HL Deb 05 July 1898 vol 60 cc1080-5

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships more than one moment in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, which is put forward by the London County Council. It is a very small and, I had hoped, a non-contentious Bill. Its object is to bring to the county of London the same advantages as are possessed by every other county in England. We have 14,000 acres of agricultural land, exclusive of market gardens, in London, and we have already 81 acres of allotments under 650 cultivators, with an annual rental of £350. These allotments do not throw any cost upon the ratepayers of London, and all we ask is that the Allotments Act shall be extended to the county of London. As the law stands at present we cannot let less than an acre of land under the Small Holdings Act of 1892; therefore we are obliged to let to one individual, who sub-lets to nine other individuals, one-tenth of an acre being generally supposed to be the best size for allotments in London. That brings in sub-letting, which is not at all a good custom. I am told that there is an objection to the Bill. Of course, the noble Lord who will speak for Her Majesty's Government will state the objection; but I am empowered to say that all we want is the principle of the Bill to be established. If the Bill is allowed to pass its Second Beading, and we can get rid of this evil of subletting in London, that is all we require. We should be very glad to alter the Bill so as to extend the powers proposed to be given to the London County Council to the various parishes, and to meet any other objections that may be offered. I hope your Lordships will give a Second Beading to this Bill.


My Lords, I am afraid I must ask your Lordships not to accede to the request of the noble Lord to give the Bill a Second Reading. The fact is that what is proposed to be granted to the County Council of London has never been granted to any county council in England, and I imagine that the County Council of London has scarcely the same experience in the acquisition of land for the purpose of allotments, and the letting out of lands for allotments, as have county councils with a large area of cultivable land within their boundaries. The objections to the Bill are not confined to that. The power which the noble Lord suggests should be given either to the county council, or to some other authority in the metropolis, is, as a matter of fact, now within their province. Under the Local Government Act of 1894, section 33, upon the request of an authority, such as a sanitary board, in the county council area, the Local Government Board can give to such an authority the power that a parish council possesses in a rural district, of letting out land for allotments; and as a matter of fact, in the only two cases in which applications have been made to the Local Government Board—Woolwich was one—these powers had been granted. I can quite imagine, my Lords, that on the outer boundaries of the area of the county of London there are places where the acquisition of land for the purpose of allotments may be desirable, and, at any rate, where the letting of lands for allotments ought to be in the power of some authority administering the affairs of the particular neighbourhood, and where the members of such an authority have an intimate acquaintance with the neighbourhood and its surroundings, the value of land, and so on; but to ask us to give such power to the County Council of London over the whole area of London, a greater part of which, as your Lordships must see, is not in the least adaptable to the purposes of the Allotments Act, seems to me to be an altogether extravagant demand. Then the noble Lord said the Bill would throw no cost upon the ratepayers. As a matter of fact, under the Bill any cost which the County Council fails to recover will be thrown upon the ratepayers generally of London, and not upon the ratepayers of that particular district in which the allotments had been acquired and endeavoured to be let. These are the objections, my Lords, that I have to the Bill. Having regard to the character of the area the County Council of London has to deal with, which is purely urban; to the fact that some local authorities in the county can actually obtain these powers simply by applying to the Local Government Board; to the fact that in the only two cases where powers have been asked for they have been granted; and to the fact that there is the risk run of the cost of a scheme of this kind falling, if not altogether, in some measure, on the ratepayers generally of London, I hope your Lordships will agree with me that this Bill should not receive its Second Reading. The noble Lord suggested that there were changes which he would accept in the Bill if it were allowed to pass its Second Reading. I contend that what we have to deal with is the Bill as submitted by his Lordship. To alter in principle the provisions of the Bill would be contrary to practice in a Second Beading Debate. I think it would be better, if the noble Lord thinks the County Council have any desire to secure the extension, of the Allotments Act to the parishes in the county, for him to bring up a Bill in that form.


My Lords, I must say I am somewhat amazed at the opposition to this little Bill, and I am not in the least enlightened by the arguments of the noble Lord. I am rather averse to concluding that it is brought about by mere jealousy of the County Council, and if I had not heard the arguments of the noble Lord I should not hare attributed it to such motives. Just conceive the absurdity of the position! If the County Council had no power whatever of this kind it might be said that you did not desire in the area of the county of London to give any such powers to the County Council; but as a matter of fact, under the Small Holdings Act the County Council does actually possess the power of letting small holdings, but they must not let less than one acre. Can anything be more absurd than that? In such an area as lies round the metropolis it is highly probable, and I am told as a matter of experience it is found that those who desire to have an allotment to cultivate desire a very small piece of land. We are told that the County Council is such an extremely foolish body that it is not to be trusted with the exercise of this very small power. I did not think that anyone would have doubted that the able men—and there are many of them—on the London County Council could perfectly exercise that power. There is one other remark I would make. The noble Lord has himself told us that there actually exists the power, with the consent of the Local Government Board, for a parish, on application, to enjoy this, shall I call it, privilege; but it must apply to the Local Government Board. Why on earth should people in London be obliged to get leave from the Local Government Board for what can be done all over the country without leave? The thing seems to me absolutely ridiculous. There may be something in the objection of the noble Lord that if the power were given to the County Council the cost incurred through their not being able to let land would fall upon the ratepayers of the whole of the county of London. That could be met by a general power to let allotments being given to every parish in London; and if my noble Friend behind me [Earl Carrington] knew that such a proposal would not be opposed he would bring in a Bill to give it effect.

Question put.

The House divided:—Contents 25; Not-Contents 87.

Carrington, E. [Teller] Davey, L.
Chesterfield, E. Farrer, L.
Cowper, E. Hawkesbury, L.
Crewe E. Heneage, L.
Kimberley, E. Herschell, L.
Northbrook, E. Hobhouse, L.
Spencer, E. Leigh, L.
Lingen, L.
Aberdare, L. Monkswell, L.
Battersea, L. Ribblesdale, L.
Boston, L. Thring, L.
Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery) Tweeddale, L. (M. Tweeddale)
Burghclere, L. [Teller] Wandsworth, L.
Halsbury, E. (L. Chancellor) Halifax, V.
Hardinge, V.
Devonshire, D. (L. President) Llandaff, V.
Portman, V.
Cross, V. (L. Privy Seal)
Aldenham, L.
Ampthill, L.
Grafton, D. Ashbourne, L.
Portland, D. Bagot, L.
Richmond, D. Balfour, L.
Rutland, D. Belper, L.
Bolton, L.
Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn) Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton)
Lansdowne, M. Calthorpe, L.
Salisbury, M. Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort)
Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Steward) Churchill, L. [Teller]
Clinton, L.
Clonbrock, L.
Lathom, E. (L. Chamberlain) Colchester, L.
Cottesloe, L.
Bathurst, E. Crofton, L.
Bradford, E. De Mauley, L.
Carnwath, E. de Vesci, L. (V. de Vesci)
Clarendon, E.
Cranbrook, E. Elphinstone, L.
Craven, E. Erskine, L.
de Montalt, E. Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow)
Denbigh, E.
Dudley, E. Harlech, L.
Fortescue, E. Harris, L.
Hardwicke, E. Herries, L.
Lauderdale, E. Hood of Avaion, L.
Mar, E. James, L.
Mayo, E. Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare)
Minto, E.
Ravensworth, E. Lawrence, L.
Romney, E. Ludlow, L.
Selborne, E. Macnaghten, L.
Stanhope, E. Mendip, L. (V. Clifden)
Vane, E. (M. Londonderry)
Monckton, L. (V. Galway)
Waldegrave, E. [Teller]
Morris, L.
Muncaster, L.
Bangor, V. Newlands, L.
Falkland, V. Norton, L.
Plunket, L. Sinclair, L.
Poltimore, L. Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway)
Raglan, L.
Rookwood, L. Tollemache, L.
St. Levan, L. Ventry, L.
Sherborne, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Shute, L. (V. Barrington)

Bill rejected.