HL Deb 04 July 1934 vol 93 cc348-50

LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNT ROYAL moved, That Standing Order No. XXXVIII be considered in order to its being dispensed with, and that the Bill be read 2a, The noble Lord said: My Lords, I must first of all express to your Lordships my regret at the form in which the Motion for the Second Reading of this Bill has been put down. Owing to an oversight for which I must bear my share of responsibility, this Bill, which came up from another place on May 30, remained on the Order Paper for a number of days in excess of that laid down in the Standing Order. Therefore, in order that we may get this Bill placed on the Statute Book as soon as possible-it is necessary to ask your Lordships' leave to dispense with the Standing Order for that purpose.

As to the Bill itself, it is, I think, admitted that a better distribution of population as between town and country is desirable. Something in this direction can be done by means of this Bill, which places at the disposal of the Department of Agriculture for Scotland an increased sum for the provision of small holdings in Scotland. In the circumstances of the day it seems to the Government that there is an opportunity opened to form in the industrial belt of Scotland near large consuming centres holdings ranging from about five to nine acres, to be devoted to the intensive production of poultry, eggs, pigs, market garden and glasshouse product1, and fruit of various kinds. Such holdings, with good markets in proximity, offer a reasonable livelihood to the tenants, who will be selected from applicants qualified by the possession of sufficient capital and experience to cultivate the land successfully and to undertake the obligations of tenancy. It is intended to let these holdings on lease governed by the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Acts. This is competent under the existing powers of the Department. Ordinary agricultural tenure is being adopted because it is considered to be better designed than landholders' tenure to encourage the proper development of this special type of holding. In this respect the proposal is in conformity with the recommendation of the Nairne Committee on land settlement in Scotland in 1927.

The programme in view is to make provision for about one thousand holdings over a period of three years, and the Bill makes available to the Department of Agriculture for Scotland for this purpose a sum of £250,000 in the current year and in each of the two succeeding years, as compared with £100,000 actually provided last year, and with the maximum sum of £175,000 per annum available for land settlement under existing legislation. As the provision proposed to be made under this Bill will be fixed over a period of years, the Department will be enabled to develop the programme in orderly fashion, and thus secure a measure of economy not otherwise possible. I would like to add that, while the increased provision is required mainly for the special class of holding in the industrial districts of Scotland, land settlement in the Highlands will not be overlooked. The provision of additional money will in no way prejudice the position of such areas, and the Government will continue to take suitable opportunities of developing land settlement there, as, for instance, by forming enlargements of existing holdings in relief of conditions in crofting townships. I may add that this Bill was passed through another place without any amendment. It is a certified Money Bill, and, with the explanations I have given, I hope your Lordships will grant it a Second Reading.

Moved, That Standing Order No. XXXVIII be considered in order to its being dispensed with, and that the Bill be read 2a.—(Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to: Bill read 2a accordingly.

Committee negatived.

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