HL Deb 12 March 1940 vol 115 cc810-3

Order of the Day for receiving the Report of Amendments read.

4.4 p.m.


My Lords, in moving that this Report be now received, perhaps your Lordships will allow me to say a few words about the death of the noble Earl, Lord Crawford and Balcarres. By a sad coincidence he is the second ex-Minister of Agriculture who has passed away since this Bill reached your Lordships' House. Lord Crawford is a loss to this House and the nation not only because he had been Minister of Agriculture. This is not the occasion to speak of his knowledge of and interest in all things beautiful—not least the preservation of rural England—but I should like to remind your Lordships that he was for several years Deputy Leader of this House, and in fact, owing to the heavy work and responsibility which fell upon Lord Curzon as Foreign Secretary, he usually did lead this House during that period. He was, indeed, a staunch upholder of the responsibilities and customs of this House, and his independence of view and the forthright manner in which he gave expression to it caused his speeches to be listened to with attention and they exercised no small influence on the action taken by your Lordships.

My noble friend Lord Denham is unfortunately unable to be present here today, because he has temporarily lost his voice. He has therefore asked me to take charge of this Bill in his absence. Two points were raised by Lord Phillimore when the Bill was in Committee of your Lordships' House, and perhaps I may be allowed to deal with those on behalf of Lord Denham. The first point concerned a new subsection at the end of subsection (5) of Clause 14, and it was said that there would be difficulty in allocating at the termination of the tenancy, in the cost of the works, the expenses of improvements and the expenses of repairs. My noble friend desires me to assure your Lordships that this difficulty will not arise, because the catchment boards under the clause will only be entitled to execute works which are improvements and not works which are mere reparation of ditches. The second point was that some duty should be laid on the catchment board to make a division of the expense. For the reasons that have been previously stated there is no necessity to make such a division, because in point of fact they can only spend money on the costs of improvement and not on the costs of maintenance. Another point which my noble friend raised was whether landlords could repay sums out of settled moneys. I am assured by my noble friend that this is so: they will be able to use settled moneys for that purpose.

The noble Lord, Lord Addison, raised the question whether the Amendments inserted in Clause 17 were unnecessarily wide. That was in regard to the diversion of water affecting the flow going over dams and sluices. My noble friend is satisfied that the words do not go too far. He thinks that they are right and proper in the circumstances, and that public authorities and other similar undertakings which are dependent on the river should be fully protected. These words do not go too far for that purpose. With that explanation, I beg to move that this Report be now received.

Moved, That the Report of Amendments be now received.—(Earl Stanhope.)

4.7 p.m.


My Lords, my noble friends and myself would like to be associated with the tribute which the noble Earl has paid to the memory of the late Lord Crawford, who brought to the service of the House specialised gifts and powers and to whom all of us listened with interest and very often to our own great advantage. It is always sad to realise that we shall not henceforth have with us the person or the co-operation of a familiar and respected figure. It was not my privilege to know Lord Crawford intimately, and I am sure that he heard with complete disapproval the views which I very often placed before your Lordships. But we shall miss him and his contribution to our work, and I am sure that the whole House will wish to be associated with the tribute which the noble Earl has paid.

4.8 p.m.


My Lords, on behalf of the noble Lords who sit in this quarter of the House, perhaps I, too, might associate myself with what has been so well said by the noble Lord, Lord Snell, and the noble Earl the Leader of the House in regard to the late Lord Crawford. I remember him for many years, as Lord Stanhope said, as Deputy Leader of this House, and I remember that it fell to his lot in that capacity to read out the terms of the Armistice on a November day in 1918. That would have been a great occasion in the life of any man. He always spoke with independence of judgment, and he was much respected by us on this side of the House. I am sure that he will be much missed by all of us.

4.9 p.m.


My Lords, I cannot refrain from giving expression to my own feelings on the death of Lord Crawford, for he was one of my very oldest, most intimate and most valued friends. I knew him since his boyhood, and I have been associated with him in many spheres of public work, notably as a trustee of the British Museum. It is very difficult to exaggerate the loss which the British Museum, as well as many other similar institutions in the country, have suffered by his passing from us. When I think of him, the word that rises most naturally to my lips is the word "chivalry." He was an extraordinarily chivalrous defender of all the causes which he had most at heart, and I think it might be said of him that, "whatsoever things were true, whatsoever things were lovely, whatsoever things were gracious," he devoted himself to those things with chivalrous devotion during the whole of his life.


My Lords, I think perhaps I ought to say that I am grateful, on behalf of these Benches, for the explanations given by the noble Earl the Leader of the House on the two points in the Bill which were referred to by him.

On Question, Motion agreed to: Amendments reported accordingly.