HL Deb 21 December 1920 vol 39 cc797-818

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)

THE MARQUESS OF LINCOLNSHIRE had given notice, on the Motion for the Third Reading, to move That the Bill be read a third time this day six months. The noble Marquess said: My Lords, I beg to move the rejection of the Agriculture Bill. I am very sensible of the extreme courtesy and patience with which your Lordships bore with me on Tuesday last when you allowed me to voice the serious alarm which some of us felt with regard to the provisions of this Bill. In any circumstances it would be unpardonable of me if at this time of the year when every moment is of great importance I had attempted to detain the House at any length, and particularly so at the present time, when the Third Reading of this Bill, to which so many of us have set solicits objections, is brought on at five minutes past eleven on a cold, wet wintry night. It is all the more un-fortunate that His Majesty's Government have thought fit to do this, because it has necessitated the absence of many noble Lords who were anxious to vote against the Bill, and who are prevented from doing so by the time at which this important measure, which means the spending of so many millions, has been brought on in this House. But I crave the indulgence which I feel certain, from so many past courtesies, will be accorded me, just for five or six minutes while I try to explain the reason why it is imperative and necessary that we should record our vote against the Third Reading of this Bill.

On Wednesday last there were eighty independent peers who voted against this measure, some twenty-five independent peers were in favour of the Bill, and the Government majority was thirty-eight in a House of over 700 members. The Bill, I believe, was principally opposed because Lord Lee of Fareham, the Minister in charge of the Bill; would not and did not—perhaps I might go so far as to say he could not and dared not—tell the House how many millions it would be certain to cost the nation, although we gave him great latitude as regards that, and we said we should be obliged to him if he could tell us the figure even within ten millions. The country is still in the dark as to what the cost of the Bill will be. The Scottish peers, led by the Duke of Buccleuch, gave a sort of lukewarm and tepid approval of the measure. I believe to a certain extent that was caused by the fact that the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture unanimously passed a resolution in favour of throwing out the Bill. The Irish peers contracted themselves out of the Bill en bloc, and the Free Trade and Liberal peers, with the whole of their Party and Press behind them, voted against this measure, which the Minister who brought it in himself acknowledged to be a most unpopular one. There is such a widespread and general fear and dislike of this Bill that its Third Reading cannot be permitted to be passed even at this hour and in a House so attenuated, without a challenge and without a protest.

Any prospect that there was of a greater production of wheat has completely vanished. If England was to be made a self-supporting country it is generally acknowledged that two things must be done. There is no doubt about it. It is the opinion of the best experts in England, and it is absolute gospel truth. If you want to make this country self-supporting you have to double the number of cattle and sheep that there are in this country. That does not come into the Bill. It is a detail that was not worth mentioning. In addition you have to plough up 12,500 square miles of grass country and to put in wheat instead of the permanent pasture. An Amendment which was brought forward from all parts of the House by seven noble Lords of all shades of opinion was carried by 146 votes to 34 against the Government—a majority of more than four to one. That Amendment deprived the agricultural committees of all power to order farmers to plough up their grass land. The result of that naturally is that Part 1, as far as increased cultivation goes, is as dead as Julius Cæsar. There will not be, there cannot be, one single additional acre ploughed up in the whole of England, and in consequence there will not be a single extra labourer on the land. But the guarantees in Part 1 remain, with the inevitable crushing taxation which remains also.

May I say a brief word about Part II. It will be remembered that we were told when the original Bill was brought forward something about security of tenure. There is no such word as security of tenure in the Bill, but there was in the Memorandum. We were told that security of tenure was to be obtained for tenant farmers by fining landlords. All landlords who wanted to get their land back for their own cultivation or any other proper reason were to be fined four years' net rent, and landlords who acted capriciously and evicted their tenants from caprice—we know what that means—were to be fined anything from fourteen to twenty years' net rent. That was stated in this House by some noble Lord, and he was not challenged. Therefore, I am justified in making that statement. I do not want to argue whether these fines are right or wrong. It is the Government. proposal and it is not for me to say whether it is an honest way of treating tenants or whether it is highway robbery. The situation has again been changed, and indeed we have a flat rate and the right of capricious eviction is now legalised and restored in the Bill.




That is challenged, but that is my opinion and I challenge contradiction. The right of capricious eviction is to be on the same footing as the undoubted legal right of a landlord to bring himself back into possession of his own land and cultivate it himself or put any person he likes to cultivate it. As regards the security we were told by the noble Lord opposite that this Bill does not mean security. We were anxious to know what it did mean? Lord Clinton I think it was said what the Bill means is "continuity of tenure." The noble Lord was thanked by the Minister in charge of the Bill for that suggestion and we were told then that this continuity was a policy which did not permit dual control, fixity of tenure, fair rents or free sales. Is that so? What is the difference, I ask with all respect, between fixity, security, and continuity of tenure? I am not here to split hairs or to chop logic, whatever that may be. We are also told that this Bill is illogical and has no logic in it, but I ask what is the difference between these three things—fixity, security and continuity of tenure. Are not these agricultural committees, which some noble Lords have called soviet committees, dual control?

On the question of dual control I should like to say that the rules of good husbandry—which was one of the great points of the Bill—are part of every contract of tenancy which it is not only the interests but the duty of landlords to enforce. By handing their duties to the Minister they leave themselves without these duties. There is one thing still more dangerous than dual ownership and that is ownership without any duties at all.


Hear, hear.


Are not wages boards a stepping stone to land courts and is not the Evesham custom which is introduced in the Bill the free sale of market gardeners' rights and interests? The time has now come for plain and open speaking and we must not be afraid to be both plain and open. The fact is that in the opinion of a great many of us this Bill is nothing but camouflage all round.

My last word is this. We are told that this is the Prime Minister's Bill. This Bill was adumbrated, I believe that is the proper word, in the Caxton Hall speech. In that speech the Prime Minister recanted, or if that is too strong a word perhaps I may say that he decanted his old land policy, and that policy which caused so much commotion in days gone by has now lost all its old strength, all its old colour, all its old bouquet and the whole of its sparkle. The Prime Minister dares not tax food directly. He is right there, because his great prototype, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, tried it, and his is an example that the present Prime Minister is wise not to follow. He dares not tax food itself, so what does he do? He taxes indirectly the man who has to eat the food which keeps him and his family from starvation. And when the public find out this new piece of political legerdemain all I have to say is, God help Lloyd George. This is what they call Yule-tide, and the Prime Minister is sending out his annual message of benevolence to his fellow-countrymen in England. He is sending out this message to an over-taxed and exhausted nation, who are longing for peace, for rest and retrenchment, and the benediction of Mr. Lloyd George at this solemn Christmas time is not Pax—but Tax vobiscum. I ask the House with all sincerity to vote against the Third Reading of this Bill as the House of Lords' protest against reckless extravagance and impending ruin. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Leave out ("now") and insert at the end of the Motion ("this day six months").—(The Marquess of Lincolnshire.)


I am physically incapable of addressing your Lordships tonight for more than a moment, and I only do so in order to explain why it is that, having placed an Amendment of my own on the Paper, I am not in a position to move it. Why the Government have chosen to put down two other Bills to-night before this I really do not know. Whether it be in regard to the number of people it employs, or the capital embarked in it, or the importance of this industry for the safety of the nation, this is beyond all question the largest and most important industry in the Kingdom, and it is strange indeed that under those circumstances, on the last occasion when we have an opportunity of expressing our opinions upon it, that the Bill should be postponed by the action of the Government to this hour of the night. With all my heart and soul, having regard to the principles which the Bill still contains, in spite of the Amendments made in the measure, I shall support the Motion of the noble Marquess.


I desire to support the Motion for the rejection of the Bill. This Bill was introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Lee, as a Bill that found its main justification in the provisions that it made for increasing our corn supplies in case of war. That increase was sought by inducing, on the one band, men to increase the cultivation of their land by a guarantee, and, on the other, by the control that was vested in representatives of the Government to secure that a greater extent of land should be placed under the plough. It was pointed out that the two mutually supported each other, and it was true. Now the provisions that enabled the Government to increase the amount of arable land have gone, and there is nothing left but a guarantee which operates, as your Lordships know, not per quarter of wheat produced but per acre of land sown. So that there is no inducement whatever left in the Bill for any man who is farming fertile land to increase its fertility; nor is there any real inducement to a man to plough infertile land which he has no desire whatever to take from its present use. Therefore the main purpose of the Bill has, I submit, been already defeated by your Lordships in Committee.

Then there remains the other matter to which I called more detailed attention on the Second Reading. That is the question as to how the expenses are to be borne, which, by this Bill, must be incurred by the Government representatives. The noble Lord, Lord Lee, told me that the Bill contained the necessary provisions. I could not find them, and I hoped that the Committee stage would produce them, or their equivalent. It has not done so. How does the matter stand now? It stands in this way. If a tenant has not within the terms of his covenant maintained his holding, he can be called upon to do so; and he can be fined for not obeying the covenant made between himself and his landlord. It is a thing that I believe is unknown in any other relationship in the kingdom that you should take a man before a magistrate and summarily convict him of having broken a covenant. You may fine him £20, and £1 a day so long as he fails to obey. Not only does this involve a very heavy expenditure on roads, stone walls, fences, and the many obligations that a tenant may have agreed to carry out, but more; the Government may enter and do the work themselves, and they are at liberty then to recover the money from the tenant. This is the only power I can find in the Bill to recover the money from the tenant. Supposing the tenant cannot pay, where is the money coming from? It may be some consolation to you for some of the other burdens you may have to bear that the result will be that the Government will have repaired the landlord's land at the State's expense. They will have performed the tenant's covenant for him, and there will be no means of getting the money back. Of course you may say "Sell the man up," but it would be an unpleasant thing for the Government to sell up tenant farmers who have been unable to obey covenants which their landlords might very well be ready to allow to remain unperformed for a short period of time.

The same thing happens with regard to the rights that are exercised when they enter on the estate that they think is not being properly developed. There is no means whatever provided in the Bill that I can find to indemnify the taxpayers against the loss that the Government may bear in such an operation. It is the most remarkable provision that I have ever known introduced into what after all, in spite of its being, as the noble Viscount has said, a great industry, is only one unit in our whole industrial system. It is a big unit, I admit, but nothing but a unit.

What is the explanation for imposing upon this industry the shackles and restrictions in which this Bill places it? Whatever may have been said in the first instance as to the necessity being justified by the urgent need of increasing our wheat supply, I submit to your Lordships without hesitation that what has happened destroys the possibility of that ever becoming operative. The only thing left is this guarantee which, if it operates, will cause such resentment that it will quickly be withdrawn. This Bill has been dishevelled in its passage through Committee; the best and most merciful thing to do now is to put it out of its misery by killing it altogether.


My Lords, I am going to vote against this Bill purely and absolutely because it will increase the taxation of the country. It is impossible to say what the Bill will cost. The noble Lord in charge of it cannot be expected to give a definite estimate, but we ought to remember that he did say it may become a serious financial burden, and that is the opinion of the Government. That is as far as we can expect him to go. It may cost £5,000,000, or £10,000,000, or £20,000,000. If wheat or oats were sold at 1s. per quarter below the minimum price the guarantee would cost the taxpayer £1,750,000; if sold at 10s. below, £17,500,000; if £1 below, which may easily be the case, £35,000,000. Sir James Wilson, in speaking at the International Institution at Rome, predicted that in a very short time wheat would be at 50s. Freights are coming down and it may be that in two or three years we shall be able to get considerable wheat from Russia.

This Bill will be extremely unpopular in the country. I do not think it will do any good to agriculture. We in the Western counties were not very much afraid of committees because no committee that understood agriculture would make us plough up very much land. Cultivation has accommodated itself to the stress of our climate; corn growing has gone to the east, and production of meat and dairy produce has remained in the west. To whom will the guarantee go? The eastern counties cannot produce more corn. They have ploughed up every yard of land possible I believe in Norfolk. It was stated before Lord Selborne's Committee that they produced 1,100,000 quarters of wheat and could not produce more. When the price of corn goes down the guarantee will go mainly to those people who already produce corn and not much to people who have ploughed up land and want compensation for doing so.

I remember very well that when the Agricultural Rating Bill was introduced in the House of Commons in 1896, it was fought vehemently by the present Prime Minister. That Bill was going to cost the country about £3,000,000 a year. The noble Viscount, Lord Chaplin, remembers it very well, because he introduced it. The present Prime Minister was so vehement that he was suspended from the House for breaking the rules. Now the same Prime Minister consents to a Bill which may cost £30,000,000 or £40,000,000. I do not think it is a wise course to take. Unemployment is increasing, thousands of people are out of work in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and when they come to realise that some millions of the taxpayers' money is going to subsidise one industry I think there will be a row. I do not think the Bill will remain. The country will not stand it. It will be a bad thing for agriculture, a bad thing for landlords and for this House, and I shall vote against the Third Reading.


I feel sure that your Lordships will not expect me at this hour, and with a considerable amount of business in connection with this Bill still to get through, which I understand is to be followed by other business before we adjourn, to do more than make a brief reply. At the same time I feel it is only courteous that I should reply, however briefly, to certain criticisms which have been made. May I do so in the first place by apologising profoundly to your Lordships for the fact that it is half-past eleven o'clock, and that we are called upon to discuss a measure of this magnitude at this hour. It is a real grievance of your Lordships' House that this sort of thing is apt to happen at the end of every Session; but some noble Lords will remember that I was anxious to bring on this Bill earlier, but it was postponed for a week. May I also thank noble Lords most warmly for the extreme kindness and courtesy shown to me throughout the stages of the Bill. As your Lordships can imagine, mine was a difficult and anxious task, and I have been greatly helped by the extreme kindness of noble Lords.

With regard to the speeches made tonight, I could, of course, if this were an appropriate occasion, enter into a defence of the objects of the Bill, which would deal adequately with some of those speeches. I will, however, content myself with saying with regard to most of them, especially the speech to which we have just listened, that although it is only two years since we were in peril of our existence in war time owing to the possible shortage of food supplies, already that lesson, which I thought would be burned deep in the minds of everyone in these islands, has been completely forgotten by some noble Lords who have addressed us to-night.

As to the noble Marquess who moved the rejection of the Bill, I will only say that we have every reason to be indebted to him for the second time in these debates for having enlivened our drooping spirits after the long hours of fatigue and despairing gloom, even with the cold, wet, and windy night against which some of his supporters have not been proof. He challenged me again in very vigorous terms to say how many millions this Bill was going to cost. He said, "How many millions for certain." I think the answer to that is, "None, for certain," and I can only refer the noble Marquess to the very full explanation which I gave in the earlier stages on the Bill, and Put forward in the White Paper laid before Parliament, Which gave all the information it was Possible for the Government to give in advance of actual facts. Both the noble Marquess and Lord Buck-master seem to feel that the only virtue of the Bill had gone when the Ploughing Order Provision was struck out. I regret the disappearance of that portion of the Bill as much as anyone, but I do not recollect that either the noble Marquess or the noble and learned Lord came down to this House to support me when that Provision was attacked.


Of course, I did not.


On the contrary, I think that even if they had been here they would have joined in the hue and cry after me. Therefore I do not think they can complain that this provision has been cut out.


I do not complain.


I am quite sure the noble Lord at any rate would have consistently voted against any and all Provision in the Bill in order to show his detestation of it. I feel that what remains of that Particular Portion of the Bill, while it does not go so far as I or the Government would have wished, does leave a very valuable and workable Power on the Part of the county authorities, and a compromise was arrived at by which I stand and which I think will be very valuable and effective.

The noble Marquess said, "This is a time for indulging in plain speaking." On a previous occasion his speaking was certainly plain, but it was in English. He referred to the Bill as "rotten." Now he has been moved to express his plain language in French by the adoption of a term which became familiar to all of us during the war. But whether he denounces the Bill in English or in French, or denounces the Prime Minister in English or in French, I think the Government will remain comparatively serene. He denounces the Prime Minister with whom he was associated for so many years, and he even went so far as to give utterance to the aspiration, "God help Lloyd George." I suppose the noble Marquess regards that as necessary in view of the fact that he feels it incumbent upon him to withdraw his own support from the Prime Minister, who must seek support from other quarters.

With regard to the speech of my noble friend Lord Chaplin, I would like to say that every one deeply regrets that he should have been physically incapable of taking part fully in our debates. We have egarded with admiration three or four times the attempts that he has made to assist us, in spite of the fact that he has obviously been suffering from physical disability.

I will only say this in conclusion. The Bill as it stands—it is not yet in its final form—is, I think, still a good Bill. There are one or two blemishes in it which I hope may be rectified before it receives the Royal Assent. I regret that the clause relating to leasing was struck out of the

Bill by your Lordships, and I feel sure that in some form or another it may commend itself to you at a later stage. I also cannot help expressing considerable apprehension with regard to the possible effect upon the compensation for disturbance clauses of the exact and super-stiff wording of the definition which was put into the Bill of "good husbandry." I think that is a matter which requires to be further explored, and whilst I do not think any great modification will be required, I believe that the Bill as it stands would not be fair to all parties concerned. I most earnestly appeal to your Lordships to give this Bill a Third Reading. I cannot believe that after all the time that has been taken in trying to improve this measure, and which bears now in its lineaments so many traces of its parental origin in this House, that your Lordships would go to the extreme length of strangling the offspring for which you are largely responsible.

On Question, whether the word "now" shall stand part of the Motion?—

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 64; Not-Contents, 25.

Birkenhead, L. (L. Chancellor.) Strafford, E. Crawshaw, L.
Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) Deramore, L.
Richmond and Gordon, D. Desborough, L.
Sutherland, D. Farquhar, V. (L. Steward.) Dynevor, L.
Sandhurst, V. (L. Chamberlain.) Douglas, L. (E. Home.)
Ailsa, M. Erskine, L.
Bath, M. Falmouth, V. Faringdon, L.
Camden, M. Goschen, V. Harris, L.
Exeter, M. Hardinge, V. Hastings, L.
Hood, V. Hylton, L.
Albemarle, E. Milner, V. Lee of Fareham, L.
Caithness, E. Peel, V. Marchamley, L.
Chesterfield, E. Monckton, L. (Galway.)
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.) Abinger, L. Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Addington, L. Ranksborough, L.
Jersey, E. Ampthill, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Kimberley, E. Annesley, L. (V. Valentia.) Rathcreedan, L.
Lucan, E. Balfour, L. Riddell, L.
Lytton, E. Blythswood, L. St. Levan, L.
Malmesbury, E. Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.) Sandys, L.
Onslow, E. Clinton, L. Somerleyton, L. [Teller.]
Powis, E. Cloncurry, L. Stanmore, L. [Teller.]
Selborne, E. Clwyd, L. Stuart of Wortley, L.
Stanhope, E. Colebrooke, L. Wolverton, L.
Cholmondeley, M. Midleton, E. Lamington, L.
Lincolnshire, M. (Lord Great Chamberlain.) [Teller.] Wicklow, E. Lawrence, L.
Redesdale, L.
Bertie of Thame, V. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Linlithgow, M. Chaplin, V. Saye and Sele, L. [Teller.]
Avebury, L. Sempill, L.
Ancaster, E. Bellew, L. Stanley of Alderley, L. (Sheffield.)
Lanesborough, E. Buckmaster, L.
Lichfield, E. Cawley, L. Sydenham, L.
Lindsey, E. Inchcape, L. Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)

Resolved in the affirmative, and Bill read 3a accordingly.

Clause 4:

(7) Where the Minister is of opinion, after consultation with the agricultural committee, that the owner of any agricultural estate situate wholly or partly in the area of the committee, whether the estate or any part thereof is or is not in the occupation of tenants, grossly mismanages the estate to such an extent as to prejudice materially the production of food thereon or the welfare of those who are engaged in the cultivation of the estate, the Minister may, if he thinks it necessary or desirable so to do in the national interest, and after making such public inquiry as he thinks proper and after taking into consideration any representations made to him by the owner, by order appoint such person as he thinks fit to act as receiver and manager of the estate or any part thereof:

Provided that—

  1. (a) an order made under this subsection shall not, except where the person appointed by the order to act as receiver and manager of the estate is appointed to act in the place of a person previously appointed under this subsection, take effect until a period of six months has elapsed after the date on which notice of the order having been made was given to the owner of the estate, and the owner may at any time during the said period appeal against the order to the High Court in accordance with rules of court, and where any such appeal is made, the order shall not take effect pending the determination of the appeal; and
  2. (b) an order made under this subsection shall not, except with the consent of the owner, extend to a mansion house, or the garden or grounds attached thereto, or to any land which at the date of the order forms part of any park or of any home farm attached to and usually occupied with the mansion house, and required for the amenity or convenience of the mansion house, or to any land or buildings which are not used, or intended to be used, for agricultural purposes; and


I have three drafting Amendments on this Clause.

Amendments moved—

Page 3, line 35, after ("garden") insert ("attached thereto").

Page 4, line 33, after ("derived") insert. ("by the tenant").

Page 6, line 25, leave out ("making") and insert ("holding").—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

LORD HARRIS moved, in subsection (7) (b), to leave out "or of any home farm." The noble Lord said: It seems to me quite inconsistent that the home farm, if it is grossly mismanaged, to the disadvantage of the country and of those who are engaged in the cultivation of the estate, should be omitted from the provisions of the clause as regards interference. I think it savours badly that the landlord should be preserved from interference when the tenant is prejudiced.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 5, leave out ("or of any home farm").—(Lord Harris.)


I hope that these words will not be accepted. As far as I understand, the landlord as occupier can be dealt with perfectly well. It seems rather a pity that this alteration should be made at this stage. I understand that the earlier part of the Bill is quite sufficient to deal with the landlord as occupier.


This is not a Government Amendment, but I cannot quite agree with what the noble Duke has just said, because we have had many experiences of dealing with these extraordinary people—I can call them nothing else—who make almost a science of grossly mismanaging their estates and defying all authority. In cases with which I have been familiar we have passed cultivation orders and other orders upon them by the score, and they do not take the slightest notice. They will submit to fines and penalties, but those measures are quite inadequate, and meanwhile the persecution of tenants and the destruction of land for food purposes is going on. Those powers are quite inadequate when a rich man has definitely made up his mind—


But this does not apply to his tenant.


No, I do not say it applies to tenants. It applies to those very few black sheep who so grossly mismanage their estates that they really become a scandal to the countryside. It does seem an extraordinary thing that such people should be allowed to mismanage the home farm to any extent they please under the protection of this clause. Though, as I say, this is not a Government Amendment, there seems a great deal to be said for it. I cannot imagine how or why anybody could wish to retain for these people the privilege which is contained in the clause. Personally I shall support the noble Lord if he goes to a Division.


I agree with my noble friend Lord Harris. If he goes to a Division I will support him.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 5:

Arbitration under the Corn Production Act, 1917.

5.—(1) If in any arbitration under Part IV. of the Act of 1917 the arbitrator states a case for the opinion of the county court on any question of law, the opinion of the court on any question so stated shall be final unless within the terms and in accordance with the conditions prescribed by rules of the Supreme Court either party appeals to the Court of Appeal, from whose decision no appeal shall lie, except with leave of that Court.

(2) The Arbitration Act, 1889, shall not apply to any arbitration under Part IV. of the Act of 1917.

LORD LEE OF FAREHAM moved to leave out "terms" ["unless within the terms"] and insert "time." The noble Lord said: This Amendment is drafting.

Amendment moved— Page 8, line 40, leave out ("terms") and insert ("time").—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 8:

Amendment moved— Page 10, line 19, after ("this") insert ("part of this").—(Lard Lee of Fareham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 10:


My next Amendment is substantially drafting, and makes it clear that the award of the arbitrator shall be given within twenty-eight days of the date on which the matter is referred to him. This is the time allowed under the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1908, which regulates these arbitrators. in most cases it will result in the decision of the arbitrator being given within the period mentioned in the words proposed to be inserted.

Amendment moved— Page 12, line 10, leave out from ("committee") to ("subject") in line 12 and insert ("and the award of the arbitrator shall be given within twenty-eight days of the date on which the matter is referred to him").—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Amendments moved—

Page 13, line 4, after ("improvements") insert ("which have been")

Page 13, line 7, leave out from ("execution") to ("or") in line 9 and insert ("and have not been executed by him under an obligation imposed by the terms of his contract of tenancy")

Page 13, line 11, leave out ("provided that the arbitrator").—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.


There is now a manuscript Amendment in the name of Lord Lamington. Following the precedents which have been laid down by those who have preceded me here I should have ventured to advise your Lordships not to receive a manuscript Amendment on the Third Reading of any Bill, but I have been satisfied that the noble Lord gave in this Amendment in time. It was through an accident that it did not appear on the Paper. In those circumstances I imagine that your Lordships will be prepared to allow the Amendment to be put.


I referred to this the other evening, and Lord Lee said he was willing to consider it in the interval. The effect of the Amendment is to delete from subsection (6) the words "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)." It seems to me grossly unfair. I presume the tenant would be justified in calling expert witnesses in respect of his claim, and the landlord would be put to the expense of examining it carefully, and he may have to employ expert legal advice as to how far he is to resist such claim.

Amendment moved— Page 13, line 20, leave out from ("and") to ("but") in line 23.—(Lord Lamington.)


It is true that I agreed to reconsider the matter carefully, and I have done so. But I regret to say that I have decided that I cannot accept the Amendment. It is not a question of its merit. This subsection represents a compromise which was come to after a great amount of discussion and after long consideration. As I have said before, I do not contend that this is either logical or based on any ascertained facts. It was a rough and ready rule, which on the whole was accepted by both sides concerned as being a way out of a difficulty. If you start to cut into that compromise by taking something out of it which was there at the time it was negotiated, in the first place you upset the balance, and secondly you run the risk that in another place people who wish to put more into the subsection—that is more against the landlord—than is there now, would have the excuse of saying that an alteration had been made by way of deduction and why should they not stiffen it in another direction that would be most undesirable. I hope that your Lordships, having accepted this from yesterday, will not wish to alter it now even by a hair's breadth.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH moved to leave out subsection (9), which ran— (9) 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. and to insert in its place the following new subsection— (9) In any case where a tenant holds two or more holdings, whether from the same landlord or different landlord, and receives notice to quit one or more but not all of the holdings the arbitrator in ascertaining the compensation for disturbance in respect of the holding or holdings shall take into consideration the continuance in possession by the tenant of the other holding or holdings, and shall only award such sum in respect of the loss or expenses directly attributable to the quitting as is shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator by the tenant to have been incurred by him, but in no case a sum exceeding two years' rent of the holding or holdings in respect of which he has received notice to quit.

The noble Duke said: I do not wish to detain your Lordships on this Amendment. In another place it was considered that the occupier of several holdings should not have the same compensation as the occupier of one holding. So far as I can see subsection (9) does not meet the case. Possibly my noble friend will say that what I propose is no better. Your Lordships will understand that the compensation clause appeared originally in one form; in Committee it took a different form; and on Report its present form. In these circumstances it has been difficult to draft satisfactory words. There is practical import- ance in the question and strong feeling is entertained, especially among working-men, farm servants and any men with small farms who desire to obtain a better holding. I think the occupier of the multiple holding is probably too well treated in the Bill.

Amendment moved— Page 15, lines 10 to 18, leave out subsection (9) and insert the said new subsection.—(The Duke of Buccleuch.)


I shall be much obliged if the noble Duke will not press the Amendment. I have discussed it at considerable length with my advisers and I am informed that there would be difficulty in the words suggested, because they seem to be inconsistent with the general principle as to the ascertainment of compensation for disturbance which has been agreed upon and which in effect secures the payment of one year's rent at least by way of compensation. The subsection as it stands in the Bill enables an arbitrator to reduce the compensation that would otherwise be payable "by such an 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." It may be difficult to work but it embodies a reasonable principle, and I am not prepared to accept instead of it the subsection proposed by the noble Duke. and I hope he will not press it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 12:

Application of Act to cottage on holdings under Act of 1908.

12. Where the occupation of a dwelling-house (including a garden attached thereto) forming part of a holding to which the Act of 1908 applies has been allowed by the tenant of the holding to a workman employed by him in agriculture on the holding, whether the occupation is under a contract of tenancy or not, and the occupation is terminated on account of the termination by the tenant of the holding of the employment of the workman, the provisions of the section of this Part of this Act relating to compensation for disturbance shall (subject as hereinafter provided and so far as the same are capable of application) apply as if the dwelling-house (including a garden attached thereto) were a holding and, where there is no contract of tenancy, as if the person allowing the dwelling-house to be so occupied were the landlord and the workman were the tenant, and the notice to terminate the occupation were a notice to quit:

Provided that—

(1) compensation shall not be payable under this section if— (a) the notice to terminate the occupation is given before the expiration of six weeks from the commencement of the occupation; or

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved, in subsection (1) (a), to leave out "six weeks" and insert "three months."

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 23, leave out ("six weeks") and insert ("three months").—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)


I accept this.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The next Amendment is to some extent consequential on the alteration of the basis of compensation for disturbance in the case of farms, which is made applicable, with modifications, to the case of a cottage. The compensation will in every case be fifty-two times the maximum weekly value of the benefit of a free cottage as determined for the purpose of the minimum wage, but it was pointed out to me that such value may from time to time be altered, and I think a reasonable maximum is ten pounds.

Amendment moved— Page 18, line 6, leave out from the beginning of the line to ("equal") in line 8, and insert ("the compensation payable shall be such sum, not exceeding ten pounds, as is").—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD LEE OF FAREHAM moved, after subsection (3), to insert the following new subsection— (4) Any question as to whether compensation is payable under this section or as to the amount payable, shall, on the application of the tenant or workman, be determined by the district wages committee or a sub-committee to which power in that behalf has been delegated by the committee, and the committee or sub-committee, may in any case in which it appears to them to be just, direct the payment by the tenant to the workman of a sum in respect of his expenses of appearing before them, and any sum so directed to be paid shall be recoverable summarily by the tenant as a civil debt.

The noble Lord said: I promised to consider the views expressed by Lord Salisbury as to the provision of a cheap and less cumbersome tribunal to decide any question as to whether compensation is payable under this clause and as to the amount of the compensation. It has been to carry out that promise that I have put down this Amendment, and I hope it will be acceptable.

Amendment moved— Page 18, line 14, after subsection (3), insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Lee of Fareham)


I feel that there is great difficulty in providing an adequate tribunal. The clause is not apt to the Bill and should not have been inserted, but being there we have to make the best of it, and I think the Amendment is a great improvement.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 14:


These are drafting Amendments.

Amendments moved—

Page 19, line 7, after ("if any") insert ("for the protection of the landlord")

Page 19, line 41, after ("if any") insert ("for the protection of the landlord").—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Clause 22:

Amendment moved— Page 25, line 16, leave out ("the").—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 26:

Amendment moved— Page 26, line 20, leave out ("applies") and insert ("apply").—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD CLINTON rose to move a manuscript Amendment.


Before the noble Lord moves this Amendment I should like to ask your Lordships' ruling. This is a manuscript Amendment which the noble Lord only showed to me a moment ago. I have tried most carefully to study what the practice of this House has been for many years on the Third Reading of a Bill. Since I have been Lord Chancellor only on one occasion has a manuscript Amendment been admitted on the Third Reading, and that was of a technical kind on which no discussion on merits was possible. Carrying my research further I have examined the advice given by Lord Halsbury, Lord Herschell and their successors, and that advice, which has always been followed by your Lordships, was that on Third Reading under no circumstances at all, unless it were purely technical, should a manuscript Amendment be admitted, and I warn your Lordships that if this practice is admitted we cannot take individual cases of individual Amendments and say it would be convenient to examine this particular Amendment. I ask your Lordships to consider that if we depart from a practice which, so far as I know, has been the unbroken practice of the House, we should have to consider on its merits the claim of each individual member to propose a manuscript Amendment on Third Reading. I found myself in this matter on the clear advice given by Lord Halsbury, Lord Herschell, and every succeeding Lord Chancellor.


It is for your Lordships to say, but the Amendment is a purely technical matter, to remedy an omission, of which we gave notice and which Amendment the noble Lord in charge of the Bill is willing to accept. They are matters which require no explanation to your Lordships and can easily be inserted here. If your Lordships approve, I will move the Amendment.


Your Lordships will be glad to hear it if it is a small matter, but I must say that I agree with the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack that there is great objection to inserting manuscript Amendments on Third Reading. I remember a case when a manuscript Amendment was admitted on Third Reading and it was subsequently discovered that we had put it in the wrong place. There is great objection, because it is the last opportunity that your Lordships have of dealing with the Bill, and if this practice is once countenanced it will grow by leaps and bounds, and I think your Lordships would very much regret it. If it is a mere matter of drafting, we have always admitted that.


Although I, naturally, would not give any advice with regard to the Rules of your Lordships' House, so far as I understand these Amendments I do not object to them in principle. If it would meet the convenience of the noble Lord, I will arrange to have them moved in another place. I hope that will meet his views.

Clause 33:


The Amendment in my name is a drafting Amendment to the new subsection moved by the Duke of Buccleuch yesterday. It is, I believe, an improvement.

Amendment moved— Page 32, lines 12 to 20, leave out subsection (8) and insert. (10) Subsection (2) of section eighteen of the Act of 1908, shall have effect as if at the end thereof the following words were added and in the case of any lease so renewed the period of notice shall be not less than one year nor more than two years.'"—(Lord Stanmore.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Second Schedule:

Amendment moved— Page 35, lines 43 and 44, leave out ("in the Third Schedule the proviso to paragraph (a) of Article 8").—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Lee of Fareham.)


My Lords, I should like to say, on behalf of this side of the House, how greatly we appreciate the ability, the knowledge, the extreme courtesy, and the conciliatory attitude of the noble Lord in charge of this Bill.

NOBLE LORDS: Hear, Hear.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Bill returned to the Commons, and to be printed as amended. (No. 256.)