HC Deb 13 July 1981 vol 8 c782
2. Mr. Hooson

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he considers that the existing legislation governing tenancy of Welsh farmland is satisfactory; and whether he has any proposals for new legislation.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Nicholas Edwards)

As the House knows, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and I have been in discussion with the National Farmers Union and the Country Landowners Association, whose joint proposals are now being examined. We made it clear that if the Government are to bring forward new legislation it is desirable that it should be in a form which is acceptable to both sides of the House.

Mr. Hooson

I recognise the need to secure the widest possible basis of support for legislation, but will my right hon. Friend press on with the matter with all possible speed, as the amount of farm land available for rent is declining every year as a result of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

Mr. Edwards

I understand the importance of the matter, but it would be no service to the industry simply to introduce a measure that would not last and would perhaps be opposed or repealed at a later stage. That would not restore confidence. Therefore, it is, important to have the widest consultations to achieve widespread agreement about what is necessary.

Mr. Geraint Howells

Is the Secretary of State aware that if he accepts the NFU-CLA proposals in their present form it will give the landlord the right to throw out forthwith the wife and family of a deceased tenant farmer? Will he assure the House that he is not in favour of such a proposal?

Mr. Edwards

We are not committed to any part of the proposals. We made it absolutely clear to the CLA and to the NFU that we did not see the possibility of legislating in the coming Session of Parliament and that we wished to make use of the time available to reach agreement on matters of the sort that the hon. Gentleman raised.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

In view of the ill-advised and ill-informed comments of the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Hooson) about the effects of the Act upon land available for rent, will the Secretary of State undertake a review of this measure and ensure that it is published before any legislative changes are made?

Mr. Edwards

We are undertaking widespread consultations. For example, I shall be meeting representatives of the Farmers Union of Wales and other bodies as well as the NFU. I have no doubt that all these points will be brought out and considered during the consultations.

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