Expiring Laws Continuance Bill
"To continue various Expiring Laws," presented by Mr. Runciman; to be read a second time To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 313.]
Small Holdings And Allotments Bill
As amended (by the Standing Committee), further considered.
MR. CHAPLIN ( Surrey, Wimbledon) moved on Clause 6 an Amendment to restrict to the labouring population the acquisition of small holdings under the compulsory powers of the Bill. He said that he might be reminded that there was no similar qualification in the Act of 1892, for which he was personally responsible, but he submitted that there was no analogy between the two cases, because there was no compulsion under the Bill of 1892, while this Bill was full of it. Under the Bill anybody could obtain a small holding, whether well-to-do or not. That was not the purpose of the measure, and the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, when he introduced it, stated that the real object aimed at was to bring people back to the land, although he admitted at the same time that he was not very sanguine that Parliamentary interference would turn back to the villages any great proportion of those who had acquired a taste for the excitement of the towns. Still he felt that if they could fix on the land those now living on it or near it they would be doing good work. That he took it was the main object of the Bill, on the right hon. Gentleman's own showing, but the measure in its present form went far beyond that. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman there was no very great probability of bringing back to the land any great number of those who had left it, but he was afraid that if the Bill passed in its present form they would see in all parts of the country the establishment on a very considerable scale of what he might call rural villadom. That certainly was not the object they had in view, and it was not an object which afforded any justification for the use of compulsory powers. Then again the provision that the person who applied for and obtained a small holding should cultivate it himself was absolutely no safeguard. What was the definition of the word "cultivate?" He had looked up the definition clauses of the Act of 1892 and found there that the expression was to include horticulture and other things, including the keeping of poultry or bees. Thus a person had only to grow a few roses or to keep a hive of bees in his garden to bring himself under the Act. He certainly held that there ought to be some further qualification, and he therefore proposed the insertion of the words providing that applications for the small holdings should be confined to the labouring population. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would accept his Amendment.
"In page 4, line 31, after the word 'persons,' to insert the words 'of the labouring population.'"—[Mr. Chaplin.)
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
was sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not be surprised to hear that his hope for the acceptance of the Amendment was doomed to disappointment. He wished to have no hampering of the class of deserving people who might get these small holdings. The larger the number of people from the overcrowded towns who could be induced economically to settle on the land the better he would be pleased. The right hon. Gentleman might rest assured that rural villadom was not likely to be set up under the county council control which would be exercised over the tenants under this Bill. But if they attempted to define a class in an Act of Parliament they would either get into difficulty or create injustice. In his opinion the words in the Bill "shall themselves cultivate" were quite sufficient safeguard even with the gloss of the rose and the beehive put on them by the right hon. Gentleman.
regretted that he was unable in this case to support his right hon. friend the Member for Wimbledon, who, he could not forget, was the author of the only Bill in existence which had succeeded in bringing men back to the land. There was a numerous class of village tradesmen who would be excluded from the Bill if this Amendment were carried. There were the blacksmith, the shoeing smith, and the wheelwright who in consequence of the decay of village life were now only half employed, and if they could only be possessed of a few acres of land they could fill up their spare time profitably and their sons would not be driven into the towns. He did not think they need fear that the Bill would give rise to speculation in land for there were provisions against sub-letting.
presumed that the object of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon was to make sure that people who got the small holdings were conversant with the cultivation of the land. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman really wished to confine the applicants for holdings to the labouring class. The subsection it was true provided that persons who hired holdings were themselves to cultivate them, but it did not go so far as to say that they were to cultivate them properly as was the case in the Act of 1892. There certainly seemed to him to be some omission from the Bill which ought to be made good.
said the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had supported the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon on one ground, and one only, that the cultivating provisions of the Act of 1892 were not applied by this Bill. If the hon. Member turned to the Bill he would see in Clause 7, line 3, provision was made for applying the whole of the cultivating conditions of the Act of 1892, to which he had alluded.
said there was nothing in the clause as it stood to prevent a county borough from providing allotments or small holdings, but why should persons outside the rural area come in and dispossess men, who had been in occupation for years, of their holdings? Surely, injustice could not go much further than that. Here was one set of people born and bred on the land, who had stayed there through good times and bad times, and they were to be turned out by another set who had been away from the rural area all their lives, and probably had made a competency in the borough. As he understood, the Bill was intended, among other things, to keep people on the land, so that the population bred thereon should be healthy and strong; and here they had a population brought up on the land which was to be displaced by the population in the towns, who had lived there all their lives, and who desired in the closing portion of their careers to live upon the land. Anything more unjust to one class in favour of another he could not conceive. If the clause remained unamended, an injustice would certainly be done to those who had given up their lives to agriculture, in favour of those who came into it as a recreation.
admitted that he had overlooked the provision in Clause 7 referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. That would apply undoubtedly to any cultivation of the land. Personally he adhered entirely to the views he had expressed. He was not shaken in the least by what his right hon. friend had said, because what was the argument against his proposal? They were in favour of the Bill applying to the blacksmith, the wheelwright, and various others in the village districts, everyone of whom came within the Amendment that he proposed. But he owned that his proposal did not appear to have received that support, even from some Members on his own side, which he might have anticipated, and, therefore, he should not waste the time of the House by going to a division.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
SIR J. DICKSON-POYNDER ( Wiltshire, Chippenham) moved an Amendment to give power to purchase holdings. His object, he said, was to enable county councils, who had availed themselves of compulsory powers to purchase under the Bill, either to sell land to small holders or lease it. In other words, he proposed that the county council should be armed with compulsory powers of purchase in regard to the Act of 1892, under which they had limited powers at the present time to purchase by agreement. The Amendment was moved upstairs, but he regretted that his right hon. friend had not seen his way to accept it. It appeared to him that the principle involved was important to the whole of the land tenure question in our country districts; and he believed the demand in certain districts of England among certain people to take advantage of it was so substantial that he made no apology for again raising this question on Report, in the hope, however remote, of inducing his right hon. friend to reconsider his former decision. The objection upstairs to the Amendment moved by the right
hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bordesley division was to the effect that the proposal for purchase was outside the scope of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said the question was dealt with in another Bill and, therefore, could not consistently be included within the provisions of the present Bill; that this measure was exclusively one giving powers to the county councils to lease, and that if they included the principle of a proprietary peasantry or of ownerships, they would be running in direct antagonism to the machinery set up by this Bill. He had felt at the time that this objection of his right hon. friend was not a very strong one, but was somewhat flimsy in its character; and since he had had an opportunity of reading more closely the Act of 1892 he was confirmed in that opinion. This opportunity of strengthening the Act of 1892 was one which would not recur again probably for years, because the land question was not dealt with by elaborate measures every year. They should make purchase compulsory under the Act of 1892, as purchase for hire was compulsory in the present measure. The main charge against the Act of 1892 had always been that owing to its permissive character it was a dead letter save for a very few holdings that had been established in Worcestershire, and he believed in Lincolnshire. Surely, an opportunity like the present should be seized to improve existing legislation, and to bring it up to the level that they desired the measure now passing through Parliament to attain. He was aware that the opposition to this Bill was due to the fact that it was based on the principle of leasing and not on the principle of ownership. He had never shared that objection himself, nor did he do so now in moving this Amendment. He believed that in the great majority of cases throughout the country the method of leasing land to small holders was one that would be most suitable and prove most acceptable. He would not attempt to recapitulate the various reasons based both on economy and convenience; he merely contented himself by stating that in the great majority of cases the principle of leasing was the one that would be availed of. But while he said that, he
was equally confident that throughout the country, especially in those districts where small holdings already existed, there were many small holders who would gladly avail themselves of the opportunity of becoming owners on the instalment principle. He knew many small holders, and hon. Gentlemen near him knew many also in their respective districts, who would gladly seize the opportunity offered them out of the small provision they had made, to pay the fifth of the purchase money which was required, and they would also be able to pay the instalments which would run for a period not exceeding fifty years. All the Amendment asked was that some opportunity should be afforded to this class of small farmers by the introduction of compulsory powers of purchase where necessary. It had been argued by those who opposed the idea of ownership that it would create throughout the country a class of ill-tended holdings; that as time proceeded the occupants of those holdings would lose their money and even mortgage their properties, and that the land would ultimately find its way into the hands of unreliable people. The answer to that was very clear. Certain provisions inserted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon in his Act of 1892 were very clear precautions against anything of that kind occurring. Clause 7 referred to rules as to the mode or conditions of sale, and said—
"Every county council acquiring land under this Act shall make rules for providing against any small holding being let or sold to a person who is unable to cultivate it properly."
In Clause 11, it was provided—
"If at any time after the restrictive conditions imposed by this Act have ceased to attach to a small holding, the owner of the holding desires to use the holding for purposes other than agricultural, he shall, before so doing, whether his holding is situate within a town or built upon or not, offer the holding for sale, first to the county council from whom the holding was purchased, next to the person then entitled to the land from which the holding was originally severed."
They were the specific precautions laid down in the Act of 1892 against anything of the nature of that which was apprehended by those who were opposed to the course which he proposed. The only answer which they had really had up to now was that it ran counter to the
principle of the Bill, which was for leasing. But the adoption of the Amendment would not in the least degree interfere with the smooth and easy working of the principle of basing. The real objection which had been raised, and probably would be raised again, chiefly by hon. Gentlemen on the Labour Benches, was to any extension of ownership, because they desired gradually to extinguish ownership throughout the country. He could understand that attitude; it was logical and consistent; but he unhesitatingly said that he most profoundly disagreed with it, and he hoped and believed that his right hon. friend shared that disagreement with his colleagues on the Treasury Bench. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not allow himself, cither in this or in any other measure, to arrive at such an opinion by the urgency of demands coming from certain sections of the House. He was quite certain of this, that although there was a number of hon. Members who held that view, there was, on the other hand, a very large number who held the view which he had ventured to indicate in the opposite direction. Among those who held the view which he advocated, some would never allow the opportunity to escape for a public authority to acquire property, and having once acquired it, under no conceivable circumstances would they permit that property to be sold or parted with. He had no sympathy with extreme views, especially as applied to agricultural land. Whilst in towns it might be necessary for the local authority permanently to own the land on the basis that it was in the public interest, that same doctrine when extended to the country districts became utterly and entirely inapplicable. He had been twitted by an hon. friend, who slid that he must find it difficult to reconcile his position as a Liberal and his position as a landlord. He did not find any difficulty in reconciling those two positions. At the same time, in order to avoid difficulty, they should have a little clear thinking, and they must distinguish once for all between a slavish adherence to extreme Socialistic views and the maintenance of sound Liberal principles. Wherever they looked abroad they would find small holdings developed on the principle of ownership. He was very much struck
last week at the International Housing Conference—at which he regretted more of his hon. friends were not present—by four speeches, one by a Belgian, one by a Dutchman, and two by Germans. They all strongly advocated the extension in their own countries of small holdings. They said that all responsible people had realised that the extension of small holdings was one of the chief methods of mitigating those evils which were common to their countries and to ours. They went on to emphasise the fact that if those small holdings were to be a permanent success, if they were to be profitable to the occupants, they must be based on the principle of ownership. He had laid stress on that argument as to ownership, because he thought they had now an opportunity of carrying it on parallel with the principle of leasing—distinct from but not antagonistic to it. He urged the principle of purchase on the Government even now, because it was a sound alternative, and there was a demand for it in the country, and he was confident that all sections of opinion, whether Liberal or Conservative, would be profoundly disappointed if they found that something of this nature was not put at their disposal. No real objection could be raised which his right hon. friend need be anxious about. He appealed to him to reconsider the proposal, for it would in no way interfere with the smooth working of his measure. Those hon. Gentlemen who held the same view as he did associated themselves with him in urging upon his right hon. friend and the Government to do what they could to give this proposal, which he ventured to move, favourable consideration.
, in seconding the Amendment, said that the object of the Bill was universally recognised, and their duty was to do what they could to improve the status and condition of the agricultural labourer; that was the sole object of the measure. It had been said that legislative change which acts on the social structure merely as a physical force, altering the arrangement of parts, but leaving it character the same, was certain to fail. He did not say the Bill was sure to fail without this Amendment, but if they could by any means "transform the molecules" composing the structure, their chance of success would be much greater. It was because he believed that the. Amendment would have the effect of enabling the country to transform the character and raise the position of the agricultural labourer that he gave it his warmest and heartiest support. The question was, would mere ownership operate to transform the labourer? While as a mere tenant, no matter low benevolent his landlord, no matter what artificial securities might be afforded him he must remain as he now was, and exhibit perhaps but one more illustration of the small tenant, a by-word for ill-luck and incompetence. There was, he knew, a very substantial body of opinion unfavourable to private ownership in land, and the hon. Baronet had referred to it as existing among hon. Members below the gangway opposite, while it was sparsely, he hoped sparsely, distributed over the Liberal Benches. If the view was held that they were going, by a devious course, by means of this Bill towards the establishment of the elements of a socialistic or collectivist system he did not think success would attend upon their efforts. That was not the purpose, object, or intention of the Bill, which was designed to afford to the agricultural labourers a better chance and opportunity than they had ever had before, and he felt that it was the duty of Parliament to enlarge this opportunity by every means in their power. He believed the main effect of the Bill would be seen in immediate recourse to the Act of 1892, which had been regarded as a dead letter up to the present time. The first effect of the Bill would undoubtedly be to stimulate activity on, the part of county councils, who would not like Commissioners coming in from outside, while landlords would by reason of the compulsion clauses be more acquiescent in selling their land. They would, as he had said, in this way experience a large recourse to the Act of 1892. To refuse assent to the Amendment would be to set up anomalous conditions in many parts of the country. Might he suggest a possible case? In the county of Hertfordshire the county council might put in force the Act of 1892 and acquire land by agree- ment, say thirty or forty acres, in the neighbourhood of a village, which they offered either for sale under the Act of 1892 or on lease under this Bill, until such time as the tenants could become the owners by purchase. Then over the border in Bedfordshire, let them assume that the county council was unable to acquire land by agreement, and put in force the compulsory clauses of this Bill. In this way they too secured a piece of land which they offered to the labourers. Could they treat them in the same way as the more fortunate labourers were being treated in Hertfordshire? No; in the case suggested the Bedfordshire County Council could only offer them small holdings upon a tenancy; they could not offer them ownership. He would read a very short quotation from Professor Fawcett on this point. They would have set up side by side two sets of small holders, one set owners and the other set tenants, dealing with the same produce, probably in the same market, and under conditions in all other respects identical, and the two classes of cultivators would be competing with one another. Professor Fawcett, in his "Political Economy," said—
The argument against small ownership was not very strong. The proverbial poverty of the English agricultural labourer though it might unfortunately represent a fact did not constitute an argument against the acceptance of the Amendment. If a man was too poor to buy he could hire and wait until he was rich enough to purchase. As for the question of State ownership as against private ownership, it could only be justified if they were considering the food supply of the country, a question which did not arise upon this Bill, which was merely concerned with giving the agricultural labourer the maximum of opportunity to do the best for himself. There was no question of betterment. It was perfectly true that there was often a rise in the market value of land classed as agricultural, but that was not the "agricultural value," and was due to certain social distinctions for which people were willing to pay apart from the agricultural value altogether. It had been suggested that it would be a dangerous thing if the smallowner had the power to mortgage or to sell. He wished to point out that there was a provision in the Bill that for a period of twenty years the power of the smallholder to sell or mortgage was restricted. There was also a provision inviting the county council to co-operate in future with agricultural credit banks for the purpose of enabling these very men to tide over times of difficulty and stress which in some cases must arise. Was it not true to say that the man who was a lessee could mortgage his property, his leasehold, just as fatally as the smallowner; and with regard to sale, if it was an advantage to a man to sell what he had created by his own industry he ought to be entitled to do so. On behalf of the value and merits of ownership he felt that he ought to say something. The first consequence was the enormous augmentation of a man's industry. About 130 years ago Arthur Young in France made a series of observations with regard to peasant proprietors which had never been contradicted or falsified, and during the whole period which had intervened no French Government had ever attempted to make or dared to suggest any alteration in the legal status of the peasant proprietor in France, and that was the strongest possible argument in favour of that system. Everywhere upon the Continent those who had seen the system of peasant proprietorship in operation were unanimous in praise of it and ascribed its success to the fact that the man who tilled the soil was the owner. Under this Bill they were being invited by compulsion to create "tenants." The only observation he wished to make on this point was that where they had the county council control which would be exercised under this Bill over the tenants the tenants had not freedom, because the council would have an agent who would have his favourites among the tenants and would have his fads and system just like the agent of an ordinary landlord. That was inevitable, and the real impetus which enabled the owner to drive the plough to better advantage would be Licking. Then came economy in working. Wherever they got smallowner-ship there they would find economy in working. It was one of the main features of the whole system. They found not only that the gross produce derived from the labour of a smallowner was greater but his net produce was proportionately greater than in the case of a large farm. Proof of that was to be found in Prussia, where there had been a much more rapid enhancement of the value of the small farms as compared with large farms. With economy in management they got frugality and a host of social virtues which completely transformed the character of the man, who came to exercise more foresight and care in everything that went to improve his property. But the greatest benefit of all was that ownership raised a man from the position of a mere dependent. He carried his head higher and acquired a sense of patriotism which he did not possess at the present time. [An HON. MEMBER: Why not now?] Because he was too poor, poverty ruled out patriotism, and a labourer had not the chance of making the best of his opportunities. He was afraid the right hon. Gentleman was going to meet the Amendment with an adamantine negative. All parties desired that a measure of this kind should operate for the benefit of the agricultural labourers, and it would be a great advantage if the Bill was passed by a united House of Commons. It should not be overlooked that the Opposition had a strong force behind them in the country which was out of all proportion to their numbers in the House. The labourers he had conversed with told him that they did not want land law reform so much as a little bit of land which they could call their very own and which they could cultivate for their own benefit. They did not say anything about tenancies, because they were dreaming of ownership. He thought they would do more good if they augmented the number of owners of land by compulsion than by creating more tenancies. If the Bill succeeded, he believed they would multiply its chances of success by giving both ownership and tenancy an equal and a coinciding opportunity."How little chance there would be of manufacturing industry in this country successfully encountering the close competition with which it has now to contend if in England manufactories generally had to be rented, whereas in other countries they were owned by the manufacturer. Legislation may give a tenant security for improvements, but no legislation can give the same security as that which is obtained when a man feels that he is applying his labour and his capital to increase the value of his own property.'
"In page 4, line 31, after the word 'lease.' to insert the words 'or purchase.'"—(Sir J. Dickson-Poynder.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
agreed with the hon. Baronet who moved the Amendment that there was no inherent difficulty in the position of Liberal and landlord. He did not know, however, in which capacity the hon. Baronet was speaking when he proposed to expropriate compulsorily one private owner in order to put another in his place. He had never argued against the sale of small holdings on the ground that he wished to abolish private ownership. He had argued against it on the ground that he believed that it was not to the best advantage of the smallholder and of the country generally. If there were a demand for actual ownership, it would have found expression under the Act of 1892. He believed that a good deal of the failure of that Act was due, not so much to the absence of compulsion as to the absence of any power to hire. The hon. Baronet admitted that the majority of smallholders would be likely to take up leases and that it would be only a small minority who would wish to secure the freehold of their land.
A small but increasing minority.
said he had received a letter from a district in the Midlands which stated that application was made some time ago to a local authority to acquire 300 or 400 acres of land to sell to the applicants as small holdings, but as soon as this Bill was introduced all the applicants asked the local authority to suspend the purchase of the land, because they would all prefer to become tenants under the Bill. He would not repeat the arguments he had previously put forward on the Second Reading as to the disadvantages of absolute sale to smallowners. He had pointed out the danger of the moneylender, and he could not agree that that danger was anything like so great with a leaseholder as with an owner. Although it was true that there were directions in the Act of 1892 to the county councils to secure, men who would cultivate the land properly, there was no provision which would secure that their sons should inherit their capacity for cultivation. There had always been this great objection to his mind. If they made a small man the absolute owner of his first holding, which would be a very small one, they would tie him to that holding, not by law but by the fact that he must remain on it until he could obtain the full price for it and all the improvements he had made upon it, so as to be enabled to remove to another holding. He did not understand really why hon. Members like the mover of the Amendment, who did not think that the number of smallholders who desired purchase would be very large, were not satisfied with the provisions made by this Bill combined with previous legislation. Any land acquired under the new Act by agreement could, of course, be sold by the county council as under the Act of 1892. Surely the effect of the compulsory provisions of the Bill would be that they would be able to obtain the largest part of the land by agreement. Therefore the county council were likely to have over the land they obtained very full discretion as to the method in which they should deal with it. He had declined, and he must still decline, to go further to facilitate sale to small ownerships, which he believed would be a great disadvantage to the locality.
said the evident hostility of the right hon. Gentleman to do anything to increase the ownership of land almost passed his comprehension. He did not note in the few words which the right hon. Gentleman had addressed to the House any adequate reason whatever for the somewhat peculiar view which he held on this particular question. In the ease of a small man who had acquired his holding the right hon. Gentleman had asked what assurance there would be that his successor would inherit capacity for dealing with land. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that the father might have been brought on to the land for the first time himself. Was it the son who had been brought up on the land or the father who came there without experience who was most likely to be able to deal with the land? The right hon. Gentleman had pointed to the difficulty which the owner of a small property would have, even if he were successful, in moving to a larger one, or acquiring an addition to his own. He failed to see any difficulty whatever on that point. What difficulty could arise if he proposed to add three or four acres to his holding if he had the wherewithal to purchase the addition? The question which had really been raised by the Amendment of the hon. Baronet was whether it was desirable to encourage ownership on the one hand or tenancy on the other under the provisions of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had asked—If there is such a demand for ownership in the country, why is that there has not been a greater number of applications for the purchase of land under the Act of 1892? It had already been stated that that Act had proved to be a dead letter because it was wanting in the element of compulsion. He disputed that argument altogether. The reason why the Act of 1892 failed was not in any degree because there were no compulsory powers included in it. There was ample land in the market which could have been obtained by agreement on perfectly fair terms. His right hon. friend the Member for the Bordesley Division had repeatedly pointed to the success of an experiment in the creation of small holdings in Worcestershire. The reason why the Act of 1892 had not had a far greater operation was to be found in the fact that the Liberal Government which came in soon after the Act was passed did not give it a chance. They introduced a measure for compulsory hiring. He admitted that at that time compulsory hiring was exceedingly popular with that part of the public who desired to have small holdings. That was put in force to a considerable extent, and the advantages of the Act of 1892 were neglected. The effects of the measure in regard to purchase were referred to in evidence to which he had called attention more than once. The evidence did not show that compulsory hiring had been successful, but no one representing the Government had condescended up to the present time even to notice that evidence. Reference had been made by the seconder of the Amendment to the success of peasant proprietors abroad. Everybody knew that the man who owned the land always used it better than the man who was only a peasant, however good as a tenant he might be. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Well, that was the universal experience of everyone who was practically conversant with the land question in this country. There had been successful small ownership in days gone by, but agricultural depression came upon the country and that class suffered. Until the unfortunate days of agricultural depression there were few who lived more happily and prosperously than the small owners of land. He remembered the time when in Lincolnshire there were thousands of people called freeholders, and they prospered as much as any class in the country could desire. That class suffered from the agricultural depression which resulted from foreign competition. In France, Germany, and many other countries peasant proprietors flourished. He thought the Amendment should be accepted in the hope that it would promote the ownership of land. The peculiar form of tenancy proposed by the Government would, he had no doubt, be exceedingly popular at first, but when a tenant had got all he could get out of the land in a few years he would surrender it as other small holders had done in the past. That would not happen under a system of ownership. The House could not do anything more wise in connection with agriculture than to accept the Amendment and thereby encourage ownership instead of tenancy.
said he supported the proposal of the hon. Baronet from the point of view that there was abundance of scope in this country for every kind of holding and for every class of farmer. He would call the attention of the House to what the Amendment really implied.
In other words, it gave a man power to purchase his holding if he desired. The hon. Baronet did not propose to bring in any more compulsion than was already in the clause. He did not see anything of any kind for enforced purchase in the clause. If there were he would most strongly oppose it. The clause as it stood referred to persons who desired to lease. Now, what did a lease mean? It might be for nine years, nineteen years, ninety-nine years or 999 years. It was not of mere agricultural labourers they were talking, but of successful tradesmen who had made a certain amount of money and demanded a long lease What kind of distinction could be drawn between a long lease in this connection and a freehold? They knew well that when a lease came to a certain length it practically was the same as a freehold. He ventured to say that under the clause as it now stood, if there was any vice in a freehold there was equal vice in compulsory hiring. When they took into consideration how slight was the change which would be made by the hon. Baronet's Amendment he hoped it would be accepted. A good deal had been said about mortgages and debt. Everybody who had closely followed this question as it had been taken up in Ireland, and the work which had been done by Sir Horace Plunkett and his friends, knew that there used to be ownership of land with all the evils of debt attaching to it, but these evils had been to a very large extent mitigated or abolished by the system of co-operation and by agricultural credit banks through which there was an easy acquisition of money in small amounts with no interest by the Irish tenants and small landholders. These had proved to be the antidote to the gombeen man. It was not right that the freeholders should always suffer under a burden of heavy debt or mortgage, and the Irish plan might be called in in aid in this country of the purchaser—not the enforced purchaser—of his holding. At any rate in Ireland under the new régime the evils of debt had largely disappeared or were rapidly disappearing. He hoped, therefore, that the Government might be induced to reconsider their position and would not deny the option of purchase to the small holder, in which he saw the germ of that success and prosperity to the small holder which would do great things for the country."A county council may for the purpose of providing small holdings for persons who desire to purchase or lease," etc.
said that no one could doubt the importance of the Amendment, because its inclusion in the Bill would go far to destroy the whole merit of the measure. [An HON. MEMBER on the OPPOSITION Benches: How?] For the reason that the great feature of the Bill was that it enabled county councils to acquire by hiring land to let to small tenants throughout the country, and if this Amendment was inserted the operation of hiring would be seriously affected through the fact that a landlord who did not want to let would say. "Oh, you are always bothering me about my land. Take the land—you have the power to do so—and shift the burden on to your own shoulders." That would be a not unreasonable argument, and hiring would tend to diminish, and purchase to increase, and the operation of the Bill would consequently be limited. What was the position in which they found themselves at the present moment? The right hon. Gentleman opposite who represented the landed interest in the House par excellence was an advocate of the compulsory expropriation of one landlord in order to set up another in his place; and he further told the House that in order that a man might be a good cultivator of the soil he must be the owner of it. [OPPOSITION cries of "No!"] Certainly the right hon. Gentleman did imply that a man who owned the land was a far better cultivator than the tenant. He must say that his experience did not agree with that statement.
said that what he laid down and what he adhered to was that ownership was the greatest possible inducement to a man to carry on good cultivation.
said he was not able to agree with the right hon. Gentleman. He maintained that the tenant farmers of this country were the best farmers in the world, and that our landed system was only justified by securing such men as cultivators of the soil. If the right hon. Gentleman contended otherwise then out of his own mouth he condemned the landed system of the country. But that was not all. The right hon. Gentleman knew that capital was necessary to carry on a farm, and that the farmer required security that he should have a return for the outlay of that capital. But in the case of small holdings there was great difficulty in finding tenants who had the necessary capital to carry on the farm.
said that he was not speaking of large tenants. All his observations were directed to ownership or occupation of small holdings.
said he was quite aware, but every word the right hon. Gentleman said about large farms applied also to small holdings. That was the necessary and logical sequence of the right hon. Gentleman's argument. The merit of the Bill was that without requiring too much capital from the small man they would be able to place him on a small holding. With ownership they would have to find a man not only to stock the land, but also to buy it. It was most desirable to have hiring to enable the man to use all his capital for the purpose of stocking his holding. He was not without experience of small holdings. He represented a county in which there were more of these small properties than in any other county in England. The great difficulty was that the owners had families. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of a son succeeding his father; but they often had five or six sons and the property was divided, encumbrances were created, and the small holdings were swallowed up gradually in the big estates. As to the agricultural labourers, they were in Cumberland and Westmoreland able to save £150 to £200 by the time they Were thirty years of a re if they were industrious and thrifty. And they could then under the hiring system get a small holding and stock it fully. He was heartily glad that the Government resisted the Amendment. They heard the phrase continually from hon. Gentlemen opposite about rooting the people with the soil. That was not his ambition. He wanted to see the labourers walking erect on the soil and moving on from stage to stage.
said that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had put an extraordinary argument in the mouth of the right hon. Member for Wimbledon, viz., that the latter had advocated the expropriation of one landlord in order to set up another in his place. That was not the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, but the proposal of the Bill. If they would not let the present owner continue in his ownership, they must put another in his place. He supported the Amendment because he wished to see the measure not only useful as a spasmodic experiment, but as a permanent success, and the question of whether it was a permanent success or not must depend in the last result upon the labourer. It was because he thought that the labourer would have a great deal more incentive to make his holding a success as the owner rather than as the tenant that he rather favoured the Amendment. He understood that it was one of the objects of the Government to enable the labourer to rise in life: all he could say was, that under this Bill they gave him but a very short ladder. If, after a great deal of expense and trouble, the labourer was put only on the footstool of the tenancy, what could he do when he got into his holding? The tenant looked around him when he got into his small holding and knew that neither the house in which he lived nor the land which he tilled belonged to him. He would be called on to pay not only the rent, but the interest on the sinking fund, if the county councils were not to make a loss, and at the end of his tenancy he would be I deprived of the advantages which were I due to him. If it was one of the objects of the Bill to keep the labourers on the Soil: there were two ways in which that might be done. The first was by attaching him to the soil, and that was a purely sentimental idea. The other was by attaching the soil to him, by allowing him to become the purchaser. Hon. Members talked very glibly about landlords, and there were some quarters of the House in which one had only to mention the word "landlord" to excite the throwing of half bricks in the way of bad language at them. The tenants of the country knew better, however, and hon. Members made the greatest mistake if they thought they desired to come under county councils, who had not the power or indeed the right, dealing as they were with ratepayers' money, to be merciful in bad times. A corporation had neither a body to be kicked or a soul to be saved. For these and other reasons he hoped the Government would accept the Amendment, otherwise there would be hopeless chaos. In many directions it appeared to him that the finance of the Bill was muddled, and unless the Amendment was accepted the Bill could not be a success.
remarked that the hon. Member had talked about bad language being used when the landowner was mentioned. It was not the landowner that they took exception to, but the question of private ownership in land. He therefore hoped that hon. Members would somewhat modify their views in regard to their position. The hon. Member had said that the Bill was very much muddled, but he thought the muddle was in the mind of the speaker. Several hon. Gentlemen had said that the way to get land cultivated was to make the man who cultivated it the owner, but anyone who knew anything about land knew that the responsibility for its condition at the present moment was to be put upon the owners, and not upon those who were the tenants of it. Millions of acres were out of cultivation and yet we obtained two-thirds of our food from abroad, and the direct responsibility for this state of things rested upon the system of the private ownership of land. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not give way as far as this particular Amendment was concerned To say that a municipality could not acquire land for the purpose of letting it with better results than flowed from private ownership was to advance a contention which in his judgment was not arguable. He thought the time had come when the Government, and especially this Government, should take upon itself the responsibility of restoring the land to the people. Only a small proportion of our total population were at present settled upon the land. It was the birthright of every child to live upon the earth, but if they maintained the right of private ownership they denied the right of people to live on the land except upon the landlords' terms. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill would adhere to the declaration which he had made that he would keep the clause as it stood, and thus start the movement for the restoration of the land to the people of this country.
, as one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the Bill, urged the right hon. Gentleman to grant the concession asked for. It seemed to him, if he might say so with all due deference, that the last two or three speeches had dealt not at all with the Amendment proposed. There was no idea of forcing county councils to constitute small freeholders; they merely wished to give them the option of doing so if they desired it. They on that side had resisted the efforts of hon. Gentlemen opposite to shackle the freedom of those who would have to administer this Bill; they asked for freedom for these bodies and for elasticity of machinery. Yesterday they gave the Commissioners a free hand, and to-day they asked for the same freedom for county councils. He was a warm advocate of the Bill, and he believed in establishing tenants instead of owners, but cases might arise in which it might be desirable to settle small owners on portions of farms and he thought it would be undesirable if county councils had not the power to do this. He agreed with much that the hon. Member for Appleby had said about the small holders lacking capital and being shackled as owners, but he did not think that that had anything to do with the Amendment. They only wished to give the county councils power to settle small freeholders if they thought it desirable. It would be for the county councils to see whether the applicants were desirable people, and whether they had the necessary capital. He thought they could safely leave such questions in the hands of county councils. The Bill was intended to serve, and he believed would serve a double purpose, one was the improvement of the condition of the labourer and his status in life, and the other was the national object of maintaining and increasing the population upon the land. He thought that as the result of this Bill they might see something like the results which had been obtained in Denmark, where the State settled a number of men on the land and after thirty or forty years they or their children accumulated capital and were now in the position of small landowners. He believed that there were a number of cases in which it would be desirable to settle small owners on the land, and he hoped the Bill would enable this to be dons.
said the hon. Member who had just sat down had ably advocated a system of purchase, and it was obvious that the Bill as it stood would break down. If a small holder were allowed to purchase it was cheaper than hiring the holding. The county council would buy the land as cheaply as possible. There was plenty in the market at a very low price. Then the county council would be able to sell to the holders at a correspondingly low price. But if this Bill became law all the expenses connected with it, and they would be very heavy, would be included in the rent which the tenant would have to pay, and he would acquire no interest in the holding. If bought at any future time the basis of purchase would then be on the rent they were paying, and the purchase price would be far higher than they would pay if the county councils now started to buy as cheaply as possible land which was on the market and to sell it to the occupiers in a corresponding manner. It was difficult to find a reason for refusing this small concession. On the introduction and the Second Reading of this Bill the right hon. Gentleman showed his opposition to the principle of purchase, and he had never wavered since. He had said that if he thought there would be any substantial increase in the number of purchasers under the Act of 1892 he would limit rather than extend the facilities. The right hon. Gentleman had asked why, if purchase was so desired, there had not been more success under the Act of 1892; but he knew perfectly well that the labourer did not buy land for the same reason that he did not buy comforts and luxuries: he had not the money. When the labourer was asked to put down 20 per cent. of the purchase money he was unable to do it, and therefore it was not very wonderful that the Act was not brought more largely into operation. Over and over again the Government had been pressed to remove this bar of poverty which prevented a man from owning the land he cultivated. He had visited the estate to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred, the occupiers of which were said to prefer tenancy, and having talked to those men collectively and individually, he had found that the majority of them preferred ownership to tenancy, but the bar of poverty prevented it. He had in his hand at that moment a petition in favour of owner-slip which was sent to an hon. Member of the Committee which sat to consider this Bill, and the petition was signed by fourteen of these very tenants who were said to prefer tenancy. Was the position of the Government this, that while they would give £100,000,000 to the Irish people for this purpose, they were prepared to say to the people of this country that they should not own an inch of the soil the tilled? He had received a letter from a man in Kent who described himself as one out of many thousands who had saved a little money and desired to have a small holding, and in that letter he said, with all respect to the present Government, that unless they fell in with the view of purchase they were wasting their time in a useless endeavour to bring men back to the land. The artificial arguments as to the moneylender and bad cultivation did not apply to the question of purchase. A man who had bought his holding and had to pay the price in annual instalments was of no use to the moneylender. He had borrowed all the money he required at the lowest rate of interest. As to the argument of bad cultivation, he need only say as the hon. Member for Hitchin had pointed out, that the man who owned the holding was more likely to attend to it and cultivate it properly than a tenant who was there to-day and gone to-morrow, and whose only desire was to get as much as he could out of the holding while he was there. Ownership disclosed the best power that was in a man to do the best he could. It was suggested that a tenant could keep on until he had saved enough to take a larger farm, but ownership could do better than that. If a man who owned his holding thought the time had come to buy a bigger farm, and his holding was in good condition and self-contained, he would have a dozen offers for it and have all the advantages in disposing of it of a man disposing of a property which he had improved. A man on the Catshill estate began twelve years ago with a holding of four acres. He saved money and had since increased his holding to twenty-nine acres. That man sold off his holding in the year before last £600 worth of produce, and in addition to the labour of himself and his family he paid £240 for labour. On the Catshill estate they had solved the housing question and the question of pauperism, and the rates now paid by those occupiers was much higher than those paid by the estate when it was a farm. That was a ladder no tenancy could secure. The hostility of the right hon. Gentleman and that of hon Members below the gangway were quite distinct. That of the latter was perfectly understandable. Their view was that there should be as few private owners of land as possible: they believed in municipal or State ownership. But there was a party that had beaten men holding those views in Germany and France, and who would always beat them. That party was the peasant proprietors of the country. But if hon. Members below the gangway believed in the nationalisation of land it should be brought about by purchase and not by confiscation. If the county councils were to set about buying land the tenants would have to pay for it, and if those who paid for it were not to have an inch of what they paid for that came as near confiscation as anything he could imagine. An hon. Member had said there was only a small body of opinion in the House in favour of purchase. That might be true, but there was a large body of opinion outside, and he claimed that there was a large body of opinion in that House, for if there was a vote by ballot many Members sitting on the Government side would vote in favour of it. This should not be made a Party question. In all the evidence given before Royal Commissions and Select Committees on the question all the most important witnesses said that, although they saw financial difficulties in the way, ownership was the best system. A very important Committtee appoined by the late Government, which reported two years ago, stated in their Report—which was one that should receive attention from any Government—that after going all over the country and hearing all the evidence available they recommended purchase under the "Purchase of Land" Bill as the only system. Denmark began by giving facility after facility for men to buy their holdings. In Denmark there was no question of tenancy, 87 per cent. of the occupiers being the owners of their holdings. Peasant proprietorship in France was the, great guarantee of order, and wherever the Code Napoleon had been introduced in Europe the same results had followed. When they saw all this in other countries it seemed to him that the Government were like Rip Van Winkle. They had been asleep all these years, and had now awakened up to put into force an obsolete system which had long since broken down everywhere else. It was said that under this Act county councils could acquire land on lease, but the Bill said nothing about letting to the tenants on lease. Therefore, they must assume that in such a case the tenants would be annual tenants. The hon. Member for Hitchin had said that for small holders outsiders would have to be relied on partly. Of course, they did not forget that there was only 23 per cent. of the population in the rural districts, and if from that percentage was deducted the residential population, and the old people and young children, there were very few agricultural labourers left. How was it that the people on the Continent sent us millions of small articles of food which we could not supply [An HON. MEMBER: Better education.] Better education and cooperation were not known either in France, Germany, or Denmark, until ownership was established. They were exotics where tenancies existed, but were the natural outcome of the system of ownership. The reason why we could not compete with them was that the owners knew every inch of their land and cultivated it in an intensive manner. The tenant who cams to-day and went to-morrow could not compete with them, but the colonists of Catshill could and did successfully. Out of that estate they had produced £4,000 or £5,000 per annum. The hon. Member for the Appleby Division had said he preferred tenancy with security and fixity of rent. But under this Bill there was neither security of tenure nor fixity of rent, and he hoped the hon. Member would no longer figure on platforms saying that this Bill gave either one or the other. In this case both rested with the local authority, but in ownership the security was absolute. That was the whole pith of the question, and it was a national question upon which the safety of the country depended. The matter ought to be thought out in a friendly way. The question was whether the men ought to own the land they tilled, whether it should always be in the hands of the cultivating occupier, or whether the system should be that of tenancy under county councils. If they looked at the evidence given before the Royal Commission they would find that the opinion of the most important witnesses was that corporations of any kind, whether public companies or other corporations, were the worst farmers and the worst people to manage a farm. In all the details which belonged to the management of a farm there must be personal supervision, and municipalities and local bodies could only exercise that supervision by hiring agents and tradesmen, the cost of which would all add to the rent. All these things would make it worse and worse for the tenant. He appealed to the Government to yield to what he believed to be the wishes of the majority of their supporters. The Amendment would not interfere with the working of the Bill and would only give an option. Unless the Government were determined that no labourer in this country should ever possess an inch of the soil they cultivated they would accept this proposal.
said he was called upon to meet arguments coming from the Opposition side supporting the view that the principle of tenancy ought to be replaced by ownership and that this ought to be carried out by the State on a scale in regard to which no kind of limit or restriction had been indicated. Such a proposal was throwing Irish legislation in the background with a vengeance. It simply meant the employment of State funds in order to substitute small owners for large owners. Was that what the Opposition required? There was another point upon which those who took this view had been significantly silent, and upon which the hon. Member for Sheffield had also remained silent. When people talked about purchase they ought to indicate what method they desired for the acquisition of the land. Hiring was simpler than purchase, and in this Bill they had still further simplified it. They enabled a county council compulsorily to hire land in the neighbourhood of a town, where it would be most valuable for small holders; but when that land was wanted for building, then the landlord would be entitled, after twelve months notice, to resume the land. That enabled them to exclude from the agricultural rental any question of building value and thereby to take the land for a long period of years without having to pay a building price for it. Were hon. Gentlemen opposite willing to allow purchase to be carried out in the manner provided by this Bill—that was, to substitute valuation for the operation of the Lands Clauses Act, which provided an arbitration which had been oppressive to railway companies and all municipalities? If so, they would then talk about purchase. He did not think hon. Members opposite had realised this important element in any system of universal purchase. They would have to decide whether they were going to adopt the Lands Clauses Act or not. Under this Bill they empowered the Board of Agriculture by the Schedule to regulate these various matters and to adopt any of the clauses in the Lands Clauses Act. They had appointed a valuer who would act impartially as a Government official, and with expert knowledge, but without the heavy cost which was involved under the operation of the Lands Clauses Act. He would be glad to receive some indication in regard to future purchase as to whether hon. Members were willing to accompany universal purchase of the land by some method of acquiring it which would be cheaper and more expeditious than that which had nearly broken down some of the great railway companies. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bordesley had said several times that the cultivator preferred to own the land; but would I he pay for it? The cultivator who bought his land must be content with a very small return upon his capital. He doubted whether he would get more than 2½ per cent. net upon his purchase capital. Those who had bought land generally found that they had to pay a heavy price for it and they seldom got a return of more than 3 per cent. upon their investment. Would any farmer be content with 3 per cent. interest on his capital? He did not know exactly what interest a farmer expected, but he knew he would not be content with 3 per cent. One of the difficulties and dangers of purchase was that the small owner was under the temptation to part I with the fee-simple of his land, in order, with the purchase price, to increase his stock, or to invest the money otherwise. [An OPPOSITION MEMBER: Why not?] He was not objecting, but was it worth the while of the State to undertake that great cost and risk, with that certain economic result?
That has not happened under the Act of 1892.
said that under that Act there was a limit on the power of sale for thirty years and the purchaser was subject to all kinds of conditions. The framers of that Act recognised that there were certain economic forces to contend with, and restrictions were placed upon it of a very humiliating character. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon gave as the reason for the failure of his own Act for enabling county councils to purchase land by agreement, that the Act was passed in 1892 and that in 1894 a Liberal Government came along and passed the Local Government Act of that year, giving the local authorities the power either to purchase by compulsion or by agreement, or to hire. They had now the three systems in operation between which the local authorities had the right to choose. Which did they choose? He had before him a report dealing with the period from 1897 to 1902, showing the proportion between the acreage purchased and the acreage hired. The land purchased amounted to a little over 200 acres, and that hired by agreement to 2,364 acres. Thus they preferred to hire rather than purchase, and the disproportion was over ten to one. The Government left untouched the inestimable benefits of the right hon. Gentleman's Act; they left the question of purchase as it stood, but before they changed their Bill into one of purchase they would want to know how the price was to be fixed, and also whether the progressive Party opposite would show themselves as liberal when it came to the question of fixing the price as they now professed themselves to be in regard to a change of ownership.
said the hon. and learned Gentleman had dwelt upon one argument and had asked why, if hon. Gentlemen sitting on that side of the House were so anxious for purchase, they did not come forward with some proposal to make purchase cheaper than it was at present? The Bill did not contain purchase so far as the tenant cultivator was concerned, but it did contain purchase so far as the existing landowner was concerned, and so far as purchase from him by the municipality was concerned, and that purchase was to be carried out by the very mode which the hon. and learned Gentleman said had broken down in the country and was so intolerable that it could not be introduced into the Bill, but which he and his right hon. friend had, as a matter of fact, introduced into the Bill.
I said that with regard to purchase the Lands Clauses Act will apply, but not to hiring.
really believed that the hon. and learned Gentleman had not read the Bill. It gave the public authority power to purchase compulsorily, and it declared that, when it did so, it was to purchase under the Lands Clauses Act. All that was required was that the local authority should use the powers given to it by the hon. and learned Gentleman under the Lands Clauses Act, and when it was the owner of the land it could divide up among the small cultivators the large farms it had bought into small holdings of any size it liked. What value were they to put on the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument when it was so obviously based on complete ignorance of the Bill he was supporting? The hon. Baronet who moved the Amendment had expressed some doubt as to whether it was possible to be a good Liberal and a good landlord. He had no immediate concern with the case of the hon. Baronet's conscience. He could not imagine why the hon. Baronet should feel any difficulty or why the subject suggested itself to him as a difficulty in connection with this debate, because not only was his proposal supported by hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House, but it was in exact accordance with all the confirmed traditions of the Liberal and Radical Party. The whole traditions of that Party were in favour of the multiplication of the owners of the land. He could remember in his earliest years being interested in this controversy. John Stuart Mill gave a great impulse to the whole doctrine in a well-known chapter in his "Political Economy," and he only echoed the universal conviction in those days of every man who called himself a good Liberal or a good Radical. There was one criticism of the existing system of divisions of land in this country, that estates were too large, that the number of owners of land should be greatly multiplied, and that such multiplication was good for the social order and prosperity of the country. [An HON. MEMBER: There were no county councils then.] Did the hon. Gentleman think that the creation of county councils by a Tory Government had entirely destroyed the whole of the Liberal creed? The old Liberal and Radical view might be entirely wrong. It certainly was opposed explicitly by every Member of the Front Bench opposite who now-professed to be the representatives of Liberal and Radical opinion, with the exception of one Radical, the right hon. Gentleman who was responsible for the government of Ireland. It was really impossible to say that that right hon. Gentleman did not regard the multiplication of owners as a social advantage. No man could govern Ireland for a week if he let it be understood that the proper system of land tenure was the system which the Government held to be appropriate under this Bill. Therefore, among the many divisions which separated right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite, there was this very fundamental difference between the opinion held by the Secretary for Ireland, and which must be held by every Secretary for Ireland, and the views which now passed as good Liberalism and Radicalism, but which during the first twenty years of his experience would have been regarded by every representative Liberal or Radical as entirely outside the Liberal and Radical creed. Certainly the hon. Baronet, whatever else he had to apologise for, need never apologise from the Liberal Benches for saying that his desire was to multiply the number of owners in this country. That being the historical view of the question, let them consider what sound policy required them to do now. The Scottish Bill insisted that they could not have good cultivation by small owners unless they had fixity of tenure. That was the Scottish view. But there was to be no fixity of tenure whatever for these holders of land under the county council. Living and dying on the same holding was held by the Secretary for Scotland and the Lord Advocate to be essential, but it was not the idea of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill, nor was it the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite who represented English constituencies. Let them consider what exactly was to be got, from a social and economic point of view, by the system which the Government had now adopted and which was in direct contradiction both to the policy which they were adopting in Scotland and to the whole traditions in Ireland. The Member for the Appleby division had said that all that was required was that henceforth cultivators of the land should be able to walk erect. He thought that was the gem of the hon. Gentleman's peroration. From the statements made by some hon. Gentlemen opposite and by hon. Gentlemen below the gangway one would believe that there was no more abject and unhappy being on the face of the earth than the agricultural labourer; that he could not call his soul his own, and that he was afraid to find in his employer or someone else an enemy. Well, he lived in the northern part of the island and certainly nobody would describe a Scottish labourer in those terms. But granting, for the sake of argument, that any man who was a tenant to another man became thereby his unhappy subordinate, at the will and beck of that other man, did the hon. Gentleman apply his epithets to all the cultivators of the country, and say that their desire was to walk erect and become independent? He did not know what the hon. Member's feeling was, but if he had to choose between being a tenant of the average county council or a tenant of the average landlord he would not hesitate to choose the landlord.
said his contention was that the tenant was for the purpose of cultivation in as good a position as an owner. He was not contrasting one class of tenant with another.
said it used to be held by Liberal and Radical politicians that tenants were mere servants of a tyrannical landlord who could turn them out at pleasure and command their politics and votes.
disclaimed responsibility for such a statement. He had never said anything like that.
said that the hon. Gentleman had the felicity of belonging to a Party which had made the statement, and had done so so recently as during the discussion of the Scottish Bill. The hon. Gentleman sitting on the Treasury Bench said that he had to defend a Bill the essence of which was fixity of tenure so that the tenants might no longer feel that they were in a position of servitude.
We are going to raise the labourers' estate.
said he was pointing out the difference between the two Bills of the Government dealing with land. Was the hon. Gentleman prepared to apply one set of principles in dealing with one case and another set when dealing with his own county?
said the hon. Member for the Appleby Division thought that the tenant might walk erect, but that the labourer might not. He said the Bill was going to give independence to some class. Was it not the class of agricultural labourers?
I was making a contrast. My emphasis was on the word "walk" rather than "erect." What I endeavoured to say was that while hon. Gentlemen opposite were fond of talking of people being rooted to the soil, we wanted them to be able to walk erect on the soil and move on from stage to stage.
thought that that must have been an extract from one of the hon. Gentleman's excellent temperance speeches. He would point out to the House the extraordinary inconsistency of the position of the Government and of a section of the supporters who believed in land nationalisation. It had been represented that if only the land was owned by county councils and municipalities all the cultivable land of the country would be cultivated, that the area and amount of production would be enormously increased; in short that the waste places of the land were solely due to private ownership. As a matter of fact it was out of private ownership of land, including small private ownership, and out of that alone that we could really get the waste places cultivated. Did the author of the Bill suppose that the new tenants should be asked to cultivate the waste land of England? The idea was absurd. If these lands were waste it was because the old tenants, cultivating in some respects under far more favourable circumstances, could not make them pay. If the new small tenants were successful it would be at the expense of the old tenancies which were now succeeding. They could turn out the old tenant and divide his land, and if he had prospered the new tenant might get on, sometimes perhaps even better than the old tenant, but the idea that they had only to hand over the land to a municipality and that that authority would be able to let it to people who would extract from it a good living was the most fantastical view of the possibilities of agriculture in England ever put forward on the responsibility of an important Party in that House. He thought the best system of land cultivation was probably a mixed system. He believed it would be a great disaster to destroy all the large estates and large farms, and on the other hand he welcomed the idea that small farms and small owners were to be multiplied. He hoped they would not, in consequence of the theoretical crotchet of a certain school of economists, destroy the very foundation of the system under which alone agriculture could be properly conducted. He wished to ask one question in connection with land naturalisation. Did hon. Gentlemen below the gangway hear the speech of the Solicitor-General, and his reference to the part of the Bill which gave the landlord the power of resumption when the land was ripe for building? Probably it was true that it would not be wise to stereotype the agricultural character of lands in growing urban communities; but this was the antithesis of land nationalisation. The Solicitor - General had thrown over that favourite doctrine of hon. Gentlemen below the gangway, and had introduced an elaborate provision by which what was called the unearned increment would go, not to the community, but to the owner of the land. One word upon the crucial point of the whole question. Let the House remember that agriculture was not a profession in which there were either great prizes or great fortunes to be attained. It was an industry in which neither the owner nor the cultivator nor the worker on the soil could hope for those great prizes which attached to certain urban industries, which had an attraction just because while, among other things, they had an element of gambling risk, they had also great prizes. If they were going to induce people either to buy or cultivate the land, they must use every motive they had at their disposal, and there was no motive outside pecuniary profit which had so great an effect upon human industry as ownership. Could anybody deny that the universal experience of mankind was that the sense of ownership, especially in connection with land, had produced the most marvellous effects? He did not agree with those who alleged that this nation was lagging behind the rest of the world in the management of acres of land. It was doing nothing of the kind. So far as large holdings were concerned, he believed we were far ahead of any nation in the world; but there were some things that could be got out of small holdings which could not be got out of large. Both were required. But could they make small holdings really a success unless they gave the cultivator that perpetual spur to industry and saving which ownership, and ownership alone, gave? The universal experience of mankind was on the side of those who said they could not. Taking a broad area, it was hopeless to expect to make it a success unless the small occupier had the perpetual hope of increasing his means, the passionate love of his home, and the desire to leave that home to his children—all those motives which had a very noble side, though they might occasionally take a sordid form, and which were not connected with mere money-making. Those motives the Government refused to appeal to so long as they confined their Bill to occupancy and declined to extend it to ownership. That, put shortly, was the plea he earnestly addressed to the Government for accepting the Amendment of the hon. Baronet. Let the Government remember that the Amendment did not destroy their Bill. It only gave an alternative to the county council. The speech of the Solicitor-General seemed based on the idea that the Amendment made the Bill one for compulsory purchase. Nothing of the kind. It gave a freedom, and a needed freedom, to the councils, and this was eminently a case in which they might, in the cant phrase, "trust the people." He earnestly hoped, for his part, that wherever possible they would find it possible to adopt that system of small ownerships which was the true root and secret of any successful system of small cultivation.
observed that before they went to a division he wished as a loyal supporter of the right hon. Gentleman and of his Bill to say a word or two in order to persuade him to accept this Amendment. With the greater part of the speech just delivered by the Leader of the Opposition he could not say that he was in agreement. He could not say honestly that under the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman they would not succeed in putting first rate small holders on the land. He thought there were great advantages in favour of the principle of this Bill which the right hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House had not brought out; but all that those who supported the Amendment asked was that the right hon. Gentle man who brought in the Bill should leave it optional to the county councils to take whichever course they liked. They wished to avoid forcing down their throats the principle of leasing; they desired to put trust in the county councils and allow them to take whichever of the two courses they liked, either leasing or purchase. What were the objections to the Amendment brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill? None that made any impression on his mind. The right hon. Gentleman truly said that they had had no great demand for small holdings under the Act of 1892; and he gave as the reason that under that Act there was no provision for leasing. But surely the right hon. Gentleman would agree with him, that the fundamental reason for the failure of the Act of 1892 was, that it gave no compulsory powers whether in regard to purchase or to leasing. What did the right hon. Gentleman himself say in bringing in this Bill? He said—
If the right hon. Gentleman welcomed this policy for the purpose of leasing what argument could he bring forward against extending it to purchase and resale to small holders? He heard no answer; and if they really came to close quarters with the Amendment they would find that both the principle of selling as well as that of leasing had been successful in the institution of the small holdings that already existed in England. The whole administration of this matter would be left in the hands of the county councils, and he could not see what possible reason there could be why the whole question should not be left in their hands to deal with as they liked. He would repeat that he spoke these few words as a strong supporter of the Government and of the Bill."As a landlord myself I welcome the compulsion which is comprised in this Bill; and, if the House will forgive a personal allusion, I will tell them why. I stand in a position very common to many of my class—a position of considerable difficulty and limitation. I am a tenant for life of what the law calls my estate—a tenant for life under a very strict settlement of entail. I have no son, and I am therefore compelled, at all events I am morally bound, and so are my trustees, without whom I cannot act, to have regard in the treatment of my estate to the interests of the ultimate remainder man, who may be a distant relative, and to exercise strictness of administration, with absence of social and political bias, which I should not feel myself compelled to exercise if I had a son or if I were the owner of the fee simple. Therefore I say I welcome this compulsion."
said that in his judgment it had been shown that ownership had produced co-operation, thrift, and frugality. He did not rise, however, to argue the question which the Amendment raised, but to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to put on the Government Whips, in the ensuing division, because he thought this was a matter which ought to be left to the House to decide for themselves. Members were not actuated by Party motives, as they had shown by their speeches, and he was sure the House would welcome the opportunity of being able to vote freely on this matter.
said it had been admitted by the right hon. Gentleman that if this Amendment were passed it would not interfere with the smooth working of the Bill. That being so he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to allow the House to vote as they pleased, unfettered by any party restraint.
said he did not propose to inflict any further argument on the House at this stage of the Bill, nor did he think it was necessary to deal in detail with the interesting lecture delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. If he had thought it worth while to go into that, he would have felt inclined to say that the Bill as proposed was perhaps the greatest step for the subdivision of land that had been taken in the last fifty years in the direction of creating small occupiers. He was sorry that he was unable to give his consent to the appeal made by his hon. friend. He had listened with great interest and instruction to the debate. Two right hon. Gentlemen had advanced the argument—which was worth noting for future use, and would be interesting to their landlord friends and tenants in the country—that farming tenancies must be a failure and that the only successful system was ownership of the land.
said that, according to the ordinary profits of agriculture, success could only be achieved either as a large farmer of a small owner. Small occupiers working under special difficulties had not sufficient stimulus to make the system a success.
said that the whole of the argument on the Amendment had been conducted according to the view that he had left no optional powers to the local authorities to sell land. He had left the optional power which the right hon. Gentleman and his friends had thought to be amply sufficient for the purpose in 1892. In this Bill he enabled the county council to dispose of any land by sale which they might acquire by agreement, but he had not thought it right compulsorily to acquire land from one man in order merely to hand it over as the possession of another individual. The magic of ownership was much less attractive to a man who found that nearly all his capital was used up in securing the ownership, and that he had not been left with enough money to put stock on the farm, so as to turn over the value of his capital. One of the dangers of putting in permissive sale was this. He did not like to assume that there would be a large number of obstructive county councils in the country, but there were a certain number; and it was conceivable that, owing to the circumstances of their counties and the particular quality of the land there, these bodies
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Du Cros, Harvey||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Ashley, W. W.||Faber, George Denison (York)||Moore, William|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Napier, T. B.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fletcher, J. S.||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Balfour, Rt Hn. A. J. (City Lond.)||Forster, Henry William||Nield, Herbert|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick Georgo||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Baring, Capt. Hn. G (Winchester||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.||Gordon, J.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gretton, John||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Wore'r)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Helmsley, Viscount||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.||Starkey, John R.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Cave, George||Hunt, Rowland||Thomson, W. Mitchell (Lanark)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kekewich, Sir George||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.||Verney, F. W.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Wore)||Keswick, William||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Lane-Fox. G. R.|
|Cochrane, Hon Thos. H. A. E.||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir John Dickson-Poynder and Mr. Bertram.|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J (Birmingh'm)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North||Lynch, H. B.|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Maddison, Frederick|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Byles, William Pollard||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbet Henry||Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Cawley, Sir Frederick||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury. E.||Chance, Frederick William||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset||Cleland, J. W.||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.||Clough, William||Elibank, Master of|
|Bell, Richard||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Erskine, David C.|
|Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S. Geo.||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Essex, R. W.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Collins, Sir Wm. J (S. Pancras, W.||Evans, Samuel T.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romt'rd||Corbett, C. H (Sussex, E. Grinsted||Everett, R. Lacey|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon||Cowan, W. H.||Fenwick, Charles|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth||Ferens, T. R.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Cremer, Sir William Randal||Ffrench, Peter|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Crooks, William||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace|
|Brace, William||Crossley, William J.||Findlay, Alexander|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Curran, Peter Francis||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Branch, James||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Fuller, John Michael F.|
might decline to let to anyone, though willing to sell under certain terms. The suggested permission would be giving a handle and an engine to an obstructive county council, and he would not be a party to the policy.
The House divided:—Ayes, 84; Noes, 217. (Division List No. 410.)
|Fullerton, Hugh||M'Crae, George||Seddon, J.|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Seely, Major|
|Gill, A. H.||M'Micking, Major G.||Shackleton, David James|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Mallet, Charles E.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Glover, Thomas||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Grant, Corrie||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Snowden, P.|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Marnham, F. J.||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Massie, J.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Hall, Frederick||Masterman, C. F. G.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Micklem, Nathaniel||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Montagu, E. S.||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Summerbell, T.|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Morrell, Philip||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Morse, L. L.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.|
|Henry, Charles S.||Myer, Horatio||Thorne, William|
|Higham, John Sharp||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Nicholls, George||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Vivian, Henry|
|Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||Nolan, Joseph||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Walsh, Stephen|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Hyde, Clarendon||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Paulton, James Mellor||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor(Swansea)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Wardle, George J.|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Philipps, Owen C, (Pembroke)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Pollard, Dr.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Jowett, F. W.||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Wegdwood, Josiah C.|
|Kelley, George D.||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Radford, G. H.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Rainy, A. Rolland||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Raphael, Herbert H.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Rendall, Athelstan||Wiles, Thomas|
|Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mp'n||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Rickett, J. Compton||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Lough, Thomas||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough|
|Lupton, Arnold||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Wilson, P. W. (St, Pancras, S.|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Winfrey, R.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (FalkirkB'ghs||Rowlands, J.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Mackarness, Frederic C.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Maclean, Donald||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-und.-Lyne|
|M'Callum, John M.||Sears, J. E.|
said he desired to suggest a very small Amendment to ensure that the holders would "personally" cultivate their holdings. The object was perfectly obvious, that the holdings should be given to persons who were really bona-fide cultivators. As the Bill stood, it seemed that people could come into possession of a holding without being personally connected with its cultivation. He did not think that was the object of the framers of the Bill, but that it was their intention, as far as reasonably possible, to provide that the type of men who got possession of these small holdings should be bona-fide cultivators, not amateur casuals, or urban residents, living perhaps elsewhere. These latter were not the class of people that both sides of the House desired to get under this Bill. The county councils who had to select the small holders would, of course, secure their economic position as far as they could, and they would naturally be a little bit prejudiced in favour of applicants who had some pecuniary resources, some little capital to fall back upon, which would enable them to stand the brunt of a bad season. There would be many of these applicants with a little capital who would be willing to embark it in a small holding; but the agricultural labourer had only his own industry and special knowledge, which were the capital that he put into the land. Therefore, if they did not make it necessary that the cultivation should be "personal" they would cut off from the agricultural labourer the chance of his getting a small holding. It was to guard against that contingency that he desired the insertion of this word "personally." It might be said that it would bar a man from the help which his family could render, but he did not believe that that would be the result of the Amendment, though he was perfectly willing to accept any other word or form of words which would achieve the object he had in view, namely, to get a small holder who would be a bona-fide and genuine cultivator, and personally work his holding. He wanted to bar the outsider from coming in, who was not so much an agriculturist as one who wanted to take a pleasant interest in the holding, one who was not always there, a weekender, a man who wanted to enjoy some of the amenities of a country home without being a bona-fide cultivator. He also desired, in the competition that took place for holdings, that a first chance should be given to the labourer who would actually and personally cultivate the land. If any objection were seen to the actual word "personally," he would be glad to substitute some other. He very much wished that the Bill should ensure that the small holdings went to the right class of men, whose number they desired to increase and whose position they sought to secure. In certain districts there would be a competition for these holdings, and they should try to secure for the men in whom they were chiefly interested the first chance, and he hoped, in that spirit, his Amendment would have the approbation of the Government. He could assure them that he would be only too glad to accept any other word or words which might be considered more appropriate if it carried out the essence and spirit of his Amendment. He begged to move.
, in seconding the Amendment, submitted that some such word as "personally" should be inserted in the Bill to make It absolutely certain that the right type of men would be secured for these small holdings. It would be possible for a market gardener under the Bill to obtain five or six small holdings for his purposes as a market gardener at the lower rate instead of the higher rate which he would have ordinarily to pay for market garden land. It would appear to be very necessary that some words should be introduced to ensure their getting the right type of man.
"In page 4, line 32, after the word 'themselves,' to insert the word 'personally.'"—(Colonel Kenyon-Slaney.)
Question proposed, "That the word 'personally' be there inserted Bill."
thought that so far as the object could be carried out the word "themselves" was sufficient for the purpose. The word would not be qualified by "personally," and the word "personally" was not in the Act of 1886 nor in the Act of 1892. He thought danger would arise from the introduction of the word "personally." The meaning of the Clause as it stood was that the smallholders should "themselves" cultivate the land, and the introduction of the word "personally," he was afraid, might put an undesirable limitation upon the size of the holding and on the type of tenant. Let them take, for instance, a holding of fifty acres, which was the maximum limit under the Bill. He apprehended that the personal cultivation of anything like that amount of land would be rather difficult. The small holder must have assistance and cooperation of some sort. If the word "personally" was inserted it might be construed that the size of the holding was to be cut down to what a man could cultivate himself. That would be a very unsatisfactory result, and was not the result which the right hon. Gentleman himself desired. The word "themselves" I must, in fact, mean personal cultivation. Then they were desirous of including the village blacksmith, the wheelwright, and others, who might take ten or twenty acres, but who might not be personal cultivators. The introduction of the word "personally" would make the clause very difficult of construction.
said he quite agreed with what the hon. and learned Gentleman had said, and he was perfectly willing to substitute some other word or form of words, such as "where he is helped by any member of his family or by hired labour," or anything which the hon. and learned Gentleman chose in order to carry out the object he had in view. They had had considerable discussion on a cognate point in the Scottish Grand Committee. There they came to an agreement to introduce the words "or with hired labour." These words would make it absolutely certain that the county council would secure a bona-fide tenant, although not the only hand employed. In the case of a fifty-acre holding the small holder would have the assistance of a boy to lead his horse, and in harvest time he might have several men to assist him for a day or two. Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman would accept "personally, with or without hired labour." That would fully meet his view, and would help to ensure that the Act went in the direction that it was always intended it should go.
thought the word "themselves" was sufficient. He was very much against importing another word.
asked leave, in the interests of brevity, to withdraw his Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. HICKS BEACH ( Gloucestershire, Tewkesbury) moved an Amendment with the object of restricting the operations of county councils in the acquisition of land for the purposes of the Bill to the area of their own counties. He saw no reason at all why the county council should step outside the limits of its own county for the purpose of acquiring land. Under the Bill county councils would have power to acquire land for small holdings, not merely in their own county, but also, if necessary, in places outside. He did not say it was likely, but it was possible under the Bill for any county council to wander into another county. It was also quite possible for the London County Council or the council of any county borough, to take land by agreement for small holdings in any part of England they liked. He could not think that that was desirable. It was not desirable for one body to go and take land in an area which belonged to the ratepayers of another county, nor that the London County Council should be able to acquire land wherever they liked for the provision of small holdings for ratepayers of London. The clause as it stood would have the very painful effect of giving greater advantage to the inhabitants of towns than to the inhabitants of the country. The Bill was intended not so much to get the people back to the land, as to keep the people on the land and diminish the exodus to the towns. If they wished to check rural depopulation the way to do it was by measures of this kind, to keep the present population on the land, and not by attracting people from the towns who had probably paid no attention to agriculture. He contended that the inhabitants of the rural districts ought to be have a prior claim, and under this Bill it was perfectly possible for any county council by acquiring land by agreement or by compulsion to get ample land in their own area to meet the requirements of those now living in that particular county. He did not think it was desirable to allow a county council to step over its borders and obtain land in a neighbouring county; that would only lead to friction between the counties concerned. They should remember that the result of purchasing land by one county council in another county might be that the rateable value of that particular county would increase considerably or on the other hand it might cause the rateable value seriously to diminish. The ratepayers who suffered would not be those who resided in the area of the county which acquired the land, but those who lived in the county where the land was situated. He did not think that was fair. He might be told that in the Act of 1892 there was no restriction of this kind. In reply to that argument he would say that in that Act the county councils had power to acquire land only by agreement and they were not given the same opportunities for acquiring land in their own county as were provided under this Bill. He begged to move.
pointed out that as the Amendment making residence in the county a qualification had not been pressed it was quite possible under the Bill for those living over the edge of the boundary to have holdings provided for them. If the clause remained as it was now it would be possible for the larger counties, and especially the county boroughs, to compete in the neighbouring counties in order to plant down unsuitable cultivators of small holdings. In spite of what had been said about the millions of uncultivated acres of land there was only a limited amount of land in the country, and if the county councils were left to compete for it great difficulties would arise. Already the greatest difficulty had arisen on account of county borough and urban district councils coming into the countryside and taking, perhaps, the only available water supply. This was a question which had to be faced, and some controlling authority would have to be established to apportion the water supply of the country. If this clause was left in it was quite possible that what had happened with regard to the water supply would occur with regard to the land, and they would have to protect the rural counties from the depredations of the county boroughs. There was another matter to which he attached the greatest importance. Those acquainted with the county councils and the parish councils in the rural districts were content to trust to the sense of justice of the inhabitants of those districts. They believed that where cases of injustice were likely to arise, they could rely upon the common sense, the good feeling and sense of fair play of those concerned to see that no great harm was done. If they did not rely upon that it should not be forgotten that they were able to exercise some influence at the election of those local bodies, and if the council adopted a wrong policy it was easy for them to get that policy altered. The county council and the county borough council coming into a neighbouring county were under no sort of control at any election and in no sense were they amenable to the public opinion of the place where the small holdings had been set up. Consequently, it was likely that the very greatest injustice would be done because those bodies would be acting in complete ignorance of local conditions. There were also other difficulties in regard to management. Granting power to one county council to set up small holdings in the area of another county would lead to the greatest difficulty in the way of management by sub-committees. For these reasons he seconded this Amendment. He believed the provisions in the Bill would lead to administrative friction, quarrels and complaints, and hinder the cause which the right hon. Gentleman opposite was so anxious to advance.
"In page 4, line 32, to leave out the word 'whether.'"—(Mr. Hicks Beach.)
Question proposed, "That the word 'whether' stand part of the Bill."
doubted whether there was any substantial danger of counties in general going beyond their own boundaries in order to expatriate their own citizens or present neighbouring counties with an additional rateable value. It should not be forgotten that there were cases in which a county should have the right to go over its own boundaries if it thought fit, and it was in order to provide for such cases that this power had been placed in the Bill. It was not an unusual power to give; it was given under the Local Government Act of 1898 when the power of acquiring land was conferred upon the county council and in that case there was no limit as to the boundary. Of course the scheme had to be settled by the Board, and it was unlikely that the Board of Agriculture would allow any injustice of the kind which had been mentioned by the mover and seconder of the Amendment.
thought the Solicitor-General was mistaken in his contention. He would remind him of a provision in Clause 3, that—
Therefore in difficulties with regard to boroughs or other places within a particular county and situated near its borders, there would be no difficulty. The Solicitor-General appeared to have overlooked that provision. Nothing in this Amendment could lead to any of the difficulties which the hon. and learned Gentleman had anticipated. He thought that on general grounds it was desirable that each county council should confine its operations as far as possible to its own county."Where the Commissioners report or the county councils concerned are of opinion that a scheme should be made affecting two or more counties the scheme may be prepared by the councils jointly and they may provide for joint action being taken by the councils."
expressed the hope that the House would remember that they were dealing with a proposal to confer powers on a county council to acquire land by compulsion outside its own area. That was a very serious matter. Under the Public Health Act of 1875 there were provisions which enabled a local authority to exercise certain powers outside its own area with the assent of the authority for the adjoining district. If, under this Bill, a county council desired to acquire a piece of land suitable for small holdings in an adjoining county, there might be two councils competing for the same land. He held it would be undesirable that the London County Council should compete with the Surrey County Council for the same piece of land in Surrey. That had been shown in connection with the question of water. London and other places took water more and more from Surrey, with the result that the supply available for the people of the county was being seriously diminished. Very soon there would not be enough water for the people of Surrey. Here they were dealing with a matter which would require hundreds of acres. If a county council desired to set up small holdings, it might exercise its compulsory powers with respect to the most desirable land it could find in another county alto- gether. Everyone who had experience of local government would see that a serious question was raised by the Amendment. He thought the powers to be exercised by a county council for the compulsory acquisition of land should be exercised only within that county. The people of a particular county should have a prior claim to the land of their own county.
said the words which the Amendment proposed to omit were most valuable from the countryman's point of view. He knew of a case in point in Lincolnshire which showed how necessary it was to have this power. Men residing in the south part of the county desired to have small holdings. The most suitable land was just over the border in Cambridgeshire, and an effort was made to obtain it, but the county council in whose area it was situated declined to co-operate with the Lincolnshire Council. Therefore, he welcomed these words so far as countrymen were concerned.
said that this was a question which vitally affected his own constituency. His reason for supporting the Amendment was that he did not wish to see his constituency made a refuge for the whole of the West Riding. He represented a division which was at the beginning of the open country after a series of urban areas. If this Amendment was not accepted they might suffer in another form encroachments of the county boroughs which they had already suffered in certain directions. The hon. Member for South-West Norfolk had referred to a conflict between two county councils, but he thought that it was a kind of conflict which would be less likely to arise in future. He hoped the interests of county councils would not be prejudicially affected by the proposals in the Bill that outside authorities should have compulsory powers of acquiring land in their area.
said the instance mentioned by the hon. Member for South-West Norfolk was a strong argument in favour of the Amendment. He did not think they should assist a county council to obtain land in another county against the wish of the council of the latter county. The county council of the area where the land was taken might in a few years wish it for themselves. The hon. Member desired to override the county council which had jurisdiction in the area where the land was situated. The county council of Surrey might at a particular time on account of economic considerations be prevented from developing the whole of the suitable land within its own area, though it might want that land in future. The London County Council which was not restricted to such narrow limits in the matter of expenditure might draw up a scheme and apply for land in Surrey, and the Board might approve of the scheme, there being no immediate competition. In years to come that land might be required by Surrey County Council. He thought co-operation between county councils should be a condition precedent when it was proposed by one council to take land in the area under the jurisdiction of another.
said the Solicitor-General had stated that the acceptance of the Amendment would be a serious thing for big towns. He would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether its non-acceptance would not be a serious thing for some country districts. A Bill which was supposed in the first intance to be for the interest of the country districts should give those districts the first consideration. If small holdings were to be successful they must be set up in groups so that they might be worked on economic lines. There might be one or two of these places available, and a big neighbouring town desiring to set up a colony for 200 or 300 people might acquire the land. Would that be fair to the residents in the country? If they allowed the great towns to come in they would drive away from their natural places the men
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Bellairs, Carlyon|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Barry, Redmond, J. (Tyrone, N||Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S. Geo.|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Beauchamp, E.||Berridge, T. H. D.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Beaumont, Hon. Hubert||Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Beck, A. Cecil||Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Bell, Richard||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine|
whom it was said they desired to support by this Bill. He urged upon the Government and the House that really the chief benefit of the Bill would be in the direction of helping those who were now agricultural labourers and rural residents and preventing them from drifting into the towns. He thought that the endeavour to call back those who had removed into the towns would be a doubtful experiment. What was wanted was to keep those on the land who were already there. The right hon. Gentleman must recognise that if he put in competition with the county councils of some particular counties the needs and desires of great urban centres all over England it would be extremely dangerous from the point of view of the residents of the counties which were to be invaded by men from the towns. It was not a fair thing to do. He did not say that it was right to limit the acquisition of land by the urban authorities so long as that acquisition was made by agreement. But where the land was to be taken by compulsion quite a new set of circumstances came into existence. If his hon. friend withdrew his Amendment perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would favourably consider the proposal standing in the name of the hon. Member for Kingston. They on the Opposition side of the House would then be satisfied and willing to come to terms with him. The objections he and his friends had to the Bill were not bogus or sham objections, but were really felt; and Amendments such as that now under consideration were absolutely vital if they were going to make the Bill a success.
said that he would be falsifying his pledges if he accepted the Amendment.
The House divided:—Ayes, 216; Noes, 42. (Division List No. 411.)
|Black, Arthur W.||Horniman, Emslie John||Richards, Thomas (WMonm'th|
|Brace, William||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'm'pt'n|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Hudson, Walter||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Branch, James||Hyde, Clarendon||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jardine, Sir J.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Jowett, F. W.||Rowlands, J.|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Kekewich, Sir George||Runciman, Walter|
|Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)||Kelley, George D.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Cleland, J. W.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Clough, William||Laidlaw, Robert||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-und.-Lyne|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lamont, Norman||Sears, J. E.|
|Corbett, CH (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Seddon, J.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Lehmann, R. C.||Shackleton, David James|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Crooks, William||Levy, Sir Maurice||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Crossley, William J.||Lewis, John Herbert||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Lough, Thomas||Snowden, P.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eiflon)||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Lynch, H. B.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N. W.)|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Ches.)|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Macdonald, J. M (Falkirk Bg'hs||Steadman, W. C.|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.||Maclean, Donald||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||M'Callum, John M.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||M'Crae, George||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||M'Micking, Major G.||Summerbell, T.|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Maddison, Frederick||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Mallet, Charles E.||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Elibank, Master of||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Essex, R. W.||Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Markham, Arthur Basil||Thompson, J. W. H (Somerset, E.|
|Fenwick, Charles||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Ferens, T. R.||Marnham, F. J.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Massie, J.||Vivian, Henry|
|Ffrench, Peter||Masterman, C. F. G.||Walker, H. De R. (Lciecester)|
|Findlay, Alexander||Micklem, Nathaniel||Walsh, Stephen|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Molteno, Percy Alport||Walters, John Tudor|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||Montagu, E. S.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent|
|Gill, A. H.||Morrell, Philip||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Morse, L. L.||Wardle, George J.|
|Glover, Thomas||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Waring, Walter|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Myer, Horatio||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Gooch, George Peabody||Napier, T. B.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Grant, Corrie||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Gurdon, Rt Hn. Sir W Brampton||Nicholls, George||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Hall, Frederick||Nicholson, Charles N (Donoast'r||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Nolan, Joseph||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Wore'r)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)||Winfrey, R.|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Pollard, Dr.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J A. Pease.|
|Henry, Charles S.||Radford, G. H.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Rees, J. D.|
|Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Acland-Hood, Rt Hn. Sir Alex, F||Ashley, W. W.||Balcarres, Lord|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Baring, Capt. Hn. G (Winchester|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Fletcher, J. S.||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Forster, Henry William||Moore, William|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Nicholson, Wm, G. (Petersfield)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Gordon, J.||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Cave, George||Helmsley, Viscount||Starkey, John R.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hills, J. W.||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col. W||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Hicks Beach and Viscount Morpeth.|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Keswick, William|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)|
MR. MASTERMAN ( West Ham, N.) moved an Amendment providing that in voluntary arrangements between county councils and private owners for the leasing or purchase of land for letting in small holdings the price of the land purchased and the rent of the land taken on lease must have the approval of the Board of Agriculture. He pointed out that when moved in Committee the Amendment received support from Members on the Ministerial side of the House. Knowing what the circumstances were under which his Amendment was moved in Committee, he did not think it had received that full consideration which it deserved. At any rate, he was convinced that it was absolutely necessary for the Government to adopt it. The Amendment proposed that in regard to these voluntary arrangements between the county councils and the landowners for the leasing or letting of land in small holdings any such arrangement should receive the sanction as far as the price was concerned of the Board of Agriculture. In such voluntary arrangements there were three parties directly and vitally involved, the landowner, the county council, and the future or hypothetical tenant. Under the Billas it stood only two of those parties had any kind of representation, and there was none for the tenant from first to last. It was his hope, however, that the Commissioners under the Board of Agriculture would stand as the representatives of the tenants in this case in order to insure that they should not be too heavily weighted from the beginning with a rent which they ought not to bear. Although the Commissioners could not establish a Fair Rent Court which he would like to see, he wished them to have the power to veto any illegitimate transaction. There were a number of facts which supported the demand for this power for the protection of the third person interested. Everybody knew that public bodies were the subjects of transactions of a kind which would not be permitted between individuals. No man was very disturbed in his conscience in regard to any swindle he had carried out in regard to public bodies. This had been shown in the past by dealings in water, land, gas, and other matters. It had always been the case that the private owner had got more than he ought to have got legitimately, and the public body had had to bear the extra cost. In regard particularly to the subject under discussion he had no desire to say anything offensive to hon. Members opposite, but in the southern counties at all events, although he did not suggest that there was anything illegitimate in the matter, the county councils consisted to a large extent of landlords and a few solicitors. There was a strong and probably an unconscious impulse on the part of these public bodies to give more than the full value, or at least the full value, for property acquired under compulsion from a similar class to that to which they belonged. In every case since 1892 in which this voluntary provision had been adopted he thought he was justified in saying the county councils had paid more than they ought to have paid, and to that extent small holders had been overweighted. He did not want to interfere with any transaction which was satisfactory, but there were possible three alternatives. Either the county council might say that they were willing to purchase land in a particular place and the small holders might say that the price was too large and they would not have the land on the terms. As far as he could understand, it would in that case be perfectly legitimate for the county council to say, "We offered the prospective small holders of this village land at what we considered a satisfactory price and they refused, and therefore there is no reason for any further experiment." But on the other hand the small holders might take the land and be burdened with the excessive price, and that meant they would be taxing, and for the benefit of the landowning class, the labour and energy of the small holders. He realised that hon. Gentlemen opposite had made a generous fight in the interest of the landlords, but he did not wish that an excessive price should be charged to the small holders. The third alternative was that the land being placed upon the small holder at an excessive price he might be ultimately landed in bankruptcy. Then the right hon. Gentleman and the Treasury came in and said that half of the loss incurred should be paid by the latter which had up to that time had no voice in the transaction. They had been discussing in Committee many and various safeguards for the landowning interest in regard to this Bill. They had barricaded them against any kind of loss. If small holdings failed they did not lose and if they succeeded they stood to gain. They had arranged that the compulsory powers should be placed in the county councils which were largely composed of the landowning class. They had arranged that any increase of value which might come from the neighbourhood of a town should go back to the landlords, and in fact that every penny of damage should be paid to them. On the other hand the Committee had not, he thought, arranged that the small holder should be launched on equitable terms. He recognised that on the report stage it was impossible to ask the Government to introduce a fair rent clause, but he wished that the rent to be paid should be subject to some kind of arbitration. Only two arguments had been used against this proposal. One was that the county council being desirous of snatching up small parcels of land would be prevented from doing so by having to appeal to Commissioners far away. He did not think that was a valid argument, because it would be as easy to obtain the sanction of the Commissioners or the Board of Agriculture as to obtain that of the county council itself. Then it was said that it would overweight the work of the Commissioners, but he did not think that that would be the case. His last point was that under the Treasury Minute the representative of the Treasury was concerned, and it was not sufficient to say that the transaction was over when the land had been acquired. His great contention was that there should be some next friend of the small holder who should be present at these voluntary arrangements.
seconded the Amendment, and said he would strongly urge the Government to accept it. After all, what was the object of this Bill? It was to provide small holdings for the people, but it was no use providing small holdings for the people unless they provided them at a price which the people could afford to pay. When they considered of whom the county councils were personally composed, they knew perfectly well that, as at present constituted, they consisted very largely of landowners, and although no doubt they did not wish to be unfair, they were almost of necessity bound to look upon the land at perhaps a higher value than it really was worth. It was common knowledge that most people looked upon their own possessions at a higher value than they really were worth, or, in common parlance, "all their geese were swans." What, however, the House was doing by this Bill was to make out of the swans of the county council geese of the people. He thought the great advantage of the Bill was that it gave the tenants security. The man who took a holding knew that he could continue on in that holding at a certain price and that the rent could not be raised. But if they were going to allow a man to take land at a higher price than its proper value a burden would be placed upon him which he might not feel immediately but which he must feel as years went on. Such a thing would do away absolutely with the great advantage obtained under the Bill. There were strong reasons, therefore, why the House should be in favour of this Amendment. The dangers of people paying too high a price for the land were apparent in Ireland. He was informed that in Ireland there was a very great danger in the future on account of the price that was paid for the land. It was proposed that the Board of Agriculture should be allowed to step in and say to the county council whether they considered the price was a fair one or not. The whole of the Bill was drawn up with the recognition of the subserviency of the county council to the Board, and therefore it was not too much to say that the Board should have some voice in this matter. It had a great knowledge of agriculture and would be of great service in determining the point. He therefore urged the right hon. Gentleman to consider very carefully whether he could not accept the Amendment.
"In page 4, line 35, after the word 'lease,' to insert the words 'provided that the price of the land purchased and the rent of the land taken on lease shall be approved by the Board.'"—(Mr. Masterman.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
said he was sorry he could not modify his opinion and bring it more in accordance with that of his hon. friend, but he felt very strongly that they must keep the acquisition of land absolutely free. He must remind the House that the county council was already limited by the provisions of the Act of 1892 not to pay any price which would go beyond an economic rent covering the equipment, maintenance, and other charges of the holding. Under the Amendment, however, the Board would have to send down a valuer or arbitrator to inquire into every transaction, and that would absolutely kill acquisition by agreement. He was not afraid of collusive high prices between the council and a private landlord, which, to put it bluntly, was what the mover of the Amendment feared. He believed that in ninety cases out of 100 under this Bill agreements would be made for acquisition at a reasonable price which would save an enormous amount of compulsory action and so contribute to the economy of the transaction. County councils were now acquiring land for all purposes and only in this one case was their discretion to be fettered by the approval of a public authority where the land was acquired by agreement. One of the results of the announcement he had made on the previous evening was that the county council had been taken into a sort of limited partnership, which, if the county councils, in vulgar parlance, "played the game," would make them still more careful over the price they paid for the land; because the part payment of the loss was strictly limited to the case they were able to make to the Board of Agriculture, and the price which they paid for this land would be the first element of consideration in the minds of the Board in regard to the question of whether they would repay any part of the loss at all. The hon. Member had suggested that small holders might take land for which an excessive price had been paid. He did not think smallholders were inclined to pay excessive rents, and they were quite clever enough in any case to see how far that excessive rent was justified by the cost of equipment and the provision of buildings and other arrangements of a small holding which were necessary and which necessarily increased the rent. He did not think they would attempt to pay an uneconomic rent, nor did he think the county council would risk their doing so for any length of time, because they would inevitably find the land thrown back upon their hands.
said the right hon. Gentleman had made a very fair and reasonable reply to the hon. Member. The hon. Member wished the Board to have a voice in the settlement of the price to be given for the land. His view was that of the three parties interested, the landowner, the county council, and the future tenant, the last was not represented, and therefore the Board should come in and take his interests under its wing. He was supported by the hon. Member for the Tavistock Division, who said that small holdings were no good if the rent and the purchase price were too high, and for that reason he was anxious for the Board to step in, in order that the county council should get the land at a price lower than he thought they otherwise would. The hon. Member had referred to his right hon. friend the Member for Bordesley in support of his view. As far as he could recollect his right hon. friend's statements, they were in a totally different direction. His right hon. friend was referring to the operations under the Act of 1892, and had said that it was only under the Act of 1892 that there was any instance of the successful acquisition of land for the purpose of small holdings, and he had cited the. Catshill colony which was acquired under the Act of 1892. He did not think, therefore, that the statement of the hon. Member for North West Ham was altogether borne out by the facts, certainly not if statements of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bordesley were to be trusted. But how was the land to be acquired? It was to be acquired, in the case contemplated by the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman, by agreement between the county council on the one hand and the landlord on the other. Then he supposed that the county council would not fix the price themselves. They would call in a professional man, somebody perfectly able and competent to judge, and on his recommendation they would either come to an agreement or refuse the land. But that did not satisfy hon. Members. They said: "Oh dear, no; we must have a third party altogether; the Board of Agriculture must be called in to say whether the price is reasonable or whether it is not," and that, let it be marked, in the case where the land was avowedly to be purchased by agreement. What was the object? There was only one object in the minds of those hon. Gentlemen, and that was that the price fixed by the valuer should be lowered by the Board of Agriculture. Was that a businesslike arrangement, or was it fair or just to the landlord? Would the hon. Member for Tavistock in ordinary transactions for the sale and purchase of land, after having employed valuers, like the Board of Agriculture to step in and say: "Oh dear, no; this is too great a price, much more than you are entitled to?" He sympathised with the object of hon. Members just as much as they did; they desired to provide small holdings, if possible, on terms which would permit of their being successful, and he sym- pathised with hon. Gentlemen because he believed that it was in the interests not only of future tenants, but of the community, that a great purpose of this kind, which was a national object—the provision of small holdings—should succeed; but why was one class alone, the landlords, to be called upon to make the sacrifice which was to render these small holdings a success? If they wished to accomplish a great national object, and they could not do it on ordinary business-like terms, then, if they were genuine in their wishes and proposals, and if they sought to be fair to parties all round, they must be content to see the nation called upon to pay for it itself. He had been wondering, in regard to this Amendment, whether the hon. Gentleman, who had displayed such ability in this controversy both upstairs and in the House, could really have in his mind what it proposed. He must say that, on the grounds that the right hon. Gentleman had stated, and which he had endeavoured to reinforce by a few words, he thought it the most unfair and iniquitous proposition that he had ever heard.
said that for fifty years past an arrangement of this sort had been in operation. It was very well known to all lawyers and to all buyers and sellers of land that the University Colleges Estates Act made it impossible for the University or college to sell or to buy land without getting the approval of the Board of Agriculture in the manner which the right hon. Gentleman said was utterly unjust to the landowner.
They have a charter; it is part of their charter.
But what happened whenever a contract was carried out between the college or University and the person who sold the land? The contract was to be subject to the approval of the Board of Agriculture. If they thought that the price was excessive in any way they revised and altered the contract. It might seem that this was a great disadvantage to the universities and colleges concerned. It might be thought that a valuer on the part of the Board of Agriculture was to come down and value the land. Nothing of the kind. All that was to be done was that a report was to be prepared by the local valuer on the spot, and that afterwards was to be submitted to the Board of Agriculture for approval, and they, having considerable experience in matters of this sort, were able to say whether it was a fair contract or not. Surely that was not an unreasonable request to make in a matter like this. So far from hampering the county council in acquiring land, he believed that it would be an immense advantage to that body that it should have its transactions strengthened in this way. The right hon. Gentleman had often tried to urge upon them the importance of partnership between the central body and the county council. This was exactly what would happen if the Amendment of his hon. friend was carried into effect. They would have on the one hand the great advantage for the Board of Agriculture that they would know what was being done in the various counties, what steps were being taken to acquire land; and the county council, on the other hand, would have all the advantage of expert advice from the surveyor and valuer to the Board of Agriculture. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite would say, in answer to the analogy which he had given, that these colleges and Universities were not representative bodies, and that was undoubtedly true; they acted under charter; but at any rate the colleges and universities, if they made a bad bargain, did not afterwards come upon the State to ask it to bear half the loss. If there was any ground for the supervision which they had in the case of the colleges and Universities, there was all the more reason for the same kind of supervision in the transactions which would take place under this Bill. He thought that in this way they should be doing some-thing to secure that the transactions were carried out on the best possible lines. He must say that he felt sorry to find himself in disagreement with the Government on this Bill. No one appreciated more than he the efforts which the right hon. Gentleman had made in connection with the measure, and he hoped that he would accept this very reasonable Amendment, which would do a great deal to strengthen and carry out the operation of the measure.
said that nobody had a greater respect than he had for the ability and discrimination of the hon. Member for North West Ham, but he really could hardly believe that his Amendment was intended seriously. Still, knowing the hon. Member as well as he had the honour to do, he must assume that it was intended seriously, though he thought that the hon. Member's usual ability had misled him on this occasion. What did the Amendment mean? They had heard a great deal about trusting county councils, but was this trusting them? The Amendment amounted to this, that where an arrangement had been entered into either for a lease or a sale between the owner and the county council, the county council were not to be allowed to look after their own affairs without an extraordinary pater familias intervening in the shape of the Board of Agriculture. The county council had got to bear primarily, all the burden of the establishment of small holdings, even if the Treasury eventually shared the loss with them. Why, then, in the name of common sense, where there were two parties to the transaction—the county council on the one hand and the owner or hirer on the other—should they put this extraordinary clause into the Bill that the purchase or leasing transaction was not to go through unless approved by the Board of Agriculture itself? The Department would have enough to do without being involved in matters of this kind. The more they looked at it the more absurd it was. Surely business should come in somewhere in the Bill. What did they want with a third party? Were not the county councils of age? Were they not capable of carrying through transactions of this kind? Hon. Gentlemen opposite had always been telling them what excellent authorities the county councils were; but the moment they had to put those professions into practice away those professions vanished, like mist before the rising sun. On this question he spoke seriously as a business man. Was this or was it not a business matter? Could they not leave the county councils to settle this matter with the vendor or the hirer of the land? This was a subject in which the county councils were deeply concerned and in which they had to "bear the racket," so to speak, if they made a mistake. They would not be anxious to incur expense unnecessarily, because that would increase the rates.
said that this was really a very innocent Amendment and ought to receive the unanimous support of the House. It should not be overlooked that all compulsory purchases under this Act would have to pass through the mazes of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act of 1845, which provided that wherever land was purchased compulsorily the provisions of that Act had to be followed just the same as in the case of any railway company. Wherever arbitration was resorted to under that Act prices far in excess of the ordinary price of land would have to be paid. The county council would know perfectly well that if they were driven to arbitration under the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act a higher price would have to be paid for the land, and that if they could come to an agreement with the landlord considerable costs would be saved. He thought nine county councils out of ten would under those circumstances be inclined to pay a price in excess of the real marketable value by agreement in order to avoid the heavy costs of arbitration. When that excessive price had been paid for the land the whole of the burden fell upon the small holder, who would have to pay not only 3½ per cent. interest on the purchase price, but also contributions to the sinking fund to repay the loan in eighty years. He had to pay interest on all the money spent in equipping the farm, and he had to pay off the capital spent upon improving his farm. If they commenced operations under this Act by burdening the small holders with a price above the ordinary market price, as was bound to ensue from purchase either under arbitration or by agreement, they would strangle small holdings in their inception and prevent the small holder being able to make his holding pay. The Amendment merely asked that the price to be paid by agree- ment should be referred to and passed by the Board of Agriculture in London, and that that Board should be allowed when necessary to put its foot down and say: "No, this transaction is out of the ordinary run, and must be stopped. It is so bad that small holdings will not pay at this price." The Amendment simply asked that they should give an impartial public body the opportunity of stopping any unconscionable transaction, not one that was manifestly and visibly corrupt in any way, but one that was made to avoid expensive compulsory arbitration. Hon. Members might say that they recognised that this Bill was not a purchase Bill but a hiring measure, that the hiring clauses were not subject to the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, that therefore hiring would be resorted to far more frequently than purchase, and that consequently they were bothering about something that would not matter. He asked the House to remember what would happen under the hiring clauses. He admitted that under the Bill land could be and would be hired at market rates and at fair rates. But if they hired land under the Bill they would only have a period of thirty-five years for the lease, and consequently it would be impossible for the county councils to invest large sums upon improvements, such as putting houses or other buildings upon the holdings, because thirty-five years was too short a period to enable the holder to repay his loan as well as the interest on the amount of capital sunk in the holding. There was no provision for securing a renewal of the lease, and if they were driven to purchase they would be able to come to a voluntary agreement, or go to arbitration. They would probably choose voluntary agreement, and consequently the price was bound to be far in excess of the real price, and the result would be that an undue burden would be placed upon the small holder. Consequently, they asked that this Amendment should be allowed to be put in the Bill in order to give the Board of Agriculture a watching brief, in the interests of the community as a whole, who would have to pay the Bill if there should happen to be a loss. As the hon. Member for Woodstock had already pointed out, provision of this kind had already been made by the great colleges. There was also a similar precedent to be found under the Public Works Loans Commissioners. All they wanted was that similar powers should be extended to the Board of Agriculture in determining whether these transactions were conscionable or unconscionable, whether they would pay, or whether the price would prevent small holdings being of any use whatever. From every point of view, whether of precedents or of making small holdings workable and obtaining reasonable terms, the Amendment was urgently required.
said that hon. Members opposite had stated that the Opposition were going to support this Amendment because they wished the owners to obtain an undue price. In that assumption hon. Members were entirely in the wrong. The hon. Member for North West Ham made a serious accusation, not only against county councils but also against the landed interest. It was all very well for the hon. Member to make speeches in his most charming manner, but he should remember that the words he spoke went a great deal further than this House, and he ought to be careful not to make such serious accusations. It was most unfair to say that county councils, being largely composed of those who were connected or represented the landed interest, were likely to wish to secure that the bodies on which they sat paid undue prices for the land. He did not think there was any foundation for that accusation. The hon. Member appeared to have a holy horror of rural county councils. Upon the Committee upstairs he asked the hon. Member what experience he had had of rural county councils, but he had never yet been able to tell him. Personally he had had a large experience. He was a member of a county council in which the agricultural interest certainly did not predominate. It was most unfair to say that the great majority of the county councils were likely to be influenced by unworthy motives, and that on the Committee a generous effort was made to safeguard the interests of the landlords.
was understood to say that he did not intend to use the words in an offensive sense.
said the hon. Member might not have meant anything offensive, but the words he used were certainly liable to misconstruction. The hon. Member's statement was that they had been fighting a generous fight in favour of the landowners. He would remind the House that they had been able to do something for the tenant farmers and labourers as well as the landlords, and that they had succeeded in that. There was only one class who under the Bill would be liable to have their property taken from them, namely, the landlords, and, therefore, there had been more need to safeguard their interests than those of any other class. It was to the credit of the Government that words had been put in safeguarding their interests.
said that the discussion had given force to what was said by some hon. Members a while ago when they stated that this Bill should have been preceded by a Valuation Bill. He was of opinion that the passing of the Bill would necessarily cause an increase in the price of land, and unless some provision could be made for getting land at a fair price the economic working of allotments and small holdings would be utterly impossible. He asked the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill whether it would be possible for the Commissioners in submitting schemes with respect to land proposed to be purchased to indicate in the schemes the price contemplated to be paid for the land. That would give those interested an opportunity of knowing the price proposed to be paid. He did not see any provision in the Bill as to the course the Commissioners were to take in framing a particular scheme.
said the Commissioners could not indicate in the scheme the price of the land to be taken. A scheme was to be a general indication of the desire in a neighbourhood for small holdings, and not of the particular land that might be required for providing them.
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Baring, Capt. Hn. G (Winchester||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Jowett, F. W.||Snowden, P.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Kekewich, Sir George||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N.W.)|
|Brace, William||Kelley, George D.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Branch, James||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster)||Summerbell, T.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Verney, F. W.|
|Cory, Clifford John||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Vivian, Henry|
|Crooks, William||Macdonald, J. M. (FalkirkB'ghs)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Morrell, Philip||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Nicholls, George||Wardle, George J.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Parker, James (Halifax)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Gill, A. H.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Glover, Thomas||Roberts, G, H. (Norwich)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Gooch, George Peabody||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Rowlands, J.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Masterman and Mr. Arthur Henderson.|
|Hills, J. W.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Seddon, J.|
|Hudson, Walter||Shackleton, David James|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Hall, Frederick|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cleland, J. W.||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Clough, William||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Harwood, George|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Corbett, CH (Sussex, E. Grinst'd)||Hazleton, Richard|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Courthope, G. Loyd||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Cowan, W. H.||Helme, Norval Waton|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Cremer, Sir William Randal||Helmsley, Viscount|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Crossley, William J.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Henry, Charles S.|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Dickinson, W. H.(St. Pancras, N.||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Bell, Richard||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Elibank, Master of||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S. Geo.||Essex, R. W.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Everett, R. Lacey||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Bertram, Julius||Faber, George Denison (York)||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Fenwick, Charles||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Ferens, T. R.||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Lamont, Norman|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Ffrench, Peter||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Findlay, Alexander||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Fletcher, J. S.||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Fuller, John Michael F.||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Cave, George||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Lough, Thomas|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Gordon, J.||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Grant, Corrie||Lupton, Arnold|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gurdon, Rt Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Lynch, H. B.|
The House divided:—Ayes, 73; Noes, 192. (Division List No. 412.)
|Maclean, Donald||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Pollard, Dr.||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|M'Crae, George||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.||Rainy, A. Rolland||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.|
|Maddison, Frederick||Rees, J. D.||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Rendall, Athelstan||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lineoln)||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Rickett, J. Compton||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Marnham, F. J.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Massie, J.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Roe, Sir Thomas||Waring, Walter|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Weir, James Galloway|
|Montagu, E. S.||Runciman, Walter||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Morse, L. L.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Napier, T. B.||Sears, J. E.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Winfrey, R.|
|Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Nolan, Joseph||Stanger, H. Y.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Starkey, John R.|
MR. COURTHOPE moved an Amendment to provide that if a county council acquire land by agreement, and seeks to acquire it compulsorily under the Bill, it should purchase the land. He said that the Amendment raised the whole question of compulsory purchase. He did not wish, however, to delay the House unduly on the matter, because the question had been very fairly discussed on the Second Reading of the Bill, but he wished birefly to protest against the system of compulsion as applied to hiring. He admitted the justice, or rather the necessity, of applying the system of compulsion to purchase; but it should not be extended to leasehold. He would like to draw the attention of the House to Paragraph 144 of the Report of Lord Onslow's Departmental Committee on Small Holdings in Great Britain, which spoke strongly on the subject. [A laugh.] That Committee was an extremely sound and influential Committee composed of representatives of all parties, and he could not see why, because hon. Gentlemen opposite did not agree with their recommendations, they should necessarily ridicule them. Clause 144 of the Report set forth—
"While approving of the proposal empowering the acquisition of land compulsorily by purchase by a central authority, the Committee do not approve of giving them compulsory powers to hire land, or to interfere between landlord and tenant. Exercise of compulsory powers of this kind would involve the creation of a system of tenant right, under which the ownership of the land would, in effect, be divided between two or even more persons and authorities. The result would be, in the opinion of the Committee, that the sense of responsibility which should accompany ownership would cease to exist, and also that endless disputes and litigation would arise between landlords and tenants. Another result would be to provoke quite unnecessarily the hostility of all large farmers and landowners, whose support and goodwill is of the greatest value in the development of a system of small holdings. Experience has proved that a system of dual ownership of land is one which, under ordinary economic conditions, cannot be permanent, and which, while it lasts, is fatal to the proper maintenance of holdings, to harmony between landlords and tenants, and to the prosperity of agriculture. This system may be suitable under such conditions as prevailed in the crofting parishes in Scotland, but it is quite inappropriate where the rent, the duration of occupancy, and the general relations between landlord and tenant are determined by ordinary economic conditions."
He begged to move.
seconded the Amendment. The point raised by it had, no doubt, been discussed to a certain extent during the Second Reading of the Bill and in Committee upstairs; but the House at large had had no opportunity of debating the question as a whole. He thought that the paragraph quoted by his hon. friend from the Report of Lord Onslow's Committee was very strong. He objected to a system of compulsory hiring, because, in the first place, he did not think it was really necessary. If there was a genuine demand for small holdings it would be found that the county councils would be able to hire all the land they wanted by voluntary agreement. The chief reason why small holdings were not to be found in larger numbers throughout the country was the cost of equipment, and if the county council were willing to undertake that cost he believed that the majority of the landlords would be quite willing to sell their land by agreement. The object of the Bill was to take away the land from the landlord for ever, because it was provided that, the county council having hired the land compulsorily for small holdings and allotments, they might renew the tenancy for not less than fourteen nor more than thirty-five years—all this entirely against the wishes of the landlord and without giving him the opportunity of selling the land to the county council. Under the Bill the provision of compulsory hiring really created a system not of dual, but of triple, ownership. The county council acquired the land in the first place by compulsory hiring, then they let it to associations, and the associations afterwards let it to small holders. He did not believe that such a system was likely to be beneficial to the welfare of the country or to the prosperity of agriculture. After the evil results which had followed dual ownership of the land in Ireland he did not see how the Government was justified in setting up a system of triple ownership. Supposing that a landowner held an estate, and that a considerable portion of it was compulsorily hired by a county council, the landlord would lose his interest in that portion of his estate and would not spend money on it. He would also be deprived of the large amount of pleasure which a landlord had in doing what he liked with his estate, and in developing it according to his own views. The natural tendency would be for him to put up the whole estate for sale, and would anybody seriously think that a purchaser could be found for an estate, a considerable portion of which was leased compulsorily by the county council? The whole sentimental value of the possession of an estate would be taken away. The right hon. Gentleman had told them upstairs that he could not imagine anyone asking for a better investment than in land the letting value of which had the security of the rates. But a man bought an estate because he wished to control it himself and to take an interest in his tenants. [MINISTERIAL ironical laughter.] He could assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that there were many men who were only too glad to spend their money in improving their estate and the conditions of those who lived upon it. He did not believe that there was any real justification for the largely increased compulsory powers given to the county council under this Bill, and he supported the Amendment.
"In page 4, line 38, to leave out the word 'acquire,' and to insert the word 'purchase.'"—(Mr. Courthope.)
Question proposed, "That the word 'acquire' stand part of the Bill.
said he would imitate the brevity of the mover and seconder of the Amendment on two grounds, first of all because it was a Second Reading point, which had been fully discussed upstairs, and, secondly, because he accepted the suggestion made by his right hon. friend opposite, that the Government ought not to occupy more time than necessary on this Amendment, but devote the time to other important Amendments. Compulsory hiring had already been established in relation to allotments. Under this Bill that power would be of great convenience to the county council. The council would not require to raise capital or loans for the purchase of land or to make provision for a sinking fund which would increase the rent. On the other hand, there would be no damage to the land, the full rent of the land would be guaranteed to the landlord through a series of years by a perfectly solvent authority. At the same time he would have the power of resuming the land for all purposes other than agricultural. They had provided for the landlord full compensation at the close of the tenancy for any damage or waste which might have been done to his estate. This compensation the landlord would be able to obtain against the county council, and if any improvement had been made by the county council the landlord would only pay compensation for improvements which were improvements to him as a landlord and not to a hypothetical tenant. He did not think that the landlord therefore had any reason to complain of the provisions which they had made proposing that the small holder should be able to lease land under compulsion.
said that throughout the right hon. Gentleman's speech there ran the fallacy which was common to the speeches of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. They said in effect, "We pay the landlord compensation in money for taking away his rights," but money would not compensate him when they might destroy his interest in the estate and the hope with which he inherited it that he would make the estate better than it was when he came into it. The idea that Parliament was able to make up to the landlords for depriving them of portions of their estate by giving them this wretched money was a sham. [An HON. MEMBER: What do you want?] He wanted justice and fair play, and he did not want to be deprived by that House or anybody else of that which he valued infinitely more than money. He wanted to pass on in an improved condition the inheritance which he had received, and by passing a Bill of this sort the House robbed him of the motive of his very existence and of something which he valued more than any title or anything else which could be conferred upon him. [An HON. MEMBER: We are paying you the rent.] The payment of the rent did not supply an equivalent for the interest he lost. He would have thought that the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill would have sympathised with these views. He was sure that those who had gone before him in the possession of his estates would have done so.
was sure that his immediate predecessor would not have done so.
said he knew the right hon. Gentleman's prede- cessor, and he thought he would have sympathised with his point. But the question was not what his immediate predecessor thought, but whether in these arrangements the right hon. Gentleman was giving a sufficient solatium for what he was taking. If the right hon. Gentleman thought that he was making good what he took away by insuring that the rent should be paid and that he was really making up for the deprivation he inflicted, he was mistaken. He was not doing so, and he hoped that those upon whose opinions the right hon. Gentleman would place more reliance than he did upon his, would assure him that that was the case. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the landlords' sense of injustice was an unreal one, because he was given the power of resumption of the land and of compensation in certain eventualities. Therefore the right hon. Gentleman said the landlord had no reason to complain. He wanted, however, on behalf of those whom he represented, to put on record his protest against this sordid idea that they could always compensate the landlords as a class by merely guaranteeing a pecuniary equivalent for that which they took from them. The idea was utterly mistaken. They felt their position in this matter much more keenly than that, and if hon. Members would only get rid of that idea they would understand the position which they took up. They had discharged their duties in the past pretty fairly, and he ventured to say that no class had made greater sacrifices out of limited means. They had spent large sums on their estates in trying to make life tolerable for all who dwelt upon them. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] He could prove that figure by figure and fact by fact, and he was sure that hon. Members when he had gone through his proofs would not contest that statement. He felt very keenly that this policy was countenanced by the right hon. Gentleman, who was the last man in England who should have laid it down that they could make up by the sordid equivalents given under this Bill for the rights which were taken away. On these grounds he supported the Amendment.
said the right hon. Gentleman had not replied to the point of his hon. friend that if they accepted this Amendment the landlord could not either now or in the future sell his land. It was true that the right hon. Gentleman had pointed out many advantages which the landlord would receive. He said he would receive rent upon the security of the rates and would have powers of resumption and compensation for improvements if they were not suitable to him. But he had not met the point of his hon. friend in this respect, that under this Bill the landlord had no power to sell his holding either to the county council or to anyone else. It was rather a novel piece of legislation for any Government to say to any man: "Because you have chosen to invest your money in a certain security, namely, land, in that security your money must for ever remain." For many reasons a landowner might wish to turn his estate into cash. He might wish to sell it in order to realise money for the benefit of his children whom he might wish to start in business or professions, but so long as he laboured under the disabilities of this clause he would never be able to turn his land into money. For the first time in his life he had to congratulate himself upon his perspicacity in never becoming the owner of land.
said he did not think the hon. Member had heard the explanation which he gave upon this point upstairs. Under the Bill the landlord was in the same position in regard to the sale of his land as if it were let to private tenants, only that he would have the additional advantage of having a much freer market and of having a tenant who was certain to pay his rent during the whole term. He did not wish to appeal to the sordid side of this matter, which he disliked as much as hon. Members opposite did, but he thought he had tried to meet them on every point.
, replying to the right hon. Gentleman's observation that the landlord would have the same facility for selling his land as he had at the present moment, said that he wished to point out that the market for that land would be I entirely different. At the present moment the demand for land did not arise from any sordid motives, but from what the Opposition called the amenities which attached to the holding of land and what hon. Members opposite called the desire to exercise the tyranny of the landlords. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Hear, hear."] Quite so; that was the view of hon. Members opposite, but he did not admit the truth of it The moment the House did away with the amenities of the land they did away with the desire of people to invest their money in it, in order to receive 2½ per cent. or 3 per cent. or nothing at all on their capital, and in order to have the pleasure of possessing land. It might be a wrong pleasure, but any auctioneer would tell hon. Members that people bought land generally not for what they could get out of it but for the pleasure of owning and holding it. It was quite a different thing, however, to put in a purchaser of land who would use it for a sordid motive, and in the same way as he would an investment on the Stock Exchange, for the purpose of making as much out of it as he possibly could. If the right hon. Gentleman thought that sort of thing was going to be a benefit to the small holder, the village, or the owner of the land, he was very much mistaken. The right hon. Gentleman had in effect repeated the argument used by Mr. Gladstone in 1881 in regard to the Irish Land Act. Mr. Gladstone assured the landlords of Ireland that they would be in a much better position if that Act was passed, because their rents would be assured to them and they might be certain of receiving them without disputes. History had shown that Mr. Gladstone made a wrong forecast, and in his judgment history would show that the right hon. Gentleman was also making a wrong forecast. He wished to be informed how the right hon. Gentleman knew that an exceedingly fair rent would be given for the land under this Bill, or that it would be paid. Let them take it for granted that the President of the Board of Agriculture might appoint competent Commissioners, how did the right hon. Gentleman know that the Labour Members from below the gangway might not in four or five years appoint another President of the Board of Agriculture? Supposing they appointed the hon. Member for the Colne Valley Division of Yorks. What sort of fair rent would they receive from that hon. Gentleman? Therefore the argument of the right hon. Gentleman as to a fair and full rent was illusory. Then he came to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the county council with the rates behind them would afford a good tenant. He differed from the right hon. Gentleman on that point and for this reason. If the county council was to take over the whole of the estate it might be different, because it would convert the landlord into a mere rent charger, and they would be bound to pay him, but it was quite a different thing to take a part of a landlord's estate and place a number of small tenants upon it. This would enable small district councils and parish councils to injure those who were above them. He defied the right hon. Gentleman to get up and say that the landlord or anybody else was advantaged by that. He was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman did not hear the speech delivered in another place by a Member of his own Party. He only wished that he had the power of the language of the noble Lord.
Was he speaking against this Bill?
said he did not know whether he was in order in referring to the matter, but the noble Lord in question was speaking on the Small Landowners (Scotland) Bill, and he used arguments which applied equally to this Bill. Under the circumstances he would have much pleasure in supporting the Amendment which had been moved.
said he would not like to let this question go by without entering what protest he could against the proposal of the Bill for the compulsory hiring of land. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill took great credit to himself for the fact that he was not expropriating one owner in order to instal another. It seemed to him, however, that the right hon. Gentleman was doing something which was very much worse. He was expropriating one owner without giving him the quid pro quo to which he was entitled and was taking out of his hands that which made property valuable—his management of it and the disposal of it according to his own will. That seemed to him to be very much worse than expropriating one owner in order to put in another owner. For his part he could not see where the advantage lay in this policy of hiring land rather than of buying it. It seemed to him that it was complicating the system to an indefinite extent, in a way which was wholly unnecessary and to the disadvantage of those whom it was intended to set up as small holders under the Bill. Apart from any question of fairness, which he would not go into, although he thought it was very unfair to owners to make them give up that which made property valuable, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman as well as the Solicitor-General whether this system of hiring in the matter of buildings and improvements did not add greatly to the complexities and difficulties which would arise under the Bill. The county council would hire land compulsorily and then put up buildings to make the land suitable for small holdings. What was the position of those owners in regard to the possession of the land, and how were the county council going to get repaid for their expenditure? By the rent which the tenant was prepared to pay? That was a point which had never yet been elucidated, and it seemed to him to be a point which was crucial to this question, because if the county council were to recoup themselves in the rent for the money they spent upon the buildings of the small holdings, then they were committing a gross injustice upon the tenant, because he would not only be paying the value of the land, but also interest and sinking fund for the money which had been spent by the county council in adapting the land to small holdings. If the tenant paid that money annually by instalment, surely he ought to be entitled at the end of his tenure to compensation from the council. Yet he gathered from the Bill he would not be entitled to compensation, but on the contrary the county council would be held to have made the improvement and to have adapted the land for the purpose of a small holding. That was a great injustice and, as his right hon. friend the Member for the Bordesley division of Birmingham had pointed out, it was practically making the tenant pay for the freehold of the land and the buildings upon it and yet not giving him what he had paid for. Then as to the landlord: this House was going to enable county councils to hire land compulsorily and to spend money upon it; to alter its character and to put buildings upon it suitable for small holdings; and, yet they were going to make the landlord pay for all these so-called improvements, which had been made perhaps without his consent and contrary to his wishes. He was quite aware that there was a clause in the Bill to the effect that the value of the improvements on the land should, in assessing compensation, be their value to the landlord, but it seemed to him that the arbitrator might very well hold that the land had been improved for the purposes of the landlord, and that he could get more rent for it in consequence of those improvements, which no doubt would be the test, and yet they might not be improvements which the landlord wanted, while he would be called upon to find a very large capital sum—a proceeding which might be to him a source of great inconvenienec—which he would never have been able to afford had the land been left in his own hands from the start. Therefore what it came to was this, that by their benevolence to the small holders and county councils they were compelling the landlords to find money for buildings suitable for small tenants which were not suitable otherwise and the expense was to be borne out of the income from a particular farm or estate. What after all would be the result if the alternative of purchase were adopted? There would be none of those complications which would arise under this Bill. If the county council thought fit to acquire the land they would be solely responsible for the success of the holding or its failure. The buildings on the land set up by the county council, all the money spent by the county council in adapting the land for the purpose of small holdings, would I be a definite sum advanced by the county council; they would be entitled to all the receipts from it, and theirs would be all the profit or all the loss, if either resulted. But, as it was, by the policy of hire they were compelled to insert in the Bill, in order to give it some appearance of the rudiments of justice, various provisions which would hamper the tenant, which would hamper the county council, and which, as the long and the short of it, would lead to divided and dual ownership in the improvements in the buildings and in the land, no matter how much they tried to escape from it. Surely it was an almost elementary principle of justice that if they wanted land for a given purpose, indeed, if they wanted anything for a given purpose, they must buy it from the possessor of it for the time being. Really one would have thought it was almost unnecessary to argue such an elementary principle in that House. It was quite different in the case of a small allotment, which he believed was the only precedent for compulsory hire; but in that case they did not give compensation for buildings, though in this Bill he believed they were going to add this compensation to the existing allotment system. As the question had hitherto stood, however, they had not got the complications of capital sunk in the land by the medium tenant, if they might so describe the county council. [AN HON. MEMBER: Allotments are small.] As his hon. friend remarked, an allotment consisted of a very small quantity of land, and did not involve the very great danger which existed in connection with this Bill. But surely it must appear plain to the House that when land was to be hired compulsorily from the landlord by the county council, who were to lease it to a tenant, they got three people concerned, every one with a different interest; whereas, if they had a system of purchase there would be only two concerned, the landlord and the person to whom he sold the land, and their interests would be as easily adjusted as the relations between landlord and tenant were adjusted at the present time under the Agricultural Holdings Act. He supported the Amendment very heartily. He would have preferred an Amendment which stood on the Paper in his own name, providing that they must have the report of the Board before compulsion was adopted, because he thought that might have had the result of bringing in a third party who, in the case of the landlord and the county council being in disagreement, might have smoothed the way and enabled them to have a further consideration of the question, in order to see whether it could be done by agreement instead of by compulsion. All the same, however, he thought that this Amendment largely met his view, and he had some considerable hope that it would meet with great support from Members on the Government side of the House when they came to a division.
said he could not allow this proposal to pass without one word of protest against the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman and the Government. The right hon. Gentleman said the Bill did no harm whatever either to the land or to the landlord. It was true that he gave him or professed to give him full compensation for any land, but he questioned very greatly whether that compensation would be as adequate as the right hon. Gentleman seemed to believe. But that was only a comparatively small part of the question. He agreed very much with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shropshire, that in this case they certainly deprived the landlord of interest in his land, although they would not buy it even if he wished them to do so. They took away all his powers connected with the land, and worse than all they absolved him from all his duties. What was the real position in this case? They proposed to hire his land for thirty-five years to begin with. At the end of that term, if the venture was a success on the part of the county council, they might renew it. They took it for seventy years from the man to whom it belonged; not only that, at the end of that second period they had nothing to do but obtain a fresh Order from the Board of Agriculture, and again they took it for a similar period, and so on from time to time. Was ever such a proposal heard of before? They were going to take away property for a great number of years, and they would not buy it even if the owner desired to sell it. The least they could do, when they took a man's land by compulsion in this way, was to pay him in cash. This was the first in- stance on record in our legislation when any such proposal on a great scale had ever been made by any Government in this country, and he sincerely hoped and trusted that it would be the last. What was the reason for doing it? Because it would give certain advantages to the county councils; they would be absolved from the necessity of raising capital or raising loans. They were very ready to consult the convenience of the county councils, but he saw no readiness to consult the convenience of the unfortunate owner of land, however much he desired it. There were estates heavily encumbered with charges, sometimes family charges, mortgages and things of that kind. Supposing they were called in, as they very likely would be, what was the position in which they were about to place the landlord? They told him that his security would be better than ever it was before. What authority had they for saying that? He questioned it very greatly. Money invested in a first-rate farm tenanted by a succession of first-rate farmers, who had never failed to pay their rent for generations, was regarded as an admirable security. Would it be so good a security under the great experiment they were about to make? He believed himself that the experiment of providing small holdings under this system of hiring, for reasons which he had given over and over again, and which had not been refuted, was in all probability bound to come to an end in a very few years, and then what became of the good security? They were told that the landlord would then have a chance of getting as good a price for his land as ever he had before. Who was going to provide that? What on earth would be the object of doing so? Besides, they could not sell the land; all they could sell would be the rentcharge upon it, and for the objects and purposes for which land was bought in this country it would be absolutely useless. He knew that it was useless to try to get any concession whatever on this point, but the Government would live to regret having been the first Government to take such a course as this in connection with a scheme which, if it became law, he believed would end in failure and disaster instead of success.
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Evans, Samuel T.||Lupton, Arnold|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Everett, R. Lacey||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Fenwick, Charles||Lynch, H. B.|
|Alden, Percy||Ferens, T. R.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Macdonald, J. M. (FalkirkB'ghs)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Ffrench, Peter||Mackarness, Frederic C.|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Maclean, Donald|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Findlay, Alexander||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)|
|Baring, Godfrey (IsleofWight)||Fuller, John Michael F.||M'Callum, John M.|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Fullerton, Hugh||M'Crae, George|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Gibb, James (Harrow)||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Gill, A. H.||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Maddison, Frederick|
|Bell, Richard||Glover, Thomas||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S. Geo.||Gooch, George Peabody||Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Grant, Corrie||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Grayson, Albert Victor||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Marnham, F. J.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Massie, J.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Gurdon, Rt Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hall, Frederick||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Brace, William||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Branch, James||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Wore'r)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Morrell, Philip|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Morse, L. L.|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Haworth, Arthur A.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Byles, William Pollard||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Myer, Horatio|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Hazleton, Richard||Napier, T. B.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Hedges, A. Paget||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Helme, Norval Watson||Nicholls, George|
|Chance, Frederick William||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Henry, Charles S.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Higham, John Sharp||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Holt, Richard Durning||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Clough, William||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Horniman, Emslie John||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W||Hudson, Walter||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Cooper, G. J.||Hyde, Clarendon||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Corbett, CH (Sussex, E. Grinst'd)||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Cory, Clifford John||Jardine, Sir J.||Pollard, Dr.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Cox, Harold||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Radford, G. H.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Cooks, William||Jowett, F. W.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'|
|Crossley, William J.||Kearley, Hudson E.||Rees, J. D.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Kekewich, Sir George||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Kelley, George D.||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n)|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Laidlaw, Robert||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Lambert, George||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lamont, Norman||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Lehmann, R. C.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Elibank, Master of||Lewis, John Herbert||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Erskine, David C.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Rowlands, J.|
|Essex, R. W.||Lough, Thomas||Runciman, Walter|
The House divided:—Ayes, 259; Noes, 63. (Division List No. 413.)
|Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Summerbell, T.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Sutherland, J. E.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Sears, J. E.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Seddon, J.||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Seely, Colonel||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E||Wiles, Thomas|
|Shackleton, David James||Torrance, Sir A. M.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Sherwell, Arthur James||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Shipman, Dr. John G.||Ure, Alexander||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Simon, John Allsebrook||Verney, F. W.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Vivian, Henry||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Snowden, P.||Walsh, Stephen||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Stanger, H. Y.||Walters, John Tudor||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N.W.)||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)||Winfrey, R.|
|Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Steadman, W. C.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Wardle, George J.|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Waring, Walter|
|Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Ashley, W. W.||Courthope, G. Loyd||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Moore, William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Du Cros, Harvey||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Balfour, Rt Hn. A.J. (City Lond.)||Faber, George Denison (York)||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Nield, Herbert|
|Baring, Capt. Hn. G (Winchester)||Fletcher, J. S.||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Forster, Henry William||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Gordon, J.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Gretton, John||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Starkey, John R.|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Helmsley, Viscount||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Cave, George||Hills, J. W.||Younger, George|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Keswick, William||and Viscount Valentia.|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J. A. (Worc.||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
And, it being after half-past Ten of the clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of 9th August, successively to put forthwith the Question upon any Amendments moved by the Government, of which notice had been given.
The following Amendments, proposed by Mr. Harcourt, were made—
"In page 6, line 12, at end to add the words '(3) This section shall only apply in the case where a small holding has been sold by the county council.'"
"In page 10, line 5, after the word 'that,' to insert the words '(a) The duty of a council under the Allotments Acts, as amended by this Act, to provide allotments shall not include the duty of providing allotments exceeding one acre in extent; and.'"
Bill, as amended (by the Standing Committee), to be further considered To-morrow.
Caledonian Railway Order Con- Firmation Bill (By Order)
Read the third time, and passed.
York (Micklegate Strays) Bill (Lords) (By Order)
Order for Consideration, as amended, read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended, be now considered."
MR. ARTHUR HENDERSON ( Durham, Barnard Castle) moved that the Bill be recommitted to a Select Committee. He said one clause in the Bill had created a great amount of feeling in the City of York, and he was convinced that it was in the interest of all parties that the course he proposed should be adopted. A difference had arisen as to the lease between the city council and the racecourse company. The inhabitants of the city declared that they were left in ignorance as to these arrangements until a very late stage of the proceedings. They had at a meeting passed a resolution against endorsing them. He might be asked if there was any precedent for the course which he now invited the House to take. In 1901, in the case of a Bill where circumstances arose very similar to those which had arisen here, the measure was recommitted to a Select Committee, and the whole matter was settled in about three days. If the ratepayers of York were to be saved the £3,000 or £4,000 spent in bringing this Bill to its present stage, he thought the Motion should be accepted. The Committee could be set up on Thursday or Monday next, and towards the end of the week the Bill could be reported again to the House. Meantime he felt satisfied that some arrangement would be made which would be satisfactory to all parties concerned.
seconded the Motion.
"To leave out from the word 'be,' to the end of the Question, and add the words 're-committed to a Select Committee'"—(Mr. Arthur Henderson)—instead thereof.
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
said that a number of Members had been asked by the citizens of York to get the obnoxious clause regarding the Race Committee and the schedule taken out of the Bill, and he was bound to say that they had a very strong case. Both the clause and the schedule were put in in "another place." He had no objection to that, but what he did object to was that the people of York were not asked whether they liked that course or not. If the Bill could be recommitted in the way proposed, he believed the parties would be able to come to an agreement.
said there were extremely complicated and delicate matters involved in the proposals contained in the Bill. From time to time disputes had arisen between the corporation of York and the Micklegate freemen as to their respective rights in the Micklegate Strays, on a part of which the racecourse was situated. In fact litigation had been commenced by the corporation against the freemen in order to get their respective rights determined. But law was an expensive matter, and the parties wisely decided to abandon the litigation and introduce a Bill in Parliament. The Bill was introduced accordingly in another place. It provided that the Micklegate freemen, in exchange for their common rights, should receive from the corporation of York a payment in perpetuity of £1,000 a year, and that the corporation should have power to enter into an agreement with the Race Committee respecting the racecourse. When the Bill was in Committee in another place, and heard as an opposed Bill, it was settled that the Race Committee should receive a lease for ninety-nine years at a rent of £1,000 per annum. The lease was thereupon scheduled to the Bill. The Charity Commissioners put forward a claim before the same Committee that the £1,000 a year agreed to be paid by the corporation to the trustee should be treated as a charitable trust. This claim was disallowed. In the meantime a large body of the citizens of York took exception to the fact that a lease to the Race Committee containing the terms above referred to had been scheduled to the Bill. Their contention was that they had no idea that an agreement for a lease of ninety-nine years was contemplated. When the Bill came to this House and was sent to an unopposed Committee upstairs the Charity Commissioners again pleaded that the £1,000 a year was a charitable trust. He understood that the Committee by a majority did not agree to the view of the Charity Commissioners. Then a proposal arose that as this Bill was so complicated, and so ill-fitted for proper discussion in the full House the better way to take was to re-commit it to a Select Committee. He put this view before the parties interested, but he was bound to say that the corporation of York, the Race Committee, and the Micklegate freemen were not in accord in the matter. His endeavour as Member for the City of York had been to take neither one side nor the other, but only to give advice when asked to do so.
said that he represented a body of freeholders in the City of York, and also the Micklegate freemen, of whom he was one. The question was whether or not the Charity Commissioners should formulate a scheme dealing with the money which was to be paid by the corporation. He thought if the Bill were referred to a Select Committee it would be contrary to the wishes of all the Micklegate freemen. And if the Charity Commissioners persisted in the Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Elland he was afraid that the Bill would not become law this session.
said he had spent the greater part of two laborious afternoons in endeavouring to bring about a settlement in this matter in order to save the time of the House. He thought the suggestion to recommit the Bill to a Select Committee was a very good one. There were two points. The first was the Amendments suggested by the Charity Commissioners, and as to those he thought than an arrangement could be easily made by an Amendment, which would have been suggested had that been the only question of difficulty. The principal question in dispute now, however, was as to the lease for ninety-nine years which had been scheduled in the Bill. It was admitted, he believed by the Race Committee itself, that that was rather a long period, and that it might be considerably reduced. He believed that a similar lease was granted in 1753 to Lord Rockingham and Lord Carlisle, and the period had been adopted on that precedent without due consideration. It was generally admitted that ninety-nine years was too long, but there was a large body of citizens whose opinion had only made itself felt since this Committee who desired to have no lease at all. That matter could be quickly decided by a Select Committee, and when the Select Committee reported he hoped there would be no difficulty raised to their decision being accepted by the House.
said the Race Committee did not wish to see this Bill recommitted at this stage, but in view of the statement made it was obviously impossible for him to divide the House. The Race Committee maintained that they had acted very fairly in this matter. They came to an agreement with the freemen of the city to pay £1,000 a year to hold the races on the Strays, and when the corporation bought out the rights of the freemen the Race Committee came to a similar agreement with them and had since accepted considerable modifications. It was only fair therefore that the Race Committee should be allowed to say that they had done nothing to justify the recommittal of the Bill. He hoped if the recommittal was insisted upon the result would be satisfactory to all parties. This race meeting was almost the only one in England run for the public' benefit, and not a single penny of private profit was derived from it, the whole of the profit being used to forward the meeting. It was run in the interest of sport, of which in York they were very fond, and was the only race meeting to which the people could come without payment. Under these circumstances the Race Committee thought their representations deserved the sympathy of the whole House.
Question put, and negatived.
Proposed words there inserted.
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Bill, as amended, re-committed to a Select Committee.
Transvaal Loan (Guarantee)
"That it is expedient to authorise the Treasury to guarantee, on the security of the Consolidated Fund, the interest of a Loan to he raised by the Colony of the Transvaal, not exceeding in the aggregate an amount sufficient to raise five millions pounds, and the principal of any such Loan by means of the guarantee of Sinking Fund payments, and also to guarantee the payment of any sums temporarily raised by the Colony of the Transvaal in anticipation of the Loan, with interest thereon."
Resolution agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by the Chairman of Ways and Means, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Churchill, Mr. Attorney-General, and Mr. Runciman.
Transvaal Loan (Guarantee) Bill
"To authorise the Treasury to guarantee the payment of a Loan to be raised by the Colony of the Transvaal," presented accordingly, and read the first time; to be read a second time upon Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 314.]
Patents And Designs Bill
As amended (by the Standing Committee), further considered.
"In page 9, line 22, to leave out from the word 'to,' to 'a,' in line 24, and insert the words 'the sale or lease of, or licence to use or work any article or process protected by a patent to insert.'"
"In page 9, line 29, to leave out the word 'invention' and insert the word 'process.'"
"In page 9, lines 31 and 32, to leave out the words 'employ or.'"
"In page 9, line 34, after 'licensor,' insert the words 'or his nominees.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
Amendments agreed to.
said the object of Clause 23 was to prevent the oppression of a person using the patent of a foreign owner by undue restrictions. He moved an Amendment as a safeguard against the very wide effect of the clause. The Amendment proposed to make lawful the conditions attached to the use of a foreign patent which the clause made unlawful if at the time the contract was entered into the patented article or process was being freely sold or licensed in the United Kingdom with- out such restrictive conditions, or if the patentee had before the date of the contract offered to the other party to sell, lease, or grant a licence on reasonable terms, and without any restrictive conditions.
formally seconded the Amendment.
"In page 9, line 34, after the words last inserted, to insert the words 'unless at the time when the contract was entered into for such sale or lease of or licence to use or work the patented article or process, the said patented article or process was being freely sold or licensed to be used or worked in the United Kingdom, on reasonable terms and without any such restrictive or prohibitive conditions, or unless the patentee had, prior to the date of such contract, offered to the other party or parties thereto to sell, lease, or grant a licence to use or work the said patented article or process on reasonable terms, and without any such restrictive or prohibitive conditions.'"—(Mr. Rawlinson.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
said he had considered this very carefully and was afraid he could not agree to accepting the Amendment in the form proposed. He was afraid that if it were accepted in this form it would render nugatory the whole of the clause and would enable these people to escape altogether the conditions the clause sought to impose. At the same time he agreed that there was something to be said for providing a reasonable alternative. If a reasonable alternative was provided, that was all that was required. So long as such provision was made, they did not want to put an end to freedom of contract in these cases. If the hon. and learned Gentleman would withdraw his Amendment he would be prepared to move words which he thought would meet the case, namely—
"Provided that the sub-section shall not apply in the case of a lease if (1) At the time when the contract was entered into the patented article or process was being freely leased or licensed to be used or worked at a rent or royalty and without any such restrictive conditions and (2) The contract entitles the lessee or licensee at any time, on giving not more than six months notice, to relieve himself of his liability to observe any such condition on payment of a rent or royalty not exceeding such rent or royalty as aforesaid."
said it was exceedingly inconvenient to the House that Amendments should be sprung upon it. The effect of the Amendment was a matter which they could not grasp right away. When they were in Committee upstairs a similar Amendment was proposed and they resisted it, with the result that it was either withdrawn or defeated. The question was whether the patented article or machine should be offered freely, and in that event certain contracts were not to be annulled. The same idea came up again now. The hon. Member for Southport had not put his Amendment on the Paper. ["Yes."] He begged pardon; this Amendment was at any rate on the Paper, but he had not known that it was the Amendment which was being moved. It was the Amendment they were to oppose. The amended form of this was now before them, and in that form it was not on the Paper, and it was impossible to grasp the meaning of the "payment of rent and royalty as aforesaid." Did that mean one year's payment or payment of arrears of rent and royalty, or the purchasing value of the rent and royalty? The whole point was quite muddled up, and it was quite impossible for them to vote upon it intelligently unless they had the proposal in front of them.
thought they should see the Amendment in print, and he believed that the right hon. Gentleman would admit that a point of this importance should not be decided without being thoroughly understood. It was a very important matter as it stood; it would be a restriction of freedom of contract between people who were perfectly able to look after their own interests. He thought that it would be right, when they were going to give a monopoly to a patentee, that they should render it impossible for him to make the conditions too hard upon people who used the patent; but that would be avoided if they left freedom of contract, with the alternative that certain offers might be made such as were proposed in the Amendment on the Paper, or in the proposed Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman. In that way they would meet all the difficulties of the case, because once they gave a reasonable alternative, they would effect what the right hon. Gentleman wished. But hon. Members should have an opportunity of considering the Amendment now proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, to see whether it met the case. He did not think that anyone on that side of the House wished to deal with the matter in any captious spirit, and he would respectfully ask the right hon. Gentleman to give them an opportunity of considering the matter a little further. The first portion of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment would appear to him to be quite sufficient and ample to meet the requirements of the case; the second part of it raised great difficulties, and they should have an opportunity of looking into it to see what effect it would have. He thought that might be done without in any way interfering with the time of the House, or a promise might be given to consider the matter in another place if the proposal was found not to work out as the right hon. Gentleman would wish.
said he did not approach this matter from the strictly Opposition point of view. They had endeavoured to help the Government to get through their measures. He and many others had considered this complicated Bill in Committee upstairs, and they now found it difficult to understand the exact meaning of the Amendment of the President of the Board of Trade. He would point out that they were dealing with an intricate subject, which at the same time would affect poor men of inventive genius as well as the work of the trades and industries of the country. If they passed hurry-scurry a Bill of this sort without debating it, they might find that they had not only made a bad law but caused great loss and injury to the trades and industries of the country. The President of the Board of Trade had ample evidence that the Unionists who sat until the early hours of the morning helping the Government to pass their measures did not desire to deal in any hostile spirit with Bills, more especially those relating to commercial matters. They desired that the legislation which emerged from that House should be useful to the nation; therefore he made bold to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, absolutely in a business-like spirit and in no Party spirit, to agree to postpone this measure. They would be in session until the middle of September, and they would have ample opportunity for dealing with this and other measures, not in the late hours of the night or early hours of the morning, but at a reasonable hour, and if the right hon. Gentleman agreed to their request his measure would receive greater attention, and very great credit would redound to him because of the form in which it would be passed.
, in response to the appeal, said that he was anxious to get the Bill through, in order that the other House might have it before them to-morrow. The Amendment would be dealt with in another place, and hon. Members would be able to consider it fully then.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
"In page 9, line 38, to leave out the word 'invention' and insert the word 'process.'"
"In page 9, lines 40 and 41, to leave out the words 'embodied in the patented article in force at,' and insert the words 'by which the article or process was or were protected at the time of.'"
"In page 9, line 41, and page 10, line 1, to leave out the words 'or the patent for the invention.'"
"In page 10, line 7, to leave out the word 'determined' and insert the word 'awarded.'"
"In page 10, line 11, to leave out the word 'invention' and insert the word 'process.'"
"In page 10, line 19, to leave out the word 'determined' and insert the word 'awarded.'"
"In page 10, line 21, to leave out Subsection (4)."
Amendments agreed to.
MR. CAVE ( Surrey, Kingston) moved to leave out Subsection 5 of Clause 23, which provides that the insertion by the patentee in a contract of any condition which by virtue of this clause is null and void shall be a ground on which the patent may be revoked. He did not know of any provision of that kind in any other Act of Parliament-He hoped the Government would not insist upon it.
"In page 10, line 27, to leave out Subsection (5) of Clause 23."—(Mr. Cave.)
Question proposed, "That the words 'the insertion' stand part of the Bill."
said the hon. and learned Gentleman would observe that he proposed considerable modification in the clause. The hon. and learned Gentleman knew how difficult it was to provide a perfectly watertight clause which would prevent operations by trusts for the evasion of the law. It had been attempted many times, but the trusts had been able to walk round the law. There was only one way of doing it, and that was by making them feel that if they endeavoured to evade the law or the principle of the law in this respect they would endanger the patent for the time being. If a man abused the special privilege which was granted to him when he obtained a patent by using it to the detriment of the trade of this country, he must know that he could not bring an action for infringement of the patent as long as he was abusing the privilege. He did not think that that man should be allowed to go into Court and sue for damages in respect of the infringement of the patent. That was the principle on which he had proceeded, and he thought it was the only way to prevent people in future from operations of the kind complained of. That would make it worth their while not to repeat these operations.
said he thought the penalty proposed was too heavy. If a man entered into a contract for five years, believing that such a contract was good, it might happen that, under this section of the Bill, some condition in it would be held to be bad. As soon as the courts held that this condition was void that man would not be able to get out of the contract, during the five years for which it had been made, anybody would be able to infringe the patent and make the article. He was all for a watertight clause, but this was going a great deal too far. Under this clause a perfectly honest man, carrying on his business in the ordinary way, might, through having been badly advised, lose a valuable patent.
said he thought the proposal was rather vindictive. It was gratuitous and unnecessary. Before these words in this section could come into effect the man would be in the position of having had his contract declared null and void, and therefore he would be forced to suffer the very serious consequences resulting from his having made a contract in which the governing condition was null and void. The whole value of the contract to him would be gone, but the other party to the contract might hold him to it. Being in that position, it seemed to him that the man was punished enough, and to impose an enormous
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Elibank, Master of||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Esslemont, George Birnie||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Evans, Samuel T.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Everett, R. Lacey||Jowett, F. W.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Fenwick, Charles||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Ferens, T. R.||Kelley, George D.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Lamont, Norman|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Fuller, John Michael F.||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Black, Arthur W.||Gill, A. H.||Lehmann, R. G|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)|
|Brace, William||Glover, Thomas||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Branch, James||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Burns, Et. Hon. John||Gooch, George Peabody||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Byles, William Pollard||Hall, Frederick||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Wore'r)||Macpherson, J. T.|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down. S.)|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Harvey, A. G. C (Rochdale)||M'Crae, George|
|Clough, William||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Harwood, George||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)|
|Cooper, G. J.||Haworth, Arthur A.||Maddison, Frederick|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Cory, Clifford John||Hazleton, Richard||Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Hedges, A. Paget||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Crooks, William||Helme, Norval Watson||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Crossley, William J.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Marnham, F. J.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Henry, Charles S.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Higham, John Sharp||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Nicholls, George|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Holland, Sir William Henry||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Horniman, Emslie John||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Hudson, Walter||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Pollard, Dr.|
and ruinous penalty in addition was going too far. Although the practices which they desired to stop might in some cases be a knowing violation of the law, he believed that in many cases they would be done by inadvertence by the poor inventors whom they wished to protect.
said that this was the worst form of penalty which could be thought of. The infringer of the contract would be the first to get the benefit of the penalty, which was that the patent would be declared null and void. But he thought that the infringer of the contract was the last person who ought to be considered. He contended that to strike out this clause would not affect the rest of the Bill and that those who wished to use the patent had already got protection under Clause 16.
The House divided:—Ayes, 144; Noes. 34. (Division List No. 414.)
|Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Stanger, H. Y.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Rainy, A. Rolland||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N. W.)||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Kendall, Athelstan||Strachey, Sir Edward||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n)||Summerbell, T.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Rickett, J. Compton||Sutherland, J. E.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Rowlands, J.||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne||Walsh, Stephen||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Seddon, J.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Shackleton, David James||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton|
|Shipman, Dr. John G.||Waring, Walter|
|Simon, John Allsebrook||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Gordon, J.||Radford, G. H.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Helmsley, Viscount||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hills, J. W.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Hunt, Rowland||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Keswick, William||Younger, George|
|Cave, George||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Lupton, Arnold||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Bowles and Mr. Claude Hay.|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Forster, Henry William||Nield, Herbert|
MR. LLOYD-GEORGE moved to amend Subsection (5) of Clause 23, which as it stood in the Bill provided that the insertion by the patentee in a contract made after the passing of the Act of any condition which by virtue of this section was null and void should be a ground on which the patent might be revoked The right hon. Gentleman proposed to insert instead of the words at the end rendering the contract null and void, words to the effect that such conduct should be available as a defence to an action for infringement of the patent to which the contract related brought while that ontract wacs in force.
"In page 10, line 29, leave out from the first word 'be,' to end of subsection, and insert the words 'available as a defence to an action for infringement of the patent to which the contract relates brought while that contract is in force.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
suggested that it would be well if the right hon. Gentleman would insert the words "with the consent of the patentee," so that the patentee would not be able to bring his action so long as the objectionable contract existed with his consent. The patentee might wish to terminate the contract but might not be able to do so. If something of that sort were not inserted this House might render ineffective the labours of a lifetime.
said he could not accept that Amendment because if he did the patentee would not consent and the action for infringement would be brought.
said the presumption was that a patentee would make a contract which should last for the whole term of his patent and his rights would be extinguished by virtue of this amended clause. The patentee and inventor was usually a man of science and mechanical ingenuity and he was rarely a man who had any commercial or legal knowledge. Usually he was a mechanical enthusiast and it was hard to come down on him over a contract which was made illegal by this Act.
said it seemed to him that Subsection (5) as it stood was vastly better than it would be as it was proposed to be amended by the President of the Board of Trade. He could quite conceive that where illegal contracts were entered into by the patentee it might be a ground on which the patent might be revoked, but he failed to see how when the patentee had entered into a contract with some one else that contract could be a defence to an action against the third party who had infringed the patent. It seemed, to him somewhat ludicrous. If a man infringed a patent surely it ought not to be a defence to him who was a wrongdoer, that the patentee had entered into a contract which contained conditions which were under this section null and void. The contract itself was not null and void but only certain provisions of it. How could such a contract as that be pleaded man action for infringement against an ordinary wrongdoer? He could not understand how it could be, and he thought it would be better to leave the clause as it stood.
Amendment agreed to.
"In page 10, line 31, to leave out Subsection (6)."
Amendment agreed to.
"In page 11, line 18, at end, to insert the words '(f) apply to any contract if the seller, lessor, or licensor proves that at the time when the contract was entered into the patented article or invention in question was being freely sold without any such prohibitive or restrictive conditions, or that he was willing and had offered to the other party to the contract to sell, lease, or grant a licence to use or work the patented article or invention on reasonable terms, and without such prohibitive or restrictive conditions as hereinbefore referred to.'" He said that he believed this Amendment, or something like it, would be accepted by the Board of Trade. If the right hon. Gentleman did not see his way to agree to the Amendment, it would not be pressed to a division, and as he had already brought the matter to the attention of his right hon. friend he thought it would be sufficient if he moved the Amendment in a formal manner.
said that this was a subject which he proposed to deal with by some such clause as he had read to the House, or by a similar clause moved elsewhere. He hoped that statement would satisfy his hon. friend.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. J. D. WHITE moved to leave out Clause 25.
"To leave out Clause 25."
said that he accepted the Amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
MR. RAWLINSON moved to leave out Clause 26. He said that this was an Amendment which he should venture to press very strongly upon the Government. Subsection (1) of Clause 26 abolished a tribunal which had existed for many years—the tribunal of the law officers who sat to hear appeals from the decisions of the comptroller. This Court, composed of the law officers, had over a long period done a very useful work in an admirable manner. It had been held by successive law officers, the business being conducted generally by arrangements between the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General. It was a highly desirable tribunal from the point of view of patentees, and more especially from the standpoint of the small patentee. The Bill proposed to abolish this efficient but inexpensive tribunal altogether, and to substitute for it an appeal in all cases to a Judge of the High Court. Necessarily, and for reasons which the House would well understand, the hearing of an appeal before a Judge of the High Court must be a more expensive proceeding than an appeal to the simple tribunal now existing. It was an exceedingly informal but an exceedingly successful tribunal; and matters could be dealt with before the law officers in a sort of informal way which would be quite impossible in the case of the High Court. Of course before a tribunal composed of the law officers anyone could appear. If the patentee who was dissatisfied with the decision of the comptroller chose to employ legal assistance he could do so, but if he did not choose to do so he need not be legally represented. The law officers sat in a private room, and, meeting in this way, they formed a very competent tribunal for the decision of matters arising out of the comptroller's decision. This was an Amendment about which there was a considerable amount of feeling, and if it was accepted he could not help thinking that it would clear away a good deal of the opposition which was expressed to the Bill at the present time. Might he also use an illegitimate argument in favour of the Amendment? If this subsection was omitted. Subsection (2), which provided that rules of the Supreme Court regulating the procedure on appeals from the comptroller to the Court should provide for appeals under this section, would go as well. That raised very difficult and thorny questions. If they abolished this informal tribunal they had to transfer the whole of these appeals to a Judge of the High Court, and in that Court, before that Judge, there had been from time immemorial a practice that only barristers and solicitors were entitled to appear. Clearly, if they abolished this tribunal, the ordinary rules of law ought to prevail, with the result that only barristers and solicitors would be allowed to practice before the Judge. That being the case, he thought the House would see that there would be a certain amount of hardship caused by not allowing people to appear in person as they did now before the informal tribunal composed of the law officers. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would accept the Amendment and would thus ensure that the Court which had existed so long should not be abolished.
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
"In page 11, line 36, to leave out Clause 26"—[Mr. Rawlinson.)
said that if this clause was allowed to remain in the Bill, patentees in the future would have thrown on them an enormous expense and they would have a tribunal for the determination of cases which would he less satisfactory than that which they had at present. This was a very important matter and it deserved the consideration of his right hon. friend. He could give a number of cases in which the comptroller had been wrong and in which the Court had been right. It was proposed to take away from the law officers the power of dealing with cases which they had been dealing with for many years and he thought the change would not be to the advantage of the patentee. During the year 1905–06 the comptroller gave 5,679 decisions. Against these there were sixty-two appeals to the law officers and only six were reversed. In the King's Bench Division in the year 1904, there were 123 appeals and only fifty-two were maintained. In the Chancery Division there were 114 appeals and only fifty-six were maintained. In the House of Lords there were fifty-four appeals and twenty-nine were maintained. He was perfectly certain that if this tribunal were shifted from the law officers to the Courts they would have a less satisfactory termination to the cases and a great deal more cost would be associated with the proceedings. He therefore hoped that his right hon. friend would see his way to agree to the Amendment.
said that he wished to support the Amendment of his hon. and learned friend. This tribunal consisting of the law officers had been in existence for a period of twenty-four years and during all that time it had undoubtedly worked admirably. It was a cheap tribunal, it was quick, and it exactly met the needs of the case. Now it was proposed by the President of the Board of Trade that instead of this eminently satisfactory procedure of an appeal to the law officers, there should be an appeal to the High Court. That Court, as the House knew, was overworked already, and he therefore maintained that it needed a very strong case to be made out before the House should sanction such an alteration. The effect of the Bill was to put in the place of a very good tribunal, a Court which was already overworked, and it was only in the nature of things, the circumstances being what they were, that delays should occur. He hoped the President of the Board of Trade would accept the Amendment, because if he did not, his Bill would destroy a procedure which had worked exceedingly well in order to substitute one that could not prove nearly so satisfactory.
hoped the President of the Board of Trade would stick to this clause. He understood that the Amendment before the House proposed to strike out both subsections and he thought it was difficult to discuss the matter on that basis. It might be that certain Members would be in favour of striking out one subsection and not the other. If they struck out the first subsection they retained the law officers as the tribunal which was to hear any appeals from the decisions of the comptroller. While he wished to speak of the law officers with unfeigned respect, he thought it was only just to remark that they were not appointed to their respective offices with any special regard to their competence to discharge these particular duties. He differed from several previous speakers inasmuch as he thought it would be a great advantage to the poor inventor if he had a right of appeal from the comptroller to a regularly constituted Court such as was proposed by Subsection (1) of the clause, and he hoped therefore that the President of the Board of Trade would stick to that part of the clause Subsection (2) which laid down that rules of the Supreme Court should provide for appeals under this section being heard in chambers, and for allowing any person to appear and be heard on any appeal who might have appealed and been heard on an appeal to the law officer was inserted with the view of diminishing expense, and of preserving the right of audience which the patent- agents now had before the law officers, and which it was proposed they should retain, before the Judge in chambers. Experience had shown that the practice of giving a right of audience to the patent-agent had been extremely useful. This was one of few clauses in the Bill which were likely to realise the genuine desire of the President of the Board of Trade to do something for the poor inventor, or at any-rate to preserve the meagre rights which the patentee possessed under the present law. The method favoured by the hon. Member for Cambridge was that the inventor should instruct the patent agent and pay him, that the patent agent should instruct the solicitor and pay him, that the solicitor should instruct counsel and pay him. The result would be that three men would be paid instead of one and no increase in efficiency would be produced by the process. On the contrary he thought there would be a diminution in efficiency. The patent agent knew nearly all about the matter, almost as much as the inventor; the solicitor knew a little less; and counsel knew a little less than the solicitor. The individual who knew least about the matter would present the case. For these reasons on the ground of diminishing the cost and increasing the efficiency, he sincerely hoped the second subsection, preserving the right of audience to the patent agent would be retained.
said he wished to deal with two points the hon. Member had put before the House. He did not understand how Subsection (2) could stand without Subsection (1). Subsection (2) was simply the machinery for carrying out the first subsection.
I wish to preserve both.
said the hon. Member suggested at the beginning of his speech that he did not agree with leaving out Subsection (2) although Subsection (1) might be argued. The second point was that the hon. Member had said that when these appeals were left to the law officers it was a mere toss-up whether the law officer was able to do the work. Hitherto they had always found the work was extremely well done. The law officers had one after another given full attention to the work and had done it to the satisfaction of everybody. The tribunal as at present was informal, it was rapid, it was cheap, and it was satisfactory to all concerned. Why then should they alter such a tribunal for a tribunal which must take more time, which must be more expensive and which in some respects would not, he thought, foe quite so satisfactory?
appealed to the President of the Board of Trade to accept the Amendment. So far as he understood the arguments which had been addressed to the House, there seemed to be no valid reason put forward for substituting another tribunal for the one which had existed so long and worked so successfully. Indeed the arguments put forward seemed rather to support the views of those who favoured the Amendment. It was desired to avoid expense. In order to effect this purpose it was much better to keep a tribunal which had worked so well for so long a time and which had proved satisfactory and inexpensive for dealing with matters brought before it. He urged that matters might be allowed to stand as they were and the rights of appeal to the law officers preserved, who, in spite of what had been said by the hon. Member who had recently spoken, had always in the past proved a satisfactory tribunal for dealing with these questions. Unless there was some better ground put forward for substituting another tribunal which must be more formal and more expensive, he submitted to the House and to the President of the Board of Trade, that no change should be made, and that this provision should be eliminated from this Bill.
regretted that none of the law officers were present. There was no doubt there was a general feeling that the present tribunal had worked very well. It had been put to him by a very high legal functionary that it was not so much a tribunal as a kind of domestic arrangement. Agents came and discussed matters round a table and there was nothing in the way of formal presentment of the case on one side or the other. The idea of the Bill was that there should be a special Judge with a special knowledge of patent cases who should sit upon patent business. It was quite clear to him, however, that it was the sense of the House that the present jurisdiction of the law officer should be retained. In the circumstances he acceeded to the Amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
"In page 12, line 3, to leave out the word 'under,' and to insert the words 'by virtue of.'"
"In page 12, line 4, after the word 'referred' to insert the words 'or presented."'
"In page 12, line 5, to leave out the words 'or reference.'"
"In page 12, line 6, after the word 'made' to insert the words 'and the petition referred or presented.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
Amendments agreed to.
*MR. CAVE moved, in page 12, line 8, to leave out from the word 'purpose' to end of clause. The words he struck out, he said, provided that the decision of the Judge should be final—a matter of great importance. He had every confidence in our Courts, but he thought the right of appeal was very valuable. He noticed that the President of the Board of Trade had put an Amendment on the Paper that the decision should be final except in the case of an appeal from a decision of the comptroller revoking a patent on any ground on which the grant of such patent might have been opposed. The effect of that was that a decision under Section 14 of the Bill would not be final, but a decision under Section 15 or Section 16 would. Might he, before the President moved his Amendment, suggest that he should go a little further and leave out the final words of his Amendment, so that it should read "except in the case of an appeal from a decision of the comptroller revoking a patent." The revoking of a patent was a very serious matter to a patentee, and whether it was revoked on one ground or on another an appeal should be allowed.
"In page 12, line 8, to leave out from the word 'purpose,' to the end of Clause 27."—(Mr. Cave.)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
said he could not see his way to accepting the proposal. It would destroy the whole effect of the Bill because, as the hon. Member knew, what had been the difficulty up to the present in regard to dealing with these patents was the enormous expense of putting such clauses as they had got into operation. A man in his endeavour to put these classes into operation might be taken from Court to Court, first of all to the Comptroller, then to the High Count, then to the Court of Appeal, then to the House of Lords. No man in these circumstances cared to undertake what was after all a public duty, the duty of compelling these patentees to work their patents in the country which granted them.
My suggestion is that the right hon. Gentleman should confine the right of appeal to cases where the patent is revoked.
said that Clause 15 was purely a clause with a view to compelling those who took out patents in this country to work them. He was certain that if there were three or four appeals such as he had indicated, in that case the result would be that the clause would be quite inoperative. The cost of these appeals was enormous. Before they got the matter through the House of Lords there might be £5,000 to £10,000 spent in compelling a foreign patentee to work his patent. In these circumstances they might as well not legislate at all. It was with a view to cheapen procedure largely that the Bill had been introduced, and if they were going to allow a series of appeals it would be quite useless. In case of revocation of a patent under Clause 14, that was a different matter. He thought an appeal might be granted there.
said he was willing to withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment by leave, withdrawn.
"In page 12, line 8, to add the words 'except in the case of an appeal from the decision of the Comptroller revoking a patent on any ground on which the grant of such patent might have been opposed.'"
"In page 12, line 35, to leave out the word 'further' and to insert the word 'second.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
Amendments agreed to.
"In page 12, line 36, at end, to insert the words, 'If within the prescribed time before the explanation of such second period of five-years application for the extension of the period of copyright is made to the Comptroller in the prescribed manner, the Comptroller may, subject to any rules under the principal Act, on payment of the prescribed fee, extend the period of copyright for a third period of five years from the expiration of the second period of five years.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
said that surely the right hon. Gentleman would give the House a few words of explanation of the Amendment.
said the holder of a copyright was not adequately rewarded, and artists generally had pressed that Amendment on the Government with a view to securing special treatment.
Amendment agreed to.
"In page 13, line 17, after the word 'disclosure,' to insert the words 'or acceptance.'"—(Mr. Lloyd George.)
Amendment agreed to.
"In page 13, line 20, to leave out the words 'Subject to the rules under the principal Act.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
said that surely on a question of rules which involved questions of law the President of the Board of Trade should give them some explanation.
said the words had been inserted in that clause by mistake. They should have been inserted in Clause 42.
Amendment agreed to,
"In page 13, line 32, after the word 'refused,' to insert the words 'nor shall the registration thereof be invalidated.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
Amendment agreed to.
said he did not propose to move his first Amendment, which was to leave out Clause 33, but he would move his second Amendment, which was, in page 14, line 9, to leave out the words "not less than one year." If the right hon. Gentleman agreed to accept his Amendment he need not trouble the House with any of the reasons which he had for bringing it forward. The clause applied particularly to an industry like the lace industry, and in the lace industry the life of a design was exceedingly short, generally about one season.
"In page 14, line 9, to leave out the words 'not less than one year.'"—(Mr. Black.)
said he thought the Amendment was a reasonable one.
Amendment agreed to.
"In page 14, line 15, after the word 'kingdom,' to insert the words 'including those relating to costs.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
Amendment agreed to.
MR. LLOYD-GEORGE moved an Amendment the object of which was to give in the case of designs the same remedies as in the case of patents.
"In page 14, line 17, at the end, to add the words 'Such ground as aforesaid shall be available by way of defence to an action for infringement of the copyright in the design.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
Amendment agreed to.
"In page 17, line 14, to leave out the words 'subject to rules under the principal Act.'"
"In page 17, line 16, at beginning, to insert the words 'subject to rules under the principal Act.'"—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
"In page 17, line 21, after the first 'declaration' to insert the words 'or allow any declarant to be cross-questioned on his declaration.'"—(Mr. Cave.)
Amendments agreed to.
MR. LLOYD-GEORGE moved, "in page 17, lines 38 and 39, to leave out the words 'or giving notice of appeal from any decision of the Comptroller.'"
asked what the words meant. He thought the House should have an explanation.
said he would not press that Amendment or the following one, which was, "in page 17, line 41, to leave out the words 'or in case of appeal to the law officer, the law officer.'"
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
*MR. RADFORD moved, on Clause 45, to add the words '(2) If any person who is not registered as a patent agent uses on his place of business or on any document issued by him or otherwise, any words or title suggesting that he is a patent agent, he shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds.'" He said the clause was intended to meet the evil, which it had been discovered by sad experience existed, of a man who lad been struck off the register for disgraceful professional conduct and who therefore was not entitled to the description "patent agent" using some other title calculated to make people think he was a patent agent or something a shade better. Some other title such as "patent expert," which conveyed the same idea to the public, was used by men who could not legally describe themselves as patent agents. Such men carrying on their business in that manner had caused great loss to innocent inventors who had sent them fees for them to take out patents, but the fraudulent recipients had put the money in their pockets and not taken out the patents at all. It was to put an end to that state of things that he moved his Amendment. He knew it would be said, and it had been said, in opposition to the suggestion that he had put forward, that the Comptroller of Patents kept a sort of black list of patent agents who had been removed from the register. That was said last year when a Bill embodying his suggestion passed through the House of Lords. But it was no reply to say that the Comptroller of Patents did not allow these men to practice, for that would not be effective against fraudulent agents who never applied to the Comptroller at all, but simply put the money they received as fees in their pockets and fraudulently converted them to their own use. Gentlemen like the President of the Board of Trade, who knew all about patents and patent agents, knew that that was a serious and widespread evil, which ought to be stopped at once. If the President of the Board of Trade considered the words in the Amendment too sweeping and would suggest some words which should be inserted limiting it to people who intended to deceive, he would be quite satisfied to accept them. The evil was, however, a serious one, and one from which the public suffered, and he therefore commended the clause to the House.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
"In page 18, line 7, at the end, to insert the words, '(2) if any person who is not registered as a patent agent uses on his place of business, or on any document issued by him or otherwise, any words or title suggesting that he is a patent agent, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a tine not exceeding twenty pounds."'—(Mr. Radford.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
said the Amendment which his hon. friend proposed was a serious one. He would not say it was not desirable, but he was doubtful whether it would be effective. If the Government decided to accept it there would be very considerable opposition. He had received information from a good many quarters that there would be opposition. He thought the whole thing ought to be considered. They were dealing with a very responsible profession, a skilled profession, and he thought that the status of the profession should be recognised. Still he doubted very much whether it could be done in a clause of that kind. If they proposed to do it they should do it in a much more certain way than in the way suggested by his hon. friend. If they thought that it could be done it should be properly done by means of a second Bill, when there would be full opportunities for the patent agents to state their case and for those outside the profession to state their case. He agreed there was a great deal to be said against some of the men to whom his hon. friend had referred, and that there might be attempts to deceive the public, but a good many of these outside men earned an honourable living, and that they should be deprived of all means of obtaining their livelihood without being allowed to state their case would be manifestly unfair. He hoped that his hon. friend, having stated his case, and set it before the House, would withdraw his Amendment, for he must realise that at that stage of the session it would be impossible to set up a new provision of that kind, with all the new rules which would be rendered necessary. Some organisation would, of course, be necessary to carry the proposal out properly, for that could not be done by the Amendment before the House.
said he could not resist the appeal of his right hon. friend, based, as it was, on the late period of the session. He asked leave to withdraw his Amendment.
said before the Amendment was withdrawn he would ask the House to remember that the President of the Board of Trade had made a very important statement. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the words proposed to be introduced were not suited to the subject, that the profession was a skilled one holding a highly responsible position in the commercial life of the country, and that the unsatisfactory state of things belonging to the work of that profession rendered legislation of great importance. Surely, that being so, when the President of the Board of Trade was dealing as he was that night, with the patent laws in a large spirit, so large that the next order of the day was the Patents and Designs Consolidation Bill, he should give an undertaking that he would make it one of the first considerations in his programme for next year to introduce a very substantial Bill dealing with the patent agents of this country.
said that he entirely agreed with the right hon. Gentleman. The most successful profession in this country was a profession without any legal restriction—civil engineering. He supposed the House knew that anyone could call himself a civil engineer. As soon as they set up a close corporation as a means of protection from the competition coming up from the great mass of the people a deterioration began. The more close the corporation the less worthy it was of the country. If the proposal was adopted in the present case it would not do any good to the people whom it was primarily intended to benefit and he hoped therefore that it would not be agreed to, although he quite sympathised with the feelings which had prompted the mover in bringing it forward.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
"In page 19, line 9, at end, to insert the words 'Section 19.'"
"In page 19, line 23, at end, to insert the words 'Section 38.'"
Amendments agreed to.
said he wished to appeal to hon. Members to assent to the Third Reading of the Bill that night. His reason for making this request was that he wanted the measure to be sent up to the House of Lords as soon as possible, so that the other House might be able to consider it without delay, as the session was now very near its close. If this were done hon. Members would have an opportunity of considering fully any Amendments which were made in another place and progress generally would be expedited.
said that after what the right hon. Gentleman had said he felt that he for one could not refuse his appeal.
Bill read the third time, and passed.
Patents And Designs (Consolidation) Bill
Considered in Committee.
Motion made and Question proposed, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."
said that he hoped the President of the Board of Trade would tell the Committee something concerning the intentions of the Government regarding this measure.
said that he should be glad to explain briefly what it was proposed to do. He hoped hon. Members would allow him to send the Bill up to the House of Lords and let them consider the question of the incorporation of the Patents and Designs Bill, as finally amended by them, in it. Of course it would be no use getting the Consolidation Bill through at all unless the Patents Bill which the House had just read a third time was incorporated in it. If hon. Members agreed to that step the Bill would come down there afterwards, as amended by the House of Lords, for consideration.
thought that the course taken with regard to this Bill was really somewhat inconvenient. He understood that this Bill, like all Consolidation Bills, ought to be referred to a Select Committee. The Bill was now before a Committee of the Whole House, but it was manifestly out of the question for the House of Commons to attempt to consider the whole of the eighty clauses which were now before them. They might accept the assurance which would, no doubt, be given that there was not a line nor a word in the Bill which was different from or inconsistent with any existing statute. It was well known that during the last ten or a dozen years there had been cases in which Consolidation Bills in respect of various statutes had made considerable alterations of the law, but that had invariably been put right in Select Committees of the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman asked them now pro forma to discuss the eighty clauses in this Bill, and it was obvious that at one o'clock in the morning they could not do it. As that was impossible they were to pass the eighty clauses and give the right hon. Gentleman the Third Reading of the Bill with the same despatch as was shown in the case of the measure just disposed of. They were to send the Bill to the House of Lords together with the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman had just piloted through the House and ask for a Select Committee to be set up in another place. The Lords were to be asked to incorporate in this Consolidation Bill the thirty or forty clauses of the Bill just passed, and, though the right hon. Gentleman might regard it as a simple form of procedure, he submitted that really it was a rather cumbrous method. The Patents and Designs Bill was going to be amended by agreement in various respects in the Lords. This Bill, therefore, would have to come down again after consideration; the eighty clauses would have to be reprinted and the whole matter would have to go to a Select Committee of the House of Commons. They could not, he submitted, pass the Bill without letting a Committee consider it in some form, because a measure of this kind undoubtedly required very careful and detailed expert examination. It was not right that a Bill should be passed through Parliament in the last few hours of a session which really required weeks of work, and it might be found on examination that there were certain points in the Bill which the House had just passed that conflicted with existing statutes. All these matters needed the most careful explanation and it was in the interests of sound legislation that he ventured to press these points on the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. The Lords would require a few hours to consider the Bill, and it would be very late in the session—almost at the very end—before it could come back to the House of Commons. Under the circumstances he ventured to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it would be a very great advantage if he would consider the propriety of deferring the consolidation of the patent laws, eminently desirable as it was, until next session, when he was sure it would be treated as a purely formal and non-controversial matter.
said that of course he would not be disposed to press a matter of this sort if the Opposition were not prepared to accept it. He had understood, however, that in the case of this Bill there was not only an agreement, but a desire not to oppose the Bill. They had just given a third reading to a Bill amending the patent laws, and he thought it was very important that the ordinary layman who was interested in patents should be able to read those laws for himself. One thing was absolutely certain, and that was that he could not do it now. The Consolidation Bill could not be taken, however, unless the members of the Opposition really assented, and he would be glad to know what their desire in regard to the measure really was.
said it was not a question whether the Opposition objected or not. They did not object to the consolidation of the patent laws, but, on the other hand, they thought it was a thing that ought to he carried out. As a matter of fact they considered it not only advisable, but imperative. The only question which exercised their minds was whether that consolidation should be effected during the last hours of the session, or whether it would not be better to postpone it till there was ample time for experts to consider the whole matter, the importance of which he thought no one denied.
said that if the Opposition did not object to the Bill he would suggest that they should let it go to the House of Lords and there would be ample time before it came back to the House of Commons to consider whether they should proceed with it or not. If they sent both Bills up to the House of Lords then they would know the final form which would be assumed by the Bill to which they had given a Third Reading that night and they would be in a better position to consider the question of consolidation.
said that the Opposition did not object to the Consolidation Bill, but what they wanted to know was whether there was an understanding that the Patents and Designs Bill was to be included in the Consolidation Bill, and that if the latter was passed through the House of Commons it should be carefully reviewed before it actually became the law of the land. Under the Bill which the House had just passed amending the patent laws various machinery provisions were set up, and he was not certain that all his legal friends were satisfied that these would work smoothly. One of the objects in passing a Consolidation Bill was to save expense, and they would not do this unless the provisions of the Bill were carefully considered. This they all hoped and believed would be satisfactorily done in another place, but the House of Commons at any rate would not be willing to accept the Bill without further examination. All he wished was to have it recognised that when the Bill came back it must of necessity be subjected to examination by the House of Commons.
said that the President of the Board of Trade made a very proper statement when he said that the object of this Bill was to ensure that the poor inventor who was concerned in patents should have a cheap vade mecum of the law. The first function of the House of Commons was to have the first hand in framing legislation of this kind, but if they adopted the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman and took this Bill in Committee in the early hours of the morning because it was to be sent to another place, then it would be dealt with by the other House, with the result that the House of Commons would have lost control of the Bill. He was quite sure that the Committee would recognise the truth of that statement, because the House of Commons would only, under those circumstances, be able to deal with such Amendments as the House of Lords might pass. Therefore it was a very serious thing to agree to the idea that the Committee stage of the Bill should pass practically sub silentio, throwing the whole duty of considering the measure on another place. If anything went wrong in another place in respect of this Bill the burden would not rest on the House of Commons but on the other Chamber. Being a Member of the House of Commons he preferred that the responsibility should rest on the House of Commons, and he thought they should do all they could to ensure that the Bill had an easy passage through that House. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to adjourn the consideration of the Consolidation Bill until the other Chamber had had a full opportunity of considering and amending, with the full consent of the House of Commons, the Patents and Designs Bill which had only a few moments ago passed its Third Reading. If the right hon. Gentleman agreed to put back this measure for a time every facility would be placed in his way of passing a fully matured Consolidation Bill through the House of Commons. Otherwise it would be like producing a cheap book, badly edited, and instead of making the law more intelligible to the inventor they would run the risk of making it more difficult to understand The Opposition were taking a perfectly reasonable course in asking the right hon. Gentleman to adopt this plan, and he was convinced that the best results would be secured if their suggestion was adopted.
said the Consolidation Bill had over eighty clauses, and the new Bill had about fifty. Everybody who understood the matter knew that the effect of the new Bill would be to necesssitate alterations in a great many clauses of the Consolidation Bill. Of course, any Amendments actually made by the Lords in the Consolidation Bill would come before the Commons for consideration, but supposing the Lords omitted to alter the clauses of the Consolidation Bill which ought to be altered in order to give effect to the new Bill, how could the Commons deal with that matter? The House of Commons could only deal with Amendments made by the other House, and could not insert new Amendments after the Bill had been returned from the other House. He did not know what machinery the Lords had for dealing with such complicated matters, or whether they were dependent on the private efforts of Members, but in any case words might be omitted which ought to be inserted and this House would then be unable to insert them. Was it not possible to postpone the Committee stage of the Consolidated Bill in this House until they got the amended Patents Bill back? Then when they got that back and knew what the Lords' Amendments were, they might in a few days put the proper clauses into the Consolidation Bill and go on with that Bill. He was very much in favour of consolidation, but he was against consolidation in a hurry.
said that in a measure like that there might be mistakes which hon. Members might be able to point out. He was most anxious to see a Consolidation Bill. He would like to have the law consolidated. It would be in the interests of everyone concerned that it should be; but he certainly thought it would be better to go slowly and let the Bill which had been passed go up to the House of Lords and come back first. If that could not be done they need only wait till next session, when a Consolidation Bill could go through without any waste of time or trouble. All he wanted was that if they were to have a Consolidation Bill, the Bill should be of such a character that it would carry out the object intended, and that was to have the law accurately stated in a compendious form.
Question put, and agreed to.
Remaining clauses agreed to.
Bill reported, without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.