HL Deb 05 July 1922 vol 51 cc272-8

Read 3a (according to Order).

Clause 4:

Provisions relating to land leased for allotments.

4.—(1) Where land is acquired on lease by a local authority for use as allotments— (d) If the land acquired on lease shall at any time during the tenancy thereof by the local authority be shown to the satisfaction of the Board to be required by the landlord for the purpose of working the mines, minerals, or surface minerals thereunder, or for feuing for building, or for any road or work to be used in connection with such working or winning or feuing, it shall be lawful for the landlord of such land to resume possession thereof upon giving to the local authority twelve months' previous notice in writing of his intention so to do, and upon such resumption the landlord shall pay to the authority and to the holders of allotments on the land for the time being such compensation for the loss of the land for the purposes of allotments as may be agreed between the landlord and the authority, or in default of agreement determined under and in accordance with the provisions of the Second Schedule to the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act, 1908; Where land is let to a local authority for the purpose of being sublet for use as allotment gardens, the foregoing provision shall have effect subject to the provisions of this Act relating to the termination of tenancies of allotment gardens and to compensation on removing therefrom, and to determination of questions arising on resumption of land:

THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH moved, in subsection 1 (d), after "working," where that word firstly occurs, to insert "and winning." The noble Duke said: I should like to thank Lord Stanmore for the Amendments he put down on the Report stage in response to appeals which were made to him during the Second Reading and Committee stages, which Amendments will, in my opinion, make the Bill more simple to those who have to work it, and also more simple in the event of consolidation. I believe that my noble friend agrees to the first Amendment which I have now to move. Clause 4, to which it relates, was not in the original Bill, and was taken from the Local Government Act, 1894.

Amendment moved— Clause 4, page 5, line 40, after ("working") insert ("and winning").—(The Duke of Buccleuch.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH moved, in subsection 1 (d), to leave out "for the loss of the land for the purposes of allotments," and to insert "for loss sustained by them respectively and arising directly from such resumption." The noble Duke said: I am informed that the words in the Bill are very difficult to understand, and it is desirable that clearer language should be employed for the benefit of anyone who may have to make a decision under this clause. Though it is not likely to be very often used, it provides for the payment of certain compensation.

Amendment moved— Clause 4, page 6, lines 8 and 9, leave out ("for the loss of the land for the purposes of allotments") and insert ("for loss sustained by them respectively and arising directly from such resumption).—(The Duke of Buccleuch.)


I do not propose to resist this Amendment, but I should like to say that the words, which, as the noble Duke says, were taken from the Act of 1894, have never caused any difficulty, so far as I am aware, in the intervening twenty-eight years.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7:

Establishment of allotments committee.

7.—(1) The council of any burgh, with a population of ten thousand or upwards shall, unless exempted by the Board from the provisions of this section, establish an allotments committee, and i all matters relating to the exercise and performance by the council of their powers and duties under the Allotments Acts as respects the provision of allotment gardens (except the power of raising a rate or borrowing money) shall stand referred to such committee, and the council before exercising any such powers shall, unless in their opinion the matter is urgent, receive and consider the report of the committee with respect to the matter in question, and the council may delegate to the committee, with or without restrictions, any of their said powers except as aforesaid.

(2)An allotments committee established under this section shall comprise persons other than members of the council, representative of the interests of occupiers of allotment gardens in the burgh, and being themselves occupiers of such allotment gardens, provided that the number of such representative members shall be less than one-half but shall not be less than one-third of the total number of the members of the committee.

(3)The accounts of any receipts or payments by or to a committee under powers delegated under this section shall be accounts of the council and made up and audited accordingly.

LORD SALTOUN moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "shall, unless exempted by the Board from the provisions of this section," and to insert "may." The noble Lord said: There is no need for me to go into the arguments which were used the other day on the Report stage, because I understand that my noble friend, Lord Linlithgow, has agreed with the noble Duke (the Duke of Atholl), and I am in agreement with the conclusion to which they have come. The reason I put this Amendment down was that it seemed to mc that to force a compulsory committee on to a body of elected councillors constituted a very serious innovation. The county council or other local authority derives its powers for raising money, rating, and so forth, from the various Local Government Acts under which they operate, and they are elected bodies. An innovation of this kind ought not to be made in a Bill of this sort, but in a Bill for the amendment of those Local Government Acts. Imagine what the London County Council would think if they suddenly had a compulsory committee thrust upon them, and they were obliged to appeal to that committee in any trouble into which they got. They would feel very much aggrieved. The views I have expressed are only those of a layman, but I am very glad to see the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Haldane, sitting here, because he is a very skilled Scottish lawyer and can explain the whole thing.


I think that probably the noble Lord is moving the first part.


Yes, the first part.

Amendment moved— Clause 7, page 8, lines 41 and 42, leave out from ("upwards") in line 41 to ("establish") in line 42, and insert ("may").—(Lord Saltoun.)


The noble Lord is labouring under two separate delusions. In the first place, he imagines that the original discussion of the clause, which was put down by myself as an Amendment, was on the Report stage of the Bill. In point of fact it was in Committee, and the Amendment embodied in the clause was tabled in the ordinary way and circulated on June 21. The noble Lord has not adduced, and I think has not claimed to adduce, any arguments in opposition to this clause which were not heard by the House at the time when the clause was inserted in the Bill. As regards the merits of the clause, the noble Lord supposes that I am in agreement with the noble Duke in charge of the Bill, but there again he is mistaken, because the noble Duke was inclined to oppose this clause in Committee, and only agreed to insert it without a Division because he saw that the forces in support of the Amendment exceeded those opposed to it, and, like a wise soldier, he withdrew in good time.

I must point out the extreme inconvenience of seeking to eviscerate a clause on the Third Reading stage of a Bill, after that clause has been inserted by the House in Committee. It is, I think, contrary to the practice of your Lordships' House to make any adjustment across the floor of the House, even as regards words, at this stage of the Bill. The noble Lord and other noble Lords who come from Scotland should be the first to appreciate the advantages which accrue from the feeling held by those who have supported an Amendment in Committee that, unless new facts are brought before the House, the Amendment will remain part of the Bill, if it is carried. My noble friend and I are used to coming up from Scotland occasionally to attend the Committee stage of a Bill, and we leave the Report stage and the Third Reading stage to those who happen to find it more convenient to attend the House more regularly than some of us do. But if this practice, which the noble Lord has initiated to-day, becomes the established practice of the House, we shall find it necessary to sit, in anxious and inconvenient incubation, through all the stages of every Bill. On the grounds I have mentioned I hope the noble Duke in charge of the Bill will not accept the Amendment.


My Lords, the noble Lord who moved this Amendment will, perhaps, have a rather poor opinion of me and will think that I have changed my mind, or that the Government has changed its mind, with regard to this point, because I supported the other day the view's held by the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun. That was because it was a suggestion for bringing in what I might call an entirely new method of dealing with these matters in Scotland. The Government did not desire to rush this matter until they were perfectly certain of what were the considered views of noble Lords opposite and of the House. For that reason I opposed the suggestion. It must be remembered that noble Lords opposite, Lord Saltoun amongst them, have supported Lord Linlithgow's Amendment. Although I tried to make out that the arguments of noble Lords opposite were not, perhaps, so strong as their principles, I agreed at the time to their views and we undertook to accept, possibly with a rather bad grace, the clause of the noble Marquess, Lord Linlithgow. Since then we have found that it is a matter of great joy to associations of allotment holders that we have not been opposed seriously in any way in the House, and in the circumstances we think it is probably better to allow the clause to stand as it is.

I agree with the noble Marquess that if we were to eviscerate the clause in the way suggested, it would be better to do away with it altogether and to insert instead Section 19 of the Land Settlement Act, 1919, which is permissive, and provides that there may be a consultative committee. I think it would have been the better plan to put that section into this Bill, and to have made it compulsory. That, however, is neither here nor there. All I have to say now is that if I accepted this I should not do so because this is a matter of sentiment, as was suggested to me by the noble Marquis and, I think, by the noble Viscount, Lord Haldane, and claim that as it had been passed in England it would be very hard that Scotsmen should not have the benefit of it. That is an argument that leaves me absolutely cold, because it is not a business argument. All I want to do is to obtain for my country the best legislation possible, and I am only too glad if, being the best, it happens to tally with what noble Lords have passed for England. I am sorry that I cannot accept the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun.


I have considerable sympathy with my noble friend, Lord Saltoun, in this matter; but, as my noble friend, Lord Linlithgow, said, this is not quite the right time to move it. This clause was moved in Committee and it would have been possible, perhaps, to amend it on Report. I agree with the noble Marquess that if new questions are to be brought up on Third Reading, it will be extremely awkward for noble Lords who live a long way from London and are not able to be present in your Lordships' House except at great personal inconvenience. As the noble Duke is not going to accept the Amendment, I will make no further reference to the matter.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

LORD SALTOUN had on the Paper an Amendment, in subsection (2), to omit "shall be less than one-half but." The noble Lord said: I am sorry that I did not bring forward my arguments in support of the previous Amendment, but I was trying to save the time of the House. In the second part of Clause 7, 49 per cent, of the representation is given to this body of gentlemen who are not members of the council. The committee is really a very small body; it is not, I think, a very important body, and the proportion suggested is a very great deal too large. It ought to be reduced to not more than one-third and not less than one-fifth, and that is the object of the Amendment that I have placed on the Paper.


My Lords, the Amendment, as it stands on the Paper, does not quite give effect to what, I understand, are the intentions of the noble Lord. If the Amendment is inserted as printed, there will be no minimum number, but merely a maximum number. It is easy to see that these allotment holders are anxious for a statutory minimum representation, although they are willing to limit that representation by a statutory maximum.


I am prepared to accept the Amendment which has been moved by Lord Saltoun, subject to this. Had your Lordships accepted the previous Amendment and made the Bill permissive I should have held cut for the 49 per cent., because town councils would then have done it with their eyes open. Now, however, that town councils are compelled to set up these committees, the position is very different. I agree that 49 per cent, is a very high proportion of co-opted members, who have very full powers of spending and may, if they have the Chairman with them, be equal in voting power to the people elected by the constituents. Therefore, I think it is a wise suggestion that the number should be reduced and, as the noble Marquess agrees, I trust there will be no difficulty.


Subject to some minimum.


Yes. I would suggest that the noble Lord should move his Amendment in this form: "Shall not be more than one-third or less than one-sixth of the total number of members of the committee." I think that would probably please all parties.


I quite agree to the noble Duke's suggestion, and I beg to move my Amendment in that form.

Amendment moved— Page 9, line 17, leave out from ("members") to ("of") in line 18, and insert ("shall not be more than one-third or less than one-sixth").—(Lord Saltoun.)


Is not this procedure against the rules and practice of your Lordships' House? I understood that on Third Reading no Amendment could be moved unless it was on the printed Paper.


Notice was given of this Amendment. It is an alteration, and I think it is all right.


It is an Amendment to an Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Amendments (privilege) made: The King's consent signified: Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

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