§ House again in Committee (according to Order).
§ [The EARL of DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]
§ Clause 5:
§ Establishment of Wages Committees in Wales.
§ 5. Subsection (1) of Section 5 of the Act of 1917 shall not apply to Wales, and in lieu thereof the provisions contained in the Second Schedule of the Act of 1917 shall apply with respect to Wales as they apply with respect to Scotland, with the substitution of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for the Board of Agriculture.
§ THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LORD LEE OF FAREHAM)
The first three Amendments on the Paper are in substance drafting Amendments to carry out the effect of Clause 5, and are rendered necessary by the fact that the clause refers to the Scottish scheme which is not entirely applicable to Wales, and also by the fact that there is already in existence a tribunal for wages operating in Wales.
Page 11, line 15, after ("shall") insert. ("subject as hereinafter provided")
Page 11, line 17, leave out ("Ministry") and insert ("Minister")
Page 11, line 18, after ("Agriculture") insert ("for Scotland") and at end insert ("Provided that—
§ "(1) The provisions of the said Schedule with respect to combinations of districts, and paragraph (4) of the said Schedule shall not apply, and there shall be constituted in accordance with a scheme to be framed by the Minister a central agricultural wages committee for Wales (in this section referred to as 'the central committee') consisting of a chairman appointed by the Minister, and of two representatives of each district wages committee (one of whom shall represent employers, and the other of whom shall represent workmen) to be elected by the district committee, and of two women to be appointed by the Minister; and
§ "(2) The Minister shall appoint a person to act as secretary to a central committee; and285
§ "(3) The powers of the Agricultural Wages Board established under the Act of 1917 shall continue to be exerciseable until such time as the central committee is duly constituted under this section; and
§ "(4) Any rate of wages fixed, or order made by the Agricultural Wages. Board shall continue in force in Wales unless and until it is varied or revoked by the central committee and any permit granted by the said. Board to a workman under subsection (3) of section five of the Act of 1917 shall, in relation to the employment of that workman in Wales, have effect as if it were granted by the central committee").—(Lord Lee of Fare-hem.)
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
THE EARL or KIMBERLEY
moved to leave out Clause 5. The noble Earl said: I am moving the deletion of this clause because I am deputed to tell your Lordships that it is entirely against the wish of the agricultural labourers as expressed through those who represent them in the House of Commons and also on the wages board, that Wales should have a separate wages board. I happen to know and I am very friendly with a great many people on the Central Wages Board and it is not only the labour side but also on the other side who think it would be a great pity to give Wales a separate board and destroy what has been a very harmonious body as regards dealing with the rate of wages. There are many difficulties to face if it is done. If Wales had the separate management of agriculture like Scotland there would be no question that she should have a separate board. 1 do not want to offend any Welshman at, all but I believe this part of the British Isles is called England, that England and Scotland are called Great Britain and that Wales is part of Great. Britain. When you give, as you may hereafter, separate Local Government to Wales I have no doubt in course of time that Yorkshire, East Anglia, the North of England, and the South will ask for separate local government. If you give Wales a separate wages board, why on earth should you not give Yorkshire and the other places I have mentioned separate wages boards?
On the question of economy the members of the wages boards have asked me to point out that if you set up a separate wages board for Wales there must be money expended on it. The wages board has worked very well and I think it is an extremely useful thing. If in future it becomes necessary that Wales should have a separate wages board then the 286 question can be dealt with, but one does not want to spend more money on officialism now and as every penny saved is of advantage to the country at large I think matters should be left as they are. If that is done, I say without fear of contradiction that you will be doing what the labouring people want who are concerned in agriculture in Wales, and, after all, even if you hate the Wages Board, at all events the people who are under it are contented with it, so why not leave well alone?
Leave out Clause 5.—(The Earl of Kimberley.)
§ LORD BLEDISLOE
As this Amendment also stands in my name, perhaps I tatty be allowed to say something on it. I cannot pretend to speak with the same authority on the views of organised labour as the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, but surely this clause is home rule run mad. If you are going to set up a separate wages board for Wales it is bound to involve a large additional expenditure and particularly in respect of additional officials.
But my main objection to the clause is that it undermines the whole scheme of this Bill arising out of the guarantees. These guarantees are founded, quite properly, upon the cost of production as assessed on the basis of the year 1919. Those costs of production were arrived at by the Royal Commission on Agriculture who explored the whole of the ground after considering wages as fixed by the Central Wages Board, a body which operates over the whole of England and Wales. If you are to have two entirely separate wages boards in the future assessing wages from an entirely different standpoint and running on entirely different lines the result will be that the guarantees upon which you are now deciding will prove to have been founded upon a wrong basis and you ought, indeed, to have another Royal Agricultural Commission set up in order to decide whether the new wages board for Wales will affect the actual prices which you intend to fix as minimum prices for wheat and oats in the future. I venture to suggest that this was never. contemplated when the Bill was drafted, and certainly the guarantees will have to be entirely revised if you are going to set up a separate wages board.
There is another reason wily I press this view, because, although it is sought by the noble Lord's Amendment to assimilate the 287 case of Wales to that of Scotland, we must bear in mind that in Scotland, rightly or wrongly, there is a separate Department of Agriculture, and in this country our Ministry of Agriculture administers agricultural matters both in Wales and in England. And, although the noble Lord opposite, I believe, does not regard the Central Wages Board as a branch of his Department he has already admitted in this House that it is closely affiliated or associated with it. For these reasons I hope that noble Lords will rule out this clause as wholly unnecessary.
§ LORD CLWYD
There are, of course, administrative difficulties in connection with setting up a separate wages board for Wales, but this is a matter which has been very carefully considered by those who represent Wales, and, if we are to measure the situation by public opinion, I may mention that all the Welsh Members in the House of Commons, Liberal, Unionist, Coalition, and Labour, made representations to my right hon. friend who was in charge of the Bill in another place and to the Minister in charge of the Bill here in favour of the inclusion of this clause. Anyone who has knowledge of Wales must know that in many respects there are in that country special agricultural conditions, and upon the general ground of national sentiment and of different agricultural conditions I hope that the noble Lord opposite will not press his Amendment.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I quite understand the motives which have caused the public opinion in Wales, of which the noble Lord has just spoken, to be in favour of a separate wages board, and, speaking generally, I sympathise with manifestations of that feeling. But it seems to me, from the point of view of one who lives in one of what Mrs. Malaprop called "the contagious counties," that the matter has a distinct bearing on us in Cheshire, Shropshire, and Hereford. The boundaries between England and Wales are very arbitrary, and the agriculture is to a large extent identical along those borders, and it occurs to me that considerable difficulty might arise if a totally different scale of remuneration of labour was instituted owing to the difference in the conclusions of the district wages boards and the Central Wages Boards in two adjacent countries, and that a great deal of ill-feeling might be caused as between one county and 288 another. I do not know whether the noble Lord in charge of the Bill has had that consideration in his mind, but I confess it seems to me to be a substantial one.
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
It is quite true that this clause was not in the Bill as originally introduced, but it is also true that there was a very strong expression of feeling, amounting almost to a national demonstration, on the part of the Welsh Members in another place, and it was in consequence of that, and in view of the fact that Scotland has a separate wages board that it was felt it was exceedingly difficult to deny to one nationality what was allowed to the other. Under these circumstances the Government accepted the separate wages board. On the other hand, I am well aware that there has been an objection taken to it in many quarters, but on balance we came to the conclusion that it was better that the separate wages board should be maintained, and I hope that this Amendment will not be pressed.
§ VISCOUNT CHAPLIN
What I think people forget in connection with wages boards is this. Everybody knows that in every county, in every district, in every parish, and very often on every farm, the value of the land is entirely different, and how is it possible therefore to appoint a wages board at all in which you can do the full and proper justice over any very considerable area of land? There is no getting away from that. And yet that has been the policy of His Majesty's Government in this Bill. I think what I have said is applicable also to the Commissioners. I object altogether to the three Commissioners for Ireland, Scotland, and England being persons appointed to decide upon the methods of cultivation in those three different countries. Agriculture in Scotland varies very much from agriculture in England, whilst agriculture in England and in Ireland are absolutely and totally distinct, and I personally should object altogether to a Commissioner for Technical Education in Ireland having a word to say in connection with cultivation in England. I hope therefore that this Amendment will be pressed.
§ VISCOUNT ST. DAVIDS
I was surprised to hear the noble Viscount at the conclusion of his speech opposing this clause; I thought he was defending it. 289 He began by telling us how very difficult at was to lay down arbitrary rides over whole districts. According to him the only possible way to adjust wages fairly would be to do it over small districts—parishes even. But surely it is a very strong argument for having a separate wages board in Wales that you have entirely different conditions, a different people, speaking very largely a different language; and the case for Wales is a great deal stronger for the speech that the noble Viscount has made. I believe that every single Member of Parliament for
|Birkenhead, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Strange, E. (D. Atholl.)||Glenarthur, L.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Greville, L.|
|Argyll, D.||Waldegrave, E.||Grey de Ruthyn, L.|
|Marlborough, D.||Westmeath, E.||Hamilton of Dalzell, L.|
|Richmond and Gordon, D.||Harris, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Sandhurst, V. (L. Chamberlain.)||Holm Patrick, L.|
|Bangor, V.||Hylton L.|
|Ailsa, M.||Bertie of Thame, V.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore)|
|Bath, M.||Cave, V.||Kanres borough, L.|
|Cameden, M.||Chilston, V.||Lee of Fareham, L.|
|Licolnshire, M. (L. Great Chamberlain.)||Devonport, V.||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)|
|Finlay, V.||Muir Mackenzie, L.|
|Hood, V.||Oriel, L. (M. Massercene.)|
|Ancaster, E.||Peel, V.||Oxenfoord, L. (E. Stair.)|
|Bradford, E.||St. Davids, V.||Phillimore, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Phillimore, L.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Abinger, L.||Queenborough, L.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Annesley, L. (V. Valentia.)||Ranksborough, L.|
|Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)||Balfour, L.||Rathereedan, L.|
|Harewood, E.||Barrymore, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Howe, E.||Bellow, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Innes, E. (D. Roxburghe.)||Blythswood, L.||Romilly, L.|
|Iveagh, E.||Boston, L.||Rotherham, L.|
|Kilmorey, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)||Sackville, L.|
|Lindsay, E.||Clinton, L.||St. John of Bletso, L.|
|Lindsey, E.||Clwyd, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Lovelace, E.||Colebrooke, L.||Sempill, L.|
|Lucan, E.||de Mauley, L.||Somerleyton, L. [Teller.]|
|Lytton, E.||Deecies, L.||Stanmore, L. [Teller.]|
|Malmesbury, E.||Donigton, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E Galloway.)|
|Onslow, E.||Douglas, L. (E. Home.)|
|Sandwich, E.||Elphinstone, L.||Stuart of Wortley, L.|
|Shaftesbury, E.||Fairelie, L. (E. Glasgow.)||Wavertree, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Farnham, L.||Wharton, L.|
|Forbes, L.||Wyfold, L.|
|Bedford, D.||Allendale, V.||Forester, L.|
|Somerset, D.||Chaplin, V.||Hastings, L.|
|Sutherland, D.||Haldane, V.||Hindlip, L.|
|Hampden, V.||Incheape, L.|
|Crewe, M.||Harcourt, V.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)|
|Linlithgow, M.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)|
|Ashton of Hyde, L.||Lamington, L.|
|Abingdon, E.||Askwith, L.||Leigh, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Bledisloe, L. [Teller.]||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Chichester, E.||Buckmaster, L.||Parmoor, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensbury.)||Chalmers, L.||Pentland, L.|
|Cranworth, L.||Rathdonnell, L.|
|Jersey, E.||Denham, L.||Strachie, L.|
|Kimberley, E. [Teller.]||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)||Sumner, L.|
|Midleton, E.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|Morton, E.||Ernle, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Wicklow, E.||Erskine, L.|
§ Wales is in favour of having a separate wages board, and it is rather an arbitrary thing to override the wishes of a whole people when there is no practical advantage in doing so. I sincerely hope that this House will not take up the attitude that, for no particular reason, it will refuse the wish of the whole Welsh people, and a wish that can be gratified without doing any harm to ally Englishman or Scotsman.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 5 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 96; Not-Contents, 16.291
§ Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ Clause 5 agreed to.
§ Clause 6 agreed to.
LORD DESBOROUGHmoved, after Clause 6, to insert the following new clause—
7. It shall be the duty of each agricultural committee referred to in this Act to furnish annually to the Minister full accounts showing the expenditure winch has been made by such committee in the carrying out of the provisions of this Act, and where such committee has entered into occupation of any holding under the powers conferred upon it by this Act, it shall furnish to the Minister the detailed costs incurred by such committee in respect of such holding, and the Minister shall submit to Parliament the returns made by the said committee under this section.
§ The noble Lord said: I move this new clause in the interests of economy and for the protection of the taxpayer. Under Clause 28 of the Bill Parliament is to provide the money for carrying out the objects of this measure, and the new clause which I move says that it shall be the duty of each agricultural committee referred to in this Bill to furnish annually to the Minister full accounts showing the expenditure which has been made by such committee in the carrying out of the provisions of this Bill. These full accounts are meant to include those moneys, which are considerable, spent on railway travelling. Under the Defence of the Realm Act it would be very difficult to get from every agricultural committee an account of the money spent under the Act, but now that the taxpayer has to pay the whole expense I think it would be considered reasonable by the Minister in charge of the Bill that these committees should show a full account of their expenditure. It is hoped that this may tend to reduce the number of officials employed by the various committees. Some counties are more extravagant than others. The more officials you have the more money they spend, and the more work they are obliged to find to do. I hope my noble friend will be able to meet me on this point.
§ The second part of the proposed new clause provides that where such committee has entered into occupation of any holding under the powers conferred upon it by this Bill it shall furnish to the Minister the detailed costs incurred by such committee in respect of such holding, and the committee shall submit to Parliament the 292 returns made by the said committee under this section. The various committees are now in the occupation of a good deal of land, and it would be interesting if they are to set an example—
After Clause 6, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Desborough.)
§ Clause 7:
§ Commencement of part IV of Corn Production, Act, 1917.
§ 7. Part IV of the Act of 1917 shall, if not in operation at the date of the commencement of this Act, come into operation on that date, and the powers continued in operation by subsection (3) of section eleven of the Act of 1917 as amended' by the Corn Production (Amendment) Act, 1918, shall, if they have not previously ceased, cease on that date.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLORmoved, at the end of the clause, to insert "except in relation to any land of which the Minister is on that date in possession by himself or any person deriving title from him, or any land to which on that date subsection (2) of section thirty of the Land Settlement (Facilities) Act, 1919, applies."
§ The noble and learned Lord said: The Minister, or certain bodies acting on his behalf, is in occupation of a large area of land under certain Defence of the Realm Regulations, and the bulk of it is in occupation as allotment gardens. The powers conferred by these Regulations are powers which have been continued in force by the Corn Production (Amendment) Act, 1918, until the determination of the war. Clause 7 proposes that they shall be brought to an end on January 1, 1921. Now, under the Defence of the Realm (Acquisition of Land) Act, 1917, a Government Department in possession of land at the termination of the war under the Defence of the Realm Regulation powers is entitled to remain in occupation for a period of two years from the termination of the war, and the Government have given a definite 293 pledge that as regards allotment land they will exercise those powers, except where the owner makes out a good case for the restoration of the land to him.
§ It is necessary, therefore, to exempt land of which the Ministry is in occupation from the operation of Clause 7 so as to enable possession to be retained until the termination of the war, or two years thereafter. This exemption is, I think, required having regard to the commitments of the Ministry. I know that these matters are not very popular, and therefore I would make it plain that that part of it which relates to farms of which the Minister is in possession under Regulations and under the pledges that have been given is very small, and the Ministry is taking steps to withdraw from this class of land at the earliest possible moment. The matter is a small one and a technical one.
Page 11, line 39, at end insert the said words.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ LORD BLEDISLOE moved to leave out Clause 7. The noble Lord said: Your Lordships will notice that this clause embodies that obnoxious system of legislation by reference that has already been drastically dealt with in Clause 4. I suggest that it is at least as obnoxious in the place where we now find it as it was there, and I venture to move the omission of the clause, so that the remains of Part IV of the Act of 1917—there is not much left of it—could be set out in the Bill itself, in order that those who administer it may clearly see what they are administering.
I might remind your Lordships that this part of the Act of 1917 consists of three sections only. One is Section 9 which has been already embodied in Clause 4; the second is Section 10, which refers to the protection of crops from damage by rabbits and vermin, and I think your Lordships will be interested to see on the face of the Bill what that particular provision is, and to know particularly whether it applies to present-day conditions; and lastly, most important of all, comes Section 11, which deals with the whole machinery of arbitration. Your Lordships will notice that we have already passed clauses in the Bill which refer to this arbitration machine, the actual machine not being described at all. This particular clause is peculiarly 294 obnoxious in that respect, because when your Lordships turn to Section 11 of the Corn Production Act, you find that you are referred to still another Act, the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1908, the Second Schedule of which sets out the actual machinery of arbitration. All I ask you to do is to insert in place of this clause by reference the actual sections of the 1907 Act to which reference is made.
Leave out Claus. 7.—(Lord Bledisloe).
As my name is on the Paper in connection with this Amendment I desire to support the noble Lord who has moved it. I think it would be far more convenient to your Lordships—I know it would be to myself—to have everything embodied in the one measure. In order to understand this Bill one has to carry about a small portmanteau of Acts, and I even had to lend my noble friend in front of me a copy of the Corn Production Act. I do not wish to take up your Lordships' time, but l hope that the noble Lord in charge of the Bill will give consideration to this Amendment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Clause 7 deals with the date on which Part IV of the Act of 1917 is to come into operation, and your Lordships will remember (though I do not know that the two speeches that have been made contained a reference to this) that Part IV of the 1917 Act was not to come into operation until the close of the war. It is proposed that Part IV should come into operation on January 1, 1921. If this House does nothing at this stage Part IV of the Act of 1917 would not come into operation until the date of the signature to the Treaty with Turkey. I am not prepared to say when that important and desirable Treaty will be consummated.
But we are dealing strictly with two alternatives. I should have thought that noble Lords would have greatly welcomed the proposals contained in Clause 7 because they are really an attempt to meet their wishes. I cannot think that the Amendment moved by the noble Lord is consonant with the general desire of the House. We are acting now under Defence of the Realm powers. I know that noble Lords are most anxious at the earliest possible moment to get rid of the powers under the Defence of the Realm Acts. If this 295 Amendment is carried we must go on dealing with this under the Defence of the Realm powers, and I cannot imagine why when the Government—very late in the day some of our critics think—exhibit some symptoms of grace and are prepared to substitute a very intelligible and well understood principle and one much more in favour in this House than the powers under the Defence of the Realm Act, it should be opposed.
Noble Lords say that they object to legislation by reference, and that this is legislation by reference. It certainly is, but the general abuse of legislation by reference goes much too far, though there are particular abuses of it that no one will deny. No draftsman can ever get rid of legislation by reference. There may be too much of it, but when dealing with complicated subjects in Bills which have been preceded very likely by eight or nine Acts of Parliament well-known to the expert persons who alone can deal with those matters, to say that in each succeeding Bill you must set out every clause referred to in every preceding Act is simply ludicrous to those who are accustomed to deal with these matters.
It is a question of degree in every case, whether the draftsman has done his work clumsily or skilfully. I do not take the view in this case that there is anything which would task the ingenuity of noble Lords, and if the noble Lord who spoke last says—I forget his exact phrase—he has to carry about a portmanteau or library in order to follow the intricacies of this legislation, he is not any worse off than any lawyer who has to construe it. If a layman finds himself in at least as good a position as any lawyer I cannot see that he has any grievance.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
Is not the noble and learned Lord rather straining at a gnat in refusing this Amendment? It is a little difficult as one reads Clause 7, as it stands, to see exactly what it is meant to do. It seems to me that it is meant to do two things which are quite distinct. The one is to bring certain powers into operation, and the other to cause certain powers to cease. The powers that are to cease are those under the Defence of the Realm Act, as I gather from the noble and learned Lord, and there seems no reason why they should not cease. But that does not affect the principle of this Amendment in the least.
296 What this Amendment is intended to do is to put into the Bill in two perfectly plain sections what are the provisions of Part IV that are to come into operation, and it is not intended to hinder—God forbid that it should for a single moment!—the day when the powers under the Defence of the Realm Act should conic to an end. It may be that under this Amendment to leave out the whole of the clause the noble Lord has overlooked the fact that the clause is a composite clause, and I think that could very easily and readily and properly be remedied. But when you come to see what is intended to be introduced, all your Lordships need do is to turn to the Amendment Paper and try to find the clauses set out. They are not very long. I do not think it is fair, where it is possible to introduce in perfectly plain and intelligible language what an Act of Parliament is intended to do, that you should cause a person who wants to follow it to look to another Statute. Though. I agree with the noble and learned Lord that we spend most of our time in doing it, still I am sure he will concur with me that it does not improve our temper, and we resent it very much. But after all we have some advantage over other people in that respect, because we know a little about the Acts that are introduced by reference.
I think that a man who wants to know what this Act means has some claim to have it made plain upon the face of it, and that is all that this Amendment does. I respectfully submit to your Lordships that the noble and learned Lord has not really given any reason at all. He has given some reasons why you cannot get rid of legislation by reference, but no reason in the world why this particular Amendment should not be introduced, and I submit it should be introduced.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
No one, of course, can give any particular reason in a particular case why legislation by reference should be permitted, except that everybody must concede there are cases in which that is a proper method of legislation, the implication being involved in the very use of the argument that this is such a case. My estimate of the opinion of my noble and learned friend on any technical or legal matter is precisely in inverse ratio to my estimate of the value of his opinion on any agricultural matter, 297 and I am greatly impressed by the view he has expressed that this method might be adopted in this particular case. I always pay the deepest respect to his opinion in any such matter as that. Therefore if he will allow me, and the mover of the Amendment will allow me, between now and the Report stage I will consider this Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 7 agreed to.
§ Clause 8:
§ Compensation for disturbance.
§ 8.—(1) Where the tenancy of a holding terminates after the commencement of this Act by reason of a notice to quit given, after the twentieth lay of May, nineteen hundred and twenty by the landlord, and in consequence of such notice the tenant quits the holding, then, unless the tenant—
- (a) was not at the date of the notice cultivating the holding according to the rules of good husbandry; or
- (b) had at the date of the notice failed to comply within a reasonable time with any notice in writing by the landlord served on him requiring him to remedy any breach being a breach which was capable of being remedied of any term or condition of the tenancy consistent with good husbandry; Or
- (c) was at the date of the notice a person who had become bankrupt or compounded with his creditors; or
- (d) had at the date of the notice refused, or within a reasonable time failed, to agree to a demand made to him in writing by the landlord foe arbitration as to the rent to be paid for the holding as from the next ensuing date at which the tenancy could have been terminated by notice to quit given by the landlord at the date of the said demand;
§ Provided that compensation shall not be payable under this section in any case where the landlord has made to the tenant an offer in writing to withdraw the notice to quit and the tenant has unreasonably refused or failed to accept the offer.
§ (2) The agricultural committee for the area in which a holding is situate shall, on the application of the landlord of the holding and after giving the tenant or his representative an opportunity of being heard, hear the application and may grant to the landlord a certificate that the tenant 298 is not cultivating the holding according to the rules of good husbandry, or may refuse the same, any such certificate shall for the purposes of this section be conclusive evidence of that fact unless the tenant, within such time as the Minister may prescribe, requires the question as to whether he is cultivating the holding according to the rules of good husbandry to he referred to arbitration and the arbitrator determines that the holding is bring so cultivated.
§ (3) Where, after the commencement of this Act, the landlord of a holding refuses, or within a reasonable time fails to agree to a demand made to him in writing by the tenant for arbitration as to the rent to be paid for the holding as from the next ensuing date at which the tenancy could have been terminated by notice to quit given by the tenant at the date of the said demand, and by reason of the refusal or failure the tenant exercises his power of terminating the tenancy by a notice stating that it is given for that reason the tenant shall be entitled to compensation in the same manner as if the tenancy had been terminated by notice to quit given by the landlord.
§ (4) The provisions of this section relating to demands for arbitration as to the rent to be paid for a holding shall not apply where the demand, if made later than six months after the commencement of this Act, is so made that the increase or reduction of the rent would take effect at some time before the expiration of two years from the commencement of the tenancy of the holding or from the date on which a previous increase or reduction of the rent took effect:
§ Provided that an arbitrator in determining for the purposes of this section what rent is properly payable in respect of a holding shall not take into account any improvements executed thereon so far as they were executed wholly or partly by and at the expense of the tenant without ally equivalent allowance or benefit made or given by the landlord, in consideration of their execution, or fix the rent at a higher amount than would have been properly payable if those improvements had not been so executed.
§ (5) The compensation payable under this section shall be a sum representing such loss or expense directly attributable to the quitting of the holding as the tenant may unavoidably incur upon or in connection with the sale or removal of his household goods, implements of husbandry, fixtures, farm produce or farm stock on or used in connection with the holding, and shall include any expenses reasonably incurred by him in the preparation of his claim for compensation (not being costs of an arbitration to determine the amount of the compensation), and also a sum equal to one year's rent of the holding, or, where the notice to quit is given with out good and sufficient cause and for reasons inconsistent with good estate management, such sum, not being less than one year's rent nor more than four years' rent of the holding, as the arbitrator may think proper.
§ (6) Compensation shall not be payable under this section—
- (a) in respect of the sale of any goods, implements, fixtures, produce or stock unless the tenant has before the sale given the landlard a reasonable opportunity of making a valuation thereof: or
- (b) Unless the tenant has not less than two months before the termination of the tenancy given notice in writing to the landlord of his intention to make a claim for compensation under this section; or
- (c) where the tenant with whom the contract of tenancy was made has died within three months before the date of the notice to quit; or
- (d) if in a case in which the tenant under section twenty-three of the Act of 1908 accepts a notice to quit part of his holding as a notice to quit the entire holding, the part of the holding affected by the notice given by the landlord, together with any other part of the holding affected by any previous notice given under that section by the landlord to the tenant, is less than one-fourth part of the original holding, or the holding as proposed to be diminished is reasonably capable of being cultivated as a separate holding except compensation in respect of the part of the holding to which the notice to quit related; or
- (e) where the holding was let to the tenant by a corporation carrying on a railway, dock, canal, water, or other undertaking, or by a government department or a local authority, and possession of the holding is required by the corporation, department, or authority for the purpose (not being the use of the land for agriculture) for which it was acquired by the corporation, department, or authority; or
- (f) in the case of a permanent pasture which the landlord has been in the habit of letting annually for seasonal grazing, and which has since the fourth day of August nineteen hundred and fourteen and before the commencement of this Act been let to a tenant for a definite and limited period for cultivation as arable land, on the condition that the tenant shall along with the last or waygoing crop sow permanent grass seeds.
§ (7) In any case where a tenant holds two or more holdings, whether from the same landlord or different landlords. and receives notice to quit one or more but not all of the holdings, the compensation for disturbance in respect of the holding or holdings shall be reduced by such amount as is shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator to represent the reduction (if any) of the loss attributable to the notice to quit by reason of the continuance in possession by the tenant of the other holding or holdings.
§ (8) The landlord shall, on an application made in writing after the commencement of this Act by the tenant of a holding to whom a notice to quit has been given which does not state the reasons for which it is given, furnish to the tenant within twenty-eight days after the receipt of the application a statement in writing of the reasons for the giving of the notice, and if he fails unreasonably so to do the notice shall be deemed to have been given without. good and sufficient cause and for reasons inconsistent with good estate management.300
§ (9) If any question arises as to whether compensation is payable under this section or as to the amount payable by way of compensation under this section the question shall, in default of agreement, be determined by arbitration under the Act of 1908.
§ (10) Compensation payable under this section shall be in addition to any compensation to which the tenant may be entitled in respect of improvements, and shall be recoverable in the same manner as such compensation and be payable notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary.
had on the Paper an Amendment in, paragraph (a) of subsection (1), to leave out "cultivating" and insert "managing." The noble Lord said: I think it was agreed yesterday that the Amendment which stands in my name should be postponed until the Report stage, but I would like to take this opportunity of asking the noble Lord who is in charge of the Bill whether he can give us a definition of what "cultivation" means. I have tried to find out. In the Corn Production Act there is a definition which covers grass land. In Ireland in the same Act there is a different definition which covers only tilled land, As regards Part II and in the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1908, there is no definition. so that an arbitrator who goes to work on this clause has no guide whatever as to what cultivation means.
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
I should be obliged if the noble Lord would allow me to consider the question of definition. I should not like on the spur of the moment to give the particular definition which is referred to in the Corn Production Act, but I will consider the matter.
§ LORD BLEDISLOE
I think this was a point that the noble Lord opposite said he would consider after yesterday's discussion, and I rather wondered whether, in the light of the decision which was come to in this House on Clause 4, he does not think the word "manage" would be a more suitable word than the word "cultivate," bearing in mind that we are all agreed now that it is to apply to pasture and meadow land as well as to arable land. "Cultivate" does rather suggest the idea of ploughing up.
§ LORD LAMINGTON
(on behalf of Lord SALTOUN) moved, in subsection (1), after paragraph (a), to insert the following new paragraph—(b) had prior to the date of the notice contravened or failed to observe the rules of good husbandry, and had in consequence deteriorated the holding, as at the date of notice.
§ The noble Lord said: The paragraph is very clear in its intention. It is that a tenant, who prior to receiving notice had not been cultivating his land properly, might show great zeal only when he has received notice; and the landlord should be safeguarded in that respect.
Pave 12, line 9, at end insert the said new paragraph.—(Lord Lamington.)
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
It is quite possible that a tenant might at some earlier date have deteriorated his holding by failure to observe the rules of good husbandry, and the notice to quit may have remedied that deterioration; in such a case he cannot be considered to be. in default. But if at the date of the notice the holding is still bring inadequately cultivated, he is still in default under paragraph (a).
§ LORD LAMINGTON
I do not think it covers the case at all. I have, however, an Amendment, in a different, form, which might suit the noble Lord better.
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
I should be very glad if the noble Lord would put the words of his new Amendment down for Report, when I will undertake to consider them. At present he himself seems to be of two minds with regard to the matter.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD STRACHIE moved, in paragraph (b) of subsection (1), after the second "him," to insert "to pay any rent due in. respect of the holding or." The noble Lord said: This is a very small Amendment, which I hope that the Minister may be inclined to accept. The object of it, as no doubt he is aware, is to provide that the tenant shall not get the benefit of the section in a case where he has not paid any rent due on the holding. It only seems reasonable that the tenant, to put himself in a position to claim compensation under the Act should have paid up his rent to date.302
Page 12, line 12, after the second ("him") insert. ("to pay any rent due in respect of the bidding or").—(Lord Strachie.)
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
I should have thought that these words were not necessary, but I have no objection to their being put in if the noble Lord wishes.
§ THE MARQUESS or LINLITHGOWmoved, in paragraph (c) of subsection (1), after "creditors," to insert "or had been during the tenancy convicted of serious crime or had acquired habits or been guilty of conduct prejudicial to good estate management."
§ The noble Marquess said: I have been asked to recommend this Amendment to the Government on behalf of the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture. I am aware that if the House accepts this Amendment it introduces into the Bill a somewhat unusual matter because the words amount to a, disqualification or penalty on the ground of personal fault or character. But, my Lords, when the State comes between the parties to a contract it may perhaps be argued that some unusual or extraordinary provision of this sort is not to be avoided. I think upon those grounds there are two precedents which may not be without effect upon the House. There is the case of the Small Land Holders Act, 1911, which provides in Section 32, subsection (4), that the statutory small tenant is not to get security of tenure where the landlord satisfies the Land Court that there is reasonable ground of objection, and so on, to the tenant; in other words, the statutory small tenant can be objected to on personal grounds, and not merely on what I may call agricultural grounds. Then there is another case under the Increase of Rent and Mortgage interest Restrictions Act, 1920, which I think was quoted in another place, and which I will not detain this House by quoting, unless it is desired that I should do so. I hope the noble Lord opposite will believe that my conviction with regard to this matter is not to be measured by the brevity of the speech with which I have recommended it to the House.
Page 12, line 17, after ("creditors") insert the said words.—(The Marquess of Linlithgow.)
§ LORD HASTINGS
This Amendment moved by my noble friend appears to me to be very important in so far as it bears direct relation to the amount of compensation which it is proposed to give for capricious eviction. Capricious eviction, I take it, would be the eviction of a man who had committed no agricultural fault. Lord Linlithgow endeavours to disqualify a tenant from the four years' compensation on account of personal fault, and of course every one of your Lordships is aware of cases of tenants against whom it would be extremely hard to charge or prove any agricultural fault, but who are extremely undesirable persons in the part of the world in which they reside, and whom it is extremely desirable to get rid of by some means or other. By that I mean not for the advantage of the landowner but for the advantage of the neighbourhood. It is hardly necessary to bring to your Lordships' notice cases which arise of grave immorality. Those are cases which certainly do render it desirable to get rid of the tenant farmer, and yet it seems that under this Bill a man guilty of such conduct would go away with four years' compensation in his pocket, whereas a good tenant whose farm the landlord wanted to take over would only receive one year's compensation. The bad man would be compensated at the expense of the good man. For these reasons I support the Amendment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
With reference to the concluding words of the noble Marquess, I will give him and indeed all noble Lords a general assurance that in the opinion of the Government the highest degree of sincerity is compatible with the utmost degree of brevity, and therefore I treat the Amendment, as indeed it is, as a serious one. It is at the same time one which provokes a difficult discussion. We must, of course, above all be very careful not to arm the critics of those who are responsible for the administration of land with the charge that we are enabling, in another form, landlords to get rid of tenants whose manners or whose morals they do not like. The question will be left, I am inclined to think, if we adopt the language of the Amendment, in a somewhat nebulous form. The words of the Amendment are "or had been during the tenancy convicted of serious crime or had acquired habits or been guilty of conduct prejudicial to good estate management."
304 Serious crime is specifically clear. There is no ambiguity about that. But when I come to consider the other words I find myself face to face with the greatest difficulty if I have to construe those words as a judge. Supposing, for instance, an act of sexual misconduct was committed by a tenant. It is, of course, extremely culpable, but would that be an act which was "prejudicial to good estate management"? I think there would be very great difficulty in deciding what kinds of conduct were prejudicial to good estate management. Supposing these words came up to me as a judge and I had to construe them without hearing arguments—I give now a prima facie impression—I should construe those words as meaning conduct in relation to affairs which deal with the estate prejudicial to the estate management, and I think that is a reasonable meaning to give; but I do not think that exhausts the meaning which the noble-Marquess intended to give. These matters have to be decided by the arbitrator, and I cannot conceive a more unsuitable tribunal for the question raised by the Amendment than the arbitrator.
There is a precedent to which the noble Marquess did not refer, and that is a precedent which may enable your Lordships to reach a conclusion. It is contained in the Rent Restriction Act. Under that Act possession can be obtained if the, tenant or any person residing with him has been guilty of conduct which is a nuisance or annoyance to adjoining occupiers, or if he has been convicted of using the premises for an immoral or illegal purpose. I agree with the noble Marquess that where a landlord sincerely feels a moral obligation in the interests of his other tenants or the neighbourhood to, get rid of a tenant whose conduct, if I may use popular language, might be-described as a public scandal, then I think that might be considered as coming within, the category by reason of the tenants misconduct. Therefore, to meet the point of the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, that ought not to carry the right to compensation for disturbance. I have said enough to show your Lordships that this is one of those cases in which there is something which makes it desirable (if it were possible) to deal with; but, indeed, it is not very easy to conceive what exact form of words might be most suitable to carry out our purpose. I do not like the noble Marquess's language, because I think it is excessively 305 vague, but it might be left open, and it shall be very carefully considered in the light of what noble Lords have said.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
The next Amendment is drafting, to make the paragraph correspond with Clause 3 which deals with the matter.
Page 12, line 18, leave out ("had at the date of the notice"), and insert ("has after the commencement of this Act")—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)
LORD CLINTONmoved, at the end of paragraph (d) of subsection (1), to insert the following new paragraph—
(e) had at the date of the notice refused or within a reasonable time failed to comply with a demand made to him in writing by the landlord requiring him to execute a tenancy agreement the terms of which in the opinion of the arbitrator are reasonable and proper.
§ The noble Lord said: This Amendment is to cover a quite small point, but there art a number of cases still, unfortunately, in this country in which there are no leases or covenants of tenancy in writing, and it is tolerably certain that if this Act comes into operation it will be essential for all owners as soon as possible to convert their unwritten words of agreement into written leases. It is proposed here to put in words which will prevent a tenant from unreasonably objecting to a lease being put into operation, I hope that the noble Lord will understand the meaning of the Amendment which I beg to move.
Page 12, line 24, at end insert the said new paragraph.—(Lord Clinton.)
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
This is not quite so small a point as the noble Lord suggests. The proposal is that a tenant shall lose his rights of compensation if he refuses to accept the new form of contract of tenancy which an arbitrator considers reasonable and proper. There is no indication as to the extent to which it might differ from his existing tenancy. Apparently under this a lease for a term of years might be forced upon a yearly tenant, or the area of his farm might be materially altered, and it seems to me that it opens far too wide a question to be acceptable. I think that I understand 306 what the noble Lord has in view. His object, I imagine., is to prevent an unreasonable or cantankerous tenant from blocking a desirable readjustment of an estate which might really be doing him no injury at all. Obviously it is desirable to deal with that if possible. On the other hand, it seems to me that the provisions, if passed, would be capable of very serious abuse on the part of an oppressive landlord by giving him the power to coerce a tenant practically into accepting a form of lease which was very disadvantageous to him, and which involved serious changes in his tenancy. I hope under these circumstances that the noble Lord will not press his Amendment.
§ LORD CLINTON
I do not think that I can have made myself clear to the noble Lord. This was only to meet cases where, owing to the passing of this Act, it became essential to have a lease prepared, and the decision upon that is left to the arbitrator. If the noble Lord thinks it is too wide I will withdraw it now, and try to express it in more definite language for the Report stage.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
LORD LEE or FAREHAMmoved to leave out subsection (2) and insert the following new subsection—
(2) The landlord of a holding may at any time apply to the agricultural committee for the area in which the holding is situate for a certificate that the tenant is not cultivating the tinkling according to the rules of good husbandry, and on any such application being made the committee, after giving to the landlord and the tenant or their respective representatives an opportunity of being heard, shall as they think proper either grant or refuse the certificate.
The landlord or tenant may within such time after the refusal or grant by the committee of a certificate as the Minister may prescribe require the question as to whether the holding is being cultivated according to the rules of good husbandry to be referred to an arbitrator who may grant a certificate for the purpose of this subsection or revoke the certificate granted by the committee, Subject to any such appeal certificate granted under this subsection shall be conclusive evidence that the holding is not being cultivated according to the rules of good husbandry.
§ The noble Lord said: This is really re-drafting. It has been generally held that the wording in the Bill of subsection. (2) is very badly expressed owing to the patching which was done in Committee. Moreover, it has one serious omission. It. did not provide for an appeal by the land- 307 lord against the refusal of a certificate, and what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. We feel that it is desirable that an appeal should be allowed in both cases. Therefore an attempt has been made, which I think has been successful, to re-draft this subsection in a better form. It contains nothing new except the insertion of the right of appeal on the part of the landlord as well as the tenant. Under those circumstances I hope your Lordships will accept it.
Page 12, line 34 to page 13, line 7, leave out subsection (2) and insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
There are two Amendments following in the names of Lord Forester and the Earl of Jersey. I do not know if those two noble Lords are satisfied with this Amendment, or whether they desire that their rights should be saved.
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
I think the noble Lord's Amendment will fail if Lord Lee's is carried, and with the permission of the House perhaps the noble Lord will raise his point now.
My point was this. The object of the Bill is to increase the production of this country, to encourage the good farmer and to get rid of the bad farmer. As the noble Lord has just pointed out, by his Amendment either the landlord or the tenant has a right of appeal against any certificate that is granted. If the farmer is a bad farmer we want him turned out as soon as possible, and the object of the Amendment standing on the Paper in my name is that a county committee should grant this certificate within one month after hearing the application of the landlord.
I have a concrete instance which happened in my own county. It was a case where a landowner made an application to have a bad tenant turned out. The county committee waited for a long time before they took any notice of the land- 308 lord's application. They then sent an inspector to the holding, and the only thing that they told the farmer, although this farm has been absolutely ruined, was "Do better next time." I think that if we want to increase production in this country and really to get rid of these bad farmers a definite time should be inserted in the Bill when a county council should either grant or refuse the certificate for which the landowner is applying.
§ THE EARL OF ANCASTER
One word in support of the Amendment which I understand the noble Lord has just moved. I cannot help thinking that the clause will make the procedure exceedingly slow and that it may often be the case that the tenant will be able to do something to improve matters in what may be the very considerable time between when he receives the notice and the arbitrator is called in to inspect the land; because at least two months may have elapsed. The reason is that first of all the landlord has to give notice to the committee. Then the committee will have to send their agent to inspect the farm. Then probably seine members of the committee will have to go round and look at the farm. Then no doubt arrangements will have to be made for the tenant and the landlord to attend a hearing before the committee and a special meeting of the committee must be called for the purpose. All that will probably take some two or three weeks, perhaps longer. Then the committee has to come to a conclusion either that the land is badly farmed or is not badly farmed. Then the arbitrator has to be called in and another fortnight will elapse.
In my part of the country notices to quit are generally sent in on April 5 and it is very difficult at that time to tell exactly how the crops will come out, because nobody can see what is in the land and how many weeds will grow up. I think it will be quite easy for the tenant during this period of a month or six weeks to give the place what is colloquially called "a bit of a lick up." He will put on a few extra men to pull up some of the weeds, to dig out a ditch or two, or to cut some of the hedges and make a bit of an effort, so that by the time the arbitrator arrives it will look a little bit better and the arbitrator will say: "This man is not farming very badly and I think he ought to remain."
I see the difficulty that will arise if you leave the agricultural committee and the 309 arbitrator in the Bill. If you want to get rid of a bad tenant the only thing to do is to cut out the agricultural committee who will take a very long time to get to work. If you wish to appeal and go to arbitration call in some well-known man to say whether in his opinion the farm is well cultivated or not, and the question will be settled in a week.
I view with the greatest apprehension the long delay which I am sure will occur especially owing to the fact that your Lordships last night cut out the clause which enabled an agricultural committee to get rid of a tenant. We were told by the noble Lord, the Minister of Agriculture, when introducing the Bill, that it would make it easier for the landlord to get rid of a bad tenant. I have searched through the Bill from beginning to end and I cannot find a single provision which will simplify the task of a landlord in getting lid of a bad tenant, and I am certain that this clause will make it a great deal more difficult, that unnecessary delay will take place, and that that delay will very often mean that, the bad tenant will be able to improve his ways a little bit during the time that elapses in the way I have explained and that things will be just as bad in the following autumn as they were in the spring.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
There might be agricultural committees who on occasion will procrastinate where speed is desirable. Can my noble friend, Lord Lee meet what seems to be the real point raised by my noble friend by undertaking to fix a time in the Rule? We all want to see the Amendment moved by the noble Lord in charge of the Bill put into the Bill. But if that is done the clause will be struck out and, therefore, we cannot amend it. If that undertaking could be given I think the case could be net.
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
I must confess that I find it a little difficult to see how the noble Lord's Amendment can be grafted on to mine.
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
That is probably the place for it, but it will require a little consideration. On the general question and particularly on the speech 310 of the noble Earl behind me, who is all for great expedition in these matters, I am against any kind of unreasonable delay, but he says that if great expedition is not; used the man may repent and arbitration be defeated. It was only last night when the case of a landlord who was a defaulter was under consideration that there was a great deal said about we rejoice more over one sinner who repenteth than over ninety-nine just men. I do not think it is fair that you should apply a different rule to the case of the tenant than you do to the landlord. I agree that there is a point of substance, but on the spur of the moment it would he impossible to make the drafting satisfactory, and I should like to have an opportunity of considering that on Report.
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
I think that Lord Selborne's Amendment in line 7 of page 13 is covered by Lord Lee's Amendment.
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM moved, at the end of subsection (2), to insert "in the ease of a holding situate in a county borough for which an agricultural committee has not been appointed this subsection shall have effect with the substitution of the Minister for an agricultural committee."
§ The noble Lord said: There is a kind of hiatus in this organisation where there is no agricultural committee in a borough which has a large area of agricultural land around it. There are many such cases. In some instances they have agricultural committees but in only very few, and it is obvious that the case of a county borough which has not an agricultural committee must be provided for. It is merely necessary in those cases that the Minister should exercise the power himself.
Page 13, line 7, at end insert the said words.— (Lord Lee of Fareham.)
§ LORD HASTINGSmoved to leave out subsection (3). The noble Lord said: I am endeavouring by my Amendment 311 to delete subsection (3), which I regard as a most objectionable subsection in a rather reprehensible clause. The proposal contained in the subsection undoubtedly is a finger post to land purchase. It gives to the tenant a far greater degree of fixity of tenure than any other part of this Bill. It has been represented to me that if the landlord under Clause 8, (1), (d) is given the right to have his rent raised by arbitration you must give the tenant the right to have the rent reduced by arbitration. This is the reduction subsection and it provides that the tenant shall have his rent reduced. Paragraph (d) is not a concession to the landlord; it is a restriction of his existing rights. The fact that the landlord can apply for his tenant's rent to be raised by arbitration is not giving him anything; it is merely limiting his existing rights. The idea is that the tenant should be given a quid pro quo, but you are not giving him a quid at all; you are really giving him two quids and there is no quo about it. The tenant is the man who in the past has been considered by his landlord in various ways. We have had an instance in this war of a succession of good years occurring, but the tenant has not necessarily had his rent immediately raised; it has not been raised at all during the war. Farmers have been haying an exceptionally good time, but until quite recently their rent has not been raised.
§ Under subsection (3) this might happen. The tenant might find himself unable to pay his rent after having suffered from an extremely bad harvest, and would immediately apply for arbitration to have his rent reduced because he had not the money to pay it. He would apply to the arbitrator rather than have a loan, and thereby inflict a very great hardship on the landlord. But although that is in itself, I think, a rather strong point, a stronger one is the degree of security and fixity which you give to the tenant. He can have his rent put up or down, practically at his own behest. When it has been moved up by the landlord after he has had ample time in which to pile up something to pay that increase of rent, here the landlord may be faced with a demand by the tenant for reduction. It seems to me that the landlord is placed in a most invidious and impossible position by this subsection. He no longer continues to own his land while this remains. He is restricted at every turn. He is forbidden 312 to raise his rent except in certain exceptional circumstances, and yet he may have the rent lowered at any moment. I attach enormous importance to the Amendment.
Page 13, lines 8 to 18, leave out subsection (3).—(Lord Hastings.)
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
During the Second Reading debate I pointed out to the Minister of Agriculture a very great difficulty in connection with rents—namely, that if a tenant had the right of getting his rent reduced, or if the landlord wished to raise it, there was a threefold disability in connection with it. Not only was there the question of the value of the farm and the rent, but there was also the incidence of taxation, Imperial and local. It might happen that the Chancellor of the Exchequer decided to increase the incidence of taxation on all farms. I think that most fanners to-day are rated at double the rent, and I think they pay about one-third on double the rent. There is nothing to prevent the Chancellor of the Exchequer from deciding to increase that one-third to one-half on double the rent, and we might easily find, with that considerable increase in the incidence of Imperial and local taxation, that the tenant had the right under this Bill of going to the arbitrator and asking that the rent itself might be reduced in consequence. I think we are entitled to get some explanation from the Minister of Agriculture, so that we may know whether the arbitrator is to take into consideration, in either raising or reducing the rent, whether Imperial and local taxation is to be an element in the arbitration or not.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LINCOLNSHIRE
I have had experience on this question for over half a century, and its my agreement a with the tenants we have this clause—At the end of the first, or any subsequent, year of tenancy either the landlord or the tenant, if they deem the rent reserved herein unjust or injurious, may, by giving one calendar mouth's notice to the other party, appeal to arbitration to fix a fair rent between the parties,That has been the custom for nearly 50 years, and during those 50 years on 23,000 acres of land I have only had, except in cases of death, 18 changes of tenancy.
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
This Amendment, I admit, raises a very serious 313 question, and I am sorry that the noble Lord should take such very strong view with regard to it. These two provisions, Clause 8 (1) (d) and Clause 8 (3) were certainly intended to be complementary. They were introduced as a result of pressure from a considerable body of opinion which made representations to me that, as is undoubtedly the fact, a very considerable proportion of the agricultural land of this country is under-rented, and has been under-rented. It is well known to both landlord and tenant that it is under-rented, and at the same time, particularly in the case of the old-established landlord and the old-established tenant, there has been, and still is, a very natural reluctance on the part of the landlord, who is perfectly entitled to an increase of rent, to have to enforce it by the very drastic method—the only one which now exists—of giving notice to quit. In consequence, think in a great many cases landlords have suffered a real injustice, because they are unwilling to incur the odium which undoubtedly attaches to these notices, in order to get a reasonable increase of rent. For that reason, the provision in Clause 8 (1) (d) was inserted in the Bill, and I notice that your Lordships have passed that without any comment whatsoever.
That having been done, and it being admitted, as I do admit, that the cases in which land is over-rented are exceedingly few—certainly as far as regards the good and old-established landlords in this country the cases must be exceedingly few—I believe it will not operate to the disadvantage of landlords in general if this complementary power is given to the tenant, in order to have the question of his rent considered, because I think it will arise in very few cases. On the other hand, there may be cases where the land has changed hands recently, and has been bought by syndicates or land speculators, where ail attempt may be made to drive out a good and old-established tenant by this method of putting up his rent to, perhaps, an unreasonable figure. I know of cases in which that has occurred, and it seems right on principle that the tenant should have the opportunity, without having to quit his holding, to have that matter referred to arbitration. Do your Lordships really think that it would be possible to maintain a position where you say that this right to refer the matter to arbitration, when you wish to raise rents, should be maintained, and that no corre- 314 sponding right should be given to the tenant in the very much rarer cases where an application for reduction of rent is made? I do not believe it could be justified, and I hope that the noble Lord will not feel it necessary to press his Amendment. There was one phrase of his which, I confess, I did not understand, when he said that under the Bill landlords are forbidden to raise their rents. There is really nothing of that kind in the Bill. They can raise the rent exactly as they have always done.
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
I will not quarrel about the words, but there is no restriction upon their insisting on ark increase of rent, but they would have in that case to give notice to quit, and run the risk of compensation for disturbance.
§ VISCOUNT CHAPLIN
This is a clause of a most exceptional character. Many of the clauses in the Bill are not very easy to understand, and I own that I find it difficult to understand this one. So far as I am able to understand it, it appears that a tenant begins by giving notice to quit in order to get his rent reduced. If he is refused by the landlord he takes upon himself what used to be all the powers of the Landlord, and gives himself notice to quit, and in return for giving himself that notice to quit he is to be entitled to receive compensation from the landlord.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I regret that the Minister in charge of the Bill has not seen fit to give a more favourable reply to the Amendment. I do not propose to discuss paragraph (d) of the first subsection except to say that I do not particularly value a provision under which I could shelter myself behind some external authority when I thought it right to raise my rent—a thing I rarely do—upon my tenants. I take subsection (3) as it stands, and I would remind your Lordships how rapidly we are moving down a slope which is going to end, I am afraid, in a precipice which the Government equally with ourselves would much regret.
At first it was said that you must not allow a tenant to be wantonly turned out without compensation. Your Lordships 315 agreed to that. It was a reasonable proposition although a great departure from previous law. The next step was that you must not allow a landlord to raise the rent without a cheek because that might result in the same thing. By raising his rent sufficiently high the landlord could get rid of his tenant. The power of the landlord, therefore, to raise his rent has been limited. So far your Lordships have agreed. Now we are asked to go a step further and say that not merely must the landlord not raise his rent without the intervention of an external authority but that the tenant may himself, out of the blue, provoke the interference of an external authority even when there is no question of turning him out. Even if the landlord does not propose to disturb the tenant in any way the tenant may suddenly say. "I demand a reduction of rent, and if you do not grant it I go to an arbitrator."
That is a still further and much more serious step in the descent into the abyss of dual ownership which lies in front of us. I view it with the greatest concern. It is all very well to say that after all the landlord has nothing to fear from a fair arbitrator. There are two answers to that. In the first place, if the tenant has the power of holding this threat over the landlord whenever he pleases it might have a very menacing effect upon him. I am not speaking of landlords in the position of most of your Lordships. I am speaking of a small landlord, and in these cases, the tenant having this power, he might agree to a reduction of rent rather than run any risk, although he may be fully justified in maintaining his position. That is one answer.
The other answer is this. I do not want to say one word derogatory of the arbitrators who are proposed, but I cannot conceal from myself that we have had a great deal of experience of referring rents to external authorities. I am sure noble Lords from Scotland and from Ireland will agree. There is the probability. or shall I say the very reasonable possibility, that the practice will grow up, upon such an appeal from a tenant, of fixing something lower than what I will call the market value of the rent. There will be a margin. To whom will that margin between the market rent and the arbitration rent belong? It will belong to the tenant, and you only require one more provision in the law which a subsequent Act might easily produce—the 316 right of the tenant to assign his tenancy—and you have the complete article. The tenant in assigning his tenancy would get a price from the incoming man which would correspond exactly to that margin and you would have the whole principle of dual ownership in full operation. It is because I see that danger, and, unfortunately, I am old enough to remember all the steps by which the misfortune of dual ownership fell upon Ireland and something of the same thing in Scotland, that I desire to warn your Lordships against this subsection which I believe to be very dangerous.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I should like to say one word following what the noble Marquess has said, because like hint I have always examined all the provisions of this part of the Bill from the point of view of one who dreads the introduction of anything like dual ownership. I say frankly that all these new plans of estate management are disagreeable to me. I suppose I look at them from the point of view of what may be the old Tory or Whig, but at any rate of one who would like to see complete liberty remain on all sides. I dislike this system of inspection and controlled management.
But I am bound to say—and this is why I have followed the noble Marquess—that so far as this particular provision is concerned, I do not see in it that danger and advance towards dual ownership which I recognise in some other parts of the Bill as it stands. You may say that to subject rent to arbitration at all is something of an advance in the direction of dual ownership. That is a proposition which can be disputed. But your Lordships have passed the provision which enables a landlord to refer an increase of rent to arbitration instead of enforcing it by notice to quit. It was passed without much comment, and the noble Lord now argues that this is a complementary proposition to that—not, I think, entirely, because it gives a certain new advantage to the tenant and a larger scope than that which can be said to be given to the landlord by the provisions under paragraph (d) of subsection (1). It will no doubt be treated as being in a sense complementary.
I entirely agree with the noble Marquess that in considering these matters we must forget all about our own properties, the terms we are on with our tenants, and the 317 system on which our estates are managed. There are a great many estates, as we know, mostly small, which are managed on quite different principles, and we have to examine as to whether hardship will be inflicted on the owners of those estates, as the noble Marquess behind me scents to think. I confess I do not see the probability of any such great hardship. Except in the case. of certain small holdings, I think there is very little farm land in the country which is let up to a rack rent valuation. The noble Marquess spoke of a margin which might exist between present rent and what he called market value. It has not been the custom in this country, even apart from large and liberally managed estates, to let farms at competitive rents. They have been let at valuation rents, and, as a rule, moderately valued. That being so I doubt very notch if there are many cases, unless there be some of those quite new cases of which the noble Lord spoke, in which land is seriously over-rented and to which the provisions of this subsection should apply. Therefore, as I do not follow the noble Marquess in seeing that this particular provision leads in the direction of dual ownership—on some later clauses I think there may be something to be said about that—I cannot support my noble friend Lord Hastings in demanding the striking out of this particular subsection.
I should like to ask the noble Lord in charge of the Bill a question. As I read the clause I do not see anything to limit this right of the tenant to demand a reduction of rent or to go to an arbitrator. If a man takes a lease for twenty-one years, and at the end of ten or twelve years finds circumstances changed and the market fallen, I cannot see anything to prevent him, during the currency of his lease, making a demand to have his rent lowered; and if it wait not granted he might get compensation. In that case it is clearly a unilateral privilege, because nobody supposes that a landlord who has let for twenty-one years, if circumstances improved and the market rose so that the tenant had a good bargain, would break the lease and give him notice to quit. I understand that the position of a yearly tenant is somewhat different from that of one who takes a substantial lease. Those who take leases are supposed to be able to make bargains. I should like to know whether this provision would apply to a 318 leaseholder during the currency of his lease.
§ EARL STANHOPE
There is another point which I should like to put. Surely this is a direct incentive to bad farming. The tenant has a right to object to his rent being put up, and he can claim arbitration when he demands reduction of rent. Surely that would only apply when prices dropped seriously, or in cases where it corporation put up the rent too high. Your Lordships have had experience of the result of rents being fixed by Courts in Ireland, and you know that the general standard of fanning depreciates very seriously. Under this provision surely there will be a great temptation to let down the system of farming and to claim a reduction of rent.
THE EARL OF KTMBERLEY
I am one of those who bless this clause. I cannot see any kind of objection to it. There is a good deal of talk about arbitration and I have in my mind certain farms which are very much higher rented than arc perhaps others which are near. Supposing the tenant who pays the higher rent asked to have arbitration on the question of reduction, nine times out of ten the-arbitrator, if he is sensible, will take the average rent of all the farms around and fix the rent accordingly. I think there is no harm in it. If a yearly tenant wishes to ask for a reduction of rent every year he will get tired of it after once or twice. There is protection on both sides, and I cannot see the danger of the clause.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I am not in favour of arbitration rents, but I think there has been a mistake. As I understand it this applies only to the rent to be paid for a holding "as from the next ensuing rate at which the tenancy could have been terminated by notice to quit." In other words, it does not affect existing tenancies, but future tenancies, and would not therefore apply to leaseholds. Personally, I am not in favour of arbitration rents, but in these circumstances I do not think it involves in any sense the idea of dual ownership.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
I apologise for intervening in the debate, but I hope your Lordships will not pass this Amendment. Though I admit that all the cold arguments are with the noble Lords, yet I venture 319 to say that most of those who are landlords will be forced to agree with me that if you take these two claims side by side the landlord will be the gainer. I would remind your Lordships that there are not many landlords who, if it is proved to them—and I think we must assume that the arbitrator is a fair man—that their farm is over-rented, would really wish to take a rent which was more than their due.
§ LORD CLINTON
I agree with the noble Lord who has just spoken, and I hope that your Lordships will not accept this Amendment. I listened carefully to the arguments of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and of course one admits that such dangers must, and do, exist. No more than any of your Lordships do I like all my affairs being put into the hands of an outside arbitrator, but I do not think you can properly compare these to the Land Courts of which we have had experience in Scotland and Ireland. It was never suggested that the personnel of these Courts had any knowledge of agriculture, or of arbitration, or any judgment at all in land. I do not think anybody charged them with that. These arbitrators, however, are really selected by the most neutral personage you can find, and you must feel that they will be among the leading arbitrators in the country. Unless you are going to put confidence in these arbitrators it will be very much better to discard the Bill altogether, because we have a good deal to put into their hands. I disagree with Lord Hastings, and think we should be charged with a good deal of unfairness if we accept the provision in paragraph (d) of subsection (1) and decline to pass subsection (3).
§ LORD PHILLIMORE
Those who defend this clause do not seem to appreciate that paragraph (d) does not enable the landlord to force any contract upon the tenant, but it enables the tenant to force a contract upon the landlord. Under paragraph (d) what is the landlord's position? The property is held on a year to year tenancy, or, as is not uncommon in my county, on two years' notice. The landlord is not to be able to raise the rent till the time that he can turn the man out. He has to give a year's notice or two years' notice to quit, and not till that time is over is he able to raise the rent. Why? The contract is at an end, and he is making a 320 new contract. The tenant is given even this protection: if the landlord raises the rent unreasonably—that is, makes a new unreasonable contract—the tenant is entitled to have compensation. That is quite an unusual provision, and is special to this class of case. With regard to the tenant, he is to be entitled to say to the landlord, "You shall not turn me out for paying the rate which I have agreed to pay without having to pay me compensation for unjustly turning me out."
§ LORD STRACHIE
The noble Lord in charge of the Bill admits that the relations are so good between landlords and tenants that this provision is not likely to be put into force except under exceptional circumstances. That we will grant. It seems rather an extraordinary thing to set up this new procedure to meet a few hard cases, because it would certainly mean establishing Rent Courts, as was suggested by the noble Earl behind me. I would ask noble Lords what reason there is for altering the ordinary business relations between landlord and tenant, unless the idea of the noble Lord is that all business relations ought to be adjudicated upon. For instance, if you let a house you would want a House Court to decide what rent was to be paid by a tenant; or if a tenant had a yearly agreement I suppose the noble Lord would say he would have the power to appeal to a Court or Arbitrator to say whether his rent is to be reduced or not. You might equally say you must have a Court set up to settle what mineral rents are to be paid for coal, or for stone being quarried.
I must say I have always been one of those who thought that ownership and occupation of land ought to be treated on thoroughly business principles as far as possible, letting the landlord and tenant settle the matter between themselves, and not suffer interference by some Court of law. I would also ask the noble Lord whether, supposing a landlord refused to go to arbitration for perfectly good reasons, a tenant has the right thereupon to say he will give notice and will be able to claim four years' rent as a fine from the landlord for refusing to go to arbitration. It would be a capricious conviction, I understand, under the Bill.
As regards the other point which the Minister of Agriculture referred to, with reference to paragraph (d) in the first part 321 of this clause, of course if this subsection is struck out I am sure my noble friend behind me who moved this will be the first person to agree that paragraph (d) should go out at the same time. It puts the landlord and the tenant on exactly the same terms.
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
We have had a long, and it seems to me exceedingly interesting discussion on this point, in the course of which many diverse opinions have been revealed from different quarters of your Lordships' House. I am only anxious in this matter to do what is most agreeable to the House as a whole, and for this reason. I do not know whether anybody has suspected me of any sinister design to try and introduce dual ownership or fixity of tenure—
§ LOUD LEE OF FAREHAM
In this case I think I can show a particularly clean bill of health with regard to that suggestion, because quite honestly the only reason for putting down these two complementary proposals was that, with my own limited knowledge of land-owning and dealing with tenants—I am very glad to think I shall have it no longer in future—I am firmly of the belief that it would be an advantage on the whole to landlords to have the power given in Clause 8, subsection (1), paragraph (d). But I am equally clear in my mind that whatever might be the strict merits of the case there would be an impression of unfairness created if you took the one and cut out the other, which would be very injurious to the reputation of your Lordships' House.
In those circumstances what I propose is this. Speaking on behalf of the Government, it is quite clear we could not accept the cutting out of this subsection and the retention of the one which has already been passed, and we should have to take steps at a later stage to omit paragraph (d) of Clause 8 (1). But I am not clear from the expressions of opinion whether it is the wish of your Lordships' House or not that the whole scheme should go by the board. In those circumstances I propose to leave the decision to your Lordships—as we used to say in another place, leave it for the House to decide without putting on the Government Whips.
Before we divide I am going to take the liberty of offering a very humble word of advice from my own experience. I am one of those of your Lordships who had the misfortune to experience the commencement of the frightful agricultural depression of 1878, and I suffered very heavily by it. I have been convinced ever since then that we did not drop rents quickly enough. Of course, there was a very sudden drop in the value of cereals, but it was not the result only of an extraordinarily bad season. It was the result of mechanical invention which brought wheat across the Atlantic at a price far cheaper than it had ever been brought before at the very same moment that there were these extraordinarily unfavourable seasons. The combination was disastrous. We did not grasp that. We were in hopes that prices would go up again.
I am now sincerely hopeful that no such collapse as that is going to happen again. At the same time the rise in the prices of agricultural produce has been very hectic and rapid, and one knows that a quick rise is sometimes followed by a quick fall, There may be a sudden fall in the price of agricultural produce, and a drop in rents may be necessary. I think it would be wise if there was a resort to arbitra ion rather than leaving it simply to the, landlord. In those circumstances, although it is it great disadvantage—and I agree with much that Lord Salisbury has said—on the whole I think it safer to vote for the inclusion of both the provisions—that is to say, subsection (1), paragraph (d) and subsection (3).
THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH
I do not wish to detain your Lordships by going into the argument, but I desire to say, with regard to what was said by Lord Clinton, that there is a Land Court in this Bill in its application to Scotland, and you are not so very far off it in England.
§ Loan HASTINGS
If your Lordships will allow me I should like to answer one point which the noble Lord in charge of the, Bill brought against me. He reiterates that paragraph (d) and subsection (3) are complemental. I am unable to see that they are complemental in any sense whatever. I go so far as to say this, that if paragraph (d) was not in the Bill then I 323 agree that subsection (3) ought to be in the Bill. If paragraph (d) was not in the Bill the landlord would have the power which he now has of raising the rent without any restriction. Paragraph (d) admits that he has the right to raise the rent, and I go so far as to say it even encourages him to raise it, but it establishes arbitration and the arbitrator is going to fix it for him beyond the point beyond which he is unable to raise it. Subsection (3) gives the tenant the right also to demand arbitration and have that rent reduced. He does not want it, but if he does it is not complemental of paragraph (d), because he is already protected under paragraph
§ (d), because the landlord is unable to raise the rent beyond a certain point. Therefore both paragraph (d) and subsection (3) are in favour of the tenant, and it is meant that they should be, and therefore I am unable to see that they are complemental in any sense of the term. I think a large number of your Lordships desire to see subsection (3) removed from the Bill, and therefore I shall proceed to a division.
§ On Question, whether subsection (3) shall stand part of the clause?—
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 91; Not-Contents, 86.
|de Mauley, L.||Lawrence, L.||Savile, L.|
|Decies, L.||Leigh, L.||Sempill, L.|
|Dynevor, L.||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)||Somerleyton, L.|
|Donington, L.||Methuen, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L. (L. Sheffield.)|
|Ebury, L.||Monekton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Erskine, L.||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Forester, L.||Mostyn, L.|
|Grey de Rtuthyn, L.||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)||Strachie, L. [Teller.]|
|Hastings, L. [Teller.]||Phillimore, L.||Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)|
|Hindlip,L.||Rathdonnell, L.||Sumner, L.|
|Holm Patrick, L.||Redesdale, L.||Wavertree, L.|
|Hylton, L.||St. John of Bletso, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|Lamington, L.||Sandys, L.||Wyfold, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAMmoved, at, the end of subsection (3), to insert "provided that such compensation shall not be payable if the circumstances are such that a notice to quit could have been given by the landlord for any of the reasons mentioned in paragraphs (a), (b), or (c) of subsection (I) of this section."
§ The noble Lord said: If I may be allowed to say so, I notice that the somewhat interesting result of taking off the Whips is that there has been a larger accession of strength in the Government lobby, which shows how your Lordships are influenced much more by reason than by compulsion in these matters. With regard to the Amendment, which I now move, I think this is needed as a protection to landlords, because it would be quite possible, without this provision, that a tenant who was cultivating badly, and knew that in a short time he would be dealt with, might give notice requiring an arbitration as to rent, and the landlord might very properly refuse to accede to it, because he was not prepared to allow the tenant to continue in occupation. I think that without this provision the matter would be open to a great deal of abuse, and l hope your Lordships will see the wisdom of accepting the Amendment.
Page 13, line 18, at the end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 13, line 27, leave out ("Provided that") and insert ("(5)")—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.326
§ LORD BLEDISLOEmoved, in the proviso of subsection (4), after "shall not take into account any," to insert "increase in the rental value which is due to."
Page 13, line 29, after ("any") insert ("increase in the rental value which is due to").—(Lord Bledisloe.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD ERNLE
had on the Paper an Amendment to move, in the proviso of subsection (4), after "execution," to insert "or which were outside the tenant's obligations under the terms of his contract [tenancy or the rules of good husbandry." The noble Lord said: This is also a drafting Amendment but it is wrongly printed. I have no doubt it is my fault. It ought to be "within" instead of "outside." I beg to move it in that amended form.
Line 33, after ("execution") insert ("or which were within the tenant's obligations under the terms of his contract of tenancy or the rules of good husbandry.").—(Lord Ernle.)
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
I am at a slight disadvantage. The note I had made in regard to the Amendment on the Paper was that "it is not clear what is intended by it." I have hardly had time to consider what the effect of the new wording may be, and I think it would be only fair to give me an opportunity of reconsidering the matter. My noble friend can then move it on Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.327
§ THE EARL OF HOMEmoved, at the end of subsection (4) to insert "and provided that the arbitrator shall not fix the rent at a lower amount by reason of any dilapidation or deterioration of land or building made or permitted by the tenant."
§ The noble Earl said: I would ask the indulgence of the House upon this, the first time of my addressing your Lordships. I am not moving the Amendment which stands in my name on the Paper, but that which is in the name of Lord Saltoun, which I consider is better than mine. The Amendment, I think, explains itself, and I hope the noble Lord in charge of the Bill will think that this is only a fair proviso to insert.
Page 13, line 35, at end insert the said words.—(The Earl of Home.)
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
There is no objection in principle that I can see to this Amendment, and I am prepared to accept it, subject to a possible alteration on Report.
THE DUKE OF BLCCLEUCH
May I suggest that instead of the word "building" it should be "buildings." I think letter "s" has been left out.
Page 13, line 35, at end insert("and provided that the arbitrator shall not fix the rent at a lower amount by reason of any delapidation or deterioration of land or buildings made or permitted by the tenant").—(The Earl of Home.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE EARL or MALMESBURYmoved, at the beginning of subsection (5), after "sum," to insert "not exceeding one year's rent." The noble Earl said: We now conic to what I have been assured the majority of your Lordships and probably a large number of landowners throughout the country consider to be one of the most 328 vital and serious portions of the Bill. I am reminded by my noble friend behind me that this includes also yeoman farmers I refer to subsection (5) of Clause 8. There are words in that subsection which refer to the amount of compensation which shall be given a farmer on receiving notice to quit. The Amendment which stands in my name Seeks to limit as far as possible the amount of compensation which a tenant shall receive. I am not for a moment suggesting that my wording is the best which can be found. There are other Amendments on the Paper in the names of Lord Bledisloe, Lord Clinton, and Lord Ernie dealing with this subject. At all events whatever form of words is adopted it is quite clear that we must have some idea as to what we are embarking upon.
§ I would remind your Lordships that thin principle of compensation for disturbances is a comparatively new one. That came out very clearly in the debate upon the Second Reading. It was first introduced in the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1908, wherein it was enacted that a tenant was entitled to recover compensation for inconvenience and loss consequent upon receiving notice to quit without good and sufficient cause and for reasons inconsistent with good estate management. I ask your Lordships to bear in mind that this compensation is now to be exacted from a landowner for reasons consistent with good estate management, and I hope that your Lordships will not dismiss this, subsection without the very fullest consideration and discussion. We owe that obligation to a very large number, I may say a very largely increasing number, of landowners throughout the country.
§ I am sure no member of your Lordships' House or indeed anybody could take exception to the spirit in which the noble Lord the Minister of Agriculture introduced the Bill. But in the course of his speech he said that the Bill did not introduce the principle of dual control. I agree with him; I agree with him to this point, that it introduces the principle of quadruple control—namely, control by the Minister; control by the wages board incidentally; control by the agricultural committees; and, finally and lastly, control by the landlord himself. Moreover, if the noble Lord will forgive me for saying so, if you are going to take a very large slice of the capital value of a landowner's property you are really introducing all the initial 329 stages of dual ownership as well. I would only remind your Lordships that a great deal of the property in the country to-day is subject to mortgages and to all the incidents of taxation under which everybody is groaning, and it will be a very serious thing if the exaction of a large sum in compensation for notice to quit, which may be given in circumstances over which the landowner has absolutely no control, should render him liable to have any mortgages on that land foreclosed or to effect new mortgages at a very much higher Tate of interest. Moreover, he is probably already paying death duties upon the capital value of the land at present, whereas the land would now be very much below that value.
§ I hope that your Lordships will not arrive at any decision upon this matter without bearing the various Amendments discussed and carefully considering the various suggestions put forward by noble Lords to meet this point. We know the reasons why this is necessary. We know it is to justify the existence of the guarantees, to meet the demands of the agricultural wages boards, and we all regret to see the enforced changes of ownership in land which are taking place all over the country.
§ I believe a landowner in this country is still considered to be the owner of his own land, and while bearing in mind a very clear sense of justice as to what is due to the farmer for disturbance let us not be carried away into exaggerating that justice to the detriment of the landowner and the infliction of an injustice upon him. I am not dealing only with large landowners, who unfortunately are becoming fewer in number every day. I am dealing with the man who may have invested his money in land and treats it as a legitimate speculation in the same way as others may have invested their money in other legitimate speculations. We ought to have some limit fixed, or an idea of the limit which will be fixed to the amount of compensation that is granted, because after all it is not the had landlord who is dealt with by the Bill, but the good landlord who may be most unwilling and not at all desirous of giving his tenant notice to quit. I desire to impress that point very very strongly upon your Lordships.
§ In the same subsection, although I will not deal with it now, there is first of all an amount to be fixed for compensation and the further gift of one year's rent to the 330 tenant who receives notice to quit for reasons perfectly consistent with good estate management, and I hope, bearing the first point in mind, your Lordships will also remember the second point at the same time.
Page 13, line 37, after ("sum") insert: ("not exceeding one year's rent").—(The Earl of Malmesbury.)
§ LORD PARMOOR
I hope that this Amendment will not he accepted, for this reason. If compensation is to be given at all, which is the principle admitted in the Bill, it ought not to be less than such loss or expenses directly attributable to the quitting of the holding as the tenant may unavoidably incur. The effect of this Amendment would be to give a tenant less than the actual loss or expenses which he directly incurred if that amount exceeded one year's rent. I think that would be very unfair to the tenant. I am not now dealing with subsequent matters. I think that the subsequent provisions both as regards one year's rent and four years' rent ought to be excluded from the clause. But I am not dealing with that at present. The proper principle is that the tenant should be paid the actual cost incurred by him attributable to his having to leave his holding. And. I earnestly hope that we shall not put in any fictitious limitation which might, and would have the effect in some cases of giving the tenant less than his due measure of compensation. That is the true principle of compensation, and that ought to he preserved.
§ LORD BLEDISLOE
I am bound to say I agree on general principle with what my noble friend who has just sat clown has stated as a proposition. In my judgment a tenant who is disturbed in his holding, through no fault of his own but for reasons perfectly consistent with good estate management, does not in many cases get the compensation for loss which he deserves. As the law stands to-day such a tenant receives no compensation at all except compensation for unexhausted improvements which, of course, in the case of a man who is farming high, may run into very large figures. But that does not cover the whole of the loss which some good tenants now incur when they are dispossessed at short notice, although I am bound to say that, now that it is necessary 331 in every case to give a full year's notice to quit, the injustice that formerly used to be inflicted upon such tenants is to a large extent mitigated.
But what I want your Lordships to decide is whether in such cases of innocent dispossession—or, as I prefer to call it, resumption by the landlord—you desire to inflict a fine upon the landlord, or whether you are really out to pay the tenant compensation for the loss which he has actually suffered. if you desire to inflict a fine upon him I think one is entitled to ask for what reasons you desire to penalise a landowner who finds himself so placed, possibly through no fault of his own. In these days, in the case of the smaller landowners at any rate, it may become the natural, and indeed the only reasonable, source of livelihood to them to resume possession of, at any rate, a single farm, in order either to farm it themselves, or to put into it some member of their family. But I should think your Lordships will agree with me when I suggest that you must differentiate between capricious disturbance and non-capricious disturbance, by penalising in the former, and avoiding a penalty in the latter case. If that is so, what is left to us? The only alternative is to give the tenant farmer, who is made to quit a farm through no fault of his own, reasonable compensation for the loss which he has actually suffered.
The next question that arises is surely, What is that loss? And what is that loss intended to cover? Surely it is only fair to ask how much loss you tan hang upon a mere annual tenancy, even if you take into account the fact that in this country the annual farm tenancy, as bolstered up by the Agricultural Holdings Act, affords the tenant, in fact, much greater security of tenure than would be the case in any other form of tenancy in this country, or, indeed, so far as I know, in any other country in Europe. A noble Lord suggested just now that there must he some limit. On consideration I demur to that suggestion. What we want to do is to act fairly by the tenant, and. if that is so, it is no concern of ours to decide what the limit should be. The tenant surely is entitled to compensation for the loss which he has actually suffered.
Again, I ask is it fair to the landowner, and is it due to the tenant, that he should be compensated in respect of loss which he has not sustained as a farm tenant upon his 332 landlord's land and as the result of his occupying that land for the purpose of farming? In other words, I want to know whether it is desirable to give such a man compensation for the loss which he has incurred in connection with some totally different business—it may be a public house, it may be a greengrocer's shop, it may he a retail milk trade, it may be some other totally distinct business enterprise, for which the landlord did not let the land to the tenant, and in respect to which the landlord is receiving no rent. I suggest that there is no logical reason why a tenant should receive compensation in respect to anything other than the fanning business carried on upon his landlord's land. That is why I suggest that the right thing to do is to give the fanner the compensation for the actual loss which he has suffered as a farmer, no more and no less. It also occurs to me that that is the most honest, thing to do. We should endeavour so to amend the Bill in your Lordships' House that, when it goes to another place, no one can reasonably say that we have not done our best to treat the tenant farmers of this country with absolute fairness and in such a way that they cannot reasonably cavil at our decisions.
The alternative that is suggested is one year's gross rent, either in addition to the compensation now payable in the ease of capricious eviction under the 1908 Act, or as a maximum, as my noble friend Lord Clinton, and, I think, Lord Ernle, are about to suggest. The Amendment which my two noble friends are about to submit was an Amendment which originally stood in my name, but on consideration I feel that I cannot support such a proposal, because it involves the whole theory of dual ownership. That one year's gross rent—it is admitted now on all hands, it is admitted in the Opinion of actuaries—represents at least 7 per cent. of the capital value of the holding, in other words, 7 per cent. of the proprietary interest of the landowner. If you are going to hand that over to the tenant, whether the loss in fact was more or, as I believe in most cases on grass farms, considerably less, you are in fact instituting a system of dual ownership and laying the foundations of a process which, I think, in the long run, we shall all very much regret.
Of course, it is perfectly true that under the proposal which I make in some cases undoubtedly a substantial amount may come to be paid. In cases where a tenant. 333 has been in occupation for a considerable time and has been farming high, and in cases where he would suffer substantially by merely discontinuing his business as a fanner, there may be some considerable amount of loss. Those are the very cases where we ought to avoid disturbing a farm tenant. Those are the very cases—and they would be very few in my judgment—where a farmer is entitled to substantial compensation for the serious loss that he may actually suffer. In other cases—and I think they will be the majority of cases—the amount which the tenant will receive will hardly exceed a. year's rent, and may be considerably less. In any case, the justification for my proposal is that you are giving the man what he has actually lost, no more and no less.
What will be the result of this Clause as it stands in the Bill? Are you going to add to the security of the tenant? After all, that is what the Government is professedly after in submitting this Clause. In my judgment you are going to render the position of the farm tenant much more insecure than it was before. I am quite certain that immediately you started the process of dual ownership, as this in fact does, you carve a slice out of the landlord's proprietary interest and make a present of that to the tenant. In nine cases out of ten the legal advisers of landowners throughout this country will probably advise them either to farm the land themselves or to sell the land while they still continue to hold the whole of the proprietary interest in it. That is not going to be to the advantage of the tenant farmers of this country. All too many of them have bought farms with insufficient capital and to do so have taken capital out of the business of farming which ought to have been employed in farming. They have had to pay as interest not 2½ per cent., which was the ease when they used the landlord's capital, but 7½ per cent. and 8 per cent. on the amount borrowed. Is that in the best interests of the farm tenants? In my opinion, unless you modify the terms of this clause, you are going to render the position of the tenant farmers far less secure than it was before.
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
May I say one word as regards the order of Amendments. It is going to be a little difficult to preserve the right of all the Amendments. I have beer into the matter rather closely with the learned Clerk of 334 the Parliaments, and the most convenient course, when the Amendments come to be taken individually, is that the Amendments on page 14, lines 4 and 5, standing in the name of Lord Parmoor and Lord Clinton, on page 10 of the Amendment Paper, should be taken before the Amendment in the name of Lord Ernle on page 9. They are in the wrong place. That will be the more convenient order from the point of view of putting the Question to the House.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
This is certainly one of the most important and most difficult matters to be dealt with in the Bill. As Lord Bledisloe has said, we have to consider its bearing on a matter which has been already mentioned—namely, that of the possibility of doing something in this Bill which will start us down the slope at the bottom of which is a full system of dual ownership. That, I think, almost to a man here we desire to avoid. I always differ with the greatest possible diffidence from Lord Bledisloe because I recognise the immense weight of his authority. But. it appears to me, having considered this subsection to the best of my ability, that his proposal might take us much further down that slope in the direction of dual ownership than the words in the Bill as it stands.
The Bill as it stands proposes that compensation should be payable for loss and expense attributable to moving, expenses incurred in preparing a claim for arbitration, and also one year's rent. The proposal for one year's rent is bound to work, I fully admit, most unequally and in some instances most unfairly. It is in the fullest sense a rough and ready suggestion; but if you take it out, what is the alternative? The Amendment of Lord Bledisloe provides that loss is to be compensated for directly attributable to the quitting of the holding and arising out of the tenancy and cultivation. It seems to me, I may be quite wrong, that that would inevitably involve, or might involve claims for every kind of good will. When the tenant goes he would say, "I am losing my connection. I am losing the name under which my pedigree stock is sold for large sums of money to the Argentine and elsewhere; in fact, I am losing a number of things which can only be described as goodwill." That is to say, you will be creating something of a tenant's interest not easy to define, but 335 which will be treated as a subject for compensation and which in a few years' time will become the subject of assignment and sale. You will then be very far down indeed that terrible slope.
As compared with that possibility the idea of having to pay one year's rent, little though anyone of us like it, goes no way in the direction of establishing dual ownership. One reason for the one year's rent is that it compensates a farmer not only for the loss which he sustains in leaving, but for the loss lie is going to sustain when he goes elsewhere. Suppose a man takes a farm at the other end of the county. He arrives there knowing nothing of the markets and not knowing the individual butchers and dealers. There are very few cases where a man taking a fresh farm makes much of a profit the first year. This one year's rent is, I think, not altogether an unfair attempt to deal with the man who has made a move. It will, of course, deal hardly in the cases which have been mentioned, where a farm is taken over by a small landlord in order to work it if he can find the capital to do so. But I do not think it would work as unfairly as claims that might be made under proposals for a general scheme of compensation which some of the other Amendments appear to involve.
I know it is provided in some cases that in no instance should claims on the lines Lord Bledisloe mentioned exceed one year's rent, but that does not seem to be very fair to the outgoing tenant. If you once admit he is to be compensated for whatever he has lost, I do not see how you are going to limit the amount, and personally I do not think it is possible to compensate the outgoing tenant for anything that the arbitrator may hold he has lost in a general sense without incurring the payment of very large sums and without creating a definite tenant's interest in the holding, quite apart front anything that he has spent in the way of unexhausted manures and so on, for which of course he receives compensation under the Agricultural Holdings Act. Therefore, unless something is said which causes me to take a different view—and after the manner in which my noble friend behind me, Lord Bledisloe, has put the case I do not think it is likely that the matter can be pressed more forcibly than he has pressed it—as at present advised I confess I prefer the proposition in the Bill, though I am not 336 greatly enamoured of it, to anything I have seen on the Paper.
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
I was under the impression that we should have a general discussion over the whole range of the question, and I hope to hear further expressions of opinion before we came to any of the Amendments. Otherwise, we shall have most disjointed and unsatisfactory discussions. I was hoping that the discussion would continue, and I proposed to speak later.
§ LORD CLINTON
If that is so, I will deal with my Amendment now. I listened with great care to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Bledisloe, and it appears to me that his is the most logical of all the Amendments on the Paper, and much more logical than the proposal of the Government. I am entirely dissatisfied with the minor effort of my own, because it is open to all the objections which I am going to state to your Lordships against the Government proposal, and also some additional ones. I have not the least objection to telling your Lordships that, because the noble Lord, Lord Bledisloe, has already said that he is the author of my Amendment. I say that the noble Lord's Amendment is logical because it asks the arbitrator to ascertain what is the actual loss for which we are paying a tenant. He endeavours to find that loss on certain matters which he believes are those which a tenant, out of his particular tenancy and cultivation, ought to receive. We agree that the tenant on leaving may sustain certain loss, more or less, and that for this he ought to be compensated, but we cannot at all foresee what the judgment of an arbitrator will he, or what he will regard as fairly attributable to the loss of a tenant leaving the tenancy. I am bound to say I rather shrink front allowing any arbitrator full play without any limitation whatever. I think it is dangerous, and it may eventually affect the capital value of the land much more than any loss which is limited, however great that limit may be.
The cases where compensation will chiefly arise will undoubtedly be in connection with sales, not because the owner who is going to sell is going to give notice, but because the man who buys, almost always an occupying owner, will have to 337 give notice to get possession. The buyer knows that when he gives notice he will have to pay compensation, and if there is no limit at all to the compensation which he has to pay, I think he will discount that to a very large extent in the capital value he pays for the land. For that reason it appears to me that a limit must be placed, but my Amendment becomes rather fluid again, because Lord Parmoor has suggested to your Lordships, and perfectly correctly I think—do not think he used the word dishonest, but he suggested—that it was dishonest to allow a tenant to claim for loss and then, having ascertained the loss, decline to pay it. That is a really serious difficulty, and I am not surprised that the Government have taken the course which they have taken in this measure, and apparently got a short cut to what may he required and definitely laid down that the compensation shall be for one year's rent.
I must point out that it is a very serious penalty upon the owner. You are fining an owner for certain loss which a tenant has incurred and, in addition, one year's rent, because he has done something which he is not only legally entitled to do, but which he, does in accordance with good estate management, and which, in many cases, he is absolutely forced to do. It rather offends one's sense of justice that he should be so severely fined for doing this. Apparently, one has to take one's choice between the obvious injustice to the owner and. what Lord Parmoor calls the obvious dishonesty to the tenant. On the whole I am afraid I have to fall on the obvious dishonesty to the tenant, not because I want to do it, but because I am a partner in an Amendment with Lord Bledisloe. Consequently, I shall have to move later that the compensation shall be the loss ascertained and the sum in respect of such additional loss or expense directly, at[...]rributable to the quitting of the holding, et cetera, provided that the sum so awarded shall not exceed one year's rent.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I do not know whether I am entitled to say a word or two further, having regard to what the noble Lord has said, but when I addressed your Lordships before I limited myself to the Amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Malmesbury. In substance I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Clinton. I think in the first place that you must not, in the form of compensation, give a tenant less than the damage and injury he has actually 338 suffered. I do not think that is a matter in respect of which an arbitrator—and I fancy I have had more experience of arbitrators than any one—will have any serious difficulty. It would not involve good will and things of that kind. The words which the noble Lord, Lord Bledisloe, has suggested may, I think, be taken in preference to those of the Government, although I am not dealing with the actual words now, but with principle. His words are—such loss directly attributable to the quitting of the holding and arising out of its tenancy and cultivation as the tenant may unavoidably incur.I do not want to pin my faith to those words, but I think they are better than the words in the Government draft as they stand at present.
I wish to deal with another matter upon which Lord Clinton and my-self have put similar Amendments on the Paper. I think you ought not to penalise the owner, as the Government proposal would, by adding to a full compensation also a sum equal to one year's rent of the holding. I cannot see any principle for that. It is not suggested that the owner has done anything that is wrong. The owner is simply exercising rights which he has by contract ex hypothesi, and I think it is entirely unfair in these circumstances to add a penalty. So far as the tenant is concerned, there is nothing dishonest towards the tenant if you give him in compensation the full loss he has suffered. Surely that meets the two sides. That is what the tenant ought to have, and there is no reason whatever for putting a special penalty on the landlord.
There is a later matter which arises if the notice to quit is what is called "capricious." I have put down an Amendment, and I think Lord Ernle has put down another, admitting the principle of a penalty if the owner acts in that way, but certainly objecting to the four years' rent as being far too heavy a penalty. I hope the noble Lord in charge of the Bill will remember that there are many cases in which an owner, be he poor or wealthy, legitimately desires to get possession of the land. It may be that he requires the land in order that his son when he comes of age shall go into occupation and carry on the business of a farmer. I give that as an illustration. In those circumstances 339 why should he do more than pay an honest compensation to the tenant? Why should he be penalised for exercising a contractual right which he very properly desires to exercise under those conditions? Where I agree with the noble Lord opposite, and Lord Bledisloe, in principle, apart from words, is in saying, Act honestly, give full compensation without any limitation, whatever it may be that the arbitrator decides. I think we can perfectly trust an arbitrator in a matter of that kind. On the other hand, do not penalise the owner who is merely exercising a contractual right which he has a perfect right to exercise. I think that would be very unfair. As we are discussing the whole matter, I want the penalty to be excluded, and, on the other hand, the tenant to be honestly dealt with and, if he has to leave his holding, to go out without loss.
THE EARL OF POWIS
I venture to point out to your Lordships that this is a matter which is very serious to small landowners, especially those who bought their holdings at a recent date. I will only detain you for one moment while I tell you of a specific case that has been brought to my notice. A man, after saving money for thirty years, bought the holding which his wife's father farmed, and he always wished to farm this land himself. He had not quite enough money to buy it when it was sold, so he mortgaged his land and had to work for another seven years to obtain the money to pay off the mortgage. During the year 1917 he wished to take over the farm. His tenant was an unmarried man and was liable for military service, and he begged his landlord not to turn him out, as he said he was making a tremendous lot of money out of the farm at the moment, and if he were turned out he would have to do military service. The owner of the farm allowed him to stay on, and now when he wants to turn him out and farm this land himself, which he has been desirous of farming for thirty years, he is faced with this clause. I certainly support Lord Bledisloe's Amendment. In the face of a case of the sort I have quoted, it seems to me that the tenant should receive no compensation at all, for in fact the tenant has been the person benefited by not being turned out till the present moment instead of being turned out before.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
I am going to say a few words which will rather 340 surprise you. I have an Amendment connected with this subject, which is that any landlord who desires to farm a farm shall only pay compensation under the 1906 Act, always provided he farms it for eight years. My reason for putting it at eight years is very simple. If he is very desirous of farming he will farm not only for eight years but will go on farming it. I question very much whether any landowners except those fond of farming will ever wish to farm land, because they will leave it to their land agent, and the land agent will hate to have the trouble.
I regard the question of compensation very much as if you are giving compensation for going out. Supposing this man was not a yearly tenant, or that it was compulsory in this country to give a tenant two years' notice, a man would not want much compensation if he knew how to farm. I undertake to leave a farm after remaining two years there and it shall be as clean and as beautifully farmed as you might wish, although when I go out at the end of two years I shall have made a considerable quantity of money. You laugh, but I can do it. I know how it is done. Of course, you have to grow a certain quantity of roots, and if you get a favourable season your roots will be magnificent and in an ordinary season your corn will be magnificent. If a man has a yearly tenancy, however, he does not get much chance of getting a great deal, and it may be you have to give him compensation because he has lived there a great number of years and there is a sort of desire on his part not to leave the place. I rather sympathise with him. He may have brought up his children there, and so you may wish to give him a solatium when he moves elsewhere. What is that to a rich man? He writes a cheque and never knows he has done it. It hits only the poor man. It is very hard on a man who has bought or has inherited a farm of about 400 or 500 acres when he has a son whom he wishes to farm the land. It is the small people really who you want to have regard to in seeing that the compensation is not too great.
I believe nothing will ever satisfy this country until the time comes when no man shall be allowed to own more land than he, can farm himself. If he is a millionaire let him farm 100,000 acres if he can, but he will not do it long. He will be so bored with it. He will have other things to think about, and his land agent will 341 always be persuading him to get rid of it because it will make his duties lighter. If that is the case, then you will do away with the great difficulties of this compensation. I was very much struck by a thing I was reading in a certain diary I possess. I find that my father, the writer of that diary, said in 1879 and 1880, "I cannot conceive what is going to happen to landowners. It seems to me that the end must be that no man will be able to own more land than he can farm himself." That is the whole secret. In that case you will not have any trouble about compensation. When that comes about, if a man wishes to buy land on a mortgage he shall only mortgage it to the Government who will lend him money at the lowest rate of interest. Of compensation I have no fear according to the lines drawn up by Lord Parmoor.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
May I say one word. I confess I am adhering to the principle so ably explained by Lord Bledisloe. I know that we have against us the great authority of my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition, but I wondered whether what was stated afterwards by Lord Parmoor may not have modified his view; for Lord Parmoor, speaking with great experience of arbitration—because no one. I suppose, has had so great experience of arbitration—said he did not anticipate that, any of the extravagant claims of which the noble Marquess was afraid would be considered by an arbitrator.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
It was not a case of extravagant claims, but of what may be called moral and intellectual claims.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Lord Parmoor is not here at present, but I am quite sure that he would include in what he said the belief that an arbitrator would not consider such claims as the noble Marquess mentioned.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I have also the support of the noble and learned Lord below the gangway. In those circumstances surely we may fall back upon the principle that you should not pay a man more than is owing to him. We have here a proposal by Lord Bledisloe, the principle of which seems to be quite 342 sound, that you should pay the man his, out-of-pocket expenses in consequence of the toss of his holding. That is a principle which anybody can understand, and it does not infringe upon the property of the landlord. Once you admit that principle, that for the expense a man is put to he deserves compensation, supposing he is a good tenant, then you do not really infringe upon the property of the landlord. But if you once say to the tenant, "We give you a year's relit"—if it be the case, its I am told it is the ease, that the compensation in the great: majority of cases would be much smaller than a year's rent—you have practically cut a great slice out of the owner's property and presented it to the tenant. You cannot disguise it. No reasoning that it is shorter and simpler will avoid the inevitable fact that what Lord Bledisloe calculated, I believe on very good authority, at some seven per cent.—
§ THE MARQUESS of SALISBURY
At least seven per cent, of the landlord's, property is transferred to the tenant. That appears to be a principle which we ought not to admit, and therefore I shall adhere to what is called the honest course—I not, want to use the adjective as being disrespectful to those who take the other view, but the honest course which Lord Bledisloe suggested.
There is, of course, a question which arises—I think a minor question—whether there should not be some kind of superior limit. The Amendment in the name of Lord Clinton does recommend a superior limit. For my part I think that would be a reasonable addition to make, but I do not put any great weight upon it. If I am to choose between the Government proposal in the Bill and Lord Bledisloe's proposal, I should certainly choose Lord Bledisloe's proposal. I think it would be better to have a superior limit in that I think it would very often be found useful in order-to guard against some extreme cases. There might be certain extreme cases where the compensation might run past the limit, and where it would be rather hard upon a poor landowner to throw such a very heavy expense upon him. If that is thought to be so illogical as to be indefensible, then I should not adhere to it, but I should support Lord Bledisloe's proposal.
§ LORD LEE OF FAREHAM
I desire to ascertain the wishes of your Lordships. I have naturally got to think over what has been said and to consider very carefully to what extent, if any, it is possible for the Government to go in tile direction of meeting the views of your Lordships. We have reached a somewhat critical hour of the day, and I was under the impression that there probably would have been considerable general discussion, in which I should have proposed to intervene at a later stage. I do not know whether it would be your Lordships' desire to adjourn now for dinner and to meet again at a quarter past nine, and then for the general discussion to continue. I should then perhaps be in a better position to express the views of the Government than I am at the present moment.