HL Deb 28 October 1976 vol 376 cc738-40

[Nos.20 and 21.]

After Clause 23, insert the following new clause:

Notice to quit over twenty-five years

".—(1) Save for section 16, this Part of this Act shall not apply where—

  1. (a) on or before the commencement to of the tenancy, the landlord gave notice in writing to the tenant that possession might be recovered under this section; and
  2. (b) the tenancy commenced on or after 29th September 1976.

(2) Section 24(1) of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1948 (which provides for the challenging of notices to quit by counternotices) shall not apply where notice to quit is served in respect of a tenancy to which this Part of this Act (save for section 16) does not apply by reason of subsection (1) above and at the data: of the giving of the notice to quit at least twenty-five years had expired since the commencement of the tenancy, and it is stated in the notice to quit that it is given by reason of the matter aforesaid."

The Commons disagreed to this Amendment for the following Reason:

Because it would enable landlords to, exclude Part 11 of the Bill at will.


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth not insist on its Amendment No. 20 to which the Commons have disagreed for their Reason numbered 21: Because it would enable landlords to exclude Part II of the Bill at will. I must explain to the House that the Government have an open mind on the question of fixed-term tenancies, as my noble friend Lord Peart made clear in a letter which he wrote to the Country Landowners' Association on 19th August while he was still Minister of Agriculture. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary quoted from this letter in another place last week and I will repeat the passage that he read out for the benefit of your Lordships' House: You will of course know from the discussions at the Committee stage of the Bill in the House of Lords, the reasons why we are opposed to the inclusion of the new clause. As Lord Melchett—the Government spokesman—explained at the time, fixed-term tenancies must be examined with considerable care before any decision is taken for or against their reintroduction; and he (Lord Melchett) agreed with Lord Stanley of Alderley that this was something which would be better considered in the context of an overall review of the agricultural holdings legislation. With this possibility in mind I should be happy to look at any formula which you can suggest for allowing fixed-term tenancies without undermining the family succession scheme. That is the end of the quotation. I hope that, in the light of Lord Peart's letter, noble Lords will be prepared not to insist on the Amendment, the effect of which, no matter what its intentions, would he radically to alter the family succession scheme. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House doth not insist on its Amendment No. 20 to which the Commons have disagreed for their Reason numbered 21.—(Lord Strabolgi.)


My Lords, it did not surprise us that the other place decided not to accept this Amendment. It was, in fact, a lifeline thrown to the Government to try to help them to get out of the jam in which they have put the landlord and tenant system. By this Bill, they have run the thing into a cul de sac from which it will not he easy for them to emerge. As I said earlier, and as both my noble friends behind me have said, the landlord and tenant system has been of inestimable value. We believe that this Bill is going to ditch that system. The reason why we put down this Amendment was to try to find some solution, albeit not a very good one, to permit the landlord and tenant system to continue. Far from being an intention to destroy the transfer of tenancy provisions under the Bill, the object of our Amendment was that farmers would still be able to let farms, and would be prepared to let farms, and that the incoming tenant would know that he had it for a fixed term of 25 years. I agree that such fixed-term tenancies ought to be subject to an overall review of the landlord and tenant system. But, my Lords, so ought the conditions of this Bill.

It is because the Government did not have a full-scale review before introducing this Bill that we cast this Amendment to them hoping that they would still be able to accept it and still be able to see, as a result of the Amendment, that there would be opportunities for farmers still to become tenants. But the Government have rejected it. So be it. I think the effects on agriculture will be bad.

On Question, Motion agreed to.