§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Clinton.)
My Lords, before the House resolves itself into Committee, I should like to call attention to the extraordinary way in which the officials of the Board of Agriculture have behaved in regard to the Return that was promised relating to the Patrington colony. On June 12 last I called attention to the Report on the Crown colonies, and to the very unsatisfactory accounts given for nine months, and I then had on the Paper a Resolution that a detailed balance sheet 560 for the Patrington small holding colony for 1917–18 should be presented to both Houses of Parliament forthwith. During the debate Lord Goschen, who then represented the Government, admitted at once the very unsatisfactory state of the accounts, and promised that a detailed account should be submitted as soon as possible. On that I withdrew the Motion that stood in my name.
Later, when the Motion was down for the Second Reading of the Bill, and, owing to the illness of Lord Goschen, was postponed, I asked my noble friend Lord Crawford if he would hasten the matter. He kindly said that he would. Nothing has come of that. In the debate it was again alluded to by the noble Lord, Lord Clinton, who I do not wish to blame for the matter, as he has only just undertaken the duty of representing the Board of Agriculture. He made the following statement—The cash account is, I believe, very nearly ready and it should be in a position to be placed before your Lordships in a very short time. The profit and loss account, I am informed, is likely now to be made up to Michaelmas next, and will not be ready for your Lordships, of course, until after that time.There must be an inability on the part of the Board of Agriculture to understand the difference between a Lady Day tenancy and a Michaelmas tenancy. A farm is taken over in Lady Day (April). A man I goes out in April, and naturally he has all his accounts ready. But the Board of Agriculture after nine months have not been able to produce these accounts, and they are now trying to postpone them till Michaelmas. This makes one suspicious of the reasons given for all this delay.
I think that the House has a perfect right to have full information on the management of the colony before it goes further into the matter. Therefore I sincerely hope that the House will support me if I give notice to-morrow that I will move that a detailed balance sheet differentiating between capital and annual farming expenditure for the Patrington Small Holdings Colony for the farming year April, 1917, to April, 1918, be presented to both Houses of Parliament forthwith. I think, when the Board of Agriculture seem unable now in July, to make out the accounts of the colony for April, 1917, to April, 1918, it is an extraordinary thing, and the sooner this is put right the better.
§ LORD CLINTON
My Lords, the noble Viscount is very suspicious of the accounts of the Patrington estate. There have been, know, considerable delays in preparing these statements, but the noble Viscount should remember that this is the beginning of the management of this large farm of Patrington, and it is difficult, at first, particularly when no model farm accounts have yet been brought out, to put before your Lordships an intelligible statement at the expiry of the first year. At the request which was put forward during the Second Reading of the Bill a week or ten days ago, I had prepared an account which I hope the noble Viscount will consider is at all events an effort to put before your Lordships the information in our possession. The noble Viscount asked particularly about the failure of the Board to understand the difference between a Lady Day and a Michaelmas entry. The Board have decided to make up their accounts to the term of Michaelmas, and in my opinion, although I understand it is not the custom in the East Riding of Yorkshire—
§ LORD CLINTON
It is a very considerable advantage in a purely grain growing farm like Patrington to make up your accounts to Michaelmas, because that is the end of your farming year. The crops are off the ground, you are starting your ploughing for the new crops, and I am perfectly confident—it is a practice I follow myself—that on such farms the accounts are more conveniently made up to that date. I do not think, however, that the date is of very great importance as long as every year the full financial position of the farm is put before Parliament.
If the noble Viscount desires it, I can give him the figures which have been prepared for this purpose. I give them in round numbers. Live stock have been purchased to the amount of £15,000. The accounts that I am dealing with, I may say, are from April, 1917, and I am carrying them on, with valuations, up to the time when we intend to close the accounts at Michaelmas. The other items are:—Feeding stuffs and seedmen's charges, £8,000; implements, etc., £6,000 (that is for the Period of a year and a half); rent for the same period, £4,900; wages and national insurance, £10,000; interest on capital expenditure (that is, the interest upon the 562 new buildings which have been put up), £1,400; and various items, bringing the total expenditure up to £50,000.
On the credit side the actual receipt for live-stock, wool, corn, seeds, etc., amount to £11,600. The estimated value of stock, crops, implements, and grain crop are £46,000. The grain crop has been taken as the average yield during the last ten years in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and the price given is the maximum price of the day. I may say that I think that this value will come out probably more favourably to the estate because the crop is decidedly a good one. This shows an estimated balance for the one and a half years of a little over £8,000. It will show a profit after paying rent and all outgoings, including interest on capital expenditure for the one year of £5,200 or £5,300, which represents very closely the double rental upon which you will have to pay Income Tax.
I am very much obliged to the noble Lord for giving me these particulars; still they are very difficult to make out in a speech. I urge that they should be printed as a proper Return instead of being merely stated in a speech; it would he very much more satisfactory to the House and to the country at large.
§ On Question, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee. Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee, accordingly.
§ [The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:
§ Increase in area of land which may be acquired for purposes of s. 1 of 6 & 7 Geo. 5, c. 38.
§ 1. Subject to the provisions of this section, subsection (3) of section one of the Small Holding Colonies Act, 1916 (hereinafter referred to as "the principal Act"), which limits the area of the land which may be acquired by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries for the purposes of that section, shall have effect as if forty-five thousand acres were therein substituted for four thousand five hundred acres, twenty thousand acres for two thousand acres, and sixty thousand acres for six thousand acres, and paragraph (c) of section eleven of the principal Act, which limits the area of the land which may be acquired by the Board of Agriculture for Scotland for the purposes of the said section one, shall have effect as if twenty thousand acres were therein substituted for two thousand acres:563
§ Provided that where land which is to be acquired for the purposes of the said section one could not, if this Act had not been passed, have been acquired for that purpose without making the total area of the land for the time being so acquired exceed the amount authorised to be so acquired, the land shall not be acquired otherwise than by taking the same on lease or by purchasing it on the terms that payment shall be made therefor by way of a rentcharge or other annual payment.
§ LORD STRACHIE moved, after the words "sixty thousand acres for six thousand acres," to insert "Provided that for the purposes of the acquisition, equipment, and settlement of the area hereby authorised to be acquired by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Board may, with the consent of the county councils, employ the county councils as their agents and vest in them all the powers hereby or by the principal Act conferred upon them in addition to those vested in such councils by virtue of the Small Holdings Act, 1908."
§ The noble Lord said: The object of this Amendment, as I indicated on the Second Reading, is to empower the Board of Agriculture, if they so wish, to delegate their powers to county councils for creating these small colonies in different parts of the country. The noble Lord will see that the county council may, under the Amendment, if they so wish, say they do not desire to undertake this duty but, if they are ready to undertake it, I think there is no better body, and they are much more likely to make a success of such management than it has been up to the present moment.
I notice that the noble Lord in charge of the Bill said the scheme was an experiment in a system of small holding colonies. I am rather surprised at that, because, if it was only an experiment, surely what has been done already with the 8,000 acres is sufficient, and you do not need to increase the experiment by another 60,000 acres. Curiously enough, when the former Bill was going through another place in 1916, Sir Richard Winfrey, now the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture, was apparently strongly opposed to its being called an experiment, and I very much sympathise with him, because, as he very truly remarked, we do not want any experiment in small holdings. He said—
I should have thought that the Board of Agriculture must have known by this time that we have got much beyond the experimental stage
as far as small holdings are concerned. We want a colony like this in every county constituency in England, and not three miserable colonies. Here are some figures given me by one of the Small Holdings Commissioners the other day. We have now been working this Act for six years; this is our seventh year. In Norfolk we obtained over 15,850 acres.
Then he goes on to say that in East Anglia altogether they have from 30,000 to 40,000 acres of land. If the county councils have been so successful in this way, and Sir Richard Winfrey had such confidence in the county councils at that time, why is it that the noble Lord is, as I understand, going to oppose this Amendment giving powers to the county councils, if the Board of Agriculture so desire, to carry out the Small Holdings Act?
It is quite true, an Amendment has appeared on the Paper this morning in the name of the noble Lord, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of Agriculture, as a sort of compromise between my Amendment and that of the noble Earl, Lord Lichfield, but the noble Lord's Amendment has the same fault which I complained of on the Second Reading—that it is setting up another body. What does the noble Lord propose to do by his Amendment? He proposes that the Board of Agriculture may set up a body in manner prescribed by the regulations of the Board itself. It is true that in the particular area, or the county, in which it is set up the majority are to be members of the county council, but other people are to be put upon the bodies by the Board of Agriculture. My experience as a county councillor is that when you have these bodies, partly of county counçillors and partly of people co-opted by the county councils—in this case they will be co-opted, I understand, by the Board of Agriculture—you generally find that the majority attending those committees are not elected members. It is certain that if you want to give satisfaction to the people in the district who want small holdings and who are accustomed to dealing with the county councils through their small holdings committees, you will do it much better by having elected representatives to whom they can go. If you merely have co-opted people they are not in touch with the men requiring holdings, and anyhow the electors have no control over them, and it is entirely against a democratic system to constitute these bodies. It is true they may be a majority,
but in practice it is generally found they are a minority when the body sits, the county councillors having a good deal else to do. I shall be rather surprised if the noble Lord is able to convince the House that the county councils are not the right bodies to put up. I shall be further surprised if he does not accept my Amendment, because, speaking on this question on the Second Reading, he said—
I agree most thoroughly that the work in the past has been managed exceedingly well by the county councils and the small holdings committees They have given a great deal of time to the purpose, and have been able to employ local men with practical knowledge of all local customs—an asset of enormous value in dealing with land in this way. They have been very successful, I think, in getting a good typo of tenant, and, on the whole, they have been able to carry out the Act of 1908 with far less friction than any of us at one time thought possible.
What could be a stronger recommendation for my Amendment than what the noble Lord said in that speech?
If you have such an admirable body which has worked so well in the past, why should the Board of Agriculture object to allowing that body to carry out, as far as they wish and as far as the county councils themselves wish, the duties under this Amending Bill? The only reason why I think the noble Lord is opposed to it, or at any rate the Board of Agriculture, is that they wish to set up a new body of officials who have to be paid, and thereby increase the expenses, instead of using a body which would work economically and which has its officials ready to carry out the work. At the present time, owing to the action of the Treasury, those officials have nothing to do because they are unable to buy land for small holdings; therefore this seems to be the right opportunity for making use of the county council officials. As I said before, it seems that the view of Sir Richard Winfrey, who was responsible for this Bill in the House of Commons, is that there should be a new departure entirely and a new Government Department set up. The noble Lord (Lord Clinton) did not contradict me on the occason of the Second Reading when I stated that Sir Richard Winfrey had said in the Observer—
We shall develop these pioneer colonies, and we hope eventually to acquire 1,000,000 acres.
If you want to acquire 1,000,000 acres I shall be very glad. But why set up a new Government Department for the purpose; why not let the county councils do it? I
beg to move the Amendment standing m my name on the Paper.
Page 1, line 12, after the third ("acres") insert ("provided that for the purposes of the acquisition, equipment, and settlement of the area hereby authorised to be acquired by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Board may, with the consent of the county councils, employ the county councils as their agents and vest in them all the powers hereby or by the principal Act conferred upon them in addition to those vested in such councils by virtue; of the Small Holdings Act, 1908 ").—(Lord Strachie.)
§ LORD CLINTON
Before I reply I would remind your Lordships that there are on the Paper two other Amendments dealing with the same question. The next Amendment is in the name of my noble friend Lord Lichfield, and it might be a convenience to the House if he moved it now.
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
The position is this: there are three Amendments dealing with the same point. If it is the wish of the House, and it is agreed on all hands, it would not be unusual to discuss the three Amendments as rival schemes.
§ VISCOUNT CHAPLIN
The Amendment which I desire to move comes before that of the noble Earl, Lord Lichfield. Therefore I will state at once why I desire to move it.
THE EARL OF LICHFIELD
I do not propose to move my Amendment at the 567 moment, as I think it will be out of order; but after the noble Lord has spoken I shall speak both on my Amendment and on his proposal, if the House allows me.
§ LORD CLINTON
Very well. The Amendment moved by Lord Strachie, so far as it is to the purpose of bringing county councils into the management of small holding colonies, is one to which I am not at all unfavourable. But the noble Lord, in recommending it to your Lordships, has expressly refused, I think, to look upon this measure as anything but a small holdings scheme. It is true that it is very closely allied to small holding schemes, and to the Act of 1908 which the county councils administer; but there are, of course, differences in so far as these are experimental small holding colonies. Whether the experiment has gone far enough for us to have decided that colonies are either successful or are failures is open to doubt. The noble Lord thinks that they have gone far enough. I do not know whether he is satisfied that they have succeeded or failed; at all events the object of the measure is to deal with these small holdings which, so far as they are experimental, are different from the ordinary work of the county councils on their small holding schemes.
I am anxious to meet the Amendment of the noble Lord as far as it seems possible to do so, and I have put down a clause—which will come in, I think, as the second clause of the Bill—which represents the view of the Board upon the matter. The noble Lord, Lord Strachie, in remarking upon that clause, correctly stated that it is put down in answer to criticisms which were made upon the Bill during the Second Reading and also in fulfilment of the promise—or something approaching a promise—which I made on behalf of the Board that the assistance of the councils would be invited. But the noble Lord took that promise in a larger sense, I think, than was intended—namely, as being favourable to the entire management of these schemes being put into the hands of the councils. Now I cannot admit that, for reasons which I propose to give to your Lordships. In the first place, apart from the fact that these are experimental, it might reasonably be said that, as long as they remain experimental, they ought to be in the hands of one body which will carry out their experiments on the same lines rather than that they should be put into the hands of a large number of 568 different bodies who may have different ideas of how the experiment should be conducted, and whose conclusions, or results, might consequently be confusing. We want to see the experiment tried out on certain lines so that the country may be satisfied of the actual success or failure of the scheme.
But apart from this somewhat minor objection to the proposals, there are two objections which I think are very strong. The first is with regard to finance. This is money from national funds given for a particular purpose. The responsibility for the administration of these funds rests with the Board of Agriculture. I do not think that we can be rightly expected to hand over little portions of that money to different county councils under this measure; and also I doubt—in fact, I am certain—it is not a good principle that any body should be set up to administer a scheme involving considerable expenditure when that body has no responsibility for that expenditure. I think that the financial argument is probably a sound one, and that is my first reason against going to the full length which the noble Lord desires.
Then I think there is another reason. We are authorised to acquire a certain acreage in the country for the purpose of small holding colonies. There is no certainty that a portion of that will be acquired in each separate county. The probability is that it will not be so acquired. It is our duty to find where we can the most suitable places for the experiment, and it would be just a chance if we were able to find an ideally suitable place in each county in England, Scotland, and Wales; and if under those circumstances, land being found only in a few counties, the whole administration was placed in the hands of the county councils, is it not a certainty that those councils would give preference in their selection to the applications of men of their own county? It is so certain that this would be done that I do not think one need trouble to argue further in the matter.
What then would happen to applicants, presumably well-deserving, from counties which have not got that area within the boundaries of their own councils. I think they would probably fare very badly under the scheme, and as the scheme is for this national purpose it seems essential, that every one should have an equal chance to share in it. And what applies to the 569 counties which have not got a colony within their own boundaries applies, I think, with greater force to some of our great cities. In accepting applicants for land under this scheme preference is always to be given—it is one of the main purposes of the Bill—to those who have served in His Majesty's Forces during the present war. One may easily imagine, indeed I think it has been definitely stated, that there will be in our great cities a considerable number of soldiers or sailors who perhaps have been bred in the country and had some agricultural experience, but who for their own reasons have left the country and gone into the towns. After their strenuous experience of outdoor life in this war it is suggested that those are men who would very likely prefer to go back to their old pursuits in the country and get a piece of land. How would they be provided for if the whole of the land was put in the hands of the county councils? It seems to me that this is another objection to doing what the noble Lord asks.
What the Board propose is a clause which is taken from the Land Drainage Bill, to which your Lordships gave a Second Reading yesterday. It is not really the same clause, but it is adapted from it. It is a permissive clause. They may authorise any body constituted as the Board may prescribe to exercise on behalf of the Board any matter in relation to the purposes of this particular Bill, and that body shall consist as to a majority of county councillors. You there bring in the local elements which we all favour, which we are all anxious to get, and which we are all quite certain will help in the administration of the Bill. We thus get a majority of county councillors to assist in the work, and we have something less than a majority who will be sufficient, or I hope will be sufficient to represent the Board in their financial responsibility and also in seeing that a fair opportunity is given to applicants from other counties or from the cities to get some land under the scheme. I think this is as far as we ought to go in the matter, considering the two main points which I have raised—namely, finance, and the possibility of applicants for land coming from other counties.
THE EARL OF LICHFIELD
As your Lordships know, and as has already been stated, I have an Amendment coming later on which, although differently worded, is meant to bring about the same object as 570 the Amendment of Lord Strachie; and I may say at once that I do not care in the least which of those Amendments your Lordships accept, so long as you select the one which you consider the best worded and the most likely to meet the situation. The intention of both is the same—namely, to enable the Board of Agriculture to delegate these powers to the county councils.
When this Bill was before your Lordships for Second Reading if mentioned that the county councils were most anxious to do all they could to co-operate and help to make the Bill the greatest success possible for our ex-soldiers and sailors. I also stated that although the county councils had in no way given up their serious objection to the embargo that is now placed on loans for small holdings, and would do all they possibly could to press that upon the Treasury, yet in a small way they would be most anxious to help under the provisions of this Bill, and that with that object in view I was going to put down certain moderate Amendments to carry out those views of the county councils. I think your Lordship will agree that the Amendments are of a very moderate character, and that so far from being antagonistic to the objects of the Bill they are, on the contrary, likely to increase its efficiency.
I will deal now with the first Amendment that I have put down. It is in the same terms as that of Lord Strachie, and I would venture to point out that while my noble friend in charge of the Bill complains of my Amendment and that of Lord Strachie, because the Board of Agriculture cannot see their way to give up the entire management of these colonies to the county councils, there is no reason under my Amendment why they should do so. My Amendment says, to begin with, "The Board of Agriculture and Fisheries may." That is entirely permissive; and it goes on to say that they may delegate "all or any of the power conferred upon the Board." Well, you have the option. For instance, my noble friend alluded to finance, and said that the Board being responsible for the finance could not see its way to hand it over to the county councils. My Amendment as it stands would, I think, provide for that difficulty. The Board would make certain arrangements with the county councils to protect themselves.
571 Again my noble friend alluded to the difficulty there might be as to the selection of candidates. That is to say, he suggested that the preference would undoubtedly be given to those ex-soldiers who happened to come from the particular county where the land was situate. There again, it seems to me perfectly competent, under the proposed words of the Amendment, for the Board to make arrangements with the county council on that point. The Board of Agriculture could take part in the nomination of these ex-soldiers and sailors and could make such arrangements as they thought fit with the county council on this subject. Therefore I do not think that these points, which the noble Lord urged against these Amendments, should really hold good. When you come to the counter proposals of the Board of Agriculture on this question I entirely agree with what has fallen from Lord Strachie, that the proposal contained in the Amendment is not at all a desirable one. Speaking from the county council point of view, I think there would be great objection to constituting a body in the county to deal with the small holdings when there is in existence in that county a special body of the county council conversant with the management of small holdings, and where the county councils and the officials are all equally familiar with such management. It would be, I think, quite impossible under the Amendment of my noble friend for the officials of the county council to be directly used by these Boards so appointed.
May I also say that I do not think the analogy with regard to the Drainage Bill is a very good one? It is perfectly true that the clause which was inserted in the Drainage Bill is a very satisfactory one to the county councils, but it must be remembered that the county councils are not the drainage authorities for their counties. They have no drainage staffs; they have no engineers, and so on. Therefore, in that case they were quite pleased that they were so far recognised that where the Board of Agriculture created these bodies for drainage boards there should be at least a majority of county councillors. In this particular case the county councils are the small holding authorities, and I venture to think it would not be a desirable thing to constitute boards such as are proposed under Lord Clinton's Amendment. On the contrary, I ask your Lordships, in consideration of these Amendments being of such a moderate character—I do not 572 care whether it is Lord Strachie's or my own—that you should rather adopt one or other of these two. By doing so you will give the county councils what they ask for. You will give them a position under this Bill.
I should like to call attention to this fact, that when the Bill was in the House of Commons no alterations were made in Committee, for some reason or another of which I am not aware; but on the Third Reading nearly every Member who spoke expressed the hope or the desire that county councils should be brought into the Bill. That was the whole trend of the discussion in the House of Commons. Therefore I am quite sure that any Amendments which your Lordships put into the Bill in the direction of giving the county councils a locus will be received by agreement and welcomed in the House of Commons. We must also remember that, as the Bill has passed the House of Commons, we must be very careful that we get our Amendments in now or it will be too late, and the omission cannot be remedied in the other House. Therefore I hope that your Lordships will agree to one or other of the two Amendments.
As we seem to be discussing these various Amendments I should like to say that I prefer the Amendment of Lord. Lichfield to that of Lord Strachie. I do not like the idea mentioned in Lord Strachie's Amendment about the county councils being the agents of the Board of Agriculture. I prefer very much the words of Lord Lichfield's Amendment, that we should hand the work over to the county councils. As it is going to be, and is admitted to be, an experiment by the Board of Agriculture and the Government to carry out a scheme of colonies, I agree that the management ought to rest with them. What I feel very strongly is—and I quite agree with Lord Lichfield—that if they are going to take an estate in a county they ought not to do it without consultation first with the county council both as regards its advantages for small holdings or the absolute necessities of the case. I also hold strongly that the Amendment which I have down later on, but about which I will not speak now, should be adopted. I do not wish the county councils to be forced by the Board of Agriculture or the Government to take over a scheme which looks probably or possibly likely to turn out a failure, and that an odium which 573 they do not for a moment deserve should fall on them in consequence. On those grounds I support the Amendment of Lord Lichfield.
§ LORD BURNHAM
May I be allowed to point out to the House with great respect that the noble Lord who represents the Board of Agriculture has used arguments which I venture to think are entirely destructive to the proposals that he puts forward. He distrusts, and the Board which he represents also distrusts, the county councils unless reinforced by official nominees who may be appointed for reasons quite other than their knowledge of agriculture. The county councils are the greatest and the most dignified of our local authorities, but they are also the most democratic, are elected on the widest suffrage, and composed of those who have special knowledge as well as local responsibility which would enable them to deal most effectively with the purposes of this Bill.
I know it was alleged formerly that the county councils have shown themselves hostile in practice to the exercise of the powers for the acquisition of small holdings, but you cannot have a more powerful testimony in their favour than the figures and arguments used by Sir Richard Winfrey in 1916 in another place, because he was formerly a very severe critic of the county councils of the agricultural counties. He said—Here are some figures given me by one of the Small Holding Commissioners the other day. We have now been working this Act for six years—that is the Act which this Bill will amend—this is our seventh year. In Norfolk we obtained 15,850 acres under the Act, and we have put 1,382 tenants upon the land. In Cambridge-shire we have 10,000 acres and have put 1,438 tenants upon the land, and in Lincolnshire we have done about the same as in Norfolk. In the three Eastern counties of which I have some knowledge we have secured between 30,000 and 40,000 acres of land.And then he ridiculed the Bill, as it was then before the House. I venture to say that the county councils would be far better off left to themselves than if they have political nominations made to them by the Board of Agriculture which will certainly not strengthen them from the expert point of view, but which may lead to friction in the working of the Act, as it will then be, which certainly none of your Lordships would wish to see introduced.
574 I do not believe a new body of this sort is necessary. Probably you have as many as you want in agricultural counties, looking at the time at the disposal of those to whom you wish to entrust the execution of these powers. It is a dangerous thing for the Board itself to have this responsibility thrown upon it. They will be besieged by applications to members of the other House for nomination to these bodies, and those who are exercising the powers will not be responsible to the people, as is the case with county councils. The noble Lord said they wanted to get this Bill executed everywhere in the same way. I venture to suggest that this is exactly what you do not want. You want to have the circumstances and conditions of every county dealt with according to the nature of the case, and I do not see why there should be this distrust of county councils acting not only fairly to the soldiers and sailors—a charge which could hardly be supported—but also in full sympathy with the purpose of the Bill.
My noble friend who has just sat down said that if this Bill failed it might bring unpopularity to the county councils. That is a rather unworthy argument to use. County councils would be the last to shirk responsibility in the matter, and besides they will have the odium just the same if they only have to direct the elective element of the new authority which the Government propose to set up. Those who are nominated are very possibly nominated for party and political considerations. These have to be taken into account; in practice it often works like that, as it does in the composition of a bench of magistrates. But it is not on these nominees that any unpopularity would fall but on the county councils, who are responsible to their constituents in the county areas. I do not believe that in the history of county councils there is any reason for questioning their zeal, and I am certain there is no reason for questioning their competence. If this Bill is to have a fair chance of success you cannot do better than entrust it to the greatest local authorities we have, which are always becoming more democratic because they are opening their doors wider to the labouring man. I hope that all those who are connected with county councils will take the course of supporting the Amendment, because I am quite certain the House of Commons will be unable to resist such an expression of opinion here.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I hope that the different speeches which have been made will tend to induce the noble Lord opposite somewhat to relax the extreme rigidity of attitude which he felt compelled to take up when he replied to the Amendment of my noble friend behind me. I was not unfortunately able to get here in time to hear the terms in which Lord Strachie moved his Amendment, and therefore I am unwilling to express any preference as between that Amendment and the kindred Amendment, very much in the same sense, which is on the Paper in the name of my noble friend Lord Lichfield. But I think both noble Lords are justified in stating that the Amendment of each is couched in very moderate terms. They do not place compulsion on the Board of Agriculture, and they do not effect what is the purpose of my noble friend Lord Burnham—that is, to hand over the whole business to the county councils as they are. That, of course, is an arguable proposition. The county councils, certainly in a great many cases, have performed their duties under the Small Holdings Act with good sense and in many cases with enthusiasm. In the past, as we know, there were complaints that some councils were not showing all the activity which might be wished, but it is not proposed in either of these Amendments forcibly to hand over the entire management to them. A large discretion in the matter is left to the Board, no doubt on the ground which the noble Lord stated—namely, that the provision of money is central, and therefore it may be said to be reasonable that the central authority should have a large voice in its distribution. There is also the further point which the noble Lord made, that there may be a certain number of applicants for whom no county council would, on its own initiative, provide; although he somewhat himself minimised the force of that argument by stating that many of these men, townsmen, had at an earlier date come from some county or another. Those men would, I take it, have quite as good a chance of being now provided for in the county of their origin as if they had stayed there all the time.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I quite agree that there may be some cases—the County of London is one—in which the 576 possibility of provision is not large, and there may be other counties in which the quota of land might not be easy to find. But, on the main point of the Amendment, I would ask the noble Lord to consider seriously whether he cannot meet my noble friends in the very moderate form of Amendment they have put forward.
§ LORD CLINTON
I should like to say just one word on this matter. The noble Earl, Lord Lichfield, in supporting Lord Strachie's Amendments, rather suggested that they might be accepted because they were only permissive. It is quite true they are permissive, but it does not seem to me that I should be dealing quite fairly with the House if I accepted them as permissive knowing they were framed in such a way that the Board could not take advantage of that permission. That is to say, the power of control which they give to the county councils is, for reasons I have stated, larger than the Board think right; consequently you can scarcely imagine that the Board will in any case take advantage of the permission which is given. If they are drawn as I have suggested, then it is quite obvious, probably in every case, that the county council of the county will get an opportunity, which I think they desire, of being associated with the Board in carrying out these schemes. There is no distrust of the county councils, as Lord Burnham suggested. I hope I have said enough to-night, and on former occasions, to assure your Lordships that the Board are anxious for the assistance of county councils, and acknowledge the great importance of the work they have done. In regard to what the noble Marquess, Lord Crewe, said with reference to the extreme rigidity of my attitude, may I suggest that after all my Amendment goes a very long way to meet the idea that county councils should be associated in the management; and for reasons in connection with finance (which I consider to be of great importance) and in connection with the full opportunity for every one to get a chance of this land, I think that is as far as the Board ought to go.
§ LORD STRACHIE
I quite understand that the noble Lord the Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of Agriculture does not wish it to be thought that if he accepted this Amendment then the Board are obliged to give the county councils this power. I am sure that the House will quite understand, if he accepted it, that he did so 577 only with a perfectly free hand for himself, or rather for Sir Richard Winfrey, who is in charge of the Bill in another place, to make use of the county councils. For myself, and I think the noble Earl (Lord Lichfield) would say the same, we would he perfectly satisfied if we had it in the Bill, because we know well that the constitution of the Board may change. All we want is that, when the constitution of the Board changes at some future date, and when there may be a new President and a new Parliamentary representative here who will have sympathy with county councils and think they are the proper people to carry this out, there may be an opportunity for them to give the county councils that power. Once you have parted with this Bill no alteration can be made. Therefore I must persist in my Amendment. I personally think that my Amendment and that of Lord Lichfield are the same, and if the noble Earl will say that he will accept Lord Lichfield's Amendment I shall be satisfied, but apparently he is or opinion that neither is acceptable and therefore I must press my Amendment.
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ LORD STRACHIE moved to add at the end of the first paragraph of the clause "Provided that in selecting the said additional area preference shall be given to land requiring reclamation, and which it would be commercially advantageous to reclaim."
§ The noble Lord said: Perhaps the noble Lord the Parliamentary Secretary may be inclined to accept this Amendment. Its578
§ LORD CHARNWOOD
May I suggest that in the sixth line of the Amendment it might be well to add after the word "all," the words "or any of," so that the Board of Agriculture might delegate any of the powers to county councils. I do not know whether that is possible. Might it not also be improved if, after the words "acquisition, equipment, and settlement" the words "and management" were also added? It seems to me that, the intention is quite the same as that of Lord Lichfield's Amendment, but the wording is not quite the same.
§ LORD STRACHIE
I suggest that the noble Lord's words should be moved on Report. I would rather see the words printed.
§ On Question, whether the words proposed to be inserted shall stand part of the clause—
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 28; Not-Contents 14.577
|Argyll, D.||Aberdare, L.||Lamington, L.|
|Marlborough, D.||Anslow, L.||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)||Parmoor, L.|
|Crewe, M.||Burnham, L. [Teller.]||Roundway, L.|
|Cawley, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Charnwood, L.||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Northbrook, E.||Desborough, L.||Southwark, L.|
|Northbrook, E.||Fairfax of Cameron, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Forester, L.||Strachie, L. [Teller.]|
|Chaplin, V.||Hindlip, L.||Stuart of Wortley, L.|
|Finlay, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Stanhope, E.||Armaghdale, L.|
|Curzon of Kedleston, E. (L. President.)||Clinton, L.|
|Farquhar, V. (L. Steward.)||Colebrooke, L.|
|Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.) (L. Privy Seal.)||Sandhurst, V. (L. Chamberlain.)||Elphinstone, L.|
|Hylton, L. [Teller.]|
|Llandaff, L. Bp.||Stanmore, L. [Teller.]|
object is to provide that preference should be given in this additional area to land which would be required and which it would be commercially advantageous to reclaim. I am strengthened in my hopes that your Lordships and the Government may be willing to accept this Amendment when I quote an authority on this question. Mr. Jesse Collings said in another place in 1916—
We have immense areas of alluvial land on the banks of our rivers and estuaries which, by draining and embankment, could be brought into cultivation, and could produce enormous
crops. I have a typical instance in my mind which I know well. I have visited it on several occasions. It is outside Devonport Dockyard. There are about a thousand acres of such land, and with no heavy expenditure this could be made to produce good crops. If that were done, no less than 5,000 quarters of wheat could be produced on that area.
§ He further went on to say—and this is important, because I think that Sir A. Daniell Hall is at present Permanent Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture—that Sir A. D. Hall, who is the highest authority on land reclamation, in his presidential address before the British Association gave estimates to show that from £20 to £25 profit could be made on every acre of land. He concluded his suggestions by saving that such reclamation is a long-sighted policy and a sound commercial venture.
§ As Sir A. D. Hall is Permanent Secretary to the Board of Agriculture, I think I need not say much to recommend this to the noble Lord. Certainly I think he will agree that there could be no harm in putting this provision into the Bill. It is not obligatory upon the Board and if he thinks my words are too mandatory I shall be perfectly ready to amend them so that this Amendment, like my previous Amendment, may leave it to the discretion of the Board of Agriculture. Hardly anyone will dispute that it is a very desirable policy to do all we can to reclaim land, making it produce more food for the people of the country, especially corn, because at present we are always being urged that we ought to have more arable land, and not be dependent on supplies from abroad. If we can do anything under this Bill there seems to be no good reason why we should shut out any possible means of getting that greater produce. I hope that if the noble Lord cannot accept this Amendment at once, he will take it into consideration.
Page 1, line 17, at end insert ("Provided that in selecting the said additional area preference shall be given to land requiring reclamation, and which it would be commercially advantageous to reclaim ").—(Lord Strachie.)
§ LORD CLINTON
The noble Lord, in pressing his Amendment, has said a good deal about the advantage of reclaiming land. I quite agree that in certain circumstances there are great advantages in reclamation, but I must remind the noble Lord that this is not a Bill for the purpose 580 of reclaiming land, but for creating small holding colonies. What is the position of a man who is accepted as a small holder in a colony, who is put down upon fifty or 100 acres on a bare hill side? Will he be able to live upon it while he is reclaiming it? Reclaiming wild land, as the noble Lord knows quite well, is a lengthy and expensive process, and it presupposes that the man who undertakes to do it is a man of some capital, upon which he can live until the labour which he has put into this reclamation bears fruit. Under the Bill the Board can, if they think fit, add some portion of unreclaimed land, in any proportion they choose, to a small holding, but I do not think it is right in a Bill for the purpose of a small holding colony experiment to put men down upon entirely unreclaimed land. The whole question of land reclamation is now under consideration by the Board, and I have no doubt that some proposals will be made for the purpose. But I suggest to the noble Lord that this Bill is not the right place in which to make them.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ VISCOUNT CHAPLIN moved to omit the following proviso from Clause 1, "Provided that where land which is to be acquired for the purposes of the said section one could not, if this Act had not been passed, have been acquired for that purpose without making the total area of the land for the time being so acquired exceed the amount authorised to be so acquired, the land shall not be acquired otherwise than by taking the same on lease or by purchasing it on the terms that payment shall be made therefor by way of a rentcharge or other annual payment."
§ The noble Viscount said: This is a Bill in which I am greatly interested, and as a matter of fact I believe I was the first person to introduce a Small Holdings Bill into Parliament. That was, I am sorry to say, a good many years ago, but the object of that Bill was to endeavour to re-create what may be called the old peasantry which formerly existed in great numbers in this country. They not only 581 existed but flourished, and they carried on their calling with the greatest possible success until they gradually died out with the advent of free trade and the terrible period of depression which followed upon that after a certain number of years, and which everybody still remembers. But the principle of that Bill was to establish, if possible, the ownership of land, and, so far as I am able to follow the present Bill, if this clause remains, with the proviso which I want to exclude, it will not only militate against the acquisition of land but it will place people with mortgaged estates in a difficult position. Vast numbers of the estates in this country are mortgaged more or less, and everybody knows that mortgages are being constantly called in in order that the morgagees may get 6 per cent. for their money. I understand that there is no compulsion in this Bill.
§ VISCOUNT CHAPLIN
I think it must be obvious, however, that, in the case of a mortgage which is called in, the owner of the estate in all probability, though he might be very willing to sell, and though he might wish to encourage the object of this Bill, may not be in a position to pay off the mortgage—that depends, of course, on the price which you give him—and he may hesitate for a long time perhaps before he tries to meet the wishes of the Government and the object of this Bill.
I may be told that the Bill which I refer to failed entirely in its object. That was not the case. What happened was this. The Government which introduced that measure and carried it very shortly afterwards went out of office. It was immediately followed by another Bill, introduced by a Liberal Government, who substituted tenancies under local bodies for the principle of ownership which we desired to see established. But before that was done, although there were very few months in which to do it, a certain number of colonies were established, and there they are, and on the authority of Mr. Jesse Collings, who will be taken by this House, I am certain, as a reliable authority—you will find it stated in the book which he wrote on this question—those colonies have flourished from the day when they were created under that Bill up to the present time. I admit that they are few in number; there was no time for the creation of more in the short period that 582 the Government remained in office after the passing of that, Bill into law. But judging from what occurred in another case it is absolutely impossible to say that the principle failed; on the contrary, wherever it had an opportunity of being tried it has been a thorough and a complete success.
This Bill is introduced very largely in the interests, when they come home, of the soldiers and sailors who are now fighting our battles abroad. But which do you think they would prefer to be—the owners of their land once and for all time, or the tenants of certain local bodies? I am certain that there will be no question upon their part of which they would rather be; and I think that is the view which must commend itself to everybody. Then, again, supposing that the proposals in this Bill are carried out as they now stand. After all, this is a Bill which must be very largely in the hands of the Board of Agriculture, and, although I infinitely prefer ownership to any tenancy under any kind of body whatever, if I were in the position of wanting a small holding I should certainly choose to serve under a county council rather than under the present Board of Agriculture, or any other Board of Agriculture which is likely to be constituted in the future. I have now advanced arguments which, I think, strongly support the proposal I have made. I beg to move.
Omit the proviso in Clouse 1, from the words ("Provided that") down to ("annual payment").—(Viscount Chaplin.)
§ LORD CLINTON
The noble Viscount understands, of course, that I have not had an opportunity of considering this matter, as the Amendment was not put on the Paper, but the effect of it is, I think, to take out the words relating to leasing or a rent charge, which would take us back to the principal Bill where purchase by the Board was allowed. It is, I believe, for the moment a definitely settled matter by the Treasury that purchase will not be allowed; consequently they have given the additional power to the Board of providing for a certain sort of purchase—namely, a purchase by way of rent charge or other annual payment. That does not preclude—in fact, I think it suggests—the possibility of purchasing by a payment over the longest possible 583 term, possibly 999 years; and this view is probably strengthened by an Amendment which will be moved later stating it may be obtained by feu, which is for a period of 999 years.
§ LORD CLINTON
They then become the virtual owners; and there is no reason under this measure—whatever may be the policy which has been adopted by a recent Government who were against the principle of purchase by the small holder—why they should not sell the land to a small holder for this long period of lease, making him a virtual owner. But I think, for the reason I have stated—that by no possibility can purchase direct by the Board be inserted in the measure—I ought not to consent to accept the Amendment of my noble friend.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
There are two entirely separate questions involved in this Amendment. The first is the question as to whether the occupier of the small holding should be a tenant or a purchaser. That is a point on which I am probably not in complete agreement with my noble friend behind me (Lord Chaplin); and the answer of the noble Lord (Lord Clinton) to my noble friend's complaint is that although the tenant cannot be a purchaser yet he can feu the land for a term of just under 1,000 years. That may meet the case of the tenant and place him very much in the position in which my noble friend would like to see him. But Lord Clinton has not met the other point which my noble friend made with regard to the acquisition of the land. I quite understand, as he says, that the Treasury is not prepared to pay cash for any of the new land to be acquired under this Bill, although I take it from the form of the Clause it may pay cash up to the extent which the first Act allows.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
Yes; therefore the Treasury is not willing to find money in order to pay cash for further acquisitions. The noble Lord opposite did not answer the argument, which appears to me to be a very strong one, put forward 584 by my noble friend Lord Chaplin, that in a number of cases this may render it impossible for an agreement to be arrived at between the landowner and the Board for the purchase of particular farms. Where an encumbrance exists on those farms—if a mortgage, as my noble friend said, had been called in—the payment of a rent charge by the State to the landowner will not enable him, or in a great many cases may not enable him, to pay off that charge. That, I take it, is not disputed by my noble friend opposite, and he merely states, in reply, that as the Treasury will not provide the money there is no means of making them do so; but, of course, it does not meet the argument advanced by my noble friend Lord Chaplin.
§ VISCOUNT CHAPLIN
I should like to say a word with regard to the Treasury. I do not know, of course, what are the reasons which have induced the Treasury to refuse this request, when they must have consented recently to other requests according to all the statements we read. In the interests of the miners and the part of the Labour Party interested in that particular industry, requests have been met within the last few days which, so we are told, will add to the burdens of the country to the extent of £24,000,000 a year. It is only a second edition of the process which has been already invoked, I understand, once before, and if that can be done in the one case I do not understand why there is to be such an extraordinary distinction made between two industries, one of which is rightly assisted with enormous sums, and the other the progress of which, we are told, is second only in importance at the present time to the provision of men for the fighting line. I really think we ought to have some reason for this blunt and definite refusal of the Treasury to listen to demands of this kind, when other demands have been readily granted.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ LORD STANMORE moved the addition at the end of the clause of the words "or by taking the same in feu." The noble Lord said: The object of this small Amendment is to make it clear that in Scotland land can be taken in feu for the purposes of the Act.
Page 1, line 25, at end insert (" or by taking the same in feu").—(Lord Stanmore.)
I do not like this Amendment at all. It seems to me that the whole of this Bill is tentative and experimental. The only thing which is not experimental is the taking of land. It is taken up in perpetuity. Supposing I wish to give a piece of land in the middle of my property and this scheme turns out to be a failure. What am I to do? The land belongs to the Government, who have acquired it, and it is put up for sale. I may make a bid for it, but I may not get it. It may be bought by some one over my head, and there I have a planter in the middle of my property and the planter settles down with absolutely no right to be there. Surely as the Bill is experimental it is only fair that the period for which land is acquired shall be fixed. If the scheme proves a success then the acquisition of the land can be made compulsory, but for the present at all events it should be acquired only for a term of years.
§ LORD CLINTON
I should be prepared to accept this Amendment, which I understand is required by the Secretary of the Scottish Office. With regard to the remarks of my noble friend behind me, the answer to him, of course, is that this is a purely voluntary Bill, and it is quite unnecessary for him to feu his land or let it if he does not wish to do so.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE EARL OF LICHFIELD moved the addition of the following proviso, "Provided also that no portion of the additional land authorised by this Act to be acquired shall be so acquired except after consultation with the council of the county in which the land proposed to be acquired is situate."
§ The noble Earl said: This Amendment is put down on behalf of the County Councils Association, and they are very anxious that it should be passed. I have already alluded to the other Amendments standing in my name, and we have passed one of a similar nature standing in the name of Lord Strachie. It is a very moderate proposal, and it seems to be most essential, in order to avoid possible danger of overlapping or of competition with regard to the acquisition of these lands, that the councils of the counties in which the land proposed to be acquired is situate should be consulted in the first instance. They would be in a good position to advise as to the suitability of the land, and as to its being of the desired 586 quality for these small holdings. I think there is very little more to be said. Your Lordships can see for yourselves what the Amendment proposes, and I hope you will give it your support. You will see that it is not permissive. It says that in every case the Board shall consult the county councils.
Page 1, line 25, at end insert (" Provided also that no portion of the additional land authorised by this Act to be acquired shall be so acquired except after consultation with the council of the county in which the land proposed to be acquired is situate").—(The Earl of Lichfield.)
§ LORD CLINTON
If the noble Earl lays much stress upon this Amendment, I do not see any great objection to it provided it is amended in one or two particulars. As I understand, the only object in bringing it forward is to make certain that there shall not be any competition between the Board and the county councils in purchasing land for this purpose; at all events, that the Board, coining to a county where it does not know local circumstances, shall not purchase land which might be required by the county council. So far there seems to be no reason why the Board should not consult with the councils upon the matter, but the first point I should like to raise is this. County councils only sit as a rule four times a year. Obviously the Board could not wait through a whole quarter for the purpose of consulting the council upon a purchase of land which might have to be settled to-morrow. Therefore it is necessary to make some alteration, so that a committee of the county council could be consulted where urgency required it. I have also one other objection, and that is that sales and purchases are frequently of a very private nature indeed until actually completed, and it might be in certain circumstances impossible to consult anybody in the county under the terms of the proposed agreement between the Board and the vendor. I should have to find words—I think they could be found—which would guard against that. Subject to these remarks, if the noble Earl wishes to place the Amendment in the Bill I shall raise no objection.
THE EARL OF LICHFIELD
May I say there was no intention in the working of this Amendment that the whole of the council of the county should be consulted, but that information should be tendered to 587 the official clerk or the chairman of the small holding committee with regard to the proposed acquisition of land? That would, no doubt, do away with the objection which my noble friend finds to the publicity attending a consultation with the full council. I never intended that. Therefore, if your Lordships should see well to pass the Amendment, words could be inserted on Report which would put the matter on a footing such as the Board of Agriculture may desire.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.
§ VISCOUNT GALWAY moved to insert a new clause. The noble Viscount said: My object is to safeguard the county councils from suddenly being told that they are to form a small holding colony against their wish, when, perhaps, they know better than those who are members of the Board of Agriculture the value and particular qualities of the land. I wish also to see that they are not compelled to take over a colony formed by the Board of Agriculture. I trust that my noble friend will not think there is anything unreasonable in that view. It leaves the responsibility for forming the colony with the Board of Agriculture as now, and it protects the county councils from being forced against their wish to undertake colonies. I hope the noble Lord will accept the proposal.
Insert as a now clause:
§ "Consent of county council required to form small holding colony.
§ ". A county council shall not be required to form a small holding colony under this Act, or to take over a colony already formed by the Board of Agriculture, without its consent."—(Viscount Galway.)
§ LORD CLINTON
I do not agree with the noble Viscount that this Amendment is in any sense necessary. I cannot see what possible power is conferred upon the Board to instruct a county council either to form a small holding colony or to take one over. That responsibility rests entirely with the Board, and I do not think there is any means of transferring it to the county councils.
If the noble Lord assures me that there is no power in the Bill to force it on county councils, I will withdraw.
THE EARL OF LICHFIELD
May I point out that in Lord Strachie's Amendment which has been already passed it is stated that "the Board may with the consent of the county councils." Does not that meet the noble Viscount's view?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
As a consequence of what took place the other day I have put a new clause down, because I am most anxious that everything should be done to put soldiers and sailors on the land. At the same time, after what has been written in the papers—with what authority I do not know—there seems to be an idea that the ratepayer's money may be used for experimental farming and other purposes. I do not think this is the intention of the measure, and it is to ensure that land acquired under it shall be used for the proper purposes that I put the Amendment down. I am sure we are anxious that the soldiers and sailors should make a success of their colonies, and that nobody else should be put on them. Therefore, I beg to move.
Insert the following new clause:
§ " Use of land.
§ ". Land acquired under this Act shall not be used for demonstration or experimental farms, but shall be used for the occupation, and possible ownership, of sailors or soldiers with knowledge of agriculture."—(Viscount Galway.)
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
Before my noble friend answers, may I say I did not happen to be in the House when the Bill was under discussion on Second Reading, and my noble friend Lord Galway afterwards drew my attention to what he had said about the Report of the Agricultural Policy Sub-Committee of the Reconstruction Committee? What he said was based on something that was stated in The Times, I think, in respect of part of that Report. I only wish to assure him that, although experimental and demonstration farms are discussed in that Report, they are discussed without any kind of connection with the settlement of soldiers and sailors on the land. There was absolutely no connection between the two ideas.
§ LORD CLINTON
Under this measure there is no intention of providing demonstration or experimental farms in the ordinary acceptance of the term. It is 589 quite possible that in any colony formed it may be advisable to take some portion of it and use it to show the colonists how the land should be worked. I can quite imagine that in some of our fruit farm colonies or market gardening colonies it would be well if the director took 10 or 15 acres or whatever it may be, and worked them as he believed would show the best methods for working the land profitably; but in the ordinary sense of a demonstration farm I do not think anything was intended. Of course, if the noble Viscount is alluding to the farm at Patrington, which he has been already discussing, no doubt this has been for the time occupied as a large farm. It is occupied as a large farm because for the moment there are no settlers for it, and I do not presume that the noble Viscount, or any one else, would desire us to leave the farm derelict, because apparently the moment has not arrived for it to be turned into its proper function as a small holding colony. I do not think the proposed clause is necessary, because there is nothing in the measure which suggests that the farms could be used as demonstration farms.
§ VISCOUNT CHAPLIN
I was going to ask my noble friend opposite whether he would object to leave out the words "and possible" in the third line of his Amendment and to insert the word "or," so that it would read "shall be used for the occupation or ownership of sailors or soldiers with knowledge of agriculture."
Amendment moved to the proposed new clause—
To leave out the words (" and possible ") and insert the word (" or ").—(Viscount Chaplin.)
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
I think it a little unfortunate to introduce the whole question of ownership by means of a very oblique reference in an Amendment which my noble friend behind me (Viscount Galway) desires to withdraw.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
My noble friend is prepared to withdraw his proposed new clause, and has expressed his desire to do so.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
I would therefore suggest that as the proposed clause in itself is open to objection—which, I think, Lord Galway is prepared to admit—if it is necessary to raise the question of ownership it should be done in a much more regular way rather than in a perfectly vague and incidental manner. I hope, therefore, it will not be pressed.
§ VISCOUNT CHAPLIN
I hear so badly that I was not aware that Lord Galway was going to withdraw his Amendment. Otherwise, of course, I should not have moved an Amendment to one that was to be withdrawn.
I am quite prepared to withdraw my Amendment, but it is open to the noble Viscount to raise the question again on Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The new clause the insertion of which I now move is only carrying out what has been done before namely, that we should have a regular balance sheet, a profit and loss account, so that we should know how these small holding colonies go on. I should like to make a slight alteration of the words so that the clause would read, "A regular profit and loss account for the farming year, either from Lady Day to Lady Day or Michaelmas to Michaelmas, according to the date of the tenancy, for each small holding colony, shall be annually presented to both Houses of Parliament." The great difficulty has been that at the end of the farming year every farmer makes up his accounts. It should be some day corresponding to the agricultural custom. No date was put in before, and the result is that we have confusion. Therefore I move that the accounts should be made up to the date of the tenancy, whether Lady Day or Michaelmas.
§ Amendment moved—
Insert as a new clause:
. A regular profit and loss account for the farming year, either from Lady Day to Lady Day
or Michaelmas to Michaelmas, according to the date of the tenancy, for each small holding colony, shall be annually presented to both Houses of Parliament."—(Viscount Galway.)
§ LORD CLINTON
I do not think the main portion of the new clause moved by the noble Viscount is necessary, because in the principle Act, Section 10, it is stated—The Board shall present to Parliament an annual report of their proceedings under this Act which shall include a statement of the financial position of each colony.I think, probably, this meets the point of view of the noble Viscount. He raised another point which we have already discussed this afternoon, the proper date for closing the account. He says it should be Lady Day because that is a custom of the particular district. I say it should be Michaelmas because that certainly is the most convenient time for closing the account of a grain-growing farm. However, if he thinks that the custom of the country is of sufficient importance to press his alteration on our attention, I will look into the matter and see if in the opinion of the Board of Agriculture it is thought advisable to have Lady Day instead of Michaelmas. The question of an outgoing tenant, as far as the Board is concerned, is of small importance.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Remaining clause agreed to.