§ Lords Amendment: No. 51, in page 30, line 3, after "1971" insert "or".
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.
§ 1.15 a.m.
§ Mr. Griffiths
The first of these amendments is consequential on the second, which is the substantive amendment. Its purpose is to remove the bar at present secured by subsection (6) to an entitlement to a farm loss payment in circumstances where only part of an owner-occupied farm is being compulsorily acquired. It does not seem fair to deprive an owner of the exercise of his right under Clause 47 to a farm loss payment when through the action of the acquiring authority he has no other course but to give up the whole farm.
It may be convenient if on the first of these amendments dealing with agricultural matters I were to try to sum up 1455 the impact of the Lords Amendments on all of the various agricultural points within the Bill. These points are covered in Clauses 31 to 33 dealing with farm loss payments. There are also Lords Amendments Nos. 51, 52, 55, 56 and 57.
In Clause 43 which deals with security of tenure we have Lords Amendments No. 90, page 44, line 17, leave out from "landlord" to "and" in line 22 and insert:which would not be or would not have been effective if—and No. 91, in page 44, line 32, leave out from "landlord" to end of line 35 and insert:
- (i) in section 24(2)(b) of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1948 (land required for non-agricultural use for which planning permission has been granted etc.) the reference to the land being required did not include a reference to its being required by an acquiring authority; and
- (ii) in section 25(1)(e) of that Act (proposed termination of tenancy for purpose of land's being used for non-agricultural use not falling within section 24(2)(b) the reference to the land's being used did not include a reference to its being used by an acquiring authority;"which would not be or would not have been effective if the said section 24(2)(b) and 25(1)(e) were construed in accordance with subsection (2)(a)(i) and (ii) above.In Clauses 47, 48, 49 and 50, covering severance of agricultural land, we have Lords Amendments:
No. 96, in page 50, leave out line 31 and insert:(3) Subject to subsection (4) below, "other relevant land" in subsection (1) above means—No. 97, in line 41, leave out subsection (4) and insert:(4) Where an acquiring authority have served a notice to treat in respect of any of the other agricultural land mentioned in subsection (1) above or in respect of other relevant land as defined in subsection (3) above, then, unless and until that notice to treat is withdrawn, this section and section 48 below shall have effect as if that land did not form part of that other agricultural land or did not constitute other relevant land, as the case may be.No. 98, in page 52, Sine 13, leave out paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) and insert:(a) the authority shall offer to surrender the lease to the lessor on such terms as the authority consider reasonable;(b) the question of what terms are reasonable may be referred to the Lands Tribunal by 1456 the authority or the lessor and, if at the expiration of three months after the date of the offer mentioned in paragraph (a) above, the authority and the lessor have not agreed on that question and that question has not been referred to the Tribunal by the lessor, it shall be so referred by the authority;(c) if that question is referred to the Tribunal the lessor shall be deemed to have accepted the surrender of the lease at the expiration of one month after the date of the determination of the Tribunal or on such other date as the Tribunal may direct and to have agreed with the authority on the terms of surrender which the Tribunal has held to be reasonable.No. 99, in line 28, at end insert:(6A) Where the lessor refuses to accept any sum payable to him by virtue of subsection (6) above, or refuses or fails to make out his title to the satisfaction of the acquiring authority, they may pay into court any sum payable to the lessor by virtue of that subsection; and subsections (2) and (5) of section 9 of the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965 (deposit of compensation in cases of refusal to convey etc.) shall apply to that sum with the necessary modifications.No. 100, in line 44, leave out from "and" to end of line 4 on page 53 and insert:in paragraph (c) for the word "surrender" there shall be substituted the word "renunciation"".No. 101, in page 53, line 4, at end insert:(d) in subsection (7), for the word "court" and for the words from "subsections (2)" to the end there shall be substituted respectively the words "the Bank within the meaning of section 3 of the Lands Clauses Consolidation (Scotland) Act 1845" and the words "the following provisions of the said Act of 1845 shall apply to that sum with the necessary modifications—No. 102, leave out line 25 and insert:
- (i) section 75 so far as it relates to the opening of an account,
- (ii) section 76 so far as it relates to the giving of a receipt,
- (iii) section 77,
- (iv) section 79.""(3) Subject to subsection (4) below, "other relevant land" in subsection (1) above means—No. 103, in line 33, leave out subsection (4) and insert:(4) Where an acquiring authority have served a notice to treat in respect of land in the agricultural holding other than that to which the notice of entry relates or in respect of other relevant land as defined in subsection (3) above, then, unless and until that notice to treat is withdrawn, this section and section 50 below shall have effect as if that 1457 land did not form part of the holding or did not constitute other relevant land, as the case may be.No. 104, in page 54, line 22, leave cut "acquired" and insert "been authorised to acquire".
No. 105, in line 24, leave out "acquired" and insert "subject to compulsory purchase".
No. 106, in line 27, leave out "acquired" and insert "subject to compulsory purchase".
No. 107, in line 30, leave out "acquired" and insert "subject to compulsory purchase".
No. 108, in line 41, leave out "accrue on" and insert "arise on or out of".
No. 109, in page 55, line 3, leave out "acquired" and insert "subject to compulsory purchase".
No. 110, in line 7, at end insert:(3A) Where a tenancy is terminated by virtue of subsection (3)(c) above, section 58 of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1948 (landlord's right to compensation for deterioration of holding) shall have effect as if the proviso required the landlord's notice of intention to claim compensation to be served on the acquiring authority and to be so served within three months after the termination of the tenancy.and No. 111, in line 12, leave out from "(3)" to end of line 16 and insert:(d) for the words from "contract" to "1948" there shall be substituted the words "lease, the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1949, the "Crofters (Scotland) Acts 1955 and 1961, the Small Landholders (Scotland) Acts 1886 to 1931";(c) in subsection (3A), for the reference to section 58 of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1948 there shall be substituted a reference to section 59(1) of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1949 and for the word "proviso" there shall be substituted the words "said section 59(1)".In Clause 53, which refers to notices to farmers to quit, we have Amendments
No. 117, in page 57, leave out lines 22 and 23 and insert:. being an authority possessing compulsory purchase powers, have agreed to acquire his interest in the holding; andNo. 118, in line 30, leave outin pursuance of section 24(2)(a) of that Act ".No. 119, in page 58, line 26, at end insert:and the termination of the tenancyNo. 120, in line 27, at end insert: 1458(6) A person served with a notice to quit part of an agricultural holding shall not be entitled, in relation to that notice, both to make an election under this section and to give a counter-notice under section 32 of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1948 (tenant's right to cause notice to quit part of holding to operate as notice to quit entire holding)and No. 121, in line 27, at end insert:(7) the reference in subsection (l)(a) above to a notice to treat served by an acquiring authority includes a reference to a notice to treat deemed to have been so served under any of the provisions mentioned in section 47(5) above.In Clause 54, which concerns the right to serve a counter-notice I am covering Lords Amendment No. 124, in page 58, line 32, leave out from "notice" to end of line 42 and insert:or, if later, the decision of the Agricultural Land Tribunal, he may also within that period serve a notice on the acquiring authority claiming that the remainder of the holding is not reasonably capable of being farmed, either by itself or in conjunction with other relevant land, as a separate agricultural unit.(2) If the acquiring authority do not within the period of two months beginning with the date of service of a notice under subsection (1) above agree in writing to accept the notice as valid, the claimant or the authority may, within two months after the end of that period, refer it to the Lands Tribunal, and on any such reference the Tribunal shall determine whether the claim in the notice is justified and declare the notice valid or invalid in accordance with its determination of that question.(3) Where a notice under subsection (1) above is accepted as, or declared to be, valid under subsection (2) above then, if before the end of twelve months after it has been so accepted or declared the claimant has given up to the acquiring authority possession of the part of the holding to which the notice relates, section 20 of the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965 and section 12 of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968 shall have effect as if the acquiring authority had taken possession of that part in pursuance of a notice of entry under section 11(1) of the said Act of 1965 on the day before the expiration of the year of the tenancy which is current when the notice is so accepted or declared.(4) Subsections (2) to (4) of section 49 and subsection (3) of section 50 above shall apply in relation to subsections (1) to (3) above and to a notice under subsection (1) above as they apply in relation to those sections and a counter-notice under subsection (1) of section 49, and shall so apply with the necessary modifications and as if any reference to the notice of entry were a reference to the notice to quit.")and 126, in page 59, line 2, at end insert:(6) In the application of this section to Scotland—It would be convenient for the House I think, if I summarised the effects of the practical situation for the farmer. If hon. Gentlemen then wish to raise points, as we come to them throughout the Bill, I shall attempt to answer, but the House may agree to my moving them formally if I now explain them.
- (a) in subsection (1) for the reference to the Agricultural Land Tribunal there shall
1459 be substituted a reference to the Scottish Land Court;
- (b) in subsection (2) for any reference to the Lands Tribunal there shall be substituted a reference to the Lands Tribunal for Scotland;
- (c) in subsection (3) for the references to sections 11(1) and 20 of the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965 there shall be substituted respectively references to paragraph 3 of Schedule 2 to the Acquisition of Land (Authorisation Procedure) (Scotland) Act 1947 and section 114 of the Lands Clauses Consolidation (Scotland) Act 1845."
Before the Bill the owner-occupier farmer got the market price for the land taken with vacant possession and disturbance compensation covering his out-of-pocket expenses.
Under the Bill, as amended by this House, he gets, in addition, a home loss payment for his farm house and a farm loss payment to cover temporary loss of yield, and can make the authority which wants only part of the land take the whole of it if taking only part would leave him with an unviable holding.
He can widen a blight notice in the same way and also get 90 per cent. of his compensation in advance of settlement on the day he leaves his farm.
If he stays and no land is taken he can get compensation for depreciation caused by nuisance from new roads and in any case he gets sound insulation for his farmhouse against excessive traffic noise from new roads.
The Lords have put in a number of further improvements. The owner-occupier farmer can get a farm loss payment if he has made an authority take all his farm, even if it wanted only part. Further, if he stays on after selling the farm, he can choose the three most profitable consecutive years for calculating his farm loss payments, which can make a deal of difference.
If he dies after qualifying but before making a claim his family can claim for the farm loss in his place.
1460 We welcome these amendments made in the Lords, and I commend them to the House.
In the case of the landlord, before the Bill he could get market price for land taken and if he could not get a tenant out as a result of the authority's proposals, he could get vacant possession value.
Under the Bill as amended in this House, he still gets market price, but if he got the tenant out as a result of development proposals he would not get vacant possession value. In addition, he can make an authority take the whole of the farm if only taking part would leave an unviable holding. If his tenant has made the authority take all his holding the landlord can get it back on reasonable terms.
In the Bill as amended in the Lords, there is a minor improvement. If the landlord could have got rid of his tenant without the acquiring authority's scheme, then he will get vacant possession value. If his tenant has made the authority take all his holding, the landlord gets the land back from the acquiring authority on improved terms.
I hope that my attempt to explain in practical language the effect of the Lords Amendments is acceptable to the House. I commend the Lords Amendments.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Subsequent Lords Amendment agreed to.
Mr. Deputy Chairman
We now come to Lords Amendment No. 53, with which it will be convenient to take Lords Amendment No. 54. Privilege is involved.
§ Lords Amendment No. 53: In page 30, line 9, leave out "or".
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs and Agriculture, Scottish Office (Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith)
I beg to move, that this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.
The House will want to consider at the same time Lords Amendment No. 54, in page 30, line 10, leave out from second "lease" to end of line 12, and insert:with an unexpired period or continuing on tacit relocation, or of a crofter".and also the motion standing in my name, to move the following amendment to the Bill, in lieu of Lords Amendments Nos. 1461 53 and 54, in clause 31, page 30, line 12, at end insert'or the interest of a crofter or a landholder'While we do not feel able to accept these amendments as inserted in the Bill in another place, we are proposing an alternative amendment to the same subsection which will to some extent meet the intentions of the original amendment and indeed go further in conveying benefit on a class of tenant not covered by the amendment as it stands.
These amendments deal with the classes of persons who are entitled to farm loss payments under the Bill. As hon. Members will remember from our earlier discussions, these payments are to be made when a farmer who is displaced from his farm takes up farming elsewhere within a period of three years. It consists of a payment of one year's loss of profits. The Bill as it stood before it was amended by the Lords, provided for the making of farm loss payments to owner-occupiers and to tenants on a lease with not less than three years to run.
I understand that the intention of the Lords amendments is to extend the entitlement to year to year tenants in Scotland and also to crofters. Let me first deal with year to year tenants. The Lords amendments refer to these classes —they are the tenants holding on a lease on tacit relocation—but in fact the clause as amended by these amendments would not give farm loss payments to year to year tenants. This is because subsection (5) provides that farm loss payments shall not be paid to anyone entitled to payments under Section 12 of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968. These are additional payments made to a dispossessed tenant for the reorganisation of his affairs.
Any year to year tenant dispossessed by an acquiring authority would be entitled to this payment under Section 12 of the 1968 Act, so that the inclusion in the amendment of the reference to tenants on tacit relocation has no effect. This would not give these tenants farm loss payments. It is therefore necessary to make a technical amendment to delete this provision.
We have, however, looked again at the other class of tenant referred to in the amendment—the crofters. These are, of 1462 course, a special class of tenant, peculiar to Scotland with a very high security of tenure who have also normally provided the buildings and equipment on their holdings; and we have already agreed that they should be specially provided for in Clause 2. The provisions in Section 12 of the 1968 Act do not apply to them, so that they would not be precluded by the provisions of subsection (5) from getting a farm loss payment; and we have concluded that it would be fair to allow this part of the Lords amendments to remain. We propose, however, to expand this to include landholders who hold on a similar tenure in those parts of Scotland outside the crofting counties.
§ Mr. Mulley
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not speak on the substance of the amendment because I hesitate to speak about Scots law, in which I am guided by my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan). It is unusual that an amendment of this sort should appear on the Order Paper only at today's sitting. The House has not been given much time to consider it.
It is obviously in order to disagree with the Lords Amendment, but is it in order to move another amendment in its place? If so, there is no limit to the possibility of new amendments being put down. It is not an amendment of the Lords Amendment but a proposed amendment to the Bill. Although I have nothing against the amendment in principle, this is surely a novel and irregular proceeding.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Luckily, it has nothing to do with me. Mr. Speaker selects the amendments and decides whether starred amendments should be allowed on the day.
§ Mr. Mulley
With respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am not questioning the starred amendment; I am merely drawing attention to the inconvenience that this practice of Government Departments causes to hon. Members. I am raising the wider and more significant point whether anyone—a Minister or not—can at this stage propose a new amendment to the Bill as distinct from agreeing or disagreeing with, or amending, a Lords Amendment.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I refer the House to Erskine May, page 538, sub-paragraph (4):While disagreeing to the amendment, they may make an amendment to the bill in lieu of the Lords Amendment to which they have disagreed; or, where the Lords Amendment proposes to leave out words or to leave out words and insert other words, an amendment may be made to the words so restored to the bill. In both these cases consequential amendments may also be made to the bill.I think the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) will agree that we are in order.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
Further to that point of order. On the question of notice, I wish to apologise to the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) for the fact that the amendment was tabled fairly recently. I know that the hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) will agree that this is a highly complicated matter, and it is not long since the Lords considered it. It was introduced at a fairly late stage in our proceedings. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept my apology for what has happened.
§ Mr. Buchan
The House of Lords last discussed this matter about a week ago. The amendments which have come forward are quite simple, and I am grateful that the point has been taken about the landholders with a similar tenure to the crofters elsewhere.
There are two points which arise. I believe that it is not for us to deal with starred amendments in this way, especially as this runs counter to a substantial expert view in the House of Lords. I refer to Lord Balerno, who is a notable agricultural specialist, who was among those who strongly argued that this amendment should be carried. I might add that sons tend to be radical and progressive compared to their fathers. I am not saying that that is true of the present situation, but Lord Balerno is a notable agricultural expert. Therefore, it is surprising that the amendment has been rejected. Apparently it has taken the Government a week to decide not to bring in the new words, and to go against expert opinion in the House of Lords. This perhaps suggests that they regard this as a fairly marginal point.
In view of these matters which I have raised, and especially because of the in- 1464 convenience, awkwardness and casual procedural method which has been adopted, I believe that it should be incumbent on the Government now to withdraw these amendments. I hope that the Under-Secretary will tell the House that this is his intention, for it would undoubtedly be helpful for Parliament and for the substance of the case.
On the substance of the case, we welcome the extension to crofters and the extension from there to the landholder. But the kernel of the discussion in the other place related to the tenant farmer. I shall not go into a lengthy discussion of tenant farmers, but this relates to the change of succession and the landholding structure in Scotland so that security of tenure would prevail. It is true that security of tenure in Scotland gives a substantial holding to the tenant. Viscount Massereene and Ferrard in another place regarded it as expropriation that they have been given that right. If he wants to call it expropriation, that is up to him, but it is a substantial step forward and I accept that it would be without compensation. It means that he accepts special rights analogous to the rights of ownership to this section of tenants.
Many people in England and Wales believe that the same principle should apply in their parts of the country and would like to see a change taking place. However, there was no suggestion in the Lords amendments that this change should take place. I believe that we should adhere to the amendments. They consist of a list of wide-ranging improvements in compensation terms for owner-occupiers and for landlords and equity demands that the same principle be applied to the tenant farmer.
I end where I began in saying that these powerful arguments must be considered in the light of the curious fact that the dog has failed to bark for a week—it has taken a week for these matters to reach us and therefore the decision must have been marginal. We have been full of cross-the-table congratulations tonight and perhaps the way to finish the discussion on the agricultural sections on a harmonious note is for the Under-Secretary to give his backing and blessing to the Lords amendments.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
The hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) must appreciate that the clause, as amended by the Lords amendments, would not give farm loss payments to year-to-year tenants and to that extent the amendments are deficient. Whatever else happened we could not have left the Bill as it would have been amended.
The second point concerned what was said in another place. I am glad that the hon. Member paid a tribute to the experts in another place and I shall pass on his tributes to those who considered the question of the relative security of tenure on the other side of the border. Leasehold tenants in Scotland have the same security as tenants in England and Wales except in relation to the important matter of succession. In the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act a successor to a leasehold tenancy in Scotland may have the right to succeed to a tenancy provided that he or she is a near relative. However, such a successor may be dispensed with if the farm is not large enough to employ two people and if there are plans for amalgamation. There is no similar provision for this in England and Wales.
The marginally greater interest of the Scottish leasehold tenant will of course be taken into account in assessing the expectation of security under Clause 43. Therefore taking this extra point into account there is no justification for making these grounds for giving farm loss payments in addition and that must be borne in mind.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Subsequent Lords Amendment disagreed to.
I beg to move, in lieu of the Lords amendments last disagreed to, in clause 31, page 30, line 12, at end insert:' or the interest of a crofter or a landholder'.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Subsequent Lords Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Buchan
On a point of order. We have had a long analysis of a number of amendments together, for which we are grateful. Would it be possible for the Minister to move the complete list of Amendments which he subsumed in his 1466 explanation in what we in Scotland call a "one-er"?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
If no hon. Member wishes to speak on any amendment, I could put together all those amendments which do not involve a matter of privilege. I would then put those that involved privilege.
§ Mr. Graham Page
I do not think that it would be satisfactory, with respect, to put them in that way, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Some of the amendments are not self-evident. My hon. Friend mentioned a number which could be grouped together. But we could make rapid progress by merely saying a word or two on the others.
§ Mr. Buchan
In that case, perhaps the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland could adopt the same procedure as his colleague and pick out only a few salient points on each Amendment. I know this is difficult when Ministers have long briefs but it might help to make better progress.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
If the Minister would name the next amendment on which he would like to address the House, I will put all those in between.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
I suggest we take Nos. 55, 56 and 57, which are all on agricultural points, and perhaps take other agricultural groupings formally later.
§ Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to, some with Special Entry.