HC Deb 27 July 1966 vol 732 c1708
18. Mr. Russell Johnston

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he proposes to introduce legislation to improve security of tenure for tenant farmers in Scotland.

Mr. Willis

I presume the hon. Gentleman has in mind the question of succession to tenancies. Consultations are proceeding with the National Farmers' Union of Scotland and the Scottish Landowners' Federation on possible amendments to the law on this and other matters, but my right hon. Friend is not in a position yet to say whether, or when, it will be appropriate to propose legislation.

Mr. Johnston

Is the Minister aware that that is a very surprising answer, since this has been a mater of Scottish Labour Party policy for a long time? There are many examples of heirs being dispossessed since the Labour Government's 1948 Agriculture Act was repealed by the 1957 Agriculture Act. Would he proceed with much more dispatch in this matter?

Mr. Willis

I think the hon. Gentleman is referring to the 1958 Act, which made this change. There are several points resulting from that Act which have aroused discussion. That was why I did not select that one but referred to the one which was more prominent in the minds of agriculturists.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

In view of the fact that the Scottish Landowners' Federation has done so well out of the increase in rents arising from the 1958 Act, how does my hon. Friend expect to get any agreement satisfactory to tenant farmers from the Federation?

Mr. Willis

We are trying to bring the National Farmers' Union and the Scottish Landowners' Federation rather closer together to try to achieve some measure of agreement before we look at this to see what can be done.