§ 3.53 p.m.
§ Report stage resumed.
§ Lord MIDDLETON
My Lords, to come back to Amendment No. 1, the whole object of Clauses 12 and 13 in this Bill was to prevent harassment. By " harassment ", as we all know, we mean the possibility that an oppressive landlord could give a tenant such a long list of work to be done in the way of repairs and rehabilitation to the farm that it would be impossible for the farmer to do it. He could then be given notice to quit because he had not done it. We are on common ground in saying now that with previous legislation since 1948 and with Clause 12, with which we are fully in agreement, at the notice to remedy stage, the arbiter—and this is where he comes in, where his job is most important—has 447 such wide discretion that no notice to remedy can be unfair in any way.
It is only when a lawful notice to remedy has been ignored blatantly and badly that the notice to quit may be given. It is at this stage that we are talking about what the procedure ought to be after that. All that we are doing is saying that when that stage arrives it will be administratively better to cut out what we think to be the unnecessary step where the arbitrator is called in again, and simply go to the Land Tribunal who have vastly more discretion than the arbiter. So far, we are on common ground.
I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, entirely understands even now the purpose of this Amendment. I disagree almost entirely with everything he said. I certainly disagree that the Agricultural Land Tribunal cannot do the job of the arbiter. I am certain they can do it; and they do it in other cases. I disagree entirely when he objects that the arbiter's job is to decide facts and the Tribunal's job is to decide matters of opinion. I do not think that there is this division of functions between arbiters and Tribunals. I do not think this argument is a sound one. Both decide both. The arbiter's function under Clause 12 of the Bill is very much a question of opinion; and he had to use his discretion under Section 19(2) of the 1963 Act when he was empowered to extend the time for doing any work. Here he had to look at matters and exercise his opinion; it was not just a question of facts. He had to use his judgment as to whether the time given by the landlord was fair and reasonable.
Let us now turn to the Tribunal. Much of the Tribunal's jurisdiction is in deciding questions of both fact and opinion; for instance, whether to issue a certificate of bad husbandry under Section 24(2) (c) of the 1948 Act. Indeed, under Clause 13 of this Bill the tenant exercises the option, as the noble Lord said, to go straight to the Tribunal on notice to quit. If he exercises that option, they would have to decide both on the facts and on whether the notice was fair and reasonable. It would be a matter of opinion. I do not think that these arguments hold water.
On the other hand, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, and my noble 448 friend Lord Ferrers, that now we have the notice to remedy stage so tidied up, the cases where an appeal will be undertaken at the notice to quit stage I think will be few. We are dealing with an absolute minimum number of cases when this procedure might have to be undertaken. Also, I take Lord Melchett's point that there may possibly be something not quite ideal in this Amendment. For that reason, and for the reason that I think the cases that will arise now will be so few, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 14 [Agricultural Holdings in Scotland: power to enable demand to remedy a breach to be notified on arbitration. ]:
§ 3.59 p.m.
Lord BURTON moved Amendment No. 4:
Leave out Clause 14.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, with the approval of the House I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 4 to 10 inclusive. The position at the moment under the 1949 Act—and that is equivalent to the English Act that we have just discussed—is that when a tenant is in breach of his lease or his statutory obligations under a tenancy, the landlord can serve notice on him to remedy the breach or breaches. I should like your Lordships to note that at this stage the tenant is already in default of his contract; but notwithstanding this he has the right to go to arbitration if he fails to put right the matters in which he has defaulted. Already the arbiter can say that inadequate time was given to carry out the work; already the arbiter can say that what the landlord asked the tenant to do was not reasonable; so that Clause 14 (1) and (4) of this Bill are entirely superfluous and are doing nothing but complicating the issue.
§ However, notwithstanding that the clause is superfluous, it has allegedly been inserted to prevent harassment of the tenant. Here, again, it is unnecessary. I have been unable to find any cases of harassment in Scotland. There has been mention of a case in Caithness and I have tried to trace this. I think the case referred to was probably that of Stewart v. Brimms in 1969. If this is so, the position 449 was that Mr. Stewart, a well-known Edinburgh lawyer, who I am told is of the same political persuasion as the Government, was appointed sheriff of Caithness. He bought a farm tenanted by Mr. Brimms and then proceeded to serve a notice on Brimms requiring him to put in order certain works which he had failed to do as a good tenant should. Mr. Brimms failed to comply with the order, and on getting notice to quit as a result of his failure went to arbitration. The arbiter upheld Mr. Stewart's contention that Mr. Brimms had not done what a good and prudent tenant should have done, and Mr. Brimms had to give up his tenancy.
§ It can be appreciated how this caused considerable local controversy—the sitting tenant removed by the newly-arrived landlord. So the Member of Parliament for the area immediately jumped on the bandwagon, and has, I suspect, been partly responsible for the inclusion of Clauses 14 and 15 in this Bill. It seems difficult to understand how this can be considered a case of harassment, though of course there may be further details unbeknown to me and consequently not mentioned today. It seems clear, however, that not only was the tenant at fault but that, when told to remedy, he did not do so. Had the proposed legislation been in force at that time, the tenant could have gone to the Land Court in addition to the arbiter, so incurring further expense and a further waste of time. Also, although I may be wrong on this, I think a tenant has a right to legal aid when appearing before the Land Court, in which case there would be still further delay because he would have to apply for legal aid. But this may not be the case.
§ We should not forget that as this legislation becomes more complicated so there are more and more loopholes through which the clever lawyer can allow the bad tenant to slip. There are really no grounds for these proposals. They are nothing more than a device to make it harder for a landlord to keep a bad tenant on the rails. It is already very hard for a tenant to lose his tenancy for bad farming. Indeed, it is very seldom that a tenant can be put out of his holding except for bankruptcy. My Lords, this is not supposition ; I know it is fact from bitter experience. I know of a tenant of 400 450 acres who has not put one grain of fertiliser on his farm this year because no agricultural merchant will give him credit. His buildings have not been painted for years, and yet the landlord can only sit back and watch his asset depreciate until bankruptcy actuallystrikes. This cannot be good for agriculture; and now the Government are attempting to make the situation even worse.
§ I understand that on this matter there has not been consultation with the Scottish National Farmers' Union, and certainly the union has not had an opportunity to discuss it. I have discussed this with certain people of influence in the union, who felt that a reasonable tenant would be better protected by such a proposal as that which I have tried to set out in Amendment No. 5, by which it is necessary that a proper notice to remedy should be served. At the moment, I understand the position is that a landlord can write to his tenant " Dear Peter, I hope your Aunt Maggie is feeling better. By the way, last time I drove through your steading I noticed that the doors needed painting. Will you please get these done in a reasonbale time ?" I think your Lordships will agree this is not satisfactory, and it could perhaps be considered harassment if a notice of this sort was served.
§ What I feel would be much better than either of these two rather unnecessary clauses, which will only be a bad tenant's charter, is that the landlord should have to serve a proper notice, and this is what I have suggested in Amendment No. 5. But I should not like Amendment No. 5 to be accepted without the deletion of Clauses 14 and 15, because that would only further upset the balance between the landlord and the tenant, which appears to be thoroughly upset by these two clauses. I know that similar proposals for England have just been withdrawn by my noble friend Lord Middleton, but I feel that the situation in Scotland is different, as indeed we discussed at Committee stage. There are many more things which weigh against the landlord and more in favour of the tenant in Scotland than is the case in England, and unless these things can be put right at the same time and the whole agricultural holdings set-up examined, then I think we ought to drop these two clauses. I beg to move.451
§ Lord FORBES
My Lords, I should like to support this Amendment. I find it difficult to see any reason at all for this clause. It is something that radically changes the landlord/tenant position in Scotland, and surely something like that is not put into a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill. It should have been given much more consideration than it has had already. If the Government argue that it is perfectly right to put this into a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, then I think they could be charged with having double standards, because at one time they said that they were not going to put any reference in this Bill to revising rent reviews in Scotland, which are at present at five years, whereas in England they are reviewed every three years. As everyone knows, in this day and age of inflation a rent which is struck today will be quite ludicrous in five years' time. So will the Government please " come clean " on this and either say that they are going to drop this clause because it is not right to have it in a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill or make some provision for reviewing rents earlier than is at present the case in Scotland ?
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, first of all, if I may, I should like to say a word about consultations with the Scottish NFU, which the noble Lord, Lord Burton, raised at Committee stage and again in speaking to Amendment No. 4 today. The noble Lord said at Committee stage, at column 568 on the 8th June, in referring to these clauses at that stage:
As this was only introduced at the Committee stage in another place, I wonder whether the Scottish NFU have even been consulted.I did not correct the noble Lord then as I should have done, but, of course, it is not correct to say that these clauses were introduced only at Committee stage in the House of Commons. They were in the Bill as it was introduced, and in fact no Amendments were made to the Scottish clauses in Committee in another place. The only Amendment made to the clauses in another place was a minor Government Amendment at Report stage restricting the powers of the arbiters, which I suspect might be held to be in the landlord's rather than the tenant's interest.
Before the inclusion of the Scottish clauses in the Bill as introduced, there were a number of informal discussions with the officials of the Scottish NFU, 452 who were told of the general intention to introduce clauses on the lines of those proposed for England and Wales; and at a later stage they were told the general tenor of the clauses. During these informal consultations, I understand that the NFU in Scotland admitted that they had not heard of any recent complaints about this type of case except for one isolated incident, which I suspect is the one which the noble Lord, Lord Burton, went into in some detail. However, I understand that the Scottish NFU did not raise any objections to the extension of the law in Scotland so that it was in line with that in England and Wales, and in fact made it clear that they would be in favour of provisions along the lines of those which have been made in the Bill. So I hope that what I have said has cleared up one point which the noble Lord, Lord Burton, appears to have misunderstood. I have a feeling that the misunderstanding may have arisen because he asked the Scottish NFU whether they had been consulted about some new clauses introduced at Committee stage in another place. Of course, there were some new clauses which introduced the family succession scheme, but no new clauses of any relevance particularly to Scotland were introduced in another place.
Turning to the Amendment, the noble Lord said that he wished to speak to Amendments Nos. 4 to 10, but I think he in fact dealt only in detail with Amendments Nos. 4 and 5, and it might be to the convenience of your Lordships if I restricted my remarks at this stage to those two Amendments and dealt with the latter Amendments when they are moved. The provisions of Clause 14 catch up with some of the provisions enacted for England and Wales in the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1963 as well as paralleling the provisions in Clause 12 of this Bill.
I understand from my noble friend that landlords in Scotland have not in general been guilty of the type of harassment of which complaint has been made elsewhere. As I have already said, it may well be that one particular case has occurred and that may be the one to which the noble Lord, Lord Burton, referred. Nevertheless, since the law was being amended in England and Wales, the Government concluded that it was desirable to bring the law in Scotland broadly into line with that for England and 453 Wales thus providing a similar protection for Scottish tenant farmers to that provided for tenant farmers in England and Wales.
The provision for arbitration is of course in the existing law and what Clause 14 does is to give certain powers to the arbiter which he does not have at present to enable him to delete and substitute items in a demand, specify materials and methods to be used or to fix the time in which the works must be done. At present, the arbiter can give findings only in relation to facts—for example, on whether a tenant is obliged by his lease to undertake the work, or whether he has actually done the work. These new powers should make the reference to arbitration much more useful.
This part of the Bill is to a large extent directed against the possibility that a tenant might be dispossessed for failure to remedy a breach of his tenancy in relation to a failure to do works when the works in question were patently unnecessary and unjustified. At present neither the arbiter nor Land Court has jurisdiction in such a case. The clause enables them to see that justice is done. I had understood that these proposals had been generally welcomed. Indeed, as the noble Lord, Lord Burton, said, your Lordships' House has agreed now, through two stages of this Bill, that similar provisions should be enacted in England.
Turning to the Lord Burton's new clause, Amendment No. 5, the noble Lord explained why he had tabled it, and he made clear that he saw it as a quid pro quo, if I may call it that, for the deletion of Clause 14, if not for the deletion of Clause 15. The wording of the clause is not in itself satisfactory, as it refers to a notice under Section 25(2) of the Act of 1949—which must mean a notice to quit given under that section; but I think that the new clause is really directed to laying down specific provisions relating to the demand in writing given by the landlord to the tenant asking him to remedy a breach in the conditions of his tenancy by doing works of repair. I therefore would have objections on drafting grounds to the Amendment as it stands.
Apart from this, there are, if I may say so, arguments against accepting the 454 noble Lord's new clause. To some extent, the basic purpose of Clauses 14 and 15 of the Bill is to protect the tenant against being caught in a technicality by being literally in breach of the conditions of his tenancy, although it could reasonably be held that he was not at fault. And it seems to me that the noble Lord's new clause might put the landlord in a somewhat similar position—in other words, the position before the enactment of Clauses 14 and 15—that the case which he could legitimately make against the tenant might fail, because he had not complied exactly with the requirements of this clause. I know that landlords are advised by the authorities on the Agricultural Holdings Legislation in Scotland to specify their requirements in a certain way, and it is no doubt desirable that they should do so.
But I am on the whole reluctant to give this the force of law. The provisions we propose go a long way to safeguarding the tenant. I doubt whether we should put this further burden on the landlord. I know that the National Farmers' Union in Scotland, while they would accept such a provision as giving a small benefit to tenant farmers in Scotland, would not regard this provision as one of any great significance and would not, for example, regard it as giving an equal benefit to tenant farmers as the provisions for arbitration which we have been discussing.
It must be clear to the noble Lord, Lord Burton, that neither the National Farmers' Union in Scotland nor the Government could in any way see his proposed new clause as being a substitution for Clause 14. My Lords, I have dealt with the Amendments thus far; if the noble Lord would like me to go on and deal with the Amendment relating to Clause 15, I would be happy to do so.
§ Lord FORBES
My Lords, would the noble Lord say why the Government are not going to review the rent period in Scotland ?
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, on the basis that that was in the form, " Before the noble Lord sits down ", I would reply that we had considerable discussions on an amendment on this matter at Committee stage, and I gave the reasons why the Government could not accept the Amendment then.
§ Lord BURTON
My Lords, may I try to clear up this matter of the consultation with the Scottish National Farmers' Union. I understand that general discussions were held some time ago. These were to cover the whole of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act legislation. I am convinced that the National Farmers' Union of Scotland are no more anxious to take parts of this legislation out of context, in the way the Government have done with this Bill, than are any of us on this side of the House. This is where the trouble has arisen. One little bit has been taken up and not the whole general discussion which I understood took place. Apart from that, the annual general meeting of the National Farmers' Union has been held since these discussions took place and most of the committees have changed. The noble Lord referred to the Committee stage in another place. There was only one Scottish Member on the Committee, Mr. Norman Buchan, and you could hardly expect him to oppose the Government's legislation.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, what I was correcting was Lord Burton's assertion at the committee stage in this House that some clauses had been introduced at the Committee stage in another place. I was not saying that there were not any changes made. I said specifically that there were no changes made to the clauses in the Committee stage but the clauses were not introduced then.
§ Lord BURTON
My Lords, the question was also brought up by the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, about the arbiter being able to fix a time. As the law stands at the moment, the arbiter can say that the time is inadequate. Surely, to put in a complete new clause on a small matter like that is splitting hairs. The arbiter already has powers to say that the tenant must not go out because he has not adequate time to do the job. It seems an entirely false argument. If you are going to make it harder on this clause to put out a tenant, then you ought to strengthen Clause 25(2)( d) 456 covering the rules of good husbandry. This is almost unenforceable at the moment. I do not suppose there has ever been a case on this because it is so vague. It means that it is going to be more and more difficult to remove a bad tenant. All that will happen is that agriculture will suffer. The landlord's property will steadily depreciate. We have seen this happening. I have been put in an extremely difficult position by the withdrawal of the previous three Amendments, but I take it that it would be the wish of your Lordships' House that I should withdraw this Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ Lord MELCHETT moved Amendment No. 11:
§ After Clause 17, insert the following new clause:
§ Covenant against assignment.
" . In Schedule 1 to the Agricultural Holdings Act 1948 (matters for which provision is to be made in written tenancy agreements), after paragraph 9 there shall be added—
" 10. A covenant by the tenant not to assign, sub-let or part with possession of the holding or any part thereof without the landlord's consent in writing."."
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this new clause is designed to meet an anomaly which will arise in certain cases as a result of Clause 17 which was drawn to our attention last week in Committee in your Lordships' House by the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, and by the Agricultural Law Association in a memorandum to my right honourable friend the Minister for Agriculture. This new clause is very similar to the new clause proposed by the noble Earl, with one significant difference—it makes allowance in its final six words for the admittedly unlikely case of a landlord who might have no objections to a tenant assigning, sub-letting or parting with possession of the holding. I should add that we have consulted the CLA and the NFU over this Amendment since the Committee stage. They have not raised any objections. I beg to move.
§ The Earl of ONSLOW
My Lords, as I moved a similar Amendment in Committee, all I can do is thank the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, and his right honourable friend for listening to what were obviously very eloquent words of mine.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 18 [Application of following sections of Part II]:
§ 4.20 p.m.
Lord SAN DYS moved Amendment No. 12:
Page 21, line 6, after second (" the ") insert (" sole (or sole surviving) ").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment is the same as one moved in Committee. I think the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, anticipated that that Amendment was being moved because of the question of joint tenants, which is covered in subsection (4) (a), but that was not, in fact, the case. I fully understand that it is very easy to anticipate an argument before it has been made, but the fault probably lies with myself because I did not explain at greater length the intention behind this Amendment. This is a case where brevity is not the best course.
§ In fact, the reason for bringing forward this Amendment again is to cover the case where a tenancy has been assigned. This will probably not happen in a very large number of cases, but I think your Lordships will agree that provision should be made in law for a situation of this kind. So the purpose of this Amendment is to ensure that where there has been an assignment the death of the assignor will not be a death giving rise to a notice to quit. We believe that if the words remain as they are the Bill will be defective, and could be interpreted to mean that children and relatives as specified could claim the tenancy of the assignor. Clearly, in the case of an assignment, it could never be the intention of the Government that the children or relatives specified of an assignor should be placed in the position of making a claim for the tenancy. Therefore, in our submission, it would be very much better to insert the words " sole (or sole surviving) " in renumbered Clause 17, which is now Clause 18, so that they follow directly the drafting of the previous clause. In substance, we believe that this is a drafting Amendment but it has much more important implications and we hope that the Government will be pleased to accept it. My Lords, I beg to move.458
My Lords, I very much hope that the Government will accept this Amendment because, as my noble friend said, it is virtually in the spirit of a drafting Amendment. Clause 18 brings into play the hereditary principle outlined in Part II of the Bill by the words,
where …the tenant of an agricultural holding dies ".We believe that the position should be made crystal clear, and that the words " sole (or sole surviving) " should also be used as the Government have used them in Clause 17(1). One can be a joint tenant of a holding with somebody else.
In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, said that this Amendment was not necessary for this type of tenancy, because subsection (4)(a) of Clause 18 specifically prevents the hereditary provisions from coming into play on the death of only one partner; and, of course, he was entirely correct. But I believe that as the Bill now stands two points are not clear. First, if there is a joint tenancy and one partner dies, on the death of the second partner can the children and relatives of the first partner claim the tenancy, as well as the children and relatives of the second partner who has just died ? As I read Clause 18, I believe that they can, because both partners were tenants. If the noble Lord says that they cannot claim, then I would respectfully suggest to him that this is a most unfair bagatelle, because the claim of the tenancy depends upon who happens to die first. I cannot believe that in a Bill of this nature, brought in specifically to prevent hardship, one can justify any set of relatives, as opposed to another set, claiming the tenancy simply because of the fact that one partner happens to die before the other.
The second point to which my noble friend Lord Sandys referred is: What happens when a tenancy has been assigned and the assignor dies? As Clause 18 now stands, the hereditary provisions could be activated on the assignor's death, even though there is still a surviving tenant in the shape of the person to whom the tenancy was assigned. Obviously this cannot be right. It is desirable that the death which sets in motion the inheritance provisions of this Bill 459 should be the death which counts for a notice to quit under Section 24 of the 1948 Act, and it is therefore right to use the same words in Clause 18 as are used in Clause 17, which of course becomes the new Section 24(2) (g) of the 1948 Act. I hope that the noble Lord will therefore accept this Amendment.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, I have to confess that when this Amendment was first moved in Committee I did not fully appreciate what noble Lords opposite were aiming at. I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, for accepting part, at least, of the blame for that, but I think we were probably both speaking at cross-purposes at that stage. Having heard the further explanation given by the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, I hope in turn to explain rather better the Government's view.
As I understand it, the Amendment is proposed to bring the reference to " the tenant of an agricultural holding " into line with the reference to " the sole (or sole surviving) tenant " in Clause 17(1) (a). The reason is that it is feared that a case may be found where a tenant dies, triggering off the succession provisions without his being the sole or sole surviving tenant in whose case the notice to quit can be served.
As the death of a joint tenant leaving a survivor is catered for in Clause 18(4) (a), I cannot see that this possibility could ever occur. It has, however, been suggested in consultations that the assignor of a tenancy might still be held to be the tenant of the holding after he had assigned it. In view of the definition of " tenant " in Section 94(1) of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1948, which states that " tenant " means " the holder of land under a contract of tenancy ", I do not think that this argument can be sustained. Clearly, an assignor does not continue to hold land in the usual sense after he has parted with it to an assignee, and in the present context I do not think that an assignor is included in the word " tenant ". The other difficulty remains, to which I referred previously; namely, that the Amendment overlaps the exemption for joint tenants in Clause 18(4) (a). It is unnecessary and confusing for the same point to be covered twice in a different manner and for this reason, as I said in 460 Committee, I would advise your Lordships not to accept the Amendment.
The noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, raised another point as to whose children can claim a tenancy when one of two joint tenants dies. My advice is that on the death of the last surviving joint tenant only can the relatives of that survivor claim. It is intrinsic in the nature of a joint tenancy generally that the survivor out of two joint tenants inherits the whole tenancy. Presumably, those who enter into a joint tenancy agreement bear that in mind; so, though I would agree with the noble Earl that there is to some extent a bagatelle for the relatives of the two joint tenants as to who dies first, that seems to me to be something which is intrinsic in the nature of such a tenancy, where the survivor of the two tenants will take over the whole tenancy in any case. I am bound to say that, while I see that there is some unfairness, I am not sure that this Amendment strikes at that unfairness at all. In fact, I think it deals with a different point.
§ Lord MIDDLETON
My Lords, the definition in Section 94 of the 1948 Act says that it means the whole of land under a contract of tenancy. The noble Lord said, " I do not think a ' tenant ' under that section would include the assignor ". I do not think the noble Lord is right. I believe that, where the definition goes on to say that it also includes " assigns ", that could include an assignor. I believe that, if we are to legislate, we must not provide infinite food for lawyers to argue over from now until kingdom come. I feel that the Amendment proposed by my noble friend would make this matter clearer and would prevent us getting endless litigation on this matter. I believe that my noble friend is absolutely right.
My Lords, unfortunately, I was not here for the Committee stage, but I wanted to hear the arguments on this Amendment because I think it very important that all this should be clear. I have worked in this agricultural field for the whole of my adult life and I am glad to say that I have been involved in very few troubles. On the other hand, it is the job of legislators to ensure that Bills are so clear that hopes are not raised only to be dashed—and there could be hopes of considerable rewards under the present clause—and 461 that, as far as possible, they do not lead to litigation. The clause, as we have it, could be a gold mine for lawyers, and I do not believe that we should part with it until we are entirely certain that we are not leaving numerous loopholes. Therefore, I prefer the Amendment to the clause as it stands.
If the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, had been very much more definite, there might have been some case for leaving the drafting as it is; but, though he expressed his views strongly—as he is entitled to—I do not believe that he has convinced many of us that no dispute or misunderstanding could arise. He has left us in doubt as to whether an assignor could scrape up an excuse to say that there was entitlement to some reward which flowed from this. He has said that, where there is more than one joint tenant, it is the relations of the one who is fortunate enough to live longest (even though he may not be compos mentis) who could benefit under these succession provisions. I only hope that he can now assure me that there is no dispute about brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters and children who may be legitimate or illegitimate, and that there will be no family quarrels starting again owing to the wording of this clause, which could, in certain circumstances, be said not to be clear. I should very much like the noble Lord to answer some of those points which I feel it is our duty to clear up now.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, by leave of the House, I should like to speak briefly for the second time to this point. With respect to the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, I believe that there is only one substantial point between us; that is, that my clear legal advice—and maybe I did not express it very clearly, but I have taken legal advice on this point—is that, as an assignor does not continue to hold land in the usual sense after he has parted with it to an assignee, he is not, I think, included within the term " tenant ". I have taken care to get legal advice on this point and I have also said that my legal advice is that the passing of the Amendment, because it would overlap the exemption for joint tenants in Clause 18(4)(a), would he unnecessary and confusing of itself. Our aim in this matter is identical. There is no conflict between 462 us as to what we want to achieve. If I may respectfully suggest it to the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, it might be wise for both of us to take further legal advice on this. Clearly, he would not want to put an Amendment into the Bill which would be confusing, and I shall not want to leave in words if they are open to a different legal interpretation from the one which I have been given. As I said, my clear legal advice is that an assignor cannot be a tenant in these circumstances.
§ Lord SANDYS
My Lords, I think that there is a very strong element of dubiety here because we, too, have our legal advisers. Possibly they are not so strong as those of the Ministry of Agriculture, but nevertheless we have very clear advice that there is an element of dubiety which, without prejudicing the provisions of the clause, we should endeavour to clarify. I believe that it is the aim of your Lordships' House to clarify all legislation, for what-every purpose it is intended.
There are a number of points which the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, made, and the principal one upon which I should like to concentrate is an assurance that there was no question that Clause 18(4)(6) did not in any way overlap our intentions. We believe that, to make certainty more sure and clarity more clear, it would be highly desirable to bring this small Amendment—and it is small in words—into the Bill. I believe that the point which divides us is the definition of the word " tenant ". We have this definition which is fully operative in the Agricultural Holdings Act 1948. I set it out for the purposes of record at the Committee stage, when we discussed it, and I do not think it necessary to read the definition again. However, it contains the word " assigns ". That word is used here in the form of a noun. It could be the assignor or the assignee. It is our view that, to make this totally clear, it would be very much better to adopt the Amendment, so I regret that I must press this point.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 12) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 101; Not-Contents, 48.463
|Aberdeen and Temair, M.||Exeter, M.||Middleton, L.|
|Alport, L.||Faithfull, B.||Monck, V.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Falkland, V.||Monson, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Falmouth, V.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Balerno, L.||Ferrers, E.||[Teller.]|
|Balfour of Inchrye, L.||Ferrier, L.||Newall, L.|
|Barnby, L.||Forbes, L.||Northchurch, B.|
|Berkeley, B.||Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Northesk, E.|
|Boothby, L.||Gage, V.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Gainford, L.||Onslow, E.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, B.||Goschen, V.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Burton, L.||Gray, L.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Greenway, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Grenfell, L.||Rochdale, V.|
|Carr of Hadley, L.||Gridley, L.||Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.|
|Carrington, L.||Hereford, V.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Chesham, L.||Home of the Hirsel, L.||Salisbury, M.|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Hornsby-Smith, B.||Sandys, L.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Hunt, L.||Somers, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.||Spens, L.|
|Colwyn, L.||Iddesleigh, E.||Stamp, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Inglewood, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Killearn, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Daventry, V.||Kinnaird, L.||Strathspey, L.|
|de Clifford, L.||Long, V.||Tenby, V.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Vickers, B.|
|Dundee, E.||Lyell, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Dundonald, E.||Macleod of Borve, B.||Ward of North Tyneside, B.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Masham of Ilton, B.||Westbury, L.|
|Elton, L.||Merrivale, L.||Young, B.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ 4.46 p.m.
Lord MELCHETT moved Amendment No. 13:
Page 21, line 12, after (" Act ") insert (" (except sections 20(14) and 22(8), which are of general application) ").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is purely a drafting Amendment. These subsections giving the Lord Chancellor power to make an order are of general 464 application, but it is not appropriate for them to be conditional upon, or linked with the death of a tenant of an agricultural holding. However, as your Lordships will appreciate, the main provisions of Part II arise upon the death of a tenant and Clause 18(1) is expressed to reflect that situation. It is therefore appropriate to exempt these two order-making powers from the conditional nature of Clause 18(1) and this exemption is effected by the Amendment which is now proposed. I beg to move.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.465
Earl FERRERS moved Amendment No. 14:
page 21, line 26, leave out (" and without prejudice to section 20 of this Act) ").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, this also is a drafting Amendment, because it is consequential upon having deleted Clause 20 from the Bill at Committee stage. This Amendment deletes from the Bill the reference to Clause 20, which is not now in the Bill. I beg to move.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Earl FERRERS moved Amendment No. 15:
Page 22, line 19, after (" course ") insert (" in agriculture or in a subject which would improve his qualification for farming ").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, we did have a fairly full discussion on this Amendment at Committee stage. I said then I would withdraw the Amendment in order that the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, might consider what had been said. I thought I might come back with a similar, or possibly even the same, Amendment. Knowing the noble Lord to be very conscientious, I have no doubt that he will have considered all the arguments which were adduced at Committee stage and I hope he will have found them to be plausible and sensible arguments. I wanted to give the noble Lord the opportunity of divulging to your Lord ships the results of his cogitations, and I hope he will accept this Amendment.
§ If I may recapitulate the argument, it is that under the Bill at present anyone claiming a tenancy has to show, among other things, that in the seven years prior to the death of the farm tenant the claimant must have spent at least five years on the farm from which he derived his sole, or principal, source of income. Of those five years, three may be counted if the applicant was not on the farm but undertaking a course at a university, college or other place of further education.
§ We believe that the Bill is drawn too loosely at the moment, because a person need only spend two years on the farm and then do a three-year course on any subject—a subject which may not be remotely connected with agriculture, for example, interior decoration, Sanskrit or Chinese—and can claim his right to something which he or she may have 466 abandoned during the previous tenant's lifetime; namely, the farm, which on the tenant's death becomes an immensely valuable asset. He or she will thus be able to claim a tenancy which by right belongs to somebody else. I believe that the course of education which enables him to make this substantial claim should be one which improves his qualification for farming.
§ I would further point out another matter, which we did not discuss very much at Committee stage. When we deleted Clause 20, we deleted the clause which permits people to make an application even if they are not fully eligible but satisfy the eligibility requirements to some extent. This means that a claimant in fact who has done no time on the farm at all could claim the tenancy if another place chose to put Clause 20 back again—because if Clause 20 were to go back into the Bill it would mean that a person could claim the tenancy if he had done three years on the farm. He then looks at this clause and finds that, if he has done three years at a university or another place of further education, that time can be counted as time spent on the farm. Therefore if Clause 20 were put back into the Bill a person who had gone away from the farm and had nothing to do with it but had read a subject at a university absolutely separate from agriculture, and had not worked on the farm at all, could nevertheless claim the tenancy.
§ For those reasons I hope that the noble Lord will agree on reflection that this small addition to the Bill would improve it. I beg to move.
§ Baroness ELLIOT of HARWOOD
My Lords, I should like to support my noble friend. I took part in the Committee stage debate on this matter and was absolutely amazed that the Labour Party—who, on the whole, are very enthusiastic about education and believe that people should have every opportunity they possibly can to qualify themselves for whatever job they undertake, whether it is farming or anything else—should on this occasion have put up a very weak case indeed against this type of training.
The Government have said that if you go to university and get a degree you are qualified to do anything. I do not think that is true. I know dozens of people 467 who have been to university but who have done absolutely nothing with their degrees. Equally, I know others who have done jolly well. Farming today is a very technical and skilled occupation. No longer is farming carried out in the old, slow way, with no machinery and no skilled methods. Everything is done for the maximum effect in the minimum of time, because time is the most expensive commodity we have to deal with in farming—apart from the weather over which we have no control but which makes time even more important.
It is most extraordinary that the Government should feel that anybody who takes a degree in any subject is fitted to farm. I know many very silly people who have degrees, although I know many very clever people, too, who have degrees. Therefore it is very unfortunate that the Government do not believe that in order that our farming industry—a highly technical one in which both the margin of success and failure and the margin of profit and loss are fairly narrow—should be efficiently run, it is necessary to have some kind of qualification for farming. I do not understand their point of view at all.
I should have thought that they would jump at this Amendment and would regard it as an asset. It would help all types of people who go into farming. Also it would make the industry infinitely more effective, for it would keep down the costs. If you know something about a subject beforehand, you may not make so many mistakes. I cannot understand why the noble Lord opposite—an exceedingly intelligent young man who is, I think, a farmer, too—does not feel that people who go into farming today, with all the extremely difficult and highly technical skills required, should not be given some training or qualification for farming other than just an ordinary degree at a university. I think it an extraordinary point of view and I cannot understand it.
I hope that the noble Lord will now tell us that he is prepared to accept this Amendment which we all favour, for we want our farming industry to be as efficiently run as possible.
My Lords, if I may again seek clarification, as I read these 468 two paragraphs it seems that of the period of seven years, during which five must be spent following some active agricultural or educational pursuit, three of them can be spent at a university. Therefore, only two years need be spent in active farming. In addition, may I ask the noble Lord this question. Subsection (3) refers to
…university, college or other establishment ".When I was young, part of my agricultural education took place in a German university. Would that count, or must the education take place in this country ? If that education can take place in any part of the world, does it matter whether the country is one where the climate and agricultural conditions approximate to those in this country, or could they be of an entirely different nature ? If the latter, I think most people would say that it would not be of very great value.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, said that she could not understand the attitude I had adopted on this Amendment when it was discussed at the Committee stage. I think that may be because the noble Baroness and I were discussing a slightly different argument—slightly different but with a very important difference. The noble Baroness said that I was suggesting that any degree would make a person fitted to farm. I made a careful note of her words. With great respect, that is not what the argument is about at all. The argument is quite different: whether it is fair that someone who has taken a non-farming degree, a degree in a non-agricultural subject, should automatically be excluded from farming under the family succession scheme. If the noble Baroness thinks about it, I think she will see that we are talking about a quite different point.
As we have said many times when discussing the family succession scheme, this stage of the proceedings is discussing whether the applicant is eligible. At the second stage the Agricultural Land Tribunal go on to discuss whether the applicant is suitable to farm the holding. Therefore at this stage the educational qualification is not concerned with suitability; it is concerned with eligibility—whether the applicant is eligible to farm. That is one of the reasons why I have taken a slightly different view from that 469 taken by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood. We are discussing the applicant's eligibility under the family succession scheme.
When we discussed a similar Amendment at the Committee stage, the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, said that he reserved the right to return to it because he did not regard the position as just.
My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves the point I made, could he comment upon university education either in this country or abroad ? Is the Bill intended to be world wide or to cover only this country?
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, I think that the Bill as drafted—in other words, in its unamended form—would probably cover degrees in higher education abroad, although I should like to take advice on that point and confirm that my opinion is right. Of course, one of the great assets that the Bill had in Clause 20 has been removed already in your Lordships' House. That provided the necessary flexibility for the Agricultural Land Tribunal—an eminently sensible body, as I have said throughout the passage of the Bill—to use their discretion in cases where the letter of the law in this particular eligibility test clearly was unfair to the applicant or, of course, to the landlord. As I say, that clause has been removed.
The noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, has said that he wished to return to this Amendment because he did not regard the position as being just. I do not believe that justice has anything to do with it. The question quite simply is this. Given that an applicant is to be allowed to spend up to three years out of the seven years immediately preceding the tenant's death at a university or a college of further education—and, as I understand it, nobody has questioned this, founded as it is on precedent—which will be better to prepare the person to become the tenant farmer? Of course, this is not necessarily to work on the farm but to become a farmer. Is it solely to be a three year course in agriculture at Reading or Cirencester? Is it to be a three-year course at a university reading geology or animal genetics or even economics, all of which can be said to have an application to agriculture, or can it be a course at a university of more general application, such as PPE or a foreign language?
470 I The Bill originally provided that the first of these three options must apply; in other words that it had to be a course in agriculture, such as a course at Reading or Cirencester. But after considerable discussion in another place the Government accepted the view of Back Benchers there that the third option should apply and that it should be left to the Agricultural Land Tribunal to weigh up the suitability of applicants, taking into account all relevant matters. As I see it, noble Lords opposite are trying to strike a happy medium with this Amendment between these two options.
At the Committee stage I have already given my opinion that this is not an area where restriction is either necessary or desirable. I believe, and as I have said before I think most people involved in university education would share this belief, that any degree course should broaden a person's mind and sharpen his intellect. Therefore it better prepares the person to deal with the complex problems of earning one's livelihood today, and I believe this is just as true of farming as of any other industry.
Equally, I do not believe that the halfway house represented by this Amendment is desirable because of the differing standards of subjective judgments that the Agricultural Land Tribunals will undoubtedly apply. The noble Earl said that he had very kindly introduced the Amendment to give me a chance to think about the arguments which were advanced at the Committee stage and I can assure him that I have given further and very careful thought to this. I would hope that, as we are discussing an Amendment which does not have any Party political differences init —and I think we both agree with that—he will have given careful thought to the arguments which I advanced. In regard to the argument that the Agricultural Land Tribunal will inevitably have difficulty in deciding what the words which the noble Earl wishes to put into the Bill actually mean, that difficulty will be overwhelming.
My view is that there cannot possibly be any uniformity in the application of the words,
or in a subject which would improve his qualification for farming ".I suspect that the debates which I have 471 had with noble Lords opposite during the passage of the Bill through this House will be echoed in Agricultural Land Tribunals up and down the country when they have to try to interpret these words which the noble Earl wishes to put into the Bill.
It seems to me, therefore, quite clear that this requirement should either be fully restricted as it was when the Bill was originally introduced, or it should be left as it is now. This would leave the Agricultural Land Tribunal to weigh up, for example, the respective merits of eligible applicant A, who has a diploma in agriculture but who, they believe, is not wholly genuine in his professed desire to succeed to the tenancy and eligible applicant B who read history at Oxford and who impressed the Agricultural Land Tribunal with his sincerity, his keenness and his obvious strong desire to succeed to the tenancy, all other relevant matters being equal between them. I do not believe that there can be any doubt as to the sensible outcome between the applications of applicant A and applicant B in the instance that I have just given; but the noble Earl's Amendment would make a sensible outcome impossible, and for that reason I hope he will not press it.
§ Lord MIDDLETON
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, would he not agree that it is going to be just as difficult for the Agricultural Land Tribunal, on a suitability test, to judge whether a course in Sanskrit makes him suitable? In fact, is it not going to be even more difficult then than at the eligibility stage to judge whether a course has some connection with agriculture, which I should have thought was not a difficult matter to decide ?
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, the Amendment to which the noble Lord is speaking is not connected with agriculture and I think the words are in effect that it improves the applicant's suitability to farm the holding. The point I have been trying to make all along is that the view could be taken—and I have said that I strongly take this view myself—that any university degree, because of the nature and purpose of university education, would de facto improve the person's ability to farm the land. I am not saying that it would necessarily make him a 472 suitable applicant, and as the noble Lord has pointed out the Agricultural Land Tribunal go on to consider that second point at a later stage. But I take the view myself that any form of higher education is likely, without going into the person's ability to farm, to make him better at farming a holding than someone who has not had the benefits of higher education. That, after all, is the purpose of university education. The whole point of having a university at all is not to equip people with technical skills for a particular job but to improve their minds, widen their experience and to help them to deal more capably with all the problems that they meet in later life including, I would suggest, the problems met by a tenant farmer. That was the point that I was seeking to make to the noble Earl.
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, said earlier there is really no Party political substance in this whatsoever. What worries me is that all the way along too much emphasis has been put on what the Agricultural Land Tribunals will do. Whenever there is a case put forward, the noble Lord says, " Well, this is something for the Agricultural Land Tribunals to consider and to decide upon ". I think that is putting far too much emphasis and far too much responsibility on the Agricultural Land Tribunal.
The noble Lord said that any form of higher education will improve a person's ability to farm because it improves his education and improves his character and so forth. I do not think that is true. I gave an example, which I will give again, where we could have a tenant farming 500 or 800 acres whose daughter says. " I am going to help my father with the cows ", but after two years she gets fed up with farming, fed up with the cows and goes off to do a course in interior decoration or domestic economy. She does that for three years and may then even go off and cook directors' lunches—nothing to do with farming. When her father dies she can come back and say, " Yes, this is a valuable tenancy. I can have this, I can put a manager in and I can live very well on it ". I do not believe that that kind of course of higher education helps her in any way to take on the responsibility of farming and to stake a claim to a very valuable asset; namely, the tenancy.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, the noble Earl gave that example at Committee stage and I asked him a question then which, with great respect, I do not think he really answered. I asked him whether he seriously believed that an Agricultural Land Tribunal would consider that the girl in the example he has given would be suitable when they came to the second stage. It may be that this would enable her to be eligible, but I do not see that there is any chance of her getting her hands on this valuable tenancy which the noble Earl talks about.
My Lords, I thought I gave the noble Lord a good answer: I said that in my opinion the Agricultural Land Tribunal should not consider such a case.
Yes, it is the answer to the question, my Lords, because in fact the person should not be eligible in the first place, irrespective of whether he is suitable. After all, we only make
§ Amendments in this House; they have to be agreed by another place, having been sent there for consideration. If in fact another place decided to put back Clause 20, a person who had not done any work on the farm at all, could claim this tenancy, a valuable right, by virtue of saying, " I have done three years in a course on domestic economy, or interior decoration, or a course of Sanskrit. I have done this and that is to count to qualify as my period of time on the farm. " This modest Amendment merely goes to say that if such a claim is to be made, the qualifications should be that he or she would have done something to improve their ability as a farmer. I do not think there is a lot between us. With the greatest respect to the noble Lord, I do not think his case is quite as good as mine. I hope your Lordships will agree that this modest Amendment could go into the Bill.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 15) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 89; Non-Contents, 59.475
|Airedale, L.||Haig, E.||Ritchie-Calder, L.|
|Amulree, L.||Harris of Greenwich, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Henderson, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Banks, L.||Henley, L.||Seear, B.|
|Birk,B.||Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Shepherd, L. (L. Privy Seal)|
|Bradwell, L.||Kirkhill, L.||Shinwell, L.|
|Burntwood, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Snow, L.|
|Byers, L.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Castle, L.||Lovell-Davies, L.||Stedman, B. [Teller.]|
|Chorley, L.||Lyons of Brighton, L.||Stewart of Alvechurch, B.|
|Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.||Melchett, L.||Stow Hill, L.|
|Crook, L.||Meston, L.||Summerskill, B.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Mottistone, L.||Wells-Pestell, L. [Teller.]|
|De la Warr, E.||Norwich, V.||Wigoder, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Ogmore, L.||Williamson, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor)||Oram, L.||Wilson of High Wray, L.|
|Foot, L.||Pannell, L.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Gaitskell, B.||Phillips, B.||Wise, L.|
|George-Brown, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Goronwy-Roberts, L.||Platt, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ Earl FERRERS moved Amendment No. 16:
Page 24, line 16, at end insert—
(" (i) if the holding is incapable, when farmed under reasonably skilled management, of providing full-time employment for at least one man.").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, this, again, is another Amendment which we put down at Committee stage, and I said that I would withdraw it and consider the implications which the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, had mentioned at that stage. The purpose of the Amendment is to prevent the principle of hereditary tenancies continuing on units which are fundamentally unviable. The argument which the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, put forward on Committee stage was that this Amendment would exclude from the provisions of the Bill 6,500 part-time units in Wales, and 28,500 in England. This, of course, is a colossal number of small units, and I venture to suggest a colossal number of unviable units, which apparently, will all be subject to the hereditary principle if the Bill goes through as it is.
§ I am bound to say that I thought the arguments which the noble Lord put forward against my Amendment were arguments for the Amendment, because I cannot believe that it can be right to have some 34,000 or 35,000 small units dotted around the countryside, many of which, the noble Lord said himself, were unviable on their own but on which one farmer may farm four different units.476
§ I cannot believe it is correct to have those units all subject to the hereditary tenancy principle, because one would have a whole posse of small fields which would be subject to the provisions of this Bill. Of course, the whole argument which has underlain so many Governments is that small uneconomic units should be joined together. To permit this principle to go forward on these small uneconomic units would militate against the principle which all Governments have adopted, which is to join these small units together. I therefore had second thoughts, and I wondered whether the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, also had some second thoughts. I beg to move.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, as the noble Earl has reminded your Lordships, I pointed out at the Committee stage that there are 28,500 holdings in England and 6,500 in Wales, a total of 35,000 farms to which the family succession scheme would not apply if this Amendment were put into the Bill. The average size of these holdings is 32 acres. Clearly they ought to be amalgamated with other land to form more viable holdings, and the landlord will have the right to object on the grounds of good estate management under Clause 21 if he wishes to amalgamate a small unviable holding such as this with other land. As I said when we discussed it on Committee, I think the noble Earl and I agree that it would be desirable in the interests of agricultural efficiency in this country that these small holdings—as I say, an average size of only 32 acres—should, whenever possible, be amalgamated to form large and more efficient and more viable units.
477 But in many cases, particularly, I understand, among the 6,500 holdings in Wales, no amalgamation will be possible and the holding will have to remain as being a partly viable farm. I would suggest to the noble Earl that in those circumstances it is right that the tenant's family should be allowed to apply to the Agricultural Land Tribunal to continue to live and work on the farm. In fact if the farm is not capable of amalgamation, I can see no argument against the tenant's family being allowed to apply to the ALT and continuing to live on the farm. I do not believe the noble Earl has advanced any argument to cover that case.
This was one of the questions where it seemed to another place that a certain amount of sensible discretion should be applied through the provisions of what was Clause 20. Regrettably, your Lordships have seen fit to delete that clause. The noble Earl said on the previous Amendment that of course it was possible for the other place to put the clause back. It is difficult enough answering Amendments in your Lordships' House, but if one has to do it on the hypothetical basis that the Bill may be changed in the future in a way that one is not yet cognisant of, it is exteremely difficult to argue against an Amendment. I should have to argue not only on the basis of the Bill as it is now, but how it may be changed in another place, assuming that your Lordships do not see fit to change it back again. One could go on for a considerable time, and I certainly will not. As the Bill is now drafted—and I think, with respect, that is what should concern your Lordships—to be eligible an applicant will have had to derive his principal source of livelihood from the holding. In that case, this Amendment is clearly not necessary, and on those grounds, if for no others, I hope the noble Earl will withdraw it.
§ The Earl of ONSLOW
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, could he clarify the number of farms which are not capable of being amalgamated? And when he says they are not capable of being amalgamated, does he mean—perhaps he could clarify this further—that they are not capable of being amalgamated with a farm owned by a similar landlord, as opposed to being bought perhaps by a next door neighbour landlord? Could he give us some description of how they are not capable of being amalgamated?
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, I regret to say that I do not have the figures on how many holdings are not capable of being amalgamated. But, of course, the landlord will always be able to go to the Agricultural Land Tribunal if he wishes to amalgamate the holding with another one. There arc several grounds on which a holding might not be capable of amalgamation. One would certainly be that the landlord does not have any suitable land with which to amalgamate it. There is also the question of the physical features of the land; for example, that it is surrounded by housing, or that it is in an area where there is no similar land with which it could be amalgamated to form a viable unit. I would suggest that there is more than one ground on which it might prove impossible to amalgamate a holding.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, is always honest and true, and I admired his candour when he admitted to having great difficulty in arguing against our Amendments. I would not wish to proceed any further with this point. I think the noble Lord is wrong. He thinks I am wrong. Time alone will tell. I would not wish to take up any more of your Lordships' time by discussing the provisions of this, other than to say this. Throughout this Bill, the noble Lord has always said what a great thing it is to have agreement and concurrence and so forth. In fact this Amendment, as I understand it, has the approval of both the CLA and the NFU, and, therefore, it seems a pity that it does not also have the approval of the Government. But I accept that it has not, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 19 [Restriction on operation of notice to quit given by reason of death of tenant]:
§ 5.28 p.m.
Lord SANDYS moved Amendment No. 17:
Page 25, line 13, at end insert—
(c) it is determined by the Tribunal that no hardship sufficient to justify the making of a direction under section 20(5) or (6) of this Act would be suffered by any applicant determined by the Tribunal to be a suitable person to become the tenant of the holding if the notice to quit were to have effect.")
The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this Amendment, I should also like to speak to Amendments Nos. 18 and 20. These Amendments were laid before your Lordships at Committee stage, and I withdrew them in response to what the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, said. Perhaps I may refresh your Lordships' memories with regard to what he said at col. 1015 on the second day of Committee on Monday, 14th June:
We accept entirely that in the operation of the scheme there must be social justice not only for the close relatives when a tenant dies but also for the landlord and his close relatives."—[Official Report, 14/6/76, col. 1015.]
§ A few lines further on he went on to say that he thought the provision was un-necessary because the hardship test was already implicit in the family succession scheme. I think this is the point at issue between us. We believe it is not implicit in the scheme, and we believe that on a number of grounds which I shall adduce to your Lordships.
§ It has repeatedly been said by the Government that the purpose of this legislation is to deal with cases of genuine hardship. Yet an applicant is not required by the Bill to prove hardship before being handed somebody else's holding—and by somebody else's holding I mean a holding which is owned by somebody else—to act as tenant. The Tribunal has only to decide that the applicant is both eligible and suitable before giving him, or her, the tenancy of a holding.
§ When we dealt in Committee with the question of hardship, I suggested that there were only two places where hardship is mentioned in the 1948 Act, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, pointed out, one of those was deleted in the 1958 Act. Of course he was perfectly right and I am much obliged to him for making that correction. So we are really left with one statement in the 1948 Act which applies to hardship, which is Section 25(1)(d). Nowhere in the present Bill before your Lordships is there a test of hardship, and very considerable thought was given, as we understand it, by the Government to this problem which the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, mentioned on Committee stage, and I think it is particularly important that we should investigate this a little further.480
§ The fulfilment of eligibility rules does not necessarily encompass hardship, especially as attending a full-time course of education is to count as deriving livelihood from the holding. For five previous years an applicant may have derived no part of his livelihood from the holding. We have spoken a short time ago to this matter of education, so I will pass over it. But what I must mention is that when discussing this issue of hardship the noble Lord said that he felt that it would considerably strengthen our case from this side of the House if the NFU and the CLA were to agree on a suitable Amendment. We have consulted the NFU and we have not been able, in the short time available to us, to reach a form of words which is entirely satisfactory to them. But in view of the fact that the last Amendment proposed by my noble friend Lord Ferrers was acceptable to both the NFU and the CLA, I cannot see why this should be a qualification which the Government must set down on the question of hardship.
§ The noble Lord, Lord Melchett, also suggested that it was possible to bring out the question of hardship in the later clause, which is now Clause 21 of the Bill, under which the landlord may put his case; and I assume that this is the point where he suggests that it is implicit in the Bill. We believe that there really is a justification for this Amendment. We believe that without this Amendment the Bill would have no mention specifically of this problem where greater hardship arises, and we believe that the Government should think again on this issue.
§ 5.33 p.m.
The Earl of CAITHNESS
My Lords, it was my belief that the reason for this legislation was to protect those cases, on the termination of a tenancy, where hardship occurs. However, as a result of the Committee stage I am not so sure. I believe that hardship cases should be catered for, and that it is therefore only equitable that this Amendment becomes part of the Bill. If it does not, and bearing in mind that Clause 20 might be reinstated in another place, then the Government's sledgehammer will not only crack this nut but a much larger one, with resulting wider repercussions.
Since the Committee stage I have spoken to many of the senior partners in 481 the top land agent firms in this country, and my views of the future, already known to the House, are only reinforced. If this Amendment is carried then there will be a little more encouragement to let land, and this can only be beneficial to the agricultural industry.
Let us take an example of a father and his two sons farming their own farm and two let farms in partnership. On the father's death it is found that in his will he requested that his eldest son should succeed to the family farm, the second son to one let farm, and the third son to the other let farm. Under the present legislation, and bearing in mind that the previous Amendment was not carried, there is every chance that his request will be upheld. Is this what the Government want or what was intended? I do not think so. There might not be any hardship on the tenant's sons if the tenancy terminated on one or both of the let farms, but in this instance a landlord would have virtually no chance of gaining possession. Therefore, I believe this Amendment to be correct and support the same.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, said, we have discussed these Amendments before in Committee, but perhaps I could repeat to noble Lords the salient points of the argument why, in the Government's view, it is unnecessary to have a hardship test in the legislation. Before I do that, maybe I could just deal with the point which the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, raised about my suggestion that it would be wise to have agreement from the NFU and the CLA before moving into the Bill an Amendment on this point. Of course, particular emphasis was placed on this Amendment because this is a cardinal and central point to the legislation. I am not sure that it is comparable with the Amendment that the noble Earl withdrew a moment ago, particularly, as I pointed out, as the Bill now stands, the Amendment was quite unnecessary since the deletion of Clause 20. So anybody could have agreed to it without a care in the world because it did not make the slightest difference to the Bill as it now stands. But I do not rest on that. I rest on the fact that the introduction of a test of this sort would fundamentally 482 change the nature of the legislation we have before us, and it is therefore important—perhaps I should rephrase that, it would run the risk of fundamentally changing the nature of the legislation before us, and it was therefore important that all sides should have agreed before any such change were made. The concept of hardship—
§ The Earl of ONSLOW
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord ? Am I right in saying that the noble Lord now says that if we introduce a hardship case into this Bill we alter the fundamental nature of the Bill ? If he says that—that is what I think he said, and I think that is what other Members of your Lordships' House think he said—then he is not introducing the Bill, or trying to pass this Bill through Parliament, for the original reasons which he outlined. The original reasons, he said, were to stop hardship.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, I very carefully and straight away corrected what I said initially, and said that there was a danger that such a hardship test could fundamentally alter the nature of the Bill. I agree with the noble Earl that at the time I said the first sentence I used the wrong words, but I corrected myself before the noble Earl jumped up and started shouting at me; and I think he could have borne in mind that I had already corrected myself before making that sort of point which, if I may say so, is quite unnecessary. He must accept that it is possible to introduce a hardship test drafted in a way which would alter the balance fundamentally in favour of one side or the other. You could have a hardship test that said basically that landlords, because they owned something, should not have any rights over it; and that would give the tenants a far greater say in matters than they would have under the legislation that is currently drafted. I was not making a point on one side or the other. Obviously, a test of this sort could fundamentally alter the nature of the scheme in front of us. I do not say that it would necessarily, and I made that quite clear before the noble Earl intervened.
The concept of hardship to the family when a tenant dies is inherent in the scheme, and the potential elements of 483 hardship are already encompassed by the eligibility conditions of Clause 18. The applicant must be a near relative of the deceased tenant and must have been involved in the working of the holding. And, of course, the applicant must not already occupy a commercial holding except in circumstances which give him no security of tenure. In other words, the applicant will have a strong prima facie case to succeed to the tenancy. These factors in themselves suggest that there will be hardship if the applicant is not allowed to do so.
However, this is not by any means the end of the matter. After the applicant has satisfied the Tribunal as to his or her eligibility and suitability to farm the holding, the succession is still liable to challenge when the landlord seeks consent to the operation of the notice to quit. One of the grounds which the landlord can cite in support of his application is that greater hardship would be caused by the Tribunal's withholding than by giving consent. The hardship can be of any nature and is not confined to the landlord himself; for example, hardship to the landlord's near relatives who had hoped to take over the holding may be raised and we are providing for this in the revision of the Statutory Instruments as I made clear when we discussed this in Committee. Another example is where the landlord's financial position was unfavourable compared with that of the prospective tenant. It is for the Tribunal to decide where the greater hardship lies.
I do not think, as the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, seemed to suggest, that the number of times the word "hardship" appeared in the Bill necessarily gave any indication of the factors which the Agricultural Land Tribunal would be weighing up or gave any indication whether they would be considering hardship. As I have said, the very grounds on which a tenant's successors will be considered eligible under the Bill will mean that, if they are denied the tenancy, some hardship is bound to have occurred; they will have been considered eligible because they have a close connection with the tenant and with the holding and, after that, they will have been considered suitable because the Agricultural Land Tribunal, this impartial body with landlord and tenant representatives on it, considers that 484 the tenant's successor is suitable to farm the holding. Given both those tests, and having been passed by the applicant, I suggest that whether or not the word " hardship " appears in the Bill, there is going to be hardship if the applicant is not given the tenancy.
The next step in the arugment is to ask: will there be greater hardship as between the landlord, or the landlord's near relatives, and the applicants. That is also taken care of in the procedures before the Agricultural Land Tribunal. I would reiterate therefore the view which I expressed in Committee, namely, that hardship is adequately catered for in the scheme, and I do not think that a specific provision, as proposed, is necessary.
§ Lord SANDYS
My Lords, we are always in some difficulty on Report when speaking for a second time and it is unfortunate that this particular Amendment leaves us in the situation in which we now find ourselves. The acid test which my late noble friend Lord Conesford used to use was to ask the question: what is in the Bill ? And remarkably little is in the Bill. I wish that much of what the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, said in his careful and helpful explanation could be published as notes to the Bill for the direction of the Agricultural Land Tribunal, but of course it will not be; it will lie in Parliament's records and only the most far-seeking and intensely keen Tribunal members will find his remarks.
We are in some difficulty here for two reasons. The first is that the hardship position is so inadequately set out in the form of drafting that it has to be assumed by implication. I find it difficult to see how the equity proclaimed by Lord Melchett—I have no doubt, following the quotation he made from my earlier remarks, that equity is his intention—can be assured. However, I accept a 485 number of his arguments. Perhaps the best way to proceed would be for me to withdraw the Amendment on the understanding that it may be possible to have further discussion between now and Third Reading. I am not saying that at that stage we shall be anxious to press an Amendment on this issue—on Third Reading in your Lordships' House that is not, generally speaking, a good plan—but it is clear that we have here a situation which requires further investigation. As I said earlier, there has not been sufficient time for the CLA and the NFU to find a satisfactorily phrased Amendment, but I hope that we shall, as a result of further examination, be able to find a suitably re-phrased one and that the Government will examine it with care. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 20 [Applications for tenancy of the holding]:
§ The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Baroness Wootton of Abinger)
My Lords, I have to call your Lordships' attention to the fact that if Amendment No. 19 is agreed to, I shall not be able to call Amendment No. 20.
§ 5.47 p.m.
The Earl of ONSLOW moved Amendment No. 19:
Page 25, line 41, leave out from (" below,") to end of line 3 on page 26 and insert (" give a direction granting the tenancy of the holding to the applicant whom the landlord may choose from amongst those applicants who are deemed to be suitable by the Tribunal.")
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, we did not discuss this matter in Committee and for that I should perhaps beg your Lordships' pardon in that I did not spot the point earlier. This Amendment is concerned with a simple point and it is therefore simple in form. It is designed to enable a piece of fairness to be put in the Bill. The Tribunal by this time will have found out who has the right under the Bill to inherit the tenancy. However, if there is more than one suitable person, then in equity the landlord must be allowed to make the choice; he must be allowed to say with which of the most suitable candidates he will enter into a contract. After all, the contract involves his property.
The landlord-tenant relationships has
been made much of during our debates. It has been described as an important partnership which makes a great contribution to British agriculture, and noble Lords on both sides of the House agree with that. But in these close country relationships personalities have a bearing. It would appear therefore that the landlord's personal choice should be paramount over that of the Tribunal, but only, I hasten to underline, in the event of there being two or more equally suitable candidates. The noble Lord, Lord Melchett, is a capable Minister who I am sure will appreciate this point. If he does not, he may be interested in a quotation from Locke which I came across the other day and which seems particularly apposite to this situation:
All men are liable to error and most men are in many points, by passion or interest, under temptation to it.
§ I hope that Lord Melchett can show that he is in this respect without passion or interest and is, as he has frequently said he is, regarding it only with equity.
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, will give this some serious consideration because it is not a landlord or tenant issue. Our case is simply that, where there are—as there could very well be—two, three, four or even more claims to the tenancy and when they have gone to the Agricultural Land Tribunal and the latter has decreed that two or more of the claimants are eligible, it should then be up to the landlord to choose which of those eligible tenants is the one who should be given the tenancy. As the Bill stands, having decreed that two or three claimants are eligible, the Agricultural Land Tribunal must then determine which is suitable. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, will consider this seriously: the Agricultural Land Tribunal may interview the prospective tenants for three hours, two hours or even half an hour, but I really do not believe that, in those circumstances, they will necessarily be the best people to determine who will best farm the farm. The landlord will probably have known all the applicants for a great number of years and he will be in a much better position to judge not who shall be eligible, because that will already have been decreed, but which is suitable. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, will agree to this.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, I can quite understand why the landlord should feel that he should be allowed to choose between qualified applicants and indeed he will have an opportunity to give his views before the Tribunal, who will take them into account in reaching their decision. However, the choice between two or more suitably qualified applicants to the tenancy will not be an easy or enviable task and it is for this reason that we believe that the choice should rest with the Agricultural Land Tribunal, which, as I said before, is a well balanced and impartial body. We have already made a major concession to the landlord's interest by allowing him to give his views on the suitability of each applicant. This is only fair because if the landlord knows his tenants well—as indeed he ought—he will almost certainly know their close relatives as well, for they will have had to be working alongside the tenant for at least five years in the last seven years in order to be eligible. Who better than the landlord, therefore, to give an opinion on the suitability of people who are applying to be his tenants and who may have a business relationship with him ?
The Agricultural Land Tribunal use normal courtroom procedure. I envisage, therefore, that the landlord will be invited by the Tribunal to give his views on the suitability of an applicant when each application is being considered in turn and he can, of course, be cross-examined on it by the applicant himself. When all the applications and the landlord's notice to quit have been heard, the Tribunal will go into closed session to decide whether or not to make a direction and, if so, in whose favour it is to be made. There is nothing to stop the landlord giving his comments on each applicant in such a way as to make it abundantly clear to the Tribunal what his views are on their suitability relative to each other. The Tribunal, from their past experiences, will fully recognise the importance of harmonious relationships between landlord and tenant and I am confident that they will give due weight to the landlord's own preference for a particular applicant.
I do not believe that there will be any difference between myself, noble Lords opposite and people sitting on Agricultural Land Tribunals as to the importance 488 of good working relationships between landlord and tenant. We should have to take a very poor view of the sense and sensibility of the people serving on Agricultural Land Tribunals to assume that, where it was reasonable they would not take full account of what the landlord said in these circumstances. The whole concept of the scheme is one of social justice or equity, as the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, put it. I believe that this can best be seen to be done if the final choice is made by the Agricultural Land Tribunal. It is for that reason that I regret that I do not feel able to accept the Amendment.
§ The Earl of ONSLOW
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, I regret to point out, showed some of the characteristics which Mr. Locke talked about—passion and interest—when he said that it was no easy or enviable task for the Land Tribunal to make up their mind. The other point is that the landlord is running something which is quite a big business. He is running an estate which may be company owned or privately owned. He will probably have to take decisions that are not easy or enviable quite often in his life. The noble Lord, Lord Melchett, also said that the Tribunal will take full cognisance of the landlord's views. Why, then, can the landlord not make his own decision ? We on this side of the House are not saying that the tenancy should not go to any of these suitable or eligible people. All we are saying is that the choice between two equally suitable and eligible people should be made by the landlord and not by the Tribunal.
It also seems to me that there will be difficulty if the landlord says of one of the two or three applicants, " I really actively dislike Bloggins ", but Bloggins must be his tenant because the Land Tribunal has so decided. What a lousy way to start a tenancy! I cannot think of a more difficult way of starting or of a situation in which there would be a greater likelihood of bad blood. From the noble Lord's argument, it seems that Nanny State always knows best what to do with somebody else's property. I am afraid to say that we have only too frequently over the last 50 or so years seen that Nanny State does not always know best.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, who is this Nanny State to whom the noble Earl 489 refers ? The Agricultural Land Tribunal has nothing to do with the State.
§ The Earl of ONSLOW
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, says that the Agricultural Land Tribunal has nothing to do with the State. It is a State body which is established by Act of Parliament, so of course it has something to do with the State. It is with regret—but I believe
|Alport, L.||Falkland, V.||[Teller] Newall, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Falmouth, V.||Northchurch, B.|
|Balerno, L.||Ferrers, E.||Northesk, E.|
|Barnby, L.||Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Norwich, V.|
|Barrington, V.||Gainford, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Berkeley, B.||Goschen, V.||Onslow, E.|
|Boothby, L.||Gray, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Greenway, L. ]||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, B.||Gridley, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Haig, E.||Runciman of Doxford, V.|
|Burton, L.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.|
|Byers, L.||Henley, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Caithness, E.||Hereford, V.||Salisbury, M.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Hornsby-Smith, B.||Sandys, L. [Teller.]|
|Carr of Hadley, L.||Iddesleigh, E.||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Inglewood, L.||Somers, L.|
|Chesham, L.||Killearn, L.||Spens, L.|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Kinnaird, L.||Stamp, L.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Lauderdale, E.||Stanley, of Alderley, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Long, V.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Colwyn, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Strathspey, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Lyell, L.||Tenby, V.|
|Daventry, V.||Macleod of Borve, B.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|de Clifford, L.||Masham of Ilton, B.||Vickers, B.|
|De la Warr, E.||Merrivale, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Denham, L.||Meston, L.||Ward of North Tyneside, B.|
|Dundee, E.||Middleton, L.||Westbury, L.|
|Dundonald, E.||Monck, V.||Wigoder, L.|
|Elles, B.||Monson, L.||Wise, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Mottistone, L.||Young, B.|
|Elton, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.[Teller.]||Young,B|
|Aylestone, L.||Gordon-Walker, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Balogh, L.||Goronwy-Roberts, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Birk, B.||Harris of Greenwich, L.||Shepherd, L. (L. Privy Seal)|
|Bradwell, L.||Henderson, L.||Shinwell, L.|
|Castle, L.||Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Stedman, B. [Teller.]|
|Chorley, L.||Kirkhill, L.||Stewart of Alvechurch, B.|
|Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Stow Hill, L.|
|Crook, L.||Lovell-Davis, L.||Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Melchett, L.||Wilson of High Wray, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Oram, L.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. C'hancellor)||Pannell, L.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Gaitskell, B.||Phillips, B.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|George-Brown, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ 6.7 p.m.
Earl FERRERS moved Amendment No. 21:
Page 26, line 9, leave out from (" applicant ") to (" the ") in line 10.
§ that we are right—that I should like to ask the House to support me in this Amendment.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 19) shall be agreed to ?
§ Their Lordships divided : Contents, 96; Not-Contents, 38.
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, this Amendment is consequential upon Amendment No. 19. I beg to move.
§ Clause 23 [Arbitration on terms of new tenancy]:491
§ Lord MELCHETT moved Amendment No. 22:
§ Page 29, line 38, leave out from beginning to end of line 6 on page 30 and insert—
§ (" (4) On a reference under subsection (3) above the arbitrator—
§ (a) where question (a) is so referred (with or without question (b))—
§ (i) shall determine what variations, if any, in the terms mentioned in that question are justifiable as there mentioned; and
§ (ii) without prejudice to the preceding sub-paragraph, shall include in his award such provisions, if any, as are necessary for entitling the landlord to recover from the tenant under those terms a sum equal to so much as is in all the circumstances fair and reasonable of the aggregate amount of the compensation mentioned in subsection (4A)(a) below, and for entitling the tenant to recover from the landlord under those terms a sum equal to so much as is in all the circumstances fair and reasonable of the aggregate amount of the compensation mentioned in subsection (4A)(b) below,
§ and shall accordingly, with effect from the relevant time, vary those terms in accordance with his determination or direct that they are to remain unchanged;
§ (b) if, where question (a) but not question (b) is so referred, it appears to him that by reason of any provision included in his award under paragraph (a) above (not being a provision of a kind mentioned in sub-paragraph (ii) of that paragraph) it is equitable that the rent of the holding should be varied, may vary the rent accordingly with effect from the relevant time;
§ (c) where question (b) is so referred (with or without question (a)),")
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 22, and with the permission of the House I shall speak at the same time to Amendment No. 24. As your Lordships will recall, last week in Committee in your Lordships' House, an Amendment, No. 24, moved by noble Lords opposite, was withdrawn on my assurance that the Government would consult the CLA and the NFU in order to introduce their own Amendment to deal with the matter of payments for ingoings and dilapidations under the new tenancy. As a result of these consultations it was agreed that it would be preferable to allow any such adjustments to the tenancy agreement to be made by the arbitrator according to what is fair and reasonable in all the circumstances, rather than to adopt the more rigid approach proposed under the Amendment moved at the Committee stage.
§ Amendment No. 22 requires an arbitrator on a reference on the terms of the 492 new tenancy to include in his award such provisions as are necessary for entitling the landlord to recover from the new tenant the ingoing payments made at the start of a new tenancy. This compensation is defined by Amendment No. 24 as the compensation paid or payable by the landlord, whether under the 1948 Act or under agreement or custom, on the termination of the deceased's tenancy of the holding. It includes, for example, " tenant right and compensation for improvements. As a balancing provision for the tenant, Amendment No. 22 requires the arbitrator to include also in his award such provisions as are necessary for entitling the new tenant to recover compensation for dilapidations from the landlord.
§ This compensation is defined by Amendment No. 24 as the compensation paid or payable to the landlord, whether under the 1948 Act or under agreement on the termination of the deceased's tenancy of the holding in respect of any such dilapidation or deterioration of, or damage to, any part of the holding or anything in, or on, the holding as the tenant is or will be liable to make good under the terms of the tenancy. As regards compensation for both ingoings and dilapidations, the arbitrator is required to make provision in his award to such extent as he considers to be fair and reasonable in all the circumstances. These are clearly desirable Amendments and I commend them to the House. I beg to move.
My Lords, we are most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, for doing as he said he would do, which was to consider the substance of the Amendment which I moved on Committee stage. We are most grateful to him for having put down these two Amendments, which are slightly different but which nevertheless cover the point. I, of course, will not move Amendment No. 23 when we come to it, because that was an Amendment which I put down in order merely to remind the noble Lord that we on this side had not forgotten the problem and we hoped he would not forget it, either. We are most grateful to the noble Lord for having considered this matter; and as this is the last Amendment on Report stage I hope he will realise that we have been appreciative of the way in which he has considered these Amendments. He has needed a little persuasion 493 from time to time, but I hope he will realise that we have never once breached the principle which underlies this Bill. What we have tried to do is to improve it.I hope he will agree that it has been improved, and that the principle has not been dilated. My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for these Amendments.
The Earl of CAITHNESS
My Lords, perhaps I may thank the noble Lord for including in this Amendment an appropriate provision to remedy the fear on dilapidations that I had at Committee stage.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, perhaps I may very briefly thank the noble Earl for his kind words. Although at times I have been outnumbered four to one in our debates, if not more by official spokes-people on the Opposition Benches, and occasionally by nearly that number in the Division Lobbies, I think that is in the nature of your Lordships' House, and I am very grateful indeed for the way in which everyone has approached the Report stage of the Bill.
§ Lord MEL CHETT moved Amendment No. 24:
§ Page 30, line 15, at end insert—
§ (" ( ) The compensation referred to in subsection (4)(a)(ii) above is—
- (a) the compensation paid or payable by the landlord, whether under the 1948 Act or under agreement or custom, on the termination of the deceased's tenancy of the holding;
- (b) the compensation paid or payable to the landlord, whether under the 1948 Act or under agreement, on that termination in respect of any such dilapidation or deterioration of, or damage to, any part of the holding or anything in or over the holding as the tenant is or will be liable to make good under the terms of his tenancy.").