§ (6) In any case where a tenant holds two or more holdings, whether from the same landlord or different landlords, and receives notice to quit one or more but not all of the holdings, the compensation for disturbance in respect of the holding or holdings shall be reduced by such amount as is shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator to represent the reduction (if any) of the loss attributable to the notice to quit by reason of the continuance in possession by the tenant of the other holding or holdings.
§ (7) The landlord shall, on the written application of the tenant of a holding to whom he has given a notice to quit which does not state the reasons for which it is given, furnish to the tenant within twenty-eight days after the receipt of the application a statement in writing of the reasons for the giving of the notice, and if he fails so to do the notice shall be deemed to have been given without good and sufficient cause and for reasons inconsistent with good estate management.
§ (8) If any question arises as to whether compensation is payable under this Section or as to the amount payable by way of compensation under this Section the question shall, in default of agreement, be determined by arbitration under the Act of 1908.
§ (9) Compensation payable under this Section shall be in addition to any compensation to which the tenant may be entitled in respect of improvements, and shall be payable notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary.
Amendment proposed [19th November]: In Sub-section (6) to leave out the words
the compensation for disturbance in respect of the holding or holdings shall be reduced by such amount as is shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator to represent the reduction (if any) of the loss attributable to the notice to quit by reason of the continuance in possession by the tenant of the other holding or holdings,
and to insert instead thereof the words
except the one he resides on or, in the event of him not residing on any, the special one selected by him, he shall not be able to claim compensation unless it can be proved to the satisfaction of the arbitrator that the
loss of this land would materially depreciate the value of the holding he resides on or, in the event of him not residing on it, the one named by him."[Mr. Royce.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the words 'the compensation for disturbance' stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir F. BANBURY
When the House adjourned on Friday, I was pointing out that I was unable to support the Amendment, because, although I do not agree to compensation being given in various cases under this Bill, I think that, if compensation is to be given at all, it should not be given to one and denied to another, The object of the Clause is to compensate a tenant who loses his capital through being turned out of his farm. Now the hon. Member proposes that, where a man has more than one farm, though he may lose his capital on being turned out, he is not to receive the same compensation that he would receive if he had only one farm. I cannot conceive how the hon. Member, who is in favour of compensation being given to make up for loss of capital, which may or may not arise, can say that one man is to receive the benefit, whereas another man is not to receive it. The only argument advanced by the hon Member was that a multiple farmer is rather better off than the smaller farmer; that is to say, the compensation to be given under this Bill is only to be given to a particular class, namely, the poorer class of farmer. In the case of the smaller people, who are the majority of farmers, and have the largest number of votes, legislation is to be passed to give them the property of their neighbours, on the plea that justice is being done, and then, when it comes to be rather expensive, the plea is to be advanced that it is only to be given to a man who is poor, and not to a man who, by his own efforts, is a little better off. It is true the hon. Member seems to have found out at last that the effect of this Clause will be to make it difficult to obtain land. That we knew all along. It seems to have come as a surprise to the hon. Member, and, therefore, he thinks we ought to safeguard ourselves against an evil which is certain to result. That is to say, where a man has a number of acres, that man is to be debarred from receiving compensation, in order that another man shall not pay such a sum as will render it difficult for him to cultivate the land in a proper manner. While I 87 agree with the hon. Member that the result of the Clause will be a disaster, I cannot support him, for the reason I have given, namely, that, if one farmer has compensation, every other farmer ought to receive it.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MURROUGH WILSON
I am afraid I am under some misapprehension with regard to this Amendment. As I understand it, compensation is to be reduced in the case of a holder of several farms, but is not to be taken away altogether. I rather gathered from the Minister in charge of the Bill that the effect of this Amendment would be that a man would get no compensation at all.
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of AGRICULTURE (Sir Arthur Boscawen)
No, it would be reduced. As his loss would be less, in consequence of his still retaining certain holdings, the compensation would be reduced proportionately to the reduction of his loss.
§ Lieut.-Colonel M. WILSON
I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, In that case, I must confess I am in favour of the Amendment more or less as put down, because the effect of the Amendment, I understand, will be that whilst at the present time—
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I beg my hon. and gallant Friend's pardon. I think he misunderstood me. What I said was not the effect of the Amendment but of the Clause in the Bill, which says that if the loss is less because a man still retains certain holdings, the compensation will be reduced pro tanto. That is the effect of the Bill, not of the Amendment.
§ Lieut.-Colonel M. WILSON
I think I have it clear now, but I am still in favour of the Amendment, because, as I say, the effect of the Amendment now is that the proving that there has been a loss is going to be put on the man himself, and not on the person he gives notice to quit. In a case like this, the multiple farmer will have to prove he has suffered considerable loss, and the onus will be upon him to show what that loss is. I hope the hon. Member will press his Amendment to a division.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I would also like to support the Amendment. The particular case I have in mind is where land has been taken for small holdings. I think the whole House will agree that one of the fairest ways to take land for smallholdings is to take one of a number of farms all held by the same man. It must nearly always be a little hard on somebody, but if there is a case where a holding can be taken with a minimum of hardship, it is the case of the holder of multiple farms, which is often a nuisance and a cause of bringing farming into discredit. If that be so, as the Bill stands, if notice is served in respect of one of these farms for this or any other purpose, the owner of the farm will receive the loss he has sustained by quitting that farm. I think in a case of that kind it is quite fair, as the hon. Member who has just spoken stated, that he should only receive compensation on account of the depreciation or loss of his business in connection either with the farm on which he resides, or, "in the event of him not residing on it, the one named by him." I think when there is so much want of land as there is at the present time, it is quite fair that farmers should name one farm as that of their main business, and if, then, other land is taken away from them, the amount of damage done to them may well be measured by the damage done to the main business carried on on a particular farm, either named by him or on which he resides. I do not think the Clause regarding these multiple farms goes so far as I think the general opinion of the House would desire, and I hope, therefore, further consideration will be given to the Amendment.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir J. HOPE
The Amendment under discussion does two things. It increases the compensation to the multiple farmer which the multiple farmer can claim under certain circumstances according to the provisions of the Bill, and also—a matter which I consider more important—it transfers the onus of proving the loss to the farmer. Under the Bill the landowner has to prove what other farms the multiple farmer occupies, even though they are held by another landowner. It seems to me impossible for an owner to prove entirely all about another man's business in different parts of the country. I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary as a possible com- 89 promise that he accepts the compensation which is payable under his own Bill at present, and that we agree to transfer the burden of proof as to the other farms, etc., from the landowner, as at present, to the farmer, who is best able to know his own business and show it to the satisfaction of the arbitrator. I have a very simple Amendment down to that effect, in fact three or four Amendments, with the object of transferring the onus of proof from the owner to the farmer. They are quite simple, and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will consider the matter, which I consider of very great importance. I do not see how a landowner can possibly inquire into the affairs of the farmer, who perhaps owns half a dozen farms in half a dozen different counties.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I am perfectly willing to undertake that this matter shall be further considered in another place, but I would point out to my hon. Friend behind me and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Acland) that over and over again in Committee we discussed this up and down with a perfect variety of Amendments, some of which appear to-day on the Order Paper. Finally, we came to what we thought was a fair principle—and it was carried in Committee by a very largo majority—and that principle was this: that in the case of a multiple farmer, inasmuch as he is only dispossessed of one or two holdings and retains others, the compensation should be reduced proportionately to the diminution of his loss. I think that is a fair compensation; I do not see how you can get away from it. I want to put in a word about what I think is an important matter. I know a great many people who have got in mind solely the case of the large farmer who holds several big farms, the man who adds field to field.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
And farm to farm. The multiple farmer is defined in the Bill as the man who has more than one holding, whether held from the same landlord or from another. But the most common case is the case of the small man who has begun on a certain acreage, and gradually built it up. I know a lot of these cases all over the country. In these cases you must be very careful that you do not commit a very grave injustice 90 if you hastily carry this and other Amendments. In the case of the man who has got, say, 50 acres in three or four separate holdings, it may make all the difference to him if you take away one of those holdings. His loss will not be con fined to the particular holding on which he resides, particularly if the holding on which he resides is a very small one. The loss will be spread over the whole. Therefore, the fair principle is to diminish the compensation pro tanto with a dimunition of the loss, and that is the object and intention of the Clause as it stands, as amended by the Standing Committee. There may be a better solution. I do not see any in the Amendments on the Paper. I could not accept any of them, but I am quite willing to draw special attention to this most difficult case, and I have no doubt it will be—
§ Mr. ACLAND
Would not any man dispossessed still get the one year's rent or the four years' rent, without any diminution?
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
We ask my right hon. Friend to accept the principle of this Amendment, that the onus should be put on the tenant to prove that he has made a loss on the other holdings. That is the very case put by my hon. Friend just now in the case of a man with many holdings where the taking of one small holding will involve him in very serious loss and disability in cultivating the others. That special case is absolutely met by the Amendment.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
That is my right hon. Friend's point. The difference really is the question of onus. I think it would be very much more satisfactory to most of us if my right hon. Friend would accept the Amendment in the first instance, and undertake to amend it if necessary in another place, thereby enacting the principle of putting the onus on the tenant to prove his case. That is the whole difference, and it is a very important difference, and unless my right hon. Friend is prepared to do that I shall be bound to go into the Lobby with my hon. Friends opposite. I said earlier, 91 and I repeat, that all exceptions to this compensation are objectionable. My right hon. Friend spoke on that, and many of us feel that; but where the compensation is as high as it is now it does work such gross injustice in certain cases that we really are bound, not because we do not believe in there being any exceptions—for the principle is absolutely sound—but the cost of compensation is put at such a level, and it will work such a gross injustice to small holders that I am prepared, under all the circumstances, to vote for this and against my own principle.
§ Mr. W. T. SHAW
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not accept the Amendment, because it seems to me the object will be to put a premium upon multiple farms. If this Amendment is accepted, instead of having the effect anticipated by the mover and seconder, and of getting more men on to the farms, it will work otherwise. For the proprietor, if he has an applicant from a multiple farm will let his farm to him, and the Amendment will have the opposite effect to that intended.
§ Mr. GARDINER
From an economic point of view, I have no doubt at all that the multiple farm is the best; but from the national point of view it is not. Though I do not hold a brief for multiple farming, I respectfully appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to adhere to the arrangement, which, in my opinion, is fair in the interests of the multiple farmer and the interests of the State.
§ Major M. WOOD
I think I am probably in favour of the principle behind the Amendment proposed; but it is, I understand, placing some restriction upon the multiplication of plural farms all over the country. I am bound to say, if the right hon. Gentleman accepts a proposal of this kind and puts the onus of proof of loss on the farmer, then I oppose it most wholeheartedly. It is going right against the principle which has been adopted in the other part of the Bill. Why is it the Bill has laid down one year's rent is going as compensation? Simply because it has been found impossible to estimate the amount of capital which is being put into a farm apart and above from what is included in the schedules and improvements named in the schedule of the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1918. 92 Therefore, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be no party to the attempt to shift the onus. There is another point in which I am inclined to think that I shall not follow my hon. Friend in his Amendment. It is designed against plural farming, but any attempt to cut down plural farming which does not take account of the size of farms seems to me to be going on an entirely wrong method. This Amendment, for instance, will penalize the farmer who had two farms of 100 acres each, but it would leave entirely untouched another farmer who has one thousand or two thousand acres in one farm. I say if it is desirable to penalize the farmer who has two farms of one hundred acres each, surely it is equally desirable to act similarly towards the farmer who has added field to field and farm to farm, as was said by my right hon. Friend? For these reasons, although to some extent I favour the principle of the Amendment, I am afraid I could not support it in the Lobby.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir E. Pollock)
There seems to be a grave misunderstanding about the Bill and the Amendment. Some hon. Members think that some question of onus of proof is here involved. I am afraid I do not agree. What happens in all these cases is that where claims are made the tenant will have to put forward his claim and the arbitrator will look into it. Criticism can be offered to any claim put forward by the tenant. Say a holder holds farms A, B and C, and the items claimed in respect of the one from which he has been dispossessed do not hold good, because, as a matter of fact, his business will not be interfered with; he still has farms B and C; the loss claimed cannot be attributed to the mere fact that farm A has been taken from him. That would be the criticism offered to the arbitrator. It would certainly be offered by anybody who appeared and cross-examined the tenant. What does the Sub-section say? I will read it: The compensationshall be reduced by such amount as is shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator to represent the reduction (if any) of the loss attributable to the notice to quit by reason of the continuance in possession by the tenant of the other holding or holdings.The arbitrator has to make up his mind. Say the claim was for£100. He would immediately put questions to the tenant, "How does that claim hold good inas- 93 much as this business of yours will not be interfered with, you having two other farms going on? "The net result would be that the item of£100 will not be allowed to the tenant because of the criticism which will be directed to it under the Bill, and unless it can be answered, and the claim shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator, it falls to the ground. It would be the merest matter of course to ask the tenant who was making these claims to substantiate them. The criticism which is indicated under this Clause seems to me to be perfectly reasonable. You should allow the tenant who has been dispossessed to get compensation, although how much and how far that compensation ought to be reduced by the fact that it is not really suffered seeing that he still holds farms B and C seems to me a perfectly legitimate matter of which the arbitrator should take cognizance.
Let me return to the Amendment. How that will work out I really do not know. It seems to me a most difficult Amendment either to understand or to follow. As I understand the principle of it, it is this: That a man who is the tenant of three farms, has to declare that he will treat one of the group as a central farm, either the one he resides on, or, it may be, a different farm, to which he attaches greater importance. Then he is not to have any compensation when he has been turned out of one of his farms unless it can be proved that the loss of this land will materially depreciate the value of his holding—the one named by him. Is that a workable scheme? He has suffered a loss, but, inasmuch as it has not actually affected the one farm he resides upon, he is not to get compensation at all. A man who has suffered loss would not be content to find that compensation taken away from him because the loss he has suffered cannot be connected with the farm upon which he resides, or the farm upon which he has declared his chief interest arises. He has suffered the loss, and why should he not have the compensation? The Bill requires the arbitrator to be satisfied that this loss is not only actually suffered, but cannot be made good by reason of the fact that he holds other farms.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
The right hon. Gentleman appears to me to have overlooked one point. If a multiple farmer is given notice to quit, and the other two 94 farms belong to someone else, he then gets compensation for all losses occasioned by reason of him leaving that one farm. From the mere fact that he holds those other two farms, it is quite possible that his losses in leaving that one farm may be greater than if it was the only farm he held. I think the Amendment of my hon. Friend would limit that loss and the compensation payable either to the farm on which he resides or the other farm named by him.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
The loss cannot exceed the cost of removal and one year's rent, and it cannot go beyond that.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
There is no limit whatever to the compensation. It is one year's plus the cost of removal, plus all the losses on sale of stock and crops, and there is no limit whatever to it. I have always asked that the compensation should be fixed. That is absolutely necessary. It is better in the interest of the farmer that the limit should be fixed. In this case, a multiple farmer who gets notice to quit one of his farms could not tell what compensation would have to be paid. Having regard to the very large measure of compensation which is payable, I think it is very necessary that an Amendment in the direction of this proposal should be agreed to.
§ Mr. ROYCE
If any alteration is necessary to protect such a man, I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would make provision for it. I am willing to make such an alteration as will truly limit compensation payable, but under the Bill as drawn I am afraid that they must in every instance have as a basis for computing compensation the full compensation provided under the Bill. Therefore it is dangerous to the State, and it is dangerous so far as the increase of the rural population is concerned, and it is not aimed against the little man. The right hon. Gentleman must be aware of the extreme 95 gravity in agriculture of the large dimunition of small holdings. Since 1912, something like 20,000 small holdings of from one to 50 acres have been eliminated by increasing the holding of the little man or absorption by the big farmers.
This is a very serious matter. My Division is one to which this Clause is specially applicable. We want to apply this proposal to the good land in my constituency. If this question only applied to my own division I should push the matter to a Vote. I went to a Division on this matter during the Committee stage, and therefore I am consistent in my action. It is true that I only got four hon. Members to support me, but I am afraid the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill rather blinded the reason of the other Members of the Committee. I think to-day they see this matter with a little clearer vision, especially after the remarks of the Solicitor-General, who has convinced me that under any circumstances the basis which will be presented to the arbitrator will be the full amount of compensation, and it will not be limited to one year's rent, but it will relate to the losses he may sustain. I hope the House will not forget that the State will be a great sufferer in this matter.
I do not know how much we managed to save to the coffers of the State in out-discussion of this Bill, but it is a very large sum which I think would amount to very nearly £1,000,000 sterling of money, which was to be devoted to the settlement of soldiers on the land by making the payment of compensation retrospective. On this matter we saved the Government against itself. They require the money badly enough in connection with land settlement. You have here an opportunity to give the small man support, and you will give your Councils an opportunity where a man owns many farms of taking them for this purpose without paying excessive compensation. For these reasons I feel inclined to press this matter to a Division. I am sorry to oppose my right hon. Friend whose kindness and consideration in connection with this Bill I have every reason to recognise, and I am very grateful indeed for the concessions which he has made. I am quite sure, however, that he is wrong. I hope 96 that before this discussion ends the right hon. Gentleman will favourably consider the change which has been proposed, and if he does I am sure my hon. Friends and myself will be satisfied. In the absence of this assurance I shall have to go to a Division.
§ Major STEEL
The Solicitor-General said he had great difficulty in understanding this Amendment, but, as far as I am concerned, I have less difficulty in understanding this Amendment than the wording of this Sub-section. The Solicitor-General also said that this question of compensation would go to arbitration, and that the onus of proof would not devolve upon anybody. I submit that, according to the wording of the Sub-section, the onus of proof would devolve on somebody. The Sub-section says:The compensation for disturbance in respect of the holding or holdings shall be reduced by such amount as is shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator.Who is going to show that the loss is not so much to this multiple farmer because he happens to own two or three farms as it would have been if he had only owned one farm? Who is going to show that the loss is not so great? Certainly not the multiple farmer. The onus of proof will devolve upon the owner. It seems to me that it would be far more equitable if the onus of proof devolved upon the man who had the means of proving it, and I cannot see how the owner, who has given notice to quit to a man who owns five or six farms under several different owners in different counties, can possibly have the information or the knowledge with regard to the other farms, of which he knows nothing about the capital value of the stock employed on those farms. In such circumstances, I cannot see how he can possibly arrive at what the amount of this sum should be and the only person who can arrive at that decision is the farmer himself. Therefore, I think the onus of proof ought to be upon the farmer.
Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY
I hope the Government will not accept this Amendment, because it would give an inducement to proprietors to encourage multiple farmers owing to the reduction of the compensation. That seems to me to be one of the chief reasons against the 97 Amendment. So far as multiple farmers are concerned in connection with smallholders, there are some Amendments on the Paper which I hope will meet the views which have been put forward. Another objection which I have to this Amendment is that it seems to me to turn the whole Clause inside out. It changes the onus of proof. In the first instance, under the Clause dealing with compensation for disturbance, that is thrown upon the person on whom the compensation is going to fall. Under this Amendment the person claiming compensation will not be able to claim unless it can be proved to the satisfaction of the arbitrator. Who is going to prove that? It is quite clear it is the person claiming compensation, and that seems to me to be another good reason why the Amendment should not be accepted, and if the hon. Member goes to a Division I shall support him.
§ Mr. E. WOOD
After following this Debate I confess that I should regret it proceeding to a Division, and I do not think the Amendment in its present form should be accepted. I confess that I prefer the form of words in the Bill to the form of words which we are now asked to accept. I would like to put to my hon. Friend this point. I think, in his mind, his main motive in moving this Amendment is the giving of encouragement to small owners. I do not want to do him any injustice, but he desires to discourage big farmers. He holds—as do many people—that in the national interest the land should be in as many hands as possible. I am inclined to say after what we have passed in the earlier part of the Clause I find it very difficult to support having one range of compensation for small farmers and another for the big men. With regard to other hon. Members who have supported the Amendment, may I ask them if we are not in danger in laying too much emphasis on the onus of proof? I have never been able to feel in a
§ matter of this kind that it really makes an immense difference on whose shoulders technically is laid the onus of proof. In a great many cases the case will be argued both by the landlord and tenant and the man who will ultimately decide will be the arbitrator, so it does not seem to be quite as important a point as some of my hon. Friends suggest. My hon. Friend who moved this Amendment and I are sworn allies on almost every subject, and it will be with the utmost reluctance, if he presses that Amendment, that I shall be compelled to make a temporary breach in that alliance. May I suggest to him that the language in his Amendment is not well chosen and would really not carry out the object he has at heart. He might, therefore, be willing to accept the undertaking given by the Parliamentary Secretary that he will consider this matter when it comes up in another place.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I have already given an undertaking that the matter shall be reconsidered, but I cannot depart from the general principle, which is, that the compensation shall be reduced proportionately to the reduction of loss. That, I think, is a fair and logical principle. I am not particularly wedded to the words in the Bill, but so long as the principle is established I am quite willing, if it is possible, to find better words to reconsider the matter in another place.
§ Question put, "That the words 'the compensation for disturbance' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 199; Noes, 51.99
|Division No.367.]||AYES.||[5.20 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Barrand, A. R.||Bowles, Colonel H. F.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Barrie, Charles Coupar||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Bruton, Sir James|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Betterton, Henry B.||Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)|
|Casey, T. W.||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Cautley, Henry S.||Hinds, John||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Birm., W.)||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Parker, James|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Howard, Major S. G.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Collins, Sir G. P. (Greenock)||Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Courthope, Major George L.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Pratt, John William|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Jesson, C.||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Jodrell. Neville Paul||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Johnstone, Joseph||Purchase, H. G.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Reid, D. D.|
|Davidson, J.C.C. (Hemel Hempstead)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Donald, Thompson||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Lindsay, William Arthur||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Lloyd, George Butler||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Starkey, Captain John R.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Lonsdale, James Rolston||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Lorden, John William||Stewart, Gershom|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Loseby. Captain C. E.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Foreman, Henry||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||M'Guffin, Samuel||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Turton, E. R.|
|Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Vickers, Douglas|
|Gardiner, James||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Magnus, Sir Philip||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Martin, Captain A. E.||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Mitchell, William Lane||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Moles, Thomas||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Gregory, Holman||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Murchison, C. K.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'I.W.D'by)||Murray, Lieut.-Colonel A. (Aberdeen)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Hanson, Sir Charles Augustin||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Younger, Sir George|
|Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Hogge, James Myles||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Simm, M. T.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Cape, Thomas||Kiley, James D.||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon J. R.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Morrison, Hugh||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Myers. Thomas||Tootill, Robert|
|Gardner, Ernest||O'Grady, Captain James||Waterson, A E.|
|Glanville, Harold James||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Remnant, Sir James||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R. Normanton)||Robertson, John||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Hayward, Major Evan||Rose, Frank H.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Sexton, James||Mr. Royce and Mr. Wignall.|
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I beg to move, in Sub-section (7), to leave out the words "the written application of," and to insert instead thereof the words,"an 100 application made in writing after the commencement of this Act by."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: In Subsection (7), leave out the words, "he has given";
§ After the word "quit" ["a notice to quit which does not state the reasons"], insert the words, "has been given."—
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I beg to move, in Sub-section (7), after the word "fails" ["and if he fails so to do'], to insert the word "unreasonably."
As I have said, the landlord at the quitting may not be the landlord who gave the notice, and therefore it may be difficult for him within the time limit prescribed to give the reasons. We propose to put in the word "unreasonably," so that he will not be penalised if, through no fault of his own, he fails to give the reason within the prescribed time.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I beg to move, in, Sub-section (9), after the word "shall" ["and shall be payable notwithstanding"], to insert the words, "be recoverable in the same manner as such compensation and."
On a point of Order. Is my Amendment to Subsection (7)—to leave out the words "and for reasons inconsistent with good estate management"—out of Order?
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
The effect of the Amendment which I have just moved will be to make the compensation recoverable in the same manner in which compensation for improvements is now recoverable under the Act of 1908, and the compensation will be recoverable from the person who is the landlord at the time of the quitting. It may be remembered by hon. Members who were on the Committee that we had some discussion there as to whether the landlord actually paying the compensation was the man who gave the notice or the man who was the landlord at the time of quitting. As the Bill was originally introduced, it contained words similar to those contained in the next 102 Amendment on the Paper, which stands in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Daventry (Captain Fitzroy), who proposes to insert the following new Sub-section:(10) The expression 'landlord' for the purposes of the recovery of compensation under this Section means the landlord by whom the notice to quit is given, notwithstanding that he ceases to be the landlord of the holding before the termination of the tenancy.Provided that where the landlord as defined under this Sub-section has given the notice to quit at the request of a purchaser, or purchasers, of the holding he shall be entitled to recover the amount of the compensation paid to the tenant under this Section from such purchaser or purchasers.That would put the obligation upon the landlord who gave the notice. Those words were left out in Committee, but on reconsidering the whole matter we came to the conclusion that it is necessary to define the landlord one way or the other, and we decided to fix upon the landlord who is the landlord at the time when the quitting actually takes place. We do that because that is the rule under the Act of 1908. Under that Act all compensation for disturbance or improvements has been held to be recoverable on quitting from the landlord at that date. That covers, not merely compensation for improvements, but also compensation for disturbance in the case of capricious eviction. The expression "landlord" is defined in Section 48 of the Act of 1908 as the person for the time being entitled to receive the rents and profits. We think it will be more convenient to put this Bill on ail fours with the Act of 1908, and define the landlord as the person who is actually the landlord at the time of the quitting. Of course arrangements will be made between the two landlords, namely, the man who gives the notice and the man who is the landlord at the time of the quitting. That would have had to take place in any case under the other arrangement, and we think that the arrangement which we now propose is the more convenient.
§ Captain FITZROY
If I understand the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment, it makes the Bill operate in exactly the same way as it would if my Amendment were accepted.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
No; it is exactly the opposite. My hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment defines the landlord as the man who was the landlord when 103 the notice was given; my Amendment defines him as the person who is the landlord at the time of the quitting. Probably in most cases it will be the same person, but if there should have been a change of ownership in the interval, my Amendment would have exactly the contrary effect to my hon. and gallant Friend's proposal.
§ Captain FITZROY
Do I understand that this Amendment is put in in order to make the Bill operate in the same way as the Act of 1908?
§ Captain FITZROY
I must say that I think that the Amendment standing in my name is very important. If the law remains as it is now under the Act of 1908 in regard to compensation when notice to quit is given for reasons consistent with good estate management, the great hardship created by sales is not removed at all. I am told that the Cautley Act does not carry out what it was intended to do, because notices are given the day after the sale takes place, by the new owner in the name of the previous owner. That inflicts a great hardship now on the tenant farmer on the occasion of a sale, and it is the method by which the Cautley Act is evaded. The object of my Amendment is to defeat that evasion and to make the Cautley Act a real Act which would prevent such hardship. The notice would have to be given by the purchaser, and he could not put the responsibility upon the late owner from whom he purchased the property. As I understand it, the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment leaves the law as it is now under the 1908 Act, and that, even if the notice is given on the day of the sale, the responsibility still remains upon the previous owner.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I am very sorry that I failed to make the matter clear to my hon. and gallant Friend. Under my Amendment the person who will be responsible will be the landlord at the time of the quitting. Of course, if notice were given by one landlord who subsequently sold to the second landlord, undoubtedly, in the terms of the sale, the fact that the second landlord is responsible for compensation would be taken into account, and it would be adjusted between them. You must fix it on the 104 one or the other, and they will adjust the matter between them. Whether you fix it on the man who gives the notice or on the man who happens to be the landlord when the quitting takes place is really immaterial. We think that the latter plan is the better. It is that which was adopted in a previous Act, and therefore we propose to adopt it here.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
I think that the point which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Daventry had in mind was a perfectly sound point, namely, that of the insecurity which tenants feel to be created when a sale takes place. What happens when a sale takes place now? Under the Cautley Act any notice which has been given prior to the sale is voided by the sale; but it is possible to give a notice, as my hon. and gallant Friend says, the day after the sale. That notice, however, cannot now be given by the purchaser; it can only be given, at the request of the purchaser, by the late owner. If the compensation is made payable by the man who gave the notice, that is to say, by the late owner, it is perfectly certain that he will never give the notice, and that would be a great protection to the tenant. The purchaser himself will not be able to give notice until he has completed the purchase, and that will be three months or six months ahead. That gives an additional security to the tenant. We have all done what we could to protect tenants in the case of sales, and we agree that, in view of these abnormal sales, he should receive all the security that he can possibly have. The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman deprives him of a considerable part of that security, because it enables an owner who has no further interest in his estate or in his tenants, and no regard for anything but his own pocket, at the request of the purchaser, to give notice the day after the sale, without any responsibility for the cash. I venture to suggest that my hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment is preferable, because the whole object of Clause 7 is to provide for these cases of abnormal sales. Now that we have an opportunity of helping the tenant, and fixing the responsibility for the notice upon the man who gives the notice, it is proposed that it shall be taken away and placed upon someone else, possibly upon a speculator, whereas the late owner, if he is responsible, will decline to give the notice.
§ Mr. CAUTLEY
I have not considered this Amendment, but from what I have heard from the Parliamentary Secretary and from the subsequent speakers, I cannot help thinking that there will be a danger of putting a serious impediment in the way of sales of land if the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment is accepted. I am sorry that one of the Law Officers is not here to deal with what is really a legal question, but perhaps the Secretary for Scotland may be able to tell me if there is anything in the point which I am about to make. When an owner sells a property consisting of one or more farms, he has been in the habit of giving notice to his tenants so that he could give vacant possession at about the time when the purchase is completed. It is quite true that the Bill which I introduced last Session, and which has become an Act, has put an end to this notice to quit by the subsequent contract of sale, but it does provide that, by agreement with the tenants, the notices can be given. As I understand the right hon. Gentle man's Amendment, where an owner who has given to his tenant notice to quit then sells the property, and the purchase is completed, the new purchaser is to be responsible for all claims for compensation for disturbance. Those claims are variable in amount, and may include anything from one to four years' rent. It is hardly necessary to point out how difficult it would be for an audience collected before an auctioneer in a sale room to deal with such indefinite claims as that, and how the possibilities of effecting a sale must be clogged. The sale of land will be so clogged, in my opinion, that I cannot believe that the right hon. Gentleman's legal advisers have considered the matter from this point of view. Such interest as I have taken in land and agriculture has been pretty considerable, and I am quite certain that the more easily sales can be effected the better. I am certain this Amendment, if carried, will have the effect of clogging sales and putting an end to them, and depreciating the value of land far and wide, and for that reason I should like some legal opinion on the matter.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The position in which the House is illustrates what is going to happen if the Bill becomes law. There is my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Fitzroy), who is a great authority on all agricultural matters, who 106 attended regularly during the Committee stage of the Bill, is Chairman of the Agricultural Committee of the House of Commons, and who has an acute brain which is capable of unravelling all the ins and outs of the Bill. He tells the House what he thinks to be the meaning of this Amendment and of his own, whereupon my right hon. Friend (Sir A. Boscawen) says "No, it is exactly the opposite." What will happen to an unfortunate man like myself, say, or an ordinary landowner without the advantages my hon. and gallant Friend has had of having considered this Bill for so many weeks? He will not understand what the meaning of the Bill is. Then comes my hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Colonel Royds) who makes a most startling statement. He pictures a sale. He says a landowner is going to sell his land. All he thinks about is the price, as if it was a regretful thing that all he should think about is the price the owner of the property is going to get. Why should he not think about it? Naturally he ought to think about it. Then comes my hon. Friend (Mr. Cautley) who puts a very sensible point. He points out that the result will be to render land unsaleable, and to depreciate the capital of the country which is invested in land. I should not have risen if I had seen the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Munro) get up, but as he did not seem inclined to get up, I thought I might rise and point out the very great difficulty in coming to a decision upon something on which two authorities like my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Fitzroy) and my right hon. Friend differ.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COURTHOPE
I hope we shall have some explanation of this. At the same time, so far as I understand, or think I understand it, I do not agree with my hon. Friends behind me. Perhaps if we all put different constructions on it, it is all the more reason why it should be authoritatively explained. As I understand it, it is really a question on whom the liability for the actual payment of the compensation provided under the Bill shall fall. If vacant possession of a farm which is going to be sold is required, it is required for the purposes not of the vendor but of the purchaser, and I cannot see from that point view why the liability should not rest upon the new landlord, for whose benefit vacant possession is being obtained and notice given. Another 107 point. My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Cautley) says the tenants would suffer materially if the wish of the right hon. Gentleman were carried out.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COURTHOPE
One hon. Member said that if my right hon. Friend's Amendment was carried, the tenant might suffer. I think the tenant who is turned out of his holding is much more likely to be left in the lurch if he has to look to the former landlord, who may have gone beyond his ken altogether, for the payment of compensation, than if he has to look to the owner of the property at the time he actually vacates his farm. I hope therefore my hon. Friends behind me may be satisfied with the legal explanation which I am sure we are going to get and withdraw their objections to the Amendment.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I also want to appeal to the Secretary for Scotland to make this clear to us. I will try to make my own contribution while he is making it perfectly clear to himself. If we deal with this from the point of view of trying to check the disturbance to sitting tenants of sales, you will really argue, it has been argued in the last 10 minutes, either in favour of the Government plan or of the suggested alternative plan of the hon. and Gallant Gentleman (Captain Fitzroy). You can argue in favour of the Government plan in this way. The compensation will be placed undoubtedly on the purchaser, and no purchaser will buy land with such a large, indefinite and unascertained claim resting upon him. He will not be able to ascertain really whether it is reasonable or unreasonable in advance. He will simply know that he wants to get the land, and of course he will want to be certain, when he bids in the auction room, of the ultimate sum he is going to pay. Therefore you may say to put the compensation on him is the way to give the cultivator the greatest security. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Fitzroy), who has also studied this in the interests of the cultivator, says that if his alternative Amendment is accepted, that will be the greatest security for the tenant who is supposed to have cultivated well because the owner will be extremely disinclined 108 to sell when he knows that even though he may get a fair price there is going to be this heavy liability for compensation still hanging upon him.
Between those two arguments it is really very difficult to decide. I feel that it is rather a farce, as the late owner cannot really give notice because of the Act, to try to bring the compensation within his sphere of interest. It seems to me that even if the hon. and gallant Gentleman's Amendment were carried, and he were still technically responsible, he will really refrain from having the notice given the day after the sale unless the purchaser agrees at the time of the sale to indemnify him for the expenses that he may be put to in obtaining for the new purchaser vacant possession. After all, the man who wants the vacant possession is the new purchaser. The late owner sells because he has got to, and he says, "I do not mind what the land is purchased for; I want to get the best price I can for it."Presumably, in this case the man who really wants to get himself in and the other man out is the new purchaser. He wants to get the other man out so that he can enter himself. I am inclined to think, therefore, that the Government proposal is the best, namely, to make the compensation conform as nearly as possible to the actualities of the case. The man who wants to get in is the new purchaser, and the man who wants to get the old tenant out is the new purchaser, and therefore it is he who should pay this form of compensation as well as the other compensation under the 1908 Act. But I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman has done good service in bringing the matter forward, because it is undoubtedly difficult, but as I have studied it at present it seems to me that the new owner, the man who really himself wants to get in, is the man who had better pay the compensation, both under this Act and for unexhausted improvements.
§ The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. Munro)
I am afraid I labour under a double disadvantage in regard to the questions which have been put to me. First of all that I have not heard the whole of the Debate upon them, and secondly, I do not profess to be an English lawyer. The Solicitor-General, however, will correct me if I say anything not in accordance with English law. The 109 questions which have been raised are two. One is a question of law, and the other a question of policy. The answer to the question of law is, in my judgment, exceedingly simple. In Committee the point was raised as to whose shoulders the burden of compensation for disturbance should fall on. It was doubted whether it was made perfectly plain in the Bill as it then stood whether, in the event of a purchase in the interval, the compensation should be payable by the seller or the purchaser, and the Committee desired that that should be made clear. My right hon. Friend's Amendment makes it absolutely and entirely clear, for the purpose and effect of the Amendment is that at the expiration of the tenancy the landlord who has purchased will be responsible for the compensation for disturbance, and not the landlord who has sold. It brings the Bill exactly into line with the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1908, where a similar phrase regarding the landlord has been construed as meaning the landlord at the date when the tenancy expired. I have yet to learn that there has been any difficulty in the operation of that provision, and it seems reasonable and consistent that a similar one should be inserted in this Bill. I am not really concerned to discuss the question of policy which my right hon. Friend has already discussed, but, so far as the question of law is concerned, there can be no doubt—and I am happy to give that answer in the presence of the Solicitor-General—that the effect as well as the purpose of the Amendment is to make the purchaser responsible for compensation at the expiration of the tenancy, if there is a change of ownership in the interval.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I must support my right hon. Friend in this Amendment because I think it is best both for the tenant and the landlord that whoever owns the land at the time the quitting takes place should be responsible. It seems to me a natural proposition. Although I sympathise with my hon. and gallant Friend's object—I think I understand what the object of it is—it would be a pity to upset the principle that the owner at the time of quitting should be responsible for the compensation in order to obtain the secondary object of the Amendment, which I believe to be to prevent the seller from giving notice in 110 order to get the tenant out earlier, and the Amendment on the paper, throwing the onus on to him of giving the notice, would prevent him from doing so. That seems to me to be rather a roundabout way of arriving at it, and it would be very much better to alter the Cautley Act. As I understand the grievance, it is that when a farm is going to be sold, every effort is made that the contract for sale should be signed before the first notice day, and then, although the new purchaser has not actually completed his purchase and is therefore not able to give the notice, on his direction the seller of the land gives the notice. That does not prevent the primary object of the Cautley Act from being fulfilled. The primary object of that Act was that every tenant should get 12 months' actual notice. In this case you get 12 months' actual notice. Under the old provision, what was called notice for sale, until the sale actually took place, two or three months before the expiry of the notice, the tenant did not know whether he had to go out or not. That is done away with, and in any case the tenant now must get 12 months' notice under the Cautley Act, and no amount of chicanery can escape that. To upset the whole applecart for the sake of picking up one apple which has dropped out would be absurd. It would be far better to amend the Cautley Act and to provide that instead of notice to quit being avoided merely by contract of sale, it might be avoided if either a contract for sale or the completion of purchase takes place. That is a direction in which it might possibly be done. I see the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench shaking their heads, so I will not press that as a' solution, although it appears to me, as a layman, to be a solution. It would be a better way than this roundabuot method. However, I hope the House will support the proposal of the Government.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Major MACKENZIE WOOD
I beg to move, after Sub-section (9), to insert a new Sub-section—(10) Where land in the occupation of any tenant is acquired or made available for small holdings under the Small Holdings and Allotments Acts, 1908 to 1919, or under the Small Landholders (Scotland) Acts, 1886 to 1919, no compensation shall be payable under this Section if the tenant after the determina- 111 tion of his tenancy of such land continues in the occupation of other land the yearly rental or value of which exceeds five hundred pounds.This raises a question which has been discussed to some extent. First of all, there is the question of plural farmers. It seems to me desirable that there should be a restriction of plural farmings so as to prevent land getting into the hands of a few men, whether those men are owners or tenants. If you are going to allow the compensation to be reduced in the event of land being in the hands of multiple farmers, you are going to provide opportunities for contracting out of the Act, because landlords will have an inducement to let their land to multiple farmers, knowing that if these men are turned out they will be able to escape giving compensation. That is likely to happen if you have land getting into the hands of the multiple farmer, and you are going to allow, as you are allowing by this Bill, compensation to be reduced in those circumstances.
There is a further question which is of great importance. I desire, if possible, to encourage the establishment of small holdings all over the country, because that is in the national interests. The Government is committed to that policy, and they assure us that they are doing their best to set up small holdings for the benefit of ex-service men and others. Land settlement is being held up on account of finance In Scotland we have had recently something in the nature of suspension of land settlement, not entirely suspension, but something like it, and I understand the reason is that the Government is finding the expense of setting up a small holding greater than they expected, and that something must be done to put the whole scheme in a better financial position. This Bill as at present drafted is going to increase the expense of setting up small holdings, because if you take land from the farmer and turn it into small holdings, in addition to the compensation which you are to give him before, you will have to give him the compensation which is going to be awarded under this Bill. The Amendment I have put down will go a long way to meet this point. It provides that where land in the occupation of any tenant is required for small holdings, no compensation shall be payable if the tenant after the determination of his tenancy of such land 112 continues in the occupation of other land the yearly rental or value of which exceeds £500. If a farmer had a number of farms, and one farm was taken for small holdings, he would get no compensation under this Section if he was still left with a farm of the rental or value of £500 a year. I am not committed to the figure of £500. I am prepared to agree that it should be more or less. I have put down that figure as a basis of discussion. A farm represented by that value would be quite large enough to engage the whole attention of any farmer. An Amendment has been put down to leave out the last words in my Amendment—if the tenant after the determination of the tenancy of such land continues in the occupation of other land the yearly rental or value of which exceeds five hundred pounds.I found it absolutely necessary to put in some limit. If there is not a limit you are going to penalise the man who perhaps only farms 100 acres, but happens to have those 100 acres under two leases. If he has two small farms of 50 acres each you are going to penalise him, but if he has one farm of 1,000 acres you are going to let him off scot free. That would be manifestly unfair, and that is why I, have put in the words at the end of the Amendment. I hope the Government will realise that this Amendment is an attempt to help them to get over the serious difficulty which they have already experienced, and which they will experience perhaps more keenly in the future. I hope they will be able to accept the spirit of the Amendment if not the actual words.
§ Colonel PENRY WILLIAMS
I beg to second the Amendment, and I commend it to the Government for acceptance, more especially considering its bearing upon allotment holders. Near the big towns we have land taken by the local authorities for allotments, and that land is let to the farmer at from 30s. to £2 an acre. When it reaches the allotment holder it is sometimes rented at £6 to £8 an acre. This is an attempt by my hon. and gallant Friend to prevent these excessive charges for compensation and other charges falling upon the land and being passed on to allotment holders. It is very desirable that in taking land it should be taken from big farms and not from little farms. This Amendment is a step in the right direction, and I hope the Government may be induced to accept it.
§ Mr. MUNRO
This is an Amendment which I fear the Government cannot possibly accept. My hon. and gallant Friend in moving it stated that it was intended to help the Government in regard to this Clause. That would have escaped my notice if he had not said so. I do not think the helpfulness of the Amendment is apparent. However that may be, the House will note the effect of it. The Government is to escape liability altogether for payment of compensation where land is taken for small holdings or allotments.
§ Mr. MUNRO
Except to the extent stated in the Amendment. That is inconsistent with the policy which the Government have pursued, that where land is required for land settlement the dispossessed tenant shall be in no worse position than if he was dispossessed by the landlord for any other purpose. One must regard this from the point of view of the tenant who is dispossessed. I cannot see that it is any consolation to him to be told that he shall receive no compensation or small compensation because the purpose for which the land is wanted is a highly meritorious one. The loss is the same to him whatever the purpose for which the land is taken. Accordingly, it seems to me an entirely irrelevant consideration to say that because the purpose is highly meritorious the tenant shall receive no compensation or limited compensation, and that when the purpose is not so meritorious the dispossessed tenant shall receive full compensation. The Amendment really comes to this, that if a man is pretty well off and if the purpose for which the land is taken is meritorious he shall receive no compensation at all under this Section. That is a very strong order. I do not see why it should not be extended indefinitely. Why should it not be extended to land taken by the Government for any other purpose than small holdings? Why not extend it to land taken by local authorities for public purposes? This Bill is for the purpose of giving security to the farmer. You could not more seriously interfere with that security than by adopting an Amendment of this kind. I hold no brief for multiple farmers, but this really has nothing to do with multiple farming. It is a question of justice as between man and man. I 114 cannot conceive of any scheme which would tend to make the Ministry of Agriculture in England and the Board of Agriculture in Scotland more unpopular than that it should be laid down by Parliament that they may have the right, without compensation, to take land which they propose to appropriate for the purpose of small holdings. My hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment is limited to the case where the land retained is of a yearly rental or value of £500. I do not see where the justice of that proposal comes in. The effect of it is that if a man is pretty well off, you can harry him as much as you please, but if he is a little less well off, he is to escape from that process. There is no justification for the Amendment, and I hope the hon. Member will not pursue it.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I am sorry that the Government have felt it necessary to offer to the Amendment such an unqualified negative. I had hoped that there had been some way of dealing with the point. One must keep in mind that the interests of private individuals are subordinate to the purposes of the nation. Unfortunately, the purposes of the nation are not always clearly consistent with one another. I think this is a case of conflict of public interest. The main national purpose of the Bill as stated by the Prime Minister is to increase the cultivation and the produce of the land, and that is to be secured in the main by giving increased security of tenure. But in a very large number of cases and in many districts increased cultivation of the land can be best produced by increasing the number of allotments and small holdings, and, as a general rule, if you take away a piece of land from a man who has still left land for which he is paying £500 a year, and give that land to a small-holder or an allotment-holder, probably in two or three years you will find that more food is being produced because of the change. There are probably from 50,000 to 100,000 competent ex-soldiers who desire to be small-holders or allotment-holders in England and Scotland. The expense of settling those men on the land, if not killing, is wounding severely any possibility which the nation can at present provide of settling anything like all the approved ex-service applicants on the land. This Bill will increase that cost and that difficulty. Though it is true, as 115 the Secretary for Scotland says, that it is extremely difficult to differentiate, yet what matters to the tenant is, not why he is going, but the fact that he is going, and he wants to be certain that he will get the compensation in every case in which he is bound to go, whatever the purpose.
We have got to steer between these two difficulties. I believe that the only way is to ignore the question of private interest, and look at the question of public interest. We are doing that mainly in this Bill. We have determined that, however legitimate it may be to resume a home farm after it has been left for a few years, there is to be compensation. As the Clause now stands, the owner cultivator may have died and left a widow who wants her son to come in, and if she lets the farm for a few years to a farmer she will not be able to resume it for her son's cultivation without paying compensation. Those are very hard cases, but there is no certainty, or even any great probability, in those cases that the land will be better cultivated by the new tenant than the old. We agree in those cases that compensation has got to be paid. Similarly, in cases of sale, there, again, there is no great likelihood that the new cultivator will cultivate better than the old, and compensation has got to be given. But there is a different case where a man has got left, in spite of what has been taken away, a large holding, for which he pays at least £500 a year rent, and a certain amount can be taken with the presumption that it will be better cultivated than it was by the old owner.
Take my own case. It is absurd when I am asked by my county council to do something which they are, perhaps, too busy to do themselves, to get a few fields for them here and there for ex-service men in the village who want to cultivate, and when I say "Very well. This is in the national interest. I will try to get those fields to give them to these ex-service men," that I should have to pay a year's rent for those fields to the men who are asked to give them up. I am not doing the thing in my own interest at all. It is doubtful whether it is in the interest of the land, because these men are not smallholders. They just want a few grass fields for poultry or a couple of pigs, etc. But it is in the national interest that these extra hold- 116 ings should be granted, and it seems to me that where there is a direct conflict of national interest it is not clear that the cases are all on the side of compensation and that the matter deserves more consideration than was given by the Secretary for Scotland.
§ Mr. ACLAND
Where the owner or tenant of the agricultural land which is acquired for housing has still plenty left, just as in the case of the tenant who is paying more than £500 rent, I would, but where a man has only one allotment and it is proposed to take all his land from him, I would not. Where a man had lots of land left for his own cultivation and he was asked to give up a small corner for housing, he should not receive the same scale of compensation. I do not argue that these things are easy to define. They may be impossible to define satisfactorily, but I think it is a good case for not turning down the whole proposal.
Hon. Members have spoken with two voices on this question of compensation. I understood from the early part of our Debates that this Bill was designed to give security for capita to the tenant, and for that reason compensation was to be paid. If so, the Government were justified in taking up high moral grounds. But the Government refused at the end of the week to allow this capital to go to the widow of the man who had died on the farm. Therefore that high moral ground has been left. Therefore we can quite legitimately discuss this question on the ground of expediency. I will go further than my hon. Friend, because so far as the highlands are concerned, and the limitation of a rent of £500, it is notorious that small holdings have been held up for years on account of the excess of compensation that has been paid to landlords as well as to tenants in Scotland. It was the amount of compensation that killed the last Small Holdings Act in Scotland. That was modified in the Land Settlement Act. I understand that the farmer in any case would be 117 entitled to just compensation under other Acts, and I have always understood this section to be rather against capricious eviction than for the purpose of securing additional compensation to farmers.
We are all agreed that the multiplication of small holdings all over the country should be a great object of public policy. It is one of the things upon which the stability of this country depends with all the disturbances that are going on in the world to-day. The more people we have working the land for themselves the less danger will there be of any big unheaval in this country. Look at the disturbances in big cities to-day and look at the peaceful scenes in the North of Scotland except for an occasional raided farm. If you had more of this sort of thing up and down the land you would have a much quieter country and a greater sense of security. From that point of view I support my hon. Friend's Amendment so far as it goes, but I am more inclined to support the Amendment coming on that no compensation at all should be paid in these cases, because in these cases a farmer should not be entitled to what is really regarded as the equitable compensation due to him under previous Acts of Parliament. The question of finance is at the root of small holdings. If you burden these schemes with excessive compensation of this sort you are driving a dagger through the heart of the scheme.
Sir J. HOPE
The Amendment which has been moved brings into clear relief the dilemma of the application of the root principle of Part II. This security to the present occupier of the holding must make it more difficult to settle more men on the land, whether small holders, allotment holders or small farmers, and to make it more difficult for small holders and small farmers to expand their business. Further, if you give fixity of tenure for which I believe there are some advocates, as distinguished from security of tenure, you make it absolutely impossible to bring new men on the land as small holders and impossible for the small farmer to become a large farmer. For years past all parties have advocated the creation of small holdings, and an increase in the number of small holdings was one of the main planks in the pre-War platforms of both political parties. Since the 118 War there is an even greater demand for land settlement owing to the claims of those who fought for the country. From all quarters, too, there is an insistent demand for economy. We are told that if the Government spend more money we are faced with national disaster. Land settlement in any case must be very expensive, owing to the huge increase in the cost of building.
I can speak more or less for Scotland. The speech of the Secretary for Scotland, though absolutely fair, must have been a very painful speech for him to make, because it drives a nail into the coffin of the hopes of many a would-be small holder. £2,500,000 has been voted for small holdings in Scotland. That has been spent already, and there is not a great number of small holders on the land yet. What does this Bill do? When a farm is taken for small holdings it is necessary to compensate the occupier to the extent of one year's rent [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I take it that that is 30, and that it is one year's gross rent, and not four years' gross rent which would have to be paid. That means at least two or three years' net rent, and it adds 15 or 20 per cent, to the value of the land, which amount will have to be paid by the taxpayer or the ratepayer. I want to be told what this Bill is going to cost. It is for the Government to say what extra expense is going to be caused by the creation of small holdings throughout the country. The Amendment proposed by the hon. and gallant Member (Major M. Wood) appears to me to be entirely eye-wash. Hon. Members opposite desire to have the best of both worlds, for electioneering purposes. I do not see how they can argue that compensation should be payable in the case of a farmer whose rent is £499 a year, but that it is unfair to give him any compensation if his rent is £501 a year. That is the effect of the Amendment. I do not believe it would expedite the provision of small holdings, for there is not a very large number of farmers who pay a rent over £500.
The Small Holdings Acts recommend that land should preferably be taken for small holdings when it becomes vacant, so that compensation is not paid, but there is not sufficient land for small holdings becoming vacant, and if you waited until it became vacant you would 119 put off land settlement to the Greek Kalends. I do not propose to press my Amendment, but I would like some clear statement from the Government on the lines I have indicated. How many extra millions of money will this Agriculture Bill impose on the nation? I do not say we are not prepared to pay the Bill, but let us know where we are. This extra expense ought to have been embodied in the Financial Resolution. My Amendment would put the farmer who pays a rent of£499 in exactly the same position as the man who pays£501. I am surprised that the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) is not here, for he has always been an advocate of small holdings.I would have been interested to hear his views.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has made a speech, not for the purpose, as he has admitted, of introducing a reasoned Amendment, but with the express object of ventilating what, in his opinion, is the injury done to the country by this Bill. In my opinion this is a very fair and reasonable Amendment. I am at a loss to understand the tigerish pounce of the Secretary for Scotland upon my hon. and gallant Friend (Major M. Wood). I do not know what happened in the House on Friday, but it seems to me that there must have been some difference of opinion between my hon. and gallant Friend and the Secretary for Scotland, and that the Secretary for Scotland is getting a little of his own back. Was it not a little unfair for the Secretary for Scotland to suggest that my hon. and gallant Friend merely wished to harry rich people and to leave alone the less well-to-do?
I do not think it would be the effect, but, even if it were the effect, it might be in a good eause. Legislation is often unjust. It is a common truism that in this House we cannot legislate for hard cases. There will always be hard cases in all legislation. I certainly would not accept the Amendment to the Amendment. It would stereotype the plural farmer. It would lead on all estates to a multiplica- 120 tion of the plural, with a view to contracting out of the Act. We all recognise the difficulties there are in dealing with the case of the large farmer if we are to give him security of tenure as well as the small farmer. It would have been better had the proposer of the Amendment to the Amendment shown some way out of the dilemma. All of us desire to give security of tenure to the larger farmer and at the same time to increase the number of small holdings. I know nothing about England, but in Scotland the majority of the large farmers on the East Coast, or, at least, a large number of them, have started from small holdings.
I regret very much the attitude of the Secretary for Scotland. The matter does not necessarily end there. We have had instances before of one Minister taking up a particular attitude at the beginning of a Debate and later on, when the House has expressed its opinion in opposition to the view of the first Minister, the next Minister has proceeded to say that he will consider the matter, and he has on occasions accepted our Amendments. I hope that may be so to-day. If the Government reject this Amendment, let us hear no more of the statement that compensation is standing in the way of the creation of small holdings. I ask for an assurance from the Government, so far as Scotland is concerned, that the Board of Agriculture will never again put up that plea, and that compensation shall be paid by the State, and not be a permanent charge upon the small holding.
§ Mr. TOWNLEY
I do not myself see why we should put into this Bill a provision that compensation should be payable to farmers because they have cultivated the land well and then proceed to whittle down their compensation. The mover and seconder may find it easy to make a present to smallholders of other people's money. I may be told that I am opposed to small holdings, but I have no fear of that, because in my own part of the country thirty years ago, long before it was a matter of politics, I laid out a very large number of small holdings. In those cases I found that the tenants willingly paid the compensation due to the outgoing tenant for the value of the manures and other things. You 121 are now giving the tenants additional compensation and you are doing it in order that you may increase the food production of this country, so that you may have additional fertility of the soil and more security in tenure, I fail to see why, when the duty falls upon the State of placing on the land men who have served their country or others who want land for small holdings, the burden of the Act should fall upon the large cultivator of land instead of falling on the community generally. If this compensation is to be paid, as it should be paid, surely it should be paid by the State. I cannot believe this is going to be such an extravagant matter. This is arable land, and the additional compensation may be, therefore, somewhere between £5 or £6 an acre. That may seem to some hon. Members to be a largish amount, but it is nothing to the additional cost of building and equipment necessary. I come from a constituency where there is a very large amount of land, not altogether market gardening land, which is being highly cultivated. A few years ago that land was producing a very moderate corn crop, but by the skill and high cultivation of the occupiers and by the heavy manuring of the land it has been turned into most fertile land and produces some of the heaviest vegetable and other crops. That has been done by the skill and perseverance of the occupiers. Do you seriously think that it would be fair to go to those men and dispossess them of their land, whether their holding is worth £10 or £1,000, without compensation? They have put their capital into the land and their brains, and would it be right to dispossess them without the compensation to which they are clearly entitled, and to put the burden of paying it on to their shoulders instead of taking it on to yourselves and taking it out of your own pockets instead of out of the pockets of the men who have done their best for the community during the War?
§ Mr. ROYCE
I desire to support the Amendment since the Mover is not bound to the sum of £500. I am very much impressed with the purity of intention expressed by the Secretary for Scotland and, indeed, by the Front Bench generally, and it is refreshing to me to hear that the rights of no person should be invaded. If it were my intention to support the interests of the landlord I 122 should say, You are invading his rights in connection with this Bill, but that is not my trouble now. I do wish, when you are doing this kind of thing, you would not so frequently express the unctuous rectitude which sits so well on the gentlemen who occupy the Front Bench. This portion of the Act is intended to be permanent so that the temporary arrangement made for the acquisition of land for ex-service men will also be applicable, and in that instance the State proposes to bear the expenses of the payment of any compensation. In, say, two years from now when the ordinary smallholder, and there are tens of thousands of applications throughout the country, comes to be considered he will be saddled with the cost of compensation. I have been charged with a desire to penalise the large farmer. I have no such desire. I think the large farmer has done well for the country, and he is a progressive man or otherwise would not in the majority of instances be a large farmer. I would place no limit upon his capacity or endeavours. But if land is required for the State surely it is better to take a little bit from the big man than to take any from the little man. You must take it from somebody. In acquiring land compulsorily there is first of all the value of the land and generally in arbitration that is sufficiently high. In the second place the tenant receives compensation for everything in the nature of manurial values and all that kind of thing. Consideration is also given to the fact that the land is being taken compulsorily and the prospective profits are also considered. That may mean a very considerable sum. In addition to all those things, which I consider fair compensation, you propose to pay at least a year's rent, or possibly four years' rent. You will never be able to get the smallholder to pay a rent which will pay the interest on those charges under the conditions of the Small Holdings Act. Therefore you must have something like this proposal unless you propose to stop smallholdings altogether. I am glad the Prime Minister is here because he has told us how necessary it is to get people on the land. If you get people on smallholdings you get a larger population than in any other class, because the smallholder not only cultivates his land, but brings his family up on it, and consequently is of double value. I am not one of those who says that the smallholder 123 cultivates his land better than other people. I do not think, unless he cultivates it more intensively, that he cultivates it as well as the large farmer. But apart from that, he has a national value for there is more of him on the land. I support this Amendment and hope the Government will make some concession on this prohibitive Clause which will prevent the acquisition of land for smallholdings.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
I admit this Amendment deals with a difficult question, but I would really ask the House carefully to consider what is involved in it. In the first place this is involved, that you differentiate between the objects for which land is acquired under this Bill, and you say if it is for small holdings or for a national object compensation is not to be paid. If, on the other hand, it is for any ordinary object, as for instance, because the landlord wants to resume possession or to make a change of tenancy, then compensation is to be paid. I put it to the House, and as strongly as I can, that the motive of the landlord or the person who gives notice to quit does not in any way affect the tenant. The tenant is equally dispossessed of his holding and equally loses the farm which he understands, and equally, too, very likely has to leave his house, and it makes no difference to the tenant whether the notice to quit is a good one or a bad one, a public purpose or a private purpose.
§ 7.0 P.M.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
Not under the terms of the Amendment, but under the terms of the Amendment to the proposed Amendment he would. I am obliged to consider both of these Amendments together. It is said, if you are going to take land under certain circumstances for small holdings you are not to pay compensation. That means that the Government or the public authority or the local authority are not to pay compensation whereas the private landlord has to do so. The local authorities will be the persons who will probably be engaged in acquiring the land for the purpose of small holdings. Whatever the object may be, and however desirable it is to increase the number of small holders, the Government cannot assent to adopting 124 the principle that they are not to be liable for compensation and that the private landlord is to be liable. For that reason I cannot possibly accept the Amendment. We are confronted with a very big problem. We are endeavouring to acquire land all over the country, and we are doing it not unsuccessfully. We have already settled in England on the land over ten thousand ex-service men. But even though this Bill may add to the cost, we cannot attempt to evade the obligations we are putting on private individuals. I am asked what this extra amount is going to be. The compensation for disturbance will come to a considerable sum, but, as has been pointed out, it is nothing to the cost of equipment. It may add about one year to the cost of purchase plus the cost of removal. In any case if we go out into the market and buy estates, whether compulsorily or by private treaty, though my hon. Friend (Mr. Royce) seems to think it is always done compulsorily, which is by no means the case, and if we refuse to pay compensation to the tenants whom we dispossess, then we are acting differently from private landlords who will be bound to comply with the provisions of the Bill. We cannot possibly agree to put the Government and county councils and other public authorities into that position. The loss, whatever it may be, will not be passed on to the smallholder. The smallholders are to have the land at a fair rent, such rent as would ordinarily be obtained in the market and upon which a smallholder may be expected to make a living. It will not be passed on to the smallholder, and it will undoubtedly fall on the State, but if the State dispossesses farmers and turns them out of their houses and takes any part of the land, then I say that the State has got to pay compensation, just as much as any private individual. My hon. Friend has introduced into his particular Amendment a certain limitation. If a man is left with land to the value of £500 a year only then is this compensation not to be paid. I really cannot see why you ought to penalise a man because he happens to be a big and progressive farmer, when you do not penalise a man who is a rather smaller farmer. In any case, however, under the Sub-section we passed only half an hour ago, dealing with the multiple farm, and with com- 125 pensation in cases where a man has not disposed of the whole of his land, but where a farmer still possesses a portion of his land he farmed before, the compensation will be reduced. Therefore, that particular point is already met in the Bill. On the particular principle, so far as the tenant's position goes, it matters not to him what is the motive or the purpose for which he is turned out, but on the broad principle that the State cannot in this matter put the landlord in a worse position than the private landlord, we cannot agree to this proposal.
§ Sir DONALD MACLEAN
The right hon. Gentleman very truly says that this is a big question. That is common ground. It is a big question because it is so vital to the development of one of the real remedies of our social trouble at the present moment, namely, the increase of the settlement of men upon the land. That, in itself, makes at once the differentiation to which my right hon. Friend refers, though he does not find it in the Amendment now before the House. He says, "Why should you make the difference between a man who has a rental holding of £500 a year and a man who is below that rent?" That is a differentiation which the State is con stantly making. We are engaged every year with the Budget, and the basis of the Budget is that those who can afford to pay pay a larger sum, and people who are below a certain limit pay a lesser sum. The hon. Member for North Midlothian (Sir J. Hope) brings up the usual trouble about the dividing line, and points out that if the rental is£499 the man does not pay, but if it is£501 he does pay. We are all familiar with that. You have to draw the line somewhere, and the Amendment which he had on the Paper was largely designed, so far as I can see, to bring this proposal into ridicule. Amendments of that kind, however, do not affect the real issue before the House, which is that if this extra compensation is to be paid there is not the slightest doubt that the increase of small holdings will be more retarded in the future than it has been up to the present. The State cannot find the extra money. That, I am afraid, becomes increasingly clear. The financial troubles of the State are large and increasing. If such an Amendment is carried, there is going to be a larger burden which an important body of 126 citizens will think an unjust burden. What do you constantly have here, every time you alter the Budget? You are always getting bodies of citizens represented here, who say, "If you put increased income tax on me, or increase the gradation of the super-tax or the death duties, you will be taxing me for the benefit of the whole community, and I strongly object to it "Nobody denies that these people have a grievance, and a heavier burden to carry. The Prime Minister, in his arguments in his historic Budgets, did not deny that the burdens were heavy. He said the hardships must be borne for the sake of the community for which he legislated. That is the basis on which I support this proposal. These large farmers are performing a very useful service to the community—anybody who says you are going to solve the agricultural problem by cutting up the whole of the agricultural land into little parcels is talking sheer stupidity—these people have rendered a great service, but alongside with development of the scientific large farmer the policy of the Government and of this House must be to develop the smallholder at all costs. Where is the money going to be found? You say: "Let the State find it." That means that nothing will be done.
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
That is hardly fair. The right hon. Gentleman suggests that if the State finds the money, nothing will be done. May I point out that already in England and Wales, where the money has to be found by the State, we have bought 250,000 acres, and on that land we shall be able to settle 18,000 men?
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I quite agree that it is not a fair way of putting it to say that nothing will be done. Of course, with the number of small-holders so urgent, the matter will not progress at the rate it ought to. I urge again that, hard as is the case of this particular class of citizen, some measures must be undertaken, and I say, from my experience in the past, and for whatever my opinion may be worth as to the finances of the future, that if you are going to look to the State to carry this extra relatively 127 small burden, the retardation of the creation of small holdings will be very great and harmful. On these grounds alone, I urge my right hon. Friend and the Government to give the Amendment much more friendly consideration than they seem at present inclined to do.
§ Captain FITZROY
What is really raised here is the basic question of policy. I am glad the Government has at last realised that the Amendment raises this question, but what I am afraid the Government do not realise is the dilemma in which they put their supporters. At one time they ask us to support measures for the acquisition of land and for land settlement, and their many attempts to make it easy to settle the ex-soldier and others on the land in a way of smallholdings. Now, we are asked to support a Bill which is diametrically opposed to that, and which renders it much more difficult to place these people on the land in small holdings. Which are we to do? Are we to support the Government in both directions, because they still find no difficulty whatever in riding two horses at the same time? That is not the case with their supporters. We find it extremely difficult one day to vote for one thing and the next day to vote for an exactly opposite thing. The right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House is quite correct in his remarks as to the position of smallholders on the land. He points out that if this Bill is passed into law the expenses of the local authorities in acquiring the land in the first place would be increased, and that inevitably the rent which the smallholder will have to pay will be larger. The right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench (Sir A. Boscawen) said that smallholders now were very favourably situated. I can assure him that smallholders who rent land from the local authorities at the present time are in a much worse position than those smallholders who rent small holdings from private purchasers. In the first place, they are called on to pay an economic rent, and to pay for a sinking fund for the purchase of the land. If this Bill becomes law they will now be called upon to pay compensation to the outgoing tenants. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Of course they will. The local authority will have to pay, and it will have to be made up through a higher purchase price being given for the land. If the Bill 128 becomes law, the smallholder's chance of being put on the land will diminish, and the amount which he has to pay when he gets on to the land will be increased.
There is no justification whatever in putting those tenants, who are dispossessed of their farms or part of their farms because the land is required for small holdings, in a worse position than tenants whose land is taken from them for some other purpose. You cannot discriminate between local authorities and other people who purchase land. It would be entirely unfair to do so, or to put local authorities in a preferential position compared with other people. We have embarked on this Bill, however. We have accepted the principle of the right to compensation on the occasion of notice to quit being given to a tenant, and I do not see how, on this Amendment, or indeed on any part of the Bill, we can depart from that principle, and I for one must support the Government on the question.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
This Debate has proceeded on the assumption that this Clause 7, giving compensation, will only affect smallholders who are set up under the Small Holdings Act. By far the larger number of smallholders in this country are set up by private owners and not under the Act at all. Private owners can set them up very much more cheaply. They are setting them up still, and very often they do it without the provision of any new buildings at all. At the present time they are the only persons who can set them up at a rent which they can afford to pay. If the Bill passes, you will not only make it more impossible for the public authorities to set up small holdings, but you will make it absolutely impossible for the private owner, because he has to compensate the tenant—he does not know whether on the higher or lower scale—before he can get possession of a farm and break it up for small holdings. Therefore the outlook for the smallholder will be very much worse in the future than has been represented in the course of this Debate. The Selborne Report said it was essential that a ladder of progress should be set up so that the agricultural labourer could rise to be a smallholder, a farmer, and so forth, but you are not going to put any rung of the ladder within the reach of the agricultural labourer at all. You are going to do exactly the opposite with him. At 129 the same time, I entirely agree with the remarks of my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain FitzRoy) that if we are giving compensation to the farmers for disturbance, they ought to have it for all such occasions. In order to make it fair between all, ought not we to be most moderate, if we are going to give any compensation at all, with the sum that we accord under the present circumstances?
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I cannot resist pointing out to hon. Members opposite that on this Amendment it is obvious that the moment the burden which they have assisted in placing upon agriculture touches a class with whom they have a sympathy they want to take it off. They are trying by legislation to adjust a burden which they have placed upon the industry in accordance with their own political sympathies. That is what it comes to, and the thing is impossible. Either you must have compensation or you must not, and if you put compensation on a tremendous scale everybody has got to bear it, and it really is borne, not by this or that particular class, but by the industry as a whole. The argument that was used by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Royce) was perfectly just when he said that the burden of the extra compensation in this particular case would fall upon the smallholder. He might have said that the whole burden will directly or indirectly fall on the incoming tenant, and I make the assertion without hesitation that nine times out of ten change in the occupation of the land is for the better. That is admitted. The Prime Minister came and stated here, with all the emphasis of which he is capable, that one of the main objects of the Bill was to get more people on the land, and here is an Amendment moved to reduce the burden which will be placed by the Bill upon putting more people on the land. It will make it more difficult, and we have the argument used on the one side that this burden will fall upon the smallholder, and on the other side that it will fall on the State. Which does the House want? Either? Can we afford millions more than it will cost now to put people on the land?
I can confirm from my own personal experience what my hon. Friend has said. I was engaged here four months ago in negotiating with one of the innumerable farmers who sympathise with small 130 holdings, and who are willing to help where liberty is accorded to them, and where their sympathies are asked for as free Englishmen, and where they are not hustled, controlled, and dragooned by the State or anybody else. When men are free to exercise their own independent judgment they will come forward and make sacrifices. As I say, I was engaged in Scotland in carrying on negotiations with a large tenant to give up a very important part of his farm, in order that it might be constituted into small holdings for the neighboring men who were working in that district, and I negotiated that without the cost of a single penny. That man gave up his land freely, without compensation, because he was asked to do so as man to man, privately, and everybody concerned was friendly together and acting voluntarily. For that reason that land was obtained without the cost of a single farthing for any State official, and the rent which that large farmer was willing to accept was divided among the smallholders, who were all agreed that it was a fair rent, and, as I say, there was not a single farthing of compensation or of cost. That would now be absolutely impossible, and under this Bill every single time that you want land for a small holder you have got to run the whole thing through this expensive and costly State machine. No longer is anybody of any class who is concerned with the management of land to have the liberty of dealing with it under local conditions, with local goodwill, man to man, and believe me that it is personal considerations of man to man that count in this world. When A knows B, and C knows D, they can come together and make an arrangement among themselves, for their mutual benefit, but the moment the State steps in and says, "You shall only do it through our machinery," you get ill-will and undue cost, and the whole thing is muddled from beginning to end. Here you have a Bill which proposes to introduce this muddle, and hon. Members opposite, who have fathered the Bill all the way through, when the shoe is actually on their foot, find it is pinching them, and they want to kick it off. I do not much care whether the Amendment is carried or not. The Government have got to be consistent and bear their own burden, and they will see what the consequences of this Bill will be for agriculture when it is passed. As far as 131 the division goes, I do not care two pence which way it goes, but I shall vote for the Government.
§ Question put, "That the words,
§ Where land in the occupation of any tenant is acquired or made available for small holdings under the Small Holdings and132
§ Allotments Act, 1908 to 1019, or under the Small Landholders (Scotland) Acts, 1886 to 1919, no compensation shall be payable under this section if the tenant after the determination of his tenancy of such land continues in the occupation of other land the yearly rental or value of which exceeds five hundred pounds'
§ Be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes,51;Noes, 187.133
|Division No. 368.]||AYES.||[7.20 p.m.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Hogge, James Myles||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Holmes, J. Stanley||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Swan, J. E.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D.(Midlothian)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Tootill, Robert|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Coine)||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Myers, Thomas||Wignall, James|
|Grundy, T. W.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wlgan)||Williams, Col. P.(Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Rattan, Peter Wilson||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Hallas, Eldred||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)||Wintringham, T.|
|Hayward, Major Evan||Robertson, John|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Royce, William Stapleton.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hirst, G. H.||Sexton, James||Major Mackenzie Wood and Lieut.|
|Colonel A. Murray.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Dixon, Captain Herbert||Johnson, Sir Stanley|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Donald, Thompson||Johnstone, Joseph|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Duncannon, Viscount||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Falcon, Captain Michael||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)|
|Barrand, A. R.||FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Lister, Sir R. Ashton|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lloyd, George Butler|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Forestier-Walker, L.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Bellairs, Commander Cariyon W.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tlngd'n)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lorden, John William|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Lort-Williams. J.|
|Blair, Reginald||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Loseby, Captain C. E.|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Gilbert, James Daniel||M'Guffin, Samuel|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Bruton, Sir James||Goff, Sir R. Park||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Greig, Colonel James William||Maddocks, Henry|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Gretton, Colonel John||Manville, Edward|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Middlebrook, Sir William|
|Casey, T. W.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Mitchell, William Lane|
|Cautley, Henry S.||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv' p' l, W. D' by)||Moles, Thomas|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert||Hambro, Captain Angus Vaidemar||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Birm., W.)||Hanson, Sir Charles Augustin||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Morden, Colonel H. Grant|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Morrison, Hugh|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Neal, Arthur|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hinds, John||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Collins, Sir G. P. (Greenock)||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hopkins, John W. W.||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Courthope, Major George L.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Parker, James|
|Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid)||Howard, Major S. G.||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Davidson, J. C.C.(Hemel Hempstead)||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Perring, William George|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Pickering, Lieut.-Colonel Emil W.|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Jesson, C.||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Pollock, Sir Ernest M.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||Wigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson|
|Pratt, John William||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||Willoughby, Lieut-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Pulley, Charles Thornton||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Purchase, H. G.||Steel, Major S. Strang||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Sutherland, Sir William||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Reid, D. D.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)||Wise, Frederick|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Townley, Maximilian G.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Tryon, Major George Clement||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Rutherford. Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Turton, E. R.||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Vickers, Douglas||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Wheler, Lieut.-Colonel C. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John||Whitla, Sir William||Captain Guest and Lord E. Talbot.|