§ 13. Mr. Morris
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will introduce legislation to amend the provisions of the Agriculture Act, 1958, so far as the fixing of farm rents is concerned.
§ Mr. Soames
No, Sir. I believe that the principle of open market values confirmed by the Act is the right one.
§ Mr. Morris
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the new formula for the fixing of farm rents under the 1958 Act by arbitrators has resulted in substantial increases in farm rents? Particularly having regard to the scarcity value of farms—this has been a point of particular importance in respect of Crown lands—and the alarm caused to farmers, and to tenant farmers in particular, will he carry out an inquiry to discover the extent of the increases as a result of the Act?
§ Mr. Soames
We know that, following the Act, increases have been considerable. Where farm rents are settled by arbitration—only about 3 per cent. of the total farm rents are settled in this way—the basis is that of a willing landlord letting to a willing tenant. The competition for farms to let is itself, of course, an indication of supply and demand, and it cannot but reflect a belief in the continued prosperity of the industry.