HL Deb 16 March 1943 vol 126 cc641-57

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I rise to move the Second Reading of the Agricultural (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. I do not think it is necessary for me to describe the policy of His Majesty's Government regarding the food production campaign, and I will confine my remarks to the various clauses of the Bill. The main purpose of the Bill is to enable us to continue to carry out a policy which I feel has not been altogether unsatisfactory. From time to time we learn by experience that various amendments to Miscellaneous Provisions Bills are necessary, and it is for that reason that this Bill is before your Lordships and also, I am afraid, that to a certain extent the Bill can be termed legislation by reference.

If it will be for the convenience of your Lordships, I propose to deal first with the clauses on land drainage which are Clauses 2 to 8 inclusive and Clause 10. Before I deal with each individually I will give a few figures to show the activities which have been sanctioned during the war period up till the end of February, 1943. There have been sanctioned 10,830 mole drainage schemes, 19,725 tile drainage schemes, 66,011 farm ditch schemes and 5,338 drainage schemes for small areas, while 163 catchment board main river schemes have been sanctioned. The total number of schemes is over 102,000 and the amount of land which has been affected is not less than 4,500,000 acres. Some of the 163 catchment board schemes were too big to be carried out during this war, and these have therefore had to be postponed until easier times. I may add here that this Bill is in no way intended to amend the Land Drainage Act of 1930, and its provisions are introduced only in order that we may continue the work which we have undertaken.

Coming to Clause 2, the purpose of the clause is to provide a further extension of the period for which grants to drainage authorities remain available under Section 15 of the Agricultural Act, 1937. This period has already been prolonged by fresh legislation, but in order that we should not feel that we cannot plan for the future the time limit has been suspended. Clause 3 is intended to remove a small minor obstacle. Previously, under the Act of 1930, drainage schemes could only be carried out with a grant provided they were on agricultural land. Owing to the war emergency, certain places such as a golf course may have been mole drained, and a golf course did not come under agricultural land for that purpose. To bring that class of land into line this clause has been introduced. Clause 4 contains a series of minor amendments to Section 14 of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1940. The changes proposed provide for a variation of approved schemes whereby the Ministry may regain payment of expenses incurred by drainage authorities in preparing schemes which subsequently prove abortive, and deduction from the landowners' share of the cost of a scheme of contributions made from other sources. I should like to add that there is a provision which enables a landlord, in the case where drainage operations have caused extra expenses through neglect on the part of the tenant, to obtain repayment of sums paid by him.

Clause 5 refers to reclamation schemes carried out by and on behalf of the Minister under the Defence Regulations. Under the 1941 Act the Minister has power to recover the proportionate expenditure on such schemes either from the drainage board, if the work in question has been carried out within the board's area, or, alternatively, from the landowners whose land has increased in value for agricultural purposes. No special provision is made to deal with exceptional cases where work may be done in connexion with the catchment board's main river. It is clearly inequitable that anyone should be charged with the cost of work other than the catchment board. Clause 6 is likewise needed in connexion with reclamation schemes. This clause is only operative during the war.

Clause 7 is designed to remove the anomaly by which statutory drainage authorities, unlike other local authorities, are authorized to pay the expenses incurred by their members when they undertake work by travelling round the country. Under the present scheme they may only allow expenses if members attend meetings of the full board. Under war conditions it is very often necessary for many inspections to be made by subcommittees and this will allow them to have their expenses repaid. Clause 8 provides for assessment of drainage rates to be adjusted so as to take into account any increase effected in the value of rateable land by improvement works carried out wholly or partly at the public expense. This is a purely temporary measure, and the clause accordingly provides that any assessment made by a drainage board in pursuance of this new power shall lapse when there is a fresh quinquennial valuation which, owing to war conditions, was not carried out in 1940. The object of Clause 10 is to give effect to representations made by the National Farmers' Union and the Catchment Boards' Association. Amendments to this clause will be proposed at a later stage and therefore I will leave the matter until that stage is reached.

Now I will deal with some of the other clauses starting with Clause 1. This is a retrospective clause which increases from one-half to three-quarters the amount provided by the Exchequer towards the cost of acquiring and transporting lime for use on agricultural land. Clause 9 is, I think, reasonable. Where water has been supplied either by direction from the county war agricultural executive committee or under a scheme approved by them, it is right that the landlord should recover from the tenant interest in the shape of rent on his capital outlay. Clause 11 deals specifically with grazing. At this moment the only area which we can see will be involved is on the Fells in Cumberland. There is a large area where grazing has more or less become a right through many years, and it is felt that where, either by ploughing and reseeding or drainage, this grazing may be very largely improved, it is only right that the people who graze the land and therefore benefit from such improvement should pay a reasonable proportion of the outlay. Clause 12 refers to the extension of time from six months to twelve months in order that no further moneys should be lost to the State owing to the previous time limit having been too short.

I come now to Clause 13. Section 23 (2) of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous War Provisions) Act, 1940, enables the Minister, where he has taken possession of land under the Defence Regulations, in cases where the land was at the time possession was taken not being cultivated, or not being cultivated in accordance with the rules of good husbandry, to acquire that land. It may be that where certain land was taken over under Regulation 50 of the Defence Regulations, he is entitled to possession of that land for three years after the war but at this moment, as soon as the war ends, the Minister is not allowed to carry on any work on that land. This clause merely makes it possible for the Minister, whilst still in possession, to carry out any such work should be think it necessary.

Clause 14 extends Section 26 of the Act of 1940. This facilitated the ploughing up of grazing land previously let on 364 day tenancies and land not being used for agricultural purposes or land acquired for building which, pending development, is vacant or let for grazing, by excluding the land from the provisions of the Agricultural Holdings Act, and thus securing that it could be ploughed up in the interests of the food production campaign. If Section 26 had not been enacted it would, in fact, have been necessary for owners of such land to let it on ordinary agricultural tenancies which would have necessitated a twelve months' notice to quit being given on either side and would have rendered the landowner, if lie wished to obtain possession of the land after the war, liable to give a twelve months' notice to quit and to pay the compensation laid down under the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1923. The period of exclusion from the Agricultural Holdings Act provisions, laid down by Section 26, was a period beginning after March 21, 1940, and extending for a period not exceeding four years. The present clause merely extends the period for a further period of four years.

Next I turn to Clause 15 about which there has been a certain amount of discussion in another place. It was very fully discussed and I think was received with satisfaction. Under subsection (1) from the outset of the war the Minister has taken the line that since the power and direction given to plough up permanent grassland is derived from Section 1 of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, the tenant who ploughs up grassland under direction from the war agricultural executive committee is absolved from any liability which is directly attributable to compliance with such directions. The Minister has stated that any permanent grassland which has been ploughed up during this war is now to be deemed as arable. This condition was explained in the leading professional institutions as long ago as December, 1940. Various questions have however been raised as to the position of landlord and tenant on changes of tenancy and conflicting opinions have been expressed. It was at first thought that the position of the tenant was safeguarded, and that the landlord was left in a precarious position. But I think it is safe to say that this is in no way the case. The question of limiting the section to the period of the war has received very careful attention, but it is considered that this would leave the position too uncertain, particularly in the case of a tenant who has taken a farm during the emergency.

The proviso was inserted in another place after representations by various interests. In the laws of this country, there are certain customs whereby a tenant during the last year of his tenancy under his agreement has to leave a certain proportion of that land as grassland, and he is entitled to a certain proportion of crops from that land. Since owing to the war that tenant has been compelled to plough up extra grassland, that grassland will now be deemed arable land, and therefore the tenant would not be in a position to claim an away-going crop, not only on the proportion of the arable land when he went into that farm, but also on a proportion of that land which had been ploughed up since. So far as England and Wales are concerned this was not the intention, and there do not appear to be sufficient grounds for enabling the out-going tenant to claim an away-going crop in excess of the fixed proportion of the arable land as settled at the commencement of his tenancy, especially as the result might be to throw an unjustifiable burden on the landlord or incoming tenant.

I think that, having regard to what occurred in another place, it would be convenient if I read to your Lordships at this juncture the statement which was read by my right honourable friend regarding the position of landowners in the matter of ploughing up grasslands. He stated that by an agreement made and published in December, 1939, the Minister of Agriculture at that time was authorized by His Majesty's Government to announce that where grassland was ploughed up a landowner would be entitled to claim compensation at the end of the war if the annual value of the land, or the farm of which it formed part, had been diminished as a result of being ploughed up. The compensation will be based on the cost of restoring the land, that is, reseeding, or alternatively a sum calculated by reference to the amount by which the annual value of the land is diminished. Nothing in this clause affects that agreement to the prejudice of the landowner, and the fact that we have inserted this clause for the purpose of clarifying the position as regards tenants quitting during the war or subsequently does not impinge on or alter in any way the agreement. It is true that the option as regards restoring the land rests with the Minister, but without giving a pledge as to application in any particular case, it is anticipated that the large majority of cases will be dealt with by reseeding as an essential part of our post-war policy of maintaining the fertility of our agricultural land. Subsection (2) of Clause 15 refers to the last year of a tenancy. The county war agricultural committees have had a certain amount of difficulty in planning crops on these farms during the last year of the tenancy owing to certain agreements and customs. For instance, the agreement may provide for a certain acreage of arable land to be left as bare fallow during the last year of tenancy. Under war conditions the committees feel that they may have to issue orders for a crop to be sown during the autumn after a notice to quit on the following Lady Day. If a tenant under notice to quit at the ensuing Lady Day complied with the direction to carry out this work, he would on quitting have to leave the growing crop without compensation. Obviously this is unfair and the position constitutes a hindrance to the maximum production of food in war-time. The incoming tenant would in practice pay heavy compensation arising from the provisions of the subsection, and the position of the landlord should not be adversely affected. While this clause gives the tenant the right to claim in respect to the matters referred to, it in no way adversely affects the right of the landlord to claim for what is usually known as dilapidations.

Clause 16 refers to an area of land which the Minister, through his agents, such as a county war agricultural committee, may have taken over from the point of view of further production of food, where, owing to needing only the actual arable land, he has left such matters as the farmhouse and spinneys, or small woods in the occupation of the tenant. By agreement the Minister may now purchase the land which is included in the farm but is not agricultural land. Clause 17 deals with the control of artificial insemination. My noble friend Lord Bledisloe very kindly sent me a pamphlet this morning on this very important and interesting subject. But I am afraid that I have not yet had time to read it. The purpose of this clause is purely to have powers of control as and when it may become necessary to use them. There are at this moment at Cambridge and Reading two experimental stations. While it may be said that this development may have a great future, if left uncontrolled it may also lead to great evils. It has been thought right and proper, therefore, to have a clause of this kind in the Bill. Clause 18 refers to the office of inspector of corn returns, and transfers the business of receiving returns to the Ministry of Agriculture. Clauses 19, 20 and 21 refer to Scotland. Then there are the Schedules. If in what I fear is a very insufficient explanation of the various clauses I have failed to make any point clear, I will do my best to answer any questions, with the leave of your Lordships, later in this debate. If, on the other hand, your Lordships see your way to give this Bill a Second Reading, I hope that you will do so. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Duke of Norfolk.)


My Lords, I do not expect that many of your Lordships will have read this Bill from beginning to end, but, if you have done so, I am sure you will agree with me that it is a signal example of legislation by reference. I hope that those who have sought to understand it have had a sufficient library of other legislation available to enable them to do so. It so happens that in some matters in which I was specially interested I have had some of the relevant Acts available, apart from a body of personal experience, and I should like to say that I think that this is an exceedingly useful Bill. In many respects it provides powers which it is advantageous that the Minister should have at the present time. In particular, I would refer to the clauses giving more power to the various authorities in connexion with the execution of drainage schemes, and particularly Clauses 4 and 6. I know that some noble Lords are more cognizant of these matters than I am, but I should like to ask the noble Duke whether he will give us a little more information with regard to Clause 10. I do so, quite frankly, because I myself am interested in a particular case where the drainage of a very large area of land which is still waterlogged has been held up by the inability of the authorities concerned to secure the removal of a dam which is holding up the level of water for some 500 acres of good land and effectually preventing its adequate drainage.

I see that in Clause 10 (1)—which, quite frankly, I have had to read several times in an endeavour to understand it—it is provided that compensation will not be payable "by reason of the alteration or removal of any dam by the board in the exercise of any powers …" and so on. I should like to ask the noble Duke whether that means that in a case where a dam is holding up the efficient drainage of an area of land, and the removal of it is included in a scheme, it will be possible to remove the dam and to secure the efficient drainage of the land without being prejudiced by liability to pay an unknown amount of compensation for the removal of the dam. In the particular case which I have in mind the dam is of no use to anyone, so far as I can learn. It is a great nuisance to the land, but the person particularly interested in it strongly objects to its removal. I shall be glad if the noble Duke will throw a little further light on what this interesting subsection means. If it means what I think it means, I shall be very glad.

I support very heartily the provision for the release of tenants from liabilities arising out of the ploughing up of grassland contained in Clause 15. I think that a good many of these old provisions are quite out of date and not in consonance with the advance of science. It has been proved abundantly all over the country during the war that old grassland has been immensely improved by being ploughed up. It can be reseeded with seed mixtures which will make it hereafter a very much better pasture than it was before, and it certainly is not right that where this ploughing up has been done by order of a county war agricultural committed, the tenant should be prejudiced with regard to his agreement in the case of land of that kind, which in the vast majority of cases has been improved by the ploughing up. I understand that the relief which common sense requires will be provided under this clause, but here again, when I read the page and a half which this clause takes up, I am not so sure of what is actually provided as I was when I read only subsection (1). I think that the interpretation which I have given is right, but perhaps the noble Duke will confirm it in his reply.

I am sure that we all welcome the powers which the Minister is taking over artificial insemination. Artificial insemination will be extremly useful it properly controlled and directed, but it may be exceedingly harmful unless it is so controlled. I am glad that this step is being taken at the very beginning of its development; it will be altogether to the advantage of the herds of this country that it should be subject to the kind of control which is contemplated. I have no other comments to make on the Bill except to express the sincere hope that other noble Lords have understood it better than I have.


My Lords, I should like to express hearty agreement with the last sentence of my noble friend Lord Addison's speech. I agree with him about the extreme difficulty of interpreting rapidly and accurately a Bill which contains so large a number of clauses which refer to previous legislation, and I entirely endorse what the noble Lord has said on that subject. I think, in passing, I may say that the Legal Department of the Ministry of Agriculture possesses some outstanding artists in the matter of very skilfully framing Bills containing so much legislation by reference. I welcome this Bill as a very valuable war-time measure, largely intended—and I hope in this respect it will be successful—to smooth out certain irregularities which have been found to present themselves in applying the existing law to war conditions in the national interest. There are four main parts of this Bill, the first dealing with the larger grant that will now become available in respect of lime, and the second consisting of the land drainage clauses to which I should like presently to make more specific reference; while the other parts deal with artificial insemination, and compensation to farm tenants consequent on the ploughing up orders in order to increase the food supply during the war period.

I would only say in regard to the provision relating to lime that there will be a strong temptation, when only one-fourth of the value of lime will have to be found by the farmer, to use lime as a fertilizer, which it is not; and if excessive use of lime becomes prevalent, at any rate among the less well-informed farmers there will be a danger of exhausting, rather than increasing, the fertility of land, particularly where the land becomes progressively deficient in humus and becomes more and more composed of merely mineral elements—which is a real danger as the war progresses—and a larger number of white straw crops are taken off the land in succession one to the other. Of course in areas like Wales and the South-West of England, where the rainfall is heavy, and consequently the land is relatively sour, and where the soils on balance are relatively heavy and lime has, of course, a very valuable mechanical effect in disintegrating heavy soils, possibly the use of lime to a great extent may be pursued with comparative impunity. But I do rather fear that there will be a temptation to use lime when really what is wanted is a phosphatic or potassic fertilizer, both of which, as we know, under war conditions are more and more difficult to obtain.

As regards the land drainage clauses, I am bound to say that until with some expert assistance I studied these clauses in detail, I was a little bit puzzled as to what the real intention of some of them was. However, I have very carefully looked into them and, speaking as Chairman of the Royal Commission on the Land Drainage of England and Wales, I myself am satisfied that all these clauses are needed. Some of them at any rate are needed very largely because the Report of the Royal Commission, for which I was myself largely responsible, was not in effect carried out in the manner that that Commission adumbrated and thought probable, and for this very important reason. That Royal Commission sat in the year 1927, and before the Bill which was intended to implement its Report came before Parliament, fortunately or unfortunately—and I am not going to commit myself as to which it is—agricultural land was derated, with the curious result that a very large proportion of the fund which was considered to be obtainable for the purpose of land drainage became unavailable, or, if the scheme which was outlined by the Royal Commission had been carried out, the burden would have fallen very largely upon house and other rateable property, to the exclusion relatively of agricultural land.

But there is another unfortunate feature about our drainage law, and that is that whereas we contemplated in 1927 that the catchment boards were the most important desiderata in order to centralize the control of land drainage in authoritative hands, unfortunately as it turned out, and largely for the reason which I have already given, there is no one authority with any large comprehensive, dominant power in this country in relation to the drainage of agricultural land. We have the catchment boards, it is true, some of them doing very good work, others far less active, but we also have the continuance of the internal drainage authorities which, operated under the county councils, can only levy a rate of 2d. in the pound at the most; with the result that a very large area which ought to be drained, and which under war conditions it is vitally important should be drained, is not being drained to-day, owing to the lack of a proper contact between catchment boards on the one hand and the internal drainage boards on the other, and the lack of sufficient public money to oil the wheels of a nationally essential process.

All I can hope is that the time may come, and as soon as possible, when the whole of the drainage law, as set out in the Land Drainage Act, 1930, will be thoroughly overhauled, and a new measure of a more comprehensive character and a more workable character will be passed by Parliament. In the meantime these stopgaps are essential if we are to render our drainage system at all adequate to the demands that war-time presents. I think I am right in saying that in 1927 we calculated that about one-fifth of potentially the most fertile land in this country was more or less water-logged. I doubt whether one can put the proportion very much lower, even to-day. It is perfectly true that in areas like the Trent and the Ouse, where there are very efficient catchment boards, considerable improvements have been made, but in other areas those improvements have yet to come. And when you bear in mind that owing to the lack of drainage you are losing at least 50 per cent. of the full output that is obtainable from that land, it very severely limits the food output in time of war that our land drainage system is not more effective.

As regards artificial insemination the noble Duke was good enough to refer to a little pamphlet which I sent him yesterday, but it was only as a reminder that as long ago as 1927 this policy of artificial insemination of live stock was being seriously considered, and being considered at that time in relation to the desirability of importing pedigree Landrace swine from Denmark into this country in order to improve the average standard of our bacon pigs. A paper that I read before the Farmers' Club, a copy of which I sent to the noble Duke, had, by the way, some rather impressive illustrations in it showing what were the parts of a pig that badly wanted improving amongst our breeds in this country. In that paper I stressed the desirability of instituting with all due safeguards artificial insemination as applied to the swine industry, but unfortunately—and this is always the danger in this connexion—some of the breed societies were not merely sceptical, but inclined to be hostile, and the whole matter dropped.

The crying need for artificial insemination to-day is undoubtedly in regard to the animal repopulation of the occupied countries of Europe. Over enormous areas in Central Europe to-day, there are relatively few live stock, the live stock having been taken ruthlessly by the Germans out of those countries or destroyed in loco for the feeding of their own civilian population or the feeding of their troops. After the war, if we are going rapidly to bring anything like adequate relief particularly in the matter of food to those devastated countries, it will be of the first importance to repopulate with farm animals, particularly dairy cattle and pigs, those areas, as soon as possible with the help of artificial insemination. The process should be relatively easy. Without it it is difficult to see how anything can be done with the desirable amount of speed.

But there is another factor. The chief veterinary experts in this country have recently pointed out—and I believe they are quite unanimous—that a very large amount of the bovine diseases from which our cattle suffer here in England and Wales, and to some extent in Scotland, is due to the use of bulls which are more or less affected with some contagious disease that is calculated to affect the milk supply. And they go so far as to say that the average yield in this country of 500 gallons for each cow is much too low, and that it could in the course of some five to ten years be increased to 750 gallons per cow by the simple process alone of artificial insemination of dairy cattle. If that is so, the case for artificial insemination is very strong. I would like to ask the noble Duke whether it would not be possible to entrust the chief bovine breed societies with the task of carrying out this artificial insemination and controlling it under the general supervision of the Ministry without all the delay of red tape and possibly with the inefficiency which is sometimes associated with the intervention of the bureaucracy. I feel very stongly that we have, at any rate so far as our cattle are concerned, highly responsible breed societies in this country, and I believe that every one of the cattle breed societies are perfectly competent to undertake this responsible job and so to regulate the use of the semen as to render the intervention of the Government Department comparatively unimportant. At any rate if we are to get this insemination carried out rapidly and effectively, I would venture to say, let us trust the breed societies.

There finally comes this question whether or not Clause 15 does justice to the agricultural landowner in respect of old pasture land, particularly in the West of England and the South-West of England, where magnificent dairy pastures have existed in days gone by—whether that clause does really do justice in its present form to landowners in cases where there is a definite contract between the farm tenant and the landowner that if the pasture land is ploughed up, if it remains arable land in the hands of the tenant during the war, or during any other period, he should eventually have either to seed it down or compensation should be paid for the loss of its fertility as pasture land. I would only say in passing that these farm tenants have to a large extent fed their crops upon the inherent fertility of their landlord's pasture. There is no question about that. I am inclined to dispute what was said by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Addison) that pasture land is improved by being ploughed up. All I can answer to that is that if the war were to last some seven or eight years and several white straw crops were to be taken in succession off that land, it is perfectly certain that unless the land were generously treated either by farmyard manure, which is not now easily obtainable, or with artificial fertilizers, which are becoming more and more scarce every year, there is no doubt whatever that the land would degenerate and would certainly not be improved so far as fertility is concerned by the war-time policy of ploughing up pastures.


What I said was that seeds of grass and clover were being sown down with the ploughing and that this improved the pasture enormously.


All I would ask the noble Lord in response to that is, can be demonstrate that over the greater part of England and Wales to-day, what we call "seeds"—seeds that is of grass and clover—are being sown down in all cereal crops? Certainly that is what farmers are needed to do, but in fact, as we all know, in a large part of England is not being done. I venture to hope that those who sympathize with this clause as it stands in the Bill, if they want to see justice done, if they want to operate ordinary fairness to at any rate the better class of landowners, will encourage farm tenants in every case to sow down grass seeds and clover seeds in their cereal crops. If that is not done there is no doubt that a certain amount of deterioration will take place. What I want to put to your Lordships is this. We have a great reputation in this country, which is recognized in other countries, for remaining true to an agreement to which we put our hands. I dare say your Lordships know that in South America to-day every important contract is executed—I think the exact words are—" on the word and honour of an Englishman." All I want to say is that I think we have to be extremely careful, if we are going to maintain the sanctity of contract in this country, not to allow any Government to tear up contracts by Act of Parliament. At any rate that is my strong view.

Whether or not under war conditions it is fully justifiable I will not attempt to discuss, but I venture to say, as regards the reassurance given by the noble Duke, that it is not in the Bill. It is a reassurance which I think has at least mollified if not satisfied the Central Landowners' Association, and certainly landowners will not forget that assurance given, I think, in 1939 by the then Minister of Agriculture and reiterated now in both Houses of Parliament in relation to Clause 15 of this Bill. But it is nothing more than an assurance given by a Minister It is not in the Bill. I venture to think it ought to be in the Bill. However that may be, I realize that we are passing through extremely critical conditions, I realize that we want to give farmers all the hope and confidence we can give them. They are doing a very difficult task under difficult conditions particularly as regards the supply of labour, and I would not suggest that anything should be done which would make them think that they are not going to be treated fairly both by the State and by the landowners.


My Lords, in the unavoidable absence of my noble friend the Marquess of Crewe, I desire to say that we in this quarter of the House unhesitatingly support the Second Reading of this Bill. We realize there are many anomalies—we who live in the country realize that to the full—and they should be redressed, especially those in regard to land drainage and the ploughing up of grassland. I say nothing about the gloomy subject of artificial insemination except that it would seem more suitable for debate in the Committee stage or perhaps in a more private place. Generally speaking, however, I think it would be a good plan to give this Bill a Second Reading and on behalf of my noble friends I express the hope that your Lordships will accept it.


My Lords, the Government have introduced this Bill as a food production Bill and your Lordships will not wish to oppose it. I am not going to add to the length of this debate but will confine myself to asking the noble Duke to make a little clearer the position as to Clause 4. The subsection of that clause to which I refer says in effect that if you have an old and bad tenant who for forty years and more has not cleaned out ditches, as his covenant required him to do, you may clean them. You can wipe off that debt which he continues to owe and substitute for it that he should pay interest on the cost of cleaning out the ditches. It is better than nothing, but it is nothing like so good as the old arrangement under which the tenant had to clean the ditches or be responsible if he did not clean them. It gives the poor landowner a little cash in pocket, but a very little cash, and it leaves the tenant grinning from ear to ear. It was contended in another place, I understand, that the clause as it now stands does away with the old contract between landlord and tenant and substitutes, not as an alternative but as a binding agreement, the replacement of the old section by a clause providing that the landowner should get interest on his outlay. What I want to know is whether that is an alternative or whether it is the only remedy which the landowner now has at his disposal.


My Lords, I think it will only take a few minutes for me to answer questions raised by those noble Lords who have spoken on this Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Addison, asked me a question about Clause 10. As I announced, Amendments will be put down at the Committee stage and so I rather skated over that clause. The situation is that this clause does not entail the removal of the dam. It only covers repair and maintenance of the dams or sluices.


I called attention to it because of the words in the Bill "by reason of the alteration or removal of any dam by the board." I do not ask the noble Duke to go any further into the matter to-day, but I hope that he will look into the matter before the Committee stage.


As regards Clause 15 I come geographically between two noble Lords and I hesitate to disagree with them. If it was a question of subsection (3), whereby the tenant shall receive compensation at the end of his tenancy for any loss he may have suffered by ploughing up during the war, it really comes to the original year in which that tenancy or agreement started. If during this war certain land has been improved during the war by that tenant, he shall receive from the landlord compensation and that landlord will recover his due by the increased rent paid by the incoming tenant on the land so improved. The noble Viscount mentioned insemination, but I do not see how the control can be handed over to the breed societies because they do not come under statutory status which this control will have if it is left in the hands of the Government.


May I interrupt to say that I did not advocate that the breed societies should exercise control? What I suggested was that they should act as agents of the Government in carrying out what is wanted.


I can assure the noble Viscount that they will be consulted before any arrangements are entered into. In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Phillimore, who raised a point on Clause 4, I would point out that the last words on page 5, lines 33 to 42, substitute the terms of the clause for the terms of the existing Act. I have had little time to look into the question, and I hope that if the noble Lord is not happy about it he will raise the point at a later stage.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

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