject the Amendment, for I have thought that it was one which he could have welcomed. It would not cost him anything and it would be a 447 gesture to his county executive committees, who are now to be deprived of so many of their normal functions.
The right hon. Gentleman is not doing himself justice. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) did not say that this was a direct criticism of the standard of county agricultural executive committees. He said that it was an implied criticism. It is implied that there is some weakness and that, but for that, the Government would have accepted the Amendment.
What functions have been taken from the C.A.E.C.s? They had the right to deal with notices to quit, certificates of bad husbandry and questions of estate management. Those are the three types of case which are to go to land tribunals. Some members of these committees have served on them for as long as nine years and they have an enormous experience of the type of case with which the tribunals will now have to deal. No one is more capable of bringing to bear sensible judgment on cases of notices to quit, certificates of bad husbandry and questions of estate management than a member of one of these committees.
Since the men who will be finally chosen are originally to be chosen by the National Farmers' Union—at either London or county level—and a number of names are to be sent to form a panel, is it not clear that the type of person will be similar to that appointed to the executive committees? If there is one person more than another capable of serving on the tribunals, it is a person who has served for years on a county executive committee.
If the Minister's attitude is not a direct criticism, it is an implied criticism that there is some inferiority between members of county executive committees and estate owners or farmers who are to sit on the land tribunals. We are not attempting to make party politics out of this matter, but it would be a compliment to county executive committee members if, now that they are to be released from their judicial or executive functions, they were given the opportunity of sitting on the land tribunals.
This is a very small matter, and if the right hon. Gentleman cannot change his mind—and he has not changed his mind very often in the last three months—that 448 will show a lack of resilience and I hope that my hon. Friends will pay their compliment to members of county executive committees, who have rendered such valuable service to the State, by going into the Division Lobby.
§ Sir Archer Baldwin (Leominster)
I hesitate to make any suggestion to my right hon. Friend, but I have a great deal of sympathy with this Amendment. The number of good, qualified men in the country is limited, and it is the best of those men who are appointed to the county agricultural executive committees. In the same way, we want to have the best men on the land tribunals, and if my right hon. Friend could give this matter a little more consideration between now and the Bill's progress through another place, perhaps he might find some way of getting over the difficulty.
§ Mr. Paget
I am disappointed not only in the refusal, but in the grounds for the refusal. They were not only doctrinaire grounds, but such un-English doctrinaire ideas. This Montesquieu idea of the separation of power was adopted by the Americans, and I do not see why we should surrender our principle of government to American principles of government which are much worse, and have always worked much worse than ours. We have never had separation of powers right through our history of government. Judicial and executive functions have been mingled, and have been operated by the same people. When we crown our Queen, we give her the Sword of Justice and the Orb of Temporal Power. Those are the executive and the judicial functions exercised alike by the Queen as the fountain head of our government.
The administration of our counties has been done by the magistrates since the fourteenth century, exercising a number of executive and a number of judicial functions. All through our political system, and right through our history, there has been this intermingling of these functions, and to reject something which the Minister himself agrees would be convenient and useful, which is urged upon him by his hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Sir A. Baldwin) and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), not because it would not be convenient, not because 449 it would not be useful but upon a purely doctrinaire ground—and that doctrine utterly alien to our tradition—seems an odd way of dealing with the situation.
§ Mr. Roderic Bowen (Cardigan)
I hope that the Minister will resist the Amendment, although it would be a good thing if he could widen the selection of persons for this panel. I am sure that he is not motivated in any way by lack of appreciation of the excellent work that the county agricultural executive committees have done in many spheres, but I do not share the view of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) that the Minister's approach to this matter is doctrinaire. It is based on a very sound principle.
I believe that the agricultural land tribunals have earned for themselves a very excellent reputation. It is important that they should keep it, and it is very important that there should not be the remotest suspicion, even though it is, in fact, ungrounded, that the members of the tribunals are in any way linked with Ministry action in this respect. To avoid any such suggestion, the Minister should resist the Amendment.
§ ask my hon. Friends to vote against the Amendment, for the very reasons put forward so clearly by the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen). This is no criticism of members of C.A.E.C.s but, as the hon. and learned Member has just said, there is the very important principle that there must be absolutely no shadow of doubt that these excellent people, who are, however, connected with the Executive—being my agents—are connected with the judiciary. That is an important principle. I have certainly nothing but the greatest praise for members of county agricultural executive committees but, in spite of my sympathy, I must, with considerable regret, ask my hon. Friends to vote against this Amendment.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
We can only adapt the words of Burke to this curious situation. I support the old Tories like my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and the hon. Member for Leominster (Sir A. Baldwin), against the new Tories represented by the Minister and by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen).
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted in the Bill:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 206, Noes 249.453
|Division No. 176.]||AYES||[4.55 p.m.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Chapman, W. D.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Albu, A. H.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Clunie, J.||Grey, C. F.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Collins, V. J. (Shoredith & Finsbury)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Griffiths, William (Exchange)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Cove, W. G.||Hale, Leslie|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Balfour, A.||Crossman, R. H. S.||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hannan, W.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.)||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hastings, S.|
|Benson, Sir George||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hayman, F. H.|
|Beswick, Frank||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Healey, Denis|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Deer, G.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)|
|Blackburn, F.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Delargy, H. J.||Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Dodds, N. N.||Holman, P.|
|Boardman, H.||Donnelly, D. L.||Houghton, Douglas|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hubbard, T. F.|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Boyd, T. C.||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hunter, A. E.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Fernyhough, E.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Finch, H. J.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Burke, W. A.||Fitch, E. A.||Janner, B.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Fletcher, Eric||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Foot, D. M.||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Forman, J. C.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.)|
|Carmichael, J.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Champion, A. J.||George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)|
|Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Oliver, G. H.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Oram, A. E.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Orbach, M.||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Oswald, T.||Steele, T.|
|Kenyon, C.||Owen, W. J.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Padley, W. E.||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Paget, R. T.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Lawson, G. M.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Swingler, S. T.|
|Lewis, Arthur||Paton, John||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Pearson, A.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Peart, T. F.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Logan, D. G.||Pentland, N.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Mabon, Dr, J. Dickson||Popplewell, E.||Tomney, F.|
|McCann, J.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Viant, S. P.|
|MacDermot, Niall||Probert, A. R.|
|McGovern, J.||Proctor, W. T.||Warbey, W. N.|
|McInnes, J.||Pursey, cmdr. H.||Watkins, T. E.|
|McLeavy, Frank||Randall, H. E.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Rankin, John||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Mahon, Simon||Redhead, E. C.||West, D. G.|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Reid, William||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Reynolds, G. W.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Mason, Roy||Rhodes, H.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Messer, Sir F.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Willey, Frederick|
|Mikardo, Ian||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Monslow, W.||Royle, C.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Mort, D. L.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Moss, R.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)||Woof, R. E.|
|Moyle, A.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Snow, J. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||Sorensen, R. W.||Mr. John Taylor and Mr. Rogers.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Cooper, A. E.||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Cunningham, Knox||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)|
|Atkins, H. E.||Currie, G. B. H.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Dance, J. C. G.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Balniel, Lord||Davidson, Viscountess||Hay, John|
|Barber, Anthony||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Barlow, Sir John||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.|
|Batsford, Brian||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Drayson, G. B.||Hesketh, R. F.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||du Cann, E. D. L.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Duncan, Sir James||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Duthie, W. S.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Elliott, R. W. (Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.)||Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n)|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Erroll, F. J.||Holt, A. F.|
|Black, C. W.||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Hope, Lord John|
|Body, R. F.||Finlay, Graeme||Hornby, R. P.|
|Bonham Carter, Mark||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Horobin, Sir Ian|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Fort, R.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Fraser, Sir Ian (M'combe & Lonsdale)||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Gammans, Lady||Hulbert, Sir Norman|
|Braine, B. R.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Hurd, A. R.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Gibson-Watt, D.||Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Glover, D.||Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Glyn, Col. Richard H.||Hyde, Montgomery|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Godber, J. B.||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry|
|Bryan, P.||Goodhart, Philip||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Gough, C. F. H.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Gower, H. R.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Graham, Sir Fergus||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)|
|Carr, Robert||Grant, W. (Woodside)||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Green, A.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Gresham Cooke, R.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Grimond, J.||Joseph, Sir Keith|
|Cooke, Robert||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot|
|Kaberry, D.||Mawby, R. L.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Keegan, D.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr, S. L. C.||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Speir, R. M.|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Moore, Sir Thomas||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Kershaw, J. A.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Kimball, M.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Kirk, P. M.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Storey, S.|
|Lambton, Viscount||Nairn, D. L. S.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Neave, Airey||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Nicholls, Harmar||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Leavey, J. A.||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chrch)||Teeling, W.|
|Leburn, W. G.||Noble, Michael (Argyll)||Temple, John M.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Oakshott, H. D.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Osborne, C.||Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Page, R. G.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Partridge, E.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Peel, W. J.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Peyton, J. W. W.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|McAdden, S. J.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|MoKibbin, Alan||Pitman, I. J.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Powell, J. Enoch||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Wade, D. W.|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Profumo, J. D.||Wall, Patrick|
|McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Rawlinson, Peter||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Redmayne, M.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Renton, D. L. M.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Rippon, A. G. F.||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Maddan, Martin||Robertson, Sir David||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Russell, R. S.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Sharples, R. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Marshall, Douglas||Shepherd, William||Sir Gerald Wills and|
|Mathew R.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Mr. Edward Wakefield.|
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Willey
I beg to move, in page 15, to leave out lines 16 to 25.
This and the preceding Amendment, in page 14, line 32, to leave out from the beginning to the end of line 15 on page 15, which you have not selected, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, go together. In Standing Committee we discussed the preceding Amendment. However, they both deal with a similar point.
This provision which we seek to amend deals with Sections 10 and 11 of the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1948. It divests the Minister of certain powers which he has at present and transfers those powers to an arbitrator. The powers are those of determining the acreage of permanent pasture, and, in the specific case of this Amendment, of giving or refusing to a landlord a certificate so that he can obtain an injunction to restrain a tenant, where the tenant is exercising his rights of cropping arable land, so that his holding is injured.
This does not affect the powers of the Minister. It is no comfort to hon. Members opposite, for the Minister is not divesting himself of any powers. He is 454 transferring those powers from himself to an arbitrator. For all practical purposes, the operation of these powers has been taken from the county committees and placed upon the shoulders of an arbitrator.
The right hon. Gentleman has already indicated in Standing Committee that he regards these powers as quasi-judicial. We do not take that view at all. It is obvious from the reference that I have made to the powers with which we are concerned that these are matters of agricultural policy. They cannot be decided distinct from policy questions. The Minister ought to remain responsible for policy, for it is unfair to place this responsibility on an arbitrator. Quite apart from that, we regard this as an abdication of the responsibility which the Minister holds, and again by necessary implication it is a reflection upon the county committees.
In Standing Committee I challenged the right hon. Gentleman to produce any evidence that there was any dissatisfaction or cause of dissatisfaction at the way in which the powers had been exercised by the county committees. It is 455 unfortunate that we should find the Government taking unnecessary action, unnecessarily reflecting upon the county committees and also causing the impression that the Government are endeavouring as far as they dare to lessen their responsibility for this industry.
§ Mr. Godber
As the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) has said, we discussed a similar Amendment in Standing Committee. My right hon. Friend said that we look on these as quasi-judicial functions and as coming within the general orbit of the recommendations of the Franks Committee. It is for that reason that we are seeking to transfer these powers from the Minister to an independent person—in this case a qualified arbitrator.
We have debated this point on a number of different occasions and I recognise that there is a difference between the two sides of the House. But we feel that in the light of the Government's acceptance of the Franks Committee recommendations, there is no reason why these arbitrators should not be able to carry out this function just as competently. I do not accept that there is any question of a slight on the members of the Committees. I am sure that the members of the committees do not look at it in that way. As I have said, this provision is
§ purely for the purpose of implementing the general implications of the Franks Report.
The hon. Member said that these were questions of policy. I do not agree. This and the previous Amendment relate to Sections 10 and 11 of the 1948 Act. This Amendment is concerned with Section 11, the purpose of which, in the closing words of subsection (1), is
to protect the holding from injury or deterioration.
If it is a question of policy, it should be one of enduring policy whichever party is in power in this House. Surely, we all want to see that our farms are left in as good a condition when we leave them as when we take them over. Anybody who is concerned with agriculture should always accept that as a basic principle. I could not accept that it is a matter which should be subject to changes of policy.
§ This is a matter which, we think, comes within the orbit of the Franks Committee's recommendations. It is for this reason only that we ask the House to agree to the transfer of these duties. Therefore, we could not recommend the House to accept the Amendment.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 247, Noes 203.459
|Division No. 177.]||AYES||[5.11 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn|
|Aitken, W. T.||Brooman-White, R. C.||Erroll, F. J.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Farey-Jones, F. W.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Bryan, P.||Finlay, Graeme|
|Arbuthnot, John||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Fort, R.|
|Ashton, H.||Campbell, Sir David||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Atkins, H. E.||Carr, Robert||Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Cary, Sir Robert||Gammans, Lady|
|Baldwin, Sir Archer||Chichester-Clark, R.||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Balniel, Lord||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Gibson-Watt, D.|
|Barber, Anthony||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Glover, D.|
|Batsford, Brian||Cooke, Robert||Glyn, Col. Richard H.|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Godber, J. B.|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O. E.||Goodhart, Philip|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Gough, G. F. H.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Cunningham, Knox||Gower, H. R.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Currie, G. B. H.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Dance, J. C. G.||Grant, W. (Woodside)|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Davidson, Viscountess||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr, R. (Nantwich)|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Green, A.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Gresham Cooke. R.|
|Black, C. W.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Grimond, J.|
|Body, R. F.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Bonham Carter, Mark||Drayson, G. B.||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||du Cann, E. D. L.||Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Duncan, Sir James||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Duthie, W. S.||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)|
|Braine, B. R.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Elliott, R. W. (N'castle upon Tyne, N.)||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Hay, John||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Rawlinson, peter|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Redmayne, M.|
|Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||McAdden, S. J.||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Hesketh, R. F.||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Robertson, Sir David|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||McKibbin, Alan||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Russell, R. S.|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Sharples, R. C.|
|Hobson, John (Warwick & L'm'gt'n)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Shepherd, William|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Holt, A. F.||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Spier, R. M.|
|Hope, Lord John||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Hornby, R. P.||Maddan, Martin||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Horobin, Sir Ian||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hon. Sir R.||Storey, S.|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Hulbert, Sir Norman||Marshall, Douglas||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Hurd, A. R.||Mathew, R.||Teeling, W.|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.)||Mawfey, R. L.||Temple, John M.|
|Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hyde, Montgomery||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Moore, Sir Thomas||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Nairn, D. L. S.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Neave, Airey||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Nicholls, Harmar||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Noble, Michael (Argyll)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Nugent, G. R. H.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Kaberry, D.||Oakshott, H. D.||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Keegan, D.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Osborne, C.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Page, R. G.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Kershaw, J. A.||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Wall, Patrick|
|Kimball, M.||Partridge, E.||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Kirk, P. M.||Peel, W. J.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Peyton, J. W. W.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Leavey, J. A.||Pilkington, capt. R. A.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Leburn, W. G.||Pitman, I. J.||Woollam, John Victor|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Pott, H. P.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Price, David (Eastleigh)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Sir Gerald Wills and|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Profumo, J. D.||Colonel J. H. Harrison.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Callaghan, L. J.||Fitch, E. A.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Carmichael, J.||Fletcher, Eric|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Champion, A. J.||Foot, D. M.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Chapman, W. D.||Forman, J. C.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Clunie, J.||George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then)|
|Balfour, A.||Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Cove, W. G.||Grey, C. F.|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Benson, Sir George||Crossman, R. H. S.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)|
|Beswick, Frank||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hale, Leslie|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Darling, George (Hillsborough)|
|Blackburn, F.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Deer, G.||Hannan, W.|
|Boardman, H.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Delargy, H. J.||Hastings, S.|
|Bowden, H. A. (Leicester, S. W.)||Dodds, N. N.||Hayman, F. H.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Donnelly, D. L.||Healey, Denis|
|Boyd, T. C.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)|
|Braddock, Mrs Elizabeth||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Holman, P.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Houghton, Douglas|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)|
|Burke, W. A.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Hubbard, T. F.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Fernyhough, E.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Finch, H. J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Monslow, W.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)||Snow, J. W.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Mort, D. L.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Moss, R.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Moyle, A.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Janner, B.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Steele, T.|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.)||Oliver, G. H.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Oram, A. E.||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Orbach, M.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Oswald, T.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Owen, W. J.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Padley, W. E.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Kenyon, C.||Paget, R. T.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Tomney, F.|
|Lawson, G. M.||Paton, John||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Pearson, A.||Viant, S. P.|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Peart, T. F.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Lewis, Arthur||Pentland, N.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Popplewell, E.||Wells, Peroy (Faversham)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Logan, D. G.||Probert, A. R.||West, D. G.|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Proctor, W. T.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|McCann, J.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|MacDermot, Niall||Randall, H. E.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|McGovern, J.||Rankin, John||Willey, Frederick|
|McInnes, J.||Redhead, E. C.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|McLeavy, Frank||Reid, William||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Reynolds, G. W.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Rhodes, H.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Mahon, Simon||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Royle, C.||Woof, R. E.|
|Mason, Roy||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Mikardo, Ian||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. John Taylor and Mr. Rodgers.|
§ Mr. Willey
I beg to move, in page 15, line 28, at the end to insert:(2) The following words shall be added at the end of paragraph (b) of subsection (2):—Provided that in the case of any such application notice thereof was given to the tenant at the time of the application".This matter is one of planning. Although this is rather complicated, the point I am endeavouring to raise in this Amendment is quite simple. When planning permission for the use of land other than agricultural land has been obtained, the tenant cannot counter notice. Planning permission has overriding effect. We accept that as reasonable and are not quarrelling about it, but at present there is no obligation on the landlord to notify the tenant that he is applying for planning permission.
What we seek to do by this Amendment is to place an obligation on the landlord to see that the tenant is notified of application for planning permission. I concede at once that it is unlikely that planning permission would be obtained without the tenant having the opportunity to be heard, but I am sure everyone will agree that this is of the greatest importance to the tenant who is using the land. Although it is unlikely that 460 consent would be obtained without the tenant's being aware of it, I am informed that that has in fact happened on some occasions. I have been told that there have been one or two occasions recently. For that reason, I move the Amendment and hope that the Government, whether they accept it or not, will at any rate be able to accept the principle and to provide that a tenant should in all cases be notified that an application for planning permission has been sought.
§ Mr. Godber
On this occasion I have a great deal of sympathy with the Amendment which the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) has moved. I appreciate the particular force of the arguments he has advanced, and which can be advanced, in favour of it. This is a, matter on which the Franks Committee recommended that the tenant should be informed of planning application and allowed to state his views. The Committee pointed out that this was particularly desirable in the case of agricultural holdings since the grant of planning permission removes such statutory protection 461 as the tenant otherwise enjoys against a notice to quit.
I certainly do not disagree with that approach at all, but I am afraid that the working out of the Franks Committee recommendation would not be quite as simple a matter as might appear. The recommendation was not limited to agricultural tenants; indeed, it was not confined to tenants at all, but covered everyone with a direct interest in the land. Where, for example, a third person, who was neither the owner nor the occupier, applied for planning permission, the Franks Committee considered that both the landlord and the tenant should be informed and allowed to state their views. It is clear that the problem is a general one which ought to be considered in the context of general planning legislation—that is the difficulty with which we are faced—perhaps leading to amendment of the Town and Country Planning Acts.
I am afraid it is not a suitable matter for incorporation in this Bill. I would stress that the Bill does not affect the law on this point. We are not changing the law as set out in the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1948, and the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, for which hon. Members opposite were responsible. This matter is difficult and I am afraid I cannot accept an Amendment at this stage. All I can say it that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government is at present giving very close attention to it. I hope he will be able to bring forward legislation in the wider and broader context, which would also cover this matter.
It is for that reason that I am unable to accept this Amendment. I feel that the matter covers a broader aspect. Although the hon. Member pointed out that agricultural land is the centre and core of the Amendment, there are matters here affecting the wider interests. We feel this is one of the matters which should be considered and brought forward in further legislation, which I hope my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government will bring forward at a later stage. Although I have sympathy with the intent, I cannot advise the House to accept the Amendment, which would involve very sweeping and definite changes in this respect. For that reason only, with regret, I have to advise the House that I 462 could not agree to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Willey
I am obliged to the Parliamentary Secretary for his reply. On previous occasions I have argued that we ought not to refrain from doing a particular good because of inability to do a general good. I appreciate that this is not a Departmental responsibility of the hon. Gentleman, but falls within the Departmental responsibility of the Minister of Housing and Local Government. I wonder, however, whether between now and when the Bill is considered in another place the Minister might have consultation with the Minister of Housing and Local Government to see whether it is possible to take any action within the scope of this Bill.
I say at once that I am not very optimistic about that, but I feel the right hon. Gentleman should pursue that course and see if that is possible, because everyone is agreed that the Franks Committee recommendation on this matter should be accepted and it is clear from what the hon. Gentleman said that this matter is within Government policy. If it has to await general amending legislation, we shall have to await that legislation, but if policy is agreed and it is possible to do something about the Agricultural Holdings Act in this Bill when it is considered in another place. I hope the opportunity will be taken by the Government. Meanwhile, I am content to rest upon the assurance of the Parliamentary Secretary and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Willey
I beg to move, in page 16, line 10, after "provision", to insert:for ensuring that a sub-tenant shall receive a copy of any notice to quit affecting the holding of which he is sub-tenant given under the said section twenty-four and".We are now considering provision for the protection of sub-tenants. In Standing Committee I raised the point that I believed there is a loophole in the present provisions. A landlord might have a head tenant, possibly a nominee company, with whom he could make an arrangement that the head tenant would not contest a notice under Section 24. By that collusion the sub-tenant would lose all his rights. The Parliamentary Secretary replied that this was a somewhat involved matter, but at any rate 463 we were agreed in our objectives, and, if there were such a loophole, steps ought to be taken to close it.
I do not suggest that this Amendment would necessarily close that loophole, but it would improve the position of the sub-tenant. I also agree that without the Amendment the Lord Chancellor could take action which might be effective, but this matter, which I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary has looked into again, is one with which we ought to deal if possible. Whether the present Amendment would be wholly effective or not, it would strengthen the provision as at present drafted.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Godber
The hon. Gentleman reminded us that in Committee I said that this was an involvedm atter. I did not realise how involved it was until I looked into it, and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me the opportunity of looking into it. Perhaps I could briefly set it out as I see it for the benefit of the House.
As I see it, the position of sub-tenants under the 1948 Act is certainly complicated because there are here four types of cases involving notice. First, if the sub-tenant's immediate landlord serves notice on him, the sub-tenant is fully protected under existing legislation because he can contest a notice to quit and will be able to make representations to the agricultural land tribunal. Therefor his case is already covered.
Secondly, if the sub-tenant's immediate landlord decides to leave the holding on his own initiative and serves notice on the head landlord to that effect, then the sub-tenant automatically becomes the tenant of the head landlord with full security, so that in that respect he is also safeguarded.
Thirdly, if the head landlord serves notice on the intermediate landlord or on the intermediate tenant, whichever way one likes to put it, and he in turn serves a counter notice on the head landlord—I hope that the House is with me in this because it is a little involved—then, again, the position of the subtenant is also covered because under subparagraph (3) of paragraph 9 of Statutory 464 Instrument No. 190, 1948—that is the Notice to Quit Regulations—the subtenant then has the right to make representations. Therefore, in all those cases the sub-tenant is covered.
Now we come to the fourth case, which is the only one in which he is not covered. This is where the intermediate landlord or intermediate tenant on receiving a notice to quit does not serve a counter notice, but himself serves notice to quit on his sub-tenant. In that case, his notice on his sub-tenant is automatically effective, and under the terms of the Regulations under Section 26 (1, e) of the 1948 Act the sub-tenant cannot make representations against him. This is a very restricted class of case and we can find no evidence of abuse resulting from such a case. But, even if abuse arose, there is power to deal with it by means of an Order under the Section to which I have just referred. Under existing legislation power is given to the Minister, but under the Bill power to make an Order is given to the Lord Chancellor. He can make an Order to give the sub-tenant the right where the head tenant quits to hold from the landlord on the same terms as he held from the head tenant.
This power has never been used either by the right hon. Gentleman opposite when he was in power or by my right hon. Friend, because it has not been found necessary. If it were, then certainly we should not hesitate to use it. I say to the hon. Gentleman, therefore, that while the number of these cases is very few indeed—we can find practically no particulars of them—we have power under existing legislation and the Lord Chancellor will have the power, to make an Order. That being so, I do not think there is any need to attempt to write into the Bill such words as the hon. Gentleman suggests.
This is a very complicated subject dealing with a very small number of cases. None the less, I agree that it is important. In view of what I have said, having looked into the point, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the matter is covered by existing legislation and that therefore there is no need for the Amendment.
§ Mr. Paget
Does not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that the position is that where a sub-tenant finds that he is losing his farm and goes to a solicitor for advice, 465 that solicitor is supposed to advise him that the Lord Chancellor has power to make an Order under a certain Section which has been in being for a number of years, but which has not been used, and that, if he is quick enough and if the Lord Chancellor is in the mood and there is a Parliament before which it can be laid and a draftsman available, an Order might be made which will save him his home?
This seems comic to us, but it is not comic to the man whose home is being lost. Why wait to prevent the accident until someone is killed? We see a perfectly good example of the danger, and we also see an opportunity to spot it before it happens. Why wait until after it happens and imagine that it will be spotted even then unless somebody is ingenious enough to think of the Lord Chancellor and his power to make an Order? The Parliamentary Secretary's answer does not seem really satisfactory.
§ Mr. Godber
The point is that had there been a need for this either in the time of the right hon. Gentleman opposite or since the present Government have been in power then surely someone would have pressed for it. It is significant that nobody has pressed the need for such an Order. The power exists. There is certainly no need to put it into the Bill. If the hon. and learned Gentleman is saying that it is the duty of the Government to introduce such an Order then he may have a case, but I am saying that neither this Government nor preceding Governments have done so, presumably because no need had to their knowledge arisen. I am not disputing that there may be a case for doing it, but there is no point in writing it into the Bill when the necessary power exists in existing legislation.
§ Mr. Godber
I am quite prepared to bring the matter to the attention of my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor, but I tried to make the case that it seems to me that, had there been need for it, pressure would have been exerted in this direction long before now.
§ Mr. George Jeger (Goole)
Surely the Minister will make himself clear? If the hon. Gentleman says the test is that there has been no need expressed for it by anyone then that is the test of the Bill itself. No need has been expressed by anyone for a Bill of this character. Therefore, if the hon. Gentleman is to apply his mind logically to the Amendment, surely he should extend it to the whole Bill at this stage and agree to withdraw it?
§ Mr. Ede
While the Parliamentary Secretary was giving his explanation he was continually apologising to us for the complicated nature of the transaction with which he had to deal. Can the hon. Gentleman assure us that when the farmer mentioned by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) goes to his solicitor, a country solicitor in some town or village in the provinces, that solicitor will have in the books that he consults a reference to this power exercised by the Lord Chancellor?
§ Mr. Godber
I have the greatest respect for members of the legal profession and I would certainly not cast any slur on them by saying that they would not have that knowledge in their possession. On the point raised by the hon. Member for Goole (Mr. Jeger), I would only say that my knowledge of the matter is that there is a very big demand for the Bill, as has been evidenced in the country.
§ Mr. Willey
I do not want to be drawn. I would merely say that I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Goole (Mr. Jeger). I am greatly obliged to the Parliamentary Secretary for his researches, and I congratulate my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) on following them. I propose to wait until tomorrow morning in order to study them more carefully. I am equally satisfied, with my hon. and learned Friend, that the powers being there they ought to be exercised. I say that for the reason that I think it is extraordinarily difficult to obtain evidence of such cases as these. I think that more often than not the subtenant does not even bother to consult a solicitor, but when he does, the solicitor conscientiously carries out his work and informs him that he has no remedy.
467 I suggest, therefore, that the best course would probably be to consult the organisations within the agricultural industry about this matter, and then to refer it to the Lord Chancellor, hoping that in due course we shall have regulations which will safeguard the sub-tenant, even in the remote likelihood of the landlord acting in this way. I think that we should safeguard him completely if we have the powers so to do. With these observations, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Willey
I beg to move, in page 17, line 17, at the end to insert:14. In section thirty-three after "severed", there shall be inserted the words "so as to provide that the rent of the residue of the holding shall be a rent properly payable in respect of such residue".This, again, is a matter of considerable complexity, but the point we are endeavouring to raise is quite a simple one. We are dealing now with Section 33 and we are concerned with an agricultural holding, part of which has been severed as a result of notice to quit under Section 31.
The arbitrator reduces the rent proportionately, that is, in accordance with the reduction of the acreage. The point which we are trying to raise by the Amendment is that there ought to be wider powers, and we ought to be able to pay regard to the residual holding as it emerges and look also at the notional rent that such a holding would get on vacant possession. Obviously if we cut a farm in half it does not mean that half the rental should necessarily and fairly be paid for the half of the farm remaining. In fact, far less rent might be proper because the whole holding may be unbalanced. It is with these objectives in view that I beg to move the Amendment.
§ Mr. Godber
This is an involved matter, and I am grateful to the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) for his explanation of the Amendment.
I understand that he is seeking to give greater security to the tenant in this way. In fact, I am advised that the Amendment would do the reverse. It would give the tenant less security in relation 468 to his rent. What the hon. Gentleman is seeking to provide in the words of the Amendment is… after 'severed', there shall be inserted the words 'so as to provide that the rent of the residue of the holding shall be a rent properly payable in respect of such residue'.The present position is that when a landlord resumes possession of part of the holding, the tenant shall pay a rent based on the proportionate reduction and also on any further reduction of the value of the remainder to the tenant caused by the severance and by the use to be made of the part resumed by the landlord.
If that is so, a reduction in rent proportionate to the part that has been taken and for loss of value of the remainder of the holding to the tenant seems a very substantial safeguard to the tenant, because the loss of value to the sitting tenant could well be greater than the difference in value of the original holding and the value of the reduced holding to someone else coming in, which would be the rent properly payable under the new definition.
If one is thinking under the new definition of a new tenant coming in, it would not take account necessarily of loss of value to the sitting tenant, which would be taken into account at present. The effect could well be to the disadvantage of the tenant if this were done. I think that the House would not wish that effect to be brought about. In fact, I am sure that the hon. Member for Sunderland, North, does not wish it to be brought about. Having looked into this matter, I am advised that that is the position. If, in fact, the tenant loses part of his holding it could have a more injurious effect on him, particularly in view of the way he is farming it at the time, than on a new tenant coming into that portion of the farm. If the Amendment were passed, the rent properly payable under the new definition could be a higher rent than it is worth to the present tenant—particularly while he is having to change his method of farming.
Under the existing legislation, the position is more adequately covered from the point of view of the tenant than it would be in the light of the Amendment. It is for that reason that I cannot advise the House to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Willey
I am not going to the stake for the draftsmanship of this Amendment. I anticipated the point which the Joint Parliamentary Secretary made, and that is why, in drafting the Amendment, we tried to make this an additional consideration.
I agree that there may be some criticism of the words… so as to provide",but we are trying to take into consideration a new factor. We are not trying to take out of consideration the factors which are at present there. I agree with the Joint Parliamentary Secretary that the second factor already in the Section is advantageous to the tenant, and it is put there to help the tenant. I should not like the Amendment to make the position of the tenant any worse. It is not designed for that purpose; it is designed to bring into consideration a review of what the residual holding is really worth.
I agree that in some circumstances—and I appreciated this in drafting the Amendment—the effect of the Amendment might possibly increase the rental, but I think that in the majority of cases it would work the other way. I think that this would, in general, help the tenant.
As I say, I am not wedded to the wording of the Amendment, but I am anxious that the Government should consider this approach. It is a matter which, I understand, has been considered by the Government in another context in regard to opencast coal mining, where a similar problem arises. I would have hoped that, at any rate, the Parliamentary Secretary would be able to assure the House that between now and the consideration of the Bill in another place—I am not asking the Government to commit themselves—he would see if it is possible to improve Section 33 along those lines.
The Joint Parliamentary Secretary will recognise that we felt circumscribed in drafting the Amendment, because we tried to bring it into accord with the present provisions. We are anxious that it should be clearly brought before the arbitrator that, among other things, he should consider this as a new holding and try to reach a realistic rent upon that basis, and not merely regard it as a pro- 470 portionate part of the holding which has been destroyed.
It is for these reasons that I move the Amendment, and if the Joint Parliamentary Secretary can give me the assurance that his right hon. Friend and he will consider the problem and see whether it is possible to do anything not to make the position of the tenant worse, because none of us wants to make the position of the tenant worse, I am sure that my hon. Friends would be satisfied.
§ Mr. Godber
In response to that appeal, I will give an assurance that we will look at this matter again to see if there is anything that we can do. I am glad to learn from the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) that his idea was to provide an additional reason rather than an alternative one. I feel certain that as an alternative it would be wrong and to the detriment of the tenant. In the light of what he has said, I will look at the matter again. I think that at the present time the tenant is fairly well protected, but if there is any way in which we can improve his position I should like to look into it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The following Amendment stood upon the Notice Paper:
§ In page 17, leave out lines 18 to 29.
§ Mr. Willey
This Amendment and the following Amendment, in page 17, to leave out lines 33 to 40, deal with similar points in respect of Sections 50 and 68 of the 1948 Act, which, in turn, deal with long-term improvements and the treating of a holding as a market garden for certain purposes. The provisions to which we object take away powers from the Minister and transfer them to the agricultural land tribunal. We have already made it plain that we are opposed to this course, and we have persistently opposed the action of the Government throughout our discussions in Committee.
The position on both sides is so abundantly clear that, having said what our purpose is, I do not propose to move the Amendment.
§ The following Amendment stood upon the Notice Paper:
§ In page 19, leave out lines 7 to 14.471
§ Mr. Willey
This Amendment refers to a similar point. We shall shortly reach the Third Reading of the Bill, when we can once again express our views, and for that reason I do not seek to move this Amendment.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
I beg to move, in page 22, line 29, at the end to insert:(2) So long as a condition under section twenty-six of this Act is in force there shall be no limit to the number of times that an application to the Land Court on behalf of the Crown may be made under the foregoing subsection.The Amendment deals with a matter which I mentioned during the Committee stage, when the noble Lord the Joint Under-Secretary said that he had some sympathy with it and that there was some substance in my point. Section 30 of the 1948 Act is being redrawn. Under existing legislation, if the owner who got possession—that is, who made an application and asked for consent to a notice to quit, offering certain justification for consent being given, and consent was given with a condition attached—was in breach of the condition after a period the Secretary of State for the Minister took possession of the farm and saw that the condition was fulfilled.
In the redrafting of Section 30, the Government now provide that the Land Court, on the application of the Crown that an owner is in breach of the condition, may impose a fine—the word "fine" is not used, but it is, in fact, a fine—not exceeding two years' rent, the fine to be paid into the Exchequer. The tenant who was got out under false pretences has no further remedy; he is out, and presumably he has no further interest in the farm.
I was interested to ascertain whether, an application having been made to the Land Court on behalf of the Crown and the Land Court having decided that the landlord was in breach and having imposed the payment or fine of not more than two years' rent, that was an end of the matter. I was not sure about it. I believe the Joint Under-Secretary was not very sure about it. I waited in vain for the Joint Under-Secretary to table an Amendment in order to make sure that an application could be made on behalf of the Crown at any time so long as the condition was in force. The Joint Under-Secretary may say that an Amendment is unnecessary, that an application may be 472 made at any time and that there is no limit to the number of applications that may be made to the Land Court on behalf of the Crown.
I appreciate that after a time it might well be that the Land Court would not think it fit and proper to continue to keep in force a condition which had been attached. There might be many reasons why the condition should be varied or discontinued. I wondered whether I ought to table an Amendment to cover that point, but I believe it is covered in existing legislation.
I do not want to be unfair to the landlord. On the other hand, I do not wish to make it possible for the landlord to buy a good tenant out of his holding by undertaking the fulfilment of a condition which he is later seen to be unwilling to fulfil in the knowledge that he can be fined no more than two years' rent. If it were to be so, all security to the tenant farmer would virtually disappear.
I hope that in the circumstances the Joint Under-Secretary will be able to give use an assurance that as things stand there is no limit to the number of applications which can be made on behalf of the Crown so long as the condition is in force, or that he will accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I beg to second the Amendment.
I think that this Amendment provides an opportunity for the Joint Under-Secretary to give one of his convincing explanations to the House.
§ Lord John Hope
I shall do my best to convince the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) about the reasonableness of my answer to the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser). After we have all been together for so many weeks discussing so many Amendments, I wish, if only for "Auld Lang Syne", that I could have given way on this Amendment.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes rose——
§ Lord John Hope
It is all right; it is Burns.
I undertook to look into the matter. There is substance in the point which the hon. Member has raised. When I gave my undertaking, the right hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) 473 reinforced what his hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton had said by expressing the hope that I would look at the matter seriously. I certainly have done so, and at length.
The hon. Member for Hamilton during the Committee stage went straight to the point of the recurring penalty. That is the real point. I hoped very much that it would be possible to meet him, because in equity one felt instinctively that this would be the fair way to deal with the matter. I will tell him what transpired as soon as I looked into the matter.
If it were always open to a landlord to remedy a breach, there would certainly be something to be said for a recurring fine, for example, a fine for every day that the breach remained unremedied. Then one was faced with the case where the breach consisted of the sale of a farm of which the landlord had persuaded the Land Court to give him possession on the ground that he himself would farm it.
Then, let us suppose, the landlord sells the farm in breach of the conditions imposed upon him, and the buyer comes in. Unless we have a monetary penalty on a once-and-for-all basis, it seems that the blow will fall on the purchaser, because the farm is not being farmed as the Land Court—in England it would be the lands tribunal—said it was to be farmed. Therefore, strictly speaking, the then owner himself would be in breach. That is the difficulty.
Another rather interesting fact emerged at this point. I realised that that flaw in the position obtains in the Act, as it has been on the Statute Book for all these years.
§ Lord John Hope
Of course it does not make it any better, but the penalty of two years' rent which is now to be imposed as a fine improves the position, because it can be handled without any injustice to a succeeding purchaser or another tenant. It is an awkward complex of circumstances, but there is no way round it, and all other things being equal this would seem the right way to proceed. Whether a penalty of two years' rent is severe enough is a matter of argument, but the Amendment 474 is not concerned with that point. I think that the penalty probably is severe enough; it is quite a heavy one.
It is fair to mention that up to the present there has not been a single case in which the Secretary of State has had to take possession in these circumstances, and there is no reason to suppose that there will be a case of a landlord behaving this way in future. I realise that that is not a logical answer, but it is not an entirely unsatisfactory reflection on the state of affairs. That being so, I must ask the hon. Gentleman to agree that we could not recommend the acceptance of the Amendment, because it would not work, and it would be unfair to the successors.
§ Mr. T. Williams
I feel that we ought to divide on this issue, because the answer which the Joint Under-Secretary has given is not conclusive. However, if the noble Lord will undertake that between now and the time when the Bill reaches another place he will reconsider the matter in the light that I shall try to set out, my hon. Friends may think again about dividing the House.
I am concerned about the situation for two reasons. First, the original tenant who is given notice has to go; he must either find other land or an alternative occupation. The landlord who gave him notice to quit has had certain conditions imposed upon him by the Land Court before he gave the tenant notice to quit, and if he defaults, for one reason or another, under the Clause as it now stands the Land Court can fine the landlord up to a maximum of two years' rent. That is almost equivalent to the situation that existed in 1923. Worse still, the money goes to the Treasury, and the tenant who has been dispossessed does not get three farthings. That does not seem to be very equitable for the tenant
Secondly—and even worse, perhaps—a landowner may, with ingenious arguments, deliberately conspire to obtain a decision which is favourable to him, even though he knows that he is never going to fulfil the conditions which the Land Court imposes upon him, because he would rather pay the fine so long as he can get possession. That does not seem to be rational, and that is why I ask the noble Lord to try to find a means of preventing a landlord being so ready to 475 serve a notice to quit in order to obtain possession, while the tenant does not even receive compensation for having to go.
I cannot believe that this is an impossible problem for the Lord Chancellor and the legal luminaries of Scotland to solve if they make up their minds to solve it. We do not want to vote for the Amendment simply for the sake of doing so, and if the noble Lord can give us an assurance that between now and the time when the Bill reaches another place he will reconsider the situation, we may be persuaded not to divide. At the moment, however, it would seem that we shall be returning exactly to the conditions which applied in 1923, when no tenant could feel that he had any security of tenure. Our request is a reasonable one, and I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to respond to it.
§ Sir J. Duncan
I am rather impressed by the case put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams). I do not like the idea of a landlord getting hold of his land by deceit—because that is what it amounts to. But I do not think that the Amendment can be accepted as it is. Although I am not a lawyer and I do not know the Scottish law, I would have thought that if a land court allows a landlord to take possession in certain conditions, and after the landlord has obtained possession he fails to fulfil those conditions, he is in breach of an order of the court. That being so, cannot he be made to come under the ordinary law and be prosecuted by the sheriff for being in breach of an order of the court?
There are different circumstances, of course. It may well be that it is only after the landlord has obtained possession that he finds he cannot fulfil the necessary conditions. In that case I can see that many difficulties might arise, although I should have thought the right thing to do would be for the landlord to go back to the Land Court and ask to be let off his obligations, on the ground that they could not be fulfilled. Where it is clear that the landlord has obtained possession by deceit, however, I should have thought that it was possible for the ordinary course of law to come into operation, and for the fiscal or sheriff, or even quarter sessions, to deal with him. I believe that the English expression is "contempt of court", 476 although I do not think that the same expression is used in Scotland.
If that point could be taken into consideration by my noble Friend I feel that it would improve the situation and do justice in cases where the landlord obtained possession by a trick. I hope that my noble Friend will do his best to see if the procedure that I have referred to can be put into operation, or provided for when the Bill reaches another place.
§ Mr. Paget
This matter obviously needs looking at again. What surprised me was the assumption which hon. Members on both sides of the House seem to have made that under the Bill as it stands only one prosecution can be brought. I am very glad to see that the Solicitor-General for Scotland is here, because under the terms of the Clause, I should have thought that each time the landlord came before the court in respect of a continuing offence the appropriate matters could be proved, and a further penalty imposed. I cannot see anything to stop anyone having to go to court a second time under the Clause—but doubtless that is an aspect which will be considered when the Government look into the situation again.
§ Lord John Hope
Obviously, I cannot commit myself about what will be done in another place. But I can say that the debate on this Amendment has underlined the fact that we all recognise the situation is not per se satisfactory. I doubt whether it can be improved on, but having said that, may I add that there is no harm in having a further investigation to see whether it is possible to improve it. I have no doubt that such further consideration will be given, but I cannot give any sort of commitment.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
I had hoped that the Joint Under-Secretary would go just a little further. May I take the House back to what the hon. Gentleman said in the first place? He said that in the last ten years there had not been any cases where owners had failed to keep faith with the conditions imposed on them when they got possession of a tenancy. The hon. Gentleman will agree that during that period there has hardly been any opportunity for the Land Court to attach conditions. But in future such opportunities will be many. The Land Court will consider applications for consent to notices to quit and will attach conditions. That is the whole point of Clause 3.
477 In the past, most applications for consent to notices to quit came to executive committees and most of them were refused at that stage and never went to the Land Court. Now the Government have deliberately provided that there will be greater opportunities for obtaining consent to the possession by the owner of a farm which has been let to a tenant. Under Clause 3 the owner will not have to go to an executive committee. He will go straight to the Land Court.
There are many different conditions which may be attached to such possession. The Joint Under-Secretary dealt with only one, that the owner would farm the land himself. The hon. Gentleman said it might be a breach of the condition that, having got possession, the owner did not farm the land but sold the farm and that, in those circumstances, surely he could not be prosecuted more than once. I thought that not a good example. It may well be that the rent of a particular farm is low, it may be that it is £2 an acre, when anyone would realise that the market rent should be £4, £5 or even £6 an acre. The owner might consider that the farm was an attractive property to put on the market. He might not wish merely to raise the rent and get £4 or £5 or even £6 an acre. He might take the view that if he could get the tenant out, he could obtain a good price for the farm by putting it on the market with vacant possession.
The Joint Under-Secretary has suggested that it would be adequate to impose a fine upon an owner, who had obtained possession of a farm by decision of the Land Court on condition that he farmed it himself. Should the owner breach the condition imposed by the Land Court, he would be guilty of deliberate deceit, as was said by the hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan). The maximum fine which could be imposed upon him would be an amount equal to two years' rent at the hopelessly inadequate figure at which the rent of the farm stood.
But there are so many other conditions which could be breached. The owner might wish to change the nature of the agricultural activity carried out on the farm. That might be possible only after a change of tenancy. But having secured a change, or having got the previous 478 tenant evicted so that he himself might carry on with some new farming activity in the national interest, the owner might ignore the condition, until the Crown made application to the Land Court that he was in breach of condition. Then, presumably, he would be fined not more than two years' rent at the figure obtaining when the previous tenant occupied the farm, because by that time there would be no current rental figure.
That might prove a small price for the owner to pay to get possession of his land, and it would be unfair to allow such a position to obtain. I think that the Joint Under-Secretary, in response to pleas by hon. Members from both sides of the House, should go a bit further than he has. It may be that this is not the way in which the Schedule, and, therefore, Section 30 of the Act, can be amended. It may be that we should make quite clear, abundantly clear—I should be most willing to do this—that at any time, if a condition had been attached to a consent to a notice to quit, the owner could come back to the Land Court and say that such condition was no longer appropriate and should not be enforced; that the condition should either be withdrawn altogether, or varied or modified, so that there would be no possibility of any punitive repetition of application to the Land Court against the owner.
If the Joint Under-Secretary would say that he is most willing to see in what way the abuse, which is recognised by hon. Members on both sides of the House, could be avoided, we should not persist with this Amendment. I think that the hon. Gentleman must go a little further than he has gone as yet. Let him say that he is determined with his right hon. Friend to stop this abuse, and then we shall not proceed with this Amendment. This is not a party matter and we do not want to persist with the Amendment, but it would not be possible for me to withdraw it, in the light of what has been said, without a further undertaking from the Joint Under-Secretary.
§ Lord John Hope
I do not think that I can go so far as to say that I will see in what way this abuse will be stopped. What I meant to say before—I will say 479 it now—is that I will see whether there is any way in which it can be stopped. I do not think that the hon. Member can, in fairness, expect me to do more. Until I have looked into this matter again I cannot do more. It had been thrashed out with the greatest care long before the last investigation was made by myself. But there is nothing like going on trying. I do not think I can do more. I cannot say that I will find a way in which this abuse can be stopped.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
As I do not wish to close the door by having a vote on it, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Order for Third Reading read—[Queen's consent on behalf of the Crown, the Duchy of Lancaster, and the Duchy of Cornwall, signified.]
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hare
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
Since the Second Reading debate last March we have spent over 70 hours discussing the Bill in Committee and on Report. I have no complaint to make about that. Long as our discussions may have been, acute as our differences of opinion may be, I think that throughout we have conducted our proceedings with good temper and restraint. Undoubtedly, the Bill has been improved by the discussions upon it, but basically it is the same as when it was presented to the House. I make no apology for that. I was convinced last March, and I am still more convinced today, that what we are doing by the Bill is in the interests of British farming. I am sorry that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have opposed the main provisions with great vehemence. In my opinion—it is only my opinion—they have been raising bogeys in which there was very little substance.
We have argued at great length over Clause 1, the repeal of State powers to dispossess and supervise farmers and landowners. I notice that hon. Gentlemen opposite are somewhat cautious as to how they would use these powers if they, by some unfortunate mischance, were returned to office. They imply that they would bring the powers back. I think that they are far too coy really to say that they would make the extensive 480 use of these powers which was originally intended, and I very much doubt whether, in practice, they would use them in the circumstances of today. It has been suggested that, even so, the mere existence of the powers acts as a spur to efficient farming. I do not believe that. One cannot make an incompetent farmer into a good one by threats or fear or compulsion.
§ Mr. Hare
One may be able to do so by advice and assistance, and there I disagree with the right hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) in his interruption.
These powers are, in my opinion, unusuable in present-day conditions. Throughout all our proceedings hon. Gentlemen opposite failed to show how these powers of State supervision and dispossession are of direct value to farming. Therefore, since they have failed to do that, they have had to fall back on a constant repetition of the theme that the Bill is a first step in the abolition of the guaranteed prices for farmers. In this assertion there is not the slightest shadow of truth whatever.
In defending his speech yesterday, the right hon. Member for Don Valley said that repetition was the law of propaganda. I am afraid that is just what his speeches and those of his hon. Friends are—party propaganda. If farmers and landowners were afraid that the price supports would be knocked from under them, we should have heard about it in no uncertain terms.
§ Mr. Hare
I am not referring to our discussions in Committee. There would have been a clamour outside the House against the Bill. There has, in fact, been nothing of the sort. The attempt by hon. Gentlemen opposite to create alarm and despondency in the farming community has failed.
The price guarantees to farmers are widely recognised now as a proper safeguard on social and economic grounds and as the equivalent of assistance which other industries of national importance receive, each in its own way. The guarantees to farmers are set out on a permanent basis in clear and unmistakable terms in the Agriculture Act 481 introduced by my predecessor last year. That is the charter for British agriculture—that, and, I am glad to say, the very much better understanding which now exists between town and country. They are not affected in the slightest by the repeal of what I can only describe as useless and outmoded State controls.
The other Clauses of the Bill represent, in the main, a constructive reappraisal of the operation of the tenancy system under the important Acts of 1947 and 1948. As I said on Second Reading, the landlord-tenant partnership in this country is, I believe, the envy of the world. We on this side are determined to maintain that partnership on a healthy basis. This means a fair sharing of rewards and responsibilities. Clauses 2 to 6 are, therefore, not a landlord's charter, but, rather, are designed to keep the landlord-tenant partnership on a really sound and workable basis.
The provisions regarding security of tenure and the provision of capital equipment necessary to comply with statutory regulations were in principle agreed by farmers and landowners and have not had very much opposition in our discussions. The weight of our discussions has fallen on the Clause dealing with rental arbitration. Here, again, it seems to me that hon. Gentlemen opposite have, perhaps deliberately, set out to raise unnecessary fears about how the Clause would operate. The Clause provides that if a rent is to be settled by arbitration the arbitrator shall fix a rent at which the holding might reasonably be expected to be let in the open market by a willing landlord to a willing tenant. I honestly believe that most people accept the principle lying behind that.
It seems to us that it was very much this principle which was intended when the 1947 and 1948 Acts were passed. I have already reminded the right hon. Member for Don Valley that it was he who said in Standing Committee in 1947:We think that the right figure is the actual rent that a landlord can get on the open market from a willing tenant who is about to become the occupier."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A. 13th March, 1947; c. 518.]Surely the existing tenant of a farm can reasonably be asked to pay the rent which a new tenant coming into the farm would pay. The existing tenant rightly enjoys security of tenure, but most people will 482 agree, I think, that security should not mean the right to farm at a rent below the market value.
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have been trying to create the anxiety that arbitrators will be compelled under the Clause to adopt as their standard the highest bids put in when a tenancy is offered on the open market. I suggest that this really cannot be read into the Clause as it stands. There is no doubt that a landlord faced with a number of offers from potential tenants will accept the best offer, but the point I am making is that the best offer is a very different thing from the highest bid. The House will realise, I hope, that there is an important difference between sales of farms and lettings. A seller is disposing of his interest in the farm and, if he is sure that the purchaser has the money, he will accept the highest bid. But the landowner retains a close and vital interest in the property. Every arbitrator knows perfectly well the reluctance of landlords to let to inexperienced or bad tenants even if they offer—perhaps particularly if they offer—a very high rent. The interpretation of the Clause will be in the hands of men who professionally are daily advising landowners on this kind of thing. A similar Section has of course, operated for several years in relation to business premises quite satisfactorily.
Other points have been raised on this formula, points which seem to arise perhaps from a failure to treat the formula in its full context. We are, in effect, writing this new formula into Section 8 of the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1948. The provisions of that Section remain in full force. Therefore, arbitrators in assessing rents are required to leave out of account the value of improvements carried out by the tenant. They leave out of account also the value of any grants towards improvements made by the landlord. This does not seem to have been appreciated by everybody who has spoken and written about the Bill.
I feel, therefore, that the provision about rent, if we consider it carefully and dispassionately, is clear and fair. The rent fixed by arbitration will be an open market rent for the farm, and that does not mean a freak or fancy rent such as, I suppose, very occasionally may be offered and accepted. It means the 483 normal open market rent which would be offered and accepted by sensible farmers and sensible landowners.
I would emphasise that we are dealing here only with rents where agreement cannot be reached between the tenant and the landlord. It may well be that some landlords are prepared to agree rents with their tenants which are less than the lettings in the open market. That is a matter for them. But I really cannot see the reason why any landlord should be compelled to accept less than the open market rent, and, on the whole, I think that the tenant farmers will recognise the justice of that.
Equally, I can assure farmers that they need not in any way be scared in negotiations by stories that arbitrators will be forced to fix rents greater than the normal run of open market lettings. Hon. Members opposite have tried to play up this point into the supposition that this would be a major change in farm rents. It is nothing of the sort. Of course, everybody knows that there is not and never has been rent control in agriculture. The Bill is concerned only with rental arbitration. It introduces no new principle. It merely restates clearly the original intention of present legislation. In my opinion, it does so with complete fairness to both landlord and tenant, and there is nothing in it which should disturb the farming community.
I have spoken at some length about the rent Clause because of the obvious misunderstanding about what it is intended to do and what in the opinion of the Government and its Law Officers the Clause in fact does. The other Clauses are, however, I think, of very considerable importance. The new Clause on security of tenure will, I think, be an immense improvement when it is brought into practice. I should like to take this opportunity once more to pay a very special tribute to the statesmanship of the N.F.U. and the C.L.A. in reaching agreement on what is obviously a very tricky subject. It shows better than anything else that I have said earlier what a fine partnership exists between landowners and tenant farmers.
The extension of tenants' rights in Clause 4 against unsatisfactory landlords will, I hope, also be important in deal- 484 ing with perhaps a limited number of difficult cases. Finally, the transfer of functions from the Minister of Agriculture and his county agricultural committees to the Lord Chancellor and the agricultural land tribunals will mean that the procedure for handling landlord and tenant relations will conform with the important principles laid down in the Franks Report.
This is an important and valuable Bill. It is not intended to make sweeping changes in our farming legislation. But taken together with the 1957 Act, the Bill adapts to changing conditions the provisions of the 1947 and 1948 Acts. Our approach has been practical. We have examined carefully how these things are working out in practice. We found that the powers of supervision and dispossession could not be used in present-day conditions and could never be used without major changes in procedure. The sensible course was to get rid of them. The provisions on rents set out in the 1948 Act have not, in practice, proved sufficiently clear to achieve the intentions of the Act. We have, therefore, clarified them. The provisions for security of tenure have proved in practice to give too much protection to the bad farmer, too little opportunity to keen young farmers and too little encouragement to the landowner to make the best use of his land. In short, the partnership between farmer and landowner was working under strain. We are trying to put that right.
Now that the Bill has reached its final stages in the House. I hope that hon. Members opposite will agree, whether or not they like it, that doctrinally it is a sensible and practical Measure which is much needed for the good of farming today.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Williams
After two days on Second Reading, twenty meetings of the Committee and a day and a half on Report, I find it extremely difficult to produce something new to say on Third Reading. However, I have one consolation. I think that I replied yesterday to the Minister's speech of today, so I need not worry about that. Nor do I think it necessary to find additional arguments to those that we have already advanced against giving the Bill a Third Reading. From the beginning we have maintained that it is based on doctrinaire prejudices 485 rather than justifiable reasons that drag the industry into the cockpit of politics, that it has created doubt and apprehension in the minds of many farmers, and, finally, that it could militate against the best interests of both the industry and the nation.
The Minister has been good enough on several occasions to give us credit for the sincerity of our beliefs, and, not unnaturally, he claims the same credit for the sincerity of his own beliefs. But when one searches the records for the right hon. Gentleman's arguments and reasons in favour of the Bill, they seem to me to be excessively weak and unconvincing. Firstly, we are told that the disciplinary powers are out of date and ineffective; secondly, that the use of them sometimes causes serious hardship; thirdly, that they are more difficult to administer today than several years ago; and, finally, that the Franks Committee's recommendations, which the Government readily accepted, forced the hand of the Government in producing the Bill.
I think that there is a ready answer to all those submissions of the Minister and the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. If the disciplinary powers were ineffective over past years, it was not because it was difficult to administer them; it was because their use had been discouraged by various Ministers. As the Joint Parliamentary Secretary told us in his famous reply to a Parliamentary Question, his right hon. Friend's advice was that county agricultural executive committees were to deal only with very bad cases. So it was not a case of it being more difficult, but a case of ministerial discouragement of the use of the powers given to county agricultural executive committees.
I recall that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer some three years ago in this House stated that we had reached a time when we ought, more or less, to rely on persuasion rather than on disciplinary powers, which satisfied me, at all events, that disciplinary powers were on the way out at the first suitable opportunity. My prophetic instinct was not very far wrong either. Therefore, that ineffective horse does not run at all.
Secondly, it is said that serious hardship was caused in certain cases. I do not doubt that that was the case. But that could only happen where a tenant 486 or estate owner failed to fulfil the reasonable conditions of husbandry or estate ownership, despite all the help, advice, guidance and encouragement given by county executive agricultural committees and advisory officers.
Thirdly, if it was more difficult to administer these powers than heretofore, that was more or less because of ministerial interference with county agricultural executive committees.
Fourthly, the Franks Committee never suggested that Part II of the 1947 Act should be repealed. Of course, many of the recommendations of the Franks Committee need not have been accepted by the Government at all, except that they provided a reasonable excuse to the Government to remove the lot. However sincere the Minister might be, his reasons and his arguments are wholly unconvincing for the repeal of Part II of the 1947 Act. I believe that the Government have never liked the idea of Part II at all, and they have taken the first opportunity that came their way to get rid of it.
The Minister suggested that we were now in a prosperous age. I do not know what he means by "prosperous", but I suppose he means that we are now in an age of plenty. He thinks that the need for the gentle pressure towards efficiency no longer exists. He seems to forget that the 1947 Act, with all its implications, was not passed merely to meet a period of shortage or emergency. It was a long-term plan, a policy, to provide stability and continuity and to allow the industry to play its full part in the national economy. All sections of the industry accepted their share of responsibility just as readily as they accepted the financial assistance provided by the taxpayer.
We all know that if the disciplinary powers had been used unfairly or unreasonably the National Farmers' Union and the Country Landowners' Association would have protested violently. So far as I can recall, they did not protest during my term of office, of which there were four or five years. I do not know that they have protested since. We know that these powers were not abused, but that they were used, just as we hoped in 1947 they would be, fairly, helpfully and reasonably. There can be no doubt that this latent but gently used power helped enormously to improve efficiency all over the country and that the Treasury, as the 487 right hon. Gentleman knows, is very pleased to benefit to the extent of £25 million a year because of it.
Why, then, except for doctrinaire reasons, introduce this jarring note? Why are the Government disturbing a system which has proved successful to the industry and to the nation? On these benches we are no more anxious to dispossess a tenant farmer or a landowner than are Government supporters. We prefer—and I imagine that this applies also to Government supporters—to see farmers, landowners and estate owners happy and contented, using their skill and knowledge and making the best possible use of the limited acres of this country, free from the wildly fluctuating cycles and uncertainties that were the bane of their lives in the inter-war years.
It is the Government, with this Bill, who have crossed the wires. It is the Government who have created doubts and disturbed confidence in the future. I made a reference yesterday to the Government's attitude towards output. I thought I detected a note of anger in the Minister's voice. I would remind him, although perhaps I am not old enough to give him advice, of advice which was given to me many years ago. It was, "Never lose your temper, my boy. It's worth more to you than to anybody else." I would advise the Minister to read the speeches of his colleagues during the Second Reading of the 1947 Bill, and his own recent speeches and those of his predecessor. He will then probably begin to realise the reason for the confusion in the countryside and why so many farmers interpret the Bill differently from the right hon. Gentleman and his Parliamentary Secretary.
The Parliamentary Secretary said yesterday, replying to one of our Amendments, "All's quiet on the farming front", except for the disaffection that we on these benches were trying to promote. The hon. Gentleman knew then, as he knows now, that that was just plain nonsense. When the National Farmers' Union consulted its county branches, of the first 48 answers it received, 47 counties were utterly opposed to the repeal of Part II of the 1947 Act. He said that somebody had been trying to promote fear in their minds that if Part II goes Part I may go.
488 So far as I recollect, I did not go to a farmers' meeting between the time when the National Farmers' Union consulted its county branches and the sending in by those branches of their decisions. I do not think I influenced one person or one vote. Why did 47 out of 48 branches vote against the right hon. Gentleman and his Bill if they did not fear that there was something lurking behind it that might not be too pleasant?
Hon. Members on these benches have not been trying to influence the county branches of the National Farmers' Union, but we know of hon. Members on Government benches who have tried to influence those branches. While they are members of the National Farmers' Union, if they feel disposed to try to influence their branches there is no reason why they should not do so.
§ Mr. Godber
The point I was making was not quite that. The right hon. Gentleman must have misunderstood what I said, which was that subsequent to the Second Reading debate in this House, all misgivings, except that coming from the benches opposite, had died away. The whole campaign had died down.
§ Mr. Williams
I can only say that that is not my recollection. Rightly or wrongly—and I do not argue the point—the farmers felt that they were under an obligation to fulfil the conditions of Part II of the 1947 Act if they were to get the benefits of Part I. With their recollections of 1921 I do not wonder that there were doubts and anxieties in their minds. Certainly they feared that if Part II went Part I might follow. If I had been a farmer I should probably have been feeling the same way.
Indeed, it would have been very remarkable if the farmers had not reacted just as they did upon the introduction of the Bill. After all, they were partners in the scheme. They helped to build it up and to make it work. Why should they not protest against the dismantling of a part of it by the Government without even entering into discussion with the National Farmers' Union? That is exactly what is happening. I would not expect the farmers to mass in Trafalgar Square or parade down Whitehall in order to enter their protest; nor would I deny that there are farmers who remain 489 unmoved by the repeal of Part II. They are the "take all but put nothing" variety of farmers. I am convinced that the vast majority of farmers would prefer not only to fulfil their obligations, their part of the bargain, but that society should know that they were doing so. Society will never know now whether the farmers are fulfilling their part of the bargain or not.
We cannot hope to convince the Minister. His mind was made up before he became Minister of Agriculture. It was made up for him by his predecessor and by the Cabinet of which he forms a part. His mind has been locked, bolted and barred ever since by the Cabinet. That does not apply only to Clause 1 but to every part of the Bill. For example, the right hon. Gentleman said quite a good deal about Clause 2 today. I do not intend to follow him, but only to say that Clause 2 is a highly contentious Clause. Two important parties are involved in it, the landowners and the tenants. This was produced without the approval of or very much discussion with the National Farmers' Union.
There was plenty of room, I think, for some sort of compromise to remove the doubts and fears of farmers, but the right hon. Gentleman made no approach to it. When it was made clear by those who know the law much better than I can hope to know it that no two lawyers were of the same opinion on the interpretation of Clause 2, and it was felt that widely divergent decisions might be given in different parts of the country, the right hon. Gentleman did not help.
Not that I—I at least can speak for myself on this occasion—have tried to whip up fear in the minds and hearts of farmers that rents will rise steeply. They may. I do not know. In any case, we are as much concerned to see that the landowner gets a square deal as that the tenant farmer does, but we want to see the tenant farmer get a square deal, too. I am advised that Clause 2 goes beyond what even the Country Landowners' Association has generally asked for, but the Minister stands pat, as he stood pat through the twenty sittings of the Standing Committee. He reminds me of the two bottles of milk on the doorstep. The label on 490 one said "Grade A. Attested. Feeling fine and fresh". The label on the second said, "What a pity I am sterilised." It almost looks as though the right hon. Gentleman was sterilised before he had a chance to give vent to what may have been his own feelings.
§ Mr. Williams
I am glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say so.
I would not dare to make a prophecy, but if rents do here and there rise steeply we shall have a repetition of what happened to the Minister of Housing and Local Government. We shall have the Minister of Agriculture coming here to amend his own Measure to avoid a riot in the countryside.
I am not going to touch on the other Clauses. We have stated our case against the Bill because we feel that we are right, and we feel it keenly. We regard this as a wrecking Bill unwanted by anybody but the Conservative Government. The efficiency of tenant farmers in future will be determined by a series of lawyers most of whom know nothing about farming at all. Estate owners and owner-occupiers will do as much or as little as they like. Where confidence has reigned for a long time there is doubt and anxiety. We seem to be proceeding from stability to instability. One more push of this kind and we shall be back into the glorious 'twenties and 'thirties. If one part of one Act can be repealed, there is no reason why another part of the same Act or another Act cannot be repealed later.
We hope for the sake of the industry and the country that we are all wrong. We feel that we are right, but we hope that we are all wrong. But who can trust the present Government with their record? We shall lose in the Division Lobby—there is no doubt about that—but when we get the chance we shall win in the country.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) that after 20 sittings of the Standing Committee it is not very easy to find something new to say about the Bill, but I have the advantage over him in one respect in that I was absent most of yesterday. It is natural that the right 491 hon. Gentleman should view the passing of this disciplinary power of the old Part II with a certain nostalgia because he built that structure into the 1947 Act and to that extent it is his baby. The trouble is that he does not realise that the circumstances with which those disciplinary provisions were designed to deal in 1947 are absent today, so that the provisions are totally inapplicable.
A great deal has happened since then. It is eleven years later, and there is not a world food shortage. The circumstances are absolutely different from what they were then. To an increasing degree the situation has got easier. As production increased, as efficiency was increased and as the world food shortage decreased the disciplinary powers of which the right hon. Gentleman is so proud became neither more nor less than window dressing and there was nothing whatever behind them.
The right hon. Gentleman said that we have alleged that the powers were being abused. That is not so. I do not think that any of us on these benches have alleged that the powers were abused. That would have been very unfair and quite untrue. They were not being abused. They were just not being used. They were falling into disuse.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
For the simple reason, as has been said many times, that you cannot get members of the county agricultural executive committees, in normal peace time, to use such a sanction as dispossession against their neighbours. That is why.
The party opposite has never been able to make up its mind whether the disciplinary power should be regarded as a carrot or a stick. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite have oscillated between the carrot and the stick during our discussions on the Bill. They really cannot have it both ways. Nor have they ever answered the vital question, if they wish to retain the disciplinary powers—never mind for the moment about what the Franks Report said—do they wish them to be enforced? In other words, do they want more dispossession orders?
By whom are those dispossession orders to be enforced? They will not be enforced by members of the county agricultural 492 executive committees in any part of the country.
§ Mr. T. Williams
Does the hon. Gentleman really believe that we want to see farmers dispossessed for the sake of seeing them dispossessed? The case for our Measure was not that we wanted to see the tenant farmers dispossessed, but that we wanted them to increase their efficiency and to become really first-class farmers. Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that the policy has succeeded?
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
I do not know. It depends upon the point of view.
Is it now suggested that the supervision order, which was the forerunner of the dispossession order, was intended to help or succeeded in helping the farmer to make more profit than he otherwise would make? The supervision order was a stigma not only on the individual farmer but also on the land he occupied. The Parliamentary Secretary yesterday dealt with the argument very fully.
When my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Sir T. Dugdale) became Minister of Agriculture after the right hon. Member for Don Valley had gone out of office he really tried to enforce the disciplinary measures and to persuade the county agricultural executive committees to be a little more ruthless, to be stricter in their issuing of supervision orders. I am not talking of disposession, but of supervision. The figures tell their own story. There were 774 supervision orders in 1951, when the right hon. Gentleman opposite was Minister. Then my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks, became Minister and tried hard to get the county committees to enforce the discipline, and at the end of a year the figures had been bumped up, to 998 in 1952. Then they dropped progressively, to 543 in 1953, dwindling to 236 in 1954.
Does the right hon. Gentleman want to retain all these disciplinary powers for 236 supervision orders? The C.A.E.C.s, of course, were not anxious to be more ruthless in the issue of supervision orders because, as I have stated before and state again—and I am not prepared to be challenged in any quarter of the House on this—a supervision order is a stigma. It is not an assistance at all.
On Clause 2, the right hon. Gentleman did his best to arouse all sorts of 493 apprehensions and fears about the new instructions or directions given to arbitrators resulting in the possibility of increased rents. [An HON. MEMBER: "When and where?"] I listened to the right hon. Gentleman's speech just now, and I heard many of his speeches in Committee. Two things are to be said about Clause 2. The first is that very few rents are fixed by arbitration. I do not know how many million rents are paid half-yearly in England, Wales and Scotland. It must be a very large number, but very few of them are fixed by arbitration. I meant to look up the figures before this debate, but I forgot. I have a figure in my mind which, I think, was given by the Parliamentary Secretary in Committee. It was that the number last year was 139, but I am open to correction. It is, however, an infinitely small proportion.
Secondly, rents fixed by arbitration are a great deal lower than rents fixed either by agreement or at open-market letting. The difference between rents fixed by arbitration and rents fixed by open-market letting is about 40 per cent. Thirdly, there is a wide disparity and lack of uniformity in the way in which arbitrators at present apply the rules. Some arbitrators give what might be called a discount to a sitting tenant and others do not.
Another point is that between 1923 and 1947 the open market was the criteria, for the simple reason that before 1947 There was not the kind of security of tenure that we know now. Therefore, the open-market figure was the yardstick. My hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Sir A. Baldwin) knows that quite well. Is it suggested that between those years, 1923 and 1947, the arbitrators awarded rents at absurdly high levels? I have never heard that suggested. As my right hon. Friend the Minister said, security of tenure is designed to enable farmers to farm efficiently and not to enable them to pay a rent which is well below the economic rent, and farmers would not wish to do that.
The kind of progressive tenant that one finds today, with probably an agricultural degree, a good deal of practical experience and knowledge of all the scientific aids now happily available, can well afford to pay a very good rent. It is only fair that the landlord, for his part, by reason of the rent, should be able to 494 afford to equip the holding at a standard which would enable the tenant to make the best use of the land, and, incidentally, make very good profits, too.
The correspondence on this subject in The Times recently has been very interesting. The job of the arbitrator, as pointed out in a letter in Tire Tunes, either today or yesterday, is to know the market value and not to fix the rent at a level which he thinks a certain individual tenant can pay. His job is to fix the market letting value of any given farm. A great deal has been said in Committee and on Report about the hobby farmer, that mysterious figure the stockbroker-farmer, who offers an absurdly high rent. It is suggested that an arbitrator, when asked to arbitrate on the rent of a farm, names the sort of figure that a hobby farmer would offer. I have never before heard such nonsense. To make that sort of suggestion is quite unnecessary. It is a disgraceful and unfair comment on the intelligence and integrity of arbitrators who are a very able body of men.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
Hobby farmers as a whole do not become tenants for two good reasons. The first is that the landlord is very unwilling to spend a great deal of capital on unnecessary frills to satisfy the whims of a hobby farmer. The other is——
§ Mr. Peart
Will the hon. Gentleman give way? Is he aware that the Attorney-General said in Committee that the purpose of the Bill was actually to give instructions to arbitrators and to restrict their judgment? That was a principle which the Attorney-General accepted, but now the hon. Member argues that arbitrators should be left to exercise their own free will.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
I am not arguing anything of the sort. I am saying that the phrase in the Bill—a rent at which the holding might reasonably be expected to be let—does not cover the sort of absurd offer that a hobby farmer might make. It does not mean an unreasonable rent or a freak rent which might be offered in a particular case.
As to Clause 3, I welcome the slight loosening in the security of tenure. It is 495 wholly advantageous to the agricultural industry and to the general relationship betwen landlord and tenant. Whatever certain sections of the N.F.U. and hon. Members opposite may say, there is one section of the farming community which is absolutely delighted with Clause 3, and that is the young and go-ahead farmers. Up to now, with the security of tenure unaltered under the 1947 Act, the young progressive farmer who wants to get on has been invited to climb a ladder without rungs. There has been stagnation. It is precisely because of the difficulties and obstacles put in his way that we have the absurd disparity between the rent of a farm let with vacant possession and of a farm to be let in the open market.
Clause 4 gives a tenant a new and very important right which is perfectly fair and justified. Its actual impact is a good deal narrower than some sections of the agricultural community have thought on first impression. It is quite right to compel a landlord to carry out repairs and improvements to enable a tenant to comply with statutory regulations. Indeed, if he does not, a tenant might well get into trouble by contravening those regulations, for example, the milk and dairy regulations. But it was never meant to compel a landlord to spend money either on an uneconomic holding, or on one the future of which would be so uncertain that the prudent landlord as defined in the Farm Improvement Scheme, would be unwilling to spend money on it.
It is quite right that the Bill has been amended in Committee and on Report in such a way as to make the economic factor an extremely important safeguard, Under the 1957 Act improvement grants are not given for uneconomic holdings. Indeed their amalgamation is encouraged. It would be absurd therefore if the Government, by this Bill, compelled the landlord to spend money on fixed equipment for a holding which was uneconomic or whose future was uncertain.
I support the Bill because I believe that it will bring benefit to the agricultural industry. I believe that it will do something which has been needed for some time, it will bring agricultural legislation up to date with the requirements of 1958, instead of harking back to the requirements of 1947.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Peart
The hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe), in a speech in which he repeated arguments expressed cogently in Committee, repeated the argument that the Bill allows the arbitrator to have free discretion. That was why I intervened in his speech. The Attorney-General argued this, but within the principles of the Bill, when he said in Committee, on the discussion of Clause 2:By giving him these signposts or criteria, one will facilitate him in the discharge of his task.But why have signposts for a skilled professional man? He knows his job better than the people who framed Clause 2.
Then, again, the Attorney-General argued that the Government were wishing to achieve uniformity in the country, when he said:If what I have suggested is the position, it is desirable that we should try to secure a greater degree of uniformity throughout the country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 8th May, 1958; c. 342 and 341.]We have always argued that skilled arbitrators should be able to interpret the law as it is, and that there has been no demand from any section of the profession to alter the law in this respect. Over and over again the Attorney-General, the Minister and the Joint Parliamentary Secretary have inferred that responsible opinion in the profession has suggested an alteration, but we have repeatedly challenged the Attorney-General to give us any information about a professional body connected with arbitration pressing the Government to make an alteration in the law. Over and over again we have stressed this, and even at this late stage of the Bill no evidence has been produced. The fact is that arbitrators in the country have mat wished for this change. No responsible opinion has asked for it, and I am certain that the Government can give no evidence showing that they have been in consultation with the professional bodies concerned.
We argue that agriculture, and the issue of a dispute between a tenant and a landlord concerning the raising of rents, will vary from county to county. There can be no uniformity in this matter. For that reason we strongly oppose the principles contained in Clause 2.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
There is no question of actual uniformity because, as the hon. Gentleman says, there is a vast difference between one county and another. We are arguing in favour of uniformity of principle in application, which is quite different.
§ Mr. Peart
Why give signposts? Why restrict the arbitrator? I do not want to quote another part of the speech of the Attorney-General; it was dreary enough in Committee. We are merely saying that the Government are, by their legislation, seeking to give guidance to the arbitrator, to give signposts, to restrict him to the principles contained in Clause 2. That was the argument of the Attorney-General. We are merely saying that arbitrators are skilled men in interpreting the law and that there has been no volume of opinion in the professional world which wishes to alter the law.
Therefore, despite what the hon. Gentleman has said, we suspect that the Clause is weighting the law against the tenant farmer. My hon. Friends have called this a landlords' charter, and even when we are discussing the technical aspects of the Bill in relation to arbitration we feel that in this respect the Government are weighting the law through their instructions to the arbitrator, and are weighting opinion against the tenant farmer. Indeed, that is precisely why my hon. Friends over and over again during the Committee stage, by various Amendments, have sought to protect the tenant farmer. That is why we oppose the Bill.
We feel that Clause 2 is a bad Clause. Moreover, we are certain that it would be far better if the Government had waited until the survey on farm rents has been completed. We argued on Second Reading and again during the Committee stage that the Department of Estate Management at Cambridge is still conducting its survey. There should have been no rush in this matter, and the Government could easily have waited until that survey was completed.
It may well be that farm rents in many areas are too low, as was argued by the hon. Member for Windsor in Committee, but it would have been far better if the Government had waited. We feel they have rushed into this matter because they are doctrinaire. The hon. 498 Member for Windsor repeated the argument about ending powers. This view was stressed forcefully by the Minister. Hon Gentlemen opposite feel that the powers contained in the 1947 Act are now unworkable because there are changed circumstances and because we are not living in an age when we want to produce much more food because of world shortages.
Hon. Gentlemen did not argue this when the 1947 Act was going through the House of Commons. Neither have they done so in their political pamphlets or in their political statements. I would be out of order if I became too involved in talking about the 1947 Act, although this Bill is repealing part of the powers contained in that Act. Yet hon. Gentlemen opposite never argued that they would only support the use of disciplinary powers because there was a world food shortage as a result of the war.
Indeed, the National Farmers' Union, in the charter which it produced early in that period, never argued this. It has always been argued by hon. Gentlemen opposite in support of the 1947 Act that there must be a quid pro quo. Hon. Gentlemen have argued, and Ministers have made statements on this, that if the State is to give guarantees to the farmers in the form of assured markets and guaranteed prices, there must be arrangements whereby the State can exert a measure of responsibility. In this case it was expressed through the powers contained in the 1947 Act and also in the administrative arrangements to enforce that Act. Indeed, the very existence of county agricultural executive committees in the pattern of our post-war agricultural administration showed this.
So we have argued the principle that it is right that the State should exert its responsibility, representing the nation, the producers and the consumers, so that the farm land of this country should be farmed properly and estates managed efficiently. That is a principle which was accepted generally by hon. Gentlemen opposite. I know there were exceptions, and I will refer to them. The hon. Member for Leominster (Sir A. Baldwin), for instance, always argued against this. He consistently stood by his point of view, and I admire him for it, but responsible opinion in the Conservative Party, even when that party 499 assumed political power, never accepted the point of view of the hon. Member for Leominster. It always argued that the State must have a measure of responsibility.
I believe that, despite the accumulation of surpluses, conditions in the world today have not changed. I believe that there is still a need to increase food production. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, has shown that if we increase the standard of living all over the world by improved nutrition, etc., there will still be a great demand for food, and that demand should continue.
There is not a lessening of the demand for food. Unfortunately, there is still a failure of world authorities to organise the distribution of food. In the past men like Lord Boyd-Orr have campaigned for the setting up of a world food organisation which would be able to distribute food. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, if I am straying a little, but I am merely illustrating my argument that the Bill is unnecessary.
In present world circumstances we must still increase food production. More than that, we have a balance of payments problem, and it is right and proper that we should increase our own food production. Surely hon. Members opposite will not argue that we should not seek to stimulate food production.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
Surely the hon. Member is not trying to claim that 236 supervision orders, or whatever the number is, are either enforcing discipline or improving efficiency.
§ Mr. Peart
What I am saying is that if supervision is carried out efficiently by county executive committees in a drive for increased food production, the supervision has an effect. The Joint Parliamentary Secretary in the Committee stage quoted figures about estate management in Wales where 300 supervision orders were made. It is true that in that instance only three estate owners were dispossessed, but I believe that the supervision action had an effect in Wales.
§ Mr. Peart
As my right hon. Friend says, there was an improvement. The 500 existence of supervision orders improved the position. I would say to the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen), who is supporting the Government in this matter, that supervision action had its effect in Wales. I am certain that tenant farmers who are anxious to have good estate management approve the administrative action of county committees in making supervision orders.
It is not true to say that because there are only a few cases of dispossession supervision has not worked. It is right that the State should have that sanction, though it should not be used indiscriminately. After all, the people who really decide to use the sanctions are farmers, landowners and the county committees which are acting as the agents of the Minister, not some powerful civil servant in Whitehall who wishes to act bureaucratically. The orders are really carried out by the industry itself. That is precisely our argument; by supporting the Bill hon. Members opposite are destroying the partnership in the industry.
Hon. Members opposite have not always taken their present view. They have been changing their view over the last three or four years, and not for the reason of the hon. Member for Leominster. They are doing it because sections in the Conservative Party are doctrinaire about agriculture and the running of our economic life. There is, for example, the argument about setting the people free. The charter for agriculture which was produced by the Tory Central Office has been turned down. Certain business interests are succeeding. I will not go into much detail, but hon. Members opposite are destroying a partnership, and that is a tragedy. We hold our point of view just as sincerely as hon. Members opposite do, just as the hon. Member for Windsor sincerely believes his point of view.
This Bill will work against the interests of the nation. We must continue to plan our agriculture. Conditions have not changed. Not only do we wish to make our contribution to food production, not only do we wish to challenge our balance of payment problem, but we wish to improve the fertility of our soil. We believe that we can do this only if we plan. That is why I am sorry that the partnership has been destroyed.
501 The county committees have done a good job. Over and over again in Committee we argued that the taking away in particular of the powers in Clause 1 would discourage them. In reply to that argument the Minister or the Joint Parliamentary Secretary said that there were many other functions for the committees, suggesting that they could be responsible for advisory services, and so on. More and more of those services are being taken over by skilled technicians in agriculture and by Civil Service administration.
I want to see an administrative organisation for agriculture where producers and landlords have equal responsibility. Such responsibility is being taken away, and in the end this action will discourage men and women serving on county committees. I hope I am wrong, because the committees have done a wonderful job, having supplied leadership in the countryside. There was a time, when the Labour Government was in power, when certain hon. Members opposite sniped at the committees and sought to discourage their work, but I believe that hon. Members opposite will now agree with me when I say that those who have served on the committees have done well.
The Bill is a wrecking Measure. The Minister has said that it is complementary to the 1957 Act. In that Act the Government legislated for declining farm incomes. The Joint Parliamentary Secretary has never refuted the figures, and the simple fact is that farm incomes have declined since the Government came into power. The farming world interpreted the 1957 Act as legislating for a decline in incomes. Coupled with that Act, the Bill gives no security and inspires no confidence in the countryside.
My right hon. Friend has demonstrated over and over again that responsible farm opinion is opposed to the Bill. This is not because we have gone out to the countryside to make speeches and spread propaganda; the farmers genuinely believe that the Bill is wrong and that we have here a reversal of the policy contained in the 1947 Act. We oppose the Bill this evening because we believe it to be a bad one. We have been unable to improve it in any real way. The Government, who have resisted any attempt to improve the position of the tenant farmer, have introduced the Bill 502 for doctrinaire reasons and are destroying a partnership in agriculture which will, in the long run, have bad effects upon our food production.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Sir A. Baldwin
The right hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) said yesterday that repetition was the law of propaganda. I am afraid that I shall have to indulge in a certain amount of repetition because I want thoroughly to endorse what my right hon. Friend the Minister has said. His was a realistic speech, and one that I think will meet with approval from the whole farming community.
We had about twenty sittings in Standing Committee and have spent four days in the House considering the Bill, and for a great deal of the time we have had to listen to very unrealistic speeches from the Opposition. What is the truth about the agitation of farmers against the removal of the disciplinary powers in Part II of the Agriculture Act, 1947? When the Act first saw the light of day, there was fear, which was helped along by the Opposition, that the Conservative Government would follow the example set by the Coalition Government led by the late Earl Lloyd George in 1921. That Coalition Government did away with the Corn Production Act, and the fear was that the Conservative Government would do away with guaranteed prices.
I think that the actions taken by my right hon. Friend and the Government generally should disprove that. The fears of the farmers were aroused a month or two ago, and the leaders of the N.F.U. helped the various branches in their meeting to condemn this Bill, root and branch. What is the position today? I propose to repeat some of the things I said yesterday, and I suggest that farmers are becoming satisfied, or are almost entirely satisfied, with the fact that the disciplinary powers, which they never wanted and with which they never agreed, do not mean doing away with their guaranteed prices. Although I said that yesterday, I think it deserves repeating.
I was at a meeting last Friday with two of my colleagues, the hon. Members for Ludlow (Mr. Holland-Martin) and Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro). That meeting had been called by the farmers 503 so that they might bombard their representatives with questions on all their problems. I have here the agenda. The Agriculture Bill was mentioned, as were the marketing boards, but the representatives of the farmers never said a single word about the repeal of Part II of the Act. Nor did they express the slightest anxiety that this step will lead to doing away with guaranteed prices.
The only matter that was mentioned was one which I certainly think does create a certain amount of doubt and fear in the mind of the farmers, and that concerns Clause 2, with which I will deal a little later. During the whole meeting, which lasted between two and three hours, not one word was said about Part II, on which we have spent so much time. The farmers raised other questions about milk, bacon, eggs, and so forth.
Last week, I also met representatives of a National Farmers' Union branch in the East of England, and spent some time talking to them about their problems. Not one single one of them wanted to see these disciplinary powers and the power of dispossession retained. It is quite wrong for hon. and right hon. Members opposite to give the impression in this House that the vast majority of farmers are against this Bill.
Supervision and dispossession never worked; and I am speaking as a member of a district committee during the war, before the Act was passed but when the same powers were in existence. I would say that if these supervisory powers had not been in existence, production would have increased. There were plenty of farmers who were on the margin, but who were afraid to go to their local agriculture advisory service to get assistance, because they were afraid that the report from the advisory committee's officers would be sent to the county executive committee and that they would be put under supervision. Therefore, I say that in actual fact the supervision orders were a detriment to production.
I am speaking as a member of a district committee in one area, while farming in another. I could quote many examples from within a few miles of my own farm. The position was absolutely ludicrous. There were farmers who were not producing 25 per cent. of 504 what they should have produced, but no action was taken against them. Not one was put under supervision, when, in a time of food scarcity like the period during the war, they should have been turned out and should have made way for more capable young farmers.
As the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) has said, I was against this provision when the 1947 Act was passed. I was against the over-security of tenure which was given to farmers, and I spoke at farmers' meetings for that purpose. I always put myself right with the meetings at the beginning by saying, "I know quite well that I shall not get support from the older Members sitting in front of me, but I know quite well that the young farmers at the back of the room will agree with me, because they will know that, if we get over-security of tenure, it will simply mean that they will never have the chance of putting their feet on the ladder and getting farms themselves." That has been proved to be perfectly correct. This over-security of tenure has done more to break up the landlord and tenant system than anything else of which I know.
We on this side of the House have been accused of weighting the balance in favour of the landlord and of endeavouring to break up the landlord and tenant system, but that is a system which we on this side of the House approve. We know that if we do not act fairly towards the landlords, we shall break up the landlord and tenant system completely. How many hon. Members opposite can get up and say in how many instances where farms have come into the market, either through death or for any other reason, the landlords have been prepared to re-let the farms, knowing full well that, under the security of tenure which at present exists, when they re-let them they will part with the freehold, and all they will be left to do will be to pay the bills for the repairs as they come along? The result of this has been that landlords have not re-let their farms; they either farm them themselves or have sold them.
With this Bill, there will certainly be more flexibility in this respect, and the young farmers will have the chance of getting into farms without having to buy them. I am quite certain that the effect of the Bill will be not only that the young farmers will get the chance of farms, but that it will stop these excessive rents 505 which are being offered when farms are offered for letting by tender. If there are more farms available, that will have the same effect as had the Landlord and Tenant Act. It will mean that there will be some farms open for renting by young farmers, and, therefore, the excessive prices, whether for the freehold or for renting, will be done away with.
Yesterday, the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling) was very unrealistic in the attitude which he took in the course of his speech. He said that the Government were weighting the Bill in favour of the landlord. I entirely disagree with that. We want to keep the landlord and tenant system, and to do it without what the hon. Member suggested—control of agriculture. The hon. Member said that it was still right that agriculture should be kept under control. Will hon. Members opposite go to rural constituencies and tell the farmers there that their plan is to put them under more control? I do not think they will.
§ Sir A. Baldwin
I am quite sure that this Bill will help the landlord and tenant system to a very large extent.
Now I come to the Clause which has created a certain amount of fear in the minds of farmers, and that concerns the question of what have been called the instructions to arbitrators. If I may declare an interest, may I say that I was at one time an arbitrator? I can assure the House that we had only the 1923 Act to go on, and that we did not take the slightest bit of notice of what the legal definition might be. We used our practical common sense, which we felt we had, or otherwise we should never have been appointed as arbitrators; and that will be what will happen now. It is completely erroneous to suppose that immediately the Bill becomes law, there will be numerous calls on arbitrators for fresh rents to be assessed. That has not happened before, and it will not happen in future. In most cases, the landlord and tenant, or agent and tenant, have agreed what the rent should be, and I 506 am sure that that arrangement will continue.
The hon. Member for Workington said that there had been no complaints from arbitrators. There was a meeting of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers in London last week, and it was agreed that Clause 2 would help valuers to decide what is meant by "an open market rent". Previously, decisions about what constituted an open market rent have varied from arbitrator to arbitrator. One has thought that it would be what a farm would realise in the open market, and another has decided that it was the rent in the open market, but taking into account the fact that there was a sitting tenant. The Clause has cleared the ground and has given arbitrators an indication of the meaning of "open market rent".
I expect that all hon. Members have received the latest memorandum from the National Farmers' Union in which the union expresses its fears about this matter. It is the wording of the Clause which I do not like and which farmers do not like, and I still hope that my right hon. Friend will reconsider the matter so that in another place steps can be taken not to tell arbitrators what to do, but to clear the doubts of tenant farmers on the meaning of these words.
I know that the Law Officers have said that there is no definition for certain words which some of us wanted to include in the Clause. However, that does not matter. What we want to do is to remove the fear that farmers will have to pay rents assessed at ridiculous figures decided by what a hobby farmer would pay, or what would result from an open tender. The union has said in the memorandum:… we hope the Government will make it perfectly plain not merely to arbitrators, but to landowners, agents and tenant farmers that the clause is intended to produce a full fair rent justified by the agricultural value of the land: no more, no less. We are confident that arbitrators as a whole will award rents they consider fair and sensible, but we are anxious lest many working farmers, unversed in the niceties of legal language, may be hustled into accepting rent demands they cannot afford. …I hope that my right hon. Friend will give this matter some consideration and see that some simple words are used to make farmers appreciate that their fears are groundless. I have not the slightest 507 doubt that freak rents will not have the slightest effect on the decision of arbitrators.
We have to consider the land from an economic point of view. We have to satisfy the people that if a farm or land is purchased, it will be possible for it to be let at an economic figure. At present, there is much land which does not return the landowner a net 1 per cent. We want to encourage people to put their money into the land and to keep the landlord-tenant system going, not to force owners to sell land at fictitious prices in the open market.
It has been said that the Bill will result in reduced production because of the removal of disciplinary powers and supervision. We have had no disciplinary powers for two years—and, anyway, they never worked—but, in spite of that, production has risen 20 per cent. above what it was when we took office in 1951. At present, it is standing at 61 per cent. over the pre-war figure and the estimate for the current year is 63 per cent. It is ridiculous for hon. and right hon. Members to say that the Government's action will result in decreased production.
Let us remember that that increased production is coming from a smaller acreage. Much land has been taken for building, industry and other purposes. The hon. Member for Workington referred to the profitability of the industry, but the profitability in the last twelve months has increased by £30 million, and profitability is now greater than ever before. That is the answer to those who say that production and profitability are to be reduced.
These are not propaganda figures issued from the Conservative Central Office, but are figures agreed by the economists of the National Farmers' Union and Treasury representatives before the Price Review takes place. They are not figures brought out of the air, but figures agreed by both sides of the industry, and that fact should be noted.
In the Second Schedule, reference is made to the extent of repeals and so forth and more than ten Acts of Parliament are mentioned. The Bill is so shaped that it is impossible for the ordinary valuer, arbitrator or agent to give advice about it. In order to be sure of what he is doing, he has to search through numerous 508 Acts which have been emasculated. As soon as possible, we should have a Consolidation Bill to tidy up these bits and pieces so that we can have one major Act which we can all readily understand.
In my time as an arbitrator, I acted under the 1923 Act, which was a Consolidation Act, and which we all knew—and if we did not understand it, we could see the explanatory books which the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) produced and which gave guidance as a result of which we felt we could give advice with safety. As it is at present I should be very nervous about giving advice to anyone who asked me for it.
I recommend the Bill to the House. It is an excellent Bill, which will satisfy most farmers that their interests will still be looked after, in spite of what hon. Members opposite have done to try to make them uneasy. I can only hope that having done all they can to stop the Bill reaching the Statute Book, and having lost the battle, hon. Members opposite will now help the farming industry to get on with its job.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Roderic Bowen (Cardigan)
I approach the Bill at this stage and in its present state with very mixed feelings. The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) called it a wrecking Bill. I would not call it that, but it is a "curate's egg" of a Bill. Some of it is to be commended and some is still a source of considerable anxiety. It could have been improved immensely in Committee if the Minister had not been so intransigent. It has come to us substantially unaltered, and that is most unfortunate in some respects.
I am in substantial agreement with the contentions of Clauses 1, 4, 5 and 7, but I am far from happy about Clauses 2, 3 and 6. I agree almost entirely with everything said in regard to Clause 1 by the Minister. I welcome this step by the Government to repeal Part II of the 1947 Act. In so far as that repeal will have any practical effect—I do not think that it will have very much—it will help to produce a much more healthy atmosphere in the industry. Even the limited operation which Part II has had in recent years has been carried out with a feeling of loathing on the part of those who 509 have had to implement it. It has certainly been regarded as a distinct stigma by those who have been subjected to it.
I do not share the enthusiasm of the official Opposition for the existence of these powers, or their wish for a more extended exercise of them. Once the industry feels fully assured that the maintenance of Part I of the Act in no way depends upon the continuance of Part II it will feel relieved that these punitive powers of the State upon it—and it is the only industry in this country which is subjected to such powers—have been removed.
One hon. Member talked about a partnership between the farmer and the State. There is such a partnership, but it does not depend upon the existence of powers of punishment by one member of the partnership upon the other. It depends upon qualities far greater than that, which have nothing to do with punitive powers.
The right hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) referred to the fact that the Franks Committee had not recommended the repeal of Part II of the Agriculture Act of 1947. That is true; neither did the Committee suggest that the powers should continue—for the reason that any such recommendation would have been completely outside its terms of reference. What the Committee did say was that if the powers were to be continued those who would be subjected to the disciplinary action envisaged in Part II were entitled to elementary rights, just as is anyone else who has disciplinary action exercised against him. I welcome the fact that, rather than implement the recommendation of the Franks Committee to produce that elementary justice in the operation of Part II, the Government have gone further and decided to wipe it out altogether. The national advisory services will be able to operate in a much more healthy and wholesome way than they have done up to now.
Clause 4 gives tenants welcome rights, and I have no complaint about it, and I welcome the transference, under Clause 5, of a number of the Minister's functions to the Lord Chancellor's Department, and the placing of greater responsibilities, in a wider sphere of operation, upon land tribunals. I have had some professional experience of these tribunals, and in my 510 opinion they have carried out their work in a thoroughly commendable way ever since the 1947 Act came into operation. The right hon. Member for Don Valley suggested that this extension of the function of the tribunals was something in the nature of a lawyers' paradise. He forgets that a tribunal consists of three people—a legal chairman, with two other members who are essentially of the farming community.
I now turn to two of the three Clauses which cause me considerable anxiety—Clauses 2 and 3. The first lays down the formula for rents and the other deals with notices to quit. I commend the courage of the Government in attempting to deal with these two subjects. I do not suggest in any way that they did not require attention, and I agree with a great deal of what the hon. Member for Leominster (Sir A. Baldwin) had to say about the need for greater fluidity. One of the tragic features of modern agriculture is the difficulty experienced by the young farmer and farm worker in climbing the agricultural ladder.
I believe it was the Minister who referred to the partnership between landlord and tenant. I agree with the sentiments he expressed, but if it is to be a true partnership it must depend upon fair and equitable arrangements between the partners. Once we have a bias in favour of either the partnership is endangered. That is the test which I apply to Clauses 2 and 3.
Clause 2 could have been improved immensely during the Committee stage if Amendments—not necessarily in the precise form in which they were proposed, but upon the same lines—had been accepted by the Government. I believe that the formula laid down in the Bill may—I do not put it any higher—lead to an unfair bias in favour of the landlord and against the tenant when rents are fixed. The hon. Member for Leominster talked about what he used to do, how he used his practical common sense, and I am sure that he did. But, after all, the Minister is laying down a formula for arbitrators and they are bound by it. They would not be bound to exercise their practical common sense within the framework of the formula, but they cannot go outside it. They cannot pray in aid what the Minister has said about the formula. They will be bound by the specific wording of it as legally interpreted.
511 Looking at the formula, it is quite clear that it will not exclude freak rents. The reference to an open market makes that inevitable. So we shall have the arbitrator bound by the formula, having to take account of freak and abnormal rents which bear no relationship to particular agricultural values or to values in the district generally.
§ Sir A. Baldwin
An arbitrator is appointed and makes his decision. He does not have to tell anybody of the facts on which he has based that decision. There is no appeal against his decision, unless he has misconducted himself, and, therefore, we shall find that the arbitrator is not bound by the terms of that formula.
§ Mr. Bowen
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman used the phrase "unless he has misconducted himself". It is clear, for example, that if an arbitrator acted contrary to the formula laid down in Clause 2, he would have misconducted himself. He might be cagey enough to avoid disclosing that he had done so, but the plain fact is that arguments based on the formula might be advanced to the arbitrator which, if he acted honestly, he could not reject just because he did not agree with the formula. He is bound by it. In this respect I should prefer things to be left as they are; that the arbitrator be allowed to arbitrate on the rent properly payable, and to give full weight to the practical common sense of the hon. Member for Leominster.
It seems to me there is a danger that, by reason of going to arbitration, tenants may have to pay inflated rents which do not bear a true relationship to the agricultural value of the land concerned or the agricultural values in the area as a whole. I make no complaint about the phrase of the hon. Member for Leominster, "a full fair rent justified by the agricultural value of the land." Why could not a phrase of that kind be incorporated in the formula? That would have avoided all the apprehensions expressed about Clause 2 during the Committee stage discussions.
It has been said that very few rents are fixed by arbitration, that most are fixed by agreement, and I agree. But one of the factors—it is only one of a number—to be considered in determining what rent a tenant is prepared to pay and a landlord is willing to accept, is the 512 formula which would be applied if they failed to agree and had to go to arbitration. So this formula will not only affect cases which go to arbitration; it will influence the whole basis of voluntary agreement between landlord and tenant. Therefore, it will have a significance outside the actual arbitration hearings.
Clause 3 could have been improved substantially during the Committee stage, but it has been left materially unchanged. I concede that it contains safeguards affecting certain aspects, but in this Clause there are still matters which give cause for anxiety. The one to which I wish particularly to refer is in paragraph (b) in the subsection which it is proposed to substitute for Section 25 (1) of the 1948 Act. Although there has been an Amendment to this paragraph, the fact remains that the landlord, under the terms of the Bill as drafted, can invoke it for the purpose of carrying out a compulsory amalgamation of two holdings, both of which are being farmed without complaint.
I listened with alarm to the speech about this matter made last night by the Solicitor-General for Scotland. It is clear that although a farmer may be farming his land in a perfectly sound way, if it is in the interests of the management of a larger estate that his farm and other farms should be amalgamated, the landlord, by the provisions of this Clause, is enabled to serve a notice to quit upon that farmer, and none of the saving provisos in the Clause will prevent such a notice from operating. It would be far more equitable had the landlord to establish that such an amalgamation was in the interests of sound management of the land being farmed by the person affected by a notice to quit.
There are other matters in the Bill about which I am critical. I believe that the Minister has lost an admirable opportunity to produce what could have been a really good Measure by refusing to accept Amendments, particularly to Clauses 2 and 3, which would have placed the landlord and tenant relationship on a fair basis. Clauses 2 and 3 do not provide such a fair basis. Although I wholeheartedly welcome the abolition of Part II of the 1947 Act, and despite the fact that in some other respects the Bill contains some necessary and desirable provisions, my disquiet about other parts of it, particularly Clauses 2, 3 and 6, are such that I do not consider that it deserves the blessing of this House.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. William Whitelaw (Penrith and The Border)
I am sorry that, having steered a careful middle way for some time, the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) eventually appeared to fall down on what I considered to be the wrong side of the fence. Nevertheless, his support on the important issue of principle in Clause 1 is valuable, coming from one for whom I have considerable respect. I hope that during my few remarks I may be able to show the hon. and learned Member why I do not share his fears about Clauses 2, 3 and 6.
During what might be described as our somewhat lengthy discussions on the Bill, I have constantly heard it said that the Bill was unnecessary and that we should remain where we were with the 1947 Act, which, somehow or other, should be sacrosanct for all time. On the other hand, of course, it is widely accepted that the agricultural industry has made great progress in recent years. I would have thought, therefore, that it is desirable that we should bring our agricultural legislation into line with the present-day requirements of the industry. I welcome the Bill, because, in my view, that is exactly what it does.
Having been subjected to the full weight of the barrage of arguments against Clause 1, I remain quite unimpressed by them. I simply do not believe that the land will be well farmed only if farmers are constantly threatened with a big stick. Indeed, any such suggestion would be quite properly resented in our countryside. On the contrary, I believe that advice and persuasion are far more likely to achieve results than threats and coercion.
It is encouraging today to note the keenness with which the vast majority of farmers seek knowledge on new developments. As a result, the advisory services, the agricultural colleges and the county farm schools have all achieved considerable success in encouraging the use of new and improved methods. Nor, in this respect, should one forget the valuable influence amongst the younger generation of the young farmers' clubs.
The root problem, however, remains. It is simply that the same small minority of farmers who would benefit most from such advice are just those whom it is 514 most difficult for anyone to reach. Equally, they are the same farmers who were likely to be affected by disciplinary powers. I have no doubt that the fear of supervision and dispossession has deterred them hitherto from approaching the advisory services. I am quite sure, therefore, that as a result of the Bill, the advisory services will find it far easier to gain the confidence of such farmers and to help them, once the threat of these punitive measures has been removed. Consequently, I would say to those who are anxious, as we all are, to ensure the efficient farming of our land, that such methods of persuasion and assistance are far more likely to achieve the result they want than threats, coercion and a big stick.
Then, it is suggested by some that if the supervision and dispossession powers in Part II of the 1947 Act are removed, a future Government might be encouraged to sweep away the whole price guarantee system in Part I. I simply cannot see any foundation whatever for that fear, certainly not as far as the present Government are concerned.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I was born, but was not interested in agriculture to any great extent. I do not think that the vast majority of farmers are interested in 1921, either. They are interested in what goes on in 1958.
Anybody who suggests that this Government should want to sweep away Part I of the 1947 Act has to answer the question why, not so long ago, the Government strengthened it by the introduction of the 1957 Act. I know that it is suggested on the benches opposite that the 1957 Act has no value and that it was merely a charter for what people say is a declining industry. Nevertheless, it was very much welcomed by the industry at the time that it was introduced. Nobody can deny that it introduced guarantees which were not present in the 1947 Act. Furthermore, many farmers are beginning to appreciate the 1957 Act at this time, when world prices are falling. I can think of many of our industries 515 which would welcome a 1957 Act, or something like it at this moment. There is not an hon. Member who can deny that.
I turn now to the relationship between landlord and tenant. This is fundamental to our agricultural industry, unless, of course, it is sought to nationalise the land. I understand, however, that that proposal is less popular than it was. Indeed, we must do everything we can to foster the landlord and tenant system and ensure, as the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan rightly said, that it is conducted on a basis which is absolutely fair to both parties.
In that respect, everyone will welcome the agreement on security of tenure, which is what it was, between the C.L.A. and the N.F.U. which resulted in Clause 3.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I understand that the hon. Member speaks for Scotland and I know that in Scotland they did not agree. Equally, however, I understand that there was agreement between the English N.F.U. and the English C.L.A.
§ Mr. Fraser
Does the hon. Gentleman not know that the Minister has admitted from the Dispatch Box that the English N.F.U. had these discussions with the C.L.A. under duress? The C.L.A. was told that there had to be a Clause 3. It did not want one, but if there had to be such a Clause the Association was willing to play its part in determining its terms.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I am not concerned with the exact basis on which such agreement was reached. I do not want to put it too highly, or make a major point of it, but the fact is that when they got together on an important matter it is satisfactory to the agricultural industry that the two major partners in it should find it possible to reach an agreement, which they did. It shows that the two bodies, who inevitably approach the problem of security of tenure from very different points of view, as they are 516 bound to do, are ready, in spite of that, to work together for the good of the industry as a whole. Only the most blind or prejudiced would deny that this spirit is widespread among the individual members of both organisations. We would do well to remember this in considering Clause 2.
Inevitably, in framing legislation one has to concentrate on the very small minority of cases where the landlord and tenant cannot settle the rent by mutual agreement. As my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) said, however, it is a very small minority indeed. The rents which are fixed by agreement are also a great deal higher than those which have been awarded under arbitration. Those are two important points which put the whole question of Clause 2 into proper perspective.
As there is so much agreement, it is all the more important that when the arbitrator is called in his award should be manifestly fair to both sides. It has been clear for some time that the guidance previously given to arbitrators was not sufficiently specific. The words used—"the rent properly payable"—led to a situation where quite different rents were often awarded for precisely similar holdings in the same part of the country. I cannot see that that is fair either to the owner or to the tenant.
I am glad that an effort has been made in Clause 2 to make that guidance clear. I am sorry that those who are learned in the law, like the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan, do not feel that is so. I should have thought that the word "reasonably" which appears in the Clause would, in fact, eliminate any idea of freak rents. My hon. Friend the Member for Windsor has dealt with the issue of the hobby farmer and exposed it for the shallow little thing it is. I should have thought that by the mention of the wordsmight reasonably be expected to be let in the open market by a willing landlord to a willing tenant,the freak rent was excluded.
I also welcome Clause 4, as I think every hon. Member does, because it gives the tenant a proper right in regard to statutory requirements.
On the whole, it seems to me that the Bill fulfils its purpose of bringing 517 our agricultural legislation into line with the present-day requirements of the industry. I have not been persuaded that there is any valid reason for retaining punitive powers merely as a show when nobody wants to use them. I am quite sure that advice and persuasion will accomplish far more than a big stick, which was supposed to be wielded and, in fact, never was.
I support the Bill wholeheartedly as a Measure which I am quite sure will, with the 1957 Act, prove to be in the best interests of a sound and progressive agriculture.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
I am very sorry that the Minister is not now on the Front Bench because I want to begin by saying one nice thing about his speech. I found that he was most urbane and good humoured, but that is the only nice thing I can find to say about his speech. He had good cause to be good humoured because, at the end of seventy hours in Committee upstairs, and a day and a half here, he had come to the end of a long journey.
During his speech the right hon. Gentleman said, and we must of course think he is sincere—he spent a long time telling us—that he thought the Bill was in the best interests of the farming community. We do not think it is and we shall oppose its Third Reading later this evening. The Minister went on to raise bogies. We met this before the war somewhere else. It is a bit unworthy of a man who thinks he has a good case to attempt to distract the attention of his hearers by raising a false issue. The false issue was that hon. Members of this party had gone about the countryside and by their "propaganda" had attempted to whip up a completely false and phoney opposition to the Bill. The Minister knows that is not so. He knows it quite well. No hon. Members on these benches have gone to N.F.U. meetings and whipped up opposition. In the beginning and still now, it was and is genuine, spontaneous, solid, sincere opposition to the provisions of the Bill.
I turn to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. He is constantly telling us about N.F.U. branches. At the beginning he admitted that something like 47 or 48 county branches were against the 518 Bill. Then he gave the number as 45 to 43, after a month or two of sittings of the Committee upstairs. I challenge him. He said in the debate yesterday that the opposition now was negligible and that farmers as such were now on the side of the Government. Is that so? Has there been a Gallup Poll? How does the hon. Gentleman know? The hon. Member for Leominster (Sir A. Baldwin) spoke on the same theme.
One speaks as one finds in this matter. I do not know where the Parliamentary Secretary gets to. He tells me that he gets to many markets in the country. I should like him to say later, or even now if he will, what his figures are now in the matter of support for his party and the Government on this controversial Bill. It was at least controversial some weeks and months ago. I hope he will take my word for this. I assure him that when I speak to farmers in Warwickshire they are as adamant against it as they were. They get about. They go to markets in Northampton, Leicester and all over the Midlands and they still oppose the Bill.
§ Mr. Godber
The hon. Member deliberately challenged me. I do not say that counties have now passed resolutions supporting the Bill. I have never said that but I do say that opposition has died down. I would call in aid of that the fact that a number of hon. Members, including myself, received a memorandum from the N.F.U. yesterday or the day before in relation to this Bill. It is very significant that, although it made certain constructive points on other parts of the Bill, it did not even bother to mention Clause 1. If there is still sharp opposition to the Bill, it was not shown in that memorandum.
§ Mr. Johnson
This is like the story of the famous German philosopher who ceased knocking his head against the wall because of the pleasure it gave him to cease knocking his head against the wall. We are coming to the end of a long journey now and that is the way people feel about it. The Minister said, as the Parliamentary Secretary said a few seconds ago, that there is not now a campaign going on against the Bill. That is not to say that there are not still fears in the countryside. As we understand it, there are, but it is difficult to wage a campaign against a hypothetical future.
519 Our case is that if Part II of the 1947 Act is abolished, as it is by this Bill, slowly but surely Part I will also go. That is what the farmers feel, but since at the moment they still have guarantees and supports, they find it difficult to wage a campaign against what will happen in the future. They fear that will happen and they are very scared. We feel that it will inevitably follow on the liquidation of Part II of the 1947 Act. Make no mistake about it, those fears are there. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will convey my good wishes to the Minister and my comments on the Bill. The Minister said that he had no fears about it. Of course he has no fears. His future is not hypothetical; he will not be on the Government Front Bench in two years' time. He is wishing this baby on to our doorstep when we come back to power in 12 or 18 months' time. It is a little irresponsible to pass a Bill of this nature against the wishes of the countryside and to say to the Opposition, "This is your baby; handle this in 18 months' or two years' time when you come back."
This is a most undemocratic measure. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen constantly tell us that we are the doctrinaire side and they point, for example, to steel and say, "Here is this Labour Party. If it gets into power, it intends to nationalise steel once more". Thousands of pounds are spent on propaganda in the newspapers and elsewhere against what can happen if, or when, we return to power. Yet let us consider what the Tories are doing to the farmers. They allege that we shall force Measures upon an unwilling electorate, but this is exactly what they are, in fact, now doing. They have no support for this Measure, and they have had none since they first told the countryside about it. It is amusing that hon. Members of the party opposite, who are always trying, as it were, to whitewash themselves and point the finger at us, should go ahead like a steamroller to push this Measure through and make sure that, with the Whips on at ten o'clock it will be passed.
The Tories constantly say that they object to controls. Are these controls? Are these the "big stick" they talk about? Who is administering these alleged controls? Is it not self-discipline 520 in a closed community, among farmers living among themselves in their own villages'? Is it not self-government? Is it not almost syndicalism, in the old-fashioned text-book language, where an industry governs itself? The figures that the Minister gave earlier about the number of dispossession orders bears out what I say.
This is a genuine deterrent in the sense that the peers among farmers talk to their own colleagues and say, "This farm is not being looked after. If you continue like this something will happen." The deterrent is there. The atmosphere is there. It is nothing to do with a "big stick" used to evict poor, helpless, homeless people from their farms. If the Minister would turn his attention to the eviction of farm workers from farm cottages, that would be a much more useful task.
I know my constituents, tenant farmers, small farmers. They are exceedingly jealous in the task on which they are engaged—tending the soil. They are not like employees in factories. It is a calling different altogether from work in an urban setting in a big factory. Farmers jealously safeguard the land they tend. They have their standards. They feel that they are looking after a national heritage. The good feeling between the urban population and the countryside is important and it is something we must encourage; but Bills of this sort will not help in any way whatever.
I speak as I find. I know from what my constituents tell me that farmers fear that, if Part II goes, we shall once more have a campaign against them such as we had some years ago, which was typified, "sloganised", and best expressed in the word "featherbedding". They feel that, once invigilation of their work in looking after this national asset, the soil, goes, once accountability goes, then people will say, "Why do we subsidise and help these people if we cannot determine that the money is wisely spent?" Not many farmers waste or just dissipate the money given them. Of course not. There is a small hard core of bad farmers. That is all it is. The farmers themselves know that very well. They realise that, in their midst, there are some black sheep, so to speak, people who do not pull their weight.
521 There is no demand among farmers as such for the Measures now being pushed through by the Government. Farmers generally, like any other section of society, admit that there are some bad ones, some who are lazy or careless and who do not pull their weight, and therefore they are prepared to put up with these so-called controls. There has been no demand by genuine farmers for what the Government now intend to put upon the Statute Book. It is nothing more than doctrinaire policy on the part of the Government. They come along with their slogan, "Take away controls". The control may be a good one, as in this case it has been, but they want to take it away, not caring whether it is good or bad, merely because it is a control.
We oppose the Bill, and I honestly believe that I can speak for many hundreds of my constituents when I say that the farming community is opposed to it.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Sir J. Henderson-Stewart
My right hon. Friend in moving the Third Reading made an exceedingly good speech. I quarrel with only one part of it. He attributed what I thought was altogether too much importance to the propaganda efforts of the Opposition. Speaking for Scotland, I can tell the House that these propaganda efforts have proved an utter failure. I speak for the part of the country that I know. I took part in the recent by-election in Argyll from the north to the south. The result proved that as Scottish farmers have gradually come to appreciate what the Bill really does and does not do, they have realised more and more that the initial propaganda against it from the Opposition and from other quarters is entirely or mainly unjustified. Again I speak only for the part of the country that I know, but the truth is that there is no longer any broad opposition or uneasiness about the main tenor of the Bill. Propaganda against it has proved to be a complete failure.
We have reached the stage on Third Reading of reflecting, as it were, upon the general course of events. Two things are said by the Opposition today, as they have been said before, which can now be answered effectively. They were both 522 said by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson). One is that there is not and never has been any demand for this Measure, and, secondly, that there is no support for it. Neither is true.
Let me take them one at a time. Of course, the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser), who has spoken a great deal upon the Scottish situation, naturally says that there is no demand for removing the disciplinary powers. That is the stock Labour view about every attempt to restore freedom. The Labour Party believes in controls. It cannot conceive it possible that any human being can dislike controls. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman says that there is no demand. He said that there was justification for it in 1947 and he reminded us that we all supported that point of view. The hon. Gentleman was good enough to read an eloquent speech of mine delivered ten years ago when I agreed with that. But the hon. Gentleman is a man who never forgets and never learns. He never forgets what I said, which is very kind of him, but he has not learnt that things move forward and conditions today are not as they were ten years ago. They have changed, and although the hon. Gentleman may regret it the country does not regret it. Time after time when the Government have undertaken and carried through substantial alleviations of control they have been opposed by the Labour Party and eventually acclaimed by the country and proved to be absolutely right.
Let us consider the building industry. We sought to free the builders. This was attacked as the most dastardly national action. But it has proved to be a triumphant success. So will be the case here and so it is regarded by the farming community. I think that there will be a broad, lasting welcome by the farming community at the removal of these necessary wartime and immediate post-war measures.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
Does the hon. Member not appreciate that in 1947 he complained that it had taken twenty years for the House of Commons to accept his advice that these controls were absolutely essential? He had been advocating this policy for twenty years before 1947. Therefore, he cannot say that he supported the controls in 1947 during the 523 immediate post-war period simply because it was the post-war period.
§ Sir J. Henderson-Stewart
The hon. Member correctly quoted my words in Committee. Now he has tried to recall what I said and he has got my words wrong.
§ Sir J. Henderson-Stewart
Let the hon. Gentleman look for himself. I should like to proceed with a short speech; I do not want to take up too much time.
The next question is, is there and was there a demand for an alteration in the system of rents and in the system of security? Everybody admits—and the right hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) was most emphatic about it today—that this is an industry in which there is a two-partner system—landlord and tenant. The right hon. Gentleman said that he wanted fair play to both and that both were essential.
There is no doubt that the landlords have for years been appealing to us on the ground that the system of rent control and fixity of tenure was making it impossible for them to play their part in this partnership. That has been an insistent demand. An hon. Member may say, if he is a Socialist, "I do not listen to the landlord". All right. I understand that but that hon. Member cannot at the same time defend this dual partnership and disregard the continued demands of the landlords. It is an obvious demand. They have said, "How can you expect us to continue to invest our capital in property over which we have virtually no control whatever as to its income, ownership or possession?"
As to income, the right hon. Member for Don Valley admitted today that in many cases rents have been far below economic value, yet under the law it is not possible, save in exceptional cases, for the landlord to get a reasonable return. Because of that, are we asked to destroy the foundations of a prosperous agriculture? I have listened to the demands of owners of land. In my contacts, I have found the farmers in Fife very frank in their views. They have said to me, without any exceptions at all, that they recognise that the system of rents has not been fair to the landlords. That is the farmers' view and I challenge 524 anybody in the House tonight to give me the name of one reasonable farmer who does not take that view.
I come to the second matter upon which I claim there has been demand, security or fixity of tenure from the landlords. What is the problem there? The landlord has said to us, "How can you expect us to play our part in this dual system if we can never get possession of the land we own?" By circumstances which are quite fortuitous, the Scottish farm tenant has a fixity of tenure which was never intended and which is not enjoyed by tenants in England. I think I am right in saying that when the Labour Government discovered in 1947 this fixity of tenure, by a turn of the Scottish law which was unpremeditated, they would have been very glad to alter it, but it was too late.
Fortuitously, the Scottish tenant farmer has this fixity of tenure and the landlord says, How can I be expected to make my contribution to this partnership if I can never in any circumstances get possession of my land?" It is an unreasonable and impossible situation. Therefore, there has been a persistent demand for a readjustment of this matter of security. There again, I say, without fear of contradiction, that the reasonable farmer, be his farm large or small, recognises that a change in that situation is desirable and necessary in the interest of farming.
That being so, this is my conclusion. At the beginning members of the Farmers' Union were naturally anxious. The union was naturally critical. That, of course, is its function in life, whatever the Government. But I claim that as the weeks have passed and Amendments have been made to the Bill, some of them very important, particularly with regard to the Scottish situation, the effects of the Amendments have become apparent and the general tenor and purpose of the Bill have become better known. The anxieties which were natural at the beginning have gradually faded away.
I would not dream of saying that there are no anxieties, but as this Measure becomes law and as the arbitrators, in the few cases which they will handle, gradually proceed with their work, I am quite satisfied that farmers as well as landowners will regard this as a proper step forward in this age of growing freedom. That is the essence of it. The 525 Government are to be congratulated on that. I would offer, if I may, with the greatest respect, this modest piece of advice to Scottish Labour leaders, "You may write this off as a propaganda effort. It has been a complete failure and you had better forget it."
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
The hon. Baronet the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) was recently decorating the Front Bench opposite. I do not know why he was sacked.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am now beginning to understand why, but the hon. Gentleman has had some compensation in becoming a Baronet and, after his speech today, I have no doubt that he has earned his seat in another place. I am rather surprised that he should have repeated on the Floor of the House some of the statements which he made in Committee, when the Press reached a stage when it was not reporting our discussions at all. But the hon. Baronet advances the argument now that opposition to the Bill is the result of propaganda. He repeated the charge made by the Minister that the Opposition was raising bogeys in which there was little substance.
How far is this true? I became aware of strong opposition in Scotland to the provisions of the Bill when we met a deputation from the National Farmers' Union. We did not instigate the National Farmers' Union to come to us to create propaganda in Committee or on the Floor of the House. The union came to instigate us, and all along in Scotland there has been the strongest, continuous and most persistent opposition from the people who have the right to speak for the organised farmers of Scotland.
The idea that the initiative in this came from the Opposition in order to stir up trouble which has been ably frustrated by the genius of the noble Lord the Joint Under-Secretary who spoke for Scotland in Committee is a complete fantasy. The hon. Member for Fife, East challenged me to name a reasonable farmer who objected to the provisions of the Bill. I was immediately going to give him the name of the farmer 526 who is in trouble with the Minister who will speak for Scotland in another place. He is Mr. John Rennie of Pant, who is at present being arbitrated on against an unreasonable landlord who happens to be the Minister of State for the Scottish Office and who will support these provisions in the House of Lords. However, I do not wish to debate on individual personalities, except to say that I was promptly going to accept the challenge of the hon. Baronet. He knew that, and so he slipped off.
The idea that the National Farmers' Union has been manipulated by us is sheer nonsense. In fact, the National Farmers' Union came to us and put up its case, and there is not the slightest degree of relaxation of that opposition. Far from it being instigated by the Socialists, the most persistent critic of this Bill week after week in the Scottish Farmer has been the farmer who happens to be the Tory Vice-Chairman of the County Council of Ayrshire.
Week after week, Mr. William Young, both in the Scottish Farmer and in the Kilmarnock Standard has urged us to persist in our opposition to the Bill because it is the opposition called for by the farmers' organisations in Scotland. And although the hon. Baronet represents what he calls reasonable, intelligent, anonymous farmers, whose names we have not heard throughout the debate, and claims to express the point of view of the farming community, what we have to take into account is the organisation which represents the farmers of Scotland. There is not the slightest doubt that this organisation has issued its communiqués, has passed resolutions and has maintained persistent opposition.
The hon. Baronet referred to Argyll. In Argyll the combined vote of the Liberal and Labour candidates, who are opposed to the Bill, was in the majority. There was a majority against the Bill, and all I can say about Argyll is that as a result of the hon. Baronet's propaganda we hope the party opposite will send him round to every constituency in the country.
§ Mr. Hughes
I did not do very well because I was not there.
527 Let us turn to the Secretary of State for Scotland himself. He is under no delusion about the attitude of the National Farmers' Union of Scotland. He went to to the National Farmers' Union Conference. He went, and he saw, and he did not conquer. It did not work. Of course, if the noble Lord had been sent, it might have worked, and if we ever get the proceedings of this House televised during the course of an Agriculture Bill, I hope that the noble Lord is put up.
Let us see what the Scottish farmers said. I have innumerable quotations from which to choose. This is a good one. It is a quotation from the Scottish Farmer the week after the Secretary of State went to try to appease the farms—the Neville Chamberlain—
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)
Let us get it clear from the beginning that I did not go to appease the farmers. I went to explain what the Bill was about, and I had an extraordinarily good and very kind reception.
§ Mr. Hughes
We will examine that. The right hon. Gentleman is, of course, very plausible and a very good film star.
§ Mr. Hughes
Yes, plausible. Surely there is nothing wrong in using the word "plausible". I could say much worse things than that. We must remember that we are in politics.
I was about to tell the House of the reception given to the Secretary of State by the Scottish farmers. If all the farmers were so much in favour of the Bill, why did the right hon. Gentleman want to go there and convince them? The right hon. Gentleman's words are different from the version given by the hon. Baronet.
§ Mr. Maclay
I think it wise to keep the story correct stage by stage. It is normal for the Secretary of State in some years to go to the annual meeting of the Scottish National Farmers' Union. I was not able to go the previous year, but I went this year. It happened to be the year of this Bill, and so the obvious thing for me to do was to explain what the Bill was about.
§ Mr. Hughes
I have before me a report of the meeting. There was a good photograph of the right hon. Gentleman, too. If his speech had been as good as his photograph he would have won hands down. The Scottish Farmer says:The speech by the Secretary of State for Scotland to the annual meeting of the National Farmers' Union, persuasive and emphatic though it might be, obviously did not convert many of his audience to his point of view that the Bi1J is in the very best interests of Scottish agriculture! Nor did the speech alter by one wit the decision of the council—a decision taken after the most careful consideration and study—that the Bill must be opposed in the interests of Scottish agriculure.This was not before but afterwards.Neither broad assurances, irritable insinuations that the Bill has been completely misunderstood … will change the farmer's belief for a moment that when it comes down to particular and individual cases his fears will be confirmed.After there has been this persistent barrage of criticism of the Minister from the National Farmers' Union itself both on the issue of the agricultural committees and on the issue of Clause 6——
§ Mr. Mackie
As the hon. Member knows, I represent a constituency in a very important part of southern Scotland where we have some of the richest dairy ground in Britain and Europe, but I have had not one letter from a farmer or any representative of the Scottish National Farmers' Union about this matter.
§ Mr. Hughes
I can explain that. Any farmer reading HANSARD would conclude that the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Mackie) had died in 1950.
§ Mr. Mackie
The hon. Member is making very heavy weather about the various branches of the National Farmers' Union being against the Bill, but how does he square that with the fact that I have not received one letter containing reference to the situation?
§ Mr. Hughes
I have given what I think is the genuine explanation. Evidently the farmers of Galloway think the hon. Member is actually dead. When they read today's HANSARD they will be pleased to 529 know that he has undergone a resurrection. I should like to illustrate how unfair this procedure has been to the hon. Member for Galloway. I have a great personal regard for him. I do not wish him to be dead; I am glad that he is here. If the hon. Gentleman had been on that Committee—he could not even get on the Committee——
§ Mr. Hughes
This is extraordinary. Here is an issue affecting the farmers of Scotland and about 70 constituencies, and how many of us were able to get on this Committee? Six. "Too many," says the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. Hughes
Well, somebody said "Too many."
This is the right hon. Gentleman who is supposed to protect the interests of Scotland. The farmers of Galloway must have known that the hon. Member for Galloway was not on the Committee. There were only six of us on the Committee, three from either side. When this Bill, which has now been amended, was before the Scottish Grand Committee, every Member from Scotland who represented farmers at all was able to put the farmers' point of view. Now they have so whittled down Scottish rights and representation that only six were on the Committee, and one was the noble lord——
§ Mr. Hughes
It is an open question who put me in, but the fact is that I got in. I want to put this as the background to what I think is a major injustice to Scotland as far as the procedure on this Bill is concerned. There were only six of us, and when the vital Clause 6, affecting the future of security of tenure in Scotland, was before the Committee, three voted against the Government and two voted for the Government, The other hon. Gentleman, I believe, was 530 away representing Scotland at the Trooping of the Colour.
§ Lord John Hope
To get the record right, though I speak subject to correction, I think the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) was busy in Argyll when we voted on Clause 6, and did not, in fact, vote against it.
§ Mr. Hughes
Unfortunately, that does not affect the record. This is the record. In any case, even assuming that the mathematical calculations of the noble lord are better than his arguments about agriculture, let us assume that it is a question of twos and threes. This matter of the whole future of agriculture in Scotland was being dealt with by these methods. This was not a Bill which was before the whole Scottish Grand Committee, when all Scottish Members are entitled to be present, but one which was left to a small coterie of people, while the great majority of the people representing Scottish agriculture were not represented at all. They took very good care that the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) was not on the Committee. They took very good care that the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. John MacLeod) was not on the Committee. They put on the Committee three tame stooges who did not represent the farming community at all.
I wish to stress only two points. The question of the abolition of the agricultural executive committees was a subject on which we were petitioned by the National Farmers' Union of Scotland. They were of the opinion that these Committees should be continued. This is what they said, this was their representation to us and that was what they asked us to do. We did it to the best of our ability.
On the question of security of tenure, the National Farmers' Union urged us to oppose on every possible occasion the provisions of Clause 6. We did that. We represented our farming constituents who at every step urged, implored and begged us to oppose the Bill in the interests of the farmers and of agriculture. That is what we have done. The time will come when hon. Members opposite, who failed in their duty and who let down farmers and agriculture, will have to account to their constituents—and I know the answer which their constituents will give to them.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Sir Lancelot Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)
I hope that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emyrs Hughes) will forgive me if I do not follow the line which he was adopting. I am anxious not to do so for two reasons, first, because I do not want to become involved in this internecine strife in Scotland and, secondly, because I did not understand what he was talking about. I want to make a few remarks on the subject matter of the debate.
I welcome the Bill. With many other hon. Members, I frequently spoke in the debates on the 1947 Measure. In view of the various remarks which have been made today, I must say that while we all considered that Measure to be a charter for agriculture, none of us at the time, or since, considered that it was an irrevocable code of law for agriculture, something like the laws of the Medes and Persians, which could never be altered, or something which had to stand for all time so that agriculture should not fail.
I say, with some deference in the presence of the right hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams), who will recall these facts more vividly even than I, that we all thought that the 1947 Act enshrined the basic principles which we felt could be the foundation for a stable agriculture, but we were all prepared to envisage that, as times changed and as the status of the industry itself changed, it would be necessary to implement those principles by a variation of policy.
That is what we are now seeking to do. In those days, compulsion and the threat of compulsion was not only fashionable but almost habitual. We had become accustomed to it during the war and it was being continued. Today, we have reached the point, not only in agriculture but generally throughout the country, of embracing a new sense of freedom and of putting that sense of freedom into practice.
I cannot understand why anybody should feel that agriculture and especially farmers themselves should be the one section of the community which should not enjoy the benefits of that freedom. It is true that we recognise what was not recognised in 1947, that farming requires special support. That has been shown and established again in the legislation of 1957.
532 However, many other industries are also recognised to need special support and they get it in a variety of ways—tariffs, quotas, international agreements and so on. Yet, so far as I am aware, there is not one other industry which considers that its special support is a quid pro quo for the sanctions which are imposed on it.
It is a most extraordinary line of argument to say that agriculture is to be on a basis similar to that of other industries which are recognised to need special support, but shall forfeit or risk the forfeiture of that freedom. If it is to be on a basis similar to that of other industries, it should be relieved of the sanctions under which it at present suffers because of the 1947 Act.
I cannot see any reason why farmers should have any anxiety about the removal of these sanctions by Clause 1; in fact, in my area of Sussex I have had no experience of farmers having any anxiety about the matter. On the other hand, they are rather pleased to appreciate that at long last a Government have learned what they have been trying to teach us politically for years and years, namely, that farmers cannot be driven. The change should also result in certain economies, and I hope that some of the taxpayers' money will be saved. That factor does not seem to have been greatly appreciated during the course of the debate.
I want to refer briefly to a remark made by my right hon. Friend this afternoon which I thought was peculiarly happy and very apposite. He said that the relationship between the landlord and tenant in the agricultural industry was, to a great extent, the backbone of the industry. This is something which is unique in the world, in any industry. We do not find it in the agricultural industries of America or Europe—or anywhere else that I know of. It has grown up over the course of very many years, and has established itself in a very peculiar way and given a special strength to the industry. There is no doubt, however, that during the past seventeen years, when this relationship has been distorted by the effect of controls to which it has been subjected, it has become strained, and if the situation went on for very much longer the original happy feeling and balance between the landlord and 533 tenant might be lost for ever, to the disadvantage of the industry. This proposal will help to restore that balance and will be very much to the good of the industry.
The only anxiety that I have heard expressed in my constituency is about Clause 2. I believe that that anxiety is due solely to a misunderstanding, and probably to bad publicity on the part of the Government in failing to make clear what they were doing. It is a rather usual complaint, and it is probably true in this instance. The criticisms which have reached me, both verbally and in correspondence, are that the test which was being set was similar to that of a willing buyer and a willing seller, whereas the relationship of a willing landlord to a willing tenant is something completely different.
I cannot see how the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) can have arrived at his anxieties and fears that the formula contained in the Clause would give an arbitrator the opportunity of fixing a rental upon the basis of a freak offer. The Clause is quite clear. It says that the standard which shall be considered:shall be the rent … which … might reasonably be expected … in the open market by a willing landlord to a willing tenant …".If ever I find an arbitrator who would reasonably expect the freak offer I shall have found someone who is a very peculiar person. I cannot feel that this basic argument of the Liberal Party holds any water.
This Clause will remove anomalies There are at present anomalies, not only between county and county, but between different areas—and in some cases even parishes—within the same county. Once we can get a recognised standard, such as that contained in this formula, there is no reason why it should not apply throughout the whole country. I agree that although technically it applies only for the purpose of arbitration—and the number of cases subjected to arbitration will probably be fewer than at present—the formula will serve as the basis upon which negotiations for a full and fair rent between willing landlord and willing tenant can reasonably be concluded.
534 Every industry has its troubles and one of the difficulties in the agriculture industry is lack of flexibility. There is insufficient movement within the industry. That state of affairs will be assisted by the removal of control which inevitably will lead to a greater flexibility and to the provision of greater opportunities for those up-and-coming members of the industry who wish to take chances. At present few opportunities are offered to those people who wish to move about and to obtain a bigger or a different type of holding or farm. Greater flexibility will help to create greater efficiency and progress in the development of the industry, especially on the technical side.
I believe this to be a progressive Measure and a further step towards good relations within the industry, particularly to a good partnership between landlord and tenant, which will lead to further substantial progress in agriculture.
§ 9.17 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
As the debate proceeded I began to wonder whether I had imagined all the protests that we have received from the National Farmers' Union. Let me say to such hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies as are present on the benches opposite that if they have not received letters from local branches of the National Farmers' Union the secretaries of some of those branches must be very dishonest men; because they have taken the liberty of sending me copies of letters said to have been sent to Tory Members of Parliament.
I did not write to any branch secretary of the National Farmers' Union in Scotland, except to acknowledge the receipt of a letter. I did not do anything to encourage the Union to offer criticisms of the Bill. But I responded to the wishes of the leaders of the Union to listen to what they had to say about the Bill, and I imagine that other hon. Members on this side of the House did the same. Yet this evening we have had to listen to a series of speeches from hon. Members opposite, starting with the Minister, who would have people believe that the opposition to this Bill was purely a doctrinaire Socialist opposition—a controls-for-controls-sake opposition, to the Measure.
What absolute nonsense this is, and, if I may say so, what dishonesty for the 535 Government to pretend that the opposition to the Bill comes only from doctrinaire members of the Labour Party. Surely that is dishonest. They know full well that the opposition to the Bill came initially from the farmers themselves. Of course, hon. Members on this side of the House were unwilling that the structure created ten years ago in the agricultural industry should be dismantled, unless there was adequate justification for doing so. It would not have been unreasonable to expect that the Government would not take this action which they are now taking until they had got a measure of agreement within the industry as to its future and as to the machinery to be used to encourage improvement in production and techniques in the industry.
We have listened to platitudes about the good relations that exist between the landowners and the tenant farmers. Why could not the party opposite have waited until it could get the agreement of the landowners and the farmers to the dismantling of the 1947–48 structure in agriculture? They could not wait because of their doctrinaire attitude. If the Government are themselves guilty of putting forward the Bill for purely doctrinaire considerations, because the Lord Privy Seal has promised that as many as possible of the controls created since the war will be dismantled before the next General Election, one possible way of obscuring from the public gaze what they are doing is for them to attack the Opposition for adhering to a purely doctrinaire attitude.
The hon. Member for Chichester (Sir L. Joynston-Hicks), who has just spoken, has left the Chamber hurriedly. He came in, incidentally, only just before he spoke. He was unable to follow the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) because he had not understood him, which was not surprising because he had not heard him. The hon. Member went on to support some of his hon. Friends in talking about the advantages of the Bill that would give greater flexibility in the industry.
Why do the Tories not say what they mean? Surely, what the hon. Member meant was that there would be more evictions. Surely he meant that more landowners would be able to evict more tenants. We do not nowadays expect the Tories to be honest and say what they 536 mean. Instead of saying that there will be more evictions of good tenants, not on the ground of bad husbandry—it is possible to get rid of the bad tenants now on the ground of bad husbandry—what they should say is that we will have more evictions of good tenants, creating a better market for the landlords. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Of course, that is what is meant. Nobody can deny it. The whole point of this procedure is to make it easier to get rid of tenants, to get vacancies, to cash in on the market for farms and to get more money. If that is what is meant, why is it not said? Why talk in these ambiguous phrases about greater flexibility in the industry? A little bit of honesty from the Tory Party would not do any harm at this time.
The hon. Member for Leominster (Sir A. Baldwin) reminded us tonight, as he did in Committee, that the arbitrators—the arbiters, as we call them in Scotland—pay no attention whatever to any instructions given to them in a statute. The hon. Member is probably largely right. I should think that the arbitrators do not pay too close attention to the instructions given to them, for the simple reason that, as the hon. Member said, they are not obliged to justify the basis upon which they reach their decision in any case which is submitted to them.
Having said that, however, the hon. Member was anxious that the instructions should be clarified, even though attention will not be paid to them. He knows as well as we do that the whole point of the alteration which Clause 2 is making in the law is that the landlords will be able to squeeze bigger rents out of the tenants without going to arbitration. That is the point. The endeavour is to get higher rents, whether they are justified or not, and the instruction to the arbitrators has been altered to secure that the general level of rents will rise.
The hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen), who also is an absentee, having made his speech, welcomed, for the Liberal Party, the repeal of Part II of the 1947 Act, but he was most anxious that Part I should remain and said there was no reason to believe that it would not remain. He was anxious that this partnership between the State and the industry should continue. He managed very cleverly to back both sides on this Bill. Sometimes he was 537 backing the Government and sometimes he was backing this side of the House. He seemed to be riding two horses very successfully. Although I have heard it said that there is no point in being in a circus unless one can ride two horses at once, I have never seen—not even in the circus—anyone trying to ride two horses travelling in opposite directions. He finished his speech by saying that the Bill does not deserve the blessing of this House, but he did not say how he would vote.
I have not any doubt at all how the farmers of Torrington and Argyll would expect the Liberal Party to vote on this Measure. I was in Argyll during the by-election and, reading speeches of the Liberal candidate, I found he was supporting the Labour Party on this Bill and was quoting me. I do not know whether that did him any good or not, but what I do know is that, whereas the Tory candidate in Argyll in 1955 had a majority of 10,000 the new Tory Member for Argyll (Mr. M. Noble) is here on a minority vote.
§ Mr. Fraser
I have stated the facts, that in 1955 the Tory candidate in Argyll had a majority of 10,000 and, in consequence of the by-election which took place recently, the Labour candidate and Liberal candidate—who both opposed the Bill in perhaps the biggest agricultural constituency in Scotland—got substantially more votes than the Tory candidate received and the Tory Member is here on a minority vote. If the Tory Party likes to think of that as a great electoral victory, it is welcome to do so.
The hon. Baronet the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) addressed us this evening and again repeated the Tory parrot cry that the provisions of Part II of the 1947 Act and the 1948 Scottish Act were all right. He said that we all agreed with them in the difficult days after the war. I am not quoting him directly, but he said tonight that we all agreed with those powers in Part II of the two Acts in the difficult days of food shortage after the war and then supported the Bill. I would remind him of what he said when that Bill was going through the House, ten years ago. The hon. Baronet said: 538The basis of this Bill is a simple proposition. Every farmer or landowner who owns or occupies a piece of the precious land of this country must manage it work it and farm it in the most efficient way.Does he still agree with that?
§ Mr. Fraser
The hon. Baronet went on to say:I accept that principle without any conditions at all. I think it is a sound principle which every sensible man must accept; but it is not a new principle. When I heard the right hon. Gentleman developing his theme, my mind went back to 1927 when Lloyd George produced in Scotland—I was the agent by which it was produced, and I wrote the report myself—a Scottish Liberal land policy. The whole crux of the matter was to introduce into the farming life of the country the principle that a man should only hold land if he managed it, worked it and farmed it well. Other parts of that policy were that there should be committees to see that all that was done. That policy was laughed out of court by all sides of the House, not least by the party opposite. It makes one a little sad to think that it has taken 20 years to bring that about. As one of the originators of that statement of policy, I must say that I am glad to see it accepted. I think it is absolutely sound."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st December, 1947; Vol. 445, c. 75.]The hon. Gentleman thought today that he supported this policy ten years ago because of the food shortage following the war. Did he, or did he not?
§ Sir J. Henderson-Stewart indicated assent.
§ Mr. Fraser
Then the hon. Gentleman was being quite dishonest ten years ago. Ten years ago he said that he supported it because he believed in it in principle. He had been advocating it for twenty years. He wrote that statement of policy himself in 1927. That is what he said.
§ Mr. Fraser
The hon. Member himself is all mixed up. Ten years ago, he was speaking for his farmer constituents in East Fife. Today, he is speaking for his Tory masters. Ten years ago he was still pretending to be a Liberal. True enough, he still wears today his flag of convenience; he is a National Liberal, Liberal Unionist, or whatever it is, in an attempt to capture what Liberal vote there is in his constituency. But, of course, he was attracted into the Chamber tonight to 539 speak in the debate because it was known that he would pay off his debts to the Tory Government by giving them more loyal support than they could expect from any Tory Member of the House.
The hon. Member for Fife, East said that landlords had said to him, "How can you expect us to invest our money in property over which we have virtually no control?" He agrees now that they should have more control over their own property than they have had until now, so he supports the Bill. I say to him: how can he expect the nation to invest £300 million of taxpayers money in property over which the nation has no control? That is the question which is being increasingly asked.
The Minister spoke this afternoon about better relations existing between town and country. I suggest that the good relations which exist between town and country are a direct consequence of the legislation passed through the House by my right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) and of the work done by the post-war Labour Government.
It was the post-war Labour Government which took agriculture out of politics and which brought about this good relationship between town and country. It is the present Government who will destroy this good relationship.
§ Mr. John Hare indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Fraser
Of course it is. If the Minister does not understand it, he really is failing badly to appreciate the difficulties which he is creating.
I represent more urban electors than rural electors. I have lived in the countryside all my life, but I represent what is regarded as an industrial constituency. I have often defended the nation's support of agriculture in my part of the country and in many other industrial parts of the country. I have had criticisms made of the nation's support for agriculture by people who were not political supporters of mine. I have always felt on firm ground in defending the subsidies given to agriculture as an investment which we were making in the land of the country, an investment over which there was a measure of public control, which the Government were not seeking to administer through glossy-haired bureaucrats. It was a measure of 540 control which the Government were administering in agriculture by attracting into the committees men of good will who had an interest in estate management and an interest in husbandry, that is to say, farm workers and other persons who were knowledgeable about farming.
These were the people who were brought in to do the work of the executive committees. These were the people who had administered this control which the National Farmers' Union has described as the kindly control by the committees which it does not want to see disturbed. Why should it have been disturbed? Why should it all have been thrown away? I repeat, questions will be asked in the country for as long as there is price support for agriculture out of public funds about what steps the Government, whichever party is in power, are taking to secure that the money is not poured down the drain.
The hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw), who is not in the Chamber, asked: what has 1921 got to do with it? It has only this much to do with it, which the Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland can well understand. In December, 1920, the then Tory Government put on the Statute Book an Act which gave certain price guarantees to agriculture. Those price guarantees were accompanied by what was then described as cropping controls. By July, 1921, the Tory Government came to the House to say that cropping controls could no longer be continued, and that if we did not have cropping controls we could not possibly have price support at the expense of the taxpayer.
The hon. Member for Penrith and The Border, who has just come into the Chamber, to vote at 10 o'clock, wants to tell me that this was not a Tory Government but a National Government. But it was a National Government with a substantial Tory majority, and if the Tory majority at that time did not feel that they were in control of the Government, then something would have been done about it. It was obviously an attitude of mind, a policy determined by the Government of that day, that had the support of the then Tory Party.
If the Tory Party believed then, as it must have done, that we could not have price support at the taxpayers' expense, and if we did not have cropping controls, 541 it is understandable that the farmers, whether or not they are old enough to remember what happened in 1921, will have informed themselves of what happened. Perhaps that is why they have been telling hon. Members on both sides of the House about what happened after the great betrayal by the Tories after the First World War. They feel that there will be another betrayal by the Tories.
That is not surprising, because Clause 1 is the removal of a measure of control which is wanted by the industry. Why did not the Minister wait until he had the concurrence of the industry in the removal of the controls? The purpose of Clause 2 is to put up the rents. Someone has described Clause 3 as a security of tenure Clause. I would describe it as an insecurity of tenure Clause or the removal of security of tenure Clause.
§ Mr. Fraser
It was not agreed at all, as has been made abundantly clear.
I regard Clause 4, which is supposed to be of some help to the tenant farmers, as being hopelessly inadequate for the purpose for which it is supposedly intended. The Clause does not apply in Scotland, and it is so weak that I am not anxious that Scottish tenant farmers should have the benefit of it.
Clause 6 is completely unjustified. It has been vigorously opposed by the farmers of Scotland. There is not a Tory Member for a Scottish constituency but knows that and knows it well. The hon. Member for Fife, East is quite wrong in thinking that the puny, innocuous, ineffective Amendments that he and his hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) got the Government to accept have done anything to allay the fears and apprehensions of the tenant farmers of Scotland.
§ Mr. Fraser
I am not quite wrong. I happen to know the facts. I have put the hon. Baronet right tonight already by quoting from a speech that he has forgotten all about and was badly misinterpreting in the course of his speech.
The Bill is a bad let-down for farmers. This is the Rent Act in agriculture. Is 542 the Minister of Agriculture so ashamed of the Rent Act that he will not apply it in agriculture? The Rent Act, together with this Bill and many other Measures brought forward by the Government in recent times, are directly opposite to all the promises the Government made to the people at Election. That is why the vote went so heavily against the Government in the by-elections. [Laughter.] When I was at school my teacher used to tell me that I was fairly good at arithmetic. I thought that I had got my arithmetic right and that the by-elections had shown a very heavy swing against the Government. I thought that it was just possible that the swing against the Government was because of the way in which the Government were betraying their Election promises.
I would end by saying that it really is time that the Government were either heeding what they said to the electors when they sought their suffrages in 1955, or should go back to the electors and tell them what further damage the Government propose to do, in which case there can be no doubt of the electors' reply. When we go into the Division Lobby tonight there is not a shadow of doubt that we shall be casting votes for the majority of the electors of Britain.
§ 9.43 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)
The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) almost persuaded me towards the end of his speech that he really believed that this was a bad Bill. If he searches his soul and conscience, I wonder whether he will claim that many of the things he said were really what he meant?
Did he mean to say that the object of Clause 2 was to get higher rents whether justified or not? If so, let him read Clause 2 carefully and see how the object of it can possibly be to get higher rents whether justified or not for the landlord. I prefer the remarks made at the end of the speech of the right hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams). I admit that they were not entirely consistent with the early part of his speech when he said—I think I am quoting him almost correctly—just before he sat down, "I hope we are not fearing the worst about this Bill." I feel that that is right.
543 That is very different in tenor from the speech of the hon. Member for Hamilton. I was certainly surprised at the right hon. Member for Don Valley saying that at the end of his speech, because he had sounded as though he were convinced that it was a bad Bill. The words at the end were indicative of the thinking of a great many people on the Opposition side of the House and of some people in the country whom hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have been quoting as violently opposed to the Bill. At the beginning, a lot of people were concerned about the farmers, and I know there are still some in Scotland today. I accept that. I know there are farmers who are worried, and some who were worried but are no longer worried. I believe that that applies to a great many more people than hon. Members opposite have realised. Hon. Members opposite thought that they were on a good thing at the beginning of the proceedings on this Bill, but they are not quite so certain now.
I am sure that the House will forgive me if, for a short time, I deal with some Scottish parts of the Bill, because I want to make absolutely certain that there is no misunderstanding of what has happened under Clause 6. I repeat that I know that at the outset there was a certain amount of misunderstanding and misapprehension in Scotland about the Clause, but I believe that there is better appreciation of what we are doing in that Clause now and why, but it would be wise to summarise once again as briefly and clearly as I can the present law on security of tenure and rights of inheritance and bequest in Scotland and how it has been amended by this amended Bill.
Prior to 1948 in Scotland the tenant of an agricultural holding could bequeath the unexpired portion of his lease to anyone and failing bequest his heir-at-law succeeded to that unexpired portion of the lease. I use the words, "unexpired portion" deliberately. That was the law before 1948. The heir did not succeed to the entire lease indefinitely but to the unexpired portion. When in 1948 the security of tenure provisions were superimposed on the existing provisions there became very little chance of a landlord being ever, and I repeat "ever", in a position to change his tenant, or to resume occupancy of his own farm 544 for the reason that once a legatee or an heir-at-law succeeded to the remainder of a lease he could—under the security of tenure provisions then introduced—continue to hold it indefinitely and in turn could pass it on to his successor. In other words, there came about a fixity of tenure which I repeat was not foreseen when the 1948 Act was under consideration.
That has been challenged today, and was challenged in Committee by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), who quoted at that time, as evidence that it was foreseen—Section 20 of the 1949 Act, which said:Subject to the provisions of this section, the tenant of an agricultural holding may, by will or other testamentary writing, bequeath his lease of the holding to any person".Those words meant that he could bequeath the lease which had only a certain number of years to run, that is the unexpired portion of the lease. Having examined reports of the debates in 1948 and 1949 in the Scottish Committee I am quite satisfied that the full effect of a combination of the existing law plus the security of tenure provisions was not foreseen or, if foreseen, was certainly not explained to the Committee. I accept my share of responsibility as a member of the Committee at that time for not spotting it.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
Will the right hon. Gentleman look up the speeches of the late Lord William Scott at that time. He complained of the fixity of tenure and was replied to by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) and myself?
§ Mr. Maclay
I have searched through the debates and I never saw in any speech any evidence of that.
Clause 6 modifies the present position in two ways. Firstly, it restricts the tenant's right of bequest to a member of his own family, and in the course of proceedings in Committee that definition was extended to include an adopted child. Broadly speaking, the Clause re-establishes the position that the legatee or heir-at-law of a tenant can of right succeed to only the unexpired portion of the lease. While we are satisfied that in the long-term interests of good farming we must restrict the rights of the legatee or heir-at-law in this way, we have been very ready to make Amendments designed to help in the transition period.
§ Mr. Maclay
This will help in the transitional period, as is generally recognised by farmers in Scotland. I must get this clear because possibly the hon. Member for Hamilton has not appreciated it.
§ Mr. Maclay
It was the remark of the hon. Gentleman that it is nonsense which made me wonder. The result of these Amendments will be that every tenant who succeeds to a tenancy as legatee or heir-at-law will be entitled, for a period of seven years after the passing of the Act, to remain in the holding at the very least for two years and in many cases for more. We hope that during this transitional period of seven years opportunity will be taken by landlords and tenants to get back to long leases, a system which has tended to lapse into tacit relocation in the last ten years.
Then there is the other Amendment made in Committee on the subject of compensation for improvements. It had been represented strongly to us that by relying on the virtual fixity of tenure conferred in the 1948 Act on them and their successors, many tenants carried out improvements without giving written notice to their landlords of their intention to do so. Clause 6 does not change the position of the existing tenant but it alters the right of his heir or legatee.
We were anxious that this change in the law should be made in an equitable manner. By an Amendment moved in Committee we therefore provided that, where improvements have been carried out without notice by their predecessors during the period between the coming into operation of the 1948 Act and the coming into operation of the present Bill, legatees and heirs-at-law who receive notice to quit under Clause 6 shall be entitled to compensation, provided they can satisfy the Land Court that approval would have been given to the improvements had notice been given.
I am most anxious—and that is why I have repeated this so carefully this evening—that there should be no misunderstanding about the effect of this Clause. Clause 6 does not in any way affect the right of the existing tenant or of any future tenant to whom a lease is granted, 546 to remain in his holding for the remainder of his life. What it does is to enable the landlord, on the death of his tenant, to exercise some control over the future working of his land.
In this way we have provided the maximum degree of security for tenants which is consistent with the retention by landlords of reasonable control of their own property, towards which, it was pointed out earlier this evening, the landlords have inescapable statutory obligations, which is not always remembered. I agree that the tenant has statutory obligations, but the landlord has heavy obligations which may involve him in the spending of a great deal of money. Therefore it is only right that the proper balance of landlord-tenant relationship should be restored as far as possible.
Coming back to the more general and getting away from the Scottish in particular, there is one point I want to repeat, and that is on rents. It was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Sir L. Joynson-Hicks), in an extremely interesting and good speech, dealing with the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen), who had suggested that the rent formula would not exclude freak rents. I repeat specifically that the Bill refers to the rent at which the holding might reasonably be expected to be let in the open market. The words "reasonably be expected" must surely exclude the freak rent. I am glad to see the hon. and learned Member in his place and I hope this will enable him to decide which Lobby he will go through tonight, because there is considerable conjecture in the House as to which one it may be.
Before I conclude I should like to say that I can well appreciate that hon. Gentlemen opposite take pride in the English Agriculture Acts of 1947 and 1948 and in the Scottish Acts of 1948 and 1949. We on this side of the House do not in any way grudge them that pride. Those Acts were in many respects agreed Measures, and we were glad to assist the Government of the day to put them on the Statute Book. Now ten years have passed and a review of the provisions has become very necessary indeed. We have undertaken this review in no partisan spirit, as has been suggested throughout the evening. We have undertaken this review because, 547 after ten years, it is only right and inevitable that legislation should be restudied in the light of changing circumstances.
We have been anxious only to meet the needs and circumstances of the day, just as we were all anxious ten years ago to meet the circumstances of that time. We have been ready to learn by experience. In the light of changed circumstances, and in the light of our experience of the working of these Acts, we have found some changes to be necessary. Some of these changes were incorporated in the 1957 Act which gave new financial assurances to farmers and introduced the farm improvement scheme. Other changes have been incorporated in this Bill. These include the abolition of the disciplinary powers exercised through the agricultural executive committees—a major change, I confess, but, in spite of all the arguments that have gone on, it was clear that it had become necessary in the changing circumstances. I repeat that in that we have the support of the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan, which is always interesting to note because I think he will not be in our Lobby tonight.
The Acts of 1947 and 1948 were not, of course, perfect. In the course of years defects have appeared and distortions have resulted. One such distortion has been the glaring disparity between the value of a farm sold with vacant possession and the value of a farm sold subject to an existing tenancy. There is something very far wrong—hon. Members opposite must admit it; the hon. Member for Hamilton is always very courteous but this is a point which I hope he will admit—when a sitting tenant can buy the farm which he occupies—this is a case which the hon. Member must have heard about, for I have certainly quoted it several times—for £9,500 and at the same time resell it with vacant possession for £18,000. It is fantastic. I can give three other examples straight off. There was one sold to the sitting tenant in 1957 for
§ £1,000, and the sitting tenant resold it within two months for £3,500. Another was sold for £4,250 and resold for £14,500.
§ Mr. Maclay
Hon. Members opposite cannot escape by any kind of intervention the fact that these figures are at least evidence that something is not entirely healthy or right, and they are more than ample justification for action by a responsible Government. I said at the beginning that we played our part in the earlier Acts, and, indeed, complimented hon. Members opposite upon the Acts of 1947 and 1948 and 1948 and 1949 respectively. We thought them wrong, but by and large we supported them. It would have been completely irresponsible on our part after ten years if we had not examined what had happened and tried to put things right.
Hon. Members opposite intend to vote against the Bill. They have produced a variety of reasons for doing so. What I should like to know is their fundamental reason. Is it just possible that it is false pride of authorship? I know that the right hon. Member for Don Valley played a great part in the work on those earlier Measures, as did the right hon. Gentleman for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn). Might I suggest to them that if we have to have "sacred cows" in British agriculture, we should have better beasts than any particular Act of Parliament? I ask the House to give the Bill its support.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Edward Heath)
rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 303, Noes 254.553
|Division No. 178.]||AYES||[9.58 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Armstrong, C. W.||Barber, Anthony|
|Aitken, W. T.||Ashton, H.||Barlow, Sir John|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Astor, Hon. J. J.||Barter, John|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Atkins, H. E.||Batsford, Brian|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Baxter, Sir Beverley|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Baldwin, Sir Archer||Beamish, Col. Tufton|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bainiel, Lord||Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Gurden, Harold||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maddan, Martin|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)|
|Bingham, R. M.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Black, C. W.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Body, R. F.||Hay, John||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.|
|Boothby, Sir Robert||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Marshall, Douglas|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Mathew, R.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Mawby, R. L.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Braine, B. R.||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Hesketh, R. F.||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Hills, Mrs. E. (Wythenshaw)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Hirst, Geoffrey||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Bryan, P.||Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n)||Nairn, D. L. S.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Neave, Airey|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hope, Lord John||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hornby, R. P.||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Noble, Cmdr. Rt. Hon. Allan|
|Carr, Robert||Horobin, Sir Ian||Noble, Michael (Argyll)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Channon, Sir Henry||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Howard, John (Test)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Osborne, C.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Page, R. G.|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)|
|Cooke, Robert||Hurd, A. R.||Partridge, E.|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.)||Peel, W. J.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Hyde, Montgomery||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Iremonger, T. L.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pott, H. P.|
|Cunningham, Knox||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Dance, J. C. G.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Profumo, J. D.|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Ramsden, J. E.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Joseph, Sir Keith||Redmayne, M.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Kaberry, D.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Doughty C. J. A.||Keegan, D.||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Kershaw, J. A.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Duncan, Sir James||Kimball, M.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Kirk, P. M.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Lambton, Viscount||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Elliott, R. W. (Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.)||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Russell, R. S.|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Leather, E. H. C.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Leavey, J. A.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Leburn, W. G.||Sharples, R. C.|
|Finlay, Graeme||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Shepherd, William|
|Fisher, Nigel||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Fort, R.||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Speir, R. M.|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Llewellyn, D. T.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Gammans, Lady||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Sutton Coldfield)||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Glover, D.||Longden, Gilbert||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Glyn, Col. Richard H.||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Godber, J. B.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Goodhart, Philip||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Storey, S.|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Gower, H. R.||McAdden, S. J.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. W. (Woodside)||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||McKibbin, Alan||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Green, A.||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Teeling, W.|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Temple, John M.|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Vickers, Miss Joan||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)||Vosper, Rt. Hon. O. F.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek||Woollam, John Victor|
|Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Wall, Patrick||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Tweedsmuir, Lady||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Vane, W. M. F.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold||Mr. Oakshott and|
|Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.||Webster, David||Sir Gerald Wills.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Finch, H. J.||McInnes, J.|
|Albu, A. H.||Fitch, E. A.||McLeavy, Frank|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Fletcher, Eric||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Foot, D. M.||Mahon, Simon|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Forman, J. C.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfld, E.)|
|Baird, J.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Han. P. C.||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Balfour, A.||Greenwood, Anthony||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Mason, Roy|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Grey, C. F.||Messer, Sir F.|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Benson, Sir George||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Beswick, Frank||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Monslow, W.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Grimond, J.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Hale, Leslie||Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mort, D. L.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hamilton, W. W.||Moss, R.|
|Boardman, H.||Hannan, W.||Moyle, A.|
|Bonham Carter, Mark||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Mulley, F. W.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Hastings, S.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Hayman, F. H.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Healey, Denis||Oliver, G. H.|
|Boyd, T. C.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Oram, A. E.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Herbison, Miss M.||Orbach, M.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Oswald, T.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Owen, W. J.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Holman, P.||Padley, W. E.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Holt, A. F.||Paget, R. T.|
|Burke, W. A.||Houghton, Douglas||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Howell, Charles (Perry Bar)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hoy, J. H.||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hubbard, T. F.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Carmichael, J.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Parker, J.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hunter, A. E.||Paton, John|
|Chapman, W. D.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Peart, T. F.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Pentland, N.|
|Clunie, J.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Coldrick, W.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Janner, B.||Probert, A. R.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jeger, George (Goole)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Cronin, J. D.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.)||Randall, H. E.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Rankin, John|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Reid, William|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Rhodes, H.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Deer, G.||Kenyon, C.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Delargy, H. J.||King, Dr. H. M.||Royle, C.|
|Diamond, John||Lawson, G. M.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Donnelly D. L.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Dye, S.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Lewis, Arthur||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Edelman, M.||Lindgren, G. S.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Lipton, Marcus||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Logan, D. G.||Snow, J. W.|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||McAlister, Mrs. Mary||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||McCann, J.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||MacDermot, Niall||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Fernyhough, E.||McGovern, J.||Steele, T|
|Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Usborne, H. C.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Stonehouse, John||Viant, S. P.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Stones, W. (Consett)||Wade, D. W.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Warbey, W. N.||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Watkins, T. E.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Weitzman, D.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Swingler, S. T.||Wells, William, (Walsall, N.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Sylvester, G. O.||West, D. G.||Woof, R. E.|
|Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Wheeldon, W. E.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Taylor, John (West Lothian)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Wigg, George||Zilliacus, K.|
|Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Tomney, F.||Wilkins, W. A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Willey, Frederick||Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Pearson.|
|Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.|