House Of Commons
Friday, 9th August, 1907.
The House met at Twelve noon of the Clock.
Message to attend the Lords Commissioners.
The House went; and, having returned,
Mr. SPEAKER reported the Royal Assent to a number of Bills. (See page 485).
Private Bill Business
Swansea Harbour Bill.—Lords' Amendments considered, and agreed to.
City of London (Union of Parishes) Bill [Lords].—Read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.
Metropolitan Water Board (Charges, etc.) Bill.—Read the third time, and passed.
Education (Scotland) Bill
Petition from Fraserburgh, for alteration; to lie upon the Table.
Elementary Teachers' Superannuation Act, 1898
Petition of the Certificated Elementary School Women Teachers under the Board of Education, for alteration of Law; to lie upon the Table.
Small Landholders (Scotland) Bill
Petition from Dumfries, against; to lie upon the Table.
Small Landholders (Scotland) Bill
Petition of the North-East of Scotland Land Defence Association, for alteration; to lie upon the Table.
Small Landholders (Scotland) Bill
Petition from East Aberdeenshire, in favour; to lie upon the Table.
Weekly Rest-Day Bill
Petition from Pirbright and other places, in favour; to lie upon the Table.
Returns, Reports, Etc
Permanent Charges Commutation
Return [presented 8th August]; to be printed. [No. 292.]
Charitable Donations And Bequests (Ireland)
Copy presented, of Sixty-second Annual Report of the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests for Ireland [by Command]; to the upon the Table.
Queen's College (Belfast)
Copy presented, of Annual Report of the President for 1906–7 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Army (Recurrent Expenditure)
Return presented, relative thereto [Address 12th March; Mr. Bellairs]; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 293.]
United Kingdom (Trade, Commerce, And Condition Of People)
Return presented, relative thereto [ordered 9th July; Mr. Essex]; to li upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 294.]
Copy presented, of Twenty-fourth General Annual Report by the Board of Trade under the Bankruptcy Act, 1883 [by Act]; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 295.]
Copy presented, of Correspondence relating to Sokoto, Hedeija, and the Munshi Country [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Trade Reports (Annual Series)
Copies presented, of Diplomatic and Consular Reports, Annual Series. Nos. 3889 and 3890 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Acts
Copy ordered, "of the Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Acts, indicating the extensions and Amendments thereof proposed by the Small Landholders (Scotland) Bill (as amended by the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills and on Report)."—( Mr. Sinclair.)
Copy presented accordingly; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 296.] I
Questions And Answers Circulated With The Votes
Vaccination Exemption Certificates
To ask the President of the Local Government Board what is the number of certificates of conscientious objection to vaccination granted during the year 1906. (Answered by Mr. John Burns.) The number of certificates of conscientious objection to vaccination received by vaccination officers in 1906 was 52,391.
Appointment Of Assistant Inspector Of Postmen At Durham
To ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that a vacancy for an assistant inspector of postmen at Durham has been filled by a man from Harrogate, and that men of good character at Durham, with service ranging from fifteen to twenty-nine years, have been passed over; whether the postmaster of Durham objects to men being promoted in his own office, but is willing to recommend them for promotion elsewhere; and whether he has sanctioned this restriction on promotion. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) A new appointment has recently been authorised for an inspector of postmen at Durham. There was, unfortunately, no postman at that office fully qualified to fill the new position, and it was therefore necessary to select an eligible officer from another town. I have no reason to suppose that the postmaster of Durham entertains the view suggested by the hon. Member, but I should certainly not countenance any exclusion of well-qualified Durham officers from promotion in their own office.
Treatment Of A Superintendent At Newry Post Office
To ask the Postmaster-General if he will grant an independent inquiry into the allegations made as to the treatment of a superintendent in the Newry post office whose case has recently been brought before him. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) I understand the hon. Member's Question to refer to certain allegations of unfair treatment by the postmaster which were put forward recently by an overseer at Newry. Those allegations have been carefully investigated and proved to be groundless. I do not consider any further inquiry necessary.
English And Irish Postal Stores Tenders
To ask the Postmaster-General whether, seeing that Irish manufacturers are required to tender for the delivery of English Post Office stores in London, he will explain why English manufacturers are not required to tender for the delivery of Irish Post Office stores in Dublin; and who pays the cost of carriage on such stores sent from the London stores departments for use in the Irish Post Office service. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) The facts are not as the hon. Member supposes. English manufacturers do tender for delivery in Ireland of certain stores required in that country. The Post Office Vote bears the cost of the carriage of any stores sent from the Stores Department in London to Ireland.
To ask the Postmaster-General whether manufacturers have to tender for delivery in London of the clothing supplies required in the Irish Post Office service; and, if so, who pays the cost of the carriage on these clothing supplies when sent from London to Ireland. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) The Answer is in the negative as regards uniform clothing and head dresses. The tenders are for delivery in Dublin. Cloth and other materials for making up, boots, and waterproofs must be delivered in London for expert examination. The Post Office Vote bears the cost of carriage from London to Ireland on these articles.
English And Irish Postal Stores
To ask the Postmaster-General how many officials are employed in the London Post Office factories in connection with the making and repairing of Post Office stores; how many officials are similarly employed in Ireland in connection with the making and repairing of stores for the Irish Post Office service; whether the Government built these Post Office factories; what was the approximate outlay in constructing them; and where are they situated. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) The Post Office has two factories in London, one at Mount Pleasant, Clerkenwell, and one at Bovay Place, Holloway. It is not possible to state with any accuracy what the erection of these factories cost. At Holloway, part of the site was purchased with a building, since utilised, upon it; at Mount Pleasant, also, a block of buildings was on the ground when it was acquired, and, moreover, a part of the factory buildings erected by the Post Office has been devoted to other purposes. The number of men employed at the two factories is about 900. The Post Office has no other factories, either in Ireland or elsewhere.
English And Irish Postal Service And Promotions
To ask the Postmaster-General whether the London postal service is treated separately from the provincial Post Office service, and all the superior appointments in it are given to London officials on the recommendation of the Controller; and, if so, will he explain why the Irish postal service is not treated separately as that of London, and why all superior Irish appointments are not given to officials serving in Ireland on the recommendation of the Irish authorities. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) The London postal service, like the postal service of every other town and city, whether in England, Scotland, or Ireland, is treated as a separate unit in matters of promotion, superior appointments being filled by transfer from elsewhere only when duly qualified officers cannot be found upon the local staff, a case which is rare when the staff is large, as in London. Postmasterships are open to the staff of the whole United Kingdom without distinction, but this mode of appointment cannot be conveniently applied to the officers who are designated postmasters in London, their position being dissimilar to that of postmasters elsewhere.
Irish Postal Stores
To ask the Postmaster-General whether, having regard to the unequal treatment inflicted upon Ireland in her financial relations with England, he will appoint a small departmental committee to inquire, during the recess, whether the Post Office stores imported from England to Ireland could, without detriment to the public service, be obtained in Ireland, and to ascertain what steps can be taken to give Irish contractors better opportunities of ascertaining what contracts are open from time to time. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton. It is open to any Irish manufacturers who are not at present invited to tender to apply to the Controller of Stores to have their names put on his list of firms to whom tender forms should be sent, and their tenders will always be carefully considered. For many of the stores, however, which are used in the telegraph and telephone services there are no manufacturers in Ireland.
Post Office Construction—Reinforced Concrete
To ask the First Commissioner of Works whether Post Office buildings, other than the General Post Office, are being constructed, or are about to be constructed, of reinforced concrete; and, if so, how many, and where; whether the estimates for any such Post Office buildings show any material economy compared with Post Office buildings erected with ordinary materials; and, if so, what is the extent of the saving, approximately, per cubic foot of building. (Answered by Mr. Harcourt.) The other buildings being constructed, or about to be constructed, of reinforced concrete are—
- The Manchester Principal Sorting Office.
- Birmingham: Store Building.
- London: Western District Post Office.
Sanitary Condition Of Cold Norton School, Essex
To ask the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been called to complaints of inhabitants of the parish of Cold Norton, Essex, that Cold Norton school is not fit on sanitary and other grounds for educational purposes, and to the fact that the building has been condemned by the county education authority as long ago as 1904; whether the poorer inhabitants are still being compelled by law to send their children to this condemned building; and, if so, whether he proposes to take any action" in the matter. (Answered by Mr. McKenna.) The building of this school is far from satisfactory, but I am not aware that it was condemned by the county education authority; in fact it was, to a considerable extent, due to the repeated requests of that authority that it was placed on the annual grant list. So long as the school is recognised as a public elementary school it is regarded as affording efficient instruction for the children who attend it and thereby satisfying the requirements of the by-laws. The recognition of the school will expire in March next, and I am in communication with the local education authority as to the best means of providing suitable accommodation for these children after that date. I may add that the average attendance at the school last year was only twenty-four.
Payment Of Salaries Of Merionethshire School Teachers
To ask the President of the Board of Education if all the quarterly salaries due to the teachers in non-provided schools of Merionethshire have now been paid; if so, by whom, and on what date were such payments made. (Answered by Mr. McKenna.) I have no information on the subject of the noble Lord's Question.
To ask the President of the Board of Education whether he has received any further communication from the Merionethshire local education authority; and, if so, what is its substance; and whether the Board of Education is now prepared to refund to the managers any salaries which may be paid by them to the teachers. (Answered by Mr. McKenna.) I have now heard that the local education authority has intimated to the managers of several voluntary schools that if they pay salaries and send accounts to Whitehall the authority will raise no objection to the Board of Education repaying to the managers the sums recognised by the authority as due for salaries. In reply to the last part of the Question, I cannot undertake to give a guarantee to refund to the managers any salaries which may be paid by them to the teachers, as such a step would not be in accordance with the provisions of The Education (Local Authority Default) Act, 1904, but the fact that the local authority raise no objection to such payment to the managers would certainly be taken into account by the Board of Education in coming to a conclusion whether or not it is expedient to proceed in accordance with the provisions of that Act.
Saturday Half-Holiday In Government Offices
To ask the Secretary to the Treasury if he can state whether a weekly Saturday half-holiday is granted in any Government office; if so, in what offices and on what conditions whether the privilege may be extended to all Government offices on the same conditions; and whether the clerks in offices ill which this privilege is not granted are required to attend for the same number of hours on ordinary days as clerks who enjoy the weekly half-holiday. (Answered by Mr. Runciman.) I am unable to add anything to the numerous Answers which I have given to Questions on this subject during the present session.
Promotion Of Ridley Clerks
To ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he has any information as to the number of promotions of Ridley clerks in other Government offices; and, if so, whether, having regard to the fact that there are 113 such clerks at present serving in the Local Government Board, he will consider the advisability of making further promotions. (Answered by Mr. John Burns.) I have received some information on this subject. As regards the latter part of the Question, I do not think I can add anything to the reply I gave my hon. friend on the 5th instant.†
Promotion Of Second-Class Clerks
To ask the President of the Local Government Board how many second-class clerks of the Higher Division appointed under the Order in Council, 21st March, 1890, are employed in the Local Government Board; how many clerks have been promoted to higher posts under this Department from this class since its introduction, and the number of such promotions during the last five years. (Answered by Mr. John Burns.) The Order in Council of 21st March, 1890, does not relate to the Higher Division. My hon. friend probably intends to refer to that of 15th August, 1890. At the present time there are employed in the Local Government Board twenty-three second-class clerks of the Higher Division who have been appointed to that Division since the date of the last-mentioned
Order. Two of them have been promoted from the Second Division. The number of second-class clerks of the Higher Division appointed since 15th August, 1890, who have received advancement is sixteen. Of these fourteen have received advancement during the last five years.† See (4) Debates, clxxix., 1519–20.
Lough Neagh Fisheries—Representation On Advisory Committee
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can explain why the Lough Neagh fisheries, the produce of which goes directly to the support of a community of at least 3,000 people, are not represented on the advisory committee to the fishery authority; and whether, in case of any changes being made by the Department, he will have this state of affairs remedied for the benefit of Lough Neagh. (Answered by Mr. T. W. Russell.) The intention of the Department in forming their advisory committee on fisheries was, I am informed, that the committee should be composed of gentlemen generally experienced in fishery matters, and who, instead of advocating particular interests, would look upon the whole Irish fisheries as a national asset and deal with questions submitted to them from that point of view. The Department consider that it would be advisable to adhere to that basis of selection. But I am of opinion that, even under such a scheme, the claims of Lough Neagh district should be considered in any rearrangement that may take place.
Navan (County Meath) Labourers Cottage Scheme—Delay In Holding Inquiry
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland why the inquiry by the Local Government Board to be held at Navan, county Meath, into the application for labourers cottages has been so long delayed. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) There has been no delay in this case. The petition for confirmation of the scheme was received by the Local Government Board from the Council on 30th July. Arrangements are being made for holding the inquiry as soon as practicable, having regard to the statutory notices which must be given.
Irish Petty Sessions Clerks—Pay Of Substitutes During Absence
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether clerks of petty sessions in Ireland have to pay substitutes to do their work in case of illness or during vacation; and, if so, will he take steps to alter this practice, more especially having regard to the fact that their department yields a surplus annually. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The reply to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative, and to the second in the negative. The ordinary receipts of the department from fines and fees are insufficient to meet its expenses, and the deficit is made good by an annual transfer from the receipts for dog licences, which otherwise go to local authorities.
Commutation Of Warrant Officers' Pensions
To ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to modify in favour of warrant officers the regulation which prevents them from commuting any part of their pensions before fifty-five; and, if so, what changes he proposes to make. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) The matter is still under consideration.
Manual Of Military Law And King's Regulations—Issue Of New Editions
To ask the Secretary for State for War whether he will have fresh and corrected editions of the Official Manual of Military Law and of the King's Regulations issued in time to supply officers preparing during the coming winter for their examination for promotion with the information necessary for passing successfully. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) Both these books are in course of revision. The Manual of Military Law will shortly be sent to press, and copies should be available before the end of the year. The revise of the King's Regulations is not in so forward a state, but it is hoped will be completed by the end of the year.
Berks Imperial Yeomanry Band And Political Demonstration
To ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to an advertisement of a Conservative fete and demonstration to be held in Inglewood Park, near Kintbury, on Saturday, 10th August, at which the band of the Berks Imperial Yeomanry is announced to perform; whether it is with the sanction of the War Office authorities that this band is to take part in a political demonstration; and, if not, whether he will take any, and what, action in the matter. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) My attention has been called to this matter. The arrangement has not received the sanction of the War Office, and action has been taken to prevent any breach of the regulations,
Resolved, That this House do, at the rising of the House this day, adjourn till Monday next.—( Captain Norton.)
Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill
To be printed. [Bill 309.]
Selection (Standing Committees)
reported from the Committee of Selection; That they had discharged the following Members from Standing Committee B (in respect of the Factory and Workshop Bill [Lords] and of the Cabs and Stage Carriages (London) Bill): Mr. Burns, Dr. Macnamara, Mr. Flynn, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Kettle, Mr. Meehan, Mr. Moouey, Mr. Nannetti, Mr. Henniker Heaton, Mr. Haddock, and Mr. Parker; and had appointed in substitution (in respect of the Factory and Workshop Bill [Lords] and of the Cabs and Stage Carriages (London) Bill): Mr. Secretary Gladstone, Mr. Herbert Samuel, Mr. Jeremiah MacVeagh, Mr. William Abraham (Cork), Mr. Halpin, Mr. Lardner, Mr. John Murphy. Mr. Ffrench, Mr. Bowles, Sir Frederick Banbury, and Mr. George Henry Roberts.
further reported from the Committee; That they had added to Standing Committee B the following Fifteen Members (in respect of the Factory and Workshop Bill [Lords] and of the Cabs and Stage Carriages (London) Bill): Mr. Brace, Mr. T. L. Corbett, Lord Edmund Talbot, Mr. Lambton, Mr. Hunt, Mr. T. P. O'Connor, Mr. John O'Connor, Mr. William Tyson Wilson, Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, Mr. John Johnson, Mr. Masterman, Mr. John Tennant, Dr. Shipman, Mr. Wedgwood, and Mr. Charles Nicholson.
further reported from the Committee; That they had discharged the following Members from Standing Committee C (in respect of the Employers' Liability (Insurance Companies) Bill and of the Companies Bill [Lords]): Mr. Paul, Mr. James Duncan, Sir Edward Strachey, Mr. Barran, Mr. Hart-Davies, Mr. Osmond Williams, Sir Albert Spicer, Sir Francis Channing, and Mr. Whitehead; and had appointed in substitution (in respect of the Employers' Liability (Insurance Companies) Bill and of the Companies Bill [Lords]): Mr. Bertram, Mr. Gibb, Mr. Attorney-General, Sir-Edwin Cornwall, Mr. Charles Roberts, Mr. Higham, Mr. King, Mr. Ridsdale, and Sir Frederick Cawley.
further reported from the Committee: That they had added to Standing Committee C the following fifteen Members (in respect of the Employers' Liability (Insurance Companies) Bill and of the Companies Bill [Lords]): Mr. Bell, Mr. Claude Hay, Mr. Rawlinson, Mr. Gordon, Lord Robert Cecil, Mr. Thomas Frederick Richards, Mr. Patrick White, Dr. Ambrose, Mr. Walter Rea, Mr. Lupton, Mr. Theodore Taylor, Mr. M'Laren, Mr. Beauchamp, Mr. Rendall, and Mr. Horniman.
Reports to lie upon the Table,
Message From The Lords
That they have agreed to; Released Persons (Poor Law Relief) Bill; Paisley Corporation Order Confirmation Bill, without Amendment; London County Council (Tramways and Improvements) Bill, with Amendments.
Amendments to; Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Bill [Lords], without Amendment.
Small Landholders (Scotland) Bill
Order for Third Reading read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
in moving the rejection of the measure, said they had now arrived at the concluding stages of a very prolonged discussion of the Small Landholders (Scotland.) Bill, on which they had spent twenty-three days in Grand Committee, and, owing to circumstances over which they had no control, a very large proportion of the measure still remained undiscussed. The criticisms directed against the Bill had come from both sides of the House, the most stringent from hon. Members opposite, who, from their experience and skill in agricultural matters and public affairs generally, were calculated to give to the House a great deal of guidance on the merits of this measure. One of the first objections to the Bill related purely to its drafting. Hon. Members would realise the difficulties which faced them in Grand Committee in endeavouring to discover what the meaning of the Bill was. It referred directly to some three or four Acts of Parliament, but indirectly, when they came to deal with the various clauses, they found that they had to wade through statutes of great complexity and length, and it became impossible to understand what the scope and effect of the Bill would be. They referred back, from time to time, to no less than thirteen Acts of Parliament. He respectfully submitted that legislation by reference at any time was undesirable; but in a measure of this kind, which would have to be interpreted by men of no skill in the law, by farmers and small holders, and those concerned in the agricultural interest, it was most desirable that the measure should have borne on the face of it the various statutes to which it referred. In this view he did not stand alone. He had the strongest possible opinion on his side, for during the discussion of the Agricultural Holdings Bill, in 1900, two learned Gentlemen now sitting on the Government Bench, founded their criticism of that measure solely on the fact of the aggravated form of legislation by reference which it disclosed. The Lord Advocate offered a very strong expression of opinion, and reminded them of the old lady's description of a sheep's head, that it was "very confused feeding." As very often happened, the learned Solicitor-General went one better than the Lord Advocate; he was still more stringent in his criticism, and he said what was very germane to the present subject of discussion—
Anyone who read this Bill would see how well that filled in every possible particular. The hon. and learned Gentleman then went one better still, for with great self-sacrifice, he made a suggestion to the Government, which he hoped he would repeat now. So dissatisfied was he with the form in which the Bill was drafted, that he offered to devote a portion of the Easter recess, then approaching, and with the material which the Government had given, to "frame a Bill which would tell its own story on its face, so that he who runs may read." He would venture to suggest to the learned Solicitor-General that ample occupation for the Autumn holiday presented itself in the Bill now before the House, and the kindest thing which he could do to the House and country would be to redraft it in a condensed and comprehensive form so that he who ran might read; and then, if in abridged, wiser, and saner guise it were reintroduced in the succeeding session, and it proved really calculated to deal with the evils under which the rural population suffered, and set on the land a greater number of small holders, it would find no warmer sympathisers and friends than would be forthcoming on his side of the House. If the drafting of the Bill was confused, so also was the description which various Members of the Government had given of its objects and intentions He would not go into the old story of the "blank denial," which was one of the original reasons brought forward for the introduction of a measure such as this, because he thought that the right hon. Gentleman who had given publicity to that phrase had perhaps somewhat modified it in subsequent speeches."By the machinery of this Bill, the landlord and tenant of Scotland are to settle down to ascertain their rights at the close of a tenancy. That is the kind of Bill we should expect—a Bill that would tell its own story upon its face, which anyone who runs may read. It ought to be clear, distinct, concise, and self-contained."
Not in the least.
said that if the right hon. Gentleman had not modified it in subsequent speeches, at any rate the evidence on which he based his charge, as anyone who read the evidence would see, was not such as in any way supported or carried out the allegation. Another informal charge, or at least another reason for the promotion of this measure was given tentative effect by the Lord Advocate in one of his speeches, in which he said the Bill was designed to prevent arbitrary evictions. Subsequently the right hon. Gentleman modified that view, and he failed, as others failed, to produce any concrete cases in Scotland sufficient in number and importance in any way to substantiate such a grave and unfair charge. The Solicitor - General at a meeting in Perth could not contain himself any longer, and he repeated his charge there as to arbitrary evictions. He would like to challenge the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor-General to substantiate the charge against the landed interest in Scotland. They were told that the Bill would arrest depopulation in the rural areas, and that it was founded upon the valuable experience gained during the operation of the Act of 1886 in the crofting areas. No more amazing statement than the assertion that the Crofters Acts had arrested depopulation in the Highland districts could possibly be made. He would take two instances from the Returns, and he would take Skye as a typical instance in the Highlands. There he found that whereas the population between 1871 and 1881 decreased by 9·95 per cent., between 1881 and 1891 after the commencement of the Crofters Acts the population decreased by 6·87 per cent. After the Crofters Act had been in full operation he found that between 1891 and 1901 the rural population in Skye had decreased by 12·4 per cent., which was greater than the average decrease throughout Scotland. In the county of Inverness the decrease was 16 per cent between 1891 and 1901, but when they examined it a little closer they found that the drift had been from the country districts into the towns. The towns and villages in the County of Inverness had increased during that period by 3,018, and the rural population had decreased by 3,030. When they claimed that the Crofters Acts had arrested depopulation they were resting their case upon a slender, insufficient, and inaccurate basis. The hon. Member for the Black-friars Division of Glasgow had claimed that this measure would do a great deal in the direction of remedying over-crowding in the large towns in Scotland. How was it going to prevent that? The hon. Member for Blackfriars had claimed that every Bill introduced by the Government would diminish the overcrowding evil. He made a claim of that kind in regard to the Valuation Bill for Scotland, and only the previous night he had argued that if the tramways in Glasgow were not taxed to their full value they would assist the question of the housing of the working classes. What would be the real result of this measure? He ventured to say that it would have an entirely contrary result to that anticipated by its promoters. What did the promoters of the Bill desire? Their object was to increase the number of small holdings throughout Scotland. He did not see how they would accomplish this object if they cut themselves off from that voluntary effort which had done so much to create small holdings in the past. They might create an artificial demand for small holdings, but would it be upon such a sound and safe basis as would be likely to lead to satisfactory results? The small landholders could not live upon stimulants alone; they would want some solid food as well. To create a false appetite and expect good healthy results was to proceed on thoroughly unsound lines. Sir Charles Renshaw, who had taken a deep interest in this question, had lately endeavoured by the means at his disposal and under the power conferred by the Act of 1894 to ascertain what demand there was in Renfrewshire and give effect to that demand. He said that the County Association advertised for weeks in every paper that they were prepared to sell or let small holdings to any deserving or suitable tenants. After applying to every parish council to assist them, and taking every means in their power, they managed to get only three applications, and when those came to be tested two of them withdrew, and the third turned out to be an application not from a farm labourer but from a photographer who desired to have a nice little country place in which to carry on his business. They had heard a great deal about intensive cultivation, and they were all in favour of it, but if that was to include the development of photographic plates they were departing from the real objects of such legislation. What would be the position of the small holder when he was created? He was to be placed upon part of a farm presumably now being cultivated by a tenant farmer and being cultivated to the very best purpose. That farmer would find himself placed in a reduced area with the same sized farm buildings, and consequently an increased expenditure. Could it be expected that he would look upon the small landholder, who had been foisted upon him, with friendly feelings? They were now dealing with 62,000 small holdings of under fifty acres which had all been created by voluntary effort, which they would now put a stop to. Those voluntary holdings formed 70 per cent. of the entire holdings in Scotland. The landlord was now left in the position of a rent-charger, a mortgagee, and a tax-gathered, who could not choose his own tenants, and found himself, instead of being a landlord ready to be the friend and come to the assistance of his tenants, in the position more of a detective who had to watch carefully the tenant to see that he did not dilapidate and deteriorate the holding. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] At any rate that was his opinion as to what would happen. They placed the smallholder in charge of the Agricultural Commissioners, who were a corporation of whom it might be said that they had neither a soul to save nor a body to be kicked. This corporation was few in number and their duties were scattered throughout the whole of Scotland. Under those circumstances how could they assume responsibility towards each individual small landholder. In the interests of the country it was far better for a smallholder to have the warm sympathy which the landlord had always shown towards his tenants in times past. One of the principal drawbacks of the Bill was the lack of responsibility, because the landlord had practically no responsibility except to collect his rents. The Agricultural Commissioners had no direct responsibility, because they were scattered about the various parts of the country. The right hon. Gentleman had refused to meet the real demand which was for the ownership of the soil, and the Government had rejected proposals for purchase. Had they really thought what the desire of all classes of persons throughout the country was in this respect? Was it not the pride of ownership, and was it not much better for them to own their own land? One element which made agricultural pursuits more attractive, was the feeling that a man was working his own land and that all the labour he put into it and the results from that labour were for himself and his family, without any tie or obligation, or any resort to Agricultural Commissioners or landlords. Under the Bill a small landholder would not be the owner, and the landlord would not be the owner in the full sense of the word. Was it likely that a man would take the same interest in a farm of which he was not the owner? Common sense led them to draw a conclusion in the opposite direction. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said that purchase might be very well but they had to consider the expense. He did not think that argument would appeal to hon. Members who had sat through the debates this session. The Government endeavoured to lavish £650,000 upon Ireland, who was the spoilt child of the House of Commons, but they denied to Scotland a sum which might be sufficient to place upon the soil a thriving and contented peasantry. The plea that they had not the money was a thoroughly dishonest one. Surely the money which had been so contemptuously refused by hon. Members from Ireland might have been made available for Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman said it was cheaper to take the land in the way proposed. He ventured to say that they should take something into consideration besides cheapness. It was proposed to take the buildings and the equipment from the landlord without payment. That was dishonest. After they had deprived the landlord of ownership, he would still have the name of owner. What was the position of a landowner when divorced from the responsibilities and duties of a landowner? A mere rent-charger and collector who watched that the tenant did not dilapidate his holding. The pretence of leaving him the landowner would not deceive anyone. He himself would eagerly welcome any well-devised scheme for the purpose of creating small holdings throughout Scotland, but he thought the right course to pursue was to take advice from those who were best qualified to give it, namely, the landlords. Did hon. Members pretend for a moment that the landlords of Scotland did not know their work, that they did not know the needs and demands of the different neighbourhoods, and that they were not honestly desirous of carrying out their responsible duties to the best of their power? The right hon. Gentleman would do well to co-operate with, and to enlist the sympathy of, the landlords in any scheme for the creation of small holdings. All landlords would be found to be anxious to increase the number of small holders, and they would support a measure designed to increase the number, but the condition precedent was that the attempt should be honestly, justly, and fairly made, without any wish to create an artificial demand and to sap the independence of the Scottish people. The Bill would produce a feeling of uncertainty throughout the agricultural districts, and would affect large farms and the investment of capital. It was unpopular with the existing small farmer, and with the labourer; and in the interests of the country generally he suggested that the Bill should be withdrawn and replaced by a more reasonable, workable, saner measure. He begged to move.
in seconding the Motion, said that when the Bill was passing through Committee, the Secretary for Scotland gave various promises that certain points would be reconsidered, and various undertakings that on other points Amendments would be made at a later stage. He was only giving expression to the feeling of those on that side of the House when he said they recognised that the pledges of the right hon. Gentleman had been honourably, scrupulously, and punctiliously fulfilled. The underlying object of the measure was to bring the people back to earn a profitable living on the land, and as to the desirableness of that object there was little, if any, controversy between the two sides of the House. But where the difference of view existed was as to the possibility of and the methods for achieving that end. What were the methods by which it was sought to achieve that end, and what were the reasons for adopting those methods? The answer to the first part of the question was very simple. He noticed that the Prime Minister was inclined to cavil the other day at the time which was spent on a particular part of Clause 1 the first day the guillotine resolution was in operation. He thought the right hon. Gentleman entirely failed to apprehend that it was precisely on that portion of the clause that the great weight of the opposition to this measure was rested. The words of the clause were—
What was the justification for this proposal? Having listened patiently through the debates on the measure, he must admit that the question was still shrouded in mystery and obscurity. One searched vainly for evidence that the present proposal was founded on either the evidence or the recommendations of experts made after inquiry had been held. On the other hand they found not only in the opinions of practical agriculturists in Scotland, but in the Report of the Commission which was sent to Denmark to make inquiry into the system which obtained there, emphatic evidence against the proposals contained in the Bill. Inferentially, if not explicitly, the opinion of the President of the Board of Agriculture and of the First Commissioner of Works was against the Bill. What was the case for the proposal? The Lord Advocate, in his Second Reading speech, rested his case on the practical experience of the successful working of the Crofters Acts. He himself did not admit that those Acts had been a perfect panacea, but admitting for the sake of argument that they had been successful, still—and this was the essential point on which he and his friends rested their opposition—the differences which obtained between the conditions in the Lowlands and the conditions in the Highlands were such as to make the Crofters Acts inapplicable to the Lowlands. In the debates in Committee the hon. Members who spoke as representing the crofting constituencies referred to these differences. Sir George Trevelyan, who was responsible for the introduction of the Crofters Act of 1886, said on the First Reading that—"From and after the commencement of this Act, and subject to the provisions thereof, the Crofters Acts shall be read and construed as if the expression 'landholder' were substituted for the expression 'crofter' occurring therein, and shall have effect throughout Scotland."
He made bold to say that if such Liberals were present now they would almost indubitably vote against the proposals of the Government. That was his answer to the Lord Advocate's statement that the present measure was based on the success of the Crofters Acts. Let them see how the proposals would affect the various classes who would come within the scope of the Bill. On the Second Reading the Solicitor-General for Scotland based the case for the Bill on the existence of arbitrary eviction. The hon. and learned Gentleman stated that the Bill would provide a certain remedy for arbitrary eviction. That might be so, but they had heard that argument before. When the Land Tenure Bill was before the House last session they were told that one thing it would do would be to provide a certain cure for cases of arbitrary eviction. Practically before the Land Tenure Act had had a chance of coming into operation, they were now told that an entirely different remedy was required. He doubted the necessity for the remedy. In listening to the debates on the Bill he had heard of only one case of arbitrary eviction, and that was a case where the landlord evicted the tenant from his holding because he considered that the tenant's family contained an undue proportion of girls to boys. He did not think the maxim Ex uno disce omnes could apply to this case. Apart altogether from the restraining sanction of the statute, the restraining sanction of public opinion would prevent such cases. Even if cases did escape through the meshes of these sanctions, they would necessarily be microscopic. What did they do for the small holder? They placed these men in a groove which was the weakest point in the operation of the Crofters Act. The Secretary to the Crofters Commission in giving evidence before the Departmental Committee was asked whether there were any disadvantages as well as advantages in the operation of the Crofters Act, and his answer was that no doubt the Act conferred great advantages, but it had its disadvantages, and the greatest of these was that it stereotyped the position of the crofter. That would be exactly the position of the small holder under this Bill, The small holder would be "cribbed, cabined and confined" by cast iron formulas. As to the relations between the landlord and his tenants, was it really the opinion of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that this Bill would conduce to the smoother working of the relations between these two clases? He had read a speech in which a pathetic parallel was drawn between Naboth and the small holder. But it was not Naboth with whom they were concerned. The vineyard of which it was proposed compulsorily to take possession was not Naboth's but Ahab's. By this Bill, it was proposed to put Naboth into possession of Ahab's vineyard against the will of the owner by an arbitrary and irresponsible tribunal, and then a peaceful and happy state of things was expected to result! It was idle to expect a more peaceful state of things until a position was established which would enable a man to buy his own vineyard and live under his own vine and fig tree. The proposal which the Government made in the Bill was because they were unwilling to accept the burden of financial responsibility for purchase of the small holdings. As to the position of the agricultural labourer, there had been a conflict of opinion between the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire and the hon. Member for West Fife. The former gave his opinion drawn from personal experience that the Bill was demanded by the agricultural labourers of Scotland and would be a great benefit to them. The latter declared that in his opinion the operation of the Bill would strike a very heavy blow at the position of the agricultural labourer and that it would displace agricultural labourers from their present position without the opportunity of replacing them by small holders. There was some ground for the belief that where small holdings were multiplied the tendency was to decrease wages. [A laugh.] The hon. Member laughed, but he had authority for his statement. He had consulted two Returns, made to this House and to the House of Lords. The one issued in 1905 dealt with the statistics relating to agriculture and with the question of the wages of the agricultural labourers in various parts of Scotland. The other Return presented a few weeks ago gave the number of holdings above and below fifty pounds rental. In the first Return Scotland was divided by counties into five groups according to the wages paid. In the first group the wages were 20s. a week and upwards; the second, 19s. to 20s.; the third, 18s. to 19s.; the fourth, 17s. to 18s.; the fifth, 16s. to 17s.; and the sixth, 15s. and under. In Group 1 the proportion of small holdings—that was holdings of fifty pounds and under—was 49 per cent., and of big holdings 51 per cent.; in Group 2 the numbers were 62 per cent. and 38 per cent.; in Group 3, 68 per cent. and 32 per cent.; in Group 4, 74 per cent. and 26 per cent.; in Group 5, 93 per cent. and 7 per cent.; and in Group 6, 95 per cent. and 5 per cent. These figures, he contended, were some justification for the opinion that where the small holdings were multiplied there was a tendency for wages to decrease. He maintained that from the farming class there had come, almost without exception, steady opposition to this Bill. The Prime Minister had mentioned one small meeting of farmers who were in favour of the Bill, but he was informed that afterwards that resolution was upset by a larger meeting."The proposal, if ever there was one, was based on and limited to the special and local circumstances of the districts to that which this Bill is intended to apply. It is a Bill intended strictly for the historical and local circumstances of a very peculiar district. The farms we are dealing with are farms where the landlord does nothing and the tenant does everything."
said he would point out that at the meeting to which he referred, the resolution against the Bill did not get a seconder, and it was moved by the agent of the largest proprietor in the locality. On the other occasion the meeting represented apparently only big farmers.
said he understood that the account of the first meeting had been contradicted or criticised in other quarters. The point, however, which he wished to make was not only that it was the big farmers that were opposed to the Bill, but that every man whose farm was over fifty acres had an interest against it. He would have to compete in the market in the sale of his produce with a man who was subsidised by the State, and, in addition, he would have to pay his share of the taxes which provided the subsidy. That accounted for the opposition to the Bill that came from the farmers. From the point of view of the community, as Jus hon. friend had pointed out, the great defect of the Bill was that it gave no responsible owner. The English Bill did not lay itself open to that charge. He would like to know why there was this great and vital distinction between the arrangements of the Bills for Scotland and England. The only suggestion that he could think of was that they in Scotland were too proud to borrow the English system. He was proud of Scotland and yielded to no man in love for his native land. But when they considered this question as a business proposition—and hon. Members opposite contended that it should be so regarded—they could not draw from the point of view of nationality an arbitrary line of distinction between the commercial undertakings of England and Scotland. They could not stop in the application of a principle at the Cheviots as the border between England and Scotland in commercial interests. Caithness indeed had more in common with Cornwall, and Lanarkshire with Lancashire. His other objection to the Hill was that it made no provision for placing the small holdings on an economic basis so that they could be worked at a profit. That could only be done by co-operation and organisation, and for that there was no provision in the Bill. There was a clause which said that the Agricultural Commissioners might give assistance to the small holders, and that might possibly include suggestions for co-operation and organisation, but not a penny was provided to carry that out. He and his friends had always believed, and believed now, in the principle of occupying ownership. The hon. Member for Dumfries had alluded to the state of things in Denmark, but he would point out that the agricultural prosperity of Denmark dated from the time when the farms became the property of their occupiers. The hon. Member had stated that ownership had been reached through a system of tenant right. Did the hon. Member suggest that we should groan and travail at enormous expenses, as in the case of Ireland, through the Purgatory of tenant right before we reached the Elysian fields of occupying ownership? The argument of the hon. Gentleman was contrary to reason, and the experience of every other country—France, Denmark, and Ireland—had shown that occupying ownership must come. The proposals in the Bill retarded that day by the extension of circumstances which were peculiarly limited and local in their application. For these reasons he supported the Amendment of his hon. friend, and should vote for the rejection of the Bill.
"To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day three months."—(Mr. Cochrane.)
Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
This Bill has had a long and stormy career, and we hive now come to the last stage of it, but I do not think that the supporters of the measure have any cause to look with anything but satisfaction on its progress. It is a Bill upon which not only the judgment of the House, but of the Committee, has been taken on all important points, and I doubt whether any Bill of equal importance has passed through the House and through the Committee in regard to which so many satisfactory majorities have been recorded in favour of every single important provision. The criticisms which have been made to-day amount to this: in the first place that the Opposition are willing to view this proposal with favour. They admit the evil, and they recognise that some remedy must be found for it, but they say that this remedy will not do. Any Bill but this Bill! This Bill will not, it is said, meet the difficulty, but I am glad to see that there is an advance to-day, not only from the position taken up by the Leader of the Opposition earlier in the debate, but from that taken up by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin not long ago. I am glad to see that there is some advance upon that in what the seconder of the Motion expresses as his view on this subject, that there is real need for such legislation as this. The Leader of the Opposition at an earlier period of our debates cast some doubt upon the need, and expressed a fear lest the measure should have a precisely opposite effect to that intended, and not meet those evils which we all wish to meet with speed, vigor, and energy, by stopping the migration of population from the country to the towns.
The right hon. Gentleman misunderstood my argument. What I said was that if you desire to increase the number of the rural population from the point of view of public health, that, no doubt, might be done by any change in our system of tenure which increases that population. If this increases the number of heads of families in the country, from the hygienic point of view so much to the good. If, however, the birth-rate remains the same, the migration to the towns will be increased by that process.
So be it, but our object is to increase the rural population. We are making an effort to do that.
So far so good, but if your objection to the existing sytem is congestion in the towns, that would be increased by the increase of the normal rural population.
I do not follow the right hon. Gentleman at all. If there are more people in the country districts there will be more population.
But there will be also a great stream into the towns.
But there are other influences reacting to check that. There has been too great a tendency to deny in country districts a career to people who would gladly not have gone into the towns, but would have been willingly content to seek a livelihood in country districts. I do not think that as a whole we have been sufficiently impressed by the magnitude of the drift into the towns, but I will not labor that point, because if we are agreed we are bound to seek a remedy. It is said that we are wrong in following the lines of the Crofters Act and that it has done nothing to stem depopulation. That is a very difficult position to maintain, because there is one great defect in the Crofters Act; it gives no opportunity for the creation of new holdings, and in the crofting areas there are plenty of people willing to take up new holdings but there is no opportunity for them to do so. If the demand for the creation of new holdings had been satisfied ten or fifteen years ago the evil of rural depopulation which we now have to face would have been mitigated. The criticism of this Bill has proceeded on an assumption which is not justified, that we, in considering this matter, shut ourselves down to the crofter solution; but it was perfectly open for us to look at the whole field and to adopt whatever solution we deemed best under the circumstances. We were aware that labour was leaving the country districts in Scotland, and that acres and acres of land in that country were going out of arable cultivation. There was an obligation resting on the Government, therefore, to make some proposal. We need not necessarily follow the method pursued in England, but we had experiments in Scotland by which we were guided. There was evidence in Scotland as well as in England in favour of our method. Reference has been made to the Report of the Small Holdings Committee—I am dealing now with the proposition that small holdings increase the population in a district. We have no fear that labour will be displaced by the creation of small holdings. I will quote from evidence from Perthshire. A witness instanced the case of the Blairgowrie fruit districts. In the old days, before the fruit industry was started, 600 acres there did not employ more than twenty hands throughout the year. Now there are 400 employed throughout the year. The rent in the old days was £900, now it is £3,000. The farm in the old days paid £104 in local rates, now it pays £345; whilst the wages now are £10,500, as against £728 formerly. I will not pursue the subject further. The leader of the Opposition will say no doubt that that is a question of fruit-growing, and that all small holdings cannot cultivate fruit. However, I will give him particulars of a comparison between a piece of land on a large farm and small holdings at Lochmaben, in Dumfriesshire, of nearly equal size. The piece of land on the farm, which is slightly smaller than the small holdings, supports three families, while the latter supports twenty - four families. The rental of the large farm twenty years ago was £378 and of the small holdings £767. Now, while the former rent has decreased 18 per cent., the latter has decreased by only 4·2 per cent. On the large farm one ploughman is employed; on the small holdings seven. As to the profits and population, I think it is indisputable that we are on the right road when we are endeavouring to create small holdings and increase their number. I have been dealing with small holdings in Scotland. Let me give smother illustration in England. Take the Vale of Evesham, where there has been a great increase of labour and profits under the system of small holdings. On twenty-four estates with a tenure very similar to that of this Bill, there are 850 tenants renting 1,800 acres. Some 3,000 cultivators of this class have sprung up in the last generation, and we think these instances justify the Government in proposing this legislation. Let mc come to the Bill itself, and point out that the most important transaction attempted under this measure is the admission of existing tenants to its privileges. These existing tenants are there by agreement between the landlords and themselves. They have survived the devastating influence of the last two generations. That is a presumption in their favour that the holdings are economically sound. It is an indispensable preliminary to the creation of new holdings by public expenditure in Scotland that we should do something to preserve existing small holders. Otherwise we should be endeavouring to run water uphill, and while public money was being spent in the creation of new holdings existing holdings would be open to influence inimical to their existence. I recognise the reluctance of the good landlords to part with their interest in their property and in their tenant's welfare. It was one of the many objections of hon. Members opposite that this interfered with the landlords' interest in their own property, but those who urged this objection have to remember that this is a national concern, and whilst there are landlords who will submit to monetary sacrifices to maintain that interest under present conditions of tenure, it is a fact that these small holdings are not a paying form of property for the landlords and that over half the the rent is swallowed up in keeping them in good condition. It is the hope of the Government that under the new conditions this will be altered. We place in the hands of these tenants a right of which they cannot be deprived—namely, security of tenure. This is not a compulsory Bill in the sense that every tenant is compelled to exercise that right, but the Bill gives him an option. If the tenant chooses he can, after this Bill is passed, go on with his landlord as before, and remain under existing conditions, but he would never be deprived of the right which ultimately he might choose to exercise of having security of tenure and fair rent. Saving that, nothing prevents the small holder in Scotland remaining under present conditions. Some contend that to adopt this system is not fair. Is it fair to insist on a fair rent? Is it possible to avoid insisting on fair rent even under the alternative system of land purchase, which the Opposition has put forward, and contrasted with this measure? The landlord is not a mere rent-charger under the Bill. What about the landlord's right of feuing? The Bill simply puts tenants all round in the position in which tenants of good landlords are at the present time. We are depriving the landlords of only one right, the right of turning out tenants without reasonable cause—the right of arbitrary eviction. We give the landlords statutory protection with their property. And if we deprive the landlord of this one right of arbitrary eviction we throw on the tenant the burden of maintaining the holding. If the tenant leaves we say that he shall receive as compensation not the amount of the improvements, but the value of them to an incoming tenant. The criticism that the system set up is one of dual ownership, as in Ireland, is not accurate, and it ignores the wide difference between this and the Irish system. Under this system the landlord remains the absolute owner, and his property is more secure than before the passing of this Act, because not only does the land remain his own, but all the time, money, and labour that the tenant lays out on it. On this foundation a new rural economy in Scotland is possible. The occupiers of 50,000 holdings, including the crofter area, will be endowed with the right of security of tenure, and with that there may be some hope of success for the efforts of the Agricultural Commission and other Departments to educate, develop, and organise the rural resources of the country. In reference to the machinery for creating new holdings, it is a thousand pities that this was not done in 1866. It has been said that this machinery will prevent landowners making new holdings. We do not touch the right of landlords to make new holdings under the old system, and in that case the tenants will remain outside the provisions of this Bill. There is nothing to prevent them making new holdings or selling small holdings to a purchaser. That is as open in the future as it is now, and if they do so it is all to the good. But in my humble judgment it is not likely that they will, because they will prefer to adopt the cheaper procedure provided by the Bill. In no case do the owners of land stand to lose by the Bill. The compensation provided amply secures the landlord from any possible loss. It must also be remembered that if the Bill succeeds land will rise in value, and nobody will benefit from that so much as the owners of land, the men whom, by this Bill, we leave in the enjoyment of their ownership. It is for them in future to say whether or not they choose to retain their interest which remains so far as this Bill is concerned when this principle is accepted. No one can fairly deny that the interests of the owners of land are amply safeguarded in the creation of small holdings. If a scheme of new holdings is put forward which reduces the value of the land, compensation is provided. If holdings become vacant, compensation is provided. If holdings are a failure, compensation is provided. None of these contingencies are likely to happen, but to calm apprehension and to keep on the strict line of justice, these provisions have been inserted in the Bill. It is said that we ought to have adopted the alternative method of land purchase—the Irish system of purchase. I was somewhat amazed to see that whereas the experience of more than a generation in Ireland was sufficient to convince hon. Members opposite with regard to the value of purchase, a much greater experience in Scotland is not sufficient to show the value of the Scottish system. It has been said that the method of the Bill will prevent the employment of landlords' capital. Does not purchase have exactly the same effect? I do not believe in purchase in existing circumstances. There are great difficulties to face in a scheme of land purchase. Among them are the difficulties of subdivision and amalgamation of holdings. Purchase is a more rigid system. It also involves two generations before the instalments are paid off and the holding becomes the absolute possession of the holder. If hon. Members test the crofter system they will find in every part of Scotland which is under that system case after case of small crofters who have risen from the crofter status and taken large farms. I could give twenty cases from Argyllshire and twenty from Skye in which crofters have taken farms of the annual value of from £50 to £150. It has been said that the number of crofters is diminishing. One reason for that is that the Crofters Act does not provide that when the crofter gives up his holding the holding should remain under the Crofters Act. Another difficulty about the purchase scheme is its basis. What Government is going into the market for millions of money for the purpose? A generation has passed in argument. It is fifteen years since Parliament set its hand to this matter, and it has been inquiring ever since. The stage of inquiry has gone. In the last two generations every country in Europe has reorganised its agricultural system. It is the bounden duty of the present Government to bring forward these proposals Purchase being so difficult a method, the Government had to consider whether the essentials could be got by some other method, and by a method which would be as little disturbing as possible and would take the line of least resistance. This country is slow to adopt radical changes. Experience everywhere has shown that, purchase or no purchase, security of tenure is the essence of the case. It is the very least that could be offered under the circumstances. The experience of Denmark, of Europe generally, aye and of Ireland, is that the most prosperous farming districts are those in which the farmers have security of tenure. I have quoted the case of Evesham. We know too the result of the crofter system in Scotland. Half the small holdings in Scotland are already held under security of tenure. Would it have been possible for any Government to adopt two conflicting systems of land tenure without leading to constant friction and confusion? Security of tenure is the essence which the Government have endeavoured to secure in this Bill, and they believe they have done it. The Government by this Bill give security of tenure. Once we adopt that position we must have fair rent and a tribunal to fix it. It is only one step further than the existing agricultural holdings legislation. The Land Court is the development of the existing system of arbitration. As farming becomes more and more scientific, and more capital and labour are expended by the tenant, it will be necessary to give wider and wider recognition to the fact of co-partnership between the landlord and the tenant. The Board of Agriculture for Scotland is an essential part of the scheme. Such a board in foreign countries has been an integral part of the work of educating, developing, and organising the industry. To do that work efficiently in Scotland the agency must be a local agency. There is nothing whatever in the argument about interference with the existing law as to preventing disease among animals. Whatever the Department, the existing laws must be administered. In connection with the great show of opposition that has been made, I would point out that the cultivated land involved in the Bill is not 15 per cent. of the cultivated area of Scotland. The opposition does not come from the future small holder. It does not come from the great body of farmers in Scotland. Some of the members of the loading agricultural societies oppose the Bill, but it is not to be assumed that the societies are against it. When a Department of Agriculture was established in Ireland, one of the severest critics of the scheme was the Royal Dublin Society. It was a case of vested interest in the present condition of things. Nobody will deny that farming opinion is not free to express itself as it might do. It is not called upon to express itself. I would like to be shown the farmer who, having the means, would reject security of tenure. The opposition to the Bill comes, in essence, from the owners of land, on a mistaken view. The Bill is not brought forward in hostility to their interests; it does not damage their interests; its success rests largely on their cooperation. The opposition is an uninformed opposition, and it is by no means unanimous in spite of the great pressure of class and vested interests that has been brought to bear. There are not 2,000 landowners in Scotland who are concerned in the measure. The scheme has been derided as a scheme of the Scottish Office. Individuals matter very little, though they regret that our poor advocacy should not contribute to urge the measure as much as it might. But it is not the Bill of the Scottish Office, it is the Bill of the Government—it has the support of every Department of the Government. It has the almost unanimous support of the Scottish Liberal Members—and they number fifty-eight out of a total of seventy-two Scottish Members. It has the support of an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons. I say that the case is overwhelming, and if ever a Bill ought to be considered on its merits it is the one which is now commended to the House.
said he was anxious not to give a silent vote, because his attitude towards the Bill was very different from that of many of his friends. The right hon. Gentleman had defended the Bill on the ground that it could not possibly work any injustice to any class of the community. There had been certain complaints that property in land was not very equally shared at present. But was this attempt to adjust the inequalities unattended by injustice? The right hon. Gentleman had told them he had given absolute security to the landowner because provision was made to compensate him. But that was precisely one of the difficulties he found in the Bill. In one of the clauses there was a provision for the compensation of any class, of whatever position, who was in any way injured by proceedings under the Bill. Compensation was to be made by the Agricultural Commission, at the expense of the taxpayer. That was precisely one of the objections to the Bill. He was anxious not to give a silent vote, because his attitude towards the Bill was somewhat different from that of other Members more closely connected with agriculture. He was not there standing for any party or landlord. He thought that injustice was being done, and he was convinced that the landlord had a certain case under the Bill, but he would find defenders more able than he. For himself he looked on the Bill in its social and economic aspect, and what he desired was that it should be founded on sound economic principles of justice, that it should raise no false hopes calculated to lead to disaster in the future, and that it should not be based on mere idle fancies and chimeras. He was reminded of two lines of the poet Pope—
"That not in Fancy's maze he wandered long,
The Government used their majority in the converse way from which the poet claimed to use his genius. They wandered into a maze of fanciful hypotheses and a crowd of chimeras, and declined to be humble enough to stoop to the solid foundations of economical truth or to moralise their Bills by a thread of principle and justice. They had not made a paradise or El Dorado in the Western Highlands, yet they were going to apply to the whole of Scotland a system intended only for special circumstances, and which had been applied to a small number of holdings under peculiar conditions. They granted to the people who were under those special conditions a charity, a generosity which no economical considerations could defend. They were now going to extend that system to a far wider area, and apply it not to men who were attached to the spot where they were born, and would rather stay there and make their livelihood, as did the Crofters of the Western Highlands, but to men who were among the most astute of the community commercially, and the most active and energetic cultivators of the soil that could be found anywhere in Great Britain. Did they think that they could set aside economical principles merely by passing a law or by holding vague sentiments? It was said that all were more or less Socialists, but the elements of Socialism were not in their opinions or their views, nor even in Acts of Parliament; they were immutable and fixed, and would work by immutable laws their own ends, and if we erred against them in practice, sentiment, or legislation, they would bring their own punishment as certainly as night followed day. But the Government were not only erring against the laws of political economy in this Bill, they were doing a wrong, he did not say to the landlord, he did not even say to the taxpayer, but to that part of the population of Scotland who had traditions of self - reliance and independence. If there was one thing which characterised a Scotsman and had made him a useful citizen of the Empire it was that he was independent, that he worked against difficulty, and forced the world to recognise his merits by hard work, earnest endeavour, and perseverance. What ideal were they going to set up for his countrymen? Their ideal was to entice a man with hopes of a future which would not be realised. Their ideal was to bolster him up with a load of debt which was about the worst equipment with which a man could begin the work of his life. They were fixing him in a holding which the Secretary for Scotland himself said was not an economic holding and never could be profitable on ordinary economic principles. Was that the end and aim they were holding out to him? Could they think that this would be a great benefit to the people of Scotland? The greatest disaster caused by the Bill would be the introduction of a new, dangerous, and alien principle into the life of Scotland—a principle which would teach Scotsmen that they were not to depend on themselves, that they were not to start from small beginnings and advance to higher things, but that they were to be put into an artificial position with the aid of a loan from the State which would hang round them as a burden, that they were to be in the leading strings of the State, bolstered up and guided at every moment by their Land Courts and Agricultural Commissioners. That was to be the scope of their life, instead of their working with that liberty, enterprise, and energy which had distinguished their fathers and grandfathers—qualities of race which had made Scotland what she was.But stooped to Truth and moralis'd his song."
said he must admit that he was a little surprised to hear the phillipics of the hon. Gentleman opposite against this Bill which had for its object, simply and precisely, to give the small holder an abiding interest in the piece of land which he cultivated. It was very singular that a gentleman like the hon. Member opposite, who was well acquainted with the history of Scotland, should say that the giving of this abiding interest in the holding was alien to the law of Scotland.
said it was manifest that both the history and the traditions of Scotland were closely bound up with the feuing system, which was on the basis that the superior received the feuing duty. There were certain conditions under which the feuar could resume, and subject to his performing those duties the feuar had an abiding interest in the land which he cultivated, and could not be interfered on any basis whatever. That had existed in Scotland for a very long time. It had existed from the time when Scotland adopted the Roman law, and it was in harmony also with the system adopted under the Crofters Act of 1886, which had worked well. He had heard with surprise the hon. Gentleman condemn the Crofters Act, but he would ask whether Scotland would be better off to-day if there had been no Croftes Act. They did not say that the Crofters Act had made the parts which it affected a paradise, but they did say that the districts where it operated would have been a great deal worse off' had there been no such enactment. They believed in extending the principle of the Act. It had been said that these Acts were suitable to certain districts, and he would like to ask the hon. Gentleman, assuming that these Acts were suitable to Argyll, why they were not equally suitable for the Islands of Bute in which there was a number of crofters?
I expressly moved an Amendment in Committee to extend these Acts to any district which might be called a crofters' district.
said he might take Banffshire and Morayshire: was the hon. Gentleman prepared to accept them too? He failed to see why the system should not be applied to any part of Scotland if it was desirable, and the small holders wanted it.
said the whole policy in Committee was to apply these Acts wherever the tenant had made his own improvements.
said the hon. Gentleman meant that if the tenant had made the slightest improvement?
Substantially his own improvements as the crofters do, not the slightest; that would be perfectly absurd.
asked why, assuming this principle to be true, should it not be applied everywhere that it was wanted I They had been told again and again on the other side that there was no demand for these holdings. If no applications were made for holdings then the Bill would become a dead letter, and there was no reason to take it so seriously as hon. Gentlemen opposite did. The fact was that there would be a very great demand for small holdings in all parts of Scotland, and he believed that the Act in that way would be most beneficial. He was very much surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman speak of their creating an artificial demand and enticing people to take small holdings. There was no enticement. The Bill would merely afford facilities to those who wanted to avail themselves of them. The hon. Gentleman had spoken of the burden of delft hung round the neck of the people. By this Bill they expressly wanted to avoid the burden of debt. There would have been a burden of debt round their neck had they adopted a system of purchase which would have loaded them down year after year. They had expressly avoided that. Instead of inviting them to purchase the land and pay a long series of instalments, they had adopted the simple principle of securing to them the land at a fair rent. They gave security of tenure. As for chimeras, an admirable specimen was afforded by the criticism levelled against the Bill on the ground that they were going to cut up the large farms which were worked well. Nothing could be further from the ideas of the promoters of the Bill. The whole series of criticisms which came from the other side were based on that idea. There was no desire to see those large farms which had been worked well cut up; they wanted to see them continue to be worked well; but they knew that a great deal of land was not worked at all. In the county which he represented, and in other counties of Scotland, there was a great deal of land out of cultivation, and it was in those very districts that the people wanted to make some use of the land if they could get it at a fair price and on a satisfactory tenure. They wanted to open up these lands to the people. A great deal had been said in Committee about the deer forests which it was claimed, in certain parts, were of real economic value. He quite agreed that there were places suitable for deer forests; but the complaint was that the deer forests had been steadily going down hill, and it seemed to him that their first duty was to see that the highest use was made of the land for the benefit of the community, whether in the way of housing or of agriculture. If the land was unsuitable for farming let it be used for grazing: if it was unsuitable for grazing, let it be used for game; but he wanted to subordinate game to grazing, and grazing to farming and the direct uses of man. From the public point of view they had to see how many people could win their living from the and in independent conditions, and also to consider how the land was worked. To have an American millionaire adding mountain to mountain and moor to moor until there were left only the deer and the people who looked after them was bad for a country; but he ventured to say that if the Bill became law there would never again be there Highland clearances to make way for deer; and if in the past there had been compensation to pay for the little houses and the bits of land in cultivation those clearances would not have been made. The Bill was objected to because they proposed to allow the small holder to do other things besides cultivate his holding. Why should he not be allowed to do anything else? In Committee it had been said that those who earned their living in towns or in other ways would get small holdings and cultivate them to some extent, and thus the Government would benefit a class they did not mean to benefit. He failed to see why even the town dweller should not, if he liked, cultivate a piece of unused land, and why he should not to be facilitated in doing so. He failed to see why his fellow-countrymen should not use their energies in the best possible way. If in addition to cultivating the land they liked to do anything else he would certainly say by all means let them do it. Then all the talk about the landlord becoming a mere rent charger seemed to him quite beside the mark. They had been told that not only would he become a mere rent charger, but that he would become a detective, and would go about to see if the small holder was spoiling his holding or allowing it to run to waste. He would like to ask whether the landlords of the crofters were mere rent chargers and detectives? They were nothing of the kind. He was glad to say that in a vast number of cases the personal relations between the superiors and the feuars, and also between the landlords and the crofters, were most satisfactory; and he believed that, under this Bill, those relations would be continued between the landowners and the small holders, who would have an abiding interest in and a legal right to the land they cultivated. It was all very well to talk about traditional usage and all the rest of it, but they wanted a sound business basis for the small holdings, and he believed that basis was provided by the Bill. There might be difficulty in getting people from the cities back to the land, but whatever they could do in that way would go a long way in the direction of solving the labour problem. There would always be a great amount of pressure in the labour market as long as there were more men than jobs. If there were ten men after nine jobs one of them would be out of employment, but the whole ten of them would be in a state of anxiety as to which of them was going to be that one. If they gave an increased amount of employment the effect would be to reduce that anxiety. Therefore it was most important that they should have this Bill put into operation as soon as possible, because the state of things in Scotland was very parlous. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that although the ratio of population per mile in Scotland was very small, yet the Scottish cities were more overcrowded than the cities in England. Emigration from Scotland was six times as great now as it was six years ago, and it had been increasing by leaps and bounds in recent years. They desired to secure for the Scottish people the greatest opportunities they could in their native land. They desired to give them every possible opportunity of settling on the soil and to develop their native land, in order that they might improve upon the traditions of the past.
said he did not propose to make a lengthy speech, but he wished to say a word or two to justify the vote he was about to give. He had both Highlanders and Lowlanders in his constituency, but the bulk of them were Lowlanders. A certain number of his Highland constituents took a great interest in this Bill, and many of them desired to see it pass into law. They had in those districts crofting conditions, but the line he had taken in Committee had been to show a perfect willingness to apply its principles anywhere whore the crofting conditions existed. Where the tenant had made the improvements he thought he ought to have security of tenure and all the advantages of the Bill. This measure applied those principles under circumstances of a totally different character from those existing in the Lowlands of Scotland. He doubted very much whether it applied those principles in a way which would prove to be ultimately successful. He would be the last to deny that the Secretary for Scotland believed his Bill to be just, because no one could have listened to his speeches without feeling that he had the most complete confidence in the measure, and had done what he could to protect the interests of all concerned. Nevertheless, the Bill appeared to him to be getting rid of that most important element of responsibility of ownership which was one of the most important conditions that ought to remain in our agricultural system. The Secretary for Scotland had spoken about the success of many of the small holdings which would come within the scope of the Bill, and had argued that that might be taken as a guarantee that small holdings under the Bill would be successful. Scottish landlords had spent the bulk of their income maintaining their holdings, and but for that fact many of their farms would have been derelict at this moment or would have been added to the larger holdings. He did not think the claim of the right hon. Gentleman could be accepted as any proof that the conditions of the Bill would make the plan successful. The mere fact that the Bill brought within its scope the whole of those holdings to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred would certainly induce the landlord to cease that expenditure which had hitherto been the means of maintaining them. When they came to deal with small holdings in the Lowlands they were not really dealing with the land but with capital. As they had seen during the debates upstairs, there was practically no value left at all, and therefore they had to recognise that they were dealing with the owners' capital not in land but in equipment. While he would be most willing to vote for an extension of the Crofters Acts to the other districts he had mentioned, and while he thought that those Acts should be extended in many other ways, he did not feel that he could vote for a Bill which in his opinion applied a method which while perfectly satisfactory for one portion of the Kingdom, would be totally unsatisfactory for the other. After carefully considering the balance of advantage he had decided to vote against the Bill.
said a friend from Russia recently told him how keenly the demand for land reform here was watched in Russia. He expressed the opinion that practical land reform was now outside the region of party politics, and the speech of his hon. friend who had just sat down very much bore out that view. Land reformers would not have much difficulty if they had only Tories like him to deal with, but there were others who, while loudly proclaiming their desire for reform, loudly protested, like the man who was being flogged, against any particular application. Almost every Member of the House had declared his intention of voting for land reform. Upon this measure the hon. Member for North Ayrshire had delivered a violent eulogy upon the landlords of Scotland.
said he failed to observe in his remarks any expression which could be described as violent. All he had endeavoured to do was to secure justice and repudiate an unsubstantiated charge against the landlords that they were in the habit of arbitrarily evicting their tenants.
said he hoped his phrase "violent eulogy" had not given offence to the hon. Member. Hon. Members could not judge of Scottish landlords by such gentlemen as himself, and others sitting near him. They represented the best possible type, otherwise they would not be there, but there were many others whose conduct was deserving the most severe reprobation, whose policy had been to depopulate the country for their own greed or glorification. There were those whose policy had been to build great mansions and castles, and to create great farms, driving the small holders out of existence. The hon. Member for Dumbartonshire had expressed the hope that this Bill would not interfere with great farms. He did not think it would be worth anything if it failed to interfere with large farms, which were the greatest trouble they had to deal with in many places.
said he referred to agricultural farms which were properly worked.
Supposing the whole of Scotland was turned into an agricultural farm properly worked? He was told that would be a desirable state of things, but what they wanted to do was to get as many people as possible upon the soil of the country and get them fixed there. Coming further north numberless cases were to be met with where the policy had been one of eviction in order to make room for deer forests, and the small sheep farmers were evicted for such senseless purpose. Further north again they had great mansions and castles. There they had not deer forests but endless cases where the people had been driven off the land to make way for sheep and cattle farmers. He congratulated the Secretary for Scotland on the patience and determination and continued caution which had distinguished his conduct of this Bill. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would recognise that some of them who had not always seen eye to eye with him and had looked at the matter from a practical point of view had only been actuated by a sincere desire to promote the very best possible method of carrying out land reform. They had felt the grievance in the crofting districts in regard to this point. They had felt that they had been saddled with the burden of the south, and had it not been for that they would have had a better Bill, which would have been more easily carried through. There were certain other matters which they had advocated and which had been promised attention which had not been dealt with. The Lord Advocate the previous day had made an eloquent appeal to the House against preventing people doing any other small business on the land except that of agriculture. Why his advocacy had not included those most in need was difficult to understand. He could not understand the great objection made by the Leader of the Opposition against the system of hiring. In this Bill the landholder was in the position of a tenant and would remain a tenant as long as he paid his rent, and he could not be evicted. He felt sure there was a general concensus of opinion not only in the House but outside it that a big system of land purchase in Scotland would be a bad thing and would be expensive for the country at large. He thought the method which had been adopted by the Government was far more sound. Hon. Gentlemen opposite who had denounced the hiring principle seemed to have forgotten that in the great Act of the last Government, namely" the Land Act of 1903, a somewhat similar principle was applied. It contained a provision by which certain portions of the purchase money could remain in the hands of the local authority. He was not concerned so much with the question of purchase, because he thought the proposal of the Government was much better. There was another point with regard to sheep farms. Under the Congested Districts Acts thousands of pounds had been spent and the purchases made had proved very disastrous. This practice was to be carried out under the present Bill, which provided that large sums were to be paid for sheep stock. He had urged on the Government that they should consider the case of the kelp workers, and if ample money had been found and could be found for well-to-do landlords and farmers, something should have been spared for the kelp workers and their landlords. The condition of the men he had referred to was most precarious. They had to live very hard and work hard. How it could be said that the seaweed which was one of the natural products of the sea ought to be retained by the landlords as being their own special gift from God he could not imagine. He hoped the Government would not think it was too late even now to remedy this state of things. He desired to thank the Government for haying removed some of the disabilities from which his constituents would have suffered under the Bill. They had spent a long time in Committee and in the House over the measure, and he hoped the Secretary for Scotland would not be discouraged by anything which might happen elsewhere. There was a demand for the Bill, and there had for a long time existed a demand for some measure of land reform. He thought this was the last occasion upon which they would have any chance of getting land reform for Scotland for a good many years. [Cries of "No, no."] He thought the time at the disposal of this Parliament was pledged to other matters, and he entreated the Government to accept any reasonable concessions and not lightly reject any compromise which did not seriously interfere with the principles of the Bill which was most earnestly demanded in Scotland. Conservatives of the best type and members of all Parties, Liberal and Labour alike, were keenly desirous of having some large scheme in the direction of land reform carried out. If this measure was rejected now, he was satisfied that it would be a considerable time before they would be in the same advantageous position again. It was all very well for the younger Members of the House to say "We want the Bill and nothing but the Bill," but the older Members wanted to have something done now. If this measure passed now, even in a modified form, the Government would deserve well of their country and generation.
said he wished to associate himself with what had been said by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland regarding the way in which the Secretary for Scotland and the law officers of the Crown had conducted the Bill. They had shown amazing patience and unfailing courtesy, and he congratulated them on the Bill having now reaching the Third Reading stage. On the introduction of the Bill he welcomed it as one giving promise of something being done in connection with the terrible problem of rural depopulation, and on the Second Reading he offered some criticism of the measure, more particularly from the point of view of the need of something being done to remedy urban congestion. He understood the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill to charge him with having spoken at large on a subject of which he knew nothing.
said that what he stated was that the hon. Member was qualified to speak on the subject of urban congestion. He said further that there was nothing in this Bill which would prevent urban congestion.
said he had no objection to the hon. Member taking that line, because, as a matter of fact, he did not pose as an authority on agricultural matters. On the two previous occasions when he had taken part in the discussions he had expressly stated that he knew little of agricultural conditions, but that he had an interest in the matter, because, if the Bill arrested the stream of population to the towns, there would be an easing of the urban congestion and the competition for employment. He was going to vote for the Bill, because the more he saw of it and the more he heard of the discussions in Committee and in the House, the more he liked it. It appeared to him at first to be a curious sort of hotch-potch. He had said about the time the English Small Holdings Bill was introduced that he liked it better, because it appeared to give an instalment of what he believed must be the ultimate solution of the problem, namely, land nationalisation. When he looked into the two Bills it scorned to him that whilst theoretically the English Bill was the better one, it depended for its being put into operation on the goodwill of certain local authorities—the county councils—and would be very largely inoperative in consequence. On the other hand, the Scottish Bill, with its hotch-potch conditions setting up various things difficult to understand was, he was inclined to think, much preferable because it would get things done. As a practical man and a Scotsman he wanted to see something done. The commonsense of the Bill seemed to be that it went over the heads of the local authorities and set up a central authority equipped to a certain extent, though not so much as he would like to see, financially, and invested with considerable powers. The Bill seemed to readjust the economic relationship between the landlords and the tenants of Scotland in such a way as might lead to further change in the interest of the tenants primarily, though he thought that in this, as in other matters, the tenants could not be benefited without benefit being conferred on every other class in the community. He hoped the Bill would not lead to peasant proprietorship. He did not believe in that as an ultimate solution of the problem. The hon. Member who seconded the rejection of the Bill spoke of peasant proprietorship in France and other countries, and inferred that it had been a success. He did not believe that peasant proprietorship could be a success anywhere. He was quite convinced that it could not be a success in Scotland. Peasant proprietorship would create unsound social and economic conditions. In amount land was a fixed quantity, and it ought to be in possession of the whole of the people, and this Bill might lead to the community getting possession of that which they ought to have. The new adjustment of the relations of the tenant to the landlord would be made on the basis of fixity of tenure and fair rent, and therefore when land nationalisation was put into operation it would be done on terms fair to the tenants. He had adopted a favourable attitude towards the Bill because he had noted that the people who wanted it were those whom he primarily represented. He had noted the expression of opinion which was given at the meeting held at Perth a few weeks ago; he had taken pains to get into communication with people in Scotland who knew the conditions of rural life; he had received letters from many of his own constituents; and having ascertained unmistakably that the rural population was in favour of the Bill, he looked forward hopefully and eagerly to the passing of the measure. It was said that the Bill was being opposed by the big farmers since it only applied to fifteen per cent. of the rural population. His answer to that objection was that if the good will of the big farmers was required, they ought to be included in the Bill. He was prevented from moving in Committee an Amendment of which he had given notice to delete the £50 limit of yearly rent. He was still of opinion that there were many farmers paying higher rents who ought to be brought within the scope of the measure. The hon. Member for North Ayrshire had quoted figures to show that in the districts of Scotland where small farms obtained wages were lowest. The simple explanation which occurred to him was that in the places cited by the hon. Member where wages were small, the best types of the labouring class had probably saved up enough to become small holders, and had in that way removed themselves from the category of agricultural labourers. He thought that was a feasible explanation; at all events, in the absence of any other he had adopted it. There was no reason why small holdings should lead to a reduction of wages. If they did, he would not vote for their creation. Anything which tended to raise the condition of self-respecting, struggling men would tend towards the increase of wages. It was because he believed the Bill would tend in that direction that he welcomed it, and he hoped it would be treated tenderly in another place.
If I rise early in the debate to conclude it, so far as this side of the House is concerned, it is for the convenience of the House, and to meet an arrangement which, I believe, has been come to between the whips of the parties, that we should finish the Bill and the next business before us at an early hour. The hon. Member who has just sat down has given a great many hypothetical explanations of the agricultural phenomena of Scotland, and has expressed the views of himself and his urban constituents upon agricultural questions, not, if he will allow me to say so, upon the basis of fact or experience, but on the basis of certain abstract theories which find very little justification in any facts known to those who have studied this question. The hon. Gentleman has dealt, for example, with the interesting statistics brought forward by my hon friend behind me in the able speech he made to-day. It appeared conclusively from these statistics that, if you go over the areas in Scotland where different rates of agricultural wages prevail, you will find that, in proportion as the number of small holders increase, in that very proportion do the wages among farm servants, as they are called in Scotland, diminish. The fact, I take it, is undoubted. The hon. Gentleman thinks he has found an explanation. He has suggested that where the low wages prevail all the abler and more efficient members of the class of agricultural labourers have provided themselves with small holdings. I do not think that is the basis of the explanation, but if it be the basis of the explanation it clearly proves that whenever a farm servant or labourer reaches a certain degree of efficiency he can thereupon find a small holding for himself under the existing system of land tenure; and leave the work of the agricultural labourer to be done by the less effective, less efficient and less educated members of the class. If that is the correct explanation it would in itself be an adequate condemnation of the Bill, because it shows that the costly, elaborate, and inconvenient machinery of this measure is not in the least required to carry out the objects which the hon. Gentleman has in view. The hon. Gentleman touched in the beginning of his speech on one point in which naturally he and his constituents are specially interested, and on which he is certainly qualified to express, on behalf of those whom he represents, an opinion in this House. That was the question of overcrowding. The hon. Gentleman, in common with the Secretary for Scotland and other defenders of the Bill, has, in the face of the plainest statistics, laid down as indubitable the propositions that this Bill, or any Bill which increases the number of small holdings, will thereby diminish the migration of the agricultural population to the towns. That argument, as I have previously shown, is opposed to all the facts either in this country, in Ireland, or on the Continent of Europe. We have now a large experience over the world of rural conditions, alike on large and small farms and small holdings. I do not care which of these kinds of land tenure you examine; in all of them it will be found that there is under modern conditions a diminution of the rural population and a proportionate temporary augmentation of the urban population, and you will find further that the migration from the country is not less, but is greater, so far as Irish experience goes, from districts in which small holdings prevail than in those in which culture in large farms is the ruling system. The average diminution of the rural population in all Scotland is about 4½ per cent., and the diminution of population in the crofter districts is greater, or certainly as great. In North Antrim, which has exactly the system which the Secretary for Scotland wishes to extend to all Scotland, I find that the decrease has been at the rate of over 10 per cent. in the whole agricultural population. That is, at all events, a prima facie case for coming to the conclusion that, whether the new land system is better than the old or not, it will not cure the particular evil which hon. Gentlemen opposite desire to see cured. It will not diminish the migration from the country into the towns, it will not diminish the competition between the country-born workman and the town-born workman. Let us examine the actual working of the crofting system in the relatively restricted area where it now obtains. This Bill is primarily and fundamentally a method of extending the crofting system to all Scotland. The Secretary of Scotland has been usually content to say in the House and in the Committee upstairs that so excellent is the crofting system that you want no further argument for extending it, not over the whole island, but at all events over the whole of the rest of Scotland. It is not wise to discuss the Crofters Act of 1886. It is past, and done with. We have got to make the best of it, and we have got to reform it where we can in those particulars in which it is defective; but I absolutely deny that the Secretary for Scotland has the smallest justification for the extraordinarily brilliant colours in which he has chosen to paint the success of the Crofters Act. I incidentally discussed this matter on the Report stage, and was interrupted by the Lord Advocate when I said, without the least wish to go into details of what had come out in Committee upstairs, that I understood that in parts of the Western Islands law and order did not prevail to the extent which the right hon. and learned Gentleman described. I mentioned in particular the Island of Barra. The right hon. and learned Gentleman followed me and expressed the deepest indignation at this attack upon him. I was not thinking of him. He supposed that I was making a charge against his administration of the law. He, I have no doubt, does his best; but what I said was that if the Crofters Act found the Island of Barra in a state of disorder after twenty years experience of the working of the Act it could not have been the success it was alleged to be, and that peace and order in the Highlands and Islands did not now universally prevail. Parenthetically, I I may remark that the original disorder in the Highlands and Islands was an echo of the profound social disturbance which had gone on in Ireland where a similar tenure of land prevailed. I have not the least doubt that without the Crofters Act peace would have been more or less fully restored. It has not been fully restored under the Crofters Act, but the contrary, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman has given a totally erroneous and misleading account of what is going on in Barra at this moment. There the landlord is notoriously generous, he has given every atom of land in the island to the crofters, and land has been sold to the Congested Districts Board for the extension of holdings in a neighbouring island. A number of crofters in Barra have chosen to go over to the neighbouring island, and, against the law, justice, and the commonest rights of individuals, have seized land which is let to another tenant, erected buildings thereon, and seized grazing, and the tenant, of course, is quite unable to pay the rent he has contracted to pay to the landlord because his farm is occupied by others. The law is openly flouted and outraged without the smallest legal or moral justification on the part of those who are defying the Lord Advocate in his administration of justice. The Lord Advocate will, I think, have still further to qualify his statement. I say that the condition of that part of the Hebrides is a scandal to law and order. I am far from attributing, either in whole or in part, that the deplorable condition of things now prevailing is due to the existence of the Crofters Act, but I do try to make my statements conform to facts. It is beyond folly to suppose that where peace prevails in the Highlands that is due to the Crofters Act. But I am ready to admit that the deplorable condition of things now existing may be due to other causes.
said it was due to defects in the Act of 1886. He knew the facts of the case, Barra being in his own constituency. There was in 1900, as now, some lawlessness. It was due to the fact that the legislation of 1886 did not confer power to create new holdings. The Secretary for Scotland in 1900 bought some land, and that removed the dissatisfaction and gave comparative peace. There was no provision under the present Act to provide holdings for an admittedly congested district, and that was the reason for the apparent lawlessness.
I do not know what the hon. Member means by apparent lawlessness. I maintain that the argument of experience breaks down so far as law and order in that portion of the Hebrides is concerned. When it is pointed out to the Secretary for Scotland that he is deprived of the argument from experience, he is driven back to the argument of what might have been if a different Bill had been passed. If you are going to rest on experience it must be experience like all other experience of what has occurred, not what might have occurred if a wholly different Act had become law. Again, I maintain that the argument from experience breaks down, at any rate so far as that part of the Hebrides is concerned. I go further. The Secretary for Scotland objected to land purchase because it would not prevent sub-division and squatting which is now so pressing an evil in certain areas of the country. Has the Crofters Act stopped that?
It has checked it as a matter of fact.
I say it has not checked it, but it is going on more uncontrolled when you have destroyed all influence on the part of the owner of the land than it did before. And it will increase when the landlord's interest is transferred to a Government Department. It is a great social evil in certain parts of the Western Isles, and I have looked upon it as one of the most serious and difficult which this House has to face. The Crofters Act, then, has not stopped disorder and it has not stopped sub-division; has it secured those clear, and clean, and satisfactory relations between landlord and tenant which was promised? Everybody knows there are accumulations of judicial rent unpaid in certain parts of the Highlands. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] Is that denied?
If the tenant remains, he remains on the responsibility of the landlord.
I am rather surprised. I understood that what was proposed to be extended to all Scotland was that, while the landlord was to be excluded from all administrative control over his land, at all events, that the relations between him and the tenant would be fixed on the basis of fair rent, and that that rent would be paid. Is it being paid?
said the point of the Act was that the tenant enjoyed fixity of tenure so long as he paid his rent and had not deteriorated the holding.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his information, but with all respect I can assure him that he has not answered my point. Turning to a third matter in connection with the vaunted working of the Crofters Act in the crofting districts I would point out, in the first place, that a large number of the crofters have not taken advantage of the Act. They have preferred to remain in their old relation with their landlord.
That observation receives the enthusiastic support of a Minister who is going compulsorily to extend the Act from the Highlands to the whole of the rest of Scotland. Yet in the area in which it prevails a large fraction of the tenants who might take advantage of the Act have refused to do so. I go further and say that a large number of tenants who have taken advantage of the Act of 1886 have now deliberately freed themselves from its fetters. I should have thought that with these facts staring them in the face the tenants ought to be allowed to extricate themselves from the meshes of the Act if they desire to do so. But this Government of liberty, this Government of free trade, are quite prepared, are quite determined that one kind of contract and one kind of arrangement only shall prevail between the landowner and the small tenant. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech this morning told us that it was in the power of the tenant to remain in the old relations with his landlord, and not appeal for a new rent, but it is apparently not in his power to go back to his old position with regard to the landlord—the old position of free contract. If the Bill becomes law, he and his successors are bound for ever to a particular system of tenure which relieves the landlord of all duties with regard to permanent improvements, and gives the tenant in exchange, whether he likes it or not, fixity of tenure. That is what a large number of small holders in Scotland do not desire. And if I am asked on what basis I make that statement, I say that I base it, in the first place, on the experiment of the Crofters Act. A large number of crofters have deliberately freed themselves from that Act. In the second place, a large number of the existing small tenants, who are afraid this Act may pass, have actually requested their landlords to raise their rents above the £50 limit. I remember that the Secretary for Scotland challenged his opponents to show him a tenant who would prefer not to have fixity of tenure. There are countless tenants who would much rather have the advantages of the existing system of co-partnership with the landlord than the system the Government desire to thrust upon them. I should have thought that it was an elementary principle of legislation that when there is doubt whether a bargain is approved by the parties concerned, they should be allowed some liberty of choice in the matter. They have not got it.
was understood to dissent.
The right hon. Gentleman dissents. He has apparently forgotten his Bill. It has been so little discussed. I should be glad to have from the right hon. Gentleman some elucidation of the position under the Bill of a tenant whose holding is under £50 valuation or fifty acres in extent.
He is at liberty to make any agreement he chooses with his landlord. He cannot be deprived of that right.
The right hon. Gentleman is guilty of a contradiction in terms. He says the tenant has a right to make any terms he likes with his landlord, but he cannot be turned out.
The right hon. Gentleman is confusing the rights given under the Bill with the right of an individual to make a bargain with another individual. What I say is that the qualified tenants are given rights under the Bill of which they cannot be deprived, and at the same time they are perfectly free to make any agreement they like with their landlord.
They cannot make a bargain which deprives them of a right of which they cannot be deprived.
That is the intention of the Bill, The intention of the Bill is to give them a right of which they cannot be deprived except by their own consent.
Then I can quite believe that there may be some misapprehension, which I should like the Prime Minister to clear up if he speaks subsequently. I would put this plain question to him. Would it be in the power of any tenant under £50 to say to his landlord, "I do not like the Government Bill, I prefer the old arrangement. I do not care for fixity of tenure, and I do not want it, and I ask you to go on making the permanent improvements."
My answer is emphatically, yes. But whatever the tenant does he remains endowed with the rights of the Bill, which he can exercise at the termination of any such agreement.
Then, may I ask in what sense have the provisions of the Crofters Act been extended?
Exactly the same thing can be done under the Crofters Act, Section 5. The question is whether under this Bill the small tenant can be endowed with rights of which he cannot be deprived without his own consent.
I am quite unable to see how the Crofters Act has in this respect been amended if the right hon. Gentleman's present version of his Bill is to be accepted. I am quite sure that that is not the view of it taken in Committee or by any student of the Bill except the right hon. Gentleman. I am quite convinced that the right hon. Gentleman has for the moment for gotten the effect of the provisions of his own measure. So much for supporting the basis of the Bill on the perfect success of the Crofters Act in the Highlands. I now come to the question of how we are going to deal with the agricultural labourers in the Lowlands, and their relation to small holders. We are at one that if small holdings can be increased to advantage they should be. But I confess that I do not agree with those who think that there will be an immense extension of small holdings in the Lowlands as likely to prove profitable to the small holders. What does the right hon. Gentleman tell us? I do not myself think any immense extension of small holdings in Scotland is very likely to prove popular. The right hon. Gentleman, arguing in favour of the immense wealth that would accrue to the labourer and the landlord from small holdings, read a long extract on fruit cultivation in Blairgowrie. I have no doubt that fruit culture has proved a great success in that district. But whatever success has been attained in that particular instance, surely nobody can seriously believe that fruit cultivation or vegetable cultivation can be profitably carried on except on a relatively small fraction of the cultivable soil of Scotland. What, therefore, is the use of references to the Vale of Evesham? If there is to be a large extension of small holdings in Scotland, they must, in the main, be small holdings occupied with the-same kind of agriculture as the large holdings. I am sorry it is so, but I am afraid it is so. On the argument of the Government themselves, how are these holdings going to be a success? The Secretary for Scotland has admitted that they are more expensive and that a loss is certain to occur. Then the Member for Aberdeen has stated that the farm servants of Aberdeen do not anticipate that their material circumstances will be-improved by the substitution of small holdings for their present occupations. What the hon. Member did hope for was an improvement in their social status. I do not wish to say anything derogatory to improvements of social status, though I do not know that personally I feel much interest in these social distinctions. I can understand an appeal to do something to raise the material condition of a part of the people, but an appeal to do something merely to raise what is called social status leaves me rather cold.
said that what he meant was that every man should have a home of his own and should he independent of anybody. That was the national spirit of Scotland and had made that country.
Yes; it has made our country under a system of big holdings, at all events in a large part of Scotland. I appeal to the hon. Member himself to say, apart from electioneering, whether there is in the world any more independent race than the farm servants of Scotland. The Scottish farm servant is the most self-sufficing and independent of human beings. He certainly has not suffered from the tyranny of either laird or farmer. He moves about at his own free will from employer to employer, and he is dependent on no man. He will not be made a more independent man than he is now if his social status was raised by making him an occupier. I cannot believe that everything is going to be changed by the substitution of small holdings for big holdings; but I do desire that they shall be extended as far as they practically can. The Secretary for Scotland says this is not my Bill; it is a Government Bill. So it is, and no one can know anything of its genesis or to whose ingenuity the House owes it. It is by adoption and grace, at all events, a Cabinet measure; and the Cabinet are in the position of dealing with the whole of the land system of Great Britain, with the crofter system in the north, and with a different system of tenure south of the Tweed. What in the circumstances of difference that prevail between the north and the south would any rational body of men do? Do the Lowland conditions resemble those in England or the conditions in the Highlands? If the Government put that question to themselves they can only give the one answer, that there is no difference between the south of Scotland and England, but that there is a fundamental difference between the south and the north of Scotland. The most minute particulars of agricultural employment and practice in Northumberland and Berwickshire show that the systems are identical; and if we compare the lowlands of Aberdeen, Fife, the Lothians, and Ayrshire with the Highlands we find that obviously by tradition, in part by language, by history, by legislation and by every circumstance according to which we could draw a distinction, there is the widest difference between the two sets of conditions with which we have to deal. Yet this Government are determined upon promoting two kinds of legislation for the island and to insist that the Lowlands and the Highlands shall be bracketed together and treated in the same way, refusing to assimilate the Lowlands legislatively with the English counties with which they precisely agree. I do not believe that there ever has been so foolish a scheme. Granted that the Crofters Acts have every merit they can possess, no one pretends that crofter conditions prevail in the south of Scotland, and, therefore, we should not extend the provisions of the Bill to a part of the country which does not carry on its agriculture under the crofter system. That is a manifest and commonsense policy. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Bill will be of great pecuniary value to the landlord. That may be true, but even if the streams of Pactolus were to be poured into the pockets of the landlords, I think it would be bad in principle. I agree with those who think that what has to be considered are the prosperity and well-being of the community as a whole. But even in that case the landlord should receive justice. Whatever the pecuniary gain to the landlord may be, however is it right to take his capital and use it for a purpose that he has not intended? We have to deal with agriculture in a depressed condition, not through the system of land tenure, but through the system of foreign competition. Is it not the part of wise men in these circumstances to say that every force that can be used to bring capital, knowledge, skill, and labour to the land shall be used? My complaint against the Bill is that the Government deliberately refuse to bring together these great purposes and the forces at their disposal. I believe that the Bill will injure everybody, including the taxpayers, because the Government have deliberately deprived agriculture of some of its great motive force in the shape of permanent expenditure by the landlords. What is to be the substitute? It is to be either such capital that the small tenants have accumulated before they take their holdings or the money that is to be supplied by the taxpayers. The Government plan is that the unearned increment is to go to the big landlord; but if the land is bought the small owner will get the unearned increment. But all the talk about unearned increment is based on a most foolish estimate of the tendencies of modern industry. In any case no one doubts the proof of experience that we get an amount of work out of people who own the land not to be got out of people who merely occupy the land. Fixity of tenure is no equivalent for ownership, and the Government have deliberately, avowedly, openly, and boastingly deprived themselves of what would have been the substitute of that great liberality in the shape of capital expenditure which they now extract from the large owners of land in Scotland, throwing the burden on the innocent tax papers which the landlord now bears. It is bad from every point of view, and bad unquestionably for the present farm servants. The Secretary for Scotland quotes the case of the exceptional fruit farms which now prosper at Blairgowrie; but the Government must take the ordinary farm of Fife or Berwickshire. I say that similar success is impossible if these farms are cut up into fifty-acre lots, and if they are to employ as many heads of families as they do now. If we maintain the present system of cultivation the work must be carried on with more labour and at less profit, or it must return no profit at all, the loss falling on the public, or else there must be less efficient cultivation owing to less labour; and the position of the ordinary farm servant will fall to the level of wages now prevailing over those parts of Scotland where small holdings exist. These reasons make me think that the whole scheme, as far as it affects owners in Scotland, is based on hopelessly wrong lines. How can the Government with a light heart go in for this revolution ["Oh, oh I"]—for this enormous change based on no experience either at home or abroad, but evolved entirely from the fertile imagination of some member of the Cabinet or of the Cabinet as a whole? I trust that even now, not indeed in this House—for the hours during which the House has been allowed to consider the measure are numbered—the Government will see that the only possible method of dealing with these difficult agricultural questions of balancing diverse interests and considering in equal scales the welfare of every class of the community, is by means of a well-considered measure for every part of the country where the agricultural circum-stances are identical. For these reasons I shall most heartily support the hon. Gentleman who has moved the rejection of the Bill.
The right hon. Gentleman has made a great many speeches on this Bill, and I recognise in that which he has just delivered one change from some of those that came before—the right hon. Gentleman has not been so profuse in his epithets. His vaticinations of future disaster might have left us in a state of trepidation, but happily the speech of the right hon. Gentleman recalls a circumstance that otherwise might have been forgotten—that when the Crofters Act was before the House the right hon. Gentleman delivered exactly the same sort of speeches with the same arguments and the same prognostications of future disaster. The result of that Act has been, in the opinion of most people, that a part of Scotland which was in an absolutely disorderly condition now presents prosperity and contentment and everything that makes for the well-being of the people, whether they own the land or till it. But the right hon. Gentleman says that the condition of a part of the crofting area at present constitutes a scandal. He has discovered some improper or irregular proceeding on the part of certain men in the island of Barra, and on that fact he bases the charge that no improvement has been made by the Crofters Act. [Cries of "No!"] The right hon. Gentleman quoted that one instance as an answer to the assertion that law and order prevails. But what did the right hon. Gentleman say in 1886?
Well, we have got rid of all that, except in the one case of Barra. Then the right hon. Gentleman says that there is another thing in the Crofters Act which deserves to be noted—that a great many of the men who held under it have applied to be relieved of the intolerable position in which they found themselves placed, so that they might revert to the old patriarchal arrangement. I have made some inquiry, and I find that the instances of application for renunciation are so few as to be inappreciable. They are either the cases of very old men who wish to be rid of their responsibility, or the cases of men who, unfortunately for this country, but greatly to the benefit of the Colonies, are possessed of a desire to emigrate. The right hon. Gentleman always had the deepest distaste for the Crofters Act and he retains that opinion. He asked why the principles of that Act should be applied to the rest of Scotland, and why Scotland should not be given the inestimable advantage of the same principles as are to be applied to England. The right hon. Gentleman wishes to annex all Scotland, south of the Grampians, to England. That would be very agreeable from the English point of view and from the point of view of a man who naturally looks at things with English eyes. [Cries of "Why?"] But it would not be acceptable from the Scottish point of view. The main reason why we have introduced this Bill, and it has been framed as it has been framed, is that it represents what the Scottish people wish to have. They do not wish to purchase the soil, but they do wish to have the Continuity and security of tenure that this Bill gives. A great deal may be Said of the advantages of ownership, and the right hon. Gentleman urged that everything should be done to promote the development of agriculture and the application to the cultivation of the soil of the best resources of modern science and of human energy and ingenuity. The right hon. Gentleman's way of doing that would be to have a country covered with large farms, with benevolent landlords and flourishing tenants. But we think there is something better than the benevolence of the most benevolent landlord, and that is the interest of the cultivator in his farm as to which he has security of tenure, so that he knows that the benefits of the capital and labour that he put into it will go to himself. That is the real impulse in the good cultivation of the soil. The right hon. Gentleman bays there are advantages in having a class who has a personal satisfaction in the ownership of a great extent of land, in sport, and in the other privileges to be enjoyed."I doubt whether in any part of Ireland at this moment you will meet with more lawlessness, although you may meet with more violence, than now prevails on the west coast of Scotland."
That was not my argument. I said that you got great advantages from a system of large ownership in the supply of capital, but that you may make up for that in a small proprietorship by introducing another system.
That is our argument. Our view is that the operative motive is the sense of security. That is the whole point of difference between the two sides of the House. The right hon. Gentleman taunts us with having one Bill for England and another for Scotland. But the wishes and ideas of the people were different. The right hon. Gentleman says that he could not be sure where the genesis of the Bill is to be found, whether it is in the Scottish Office or some other department or the whole of the Government. It is in the whole of the Government, and the whole of the Government are responsible for it. But if the right hon. Gentleman has some doubt as to the genesis of the Bill, he would be able to state as well as most people what the exodus of the Bill will be. Some indication of that has already been given; and if that exodus is not of a favourable character, I can promise the right hon. Gentleman that there will be a deuteronomy. As to the principle of compulsion, which is supposed to be so injurious, why should it be wrong to apply the principle to hiring and permissible to apply it to sale? I do not see whore the difference comes in, I have never boon able to comprehend how it can be held that, when voluntary arrangement has broken down and compulsion is resorted to to meet a public need, the use of the land is to be absolutely denied to the community under the method of hiring and only to be granted under the method of sale. Seeing that hiring has worked so well in the case of the crofters, to the satisfaction of both owner an I occupier, and that it has commended itself to Scottish opinion, the Government have done their best to adopt it in a way which will prevent any injustice to the landowner owing to the depreciation of his property or to the liability of having abad tenant. A great deal has been said about the hardship to the landlord and the large farmer. But no existing contracts are to be interfered with in any way. The farmers especially have no reason for feeling nervous, because it is quite obvious that large well-equipped and highly cultivated farms will not be touched. They will be the last to be selected. [Cries of "Why?"] Because it would obviously be undesirable. At the other end of the scale, no farmer with less than 150 acres can be touched. There will be a gradual application, and ultimately we shall know how far it can be extended, but at first, and for many years, there can be no grievance, no interference with any farmer interested. What is wanted is not a uniform system of large or small holdings, but a healthy variety of both. Another great benefit the farmers will derive from this Bill is the institution of a Scottish Department of Agriculture, which has long been demanded, and the advantage of which is obvious on the ground of its accessibility, on the ground of its being in touch with general feeling and also easily to be got at by individuals who wish either to obtain information or to remove grievances of which they complained. Then there is just a word or two which I wish to say as to the bogey of dual ownership, which has been trotted out pretty freely. I observe that the bogey of dual ownership always comes forth when the advocates of the patriarchal system are opposing a measure of reform. We had it last year on the Land Tenure Bill. What reason have we to be afraid of any mischief coming from that source? The case of Ireland is constantly quoted, and I have always admitted in the case of Ireland that, in the first place, they could never have had a purchase system without having a Land Court to settle rents in advance of it, and, in the second place, that the real cause of the breakdown of the agrarian system in Ireland was the establishment, side by side, of two systems, one being that under which a tenant sat with a rent fixed by a Court and paying that rent, if he could, regularly, whereas his neighbour over the road, whose landlord had been willing to agree to it, could buy his property, paying instalments and becoming the owner in fee simple after a term of years, those instalments being actually, through the use of the public credit, lighter than the annual sum paid in rent by the first man. That is a system that could not possibly be endured, and that is the reason, and no other that I am aware of, why the late Government were driven into purchase in spite of their own feeling in the matter. And yet purchase is the thing which they now desire to be applied in Scotland. The objections to the Bill seem to me to be founded on ignorance, although perhaps that cannot be said of those who bestowed so much time on the Committee upstairs, and whose assiduity and attention in discharge of their duties we can but admire. The great outstanding points of the Bill are those I have mentioned, and, above all, there is the question of hiring. The great thing in this Bill is that it leaves the tenant independent of his landlord, and in possession of a secure tenure of his farm. That is the very thing which we consider the great virtue of and the great advantage gained by the Bill. We believe that, if it passes into law, and I hope it will, it will add to the prosperity of agriculture in Scotland and that it will rear up and keep in the country districts a class of men fit to take their place in the towns, if they move into them, and also admirably fitted to discharge the agricultural duties of the country. The right hon. Gentleman opposite says that the more you keep the inhabitants in the country the greater will be the drifting to the towns. Of course, if you have a larger population to draw upon, those who go to the towns will be in proportion larger. That is very obvious What we wish to change is the artificial, the unfavourable, as we think, condition of things in the country that drives men unnaturally to the towns. We have no desire to stop the circulation of blood from the country into the towns. Where would the towns be without a constant influx from the country? On the other hand, we do not wish to perpetuate the system which has the effect of inducing men to go in an abnormal degree into the towns, and we believe that, if we furnish them with a reasonable opportunity of leading a healthy and useful life and with a career in which they can raise themselves, that is the very strongest inducement we can give them to stay in the country. I agree entirely with the right hon. Gentleman in his estimate of the Scottish farm servants. There is no better class of servants in the world. With one exception I can express my perfect confidence in their future. I do not think their future will ever be up to their performances of the past if they abandon the food on which they and the generations before them have been nourished—namely, oatmeal and milk—and use the substitutes of a more or less pernicious kind which the ingenuity of modern science has brought about, If they go on as their fathers did, they will, with the opportunities which this Bill will
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Gooch, George Peabody||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Murray, James|
|Ambrose, Robert||Gurdon, Rt Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Nioholls, George|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Astbury, John Meir||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Harwood, George||O'Grady, J.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Haworth, Arthur A.||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)|
|Beale, W. P.||Hazleton, Richard||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Bell, Richard||Hedges, A. Paget||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh. Central)|
|Bellairs, Clarylon||Helme, Norval Watson||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.|
|Benn, W. (T' w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Pullar, Sir Robert|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Henry, Charles S.||Rees, J. D.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Higham, John Sharp||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Black, Arthur W.||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Horniman, Emslie John||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Brace, William||Hudson, Walter||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Branch, James||Hyde, Clarendon||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd|
|Brigg, John||Idris, T. H. W.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Illingworth, Percy H.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Jardine, Sir J.||Rose, Charles Day|
|Byles, William Pollard||Jenkins, J.||Rowlands, J.|
|Campbell-Bannerraan, Sir H.||Johnson, John (Gateshead||Russell, T. W.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Sears, J. E.|
|Causton, Rt Hn. Richard Knight||Jowett, F. W.||Seddon, J.|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Kearley, Hudson E.||Seely, Colonel|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Kekewich, Sir George||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Kelley, George D.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Clough, William||King, Afred John (Knutsford||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Clynes, J. R.||Laidlaw, Robert||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lambert, George||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Cooper, G. J.||Lamont, Norman||Snowden, P.|
|Corbett, C. H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Lehmann, R. C.||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Cox, Harold||Levy, Sir Maurice||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemonth)||Lewis, John Herbert||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Crooks, William||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lough, Thomas||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Ure, Alexander|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Verney, F. W.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||M'Callum, John M.||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Walsh, Stephen|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||M'Killop, W.||Walters, John Tudor|
|Elibank, Master of||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Erskine, David C.||M'Micking, Major G.||Wardle, George J.|
|Essex, R. W.||Maddison, Frederick||Waring, Walter|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Mallet, Charles E.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Markhara, Arthur Basil||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Fenwick, Charles||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Ferens, T. R.||Mamham, F J.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Ffrench, Peter||Massie, J.||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Findlay, Alexander||Micklem, Nathaniel||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Molteno, Percy Alport||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||Montagu, E. S.|
|Gill, A. H.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Morrell, Philip||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
afford them, show the country that the Scottish farm servants can do in these as well as in the old days.
The House divided:—Ayes, 63; Noes, 190. (Division List No. 397.)
|Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarth'n||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease|
|Wills, Arthur Walters||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Wilson, Hon. C. H. W. (Hull. W.)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.||Nield, Herbert|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Balfour, RtHn.A.J (City Lond.)||Du Cros, Harvey||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Fell, Arthur||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Forster, Henry William||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone. W.)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Bull, Sir William James||Gordon, J.||Starkey, John R.|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.|
|Cave, George||Helmsley, Viscount||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W.||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Thomson, W. Mitehell-(Lanark)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hills, J. W.||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Hunt, Rowland||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn J. A. (Worc.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Younger, George|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Moore, William|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
Main Question put, and agreed to.
Bill read the third time, and passed.
Small Holdings And Allotments Bill (Allocation Of Time)
Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [5th August], "That the Report stage of the Small Holdings and Allotments Bill be brought to a conclusion in three allotted days; and (a) That the new Clauses and Clauses 1 to 5 of the Bill be proceeded with and proceedings thereon brought to a conclusion on the first allotted day: and (b) That the Clauses of the Bill following Clause 5 to the end of Part II. of the Bill (if and so far as not previously disposed of), be proceeded with and the proceedings thereon brought to a conclusion on the second allotted day; and (c) That the remaining Clauses of the Bill and the Schedules and any other matter necessary to bring the Report stage of the Bill to a conclusion (if and so far as not previously disposed of) be proceeded with on the third allotted day, and the proceedings thereon brought to a conclusion on that day.
Any day on which the Small Holdings and Allotments Bill is put down as the first Order of the Day shall be considered an allotted day for the purposes of this Order.
At 10.30 p.m. on any allotted day on which proceedings on any business allotted to that day are to be brought to a conclusion, or if that day is a Friday at 5 p.m., Mr. Speaker shall, if those proceedings have not already been brought to a conclusion, put forthwith the Question or Questions on any Amendment or Motion already proposed from the Chair, and shall next proceed successively to put forthwith the Question on any new Clauses or Amendments moved by the Government of which notice has been given (but no other Clauses or Amendments), and on any Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded, and in the case of Government Amendments or of Government new Clauses or Schedules he shall put only the Question that the Amendment be made or that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill, as the case may be.
Any Private Business which is set down for consideration at 8.15 p.m. on any allotted day shall, instead of being taken on that day as provided by the Standing Order "Time for taking Private Business," be taken immediately after the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill for that day, and any Private Business so taken may be proceeded with, though opposed, notwithstanding the Standing Order "Sittings of the House."
At 11 p.m. on the day on which the Third Reading of the Bill is put down as first Order of the Day, or if that day is a Friday or Saturday at 5 p.m., Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith any Question necessary to complete the proceedings on that stage of the Bill.
After the passing of this Order, on any day on which any proceedings on the Small Holdings and Allotments Bill stand as first Order of the Day, no dilatory Motion on the Bill, nor Motion to recommit the Bill, nor Motion for adjournment under Standing Order 10, shall be received unless moved by a Minister of the Crown, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith without Debate.—( Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman.)
Question again proposed.
said he could not allow the Motion to pass without expressing his surprise and even his astonishment that the Prime Minister should have thought it his duty to make that proposal to the House without offering or even attempting to offer a single reason of any sort or kind in justification of it.
I gave the reasons the other day.
said he was perfectly well aware of that, and he was glad the right hon. Gentleman had reminded him, for curiously enough the report of the Prime Minister's speech absolutely confirmed his view that there was not the smallest reason for or justification of this action. The right hon. Gentleman had claimed that the Government had endeavoured to allot the time in such a way as to give the best opportunity for considering important matters, and no doubt they had done so, but the result of the endeavour had been singularly unfortunate. During the discussion at an earlier period of the Session of the new rules as to Standing Committees the Prime Minister, as reported in Hansard, claimed to have enlarged the liberties and privileges of Members on the Report stage to make up for the curtailment of Committees in the Whole House. That undertaking, given on the 11th April this year, had certainly not been fulfilled. He quite acknowledged that the Bill now under discussion was not so extreme as the other Bills before Parliament dealing with the land of the United Kingdom, because it did not introduce the principle of dual ownership nor did it involve such a complete revolution in our land system as was embodied in the Scottish and Irish Land Bills. But it did propose the most drastic changes in our land system in England that he ever remembered since he came into Parliament, which changes required earnest and most serious consideration. No one pretended that any complaint could be made of the proceedings of the Committee upstairs, and they escaped the violent closure so repeatedly applied to the Scottish Bill. That proved that no time was wasted, and yet it took fourteen days to consider the Bill in Committee, and many of the sittings were much prolonged. The Bill contained forty-seven clauses and two long and important schedules. Yet only three days were offered for discussion on Report. Enormous interest was taken in this measure out of doors, as the letters coming to him by every post testified; but excellent precautions were being taken to prevent any reports reaching the public of the views of the House of Commons on some of the most important questions involved. It was not a very courageous policy, but the knife of the guillotine would be resorted to instead of the weapons of argument. Let them consider how the time for discussion was to be allocated, and the character of some of the questions which would have to be discussed. The first five clauses of the Bill, overriding the wishes of the county councils, which occupied the Committee five or six days, were to be disposed of in one day on Report. Nothing in his judgment could be more important than that proposal, which was an absolute and entire departure from the principles of legislation hitherto adopted in this country. In Clause 5 there was a proposal for compelling the county council to pay out of its own funds for proceedings of which it entirely disapproved. It was the last clause in that section of the Bill—and Subsection (3) of that clause, which was only inserted in the Committee after a division in which the Government was defeated—would be the last question for consideration that night. Neither of these questions might even be reached. Ten most important questions were raised in the next nineteen clauses, all of which were to be discussed on the second day. There were the questions whether the new holders should be owners or only leaseholders; whether it should be compulsory purchase or compulsory hire by the county council; the number of dwellings to be erected on an allotment or small holding; borrowing powers; repayment of expenses to the county council in certain cases; the transfer to the parishes of the control of the allotments, even where no parish council exists; the limitation of parish borrowing powers; the relative size of allotments to small holdings; the power of the Government Department to override the county councils in their views on the question of allotments, and the new clause inserted at the last moment giving the London County Council power to establish colonies of allotment holders, a power which surely should have been given to the borough councils. On the third day they had twenty-one clauses and the schedules to consider, all again dealing with most important matters, including that of the compensation to be given to the owners and occupiers, or sitting tenants, who were to be dispossessed. He thought the House was entitled to some explanation from the Government of the reasons by which they had been guided in depriving the House of anything like an adequate time to deal with proposals which he considered to be, if not as extreme as the proposals for Ireland and Scotland, the most serious proposals with regard to the land in England and Wales he could remember since he first entered Parliament. He held that the pressure of time was no excuse for this procedure, for it was the duty of the Government, when they had decided to bring in this important measure, to introduce it at such a reasonable time in the session that it could be fittingly and properly discussed in both Houses of Parliament.
said there were in this Bill two principles which were undoubtedly controversial and matters of importance; but they had, he contended, been decided by the House on the Second Reading, and the Government were entitled to assume that they were not likely to be raised on the Report stage. The first of those two principles was embodied in the clause which related to the action the Board of Agriculture might take in default of action by the county council. He could not agree that that principle was a complete novelty in our legislation. There was, at all events, the precedent of the Defaulting Authorities Act. In that case the action of the central department was of a hostile character, whereas the action of the Board of Agriculture under this Bill would proceed on friendly rather than on hostile lines. But the debate on that principle was, as he had said, concluded by the Second Reading of the Bill. With regard to the proceedings in Committee, it was only fair to the right hon. Gentleman who led the Opposition upstairs to say that he acted with the greatest possible consideration for what was fair both to the Government and to the Opposition, and displayed also the greatest care for the proper economy of time. The other important principle raised by the Bill was that of compulsory hiring, and that again, he contended, was concluded on the Second Reading. It was very hard to see that on any day the House would really have very much to do in any of the compartments into which the Bill was divided. With regard to the first five clauses, any one who objected to the principle contained in them ought to have opposed the Second Reading. The next day was to be devoted to a number of clauses relating to the Amendment of the Small Holdings Act of 1892, and not one of them appeared to him to raise any great controversial matter. Then with regard to the question of the acquisition of land, which was to be dealt with on the third day, the points connected with that question were points of detail only. Ho held that the Government had given a very fair and ample amount of time in which to deal with the groups of clauses.
said he could not allow the doctrine laid down by the Solicitor-General to pass without protest. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said that if they took objection to hiring as against purchase, or the overriding of the county councils, they ought to have opposed the Second Reading of the Bill, or taken those exceptions on the Second Reading, because these were among the principles of the measure. If they had followed that course and voted against the Second Reading, the hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends would have gone down to the country and denounced them as being opposed to any extension of the system of small holdings and allotments. The hon. and learned Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen supporting the Government had not acted on that principle when in opposition. The hon. and learned Gentleman was vigorously opposed to the Aliens Bill. Did he vote against the Second Reading? Of course not.
We divided against the Second Reading.
said he had been informed that they had not voted against the Second Reading, but it did not matter whether they had or had not, it was immaterial to his point, which was that the hon. and learned Gentleman said that the passing of the Second Reading, with or without a division, settled all the principles of the Bill, and that they had no business to raise them again, and had no claim to discuss them.
I said that we were fairly entitled to assume that when the Second Reading of a Bill is passed without a division the House has accepted the vital principles of the Bill.
Had the Opposition accepted the vital principles of the Aliens Bill? Of course they had not. They fought every line of it as far as they could, whether they divided upon the Second Reading or not. The distinction which the hon. and learned Gentleman had drawn as to vital principles was one invented for the purposes of that debate. Had they divided on the Second Reading of this Bill every hon. Member knew, as he had said, that hon. Gentlemen opposite would have gone to the country and told the people that they were opposed to an extension of the system of small holdings and allotments. He submitted that the right test was that they divided on the Second Reading when they believed that it was impossible to make the Bill a good Bill by changing it in Committee or on Report. They could have altered the principle of this Bill in Committee into one of purchase had the majority of the House been willing to do so. Then as to overriding the local elective representatives, they could perhaps have altered that in Committee, if they had been allowed to discuss it. He had only risen, however, to enter his protest against the doctrine invented by the hon. and learned Gentleman, he thought on the spur of the moment, to justify the course which the Government were now taking. He protested against the view that, because they allowed the Second Reading of a Bill without opposition, therefore they were to be taken as having accepted the great and important principles of the measure.
said he wished to enter a protest with regard to certain details of this Resolution relating to the prevention of adjournments of the House under Standing Order 10. He was aware that right hon. Gentlemen opposite joined with his right hon. friend the Prime Minister and Members on the Treasury Bench in regarding unfavourably these motions for adjournment, because they were anxious to get on with the business; but private Members were of opinion that although it was of importance to pass Bills, it was of infinitely greater importance that they should retain their power to discuss grievances. This matter had become acute only last week when hon. Gentlemen opposite desired to move the adjournment in regard to the state of affairs in Belfast. They ought to have been able to move the adjournment. Troops had been called out in large numbers, and danger was anticipated, and matters of the gravest consequence had arisen which that House ought to have found it possible to discuss. By the Motion which they were now going to pass, and which followed the precedent set by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and was, therefore, no Party question, they were depriving themselves during the remainder, or a great portion, of the session, from moving the adjournment of the House. He appealed to his right hon. friend the Prime Minister, who had again and again expressed his view that this was a Parliament House, and that its principal function was debate. While he did not in the least dispute the necessity for guillotine Motions of this kind, deplorable as they undoubtedly were, still he appealed to his right hon. friend that when next he moved such a Motion, he should leave out the obnoxious words, "nor Motion for adjournment under Standing Order 10." He could not vote for a Motion of this kind in future if it contained those words, but, since it followed precedent so closely, in the circumstances he should vote for it on this occasion.
said the Solicitor-General had referred to this measure as having nothing controversial in it, but the hon. and learned Gentleman would remember there were two subsections which tended directly to destroy the operation of the Act of 1892. One subsection would make almost impossible any further effort of the county councils to put in operation the Act of 1892; he referred to the five acres limit for small holdings, and in regard to which, he was happy to say, the Government were defeated by two and the Act was saved. So much for the uncontroversial character of the measure. The other subsection, which still remained in the Bill, was a direct attack on the Act of 1892, and the effect of it would be that where there was a colony of peasants now in existence, as they died, under certain circumstances the holdings would be extinguished as ownerships and would be let as tenancies. These were very controversial matters in his opinion, and if the country had known the principles of the measure—and they were bound to let them know some way or other, in spite of the hole-and-corner manner in which this Bill had been conducted—they would have rejected it unanimously. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor - General had made very light of the coercion of the county councils, and had cited the Education Act, but he had forgotten that in the case of the Education Act the central authority supplied the bulk of the money, and therefore they naturally had something to say. But in this case the local authority supplied the money, and it was the local authority that was to secure repayment. Therefore there was no precedent to be found in the case of the Education Act. The Government were afraid of the example of the Act of 1892, which was an unqualified success so far as it had been put into force, and therefore they wanted to stifle discussion, and, so far as they were concerned, they would succeed in stifling discussion.
said hitherto all the speeches had been from the Front Benches, and he thought, therefore, that it was just as well that they should hear an independent voice from the back benches. All previous speakers had addressed themselves to the merits of the Land Bill which they were to discuss next week or three or four days; in anything he desired to say he would try to keep as much as possible to the Motion. He should vote without hesitation with the Prime Minister, though he would do so with great reluctance. Ho voted without hesitation because he desired to support the Government in this kind of legislation. It was not that he loved the guillotine more, but that he loved sterility loss, that he would vote for the Motion. He would vote for it also because it applied to legislation dealing with the most important of all questions, namely, the land question. They desired to bring together the land and the people. Wed them and there was joy, divorce them and there was sorrow. But he voted for the Motion with reluctance, because no one detested the guillotine and closure more than he did. When they had to pass a guillotine Resolution by the aid of the closure things had got to a point at which he thought the House of Commons should reconsider its ways. He applied that criticism to all Parties, and not to any particular Party, because it was the duty all of to consider how the great traditions of the House could best be maintained without the introduction of measures of this kind. [OPPOSITION cheers.] He hoped the cheers of hon. Members opposite augured well for their future action, because they had not been unwilling recently to waste the time of the House. [Cries of "No."] Hon. Members opposite had occupied the time of the House with the deliberate purpose of wasting Government time. [OPPOSITION cries of "No, no."] If they did not get rid of the guillotine and the closure it would compass the ruin of the House of Commons. The Leader of the Opposition had said that the guillotine in the end must lead to the destruction of the British Government. He regarded free discussion as the life-blood of that assembly, and he hoped all parties would strive to maintain the great glory of the House of Commons. [An HON. MEMBER: Are you going to vote against this Motion?] He agreed that the conduct and speeches of the Opposition made this Motion necessary. [An OPPOSITION MEMBER: What have we done?] The Leader of the Opposition had said that laws enacted under the closure could not have the same weight and authority with those who had to obey them as if they had been passed in the old fashion. Whenever he had spoken with his colleagues on this question they all agreed that the guillotine was bad, but they replied, "What can we do? There were some things they could do. It had been suggested that a business Committee should allocate the time to be given to the different parts of all important measures. He thought it would be a great improvement. ["Agreed."] It had been pointed out that there were certain Standing Orders which would enable Mr. Speaker and the Chairman to exercise a more rigid control over speeches which were obviously made for the purpose of wasting time. It had never been his misfortune to be in opposition. [Cries of "Divide, divide," and "Question."] The Standing Orders did not allow an hon. Member to make irrelevant remarks.
I am afraid I shall have to put that Standing Order in force myself against the hon. Member, who is really taking a very comprehensive view of this question. He is departing from the strict limits of the Motion before the House.
said he was much obliged to Mr. Speaker for giving him such a striking example of the kind of repression he was advocating. ["Question."] If they stuck to their old methods of procedure and remembered what they were doing to the House of Commons by this policy; if they only showed in regard to this question some of the patriotism which hon. Members laid claim to, they would try and put the conduct of the business of the House under such conditions as Mould render Motions of the character they were now considering quite unnecessary. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon had argued that the practice of individual closure should be revived in this House. Many years ago a Speaker of the House of Commons laid down the ruling that an hon. Member had the right to speak but the House had the right to judge whether they would hear him. [Cries of "Divide, divide."] On another occasion a Member's speech was interrupted by humming, and the Member was obliged to resume his seat. [Cries of "Hum, hum."] He was glad hon. Members opposite had been so quick to learn this lesson. Probably some hon. members like himself occasionally went to the Oval and Lords to see a cricket match. There was often a keen contest in those matches, just as there was between one Party and another in that House, but when a man had his middle stump knocked down he generally acted in a sportsmanlike manner, and hon. Members in a minority ought to accept the decision of the umpire, which in the House of Commons was the Division Lobby.
said there was really no valid reason for a guillotine Motion in this case. Notice had been given of the Motion before a single Amendment to the Bill had appeared on the Paper, and before anyone knew how many Amendments were to be put down, or how long the discussion on the Report stage was likely to take. It had been admitted by every speaker on the Government benches that the Unionist Members had not wasted time in the discussions in Committee. Time had been needlessly consumed by hon. Members opposite, and that had been admitted by some of their own speakers and in their own papers. He was confident that if, instead of proposing a guillotine Motion, the Government had given reasonable time, say until midnight on three or four days, for the consideration of the Bill by the House, the discussions could have been got through without the application of the closure. The division of time in the proposed Motion was such that some of the most important matters in the Bill must be shut out from discussion. On the first day much time might be taken up in the discussion of the new clauses, and he was afraid there would not be much opportunity for the discussion of the really important clauses of the Bill which were to be disposed of on that day. Clause 5 was the last in the group to be dealt with on the first day. That was possibly the most important clause in the Bill, and they knew perfectly well that there was no chance whatever of its being adequately discussed. He hoped it would be possible to alter the allocation of time so as to begin the second day's discussion with Clause 5. The question of allotments came at the end of the second day's group, and he did not think they would get a word said upon it.
asked the Prime Minister whether it was essential to retain in the Resolution the words "nor Motion for adjournment under Standing Order 10," which would have the effect of preventing the adjournment of the House being moved to call attention to any definite matter of urgent public importance on any day when the Small Holdings and Allotments Bill was put down at the first Order of the day. At the present moment there was a very serious situation in Belfast, and at any moment there might be a terrible massacre. He agreed with the hon. and gallant Member opposite that this was too serious a matter to be allowed to go without protest. If the Prime Minister could see his way to delete these words he and his colleagues would readily vote for the Motion.
expressed regret that he could not assent
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Cheetham, John Frederick||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Clynes, J. R.||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caith'ss-sh|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Cooper, G. J.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Corbett, C. H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Cowan, W. H.||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Crooks, William||Henry, Charles S.|
|Beale, W. P.||Dalziel, James Henry||Holden, E. Hopkinson|
|Bell, Richard||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S. Geo.||Duckworth, James||Hudson, Walter|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Bethell, T. B. (Essex, Maldon)||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred|
|Black, Arthur W.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Elibank, Master of||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Brace, William||Erskine, David C.||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Branch, James||Essex, R. W.||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Brigg, John||Everett, R. Lacey||Kelley, George D.|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Fenwick, Charles||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Findlay, Alexander||Lambert, George|
|Byles, William Pollard||Fuller, John Michael F.||Lamont, Norman|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Gladstone, Rt Hn. Herbert John||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Gooch, George Peabody||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Lehmann, R. C.|
to the suggestion, for to allow opportnnities for moving the adjournment of the House would be inconsistent with the conception of the guillotine Resolution. The portion of time at the disposal of the House for the transaction of its business was already too short.
said it would be perfectly easy to put words in the Motion to provide that if a certain amount of time was taken up in the discussion of a Motion for the adjournment of the House, an equivalent amount of time could be given to the Small Holdings and Allotments Bill later on. He thought that would meet the whole case.
said that that was part of the proposals of the Procedure Committee which the Government hoped would secure the assent of the House.
That could be done in this Motion.
We could not introduce it now.
The House divided: Ayes, 167; Noes, 48. (Division List No. 398.)
|Levy, Sir Maurice||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Llewis, John Herbert||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||O'Grady, J.||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Lough, Thomas||Paulton, James Mellor||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Lupton, Arnold||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Ure, Alexander|
|Maclean, Donald||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Pullar, Sir Robert||Walters, John Tudor|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Radford, G. H.||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Waring, Walter|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Rees, J. D.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|M'Killop, W.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton||Waterlow, D. S.|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Rickett, J. Compton||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Maddison, Frederick||Ridsdale, E. A.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||White, Luke, (York, E. R.)|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Marnham, F. J.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Massie, J.||Rowlands, J.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Russell, T. W.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarth'n|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Sears, J. E.||Wilis, Arthur Walters|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Seddon, J.||Wilon, Hon. C. H. W. (Hull, W.)|
|Morley, Rt. Hon. John||Seely, Colonel||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.|
|Morrell, Philip||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Murray, James||Silcock, Thomas Ball||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Napier, T. B.||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Nicholls, George||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease|
|Nolan, Joseph||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Snowden, P.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Craik, Sir Henry||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Balcarres, Lord||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond.||Du Cros, Harvey||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Barrie H. T. (Londonderry, N.||Fell, Arthur||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Stanley, Hon. Arthiur (Ormskirk|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Gordon, J.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cave, George||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W.||Hunt, Rowland||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Wyndham, Et. Hon. George|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Younger, George|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J. A. (Worc.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Moore, William||Viscount Valentia and Mr. Forster.|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingham||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Nield, Herbert|
Patents And Designs Bill
As amended (by the Standing Committee) considered.
"A defendant in an action for infringement of a patent, if entitled to present a petition to the Court for the revocation of the patent, may, without presenting such a petition, apply in accordance with the rules of the Supreme Court by way of counterclaim in the action for the revocation of the patent."—(Mr. Lloyd-George).
Brought up and read the first and second time, and added to the Bill.
"Rules may be made under the principal Act for regulating the matters dealt with in subsections two and three of section forty-seven, and in section forty-eight of the principal Act, which relate to the form and manner in which applications for the registration of designs are to be made, and on the coming into operation of any such rules the said enactment" shall be repealed."—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
Brought up, and read the first time and second time, and added to the Bill.
in moving a new clause (Procedure on Petitions for Extension of Term of Patent) said that he submitted it to the House in redemption of a pledge which he had given in Committee to the hon. and gallant Member for Handsworth. It did not go quite as far as the clause proposed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman in Committee, but it went as far as they could safely do at present.
"The following section shall be substituted for section twenty-live of the principal Act:—(1) A patentee may, after advertising in manner provided by rules of the Supreme Court his intention to do so, present a petition to the Court praying that his patent may be extended for a further term, but such petition must be presented at least six months before the time limited for the expiration of the patent; (2) Any person may give notice to the Court of objection to the extension; (3) On the hearing of any petition under this section the patentee and any person who has given such notice of objection shall be made parties to the proceeding, and the comptroller shall be entitled to appear and be heard, and shall appear if so directed by the Court; (4) The Court, in considering its decision, shall have regard to the nature and merits of the invention in relation to the public, to the profits made by the patentee as such, and to all the circumstances of the case; (5) If it appears to the Court that the patentee has been inadequately remunerated by his patent, the Court may by order extend the term of the patent for a further term not exceeding seven, or, in exceptional cases, fourteen years, or may order the grant of a new patent for such term as may be specified in the order and containing any restriction, conditions, and provisions the Court may think fit."—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
Brought up, and read a first time.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
said that in rising to speak on this new clause he wished first of all to acknowledge the ability and courtesy displayed by the President of the Board of Trade with regard to this question. On the first occasion on which he called the attention of the House to the necessity of reducing the cost and increasing the facilities for the extension of the period of protection in the case of small patentees, the President of the Board of Trade immediately and very courteously adopted the suggestion and declared his intention of embodying a clause in the Bill to cover what he advocated. Afterwards, when in Committee, he brought forward his new clause, the President of the Board of Trade gave the matter his most careful consideration, and eventually he brought in the clause as it now stood, to which he would give his cordial support. Naturally, he would have preferred the new clause in its original form as he introduced it, namely, that the authority who was to deal with the extension of the period of protection should be the Comptroller of the Patent Office, since his object was especially to reduce the cost of and to simplify the process of extension which he honestly thought would be best accomplished by the clause as it stood in his name on the Paper. Briefly the case was as follows. At present an application by a patentee for an extension of the period of protection must come before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, a process which costs the patentee at least £500 and frequently a much larger sum. This put it quite out of the reach of the small patentee. By this new clause he proposed that the Comptroller of the Patent Office, who originally caused the patent to be granted, and who might if he thought fit, refer the application to the President of the Board of Trade, should have power to grant an extension of the period of protection. This would be a very simple and inexpensive process. In the new clause adopted by the President of the Board of Trade the authority to grant the extension should be a Judge of the Supreme Court instead of the Comptroller of the Patent Office. This, he thought, would be more expensive than his own proposal. Still, being convinced that the President had done his level best for this new clause, and as he understood from him that under this clause the cost would be reduced from £500 to something like £50, or possibly £25, he thought that a very substantial boon would be conferred upon a large class of working men who were eminently deserving of their encouragement and support. These were the class of men who lent dignity to labour, who instead of merely trying to got through their day's work with as little trouble as possible threw themselves heart and soul into their employment; who studied how they could improve the machinery with which they daily worked; spent their leisure hours in trying to develop such small improvements; and applied for a patent to protect the result of their energy and ingenuity. Surely these people were deserving of help, and it was with the object of making it easier for them to reap their just reward that he had put forward his new clause. They all thought that their geese were swans, but in this case he preferred to compare his new clause to the ugly duckling of the fable who grew up into a swan, and he hoped that now that the ugly duckling had struggled through its earlier and most dangerous period of existence under the genial and generous support of the President of the Board of Trade, and was now fledged, it might accomplish the object that they had in view, namely, to bring increased profit and pleasure to many who were entitled to all the assistance which they had it in their power to give them. He therefore thanked the President for his adoption of the clause, and had great pleasure in supporting the proposed clause and withdrawing his own, which had been so generously met by the clause the right hon. Gentleman had now introduced.
said he had read with care the clause which the hon. and gallant Member for Handsworth had proposed in Committee, and agreed with every particular in it; but he thought they ought to fall in with the clause now suggested by the President of the Board of Trade. He wanted to know, however, whether they were assured that the procedure proposed under the new clause would be removed from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to the Supreme Court.
said it would be removed to the Supreme Court and the case would be considered by specially-appointed Judges.
Question put, and agreed to, and clause added to the Bill.
in moving a clause (Exemption of innocent infringer from liability for damages) said that his object was to give the public some protection. As things at present stood, a patentee was under no obligation whatever to notify the public that there was a patent for the article, and the object of the Amendment was that even if the article was marked "patent" it should not be deemed to constitute notice of the existing patent unless the word was accompanied by the year and number of the patent. If a patentee wished to secure damages for the infringement of his patent, the first thing he should do was to communicate with the infringer. It seemed to him to be an abuse of the system to mark an article with the word "patent" so as to prevent competition, after the patent had really expired. Of course the Amendment provided that nothing in the new section should affect any proceedings for an injunction. He would like to make two small Amendments in the clause which had been suggested to him. In the first line after the word "damages" to insert "in respect of any infringement," and in the third line to strike out the second "the," and substitute "such."
"A patentee shall not be entitled to recover any damages in an action for infringement commenced after the commencement of this Act from any defendant who proves that at the date of the infringement he was not aware of the existence of the patent, and the marking of an article with the word 'patent,' 'patented,' or any word or words expressing or implying that a patent has been obtained for the article, stamped, engraved, impressed on, or otherwise applied to the article, shall not be deemed to constitute notice of the existence of the patent unless the word or words are accompanied by the year and number of the patent.
"Provided that nothing in this section shall affect any proceedings for an injunction."—(Mr. J. D. White.)
Brought up, and read a first time
Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
said he could not believe that the Government would accept such a provision. In the case of saccharine and other chemical patented articles which were now imported into this country: how on earth were they to mark them as proposed by the clause? A common defence was that the infringer of a patent did not know that the imported article was imported, or was a breach of a patent, or that he thought that it was made in such a way that it did not infringe the patent. It was no defence for taking away another man's property to say that it was taken in ignorance. Surely it would be a monstrous proposition that under no circumstances was a patentee to be able to recover damages under this clause for infringement of the patent of any chemical material, because such material could not be stamped.
in accepting the new clause, pointed out that the matter was discussed very fully and at very great length upstairs, and he recognised at that time the difficulty of the question. The general, if not the unanimous, feeling of the Committee was in favour of something of this kind being inserted in the Bill. The object was to secure that every patented article should contain some notification, not only of the fact that it was patented, but of the date on which the patent was granted. The Government, therefore, accepted a clause dealing with the question. At the time they accepted it they were satisfied that it met the exigencies of the case; what they meant to deal with was this, that at present there was no doubt that the patentee could go on manufacturing a patented article and selling it as patented long after the patent had expired, say sixty or seventy years after. He thought they ought to take the American precedent and mark the product, but of course if they could not, as in the case of chemicals, mark the product, they must mark the bag.
said the bulk in the bag was split up and the product sold retail in small quantities.
admitted that of course that might be done, but said he was not satisfied with the clause of the Bill as it passed away from the Committee, and he thought after consulting his advisers that this proposed new clause was the fairest way of carrying out the intention he had.
asked the right hon. Gentleman to make three alterations in the clause, otherwise he thought it would be wholly unworkable. First of all, it ought to be limited to patents granted after the passing of this Act. It was not fair that people who already possessed and were working patents should have their trade interfered with retrospectively. Secondly, he suggested that after the word "aware" in line 4 of the Amendment the words "or could not with reasonable diligence have become aware" should be inserted, and thirdly, that after the words" marking I of an article" in the same line the words "or the case of or covering in which the article is contained" should be inserted. If these changes were made he thought the clause would be much more operative and valid than it was at present.
said that this was an entirely new departure in the patent law-of this country and would seriously affect a great many people.
said it was not-a departure from the practice which prevailed in other countries.
said the effect of the clause was this. A patentee might get an, injunction against infringement, but he could not get damages unless he proved that the infringer knew of the existence of the patent. That opened a do or to fraud, because a man who had knowledge might go on infringing, and when the action came on he might say he did not know of the patent. It was sometimes very difficult to prove knowledge though knowledge existed. The profits from an infringement might be very large, and yet if the infringer chose to say that he was not aware that he was infringing the patent and was-doing so innocently, he was to keep the profits he had made and deprive the patentee of them. He thought the right hon. Gentleman was hasty in accepting the clause, which was not of such a nature that it should be adopted at short notice.
said that the chambers of commerce had asked for this. [Cries of "No!"]
said another point was that there were certain patents, such as patents for chemical processes, on which a mark could not be put as suggested by the clause. He knew the right hon. Gentleman was anxious to do what was fair, but he did not think he should accept this clause.
objected to the Amendment. As to the infringer not knowing whether he was infringing a patent or not, he often did not know because he did not choose to know. If this Amendment was carried it would distinctly encourage the multiplying of that class of person who made articles and made them purposely without inquiring whether there was any patent which would hinder him from making that article. This was, in his opinion, a very dangerous clause.
said he sympathised with his hon. friend in the desire he had embodied in this clause, and he thought they wanted it in a different form; something more drastic, but, at the same time, something workable. There were a good many things which could not be marked, such as chemicals, which could only be marked on the bags. Flour was another article which could not be marked except in the bulk, either with the word "patent" or "patented," or with the date of the granting of the patent. As soon as the article was sold retail that safeguard went. He thought the object of the clause was good, and was not surprised that the chambers of commerce should desire something of this sort.
thought the danger of the patentee suffering from this clause was illusory. If a notification were placed on an article or upon the case containing it it would be a warning against infringement and the best possible protection to the patentee,
hoped the President of the Board of Trade would reconsider his decision on the subject. It was to secure a monopoly that a patent was granted by the State, and it was important that it should be duly carried out, and the patentees should be able to carry out their patent rights on reasonable terms. This clause, however, might involve great hardship to an inventor. A person might become rich and make a large sum out "of the invention of another, and they ought not, he thought, to prevent an inventor from recovering damages When use was made of his invention Without any licence from him. The onus was put upon the patentee, and he thought that the possible result would
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Barnes, G. N.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Barran, Rowland Hirst|
be that the patentee would be subjected to great hardship. The result of the clause might very often be that the man who could more easily afford to lose would make a profit to which he was not entitled, at the expense of the man who ought to make the profit.
said he could not believe that the President of the Board of Trade was going to press this clause, which must press most hardly on the great majority of patentees. The great majority of patentees at the present time were not working in accordance with this section. That was to say, they did not mark the patent with the date of patent and the number. If this clause were passed every one of the patents now in existence would be at the mercy of anyone who chose to infringe them. If the person did not know or it could not be proved that he knew that he was infringing a patent, he thought it would be a most improper thing to proceed with a clause like this with so attenuated a House. The right hon. Gentlemen could not really have contemplated the results of this clause, and, therefore, under the circumstances, he hoped he would give more time to its consideration with the view to safeguarding existing patents.
said he could not see any means by which the purchaser of an infringement of a patent could know that it was an infringement, and if this clause were accepted he would be allowed to go scot free until the patentee had found him out. He suggested that the right hon. Gentlemen ought not to open the door to frauds of that kind.
said that if the clause was passed in its present form the very remarkable result would follow that a premium would be given to people to go about infringing patents without caring whether they were doing so or not.
The House divided:—Ayes, 138; Noes, 34. (Division List No. 399.)
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Beale, W. P.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Bell, Richard||Henry, Charles S.||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S. Geo.||Holden, E. Hopkinson||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Horniman, Emslie John||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd|
|Black, Arthur W.||Idris, T. H. W.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Brace, William||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Rowlands, J.|
|Branch, James||Kearley, Hudson E.||Russell, T. W.|
|Brigg, John||Kekewich, Sir George||Seddon, J.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Laidlaw, Robert||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Lambert, George||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Lamont, Norman||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Lehmann, R. C.||Snowden, P.|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Levy, Sir Maurice||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Lewis, John Herbert||Strauss, E. A. Abingdon)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lupton, Arnold||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Corbett, C. H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Maclean, Donald||Ure, Alexander|
|Cox, Harold||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Verney, F. W.|
|Crooks, William||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||M'Callum, John M.||Walters, John Tudor|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent|
|Duckworth, James||M'Killop, W.||Waring, Walter|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Maddison, Frederick||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Markham, Arthur Basil||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Elibank, Master of||Massie, J.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Erskine, David C.||Micklem, Nathaniel||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Essex, R. W||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Fenwick, Charles||Morley, Rt. Hon. John||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthn|
|Ffreneh, Peter||Morrell, Philip||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough).|
|Gladstone, Rt Hn. Herbert John||Nicholls, George||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.).|
|Gooch, George Peabody||Nolan, Joseph||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||O'Grady, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Astbury, John Meir||Fell, Arthur||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Balcarres, Lord||Forster, Henry William||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gordon, J.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Hunt, Rowland||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W.||Moore, William||Younger, George|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J. A. (Worc||Napier, T. B.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Lord Robert Cecil and Mr. Cave.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Nicholson, W. G. (Petersfield)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Nield, Herbert|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Radford, G. H.|
said that he desired to amend the clause by inserting after the word "infringement" the words "of a patent granted after the passing of this Act," the object being to exclude patents now in existence.
Amendment proposed to the proposed clause—
"In line 1, after the word 'infringement,' do insert the words 'of a patent granted after the passing of this Act,'"—(Mr. Rawlinson),
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
I accept that.
Question put, and agreed to.
MR. RAWLINSON said he had a further Amendment, the object of which was to get over the difficulty which was present in all infringement cases showing that a man had knowledge of the fact that he was infringing a patent. The object of the Amendment was perfectly simple. He begged to move.
Amendment proposed to the proposed clause—
"In line 4, after the words 'where he is not aware,' to insert the words 'or had reasonable means of making himself aware.'"—(Mr. Rawlinson.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
said he could not accept these words as he was not quite sure that the form of words was the best that could be found for the purpose, but he would accept the Amendment in substance and would either accept these words or find alternative words which effected the same purpose.
Proposed clause, as amended, added to the Bill.
The following Amendments were proposed and agreed to without discussion.
"In page 1, line 15, after, the word 'devolve,' to insert the words 'on his personal representatives.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
"In page 2, line 8, to leave out from the word 'the' to the word 'principal,' in line 10."—(Mr. Cave.)
"In page 2, lines 13 and 14, to leave out the words 'required by the Comptroller' and to insert the words 'in any particular case the Comptroller considers it desirable so to require.'"
"In page 2, line 16, to leave out the words 'applicants have,' and to insert the words 'applicant has.'"
"In page 2, line 18, to leave out the word 'have' and to insert the word 'has.'"
"In page 2, line 20, after the word 'inventions,' to insert the words 'are such as to constitute a single invention and.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
"In page 2, line 32, after the word 'on,' to insert the words 'or modification of.'"—(Mr. Astbury.)
"In page 3, line 14, after the word 'an,' to insert the word 'extended.'"
"In page 3, line 30, after the word 'wholly,' to insert the words 'and specifically.'"
"In page 3, line 36, to leave out the words 'or described.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
"In page 4, line 28, to leave out the word 'for' and to insert the words 'after.'"
"In page 4, line 30, to leave out the word 'substituted' and to insert the word 'added.'"
"In page 4, line 30, after the word 'words,' to insert the word 'or.'"
"In page 4, line 31, to leave out the words 'described or' and to insert the words 'wholly and specifically.'"—(Mr. Cave.)
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
"In page 4, line 33, after the word opposed,' to insert being a specification deposited pursuant to an application made fifty years or less before the date of the application for such last-mentioned patent, or has been described in any such specification published before the date of the application.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
thought there had been some oversight in connection with this Amendment. He had had the advantage of a conversation with the right hon. Gentleman, and he understood him to drop entirely the power of the controller to deal with the position of patents thus described.
said it was an oversight. He was quite willing his Amendment should end with the words "last-mentioned patent."
hoped the right hon. Gentleman was not going to give away the whole purport of the Bill in order to get it through that afternoon. These matters were very fully discussed in detail in Committee, and he was surprised to find that things agreed to were now in the final stages being abandoned. It looked to him as though they were losing the best part of the Bill.
assured the hon. Member there was nothing vital in the words he was omitting.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment proposed, and agreed to without discussion—
"In page 4, line 33, after the word 'opposed,' to insert the words 'by a specification deposited pursuant to an application made fifty years or less before the date of the application for such last-mentioned patent.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
"In page 4, line 33, after the word 'opposed, to insert the words' or described in any specification which has been published before the date of such application.'"—(Mr. Astbury.)
"In page 4, line 33, to leave out from the word 'opposed' to the word 'or' in line 35."—(Mr. Cave.)
"In page 4, line 39, to leave out subsection (2)."—(Mr. Cave.)
"In page 5, lines 15 and 16, to leave out the words 'eight or section nine of the principal Act,' and to insert the words 'three of the Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks Amendment Act, 1885."
"In page 5, line 24, to leave out the words 'or the comptroller.'"—(Mr. Lloyd George.)
Amendment proposed to the Bill.
"In page 5, line 25, to leave out the words 'or the comptroller.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-Gorge.)
said he must protest against striking out the words "o the comptroller." He remembered that in Committee there was a discussion of nearly three hours on these very words.
said this was not the clause to which the hon. Member was referring, and when they reached that clause he would adhere to the words relating to the Comptroller. In this instance the omission of the words was purely a drafting matter. He was told by the draftsman that to retain the words would make interpretation of the clause difficult, and it was necessary to leave them out.
I hope I can trust you.
Amendment agreed to.
MR. CAVE moved to leave out Clause 14, which, he said, operated very hardly on a patentee who, having got capital and plant together, and having a fair prospect of getting some profit out of his patent, might find himself, at any time within four years, in the position of having to defend his patent at very great expense indeed. Of course, if the opponent lost he might have to pay the costs, but in many cases the patentee was not a wealthy man, and would rather surrender his patent and climb down, possibly on terms, than run the risk of very heavy litigation. He did not think that was right or wise. He thought it far better to act on the English principle that a patent once granted was good unless it was held bad in an action specially framed for that purpose, and that this important power of revocation should be exercised, not by the Comptroller, but only by a Court of law. Questions of patents-raised points of very great technical difficulty which taxed the capacity of even the Judges for the High Court; and, with the greatest respect, he thought the duty of revocation ought not to be left to the Comptroller. The House ought to be very careful about interference with the rules designed for the protection of inventors, on whom a great part of the industries of the country depended.
seconded the Amendment.
I will first of all put the question to omit the first line and a half of the clause, and if both sides agree upon that, then I will put the whole clause.
"In page 5, line 39, to leave out from the beginning to the word 'any' in line 40.'
Question put, and agreed to.
"In page 5, line 40, to leave out from the word 'any' to the end of the clause."—(Mr. Cave.)
Question proposed, "That the word 'any' stand part of the Bill."
said this was a matter which had been very carefully considered, the clause having no doubt met with opposition from some quarters. Out of about 17,000 patents granted, a very small percentage really became operative, and a large number were retained on the register simply for the purpose of blocking other perfectly bona fide inventions, thoroughly practical, which would serve an excellent purpose if they were patented. What the clause proposed was that there should be a simple procedure for getting rid of these blocking patents, and there were thousands of them simply cumbering the register at present. He was prepared, however, to assent to one or two modifications of the clause, recognising that they must introduce some security into the life of a patent. If a considerable sum of money was spent on buildings and developments, it might be thought rather hard that the patent should be upset simply by a decision of the Comptroller. But anyone who seriously wanted to upset a patent of that kind would not go to the Comptroller under this section, for the simple reason that the ground would be very limited. Any man who wanted to upset a patent would put about twenty or thirty counts into his petition, and would not risk the whole thing on the very narrow ground stated in the section. He was perfectly prepared to accept the Amendment of his hon. friend the Member for Launceston, cutting down the four years to two years. If the hon. Gentleman felt that there was any real danger as to security he did not mind going beyond the Court of First Instance. That would ensure complete protection. He would cut down the limit of time from four years to two, and allow the petitioner to carry an appeal from the Court of First Instance to the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords. These modifications could not be made now, but they might be made in another place.
feared the procedure proposed would very much increase the cost of proceedings in patent actions. He could not himself see the advantage of approaching the matter by way of the Comptroller instead of the Court. Under the present procedure, once they obtained the fiat of the Attorney-General, they could go to the Court and then to the House of Lords.
admitted that this might be the case if the patent was a genuine one, but the object there was to get at patents which were not bona fide. In those cases there would be an Application before the Comptroller, and there would hardly be any defence at all.
thought that when the parties concerned were rich and foreign pirates, whose object was to ruin their competitors, they would probably carry the case to the highest Court of Appeal. His experience was that these attempts to meet hard cases always put weapons into the hands of the rich, which they used against the poor. He trusted the Amendment would be accepted.
hoped the President of the Board of Trade would not concede another point in regard to the clause. A poor patentee if he had a useful patent ought to be able to secure it, although he might not have the financial resources necessary to work it. A rich syndicate might come along and take out a patent for precisely the same mechanism.
They could not do it.
said the Bill pre-sup-posed that such a thing could be done.
"In page 6, lines 4 and 5, to leave out the words 'a patent may be opposed,' and insert the words 'the patent might have been opposed.'"
"In page 6, line 5, at end, to insert the words 'Provided that when an action for infringement or proceedings for the revocation of the patent are pending in any court, an application under this section shall not be made except with the leave of the Court.'"
"In page 6, line 10, after the word 'application,' to insert the words 'bat the Comptroller shall not make an order revoking the patent unless the circumstances are such as would have justified him in refusing to grant the patent had the proceedings been proceedings in an opposition to the grant of a patent.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
Amendments agreed to.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
"In page 6, line 10, at end to insert the words '(3) On the hearing of such petition the Comptroller and Court shall have the same powers of requiring amendment of specification, and shall be guided in their decision by the same principle as in the case of an opposition to the grant of a patent.'"—(Mr. Radford.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
assured the hon. Member that the words he suggested were not necessary.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
LORD R. CECIL moved to leave out Clause 15. The proposal in this clause with relation to the revocation of patents worked outside the United Kingdom was really a crude form of protection, affording no help to the poor patentee. It would have no advantage at all, except that it would be to some extent protective in its action. He believed the inevitable result would be what always happened when protective measures were resorted to; it would hit those by whom it was imposed. The clause provided—
"At any time not less than four years after the date of a patent any person may apply to the Comptroller for the revocation of the patent on the ground that the patented article or process is manufactured or carried on exclusively or mainly outside the United Kingdom."
In other words, the patentee was to be compelled in the first four years of the patent to make a substantial use of it in the United Kingdom. They were told on the First and Second Reading of the Bill that this clause was directed against the "rich pirate," but he believed that it was the poor man who would be hit, the man who had patented a meritorious invention, and then had difficulty in collecting enough money to start manufacture within the prescribed time. He begged to move.
seconded the Amendment.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
"In page 5, line 19, to leave out Clause 15."—(Lord R. Cecil.)
Question proposed, "That the words 'At any time not less than four years after the date of a patent,' stand part of the Bill."
said that the clause was the pith of the Bill. He pointed out that in many instances the privilege granted by the Crown in respect of patent rights, instead of being used to start British industries, was used to prevent other persons from establishing industries in the United Kingdom, causing thereby an increased cost in the production. This clause, indeed, was purely in the interests of free trade, freedom of commerce, and industrial freedom.
expressed the hope that what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman would have the effect of converting some of his own friends to join-in the opposition to a clause which restricted to one country in the world the-operations of a man who had secured a patent. [Cries of "No."] That was his interpretation of the clause. The-right hon. Gentleman had the courage to tell the House that, instead of restricting, it increased a man's freedom. It was quite clear that the effect of the clause, so far as it had any effect at all, would be protective. There were other objections to the clause, but for that one alone he thought it ought to be rejected.
asked leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
"In page 6, line 20, after the word 'patent, to insert the words' granted after the commencement of this Act, and in case of a patent previously granted at any time not less than four years after the date of such patent and two years after the commencement of this Act.'"—(Mr. Astbury.)
Question, "That those words be here inserted," put, and agreed to.
*MR. G. CROYDON MARKS (Cornwall, Launceston) moved to add to the clause the words, "for meeting or supplying a continuous demand existing for such patented article or process in the United Kingdom." The object of the Amendment was to protect a patentee who might manufacture the article in America or Germany when there was a demand for it there, though during the first four years of the patent there might be no demand for the article in this country. Was a man to lose his rights in the patent in this country because he did not manufacture the article here at a time when there was no demand for it? He held that it would not be fair to the patentee to deprive him of his rights in that way. Germany was about to alter her laws in regard to compulsory working of the patent in Germany and France also was going to take the step of not compelling the working of a patented article in Prance. But why should we cut off the patentee's right in his patent after four years, because there was no demand for the patented article or process in the United Kingdom? Let them take the case of machinery for operating on fibre, such as jute. At present that process was carried on in India, but why should a patentee lose his patent at the end of four years because there was no continuous demand for the article here? A new fibre might be discovered in this country, such as from cabbage leaves, which might be treated with the patent machinery hero, but a man should not be compelled to manufacture it until there was a known demand for it. He begged to move.
seconded the Amendment. He said he was very much interested in those processes which would be seriously affected by the Bill as it stood, and representations had been made to him by manufacturers against the clause. Under the clause as it stood, wealthy foreign syndicates would have a right to keep their patents alive here. The Comptroller had got to decide whether a process was mainly carried out inside or outside the United Kingdom; but there might be some articles, such as those made of steel, which involved twenty or thirty different patented processes. The duties imposed on the Comptroller were already extremely difficult without his having to decide whether there was a continuous demand for a certain patented article or process in this country. The scheme of the Amendment was one which ought to receive attention.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
"In page 6, line 23, after the word 'Kingdom,' to insert the word" 'for meeting or supplying a continuous demand existing for such patented article or process in the United Kingdom.'"—(Mr. Croydon Marks.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
said that it had been asked why if there was no demand in this country for a certain patented article, should anyone go to the expense of setting up workshops for the manufacture-of the article? But, after all, this was a great exporting country, and it was our interest to manufacture for the whole-world, and a patent might be wanted here for some article which was used for I export purposes. From any point of view he could not accept the Amendment.
said that if the right hon. Gentleman considered this matter, he would see that it really cut to the root of the question, and defeated the object for which the Bill had been introduced. The hon. Member for Launceston had mentioned the jute industry, but that industry was started in this country, and a large number of manufacturers who had exploited the industry here now took advantage of the cheap labour in India, and manufactured the jute there.
asked leave to withdraw his Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. RAWLINSON moved to insert at the end of Clause 15 the words 'or His Majesty's dominions beyond the seas.'" He took it that the object of the Bill was to prevent a man taking out a patent in. England and then manufacturing that article in France or Germany because he could get cheaper labour there. He put it that if the patent were to be kept alive in England it should be worked in England for the benefit of British, workmen; and he thought that a similar advantage should be extended to the Colonies so as to give the Colonies a certain preference. With that object he ventured to press this Amendment upon the House. It did not establish protection or Colonial preference, but it gave the Colonies some sort of preference.
seconded the Amendment on the ground that it would, he thought, not give a preference at all, but would slightly limit the protectionist character of the clause. It would, at all events, enlarge the area from which the people of this country would be entitled, possibly, to buy patented articles.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
"In page 6, line 23, at the end, to insert the words 'or His Majesty's dominions beyond the seas.'"—(Mr. Rawlinson.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
expressed his utter amazement that the hon. and learned Gentleman should play so absolutely into the hands of his foes. Did he realise that this would give immunity to American patents? All that would have to be done would be to set up a factory across the border, in Canada, and every American industry would instantly be contracted out of the clause. Did he also know that in Canada there was a compulsory working law? That operated against the British patent and the American patent, and the Americans were obliged to set up factories in Canada, and they had done it. He could not conceive anything more dangerous than the inclusion of this Amendment, which would cut out instantly every American patent. The acceptance of the Amendment would make the clause absolutely futile. He hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would strengthen his hands by withdrawing his Amendment.
said the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman was too striking for him not to say a word or two in reply. The right hon. Gentleman was an advocate of free trade, and he as one who was in favour of promoting the free exchange of commodities practically said to his hon. friend if he pressed the Amendment it would destroy the whole protective effect of this clause. The House would observe how the right hon. Gentleman adopted the whole of his friend's argument. As to the argument against cheap labour, it was rather an old friend, and was directed against unfair competition. They did not want protection to bolster up industries, but it was needed to prevent unfair competition. He should support this Amendment.
said he fancied he had heard all these speeches before. He had heard them in the Committee, and he thought they were dealt with very effectively then. He did not understand that there was any protection in the policy proposed. What was suggested was that when we were creating a monopoly and when the article was manufactured the products of the monopoly should not be protected in this country under the patent laws. If the article could be produced more cheaply in other countries, then it would not be produced in this country, but they wished to provide that our fellow countrymen would not be prevented from competing if it could be produced here. They were not applying a protective tax, but it was an extension of free trade, as it gave our people the opportunity of making these things if they could make them. If they could not the modification of the Patent Law would not affect the matter.
supported the proposal of the Board of Trade. The Amendment looked attractive at first sight, but we could not treat the Empire as one until it was one in reality. The objection to cheap labour was a very important one, and, although at first sight he was inclined to look with favour on the Amendment, he thought on consideration it was a bad one.
said that after the very able speech of the right hon. Gentleman and the sound principles which he had enunciaated, he would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment, as he felt the country was safe in the right hon. Gentleman's hands on this point.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The following Amendments were proposed and agreed to without discussion—
"In page 7, line 25, after the word 'manufacture,' to insert the words 'and supply."—(Sir M. Levy.)
"In page 7, line 25, after the word 'article,' to insert the word? 'or any parts thereof which are necessary for its efficient working on reasonable terms.'"—(Sir M. Levy.)
"In page 7, line 26, after the word 'extent,' to insert the words 'in the United Kingdom,'"—(Mr. Astbury.)
"In page 7, line 27, after the word 'existing,' to insert the words 'trade or." "—(Mr. Astbury.)
"In page 7, line 28, after the word 'new,' to insert the words 'trade or.'"—(Mr. Astbury.)
MR. CAVE moved an Amendment to prevent Sub section ( b) of Clause
16 being retrospective. This sub-section provided that the reasonable requirements of the country shall not be deemed to have been satisfied if any trade or industry in the United Kingdom is unfairly prejudiced by the conditions attached to the purchase, hire, or use of the patented article or to using or working the patented process by virtue of any contract with the patentee "whether" made before "or after" the passing of the Act. The hon. Member said he also intended to move to leave out the words "or after" so as to restrict the sub-section to a contract made before the passing of the Bill. Unless this were done, they would make a man pay a penalty for something which was perfectly legal before the passing of this measure.
seconded the Amendment.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
"In page 7, line 38, to leave out the word whether,'"—(Mr. Cave.)
Question proposed, "That the word 'whether' stand part of the Bill."
hoped the hon. Member would not press this Amendment, as full provision was made for compensation later on in the Bill.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
"In page it, line 13, to leave out from the first word 'and,' and to insert the words 'After the expiration of the prescribed period the comptroller.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
Amendment agreed to.
"In page 9, line 14, to leave out the words 'law officer,' and to insert the word 'Court.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
Question proposed, "That the word 'law officer' stand part of the Bill."
asked whether if they carried this it would affect the discussion of the Amendment which he had placed upon the Paper to leave out Sub-section 1 of Clause 26.
said he was told that it would not affect such a discussion.
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman intended to go any further to-night having regard: to the fact that they were now approaching the discussion of Clause 23, which was a most contentious clause, or whether the right hon. Gentleman proposed when this Amendment was agreed to to defer the discussion of Clause 23 to another day.
said it was not late, and there were many Members now in the House who desired to discuss Clause 23 who might not be present on another occasion, and he-therefore thought they might be allowed to go on.
Amendment agreed to.
"In page 9, lines 15 and 16, to leave out the words 'of the Comptroller.'"—(Mr. Astbury.)
Amendment agreed to.
MR. CAVE moved the omission of Clause 23, which, he said, avoided certain conditions which were now freely entered into between patentees and business men. The boot trade was quoted as a burning example in favour of this claim, and it was said that there were cases when the right to use a patent corrected with the manufacture of boots had been refused except upon conditions that the licensee should use it for all boots which he might manufacture. But he believed that in spite of this condition the licensee had in fact made substantial profits. He knew it was said that the right had been abused. But where business men had found this particular mode of dealing most convenient—both parties to the bargain entering into it with knowledge of what they were about—it was a great mistake for Parliament to intervene and say it should be void. Apart from that, the clause was retrospective and avoided-existing contracts. There was a compensation provision, but no compensation would make up for the avoidance of a contract entered into in the ordinary course of business and upon the faith of which important arrangements might have been made. By Subsection (5) the insertion by the patentee in a contract made after the passing of this Act of any condition which by virtue of the clause was null and void was made a ground on which the patent might be revoked. Even if the principle of the clause was assumed to be right, it was wrong to go so far as to say that if a man, by inadvertence, inserted one of these conditions in a contract with A he should be unable to sue B for some flagrant infringement of the patent. That was a monstrous penalty to impose on a contractor. The purpose of the clause was to a great extent already met by Clause 16. The whole of Clause 23 was very objectionable, and he strongly held the view that there should be no attempt to deal with the mischief which was said to exist in the drastic way proposed.
seconded the Amendment. He trusted that the President of the Board of Trade would look at this clause in the light in which it was regarded by many in the country. In the legal profession there was a common saying that "hard cases made bad law." He thought, although this clause was directed to meeting hard cases, it would establish a very bad principle in English law. If it remained in the Bill it would constitute an interference with the freedom of contract between people who were quite able to conduct their business in their own way. They were not here legislating for children or minors but for grown persons who knew their own mind and were able to conduct their own affairs. Not only would it interfere with freedom of contract but in some trade? would bring about a state of things which would inflict great injustice on patentees. It would also act "in restraint of trade." Therefore he hoped if the right hon. Gentleman was not prepared to acept the Motion of his hon. friend he would at least consider whether the clause could not be modified.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
"In page 9, line 21, to leave out Clause 23."—(Mr. Cave.)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'any,' in page 2, line 22, stand part of the Bill."
said he would not have asked the 'Government to pass a general law affecting the commercial interests of the country merely because the existing law pressed hardly upon a small industry, but they must judge of the necessity for a change in the law by the magnitude of the industry if it were so affected from the consequences of it, whether they were serious or not. There was a trade with which he was connected and which had grave complaint against the existing law. It was a large industry, and so far as machinery was concerned was practically in the hands of a syndicate which had attained its power in a way which would be prevented in the future if this clause was retained in the Bill and became law. Seven or eight years ago the machinery of this trade was largely supplied by the United Machinery Company. That company was bought up by an American syndicate, and in addition to buying the machines which the company provided, it took care to buy up also such other machines as it conceived were absolutely necessary to the carrying on of the business. Consequently it became possessed of a monopoly, and upon the basis of that monopoly altered the conditions upon which the machinery could be obtained by this industry and made them of a very restrictive and tyrannical nature. A large part of the trade were not free agents in the matter at all. He himself was free from these contracts, because the firm with which he was connected obtained the bulk of its machines before the American syndicate established its monopoly. These leases extended the term of the patent to twenty years, and so got round the Patent Act, and they made additions to the machines, each addition extending the term of the lease, and thus the whole thing became a perpetual burden on the manufacturer. Three-fourths of the boot manufacturers of the country were unable to take up any other machines than those supplied by the syndicate. Very grave injustice was thus done to the whole industry and it would be largely removed by the passing of this clause.
said that the fundamental idea of the patent laws was to give the inventor a monopoly, in order to encourage inventions. A patentee might exact any terms he liked Anyone might reject his machines, but no one did, because even with the restrictions placed by him on their use it was more profitable to use them. It was argued that the contracts of the syndicate referred to by the last speaker involved a restraint of trade which was against public policy; but that doctrine had been so relaxed that it was now almost impossible to frame a contract which would be pronunced against public policy on that ground. It was held now that it was more in the interest of public policy that grown free men should be allowed to make what contracts they chose amongst themselves. That was the danger which attached to this clause. It was extremely widely drawn; it was devised to deal with one particular case, and one case only, for he did not know of any other case of a like nature. Under this clause if there were put into an agreement any provision that the purchaser was only to use the patentee's article the agreement was void. One could see at once how very hardly that might bear in particular cases. A man might have acquired a reputation far a particular kind of goods produced by a particular kind of machinery, and he might sell his machine to a comparatively ignorant user on the terms that he should use it and none other. He could imagine many cases in which a perfectly reasonable provision of that kind might be made which would do no harm to anyone, even in the view of the hon. Member for Norfolk, and to say in the particular terms which this clause laid down that all such conditions and agreements were to be void was a somewhat dangerous form of legislation. Here was a hard case, and something must be done to settle it, and they did the something, and found out afterwards that it in itself was something very hard. He was satisfied that this clause, if accepted, would do the greatest possible injury to the industries of this country, and he, therefore, asked the President of the Board of Trade not to insist upon it.
said he did not propose to enter very fully into this question, not because it was late in the session or late in the evening, but because they had dealt with it twice already very exhaustively. There had been a very considerable discussion on it on Second Reading, and he specially drew attention to this clause when he introduced the Bill. There was also a full discussion upstairs, where two days were entirely devoted to the clause. The noble Lord was not present on the first occasion, but he did not make that a cause of complaint, though he must be excused from again entering extensively into the question. His hon. friend had gone a little further by explaining one special case which had lately precipitated the action of the Legislature in this matter. IE a privilege were abused, surely the Legislature which granted that privilege had a right to come in and say the limits which were allowed when the monopoly was granted were being exceeded. This was a case in which for the first time they saw in their sheer nakedness the methods of the American trusts. The noble Lord had argued a good deal about general principles as to trade, and he did not disagree with the principles he had laid down. He absolutely agreed with the noble Lord about the fulfilling of contracts and as to men of mature judgment exercising caution. That was the only way to develop a manly action. But this was not a case in which they had two traders on equal terms to begin with. This was a case in which one man had a monopoly which the community had given him, and the other man was left without any defence at all. The boot industry in this country was practically compelled to take a certain machine. Those engaged in the industry were good business men and well able to hold their own in competition, but they were really obliged to sign a contract, and a more monstrous contract had never been submitted to an industry. Did the noble Lord realise the extent of one of the clauses which was inserted in the contract? It compelled the use of this particular machine and no other. Supposing there was another patent, either British or foreign, which revolutionised the trade as completely as this one did, and which it was just as necessary for the boot industry to utilise, nine-tenths of the industry would not be able to use the new machine for twenty years to begin with. That was not all. If an improvement of the invention for which a contract had been entered into was taken up at the end of nineteen years, the trade was bound to take the improvement and the lease was renewed for another twenty years. At the end of another nineteen years there might be another improvement and the boot industry would have to take that up for a further period. There was nothing in the contract to prevent a series of slight improvements which might be invented, enabling an equal number of extensions of the lease of its exclusive use to be made, conceivably obliging the boot trade to continue using the same machine for 300 years. The industry could not survive it, and the Legislature was, therefore, bound to interfere in the general interest, not to protect individual bootmakers who had entered into a bad bargain, but in order to protect a very powerful industry, and to say that this country really could not
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Findlay, Alexander||Rowlands, J.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Fuller, John Michael F.||Russell, T. W.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Gooch, George Peabody||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Bell, Richard||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S. Geo.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Hazleton, Richard||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Snowden, P.|
|Branch, James||Henry, Charles S.||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Brigg, John||Idris, T. H. W.||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Verney, F. W.|
|Burt, Bt. Hon. Thomas||Kearley, Hudson E.||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Kekewich, Sir George||Walters, John Tudor|
|Carr-Gomm. H. W.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)||Lambert, George||Waring, Walter|
|Corbett, C H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Lehmann, R. C.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Cowan, W. H.||Lupton, Arnold||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||White, Patrick (Meath, Norths|
|Crooks, William||M'Callum, John M.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Wills, Arthurf Walters|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Elibank, Master of||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Essex, R. W.||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Gordon, J.||Rawlinson, Jn. Frederick Peel|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Cave and Mr. Staveley-Hill.|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Napier, T. B.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Nield, Herbert|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Radford, G. H.|
Bill, as amended (by the Standing Committee), to be further considered upon Monday next.
stand the use of a privilege conferred by the Crown for the purpose of hampering a whole trade. The American Legislature had found it necessary to introduce a provision of this kind, and he knew of no country under the sun which would tolerate this kind of thing. In Canada, he believed, it had been held by the judges to be a contract in restraint of trade. The Judges, no doubt, here held it was not in the ordinary sense such a contract; but, at any rate, the Legislature ought to come in and say that it was very prejudicial to the trade of the country. He therefore proposed this clause. There were one or two modifications which would be proposed later on.
The House divided:—Ayes, 79;, Noes, 13. (Division List No. 400.)
Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now adjourn,"—( Mr. Whiteley,)—put, and agreed to.
Adjourned at a quarter before Nine o'clock till Monday next.