§ As amended (by the Standing Committee), further considered.
§ MR. REMNANT (Finsbury, Holborn)
moved the omission of Clause 5 (Compensation for unreasonable disturbance). The subject of the clause, he said, was wholly distinct from other matters with which the Bill dealt, and its omission would improve the Bill and its chances of passing into law. Under the Agricultural Holdings Act as amended by the Bill, a quitting tenant had ample security for the refunding of his capital. To give him also a permanent hold upon that which he had only hired for a limited time would be to endow him with something he had not paid for. In commercial transactions no one would propose to give a borrower the right to retain capital beyond the time for which he borrowed it, if the lender wished to recover it, and a proposal to make the lender pay a fine for resuming possession of his own money would be universally scouted. Why should not the principle of common honesty apply also to contract's concerning agricultural land? He had studied the Bill carefully and, like others who were interested in the agricultural question, he was anxious to do anything he could to assist legislation which would benefit the land owner and also the tenant. But such a clause as this could only be defended if English landowners were in the habit of evicting their tenants unreasonably, or of imposing unreasonable terms as conditions of renewal. This notoriously had not been the case. The Royal Commission on Agricultural Depression in their final Report in 1897, said ample evidence showed that as a general rule—Landlords are most anxious to keep their tenants, and in many cases made great sacrifices in order to retain them, unfair or capricious disturbances being exceedingly rare.The Commissioners went on to say they were unable to see upon what grounds a quitting tenant who had received compensation for unexhausted improvements 1313 could justly maintain a claim for compensation for disturbance, and they expressed the opinion that "no countenance should be given to any such demand." A similar view was expressed by the Royal Commission on Agriculture in 1882—that—No compensation should be required from landlord or incoming tenant except for outlays valuable in future cultivation of the farm.Such recommendations should receive attention from a Government which so largely availed itself of the assistance of Royal Commissions, and which ought, therefore, to be the last to depart from their findings. The pull of the market was against the landlord; it was less easy for him to find a new tenant than for a tenant to find a new farm, while the outlay involved was a substantial reason for a landlord to avoid a change of tenancy The late Sir W. Harcourt in 1874 gave useful advice to an audience of land tenure reformers at Oxford when he said—Don't begin by ballyragging the landowners. You will only set their backs up and defeat your object. To hear some of these people talk you would suppose they had never seen a live specimen of an English squire.The interests of the landowners and the community generally were identical in preserving the permanent fertility of the soil. I here was no justice in taking from the owner his right to prefer one tenant to another. Such curtailment of a legal right would encourage absenteeism, cause ill-will and interminable litigation turning upon the words "unreasonable" and "due and sufficient cause." The clause would have a one-sided operation, the landlord being fined for a change of tenancy, the tenant being free to move away at will. That landlords held up land that might be let for building was an unfounded charge, but undoubtedly if the clause became law it would in some cases, at least for a time, act as a deterrent from bringing land into the building market. Again, let them take the case of a landowner who wished to divide a part of a farm at the end of the tenancy into small holdings or allotments, for which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bordesley Division of Birmingham pleaded so earnestly in his recent book on Land Reform. Some hon. Members might also have read another eloquent plea for such 1314 action made by a well known writer on agricultural matters, viz. Mr. Kebbel. That gentleman had writted in the Nineteenth Century of July last—The subdivision of tenancies would undoubtedly inflict some hardship upon sitting tenants. But I do not see why this result should be inevitable. As tenancies expired such arrangements might, of course, be made without harm to anyone.Under the clause, such action would obviously be seriously hindered. The clause went a long way towards dual ownership. The broad question, to his mind was whether they were going to continue the land system of this country as it was to-day, or were they going to destroy it? Personally he shared the opinion so well expressed by the late Mr. Gladstone in 1890 at Hawarden, when he said—The best and most wholesome system is that which now prevails, the well-working of which depends on the wisdom and good conduct of the people concerned, where the soil is owned by one set of men, and occupied and cultivated by another set of men.Irish experience showed that a dual system could never be a satisfactory and lasting settlement. For that, if for no other reason, he trusted the House would decide to omit the clause from the Bill.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leigh Burghs),
in seconding the Amendment, said the fifth clause was rejected by the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture on grounds with which he entirely agreed. He had expected to see a Government Amendment on the Paper concerning this clause, because at the conference of the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture the question was put before the President of the Board of Agriculture, who said that the hon. Baronet in his behalf had given notice of an Amendment to the clause which would confine the compensation payable to the actual cost to the tenant who was disturbed in the occupation of his holding. He did not see any clause to that effect. He thought there was an objection to the clause either as it stood or with the restriction. Ho was favourable to the restriction if it could be applied, but he had come to doubt the wisdom of it because the costs of the arbitration would eat up a great deal more money than that which changed 1315 hands. It was simply that consideration which had led him to be rather sceptical as regarded several clauses of the Bill, as he thought that the costs under the whole system were going to be extraordinarily heavy. No doubt there were various ways in which the costs could be mitigated. If the Board of Agriculture gave free arbitration it would greatly decrease the cost, but he did not know whether the taxpayer would altogether appreciate it. Taking the clause as it stood, he would like to hear some justification for the proposal. He did not see the need for it so far as Scotland was concerned, and it had been repudiated by the tenant farmers' organisation. He did not think the clause meant very much. The amount of money that would change hands would not be very great, and so far as it went it simply amounted to the transfer of a portion of one man's property to another. That was the blunt result of it, and it needed some justification. The costs would be placed upon the in-coming tenant. One of the curses of the Irish land system had been the enormous debt burden upon the in-coming tenant, and the Bill as it stood would not only very largely add to the burden of the in-coming tenant, but it would add a wholly new burden, because he would have to pay for any evil deed committed by the owner in the getting rid of a tenant whom he should not have got rid of. In practice he thought it would be the exceptional case that would not come under arbitration.. It would be extremely difficult to discriminate bet been the tenant who was and the tenant who was not entitled to compensation; in practice a much larger proportion of claims would come up than the promoters of the Bill supposed. The cases of hardship in which tenants received notice to quit without cause were very few. If they could see their way to make a landlord suffer for harshly treating a tenant he would be delighted, but he did not think it would be done under this proposal. It was a clause which should be considered along with any general scheme for land legislation. If it were intended to give fixity of tenure to large farmers and at the same time cut up large farms for small holdings, then the Government were riding two horses which were moving in opposite directions. The clause ought not to 1316 have been brought before the House until the whole scheme of the Government for land reform had been fully considered. They were getting into conflicting currents, and this clause being a doubtful one ought to be excluded from the Bill. The Scottish farmers wanted an alternative clause, but apparently the promoters would not give it. Why they should be forced to have what they did not want and be refused what they did want he had not been able to make out. The Scottish case would have to be separated from the English.
In page 3, line 10, to leave out Clause 5."—(Mr. Remnant.)
§ Question proposed. "That the word 'where' stand part of the Bill."
§ SIR EDWARD STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)
thought it might clear the air if he were to state exactly, as he was authorised to do, what the President of the Board of Agriculture meant by what he had said in reference; to this question. His noble friend had said that he wished to confine the compensation payable under this clause to the expense of removal and actual costs. He did not mean by that to confine the compensation merely to the cost of removing household goods from one farm to another or elsewhere. He meant to include such loss as was incidental to the change of tenancy, such for example as might be incurred through a forced sale, or the disposal of a milk walk, for which the tenant might have paid a considerable sum as goodwill. In the case of having a forced sale the tenant might not be able to dispose of it satisfactorily, and therefore it was only fair that he should have compensation for the business that he had built up in his farm and in his business. His noble friend did not at all mean that the tenant should have compensation for losses outside his business, such as losing his post as overseer or church organist. The Government did not propose to give in this case "moral or intellectual" damage, but only the actual loss sustained by the man who had to quit his farm unreasonably and without good and sufficient cause. The hon. Member for Leith Burghs 1317 had referred to the case of transferring one man's property to another.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON
I should like to call my hon. friend's attention to the actual words used. The President of the Board of Agriculture said that the hon. Baronet had given notice of an Amendment to the clause which would confine the compensation payable to the actual costs of the removal of a tenant who was disturbed in the occupation of his holding. That is not quite the interpretation which the hon. Baronet is putting upon it now.
§ SIR EDWARD STRACHEY
said all he could say was that he was authorised to explain what the President of the Board of Agriculture meant by the words used at Edinburgh. He assured his hon. friend also that he was just as loth, without good and sufficient reason, to transfer one man's property to another; and he repudiated the idea that the clause did anything of the sort. As to the costs falling on the incoming tenant, he reminded his hon. friend that the Bill was governed by the Acts of 1883 and 1900. By arbitration the expenses of the incoming tenant, under a valuation, were payable by the landlord. It was true that, as a matter of convenience, an arrangement was often made between the landlord and the incoming tenant to relieve the landlord of the burden of the tenant's outgoing. But that arrangement was merely between themselves; the incoming tenant was not bound, unless he chose, to take over those liabilities. The man to be shot at by the outgoing tenant was the landlord. Permanent improvements, for example, were paid for by the landlord. The whole object of the clause was to give compensation where a landlord had harshly and cruelly exercised his rights as a landlord. The number of landlords was very small who treated their tenants harshly and unreasonably in respect of questions affecting the good and efficient management of their farms. The cases were few where a landlord had i been found to act unreasonably, but if there was a case showing unreasonable, unfair, and harsh action, it was only right that the landlord should be made to compensate the tenant for the loss 1318 arising from his removal from the holding. Upon these grounds the Government thought it right to have a clause of this kind is the Bill giving protection from capricious and harsh landlords. Whatever might be the case in Scotland, | English farmers, at least, had approved of this particular clause. He might have been inclined to suggest some modifications which would meet reasonable objections, because a Bill that had been adopted by the Government naturally needed more revision than if it had been their own measure. But he found that suggestions of that kind which had been made had only lengthened the debates. If the Government were met in a reasonable spirit they would show an equally reasonable spirit in every possible way, as well as no desire to force the clause down the throats of hon. Members.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
said the last sentences of the hon. Baronet's speech were very cryptic. Did he mean because of the reception given to his Amendment yesterday he did not propose to move the Amendments standing in his name on the Paper? Or did he propose to move additional Amendments to those on the Paper? It would simplify discussion if the hon. Baronet would let the House know exactly what he meant. He was sure no one would desire to throw the smallest blame upon the hon. Baronet because he was unable to do more than carry out the instructions he received, but he thought hon. Members were entitled to comment on the difficulty in which they found themselves when the Minister responsible for the Bill in this House pleaded as an excuse for the shortcomings of his own statement that he could not go further than the instructions he had received. It was obvious that if the hon. Baronet was to confine himself to retailing to the House the explanations given by the President of the Board of Agriculture the House would be in a difficulty, because it was clear that the Amendments on the Paper, even with considerable alteration, did not give effect to what the Opposition believed to be the intention of the Government as represented by what the President of the Board said in Edinburgh. They understood that it was the intention of the 1319 Government to limit very materially what was regarded as the injurious portions of the clause. But the statement of the hon. Baronet meant that there was to be no limitation at all, and that when a tenant was called upon to quit his holding he was to be entitled to compensation for disturbance over and above, and independently of the money he received for the improvements of his holdings. The hon. Member for Leith Burghs had told the House that in many cases compensation would not be large. The hon. Gentleman was a high authority on any question relating to agriculture, but. he would forgive him for saying that it would be very difficult and dangerous to lay "'down any definite compensation limit, and that, in many cases the actual amount payable for compensation would be considerable. Moreover, it was the literal truth that, adopting the proposals of this clause, and at the same time declaring in favour of the sub-division of existing holdings and the creation of new holdings, would be like riding two horses going in different directions. Not a single speaker had shown the case that it was desired to remedy. Supposing the landlords of this country were as black criminals as some people thought them to be, there was one thing that ought to be borne in mind, and that was that it paid them to treat fairly those who were good occupying tenants. There was no practical agriculturist in the House who had not had to deal with eases of this kind. Let them take a case where a tenant farmer was occupying a farm of 700 acres, and it was clear, though the tenant did not admit it, that he was carrying more land than he could profitably occupy, and that the farm ought to be divided. This was an operation which would cost the landlord a considerable sum of money, for a new farmhouse or buildings would probably have to be erected. Did hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Government side really think that the landlord was going to run the risk of such heavy expenditure if, in addition, he was to be liable to an action for disturbance, and for the loss which would undoubtedly accrue if the tenant had to sell his stock at a price which he would not think gave him a fair return? Take the case of a man holding 100 acres, not one small holding would be got out of that if once this prin- 1320 ciple of compensation was adopted. Apart altogether from its injustice, this clause embraced an absolutely new principle in land legislation and nothing would be more injurious to the sub-division of holdings, or the erection of fresh holdings, or do so much to retard movements in this direction than the policy contained in this clause. In putting it forward the Government were deliberately adopting the policy of compensation for disturbance embodied in the Irish Land Acts. When a man was called on to vacate his holding, not because he was being treated unfairly or harshly, but because the landlord wanted possession, the landlord was required to pay compensation. That was not right. It was a monstrous injustice and he hoped that Members generally would hesitate before they committal themselves to this clause which would be the most serious and disastrous step ever taken in English land legislation.
THE SOLICITOR - GENERAL (Sir W: ROBSON, South Shields)
said it would be very unwise if he and his friends did not recognise that there was something in the arguments that had been addressed to the House, and if they did not endeavour, so far as they could, to frame the clause so that it would not unduly impede subsequent legislation relating to small holdings. He did not suppose anything he could say or suggest would remove objections to the principle of the clause, but if he suggested modifications it might lessen the hostility. With regard to the words in the first part of the clause "unreasonably and without good and sufficient cause," he quite agreed that the words were very vague. A definition was thought to be necessary and was desired by both parties and he proposed to leave out these words and to accept those which had been suggested by the hon. Member for Hertford—namely—For a reason other than would be looked upon as usual and proper on a well managed estate.The words of the clause as they now stood imposed upon the tenant in putting forward his claim the obligation of proving that he had been deprived of his tenancy "unreasonably and without good and sufficient cause." The onus 1321 of proof did not lie on one party alone. The tenant who claimed compensation had to establish a prima facie case, and it rested with the other side to meet the claim. The landlord had to show good and sufficient cause. In reality "unreasonable" and "without good and sufficient cause" were very nearly equivalent terms. It would be in the interests of the landlord to retain one of them. The hon. Member suggested words of limitation. It had been suggested to him that appropriate words familiar to all who were acquainted with legal documents and more easily construed would be "good estate management." The Government had no desire unduly to enforce the limitation, and thought that where the landlord without good and sufficient reason —unreasonably and without good and sufficient cause, if the House preferred that form of words—and "for some reason unconnected with good estate management." refused to renew or continue the tenancy, the tenant should be entitled to compensation. An obligation would be thrown on the tenant to prove that his tenancy was determined for reasons not connected with good estate management. The House must be careful not to put too much in. If a landlord, desirous of creating small holdings, took land from his tenants for that purpose, and the tenant claimed compensation for disturbance, the landlord might say, "I am trying to make more holdings, and that is good estate management." In such a case it would not be sufficient for the tenant to prove that the change was not in accordance with good estate management on the ground that he was paying more rent than the landlord would receive from the small holdings or the market gardens; for the arbitrator might say that the landlord was only using his estate as he was entitled to use it; but it must also be established that in so doing the landlord was inflicting a malicious or unnecessary wrong upon the tenant. Therefore the House must not only say "reasonably and as connected with good estate management," but that for the determination of the tenancy there was good and sufficient cause. There need be no fear at all that the arbitrator would refuse to recognise this. His discretion was wide and would undoubtedly 1322 cover the case of good estate management. The twofold obligation that would be imposed on the tenant who made a claim would be a substantial limitation to any unreasonable claim the tenant might bring forward. As regarded the other part of the clause, as he had said, the words were the same thing, but from the lawyers' point of view were necessary. When more onerous terms and conditions were required from a tenant that determined the old tenancy. If a contract was varied a new contract was created. But although the words were not absolutely necessary many draughtsmen thought they should be retained, because they would make it clear that they were not to apply to a contract that had been terminated, but to some fresh conditions. In looking through the Amendments there was one which really struck him as being better. He thought better words for the purpose were those in the Amendment standing in the name of the right hon. and gallant Member for the Newport division of Shropshire. That Amendment was to leave out from "Where" to end of clause, and insert—It can be shown that an increase of rent is demanded from a sitting tenant as the result of improvements to a holding affected at the cost of such tenant, and for which he has not, directly or indirectly, received an equivalent from the landlord, and where such a demand results in the tenant's quitting the holding, he shall be entitled, above and beyond any compensation to which he may otherwise have a right by law or agreement, to further compensation not exceeding in amount ten times the animal increase of rent so demanded.If the Leader of the Opposition and the hon. Gentlemen who sat with him chose to accept that Amendment he thought it would be an improvement of the Bill. The tenant as a rule obtained compensation under the Act of 1883, but he did not do so in all cases. There were some cases under the Act where the tenant could only make improvements with the consent of the landlord, and there might be some cases where the tenant, relying on obtaining the consent of the landlord, made the improvements before obtaining it—and in those cases he would not obtain compensation. He did not speak authoratively on this matter, but on the acknowledged authority of the right hon. Gentleman opposite he thought 1323 the fact that the tenant was being rented on his own improvements ought to be a case for obtaining compensation. Another advantage which the Amendment possessed was that it specified one case only in which the landlord might raise the rent. The clause did not purport to forbid the landlord in all circumstances to raise the rent. Of course, if it were proved that the landlord was raising the rent simply to get rid of a tenant obnoxious on political or religious grounds,that would be evidence in favour of compensation for disturbance on unreasonable grounds. But the arbitrator would have no right to say whether the rent was reasonable or not. That would be quite outside his obligations, and it was not a bad thing to make that clear by specifying the one case in which the arbitrator had express jurisdiction to deal with the raising of the rent. It would help the construction of the clause by showing that the clause had not given the arbitrator the powers of a rent Court at large. The Amendment would first of all exclude the right, of the landlord to raise the rent on the tenant's improvements, and, secondly, it would prevent the clause from being applied in some wide, general way which would interfere with the landlord's rights in respect of matters which the framers of the clause had not in mind. After the arbitrator had ascertained that there had been dismissal without due cause, he would next consider what was the loss. As it stood, the phrasing of the clause was extraordinarily and dangerously wide, especially for a lay arbitrator. Nothing looked easier to interpret than the word "loss." But highly-trained and highly-remunerated minds could find a dozen meanings for it. A Judge would construe the word by reference to the subject-matter and general scope of the Hill; but the tendency of the lay arbitrator would not be towards limitation, but towards unduly magnifying his award. Therefore there ought to be some indication to the arbitrator not to construe the word "loss" beyond the limits of the Bill, but to confine it to what related to agricultural holdings. Some words should be introduced to confine the compensation to those things which were directly connected with the estate or the soil, so as to make it reasonable 1324 compensation for a real disturbance. When these matters were considered he would not pretend to say that he would have removed all the objections of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, but they would be suggestions which they were free to accept or to reject.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
thought everybody who had heard the very interesting and important statement just made by the learned Gentleman would feel that he was doing his very best to mitigate the objections of those who disliked this clause, and also to put the Bill into a condition which would make it tolerable to many who objected to the Bill for its looseness of wording and indifferent drafting. Everyone must admire the lucidity in which the hon. and learned Gentleman had dealt with an extremely difficult case. The discussion in which the House was now involved was a very instructive comment upon the special difficulties and the great inconvenience attaching to the adoption by the Government of a private Member's Bill upon a difficult and complicated subject, and also showed the limitations of the discussion on such a measure upon the Report Stage. The hon. and learned Gentleman had now shadowed forth to the House a number of Amendments, which represented not merely concessions to the Opposition, but also what, in the view of the Solicitor-General, were real and necessary modifications of the Bill itself. He hoped the lesson would go home to those who were responsible for the course that had been adopted, and that they would feel that important legislation could not be conducted through the House of Commons unless it were conducted from the very inception under the auspices of the Government responsible. As to limiting the discussion, hon. Members would agree that he was not one of those who had been reluctant to admit that some modification of the amount of discussion which took place in this House might be, not only desirable, but necessary. He had not taken an obstructive part in regard to the legislation of this Government in the past. He thought there was a good deal to be said in favour of limiting the opportunities of the discussion of a Bill both in the Committee and on the Report 1325 Stage. But he would honestly prefer, if there was to be any limitation, that it-should be on the Report Stage. When this clause had passed through the ordeal of the Report Stage and had been modified in the manner outlined by the Government, the House would for the first time see a clause wholly different from the clause originally introduced, and if it disliked the clause it would have no further opportunity of dealing with it. That was a rather serious matter. In regard to the proposed Amendments, the policy and intention of the Government was that there should be no compensation for disturbance for any tenant who had to quit his holding in. consequence of the ordinary incidents of a well-managed estate. Amongst the incidents of a well-managed estate were not only the division of holdings in order to make smaller holdings, but sometimes also the consolidation of holdings. It was impossible to exclude the possibility that the holdings might be required for consolidation, and would not constitute a case for compensation. If a landlord reasonably desired to take the land into his own hand again, that would be in conformity with good management, and no compensation would be paid. These Amendments would greatly improve the general scope of the clause. So far as he was personally concerned, he could not find himself reconciled to anything which established a dual ownership. He did not know why in some cases the landord should not be given compensation. If new principles of legislation were to be laid down he could not see why the treatment proposed should not be meted out to unreasonable conduct on the part of the tenant. The amount of loss, inconvenience, and suffering which a mortgagee might inflict by unreasonable conduct was enormous. Nevertheless he thought the House would do well to hesitate before it declared that a mortgagee who insisted unreasonably and without due cause upon his debt's being repaid at a particular time ought to pay compensation to the borrower. Could a distinction reasonably be drawn between that case and the case which the House was considering? If Parliament were to plunge into this legislative bog and try to 1326 penalise everybody who used unreasonably rights which could not in the interests of the community be withdrawn, they would have to deal not merely with landlords, but also with mortgagees and employers and employed, with a master who gave arbitrary notice to a servant, and a servant who gave; arbitrary warning to his master. It was a mistake to regard the landlord as a man who simply owned an unimproved area of land, and the tenant as a capitalist who turned that unimproved area to account. Landlord and tenant were co-operating capitalists, and of the two it was the land-lord who provided the largest amount of capital. It was consistent with no rational scheme of social economy to say that one partner should be treated on wholly different legislative principles from the other partner. He viewed with great dislike the whole principle of this clause, and the intensity of his dislike was only mitigated by the concessions of the hon. and learned Gentleman. When dealing with Ireland twenty or thirty years ago, the Legislature had to meet a case in which the tenant not only contributed the movable, capital, but was the real producer of the permanent buildings. But in England and Scotland the landlord provided the fixed capital and the tenant the movable capital. It was alleged that we were living under a feudal system. We lived under a system of ownership and tenancy which with differences of detail was universal. The House ought to approach the subject in a more cautious spirit and with much greater regard for general principles than it seemed inclined to show. He insisted strongly on this point, feeling that the House sincerely believed that it was in its power to carry out great social schemes of amelioration, and that it could only avoid irreparable disaster if it carried them out with a clear, simple, and accurate conception of the fundamental underlying principles which he did not think could be abandoned so long as the present individualistic system of society existed.
§ MR. ACLAND (Richmond, Yorkshire)
said he would like to reply, and he did so with diffidence, to the last few words 1327 of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. He had said that logically there was no difference between the position of the farmer who was given notice to quit and that of the landlord who at great inconvenience and expense to himself received such notice, and that if they set up this principle of giving the fanner compensation for unreasonable disturbance they ought to extend it to the workman in the towns or to the employer in the towns or to the tenant in the town house, or to any other class who habitually entered into contract with the persons above or below him. He ventured to submit that there was a very great-difference between the position of the farmer and the position of almost every other class that could be imagined in this respect. If they were to compare his position with that of the ordinary workman who was given a week's notice to discontinue his employment they must realise the total difference of the two positions. In the case of the workman his capital was his skill. He could very likely get employed the week after at the same trade. There was nothing like the same loss that must occur the the fanner whose capital was not his skill but so largely consisted in animals and things which he could not easily remove when he himself moved away. It was the same with the town tenant who was given notice to quit his house, but could easily get another one in j the same neighbourhood. That again was quite different from the case of the farmer. He submitted that the farmer had a special case, and it was only because they had for years realised this that they intended, if they could, to pass this special legislation in his favour. This clause was far and away the most important clause in the Bill. He was perfectly certain in his own individual case that he won more votes from advocating the principles of this clause than by any other point connected with agricultural policy or the land system. He had an instance of the popularity of this, matter on the previous night when he happened to be speaking in the constituency of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Newport Division of Shropshire. He found there in speaking to an audience which he 1328 must admit was not particularly pleased with what he said—was not particularly receptive on the fiscal question about which he was talking—that it rose as one man and applauded almost wildly in favour of this particular clause in this particular Bill, which it evidently cared for immensely. He believed that would be found to be the case in a very large part of agricultural England. He wanted to say a word about the fear that seemed to exist in the minds of hon. Gentlemen as to the amount of litigation which this clause would involve. He believed it had been very largely exaggerated. The ordinary farmer would be very unwilling to run the risk of bringing his landlord into court if he knew there was any chance of its being shown that he had neglected his farm, because if that could be shown against him in any way he would leave the court with the reputation of being a bad farmer and would find it much more difficult to get another farm. And in the same way he believed the landlord would not be anxious to take his tenant into court if there was something like a case of unreasonable disturbance. The vast majority of landlords were perfectly reasonable men, and if this clause, passed there would not be a great deal of bickering and litigation. They would perfectly reasonably say, "I recognise that for reasons of one sort or another I have had to give you notice I offer you a certain sum under this clause to compensate you for the sudden necessity you are in of realising your capital, perhaps at a loss, and looking for another farm "In his opinion, such offers would be in by far the greater number of cases accepted. and the extra number of cases coming into the law courts would be very small indeed. He wanted to make a point as to the great fear of dual ownership. He believed that with the Amendments which had been indicated there would be very little fear of the clause setting up any such system. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin was right in saying that the farmers as a whole did not desire a system of dual ownership. Those who had advocated the principle of this clause had never in the 1329 least tried to make out that it was meant to lead to a system of dual ownership or tenant right. They had simply argued it as a clause which would, if passed, avoid the chance of capricious ejectment, and not as a clause which would change the whole conditions of tenancy in this country. They wanted to secure for the farmer in case of capricious ejectment the difference in money value which would come to him between his leaving the farm at his own convenience and desire, and his leaving it at his landlord's convenience and desire. To those who feared that the clause might prevent the division of farms into small holdings he might, perhaps, be allowed to say a word. Those who advocated the clause did not intend to do anything which might make it harder for farms in the future to be divided into small holdings, or for justice to be done to the would-be small holder or labourer. It was inconceivable that under any system of facilitating small holdings less would be offered to the large farmer who might be expropriated than was offered under this clause. When they came to this question they would have to give the large fanner whose farm was divided the compensation offered under this clause, and they would not find when they came to deal with the question of small holdings that anything they might do under this Bill would stand in the way of increasing, as they all hoped to do, the number of those holdings throughout the country. People on the other side and throughout the country had often said during the agitation on this Bill, particularly on this clause, that there was no reason for it, that capricious disturbance did not take place —it was an imaginary grievance, and there was no real case in which the clause would operate. Landlords who said that carried out perhaps even too fully the scriptural injunction of not letting their left hand know what the right hand did. At any rate, although they themselves were very often blameless they could not know what happened in great parts of the country and what was done, not by them but by their agents, and how there was in many parts of the country the fear of intolerant and unreasonable action on the part of agents on account of matters connected with religion and politics and not 1330 with agriculture at all. There were m any districts where, perhaps, only one case of that sort was known, and yet the knowledge of that case and the fear of similar action being taken in other cases had spread a sort of funk throughout the whole district, and had made the proper relations between landlord and tenant much more difficult than they would be if such cases were simply and properly provided for as was proposed under this clause. This was meant to be a definite and strictly limited thing. He looked upon it as persons looked upon the Parish Councils Act. Not much use had been made of that Act. Things went on very much as before, but there the Act was. The people of a place could always appeal to the Act and get things done by the parish councils if they wanted it. And in the same way, although there would not be many cases of this sort under the clause, there was a great gain, as the farmer would know for once and all that so long as he cultivated properly and reasonably he was absolutely secure.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
after congratulating the hon. Member for the Richmond Division on his speech, said he had come down to the House with the intention of saying something rather strong against this clause, but, speaking for himself alone, after the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General, he felt inclined to change his line of attack, so much did he appreciate the courteous and kindly way in which the learned Gentleman had spoken, and the real magnitude and value of the suggestions he had thrown out for the consideration of the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman had made it, he thought, comparatively clear that he had a bona fide intention in this matter, and that the protection he intended should flow from the adoption of such words as "good estate management" was real and sincere. In "good estate management" he understood was included such instances as those of a landlord taking upon himself the very natural duty of setting an example, and of being rather in the van of any agricultural movement for the development of new ideas. He was certain that he had the hon. Member's sympathy and that of 1331 others with him when he said that anything in the direction of building cottages and improving the accommodation on the estate generally for the working classes connected with that estate would certainly be an instance of good estate management, and yet in order to carry out such improvements it might be necessary under certain circumstances to take land which otherwise the tenant might not be willing to give up and which might cause him rather a hardship if made to give up. He could not, of course, attempt to follow in detail what would be the result of the suggestions made by the hon. and learned Gentleman. He looked forward with the greatest interest to seeing them come forward one by one in their proper places, and they would be considered in the spirit in which they were put forward. He understood that there was a lurking apprehension among his hon. friends that there might still remain in the suggestions of the hon. and learned Gentleman something too much akin to dual ownership to make them acceptable. He (Colonel Kenyon-Slaney) had made it no secret that he hoped there might be brought about an arrangement whereby this clause could be so amended as to pass with the consent of both sides. He did not for a moment ask or suggest that any right hon. or hon. Gentlemen should in any way resign any principle to which they attached great value, but he did suggest that while it was very wise to maintain a good and just principle, it was not wise to shy at a shadow or to magnify a danger which might not be a real one, and which it might be possible to avoid altogether by a wise acceptance of Amendments.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY (Yorkshire, N.R., Thirsk)
said that although his objections to the clause would be to a certain extent mitigated by the Amendments foreshadowed by the Solicitor-General, they were very nearly as strong as they were before, because to his mind the objection to the clause was not in its probable future working. He had never attached very much importance to the immediate actual results which would come from the passing of the clause as it originally stood. He had always held that these cases of capricious eviction were ex- 1332 tremely rare, and when they were inquired into it was probably found that the eviction was due to bad farming or to some other reason unknown to those who spread the rumour about the eviction. And therefore he thought the clause as it stood would not have any very great practical effect, because it would not very often be called into play. But in that clause, with the Amendments foreshadowed, there lay the objectionable principle which had been alluded to namely, the principle of the right to sit, which was practically dual ownership. The tenant who had been long on the estate suffered a moral hardship if he was turned out of the estate for no good cause. But had he a right to sit there? If he had, that right must be negotiable. The direct corollary of giving that right a monetary value was that it might be parted with to somebody else. They were told that loss by removal was to be compensated for. That meant that if the tenant stayed, and did not remove, it gave him certain rights. That would be the stepping-stone for saying in future legislation that the tenant's sitting on the farm was something which he could sell to a future tenant. If that was not the beginning of the dual ownership system which had done so much harm in Ireland, he would like to know where such a beginning could be found. As to the question of limiting compensation, it was all very well to limit it, but the principle remained. He believed it was intended to limit the right of compensation to the actual loss suffered in the agricultural value of the holding. Would that include a bad sale by the tenant of his stock, because, if it would, how was the arbitrator to know how much of the deficit in the amount realised was due to the untimely removal, or to the intrinsic demerits of the stock itself, or to unfortunate circumstances over which the landlord had no control whatever? Then, again, if the landlord had to take the risk of loss owing to the sale of the stock, was it a corollary that if the farmer made money by the removal—had a better sale than there was reason to expect— then the landlord was to pocket the proceeds? Though he would not advocate that, it seemed to him directly to follow that the landlord should 1333 bear the loss if the sale was unprofitable. The point he wished to emphasise was that it would be impossible for any arbitrator to say how much of the loss on the removal was due to the action of the landlord, and how much to the circumstances over which he had no control whatever. An hon. Gentleman in the course of the debate had made reference to the part of the clause which dealt with the more onerous conditions as terms of renewal. For his part he quite agreed with the Amendment of his right hon. friend the Member for Newport, who had an Amendment on the Paper providing that a landlord should not raise the rent on the tenant's own improvements, and he would be very glad to see a provision of that sort brought into the Bill, if it. could possibly be done. He thought that would meet the whole difficulty of the case. Hon. Gentlemen opposite practically admitted that that was the case, because they said that if the tenant was reasonably and with sufficient cause removed from his holding, then he was not going to suffer damage. Now, the sentimental damage to the tenant—which they could not compensate him for—was the same whether he was evicted capriciously or for the sake of turning the farm into small holdings. Why, therefore, in one case, were they going to compensate, and not in the other case? That only proved that all compensation was really beside the mark, because they were going to try to estimate moral and sentimental loss. All the grievances therefore would be perfectly well met by the Amendment of his right hon. friend, which would stop what they were all anxious to stop, the raising of rent on tenants' own improvements. That would not be open to the objection that they were introducing dual ownership, and which, he was afraid, the clause would still be open to when the Amendments foreshadowed by the Solicitor-General were embodied in it.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. URE, Linlithgowshire)
said he regretted that the outcome of the discussions upstairs had been insufficient to reconcile the noble Lord to the clause. Very different, however, was the attitude of the right 1334 hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newport, who in Committee was almost irreconcilably opposed to the clause. Hon. Gentlemen on his own side of the House welcomed even more gladly the calm and conciliatory attitude of the Leader of the Opposition, in the interesting and suggestive speech to which they all listened with deep attention. He did not at all misunderstand the position of the right hon. Gentleman and those who acted with him. He realised that they entertained a fundamentally different view with regard to the clause from that taken by the Government. He readily recognised that there was no Amendment which could be suggested from that side of the House which would make the clause palatable to the right hon. Gentleman and his friends. He saw that there was a deep fundamental difference of principle between the two sides of the House. He did not deny that the clause made a not unimportant change in the law both of England and of Scotland; but, at the same time, he thought it was just possible that the House might exaggerate the importance of the change, and he had felt that perhaps the lawyers were more disposed to exaggerate its importance than the agriculturists. They were going to introduce a clause giving a man a right to claim damages for what was undeniably no breach of contract. They were going to give a tenant a right to claim damages against his landlord for failing to renew the tenancy at the legal termination of the tenancy, or for putting the tenant out of the holding at the time when the landlord was legally entitled to put him out of the holding. Therefore, they were making an important change in the laws. He could not remember any instance in which a claim for compensation for damage was given where there had been no breach of contract; he admitted that readily. On the other hand, let the House remember what it was that this clause did. Stripped of all legal verbiage, all that it did was to give the tenant a claim for compensation if his landlord by mere whim or caprice either refused to renew the tenancy or determined the tenancy. He was not going to say for a moment that 1335 it was only bad landlords who did that. Good landlords might well do it. A very good landlord from every point of view night take some inconceivable dislike to a man—he could not exactly say why himself, but he just wanted to get rid of him. At the present moment, undeniably, the landlord was legally entitled to get quit of him. When the lease came to an end, and the time came for renewal, he might well say, "I decline to renew to that particular man. He is an excellent farmer—I have nothing to say against his moral and agricultural qualities, but I dislike the man and am determined to get rid of him." No one could deny that that was an attitude which could be understood—for the landlord was a human being. But, after all, was it not a hard thing that a man who had behaved himself well, had cultivated the land well, had lived a long time on the holding, had made it his home with his wife and family, and was thriving and doing well, should suddenly find himself turned to the door and asked to seek about for a new home, where he must drag his household goods and make a settlement for his wife and family. They all felt instinctively that that was a hard case. It was a little too late in the day to say that they must treat land like any other property. Whenever they had a man settling down and doing well in a place, they felt instinctively that that man ought not to be disturbed. Since at least the days of the Land Clauses Act they had all recognised in this country that there were reasons of public policy which might well justify them in interfering with rights of private property. When great public undertakings were at stake land was required, and they had for many years given authority to railway companies and other undertakings, municipal and otherwise, to take land against the will of the landowner. Thus Parliament had really treated land in a different way from other property. During the nine or ten days that this Bill was passing through Committee upstairs he felt that somehow, if they could get out of the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite that this change in the law did not mean dual ownership, they would have done a good deal to remove their apprehension, and the obligations of some hon. Gentlemen 1336 who had so heroically and legitimately and honourably supported the rights of the landlords would have been got over. Let them see whether, if this clause became law, they would really have introduced dual ownership. He was not at this moment going to discuss what the consequences of introducing dual ownership would be. After all, the much more important question was, were they introducing it? He would offer to the House three tests; firstly the right of possession; secondly, the right of use and employment; and thirdly, the right of disposal. If the clause became law, if they found that the relation between landlord and tenant stood those three tests, he thought right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite would agree with him that dual ownership was not to be found in the Bill. If two men were private owners of a property, one of them could not legally evict the other from that property. One of them could not dispossess his joint proprietor. But, if this clause became law to-morrow, a landlord might turn out his tenant at the termination of the tenancy, without any condition of any kind being imposed upon him.
§ MR. URE
said he had felt quite sure that the noble Lord would say that. He was about to point out that this clause did not make the landlord's right to turn out the tenant conditional upon paying damages. He readily recognised that if this clause made it a condition of the landlord's right to terminate the tenancy that he should pay damages there would certainly be a trace of dual ownership. But let the House remember that there was not a single condition imposed upon the landlord. He might, with perfect freedom, refuse to renew the tenancy and turn out the tenant at the legal term, and if the tenant could establish to the satisfaction of the arbitrator that he had suffered loss, then the landlord's right was not conditioned by the payment of damages to the tenant. The question was never raised before the arbitrator until the tenancy was done with, and the tenant then came and said, "My tenancy has 1337 been terminated. I have been compelled to go and seek another farm and make another home for myself Give me damages for that." They did not come to the assessment of damages and to the arbitration at all until the tenancy was entirely terminated. Moreover, if the landlord was to become bankrupt the tenant's claim would not be satisfied. He would not be able to recover one penny of the sum to which the arbitrator found him entitled, and yet the landlord would be absolutely entitled in law to turn him out of the tenancy. That was a vital and radical test of dual ownership. Dual ownership never could exist if one of the joint owners could exclude the other from the property. Then there was the second test, right of use or employment. Did anyone ever hear of two joint owners of property, one of whom was entitled to say, I will not put that property to any use whatever, I shall occupy it myself, but I decline absolutely to let my joint owner put his foot on it. I shall cultivate as I think proper, or let it go out of cultivation." If this Bill became law to-morrow the landlord would be able to put the tenant out of his tenancy, and either to see the farm in his own hands, or let it to another tenant, without saying "By your leave," to the tenant. He knew of no dual ownership under which one of the dual owners was entitled to put property to any use he pleased, or to no use at all, without saying "By your leave" to the other. His third test was the final and conclusive test of the disposal of property. He did not know of any property held jointly, of which the joint proprietor was not entitled either to sell his share, or, if the property was indivisible, to bring an action to have it divided, or to bring it to a sale, if it could not be divided, and to divide the proceeds of the sale between the joint owners. There was a test which, he submitted, was absolutely final and conclusive. Any joint owner of any kind of property was entitled to bring that property into Court and insist upon its being sold, or to insist upon its being divided. If this Bill became law to-morrow was it suggested that the landlord would be compelled, if he desired to sell his property, to bring his tenant into Court and to say 1338 "By your leave" to the tenant before he was able to dispose of his own property? Tried by all these tests it was plain that there was not the faintest trace of dual ownership, even if they gave the tenant, as they proposed to do, a claim for damages for what at present was not breach of contract. If the efforts of the Solicitor-General were successful in re-framing that part of the clause which gave the arbitrator the right to fix the damages, then he thought the whole sting, so far as the landlords were concerned, would be taken out of the clause. He very much agreed with what his hon. and learned friend had said about the difficulty of laying down rules for an arbitrator who had to assess damages. It was well known to hon. Members that, when they went before a Judge to assess damages, the Court always erred on the cheese-paring side, and he could never divest from his mind the idea that he could only give damages for what directly caused the wrong. On the other hand he readily allowed that a lay arbitrator— even an exceptionally intelligent arbitrator such as they got under the Agricultural Holdings Act—might go wrong, and probably would go wrong, when he came to assess damages, unless he had very definite instructions given in the Act which he had to administer. And therefore in another part of this Bill he supported very strongly an Amendment which directed the arbitrator's attention to the precise sum which he was to give, and did not leave him with a sort of roving commission to give as much as he liked, having regard to sentiment and other perhaps purely personal grounds. He did his best upstairs so to limit this clause that the arbitrator would have his hands tied and his course clearly defined. He was unsuccessful then, but, the Bill being in better hands now, probably it would fare better, and, when the clause assumed its final form, he ventured to express the hope that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite would realise that a change not so far-reaching and revolutionary as they thought would be made in the system of jurisprudence of both countries.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
asked permission of the House, on a pure question of procedure, to make a suggestion. Perhaps he 1339 had a right to do so, as he entered into a bond yesterday that the whole proceedings on this stage of the Bill should be concluded to-morrow. He noted that a great many of his hon. friends desired to speak upon the principle of this clause, but he thought the principle would inevitably come up on some of the far-reaching Amendments suggested by the Government. He did not propose that they should necessarily stop the general discussion now, but he did say that it would be very desirable not to delay long the time when they would have before them the scheme of the Government. At present they had only got that scheme in the speech of the Solicitor-General, who did not even read the words of some of the Amendments that he intended to propose, and the House did not know what they were. He was anxious that the discussion should not be unduly curtailed, but he only hoped it would be remembered that some of the most important work they had yet to do on this clause was before them.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Wapping)
said that although the Solicitor-General for Scotland had endeavoured to remove their fears he had not allayed his suspicion and dislike of Clause 5, and he believed it would have been much better had it never been inserted in the Bill. The real reason why the Bill had been introduced was because the Government and their supporters wished to pose as the genuine friends of the agricultural classes. When he looked back upon what the Party now in opposition had done for agriculture he was not astonished at the envy and admiration with which the Liberal Party looked upon their work. The Party now in power had provided very meagre fare compared with the excellent and luscious dishes set forth by the Conservative Party. In order to redeem their promises the Government were going to substitute for the friendly intercourse that had hitherto existed between landlord and tenant nothing but hard, dry, legal bargains. As a landlord, therefore, he would have to employ a cheap solicitor or a reasonable barrister at a reasonable fee. The cost would come to £25 or £30, and to a poor man like himself the charge was serious. He honestly maintained that it was a mistake to substitute these legal 1340 bargains for the friendly and happy relations which now existed, and he hoped always would exist, notwithstanding the legal element, between the landlord and the tenant. He feared that the clause as well as the Bill as a whole would produce complications where no complications had hitherto existed, leading to unfriendly feeling between landlord and tenant, and that the benefits supposed to be conferred would be largely imaginary.
§ *MR. MONTAGU (Cambridgeshire, Chesterton)
said the Solicitor-General for Scotland had stated that he could not remember another case in which legislation had been attempted to prevent the freedom of refusing to renew a contract which had come to an end. Might he respectfully suggest an almost complete analogy in very recent years where it was enacted that a right granted to a man to enjoy temporarily should not be refused to him when the question of renewal was being considered, without compensating him for the refusal to renew? He referred to the Licensing Act. A great deal had been heard about the future of the small holder. Hon. Members opposite were afraid the Government would not be able to create small holders in sufficiently large numbers because of the possibility of having to compensate tenants where disturbed. Only a few days ago hon. Members opposite had shown intense anxiety because they thought that they had discovered some labourers who had been disturbed without being compensated in the small holdings created at Burwell. It seemed that hon. Members viewed with complete equanimity the suggestion that in order to institute a number of small holders on the land they should disturb tenant farmers, who in the past had been asked to look upon hon. Members opposite as their friends, without granting them the right of compensation at all. It was also urged that a great defect of the Bill was the cost of arbitration. The supporters of the Government hoped that it would be rarely necessary to apply this clause in actual practice. It was meant primarily as a deterrent; and all that it was intended to do was to ensure the doing by 1341 every landlord what hon. Members opposite who were landlords assured the House they did every day. If hon. Members were right in supposing that no landlord ever acted in an unreasonable way towards his tenant—a rather optimistic view—then the idea that the cost of arbitration would be prohibitive, or that the clause imported into the law a new and evil practice, was a bogey which need not concern them. As to dual ownership, the Leader of the Opposition asked why, if they compensated tenants for disturbance, they should not compensate the landlord when the tenant left his holding without reasonable cause. He would for a moment pay the right hon. Gentleman the compliment of taking his suggestion seriously. The great and essential difference was that when they refused a renewal of his lease to a farmer, they turned him out of the house in which he and his family had been accustomed to live perhaps for generations, whereas if a landlord had to look for another tenant, he had at least left to him the home in which he had been accustomed to reside. The right hon. Member for South Dublin had described the clause as the most reckless piece of legislation he had ever known. When the right hon. Gentleman first began to make remarks of that sort about each clause as it was debated he admitted he was impressed, but by the time the right hon. Gentleman would have assured him that the last clause— that dealing with the title—was the most monstrous enactment ever attempted, he would be able to listen to the right hon. Gentleman unabashed and unashamed. He doubted if there was any hon. Member on the Ministerial side who did not fully appreciate the great debt which rural social life owed to the great landlords of England. He considered them at their best indispensable to the prosperity of the country districts, where they often took on their ✶ shoulders not only the whole social organisation of the small villages, but sometimes the whole duties of local government, and that in the most ungrudging way But a measure like this, by which they endeavoured to prevent landlords acting by their property and their tenants in 1342 an unreasonable way, would tend to strengthen and protect a system which in its perfection they all desired to see strengthened and protected.
§ MR. HICKS BEACH (Gloucestershire, Tewkesbury)
said hon. Members opposite appeared to be more fortunate in discovering cases of capricious and unreasonable disturbance than hon. Members of the Opposition, and he was very much inclined to think that if they had heard the other side of the case they would most probably have found in the end that the disturbance had been much more reasonable than unreasonable. In support of that contention there was the evidence afforded by the Royal Commission on Agriculture in 1897, which expressly declared that cases of unreasonable and capricious disturbance were exceedingly rare, and that in ninety-nine cases out of 100 the tenant gave notice to the landlord. He did not wish to quibble with the Solicitor General for Scotland over the question of dual ownership, but did not the hon. Gentleman agree that if a tenant under Clause 7 were allowed to transfer his holding, and if the landlord was not able to give the tenant notice to quit without paying him compensation, it followed that the landlord lost a very great deal of his original control over his own property? That was a contention which he thought hon. Gentlemen opposite could hardly dispute. The effect must ultimately be that the landlord would either cease to take as much interest in his property as he had done before, and would cease to spend that money on improvements to his property which he had done in the past, or he would do what he was told several landlords had already done, namely, give notice to their tenants and farm their land themselves. He did not say that the poor landlord would do this, but he would undoubtedly cease to spend his money on improvements to his property, and the rich landlord would farm, at any rate, the best part of his property himself. These were two consequences which had made him oppose this Bill very strongly: they would certainly happen if Clauses 5 and 7 were passed in their original form, and instead of improving the condition 1343 of land tenure in this country, they would go a long way to become the death-knell to the existence of the tenant farmers. He had opposed this Bill because he had looked to the interests of tenant farmers and because he saw under this clause a proposition that would take away from the lawful owner of property that thorough control over it which he ought to have. he contended that if a man saved money and chose to invest it in land that property was just as much his own as if he invested his money in Consols or anything else, he had also had serious apprehension about this clause because he felt it would be absolutely unworkable in practice. Fe agreed with the principle that underlay this clause, of putting a stop to the capricious dismissal of a tenant; but he thought public opinion, which had altered very much upon that question during the last twenty or thirty years, was a far greater deterrent and far more effective in preventing that than any such clause as was now proposed, he quite admitted that the Amendments which the hon. and learned Gentleman had announced his intention of accepting had gone a long way to do away with some of the objections to the clause, but he still objected to the principle that remained, namely, that a tenant should be entitled to compensation for disturbance, and he should therefore vote against the clause although he should give cordial support to the Amendments that had been promised.
§ MR. VERNEY (Buckinghamshire, N.)
said the right hon. Member for the Epping Division had mentioned his fear that hard legal bargains would take the place of good relationship between landlord and tenant. He thought that the relations between landlord and tenant, if they were to be on all occasions as good as they would wish them to be, should be based on equity and justice and fair dealing. Nothing could be fairer than that it should be thoroughly understood, not that there should be dual ownership of land in England, which he did not think was the least bit required, but what the property of the landlord was on the one hand, and what the property of the tenant was on the other. Dual 1344 ownership of course, meant dual ownership of the same thing, and that was not proposed. What was said was that the property of the landlord was one thing, and the property which the tenant had created in the land by his own labour and skill was another, and that the tenant should have the right to feel it was really his own. The proposals in the amended clause—and indeed he should have said those in the-original clause—were based on that clear understanding and distinction between the ownership of the landlord and that of the tenant. They might look forward with satisfaction to the further discussion of this measure, especially after the prospect that had been held out by the right hon. Member for Shropshire of a good understanding between landlord and tenant, on which the peace and. the prosperity of agriculture depended.
§ MR. ABEL SMITH (Hertfordshire)
regretted that the last speaker had not taken a larger part in the debate, and that the Solicitor-General had not at- tended the Committee. He did not think that any Bill dealing with such an important subject had over been conducted in such an extraordinary way. The Solicitor-General seemed to think this clause was necessary to meet cases where by his caprice or whimsical action the landlord refused to renew the lease. The question to his mind resolved itself into this—whether the landlord, the owner of an agricultural holding, had a right to terminate or renew a tenancy for some personal reason. All these questions of religious and political matters not connected with the agricultural interest were personal questions. The question whether the landlord had the right to get rid of a tenant who was personally distasteful was a matter of principle, and by this clause the right of the landlord to give his terant twelve months notice was restricted; that would be an undue interference with the right of property hitherto enjoyed under the how of the land The speakers on either side had failed to distinguish between agricultural and other kinds of tenancies. In his view a much stronger case could be made out for giving other classes security—say the working classes in their homes— 1345 than the agricultural classes in their holdings. The hon. Member for Richmond had told of the difficulty a farmer had in removing his stock. He forgot that horses and beef could walk. That was not so serious as the case of the working man who might receive notice to quit his cottage and at the same time lose his employment, his whole means of livelihood. The hon. Member had absolutely failed to convince the House that a distinction could be drawn between a landowner and any other landlord. There had been some talk about dual ownership, and it was quite clear this Bill interfered with the perfectly legal right of the landlord to give his tenant twelve months' notice. That was the first step towards a different position of the law. There was an exactly parallel case in the legislation for Ireland during the last forty years. Irish legislation began in the same way. In 1870 Mr. Gladstone submitted his proposals for compensation to tenants in Ireland for disturbance. There was an excuse for that which did not exist in the case of England, because Irish tenants had in many cases reclaimed the land and erected the house and buildings, and his title was recognised by custom. That was a good excuse if not a good reason for legislation of that kind, but it did not exist with regard to the land system in England. Immense practical difficulties would be found in carrying out arbitration under this clause. The arbitrator would be an agricultural valuer. Imagine the case of a landlord having given notice to his tenant and the tenant claiming compensation for disturbance and insisting that the landlord's action was due to whim or caprice. That would raise a question of immense difficulty quite outside the region of the arbitrator. He knew that the President of the Board of Agriculture once evicted a tenant for keeping too many rabbits. He did not say the noble Lord was not justified, but the tenant did not think so, but regarded his action as most unreasonable. If such a case could happen on the estate of the only good landlord in England, cases would arise in other parts of the country when this clause came into operation. He quite admitted that the Amendments suggested by the Solicitor-Genersl modi- 1346 fied opposition to the clause in detail, but so far as the principle was concerned objections remained, and he and his friends were as much opposed to it as ever.
§ MR. NICHOLLS (Northamptonshire, N.)
said the reason he supported the clause was because it was within his knowledge that many tenants had been removed from their holdings, and quite recently, for reasons that so far as he was able to judge were not good and sufficient. This clause would not affect good landlords who were always ready to help their tenants. A few weeks ago a case came under his notice of a man who had held his farm for sixteen years. He was recognised as a good farmer; the agent went to him and said—If you will agree to go out of the district, I will give you as good a testimonial as any tenant farmer could wish to have.The agent was anxious to get rid of the tenant because of his views. In such a case he thought the tenant was entitled to compensation for unreasonable disturbance. The hon. Member for Leith Burghs had said the Bill did not satisfy the people of Scotland. He presumed they wanted something more. This particular clause would meet grievances that he had recently met with, and he urged every Member in touch with agricultural interests to support it.
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD (Liverpool, West Derby)
said his first objection to the clause was its want of mutuality; they were asked to adopt it because of its equity to the tenant, but as he said it was without mutuality. If this clause passed, tenants would have what would practically amount to a freehold interest. It was not a question of dual ownership, as the Solicitor-General for Scotland had said, but one of an ownership that was single and of a very solid character. The tenant in possession for a limited term, if he did not want to go could not be compelled to go unless the landlord paid him for his loss. Therefore, the tenant was entitled to stay for ever and defy the landlord unless the landlord paid him his loss. Now what was the amount of that loss? It was the whole amount of his interest which was coming to an end, so that he would be a freeholder subject to the rent 1347 reserved in his lease. Let the House take the case of a new railway passing through the estate of the landlord, but not through but close to the estate of a particular tenant. The immediate result would be an additional value of 10 per cent, to the tenant's property. The landlord would get all the disadvantage and the tenant all the advantage. Would the landlord be entitled to compensation from the tenant for the increased value of his holding? How did the hon. and learned Gentleman get out of that difficulty?
§ SIR W. ROBSON
said it would be much better to deal with this question when they came to the words of the clause. The hon. Member was now discussing the clause which was subject to alteration. He was afraid the longer they took in discussing the general terms of the clause the less time they would have to discuss the details.
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD
said he was grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for what he had said, but at the same time he had not told the House how they were going to incorporate into the clause the words he desired to see included. He wished to ask these questions so as to enable them to be dealt with if possible. Suppose a landlord spent money on drainage and thus increased the value of the tenant's holding The tenant's loss would then be greater when he went out. Was the landlord to pay that? He hoped that point would be provided for in some reasonable way in the clause the Government were going to bring in. The landlord was by this clause precluded from improving his own land, because if he improved his tenant's holding he would have to pay more to get the tenant out. Any legislation which prevented a man from improving his own property was a mis-
§ take. The next question was, was this a personal or a transferable right? Could the tenant's right to compensation for disturbance be sold or assigned? Would it pass to his widow or executor in event of his death? Could the tenant enjoy the right through a manager or bailiff or must it be in his personal enjoyment? In the other clause of the Bill the tenant must have done something, have been damaged by game or have made some improvements. But in this clause he had done nothing for this compensation for disturbance. He wanted to know whether it was personal to the tenant or assignable? The next question was the most important. Did this apply to every class of tenant, or only to the rack-rented tenant? Take the case of an old servant who was put into a farm at a rent which was less than the actual value of the land. When his term came to an end a renewal was refused, and he was told to go. The loss that he might claim then would be the difference between the rent he paid and the actual value of the land. Did this clause apply to such a case as that? If it only applied to rack-rented farms, there might be a glimmer of reason in it. But if it applied to tenants who were not paying rack-rents, it was obvious that under the clause it would be possible to do a large amount of injustice. Would the Government accept an Amendment at the end of the clause to the effect that the tenant who was entitled to compensation should at least satisfy the arbitrator that he had complied with the provisions of Clause 4, and had done his best to protect and improve his holding? In dealing with a matter of principle like this, he thought he was entitled to some explanation.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 289; Noes, 75. (Division List No. 406.).1351
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Astbury, John Meir||Beauchamp, E.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Atherley-Jones, L.||Beck, A. Cecil|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Bell, Richard|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Bellairs, Carlyon|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Barnard, E. B.||Benn, W.(T'wr Hamlets, S. Geo.|
|Alden, Percy||Barnes, G. N.||Bennett, E. N.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Barran, Rowland Hirst||Berridge, H. T. D.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Bertram, Julius|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Montagu, E. S.|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Griffith, Ellis J.||Mooney, J. J.|
|Billson, Alfred||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Black, Arthur W. (Bedfordshire)||Gulland, John W.||Morrell, Philip|
|Bolton, T. D. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Gwynn, Stepehn Lucius||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Boulton, A. C. F. (Ramsey)||Hall, Frederick||Murphy, John|
|Brace, William||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Murray, James|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Myer, Horatio|
|Branch, James||Hart-Davies, T.||Napier, T. B.|
|Brigg, John||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Nicholls, George|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Harwood, George||Nicholson, Chas. N. (Doncast'r)|
|Brodie, H. C.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Brooke, Stopford||Hazel, Dr. A. E,||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Hedges, A. Paget||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid)|
|Brunner, Rt. Hn. Sir J.T. (Chesh.)||Helme, Norval Watson||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Bryce, J. A. (Inverness Burghs)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Higham, John Sharp||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W,)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Hodge, John||O'Dowd, John|
|Chance, Frederick William||Hogan, Michael||O'Grady, J.|
|Cheetham, John Frederik||Holden, E. Hopkinson||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.,)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N)|
|Clarke C. Goddard||Hudson, Walter||O'Shaughnessy, J|
|Clough, William||Hyde, Clarendon||O'Shee, James John|
|Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W.)||Jackson, R. S.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Jardine, Sir J.||Paul, Herbert|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W)||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Jowett, F. W.||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Cowan, W. H.||Joyce, Michael||Philipps, J. Wynford (Pembroke)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Kearley, Hudson E.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Cremer, William Randal||Kekewich, Sir George||Pollard, Dr.|
|Crooks, William||Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Price, C. K.(Edinburgh Central)|
|Cross, Alexander||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Price, Robt. John (Norfolk, E.)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Laidlaw, Robert||Radford, G. H.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster)||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Lambert, George||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Delany, William||Lamont, Norman||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Rees, J. D.|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Lehmann, R. C.||Richards, Thos. (W. Momn'th)|
|Dillon, John||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mptn)|
|Dobson. Thomas W.||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)||Richardson, A.|
|Dolan, Charles Joseph||Levy, Maurice||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Roberts, Chas. H. (Lincoln)|
|Duckworth, James||Lough, Thomas||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lundon, W.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Duncan. J. H. (York, Ot'ey)||Lupton, Arnold||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee)|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd)|
|Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall)||Lynch, H. B.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Robinson, S.|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Eve, Hairy Trelawney||MacVeigh, Chas. (Donegal, E.)||Rose, Charles Day|
|Everett, R. Lacey||M'Callum, John M.||Rowlands, J.|
|Faber, G. H. (Boston)||M'Crae, George||Runciman, Walter|
|Fenwick. Charles||M'Killop, W.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Ferens, T. R.||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Ffreneh, Peter||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Findlay, Alexander||M'Micking, Major G.||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Maddison, Frederick||Scott, A. H. (Ashton Under Lyne)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Sears, J. E.|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)||Seddon, J|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Shackleton, David James|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Marnham, F. J.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B.)|
|Gardner, Col. Alan (Hereford, S)||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||Massie, J.||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Ginnell, L.||Masterman, C. F. G.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Meaghes, Michael||Smyth, Thos. F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Glover, Thomas||Menzie, Walter||Snowden, P.|
|Gooch, George Peabody||Micklem, Nathaniel||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Grant, Corrie||Molteno, Percy Alport||Steadman, W. C.|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Wadsworth, J.||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Stuart, James (Sunderland)||Walsh, Stephen||Williams, Osmond, (Merioneth)|
|Sullivan, Donal||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)||Williamson, A.|
|Summerbell, T.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Sutherland, J. E.||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||Wardle, George J.||Wilson, John (Durham Mid)|
|Thomas, David Alfred(Merthyr)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Thomasson, Franklin||Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney)||Winfrey, R.|
|Thompson, J.W.H.(Somerset, E||Waterlow, D. S.||Wodehouse, Lord (Norfolk, Mid)|
|Tillett, Louis John||Watt, H. Anderson||Young, Samuel|
|Torrance, Sir A. M.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Toulmin, George||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Trevelyan, Charles Philips||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Ure, Alexander||White, Luke (York, E.R.)||Whiteley and Mr. J. A.|
|Verney, F. W.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)||Pease.|
|Vivian, Henry||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Forster, Henry William||Pease, Herbert Pike(Darlington|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Percy, Earl|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J.(CityLond)||Hamilton, Marquess of||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hardy, Laurence(Kent, Ashford||Randies, Sir John Scurrah|
|Baring, Hon. Guy (Winchester)||Harrison-Broadley, Col. H. B.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Remnant, James Farquharosn|
|Beckett, Hon Gervase||Heaton, John Henniker||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Helmsley, Viscount||Rutherford. W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hills, J.W.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Houston, Robert Paterson||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Hunt, Rowland||Smith, F.E.( Liverpool, Walton|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Cave, George||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col. W.||Starkey, John R.|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C.W.||Keswick, William||Staveley-Hill. Henry (Staff'sh)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Kimber, Sir Henry||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J.A.(Wore||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J.(Birmingh'm)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter Dublin, S.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Younger, George|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Magnus, Sir Philip||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir|
|Fell, Arthur||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Morpeth, Viscount||Viscount Valentia.|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Nicholson. Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Fletcher, J. S.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
moved an Amendment the effect of which would have been to substitute the following clause for the clause contained in the Bill:-" Where it can be shown that an increase of rent is demanded from a sitting tenant as the result of improvements to a holding effected at the cost of such tenant, and for which he has not, directly or indirectly, received an equivalent from the landlord, and where such a demand results in the tenant's quitting the holding, he shall be entitled, above and beyond any compensation to which he may otherwise have a right by law or agreement, to further compensation not exceeding in amount ten times the annual increase of rent so demanded." He said that by this Amendment he desired fairly and fully to meet what he 1352 believed to be the gravest of the grievances alleged against the present state of things. He had heard many complaints about the position of the tenants under the present law. But when these complaints were winnowed down the real essence of the grievance was the increase of rent demanded from a sitting tenant as the result of his own improvements. If there were any such cases as those alleged, if there was such a thing as an increased rent being demanded from the sitting tenant as the result of his own improvements, made at his own expense, for which he had received no equivalent, it was a scandalous proceeding. He would go far to remedy such a wrong inflicted on a tenant. In moving his Amendment 1353 he had to guard himself from cases in which an increase of rent was asked as the result of improvements in respect of which the landlord had directly or indirectly given an equivalent. But he thought the clause plainly showed what he had in his mind and the way in which he proposed to meet the grievance complained of. He was not wedded to the exact way in which compensation should be given or to the amount he had assigned. It was his desire to make the amount substantial and equivalent to the amount of injury the tenant had suffered. He begged to move.
In page 3, line 16, to leave out from "Where, 'to end of the clause, and insert the words ' it can be shown that an increase of rent is demanded from a sitting tenant as the result of improvements to a holding effected at the cost of such tenant, and for which he has not, directly or indirectly received an equivalent from the landlord and where such a demand results in the tenant quitting the holding he shall ho entitled, above and beyond any compensation to which he may otherwise have a right by law or agreement, to further compensation not exceeding in amount ten times, the annual increase of rent so demanded.'"— (Colonel Kenyon-Slaney.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'the landlord' stand part of the Bill."
§ SIR W. ROBSON
said he need not repeat what he had already said. He would say exactly how much he proposed to take of this Amendment. The early part of the clause would read—Where the landlord unreasonably and without good and sufficient cause terminates or refuses to grant a renewal of the tenancy.Then followed certain words which were unnecessary in lines 18 and 19. Those he proposed to omit and to insert the words of the hon. Member—Where it can be shown that an increase of rent is demanded from a sitting tenant as the result of improvements to a holding effected at the cost of such tenant, and for which he has not, directly, or indirectly, received an equivalent from the landlord, and where such a demand results in the tenant quitting the holding;and then followed the latter part of the clause. The right hon. Gentleman's words 1354 would come in in substitution of the words left out.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
thought that if the plan of the Government was to be carried out his right hon. and gallant friend should withdraw his Amendment by the leave of the House, because, if it was negatived it could not well be revived, although the Government were willing to accept part. Before he asked for a formal ruling on that point he would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman a question, as to the Amendment itself. How was it possible to show that the increase of rent was demanded for a particular reason? That involved a psychological analysis of the intention of the landowner, and no committee or arbitrator could penetrate his brain to discover his reasons. On the point of order, he wished to know whether it was not necessary for his right hon. and gallant friend to withdraw his Amendment if there was to be any chance of part of it being accepted.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
said it would be desirable that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman should withdraw his Amendment, but he would point out that the Question he put was that the words "the landlord" stand part.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
said he would be glad to meet the suggestion of his right hon. friend and withdraw the Amendment on the understanding that the words would be introduced in the place which the hon. and learned Gentleman had indicated.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR W. ROBSON
moved to amend the clause so that it should read that where the landlord without good and sufficient cause and "for reasons inconsistent with good estate management" disturb a tenant, the latter should be entitled to compensation on quitting.
To insert in page 3, line 17, after the word 'cause' the words ' and for reasons inconsistent with good estate management.'"—(Sir W. Robson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ MR. LANE-FOX
asked whether the disturbance of a tenant on the ground that he had been guilty of immoral conduct amounting to a public scandal would be a reason consistent with good estate management?
§ SIR W. ROBSON
replied that he did not think such a reason would come within the definition of "good estate management." It would be within the discretion of the arbitrator to say whether it was good and sufficient cause.
§ MR. ABEL SMITH
regarded "good estate management" as meaning something connected with the management of the estate as an industrial concern, something to do with the agricultural management of the estate. He understood that if a case arose in which the landlord alleged that his reason for giving the tenant notice was that he had caused some scandal, that would be a matter in which the arbitrator would have to decide whether the landlord had good and sufficient cause outside anything to do with the agricultural management of the estate for giving the man notice. There was no doubt that many agricultural valuers throughout the country were perfectly competent to deal with that question, but there might be others who were not. Questions would be submitted to these excellent men quite outside their ordinary province, which was to make farm valuations and that sort of thing. They would have an entirely new duty cast upon them and that was the reason he for one looked upon this clause as being absolutely unpractical and unworkable. He did not think it was good business to submit to agricultural valuers, who were experts in one special branch of knowledge, questions of morals. The landlord would say, "I have good reason for looking upon this man as an undesirable person, as a man whom it would be to the public advantage to get rid of." What was the wretched arbitrator to do? He did not know whether many of them would be satisfactorily equipped to settle such questions as that. If he were one of these 1356 men he would be very sorry indeed to take the job on. He thought the clause even in its amended and improved form would not be of any practical advantage to agriculture.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (City of London)
said there was no doubt this was a very important matter. There were going to be two valuers and if they did not agree there was to be an arbtrator. The two coming together for the first time would probably be local auctioneers. They were excellent men and thoroughly understood their business, but when difficult legal points were placed before them he did not think it was likely to result in any great advantage to either party in the arbitration. It must be remembered that these people would no; always go before the arbitrator appointed by the Board of Agriculture, because it was likely that in order to save expense to both parties they would agree. The Solicitor-General earlier in the evening had said he did not put very much faith in the decisions of arbitrators, and he gave very excellent reasons, but there, again, he (Sir F. Banbury) was rather filled with apprehension, for he gathered from him that the arbitrator always gave more than he ought to. That was rather bad for the landlord. It must not be forgotten that the tenant would always be the receiver under this Bill. He would ask the Solicitor General whether he could not guard the words in the Amendment so as to give some definite guide to the arbitrator The words as they stood were very vague. They might be held to mean anything.
§ SIR W. ROBSON
said the words proposed to be inserted were in the interests of the landlord and any limiting words would necessarily weaken the Amendment.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said they were unending what was perhaps the most important clause in the Bill by Amendments as they went along, and which they only held in their hands as the result of taking down the words as the hon. and learned Gentleman uttered them. He did not depreciate the efforts 1357 he had made: they were singularly able. What he was a little bit afraid of were the words in which he introduced the system of good estate management. These words—leaving on one side the earlier words—would ultimately be the governing words in this part of the section. His hon. friend behind him had pointed out that everything would depend on the view taken by the arbitrator of the proper construction of these words. He thought they would be very difficult to interpret. There might be a general standard in a district which meant for that particular district good estate management. That would cover undoubtedly the general relations between the landlord and the tenant as regarded the cultivation of the holding, and would cover the farmer's position in regard to the carrying on of his occupation satisfactorily, not merely for one year but for a series of years. He was not clear that it would cover the power of the landowner to deal with a farm on part of the estate in order that the whole estate might be satisfactorily dealt with. He was very doubtful himself how- far these words would be interpreted by an arbitrator to justify what might be called high-handed action on the part of a landowner towards his tenant, although the landowner might be animated by the strongest desire to do his duty by his property and by the district. Was it quite clear that the arbitrator would be entitled to say it was consistent with the principles of good estate management for a landlord to dispossess any of his tenants in order to create two or three small holdings when A. was in a position j to show that the creation of these small holdings could be better effected by dispossessing B. or by taking land which did not belong to the landlord at all but to somebody else? This seemed to get rather behind the exact management of an estate, and he was afraid it would be found when every effort had been made to leave these words sufficiently vague to secure that there should be a presumption of right, both on the part of the landlord and of the tenant, that they might tend also in the other direction and embarrass the landowner, even though he desired to do his duty. He thought the House would admit that the case was involved, and that the conditions under 1358 which they were trying to work it out were very difficult. He had been trying to put the case of the owner of the land as a citizen doing his best with the property in the interest of the general community. That was the point of view from which they had to look at ownership of the land and its usages. Far be it from him to object to this Amendment. He objected to the clause altogether, and no Amendment could possibly be introduced that would remove his objections to the principle it sought to establish. Therefore, if they did not object to Amendments on that side of the House it must not be presumed that they waived their objections to the principle, or that they were prepared to abandon the position they had taken up. Notwithstanding the brilliant arguments from the other side of the House, they still held that the Government were establishing a principle which they were trying to safeguard, but which it was practically impossible to safeguard as it ought to be safeguarded. They recognised fully the efforts the Treasury Bench were making to do justice all round, but they were extremely apprehensive as to the practical working of this clause even in its amended form.
§ *MR. COURTHOPE (Sussex, Rye)
said he had a suggestion to make which he thought would cover the cases of doubt which had been alluded to by his right hon. friend and also the case —which was really a serious case—of a public scandal. Could not the learned Solicitor-General add after "good estate management" the words "or public advantage." He would like to point out what a difficult matter this question of a public scandal was. In a case of which he had personal knowledge a great public scandal occurred and had been doing a lot of harm in the locality. Under the present system, it was perfectly possible for the landlord to get rid of the undesirable tenant in the interests of the public without stating his reasons, but if he had to state his reasons he would have to substantiate the case against that tenant. If he failed to substantiate it, presumably the landlord, and probably also the arbitrator, would be liable to a libel 1359 action. Very often there was not the slightest doubt as to the advisability in the public interest of getting rid of a person who was causing a public scandal, but it was a very different thing to bring the facts of that scandal definitely home.
§ Mr. ABEL SMITH
moved to leave out the words "or refuses to grant a renewal of." He thought there was a definite point in this Amendment. It drew a distinction between yearly tenancies—tenancies that went on from year to year, and, perhaps for hundreds of years—and leasehold tenancies for a definite term, which at the end of that term had to be renewed by the action of the two parties. The point he wished to put to the hon. and learned Gentleman was whether it was not a reasonable thing to draw a distinction between these two cases. Although he had no personal experience of agricultural leases he thought it was an unreasonable thing to say that at the end of a definite term—say at the end of nineteen years—the landlord should not have full discretion to say whether or not he would renew the lease. He himself would think it very unreasonable to have to go before an arbitrator in such a case to prove that his action was reasonable.
§ MR. HICKS BEACH
seconded the Amendment. He remarked that when a gentleman succeeded to an agricultural estate the probability often was that he was rather short of capital and ready cash, and it was quite conceivable that he would like to let the home farm for a period of say five years. Would it be an unreasonable thing for a landlord at the end of the five years to wish to occupy that home farm?
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 3, line 17, to leave out the words 'or refuses to grant a renewal of.'"—(Mr. Abel Smith.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
asked whether if a tenant died and left his property to his wife, the land- 1360 lord was bound to let the farm to a woman presuming he did not want to do so. If that were so, it was a very strong argument for leaving out the words. It was not always consistent with good estate management to allow a woman to remain in possession of a farm.
§ SIR W. ROBSON
replied that death would not terminate the tenancy. If the woman happened to be an executor and the landlord thought she was not competent to carry the farm on, the point would have to be decided by the arbitrator. That would come within the words, "good estate management." The clause was not intended to restrict the general rights of the landlord, but any specific act of an unreasonable and wrongful character.
§ *MR. CAVE
thought the landlord ought to know some months before the termination if a tenancy whether the tenant desired to renew it or not. As he read the clause, the tenant might wait till the very List day of his tenancy, and then say "I want to renew," and until the last day of the tenancy the landlord (unless prepared to meet a claim for compensation) could not make his arrangements to get a new tenant. That was a very serious matter, and he suggested that some words ought to be inserted providing that the tenant should give a certain amount of notice of his desire to renew.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
Thought his hon. and learned friend behind him raised a point of substance in pointing out that at the last moment there might be a demand made by the tenant which, if it were refused, would expose the landlord to the consequences of this section. He did not know why the words "or refuses to renew" were kept in unless they were meant to apply solely to leases. Surely, the remarks of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, when he pointed out that it must refer to a specific tenure for a fixed period, applied. Then, if the tenant or the landlord wished to renew, they were both open to do so, but with a clean slate, and with the power on both sides to make fresh terms, so that when the lease terminated a new state of things began. In the case of a 1361 yearly tenant, if the landlord were seeking to get rid of the tenant he gave him notice to quit, either at Michaelmas or Lady Day, according to the custom of the1 holding. Therefore they had sufficient assurance in regard to a yearly tenancy, In regard to a lease, however, he did not think the same conditions ought to apply, and there ought to be a limitation of the period within which the tenant: could exercise his right of claiming a renewal.
§ MR. URE
said that as far as regarded Scotland no risk of any kind would arise, because, if the landlord did not desire to renew he gave the proper notice to the tenant, and then the tenant said, "Yes, I want to stay on," and the landlord replied "But I will not have you staying on," and that would be under this clause refusing to renew. The point which the right hon. Gentleman had mentioned, he thought, never arose with them, namely, that the tenant at the last moment said "I want to renew." The tenant never did that. If nothing was said within the proper time, whatever it might be, the lease was renewed as a matter of course.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said the hon. Gentleman was dealing with the question of leases. Leases were the custom in Scotland, and the exception in England, and therefore they on that side of the House were looking at it from' a different point of view.
§ SIR W. ROBSON
asking to be allowed to intervene by leave of the House, as he thought this was a point that they ought to regard. The tenant ought to be obliged to exercise his rights within a reasonable time. They might adopt one of two plans: either drop the words or make special provision. At all events, though the Bill had not to go through another stage in this House, there were other stages elsewhere, and the point which had been raised should certainly be considered.
AN HON. MEMBER
said that if the words "renewal of tenancy" were to relate to leases he quite agreed that 1362 it was very important to consider the matter of notice, but if the words were not intended to refer to leases they were mere surplus age, because a tenancy from year to year went on for ever: it could only be terminated by a notice on one side or the other. It seemed to him that if the words of the clause were intended to refer to leases, about which there seemed to be some doubt, then it was a matter for the learned Solicitor-General to consider whether it was the intention of the Government to make it clear that it should so apply. But if these words were intended to refer to tenancies which did not expire by effluxion of time, but which could only be terminated by notice, they were mere surplusage, and he thought they might go out.
§ MR. ABEL SMITH
said he always looked upon these words as necessarily referring to leases for definite periods, because a tenancy from year to year went on for ever until there was a notice on one side or the other. Might not a distinction be reasonably drawn between the case where a landlord by his own action gave notice to terminate a yearly tenancy, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the case in which a landlord, at the end of a definite period, whether long or short, refused to enter into an absolutely new contract with the tenant, whose first term had come to an end? There was a logical distinction between the two cases, and he understood from the Solicitor-General that the Government were prepared to consider whether it would be desirable either to omit these words or in another place to insert words to secure that the tenant, on his part, should act in a reasonable manner with regard to the request to renew. Under these circumstances he asked leave to withdraw.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In page 3, line 18, to leave out from the word ' or,' to the word 'the,' at the end of line 19.' "—(Sir F. Banbury.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."1363
§ SIR W. ROBSON
said he accepted this Amendment. They would have to insert the words—Whore an increase of rent is demanded from the tenant as the result of improvements which have been effected at the cost of such tenant, and for which he has not either directly or indirectly received an equivalent from the landlord, and such a demand results in the tenant quitting the holding.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Words omitted.
In page 3, line 18, to insert the words ' where an increase of rent is demanded from the tenant as the result of improvements which have been effected at the cost of such tenant, and for which he has not either directly or indirectly received an equivalent from the landlord, and such a demand results in the tenant quitting the holding.'" — (Sir W. Ribson.)
§ SIR W. ROBSON
said he intended to move the following Amendments:—In page 3, line 20, to leave out from the word ' compensation,' to the end of line 25 and to insert the words ' for the loss or expense which a tenant, by reason of his quitting the holding sustains or incurs upon or in connection with the sale or removal of his goods,implements, produce, or stock;'And also—In page 3, line 20, after the word ' shall' to insert the words ' in addition to the compensation, if any, to which he may be entitled in respect of improvements, and notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary.'
§ SIR W. ROBSON
said instead of putting in the word "disturbance" he was substituting what would be a definition for disturbance where the Amendment referred to compensation for such loss or expense as might have been sustained.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said it seemed to him that it was raising again the whole question of compensation for disturbance.
said as far as he had grasped the point of the Amendments they might be discussed together if the House so desired because of the words "in addition to."
§ SIR W. ROBSON
said they might accept the second Amendment which he had read out and raise the discussion on the first Amendment.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said there were really two distinct questions raised by the Amendments. The first question was raised by the words "in addition to" at the beginning of the second Amendment. That raised the broad question whether there was to be compensation paid over and above the compensation hitherto contemplated. The other Amendment laid down what form that compensation should take. Those were two distinct questions, and he asked for a ruling that it should not be held that, if the first Amendment he had mentioned were adopted without objection on that side of the House, they had thereby admitted the principle of additional compensation, and therefore would be limited in the debate to that amount of compensation and the basis upon which it should be estimated.
said it was a matter on which he desired to meet the general wish of the House, and asked the Solicitor-General if he had any view he wished to express on the question.
§ SIR W. ROBSON
said it might be considered, if they passed the first Amendment which began the definition of the compensation by saying that it was additional to compensation already due under existing Acts, that they had agreed to the principle. Well, so far as he was concerned, it would be clearly understood that they did not.
In page 3, line 20, after the word 'shall' to insert the words 'in addition to the compensation, if any, to which he may be entitled in respect of improvements, and notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary.'"—(Sir. W. Ribson.
In page 3, line 20, to leave out from the word 'compensation,' to the end of line 25, and to insert the, words ' for the loss or expense which a tenant, by reason of his quitting the holding, sustains or incurs upon or in connection with the sale or removal of his goods, implements, produce or stock.'" — (Sir W. Robson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be loft out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. ABEL SMITH
, on a point of order, asked whether it would be open to any hon. Member to move an Amendment to this Amendment, because there were some very novel words introduced.
said that assuming that the words were left out, then the Question would be that the words proposed to be inserted should be inserted. At that stage, would come the possibility of amending the new words that were to be inserted.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
opposed the insertion of the words proposed, on the ground that they raised the whole question of compensation for disturbance. Earlier in the evening an appeal was made by the Leader of the Opposition, who suggested that if they wished to continue the discussion upon that particular point it would be more convenient if they raised it on an Amendment. Mr. Speaker gave his ruling that that might be done. The learned Solicitor-General for Scotland had told them that there need be no fear that these words would in any kind of way create dual ownership, but as against that opinion ho might quote that of the learned Attorney-General for Ireland, who had declared that it was the principle of compensation as applied to agricultural holdings that undoubtedly led to the fixing of fair rents. The Solicitor-General had said they need be under no apprehension as this was merely an innocent clause which would amount to nothing except in the case of a bad landlord who, for political reasons, turned an otherwise excellent 1366 tenant out of the home of his forefathers. That was a very pleasant picture, but it was not the case. It was extremely rare that political sentiments entered into the matter at all, but it was a fact that if they once admitted the vicious principle of compensation for disturbance they would not stop there, but would go on as in the case of the Irish Land Act. They all knew what happened in Ireland. The British taxpayer had to spend —120,000,000 to undo the work which they were now going to do over again in England. But in England it would cost something like —700,000,000 to buy the land. He did not know where hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway were going to get old age pensions from if the sum he had mentioned had to be spent in order to buy out the dual owner they were creating under this clause. The Bill was a bad Bill, badly drafted, badly conceived, and would give justice to no one. He recognised the desire of hon. Gentlemen opposite to do the best they could under the extremely difficult circumstances in which they were placed, but it was impossible to amend this Bill with satisfaction to anyone. There was only one course open and that was to reject the Bill. What might happen under this clause? If, owing to a neighbouring sale taking place on the same day, the particular outgoing tenant had a bad sale, the landlord would have to compensate him for the loss he thereby sustained. Or, supposing it was a wet day and people did not go to the sale which was consequently a failure, would the landlord have to pay the tenant, or would the Act of God intervene to prevent the operation of the clause?
§ MR. URE
said there seemed to be a suspicion that dual ownership still existed in this Bill. Even if the clause became law the landlord would still retain his absolutely unconditional right to terminate a tenancy or to refuse to renew a tenancy, without giving any reason, good or bad, for his action. All the clause said was that if a landlord did put a tenant out, if the tenant could prove that he was dispossosed unreasonably the landlord must pay the expense of the removal of the tenant to a new holding, as fixed by an arbitrator. There was 1367 nothing else in the clause so far as he could see. The hon. Baronet confronted him with the opinion of the Attorney-General for Ireland in which he was said to have declared that compensation for disturbance was the immediate precedent of fair rent. He, however, could not see that this clause would give a tenant any right to claim to have a fair rent fixed. The two things had no connection whatever one with the other, but even if they had, that fell very far from saying that compensation for disturbance was necessarily followed by dual ownership. Dual ownership and the fixing of fair rent were two different things. Because a man might be well entitled to go to a tribunal and ask for a fair rent he was not entitled to say he would remain on the holding whether the landlord agreed or not. It was the essence of dual ownership that the tenant could say to the landlord, "This farm shall be used as I please and not as you please," or, "This farm shall be sold, and I will have my share of the purchase price." There was nothing in the clause to empower the tenant to say such things.
§ SIR A. ACLAND-HOOD (Somersetshire, Wellington)
said that if the Solicitor-General were in the position of the tenant farmer he would take a very different view of this clause than he had taken as a Law Officer of the Crown. The hon. and learned Gentleman had twice used the phrase "whim and caprice." That was different from the phrase used in the Bill. If the Government meant to adopt the expression "whim and caprice," he did not know that the Opposition would have very much objection; but the House must see that there was a difference between that and the word "unreasonable." He recognised the efforts of the Solicitor-General to meet the critics of the Bill; but their main objection to this clause remained, and that was the use of the 1368 word "sale." The condition as to the sale of farm stock on the termination of a tenancy involved the landlord and tenant in a great gamble. If it were a fine day there might be a good sale; if it were a wet day there might be a bad sale. Was it fair that the question of the value of the stock, as between landlord and tenant, should be made to turn upon the condition of the weather? This provision was a premium on the disagreeable tenant. The hon. Member for Sleaford told them last night a great, deal about the Lincolnshire Chamber of Agriculture.
§ MR. LUPTON
I said nothing about the Chamber of Agriculture last night. I carefully omitted mention of it.
§ SIR A. ACLAND-HOOD
Will the hoa. Gentleman admit that farmers do not belong to that association or that farmers he represent do not belong to it?
§ MR. LUPTON
They belong to the Lincolnshire Farmers' Union, which was specially formed last year to deal with this question.
§ SIR A. ACLAND-HOOD
said the resolution passed by the Lincolnshire Chamber of Agriculture stated that the Bill as a whole alienated the sympathy and help of the landlords, and would lead to litigation which would benefit only valuers and lawyers.
§ SIR A. ACLAND-HOOD
said that only showed how little farmers cared 1369 about the Bill. The system by which compensation was to be assessed was one of chance. The best interest the tenant had was the credit he got from his landlord. Nobody would deny that during many bad seasons the tenant. farmer had been able to pull through by the assistance and credit he received from his landlord. If the Government liked to make these relations too hard and to substitute what some people called "dirty commercialism" the men who would suffer would not be the landlords, but the tenant farmer and the men who received their weekly wages from him. In that case one bad season would break the tenant farmer.
§ *MR. WINFREY
said the Lincolnshire Chamber of Agriculture was composed principally of the representatives of landlords, valuers. and agents. The tenant farmers had largely withdrawn from it, and had formed a strong union of their own, which had no fewer than 1,600 members at the present time. The farmers of Lincolnshire felt that Clause 5 was the principal clause in the Bill because it not only gave condensation for disturbance but protected the farmer in other ways. There was one point not hitherto mentioned, and that was the impossibility some tenant farmers experienced in putting the Ground Game Act into operation. Though not in many cases, that would be equivalent to notice to a tenant to quit his holding.
§ *MR. WINFREY
said he was familiar with a case in Norfolk where a tenant tried to get compensation for damage done by winged game.
§ *MR. WINFREY
said it was the same thing. This tenant tried to get compensation from the shooting tenant, but failed in his efforts, and shortly after- wards he was politely asked to leave.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
The tenant has certain rights under the Ground Game Act. The hon. Member says if the tenant exercises them he will be evicted. I asked him to give a single case and the only case he gives has nothing whatever to do with ground game.
§ *MR. WINFREY
quite recognised that the case was one of winged game. He knew cases where farms had been sold over the heads of sitting tenants, in some oases after twenty years. He was familiar with one instance in particular where a man. a considerable farmer, had purchased these farms and had given the three sitting tenants twelve months notice to quit. Those tenants had been in occupation for many years, and they had to go out without a penny of compensation. Under this clause these men would have got compensation for disturbance. He regretted that the Amendments had reduced the value of the clause.
§ SIR ROBERT ROPNER (Stockton)
was quite sure that if the words proposed by the Solicitor-General were accepted, the inevitable result would be disagreements between landlords and tenants, and if it was made impossible for the landlord to get rid of the tenant who had made himself disagreeable the result would be dual ownership. A landlord knew a good tenant when he got him, and would not get rid of him without good reason. It was complained that a farm might be sold over the head of a sitting tenant. He would ask where was the ownership of the landlord if he had no right to sell and to determine a tenancy? It would be a great pity if this clause 1371 passed, because it would create great difficulties between landlords and tenants.
§ MR. HICKS BEACH
said it would have been a great advantage if the Government had made up their minds a | little earlier as to the exact words they would put in the Bill and the words they wanted to leave out. He objected to the Amendment, because he was opposed to the principle of compensation for disturbance. It took away from the landlord that right of control over his property which he now possessed. The landlord would spend less money on his property and buildings, and that would be a serious disadvantage to the tenants as a whole. The hon. Member for S.W. Norfolk had told the Committee that he knew cases where tenants had been disturbed for asking to get the advantage of the Ground Game Act. He was challenged, but he was not able to adduce one single case. With the hon. Member's large knowledge of agriculture one would have thought he would have been able to produce one case if there was one. In ninety-nine cases out of 100 when permission was asked to shoot a few rabbits leave was given at once. With regard to the particular words that it was now sought to introduce into the clause, he thought they were very wide indeed, and that they would open a large doorway for the inroad of fraud. He most strongly objected to the Amendment in its present form.
§ MR. LANE-FOX
said that before the hon. Member for S. W. Norfolk made the assertion that tenants had been evicted for seeking to take advantage of the Ground Game Act he should have been prepared with specific instances. When challenged, all the hon. Member could do was to mention the case of a man evicted for killing winged game, and that was in another county. The hon. Gentleman the Solicitor-General had said there was no question of dual ownership in the compensation to be given under this clause. 1372 He disagreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman. Hon. Members would admit that if the question of dual ownership was not clearly dealt with by the clause it was a thing they were justified in being afraid of. Whatever the Bill might do, this was a substantial beginning. There were several questions involved in this clause which made it a very much larger question than appeared at first sight. Anyone who had any cognisance of farm sales knew what uncertainty there was with regard to them. No one had raised the question of the uncertainty that might arise as to the distance which a tenant might wish to move. It was manifestly unfair that if he wished to move five miles the landlord should be compelled to pay compensation. Other considerations also arose. One farmer might have a large family and another a small one and another no family at all. These were all matters of accident and were due to no fault of the landlord, and it was manifestly unfair that he should have to pay compensation with regard to matters over which he had no control. The hon. Member for Sleaford, who professed to speak on behalf of the tenant farmers of Lincolnshire, had expressed views diametrically opposed to those of the hon. Member for S.W. Norfolk. He left it to the two hon. Members to settle the difference between them. He did not believe that this particular clause would do any good to tenant farmers. He thought when it was coupled with Clause 7, which would be discussed later, it would put the whole burden of carrying out improvements upon the tenants and take it out of the power of the landlord to carry them out, thus withdrawing from him the interest he had in the soil.
§ *MR. BERTRAM (Hertfordshire, Hitchin)
drew attention to the words of this clause as now amended having a wider meaning than was necessary for the purpose they were designed to provide for. 1373 The Solicitor-General, in his speech, had created the impression that everything undesirable in this clause was to be removed, and that it was only intended to apply to the case where a landlord got rid of a tenant for some reason of petty spite—religious or political. But the words would certainly include other cases. It was quite evident that the amended section would allow an arbitrator to find that a landlord had treated a tenant with such harshness as to make the section applicable, although no personal spite whatever had existed, and in such case the section was far too wide. The tenant was to be compensated for any expense he sustained in regard to a "sale" or removal of his goods. "Goods" had nothing to do with farming, and it was plain from the wording of the section that a man was to be compensated for loss in the removal of his household goods. The section should be limited to farm implements and stock. The word "goods" included a large number of things which ought not to be included. The word "sale" was put in in order that the tenant should be protected from the consequences of a forced sale, but the tenant had six months notice and in some cases a year's notice within which to make arrangements for a sale. The Solicitor-General also went a good deal further than the Minister for Agriculture. His desire and intention was that the farmer in a case of unreasonable eviction should receive the amount of the expense he incurred in moving from one holding to another. He hoped the Government would consider the desirability of, in some way, limiting the wording of the clause as amended.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said that after the manner in which one speaker after another on the Government's own side had criticised their proposal nobody could complain of the Opposition for debating the clause at by no means undue length. It embraced a new 1374 principle which many believed to be extremely dangerous. Never for the last thirty years, during which period he had frequently been responsible for legislation, had he seen such a spectacle as that which had been offered that night. He did not believe two men on the Ministerial side had the shadowiest idea of the meaning of the clause they were going to support in the lobby. He even doubted whether those on the Treasury bench could tell exactly what the clause was. What was the history of this clause? It was that certain Amendments of the Government were proposed and then withdrawn. Then it was found that-certain things were left out which ought to have been left in. Later on they discovered that they had incorporated words which ought not to have been incorporated, and the House cheered when Ministers withdrew to the seclusion of that part of the House where strangers congregated and, after an interesting colloquy, returned with a fresh set of Amendments, because they had left undone those things which they ought to have done and had done those things which they ought not to have done. He challenged hon. Members opposite to lay their hands on their hearts and say that even now they knew what the clause meant. The hon. Member for S. W. Norfolk supported the clause on grounds which were inconsistent with the Ministerial statement of what was possible by way of compensation to the tenant under the Bill. A variety of interpretations had been put on the clause by lawyers on he Ministerial side, and the last speaker lad said that the words under discussion vent further than the Government meant to go. As he (Mr. Long) read the words he objected to them altogether as being too wide and too loose, and likely to be used to inflict the greatest possible injustice on the landowner. A farmer night claim for damage to a motor-car n going from one big farm to another, They were bound to regard the words 1375 with suspicion and to offer to them the strongest opposition.
§ *MR. WHITBREAD (Huntingdonshire, Huntingdon)
said he desired to support the Amendment before the House, and to call attention to what he believed to be a remarkable fact in connection with it. The words—Loss sustained by a tenant by reason of this quitting his holdingmeant the loss or expense to which he might be put by reason of his removing. At an earlier stage his hon. friend the Member for Leith Burghs had referred to a speech made by the President of the Board of Agriculture at Edinburgh in an endeavour apparently to assuage the fears of his auditors. The Amendment to which the noble Lord the President of the Board of Agriculture referred, would, according to the noble Lord, confine the compensation payable to the actual costs of removal of the tenant. That was practically the Amendment now before the House. It appeared to be the missing Amendment. It would confine the amount of compensation within very narrow limits. He was bound to say that the words reported to have been used by the noble Lord were much simpler and more direct, but since they appeared to have been lost somewhere the Amendment now before the House was probably the best thing that memory could supply in their place. Therefore it seemed that the whole authority of the President of the Board of Agriculture was at the back of this Amendment, and he sincerely hoped that the House would carry it. The noble Lord in making use of the words to which he had referred clearly contemplated that the clause as drawn would require limiting and defining, for he went on to say—This amount would be perfectly easy to ascertain, and there would, therefore, be no question of a large undefined liability or a costly and protracted law suit.1376 Those were just the fears which some of them had had in mind and those fears were evidently present to the mind of the President of the Board of Agriculture too, for he went on to assure his hearers that an Amendment would be tabled which would definitely limit the range of compensation to be paid, in the way in which the Amendment now before the House proposed to limit it. As to the clause as a whole, he was bound to say that it appeared to him to open a large and doubtful and dangerous question. At the same time. he recognized that where cases occurred of a tenant being arbitrarily, capriciously, and unreasonably dispossessed of his holding, such tenant was morally entitled to the fullest compensation. That, he believed, was the underlying principle of the clause, and so long as the operation of the clause was confined, by Amendments such as that now before the House, to cases of that sort he gave it his fullest and most enthusiastic support. He did not share the opinion which had been expressed that such cases did not occur. That they were rare he hoped and believed, but they were not unknown. Only the other day—
§ *MR. WHITBREAD
said he would content himself by saying that the Amendments appeared to embody the principle laid down by the President of the Board of Agriculture, and that they constituted a very wise limitation of the clause. He was glad that they had been put before the House by a Member of the Government, and he sincerely hoped that the House would adopt them.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
said it might be interesting to the House to know that the words which the last speaker had quoted were used by the President 1377 of the Board of Agriculture on two occasions. There was therefore no question of the utterance being accidental or merely effusive. In The Times of 20th September he found these words in the report of the speech of the noble Lord—The Amendments which had been put down would confine the compensation payable to the actual loss sustained by the tenant in moving from the farm.Fourteen days afterwards when the noble Lord went to Scotland he made the same statement more elaborately. He therefore hoped that the contention that they had been putting an unfair construction on the words of the noble Lord would be given up. They had a right to expect that those words would be given effect to by those who were acting for the noble Lord.
§ MR. HUNT (Shropshire, Ludlow)
asked the Solicitor - General how he thought the valuation of the stock was going to be made and, whether he did not think the clause would cause an enormous amount of litigation. It was still a very one-sided affair. The tenant for any whim or caprice—perhaps because he did not like his landlord's looks— was to be able to get rid of his landlord, and he might perhaps terminate his tenancy by leaving the land in a very bad condition; but the landlord who owned the land and put up the buildings could not got rid of his tenant without paying what he supposed would amount to a very heavy fine. It seemed to him that hon. Gent-lemon on the other side did not understand the agricultural position. They seemed to think that there was a great deal of fraction between the ordinary tenant farmer and his landlord. That was not the case. The difficulty that occurred most frequently in connection with the land question arose out of the jealousy between the labourer and the tenant farmer. He would put an ordinary case. Suppose 1378 they had a tenant farmer farming 500 acres. That farm would probably have four cottages on it, let by the landlord to the farmer and his labourers. They were going to give this farmer tho power either of staying on his holding or of compelling the landlord to pay him a very considerable sum for leaving. But what about the labourers who were working for the farmer? They were giving the farmer, who very likely might be better off than the landlord himself, an enormous advantage over his landlord under this Bill, but though hon. Gentlemen opposite pretended to be the friends of the working classes they were not doing one single thing for the cottagers.
That may be an important point to consider, but it is not in order now, and the hon. Member must confine himself to the Amendment.
*MR. DEPUTY - SPEAKER
I am quite aware of the hon. Member's argument, but it is not in order on this Amendment.
§ MAJOR DUNNE (Walsall)
intervened to say a few words from the point of view, of a landowner who sat on the Ministerial side. The right hon. Member for South Dublin had challenged anyone on that side to get up and support the clause and the Amendment with which the House was now dealing. He could honestly say that the clause, especially with this Amendment, had his support as a landowner. In regard to the right hon. 1379 Gentleman's second challenge—that someone would explain the clause—he thought it was plain English. It was only in very exceptional cases that the clause would operate at all, for he fully agreed that in most cases the relationship between landlord and tenant was such that it would not be necessary. But there was undoubtedly a suspicion lurking behind the minds of a great many tenant farmers that, if through some cause or other, a quarrel arose between farmer and landlord, the farmer ran the risk of being turned out capriciously. The plain meaning of the clause was that where such a thing happened the tenant farmer was to receive compensation.
The hon. Member is dealing with other parts of the clause and not with the Amendment.
§ MAJOR DUNNE
thought that where a man was capriciously evicted the very least the landlord could do for him was to give him full compensation for all the expenses he incurred in the removal from one farm to another. A great deal had been said about the loss that might arise from a forced sale of stock. But everybody knew that changes from one farm to another generally took place at certain periods of the year, and a month or two before the removal took place it would be well known that there was to be a sale of stock on the farm. No question of a forced sale at a few minutes notice could arise. From the point of view of a landowner ne thought the clause and the Amendment wore deserving of the hearty support of the House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
thought that all who had listened to the debate would feel that, through no fault of the learned Gentleman in charge of the 1380 Bill, they were in a somewhat difficult position in not having the words of the Amendment before them. It would conduce to the reasonableness of the discussion if they could defer any further consideration of the words until to-morrow. Of course, that would make no difference whatever in the bargain struck between the two sides of the House as to the conclusion of this stage of the Bill to-morrow night. Ho understood that the Government were prepared to put down important Amendments on Clause 7 which might shorten the discussion of that clause, and he believed they would be able to get through the Bill by a reasonable hour to-morrow. He would therefore move the adjournment of the debate, if it was understood that the right hon. Gentleman (the Prime Minister) would afterwards move the adjournment of the House. He begged to move that the debate be now adjourned.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the debate be now adjourned."
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said he thought the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman reasonable. The words now under discussion were hastily patched together with a view to meet the general feeling of the House. It would be convenient to see them in print, and therefore he assented to the course suggested.
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.
§ Where upon Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Resolution of the House of the 4th August last.
§ Adjourned at twenty minutes before Eleven o'clock.