HC Deb 21 February 1968 vol 759 cc489-93
Mr. Buchan

I beg to move, Amendment No. 15, in page 9, line 21, at end to insert: (c) the relevant notice is a notice to which, apart from the provisions of section 18 or section 19 of this Act, section 6(3) of the Agriculture Act, 1958, would apply and, if an application for consent in respect of the notice is made to the court in pursuance of the said section 25(1), the court consent to its operation and state in the reasons for their decision that they are satisfied with regard to the matter mentioned in paragraph (a), or the matters mentioned in paragraph (b)(i) to (iii), of section 18(2) of this Act; or.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It would be convenient to consider at the same time Amendment 16, also standing in the name of the Secretary of State for Scotland, in line 37, after "Act", insert: or in section 18(2)(a) of this Act".

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Buchan

These two Amendments are consequential on the new Clauses in Part III of the Bill so they are, in a sense, paving Amendments. Clause 11 deals with the circumstances in which a landlord, who gives a notice to quit becomes liable to make the new additional payments of four years' rent to a tenant—that is only when he requires the land for a non-agricultural purpose. He is not obliged to pay them if he proposes to use the land for an agricultural purpose.

Clause 18, however, creates a new set of circumstances in which a landlord may issue a notice to quit to a near relative of a deceased tenant, and these Amendments are required to ensure that the landlord will not be liable to make the additional payments, if the notice to quit, which is given on the grounds set out in Clause 18(2), is given for agricultural purposes.

These Amendments take account of an Amendment we propose to make to Clause 18 to enable the Land Court to consent to a notice to quit if a near relative successor has neither sufficient agricultural training or experience to fit him to run the holding. The Amendments we are now discussing therefore take account of the fact that a landlord may under Clause 18(2) state in a notice to quit that the notice is given because either, first, the tenant has not the training or experience required; or secondly, he proposes to use the land for amalgamation.

Amendment 15 provides that if the landlord states either of these reasons in his notice to quit, he will not be liable to make the new payment of four years' rent under Clause 9. It is, of course, clear that, if the land is required for amalgamation, this is an agricultural purpose and the provision for non-payment of the additional four years' rent is in line with the principles of Part II of the Bill. But, in the case of notices to quit given because of the tenant's lack of agricultural training or experience, the land might, or might not be going to be used for an agricultural purpose. We therefore have to modify the effect of Amendment 15 by ensuring, by Amendment 16, that the landlord shall be liable to make the additional payments, in cases where a notice to quit is consented to on the grounds that the tenant has neither adequate training nor experience—if the land is in fact to be used for a nonagricultural purpose.

All this is in accordance with the general principles in Part II of the Bill. Although the Amendment sounds complicated, I hope that my explanation has been sufficiently lucid for its purpose to be understood.

Mr. Stodart

Despite all his efforts, the explanation given by the Under-Secretary of State serves to emphasise the extreme complexity of Clause 11, which brought from the Secretary of State one of the biggest bombshells of his life on Second Reading when he said that it was not complicated but extremely simple. Those who wrestled with it in Committee did not find any reason to share that view.

Having examined this Amendment, my conclusions about its meaning coincide with those the Under-Secretary of State has given and because it deals to such an extent with—and, it would be fair, to say is occasioned by—the Clauses to which we shall soon be coming, this does not seem to be the time at which to start a debate which would no doubt immediately he ruled out of order. I will say, therefore, that I accept this Amendment as being an essential perquisite of Clauses which we shall discuss later, and I have no objection to that. We reserve our position on those Clauses, however.

Sir John Gilmour (Fife, East)

From what the hon. Gentleman has said, I take it that if a tenant dies and the heir to the lease loses his claim to it, through his inability to farm, this extra four years' compensation would be paid to that would-be successor to the lease. If a landlord has a farm which he wishes to put to some non-agricultural use, but of which he has a tenant with no heir likely to succeed to the farm, he might try to continue the lease to that tenant during the tenant's lifetime, but if, having done that, he then had to pay an extra four years' compensation to the heir who was not to become the tenant, that would be unfair and would be loading it rather heavily against the landlord. It would be penalising the landlord who, by his goodness, had allowed the tenancy to continue during the tenant's lifetime.

Mr. Buchan

I am not clear where the difficulty is. In the first place, it will have to be decided whether the heir is eligible. If he is, the decision will then have to be made on the basis of whether the land is to be used as non-agricultural land, or agricultural land. If it is to be used as non-agricultural land, the four years' reorganisation payment would become due, but it would be due only in the case of dispossession for a non-agricultural purpose such as development.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: Amendment No. 16, in page 9, line 37, after Act ', insert: ' or in section 18(2)(a) of this Act '.—[Mr. Buchan.]

Mr. Buchan

I beg to move Amendment No. 18, in page 11, line 1, leave out from beginning to ' references ' and insert:

(9) In this sectiont.—


Mr. Speaker

With this we are to take Amendments Nos. 19, 20 and 21.

Mr. Buchan

The significant Amendment is No. 21, which again underlines what has been said about complexity. These four Amendments are required to make the changes to Clause 11 which are consequential on the introduction in Committee of the Clauses which now form Part III. Clause 11 sets out the circumstances in which the new payments provided for in Clause 9 are to be made and provides in particular for the landlord stating in a notice to quit the reasons for his giving the notice. This is required to make it clear whether the notice is given for a non-agricultural purpose, thus attracting the additional payments, or for an agricultural purpose, thus not attracting the additional payments.

In Clause 19 we have made special arrangements for the transitional period between the publication of these Clauses and the passing of the Bill. This is analogous to other aspects of the Bill. One of the provisions is that a landlord who has served on a near relative a notice to quit under Section 6(3) of the 1958 Act before the passing of the Bill may notify the tenant that if the tenant serves a counter-notice, the landlord proposes to apply for consent on amalgamation grounds, or, under Amendment No. 23, on the ground of the successor's lack of agricultural training or experience.

The Amendment therefore provides that where a landlord makes such a notification to the tenant in accordance with the procedure set out in Clause 19, any statement which he makes in the notification will be treated as though it had been made when he gave the original notice to quit. The effect is to ensure that where a notice to quit was given during the transitional period and a subsequent notification has to be served, setting out the reasons given for seeking consent to dispossess the tenant, the reasons given in the subsequent notification shall be treated as though they had been reasons given in the original notice to quit, for the purpose of determining whether the landlord is liable to make the new additional payments under Clause 9. These Amendments help and strengthen the position.

Mr. Stodart

I want only to repeat that this is yet another part of what we regard as the distasteful provisions to which we are coming, and that is speaking with a degree of moderation to which I am not accustomed. However, this fits in with the transitional Clause to take account of Part III. I cannot say that I welcome the Amendments, but, in view of the debate to come, they are certainly a necessary part of these provisions.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

Amendment No. 19, in page 11, line 3, leave out "and" and insert "(b)".

Amendment No. 20, in page 11, line 7, leave out "and" and insert "(c)".

Amendment No. 21, in page 11, line 10, at end insert: (d) subsection (1)(a) and (b) shall have effect in the case of a notice to quit to which, apart from section 19 of this Act, section 6(3) of the Agriculture Act, 1958 would apply as if any statement made in a notification under subsection (2) of the said section 19 had been made in the relevant notice.—[Mr. Buchan.]

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