§ *LORD REAY
, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, said that by the Act of 1895 the English Agricultural Holdings Act of 1883 was amended in order that it might be made more applicable to market gardening. The object of the present Bill was a very simple one. It was to assimilate the Scotch market gardeners to the English market gardeners in relation to their holdings. The House would notice that there was every guarantee that the holding would not be let, or treated as a market garden, unless previous consent in writing had been given that the holding should be considered as such. The erection or enlargement of buildings was taken out of Part I. of the Schedule of the principal Act and was placed in Part III. of the Schedule, but only when such buildings were for the purpose of the trade or business of a market gardener. For greater security the vegetable crops (placed in Part III. with other improvements relating to market gardens) must continue productive for two or more years. That was not in the Measure which was introduced in this House in 1895 by the noble Earl opposite. For climatic reasons rhubarb was mentioned instead of asparagus in Section 3 (3) (iv.) The economic aspect of the question was rather important. Market gardening had now become a thriving and growing industry in Scotland, but the imports from abroad were still very considerable. In 1896 the value of imported potatoes amounted to about £908,000; of onions to close upon £682,000; of vegetables to £1,284,753; and of fruit to nearly £4,000,000. The main object of the Bill was to secure that market gardens should at the end of the lease be returned to the landlord in a satisfactory condition by encouraging the tenant to make and to maintain improvements. The situation in Scotland was now a very different one from what it was in 1435, when Regnault Gérard, Charles VII.'s Ambassador to James I., presented the Queen 948 with three casks of chestnuts, pears, and apples of divers sorts, who was much pleased, there being little fruit in Scotland.
*THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Lord BALFOUR)
said he did not think it necessary to add anything to the explanation which the noble Lord had given of the purposes of this Bill. During its progress through the other House certain Amendments had been accepted which removed the objections which had at first been entertained, and it passed through that House practically as an agreed Measure. Therefore he hoped their Lordships would give it a Second Reading.
Read 2a (according to Order), and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.