§ THE EARL OF ELGIN
My Lords, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, I have to explain that it deals with a single provision of the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1883, the provision which relates to the appointment of arbitrators. Under the provisions in question each party has power to appoint a referee, and a single referee can only be appointed when both parties concur. That provision has caused a considerable amount of unneccesary expense, because many of these arbitrations are in respect of small holdings, and the cost of the arbitrators swallows up their whole value. Under these circumstances, the Bill now before your Lordships proposes a change in the law to avoid that very considerable and unnecessary expense, so that unless the parties agree that a single referee shall be nominated by the parties, the nomination shall be made by the Sheriff. My Lords, I may mention that this Bill has passed unanimously through the other House, and I would ask your Lordships now to give it a Second Reading.
*THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I have no objection whatever to the passing of the Bill, which does not affect the principle of the Act of 1883. It does not affect more than a small part of the procedure under that Act. I have only a few words to say upon the matter. I would point out that the 1840 procedure under the Act as it now stands is this: that any case of arbitration must be referred to two arbitrators unless the parties, with an oversman, mutually agree that it should be referred to one referee. The proposal under this Bill is that the procedure should be reversed—namely, that any such case must be referred to one referee, unless the parties interested agree that it should be remitted to two referees for their decision, with power to appoint an oversman. There is, therefore, no change in the principle of the Act of 1883, the alteration proposed having only the object of saving expense in carrying out the provisions of that Act. As any such saving must be for the interest of both landlord and tenant, I am glad to give my support to the Bill.
Bill read 2a (according to order), and committed to the Standing Committee for General Bills.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Seven o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Ten o'clock.