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Orders Of The Day

Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 4 June 1947

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Agriculture Bill

Order for consideration, as amended (in the Standing Committee), read.

3.42 p.m.

I beg to Move,

"That the Bill be re-committed to a Committee of the whole House in respect of the Amendments to Clause 15, page 12, line 44; Clause 30, page 31, line 30 Clause 45, page 42, line 11; Clause 59, page 51, lines 11 and 21; and the new Clauses (Power of tenant or landlord to apply for dispossession of owner or occupier under supervision) and (Application of Part IV of Act to councils of county boroughs) standing on the Notice Paper in my name."

May I ask, Mr. Speaker, are you going to call my Amendment to the recommittal Motion—in line 7, at end, to add:

"and in respect of the Amendments in Clause I, page 1, line 7; Clause page 1, line 10; Clause 12, page 9, line 37; Clause 15, page 12, line 39; Clause 23, page 24, line 3; Clause 81, page 65, line 29; Clause 100, page 81, line 13."

I gave the Amendment great consideration, but I am afraid I do not propose to select it.

I am rather surprised at that, if I may respectfully say so, Mr. Speaker, because I thought it was the normal course, when one is advised, as we were, that an Amendment put down on Report stage would require a recommittal if it was to be discussed. For that reason we had to put down this Amendment last night, for which I apologise to the House. It was purely technical advice which we received only at the last moment. Now I understand you do not propose to call the Amendment at all. I suppose it would not be proper for me to ask if there is any reason for that?

I have told the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that I have given the matter considerable thought. The plain fact of the matter is, if I selected this Amendment to the recommittal Motion it would be, to some extent, giving the Amendments there referred to, my approval, and it would be very harsh to the Chairman of Ways and Means, because it would mean I had already said to the House: "These are Amendments which can be selected." I did not think that would be fair on him. I tell the House quite frankly, had they been normal Amendments on Report I should not have selected them in any case. The Amendment in Clause 1, page 1, line 7, would not have been taken anyhow; the Amendment in Clause 1, page 1, line 10, had a whole day in Committee; the Amendment in Clause 12, page 9, line 37, is exactly the same, and was disposed of in Committee after some debate; the Amendment in Clause 15, page 12, line 39, is partly met by a Government Amendment; the Amendment in Clause 23, page 24, line 3, is exactly the same as an Amendment put down and disposed of in Committee; the Amendment in Clause 81, page 65, line 29, was also dealt with in Committee; the last Amendment, in Clause 100, page 81, line 13, is, I am sorry to say, out of Order on Report of the Committee in any case, because it deals with matters outside the Money Resolution. As I say, I gave the matter a lot of thought, and came to the conclusion that I had better not select the Amendment about which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has asked me.

3.45 p.m.

I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Speaker, for your kindness in giving us these reasons. I appreciate the point you make, that if the House accepted this Amendment to the recommittal Motion, then in your view the Chairman of Ways and Means in Committee would be more or less morally bound to select the Amendments to which you have referred. Of course, that is not a matter upon which I can make any comment because obviously I do not know what would be in the mind of the Chairman, or whether he would or would not take that view. I do, however, appreciate the point. On the other hand, when you kindly pointed out that you would not yourself have selected any of these Amendments—had they been in Order on Report, without a recommittal Motion—largely, unless I misheard you, on the ground that they had been discussed considerably in Standing Committee, then I respectfully put to you that the whole object of the Report stage, surely, is that major points of importance, even if they had been discussed in Standing. Committee for three or four days, should have the opportunity of coming before the whole House, whereby 640 Members will have a chance of expressing their views as opposed to such of the 50 Members as are able to attend the Standing Committee from time to time.

I do not know whether we are to deduce from that, that if any matter is discussed at any length in Standing Committee—however important the matter may be—it will not be rediscussed in the House on reconsideration. If that line is to be taken in future, it seems to me that we must consider whether we ought ever to put down any important Amendment in Standing Committee at all, but should not rather reserve our attack on the Government on major issues until the Report stage, when we can at least appeal to the larger body of Members. I put it to you, Sir, as the defender of the privileges of the minority, it would be a very difficult Ruling for us to accept for all time, that because matters have been discussed at length in Standing Committee—even if they are important, and even if, as in the case of one of these Amendments, they come before the House at this stage, as the Minister knows, with the full support of two, if not three, partners in the industry—they are not to be discussed at this stage. We are very disappointed.

It does not necessarily follow, because an Amendment has been debated at length in Standing Committee, that I will or will not select it. I have to consider the relative importance of the Amendments as a whole; I select them bearing in mind their relative importance, and the relative periods of time that they have been discussed.

The Amendment in Clause 1, page r, line 7—at the beginning to insert:

"It is hereby recognised and declared that a healthy and efficient agriculture, providing, by good estate management and good husbandry, the most favourable conditions for the carrying on and development of all classes of agricultural production is an essential national need, and in conformity with this declaration."
—is worded differently from the Amendment which was discussed in Committee. It is true it covers to some extent, but not entirely, the same ground, and—

I do not think we ought to discuss the Amendment now. After all, there is on Report a very similar Amendment in the name of the hon. Member. He must wait and see whether or not I select it.

We were advised that it could not be taken on Report stage. It is, in fact, exactly the same Amendment and it is a matter which a large number of agriculturists in this country' consider very important. The Liberal Party put down the Amendment in one place in the Bill; we put it down in another. Apparently neither of us has been lucky enough to have the matter discussed.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill immediately considered in Committee.

[Major MILNER in the Chair]

Clause 15—(Supplementary Provisions As To Directions)

I beg to move, in page 12, line 44, at the end, to insert:

"The references in this and the next following Subsection to the provision of fixed equipment include references to any improvement of fixed equipment by the enlargement of buildings."
This Amendment is one of very many, indicating that we were not only willing to listen, but, when we found that an improvement could be made, were ready and willing to make that improvement. The purpose of this Amendment is to extend the class of cases in which landowners may appeal to the land tribunal against a direction under Subsection (2). At present the owner is given a right of appeal in cases of directions to provide fixed equipment. Hon. Members will recall that a good deal of discussion took place in Committee on the question of improvements to fixed equipment. It was argued lengthily, and sometimes learnedly, that it was difficult to decide between the provision of new equipment and the improvement of existing equipment. The effect of this Amendment is to confer the right of appeal on an owner against a direction requiring the improvement of fixed equipment which involves the enlargement of buildings. I think that this Amendment covers one of the more important Amendments which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) was unable to move, and I hope that it will satisfy his needs. A good deal of discussion took place in Committee on an Amendment to provide an appeal in all cases of directions in respect of improvements to fixed equipment. The Amendment was lost on a Division because it obviously went too far. Hon. Members will appreciate that many improvements are a very minor matter, and that a good number of improvements consist of modernising existing fixed equipment, which should clearly be financed by landowners in the same way as maintenance and repair. In the light of the arguments advanced in Committee, I feel that the enlargement of buildings is equivalent to the provision of fixed equipment, and it would be reasonable to allow an owner a right of appeal in such cases.

This Amendment is certainly an advance on what we had in Committee, and my hon. Friends are grateful to the Minister for it. It does not go the whole way as far as we are concerned, because it leaves out two very important points. Money spent on improvements of any sort is capital as distinct from revenue expenditure. This money has often to be borrowed, and it may entail a mortgage on the property. The Minister will appreciate that in that case it is capital expenditure. In the case of maintenance an owner assumes a certain responsibility towards the tenant, but he rarely assumes or is expected to assume any contractual responsibility to finance capital expenditure on improvements. In our view, all forms of capital expenditure should be subject to special treatment. The Amendment should go further than dealing merely with the enlargement of buildings. The most common form of improvement consists, not in enlargement, but in conversion. For instance, it may be the conversion of coverage for feeding cattle to the use of milk production. In other words, it is a question of a change of use in respect of farm buildings already in existence.

As I understand it, this class of improvement is excluded from the provisions of this Clause. These improvements involve a very large cost to the owner anxious to improve his buildings, but in some cases he may be unable to do it, owing to the financial position. It is in these cases that we feel there should be an appeal to the tribunal. We cannot expect the Government to go the whole way in this matter, and we are grateful to the Minister for what he has seen fit to do. We hope that, before the Bill reaches the Statute Book, he will consider the points I have made in regard to major improvements to buildings, and will not restrict the Clause to the buildings themselves.

As the mover of the Amendment in Committee, I add my word of thanks to the Minister for having gone so far towards meeting us in this matter. Having said so much, may I add that I do not think he has gone quite as far as he seems to indicate by his hope that all large works are included in the words "enlargement of buildings." If a farmer is expected to add a small dairy to an existing set of buildings, then that will come within the scope of the Amendment. On the other hand, if it is a question of rebuilding or reconstructing a range of existing cowsheds, which may cost infinitely more, that will not come within the purview of this Amendment. Since the Minister has said that large works shall be included and trivial works shall be excluded, I should like to say that I am disappointed that he did not find a better form of worth for what I deem to be his intentions.

I appreciate the purpose of this Amendment, but perhaps the Solicitor-General can say something in regard to the wording. It seems to me that under this wording an improvement cannot be considered an improvement unless it means an enlargement. In other words, something must be made bigger, before it can be considered as an improvement. It often happens that improvements in the accepted sense, can be achieved by making something smaller, or by using a building for two or three purposes where formerly it was used only for one. Am I to understand that whatever is done will not be an improvement unless, simultaneously, there is enlargement? If that is what is meant, although we are glad to see the Minister moving in the direction we urged during Committee, this does not seem a very happy solution to the problem.

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gains-borough (Captain Crookshank) is missing the point. A direction is given by a county executive committee for the provision of new fixed equipment, or for the improvement of existing fixed equipment. I cannot conceive a county executive committee giving a direction to a landowner to reduce a building—that is almost incredible. So long as we cover enlargement of buildings with the provision of new equipment, hon. Members are bound to agree that we shall cover most cases of heavy expenditure. It is simply a question of whether or not an owner who has been given a direction by a county executive committee shall be allowed an appeal to the tribunal. I think, therefore, that I have gone reasonably well along the way to meet as much as hon. Members opposite expected. I hope they will accept the Amendment.

4.0 p.m.

Am I right in understanding that buildings, in this sense, include farmhouses as well as agricultural buildings? It is not clear whether fixed equipment means a dwelling house as well as a farm building, and it is important that we should know whether that is so, because in many cases it is desirable that farmhouses should be included.

I understand, at the moment, that as this is not a Housing Bill farmhouses will not come within the meaning of new fixed equipment or enlargements of existing fixed equipment.

The definition of "fixed equipment" includes any building or structure affixed on the land. I should have thought that a farmhouse was a building or structure affixed on the land. The Clause defines an agricultural unit as a unit together with any dwelling house. A farmhouse is part of the agricultural unit, but is not fixed equipment although it is a building.

From later information I have just had, I now understand that a farmhouse comes within this definition.

Then the point raised by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborougb (Captain Crookshank), about improvements being enlargements definitely arises. One of the problems in my part of the country is that farmhouses are too big, and should be made smaller by being divided.

Does the Minister not think that this Amendment will get us into some trouble? I can visualise a case in which a direction is given for the building of 30 new cow-stalls. Ten may be built from completely new material; 10 may be added as an extension to the existing cowhouses, but the other 10 may be made out of improvements to the old cowhouses. Those to be built separately, and those made by the extension, will be included, but those coming from the improvements to the old cowhouses will not be included. It would be better if the Minister included all expenditure which is not allowed under the ordinary maintenance claim.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 30—(Restrictions On Termination By Notice Of Tenancies Of Holdings)

I beg to move, in page 31, line 30, at the end, to insert:

"(e) for excluding the application of Subsection (1) of this Section in relation to sub-tenancies in such cases as may be prescribed, and for making such provision as appears to the Minister expedient for the purpose of safeguarding the interests of sub-tenants, including provision enabling the Minister or the Agricultural Land Tribunal, where the interest of a tenant is terminated by notice to quit, to secure that a sub-tenant will hold from the landlord on the like terms as he held from the tenant."
This Clause provides that notices to quit, given in respect of agricultural holdings, shall not have effect, except in certain cases, where they are disputed by the tenant. As the Clause is at present drafted, it does not contain very adequate provision as to what is to happen to the sub-tenant. The Clause deals with the position where the freeholder gives notice to his tenant, and the tenant disputes it. In the event of a dispute the Minister, or the tribunal, will have to decide between them. That is in the case of all notices to quit, except in the exempted cases referred to in Subsection (2). On further examination of the Clause, it has become apparent that there may be curious anomalies arising out of the position of sub-tenants.

I will give the Committee some examples. Supposing the landlord, the freeholder, gives a notice to a tenant having himself obtained planning permission to use the holding for non-agricultural work, with the result that his notice to quit would be excluded from the operation of the Clause by virtue of Subsection (2, c). The notice, in those circumstances, would be effective against the tenant. But supposing the tenant had let to a sub-tenant who was in occupation of the holding, the question would arise whether the subtenant could be given notice, and compelled to leave the holding. As the Clause is at present drafted, this situation might well arise. The tenant, having been given notice by the landlord, when he in turn came to give notice to his sub-tenant, the sub-tenant would be entitled to dispute the notice under the terms of Clause 30, and the tenant could not possibly get the sub-tenant out, because the tenant could not say that he himself came within the provisions of Subsection (2, c). He would not be able to show that he wanted to use the agricultural holding for the non-agricultural purposes for which planning permission had been granted. The position would result that notice against the tenant would be effective, but notice against the subtenant would be ineffective.

A similar situation might arise in a hardship case. The freeholder with a strong hardship case might give notice to the tenant. The tenant might dispute it, but not have hardship grounds himself to dispute it successfully. But when that tenant, having let to a sub-tenant, came to give notice to the sub-tenant in order to get him out, he would not be able to do so because the sub-tenant might be able to say, against the tenant, that it would involve greater hardship to him if he were evicted, than it would to the tenant. There, again, you would have a case where the notice would be good against the tenant, but not against the sub-tenant.

In order to protect the interest of the sub-tenant this situation should be considered. The landlord, the freeholder, gives notice to the tenant. The tenant disputes the notice. Justice would seem to require that inasmuch as the notice might result in the sub-tenant having to go, the sub-tenant should be given a voice on whether the freeholders' notice to the tenant was good or bad. There is another case which requires some provision and that is where a freeholder gives notice to the tenant, but the tenant is not interested, is not concerned to dispute that notice, and does not take any of the necessary steps. It might well be that the subtenant would be very anxious indeed to dispute that notice. In those circumstances, it would be unfair to compel the tenant to dispute it, because the tenant might be content to leave the holding. Justice seems to require, in that case, that the sub-tenant should be entitled to say to the Minister or the tribunal, "Put me in the shoes of the tenant, and let me dispute.the notice which has been served on the tenant."

Those are several alternative sets of circumstances which I give as examples to satisfy the Committee that some sort of further provision is necessary for, the purpose of protecting, in one case, the landlord and, in another case, the tenant. I hope that from what I have said it will be apparent that the circumstances which may arise would be of extreme complication. The way in which we have sought to deal with this is to ask for powers to make regulations. We could, of course, have sought to introduce into the Bill a Clause which would have been extraordinarily long and elaborate. I would add in support of that assertion that the question of deliberate evasion also arises. To frame a Clause which would not only deal with the circumstances which I have adumbrated, but also be effective against any possible attempt at evasion would result in one of those extremely long Clauses which one sometimes sees in the Income Tax Acts, running into several pages. I hope that the Committee will think that we have taken the proper course in asking for powers to make regulations to deal with these circumstances. I would remind the Committee that the regulation-making power is limited to the case of sub-tenants, and as time goes on, if we do not want the regulations which we first thought would be required, we shall be able to modify, abandon or cancel them. In order to meet the needs which I have described, we are asking for powers to make the regulations with the object set out in the Amendment, and I hope that the Committee will think that is the proper course.

I did not fully comprehend how far this Amendment takes us. I should like to be assured by the learned Solicitor-General that the making of regulations will not include the regularisation of irregular sub-tenants. As the Minister is aware, a large number of tenancy agreements contain clauses prohibiting sub-tenants without the approval of the landlord, and it may be that regulations made under this Amendment would have the effect of regularising any subtenancy.

While I think we agree that on the whole, this proposal improves the Clause, I do not think the statement of the learned Solicitor-General should be allowed to pass unchallenged, that a Clause to deal on this matter effectively would have been of inordinate length. This Clause, as it stands covers two and a half pages of the Bill. I think that it is hardly open to question that when we are legislating, as we are here, for a considerable period of time, the length of the Clause scarcely matters at all, provided the object is achieved. The Government when they first drafted the Bill should have drawn the Clause, whatever its length, so as to meet the purposes they had in mind. This is my main point. They failed to do that, because the burden on Parliamentary draftsmen at this time has become quite intolerable, and the surfeit of legislation, which we in this House find hard enough, bears even more hardly on those servants of the State whose task it is to draft these Parliamentary Bills. Had they a lesser burden, they would have done their job properly, and the excuse of the hon. and learned Gentleman would not have been necessary. I think that I express the view of all on these benches in saying that this Amendment is a slight improvement, and that we are prepared to accept it for what it is worth.

May I have an answer to my question? If not, I am prepared to elaborate it. I think that my contention is one that should be met.

4.15 p.m.

The learned Solicitor-General has explained the complicated nature of this Amendment. We all desire to see the position of subtenants and tenants and the position of landlords amply safeguarded, but I think that the question which the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. York) has put, regarding the possible regularisation of the irregular sub-tenant by the insertion of these words, deserves an answer from the hon. and learned Gentleman. I do not think that there are many cases—I speak with knowledge of Scottish agriculture only—in which sub-tenants are very much in vogue, but no doubt the hon. Member for Ripon, who represents an important agricultural area in Yorkshire has some special cases in mind. Speaking for Scotland may I say there are cases where arrangements of an irregular character have been entered into in the past between Owners and tenants-in-chief regarding leases or tenancies, and there have as a result been serious disputes, often involving litigation. I am speaking only of leases between landlords and what I describe for want of a better definition as tenants-in-chief. How much more desirable it would be that there should be no element of doubt whatever as between tenants and sub-tenants whom have—

It is clearly laid down that the part of the Bill under consideration shall apply to Scotland and Northern Ireland, otherwise I should not have intervened. I want to impress on the Solicitor-General that he should try to give a fairly detailed answer to the question which has been put. I am against sub-tenants in agriculture, as I am against sub-tenants of most kinds, but we all know that sometimes there is inserted a clause in an original lease which says that the landlord's assent should not be unreasonably withheld, and the question of the acceptance of sub-tenants may arise. I think that the learned Solicitor-General should be in a position to make it clear that there will be no question whatsoever under this proposed Amendment of regularising agreements entered into between the original tenant and sub-tenant which will make permanent an arrangement entered into which might give rise to all sorts of inconveniences to the parties concerned.

I asked for an assurance that the regulations that are made under this Amendment will not include provisions the effect of which would be to regularise irregular tenancies.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 45—(Duty Of County And County Borough Councils To Provide Smallholdings)

I beg to move, in page 42, line II, to leave out "and of every county borough council."

Hon. Members will recall that in Committee upstairs there was a good deal of discussion on the wisdom of allowing every county borough council to become a smallholding authority. This Amendment simply leads up to a new Clause which is on the Order Paper. I do not think I need dwell upon this point at the moment, since perhaps I can give a more prolonged explanation when we come to the new Clause itself.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 59—(Constitution And Functions Of Smallholdings Committees)

I beg to move, in page 51, line 11, to leave out "or county borough."

This is a similar Amendment, leading up to the new Clause.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 51, line 21, leave out Subsection (4).—[ Mr. T. Williams.]

New Clause—(Power Of Tenant Or Landlord To Apply For Dispossession Of Owner Or Occupier Under Supervision)

(1) On any review under Subsection (2) of Section twelve of this Act of the management of land or farming of an agricultural unit of which the owner is not also the occupier,—

  • (a) if the review is of management, the representations under paragraph (b) of that Subsection of the occupier may include a request that the Minister shall exercise his powers under Subsection (1) of Section sixteen of this Act in relation to the land;
  • (b) if the review is of farming, the representations under the said paragraph (b) of any owner of land comprised in the agricultural unit may include a request that the Minister shall exercise his powers under Subsection (1) of Section seventeen of this Act in relation to the said land.
  • (2) Where such a request is made the Minister shall not comply therewith unless he is satisfied that the management or farming, as the case may be, has not shown satisfactory improvement while the supervision order has been in force, but save as aforesaid may, subject to the provisions of this Section, either comply with or refuse the request.

    (3) If the Minister proposes to refuse such a request he shall give notice in writing of his proposal to the owner and to the occupier.

    (4) If before the expiration of the prescribed period from the making of such a request no notice has been given either under the last foregoing Subsection of a proposal to refuse the request or under Section sixteen or seventeen of this Act of a proposal complying with the request, the Minister shall be deemed to have given notice of his proposal to refuse the request.

    (5) Where notice of a proposal to refuse such a request is given or deemed to have been given the person by whom the request is made may require that the proposal shall be referred to the Agricultural Land Tribunal constituted under Part V of this Act, and the provisions in that behalf of the said Part V shall apply accordingly.

    (6) Where in consequence of a reference to the Agricultural Land Tribunal under the last foregoing Subsection the Minister complies with such a request as aforesaid, the provisions of Subsections (4) and (5) of Section sixteen of this Act or Subsections (2) and (3) of Section seventeen thereof, as the case may be, shall not apply to any action of the Minister necessary to comply with the request.—[ Mr. Marquand.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    Yesterday, on the Industrial Organisation Bill, I did what I believe the baseball players call a piece of "pinch hitting" for my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, who was regrettably absent through indisposition. I should like to say how much I regret that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture is also unable to be here this afternoon owing to a serious illness, and, if I may be allowed to continue my metaphor for a moment without any disrespect for the Committee, I hope that in this game my amateur status may give me a little indulgence.

    The purpose of this new Clause is to deal with a point arising out of the discussion in Committee on the certificate of bad husbandry procedure contained in the Fifth Schedule. The Schedule provides that where a tenant farmer has been placed under supervision, the landlord should not be able to apply for a certificate of bad husbandry. The reason for this is, of course, that if an application for a certificate of bad husbandry were to be allowed in respect of a tenant under supervision, it would automatically have to be granted, as a farmer can be placed under supervision only if he is not farming in accordance with the rules of good husbandry. It would however be a mistake to grant a certificate of bad husbandry while a farmer was under supervision; the purpose of supervision, after all, is to give a man a helping hand so as to enable him to improve his standard of farming. However, while a tenant is still under supervision, it is perfectly open to the landlord to go to the committee and make representations to them to the effect that the tenant has not shown satisfactory improvement in his standard of farming, and therefore ought to be dispossessed. If the committee agree with that view and dispossess the tenant, he will quit the holding without compensation for disturbance in exactly the same way as he would have done if a certificate of bad husbandry had been applied for and granted. Moreover, the time will be the same in each case, since the notice to quit with a certificate of bad husbandry must run for at least 12 months, while a supervision order must equally run for a period of 12 months before a tenant can be dispossessed.

    As the Bill is drafted however there is one material difference between the two procedures. Under the certificate of bad husbandry procedure, if a landlord's application for a certificate is refused he can appeal to the agricultural land tribunal. Under the supervision procedure, if the landlord's request that his tenant should be dispossessed is refused, he has no right of appeal to the tribunal. The purpose of this Clause, therefore, is to eliminate this difference between the two procedures and provide that where a tenant is under supervision and the landlord makes a request that he should be dispossessed on the ground that he has not shown satisfactory improvement, and this request is not accepted by the committee, the landlord should have a right of appeal to the agricultural land tribunal. The question which the tribunal will have to consider will be whether, during the period of supervision, the tenant has not shown satisfactory improvement and whether, in all the circumstances of the case, he ought to be dispossessed.

    Clearly, the landlord cannot be allowed to ask for a tenant's dispossession except at periodical intervals, and the Clause, therefore, provides that the landlord may only make such a request on the occasion of each annual review of a supervision order. The result of this change in procedure will be that the landlord will have exactly the same right to get rid of a tenant under supervision without the payment of compensation for disturbance as he would,have had under the certificate of bad husbandry procedure in respect of a tenant not under supervision. The only difference will be a matter of the machinery which the landlord will use. Therefore, we feel that we have definitely met the criticism that the result of placing the tenant under supervision is to take the whole question of getting rid of him completely out of the landlord's hand. The landlord will have his remedy of requesting dispossession in exactly the same way as he would have had the remedy under the certificate of bad husbandry procedure if a tenant was not under supervision.

    If the landlord is given the right to ask for the dispossession of a tenant under supervision, it is clearly necessary, and only logical, that a tenant whose landlord is under supervision ought to have the same right. The Clause, therefore, provides that where an owner of land is under supervision his tenant has the right to request the committee to dispossess the owner on the ground that he has not shown satisfactory improvement in his management during the period of supervision. If the committee do not accept the request, the tenant is given a right of appeal to the agricultural land tribunal in the same way as the landlord has been given a right of appeal. I hope that with this brief explanation the Committee will feel that the point raised in the previous discussion has been adequately met, and will agree to insert this new Clause in the Bill.

    The hon. Gentleman having, with great accuracy, read his brief, I wonder if he would now b good enough to explain to us the text of the new Clause in his own words?

    I wanted to mention one point which I made on the Fifth Schedule, of which this new Clause has largely taken the place and which the Minister said he would look at again. The Minister does not seem to have done so. I am concerned about Subsections (3) and (4) of this new Clause. I feel it is a mistake to put into legislation this form of procedure. Subsection (3) says:

    "If the Minister proposes to refuse such a request he shall give notice in writing of his proposal to the owner and to the occupier."
    That is all right, but Subsection (4) says:
    "If … no notice has been given … of a proposal to refuse the request … the Minister shall be deemed to have given notice of his proposal to refuse the request."
    I do not see why he should be deemed to have done it. He should either do it or not do it, and we ought not to give this slipshod sort of power to the Minister, so that if the time expires and nothing has been done, he shall be deemed to have taken action which he could have taken and ought to have taken if he had acted up to the earlier part of the Clause. The Minister said he did not like that kind of thing and would look at it again, but he has not made the necessary correction.

    I think that my right hon. Friend, in saying that he would look at this again, also said that he had every intention of doing what is suggested here, namely notifying the occupier in writing. He intends that his administrators who will be carrying out the provisions of this Bill for him shall do that, but at the same time lie has to safeguard himself against the possibility of some error.

    Yes, but not by being deemed to have done something which he has not done. If he has to safeguard his position in respect of a mistake made by an official of his Department or by himself, there ought to be a regular procedure under the law as to what happens when people do not carry out their jobs. Certainly they should not be deemed to have carried them out if they have not done so.

    Under Subsection (2) of this new Clause:

    "Where such a request is made the Minister shall not comply therewith unless he is satisfied that the management or farming, as the case may be, has not shown satisfactory improvement while the supervision order has been in force,"
    —so that a satisfactory improvement has to be made before the Minister entertains a request. It goes on:
    "but save as aforesaid may, subject to the provisions of this section, either comply with or refuse the request."
    If there has been improvement during the period, such a request cannot then be entertained by the Minister. There is the situation where a notice is in force and no improvement has taken place. In those circumstances it can be entertained by the Minister, and under the Subsection if the Minister proposes to refuse such a request it shall be done in writing. It is an odd position if where it is established that there is no improvement at all during the tenure of the notice it is still permissible for the Minister to refuse the notice. Where there is no improvement and there is negligence during the period, why not enforce the order at once?

    4.30 p.m.

    I think the hon. and learned Member has got this all wrong. If a tenant farmer be under a supervision order and if he has made no progress or improvement, clearly the Minister would be justified in receiving representations from the landowner, but if the person under supervision is making some improvement and is responding to the advice, guidance and leadership, then clearly a certificate of bad husbandry ought not to be granted. It seems on the face of it that it is contradictory, but, in fact, it is not so.

    I see one small difficulty at which I wish the Minister would look. Where there is a notice of a proposal to refuse such a request, it follows automatically that the proposal shall be referred to the agricultural land tribunal. Supposing there is no such proposal, what is to follow? Who is to know whether there is going to be a refusal or not and what is going to be the position of the agricultural tribunal?

    Is not this new Clause, in fact, an intermediary stage between Clause 12, which is supervision, and Clauses 16 and 17 which deal with dispossession? In other words, is it not going half way towards an appeal to the agricultural land tribunal so much desired by Members on this side of the Committee? The point I want to make is, if a man is put under supervision under Clause 12, then if either the landlord or the tenant feel that their opposite number is not making sufficient progress, he should be dispossessed. In other words, either can apply to the Minister, and if the Minister takes the same view and agrees, the landlord or the tenant can apply to the agricultural land tribunal to have the matter finally settled. That takes place before Clauses 16 and 17 operate.

    I am rather sorry for this confusion, because I thought my hon. Friend the Paymaster-General was clarity personified in his explanation, despite the remarks of the hon. Member for Denbigh (Sir H. Morris-Jones). In Committee it was suggested by hon. Members opposite that a person under supervision has apparently not farmed up to a reasonable standard, otherwise he could not be under supervision. It was urged, therefore, that the landowner ought to be allowed to apply for a certificate of bad husbandry and get rid of his tenant without compensation. Our submission was, of course, that a person was under supervision because the county executive committee were trying to help him to improve his standard, and it would, therefore, be unreasonable to allow a certificate of bad husbandry to be granted at that time. However, as a result of consultations since the Committee stage, we have devised ways and means of doing what we regard as justice both to the landlord and the tenant. We have completely conceded the point made by hon. Members opposite who now seem to be engaged in the difficulty of explaining away the concession we have actually made.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman explain the implications of Subsection (4) of the new Clause? I understand Subsection (3) which lays down that if the Minister proposes to refuse a request a notice in writing will have to be given, but I am still not at all clear as to the object of this extraordinary phrase in Subsection (4) that in default of any decision either way:

    "the Minister shall be deemed to have given notice of his proposal to refuse the request."

    Before the Minister answers that point, might I take it a little-further and ask him to include in his reply some reference to the first line of Subsection (4) of the proposed Clause, where it says:

    "If before the expiration of the prescribed period from the making of such a request …"
    I have not had the advantage of participating in these proceedings upstairs and I would be grateful if the Minister would say a word on the prescribed period as envisaged in this Subsection. The interpretation Clause refers to the prescribed period and says:
    "'Prescribed' has are meaning assigned to it by the last foregoing Sections."
    The last foregoing Section is Clause 106, and Subsection (2) says:
    "In this Act the expression 'prescribed' means prescribed by regulations made by the Minister."
    Might I ask the Minister about the regulations which are to be made in regard to the fixing of the prescribed period? Will the prescribed period be the standard prescribed period in all cases, or will it be a variable prescribed period? Further, if there is to be a prescribed period in this way, then surely it adds force to the contention already made by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) in regard to the unsatisfactory provision as to the notice being deemed to have been given. Surely the Minister will agree that if he is making the regulation to prescribe a period, the matter must be present within the minds of his Department, and it should not be necessary to incorporate this astonishing phraseology into an Act of Parliament to cover possible slips in a Government Department. I will put one further point, which is in regard to Sub section (3) of the new Clause as to the notice in writing of the Minister's proposal to refuse. Is that notice of refusal a formal thing, or will it be accompanied by a reasoned statement as to why he has come to this decision?

    The notice, I understand, will be merely a notice that the Minister has either refused the request or otherwise. I do not see why there should be any lengthy and detailed explanation as to why the Minister has reached that decision. With regard to the other point, about the expiration of the prescribed period, it seems to me quite dear that the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker- Smith) destroyed his own case because if a period is prescribed under Clause 106—it may be a month or two months or a week or two weeks—it will be prescribed, but the time period will vary according to the circumstances in differing cases. If, therefore, a prescribed period is known and the Minister by that time has not given his assent, the last two lines of Subsection (4) indicate that he shall be deemed to have given notice of his proposal to refuse the request. At the end of the prescribed period—say a month—if the Minister has not accepted or has, in fact, done nothing, it is made clear that he has refused, and therefore there cannot be any doubt about the matter.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

    New Clause—(Application Of Part Iv Of Act To Councils Of County Boroughs)

    (1) The Minister may, on the application of the council of a county borough, direct that the provisions of Part IV of this Act, other than this Section, shall apply in relation to the council as they apply in relation to the council of a county, being a smallholdings authority.

    (2) The Minister may, whether on the application of the council of the county borough concerned or otherwise, revoke any direction for the time being in force under this section.

    (3) Where no direction under this Section is in force in relation to the council of, any county borough, but land is held by the council for the purposes of smallholdings (whether in consequence of a previous direction under this Section or of the exercise of powers conferred by the Small Holdings and Allotments Acts, 2908 to 1930, then subject to the provisions of the next following Subsection the provisions Of Part IV of this Act, other than this Section, shall as respects that land apply in relation to the council as they apply in relation to the council of a county, being a smallholdings authority.

    (4) Where the said provisions of Part IV of this Act apply by virtue of the last foregoing Subsection, then—

  • (a) so much of the said provisions as imposes a duty to provide smallholdings shall apply as if it conferred a power so to do;
  • (b) the council shall not have power to acquire or appropriate land for the purposes of smallholdings, whether by virtue of the said provisions or otherwise:
  • Provided that as respects land held by the council for smallholdings purposes by virtue of the grant of a tenancy or the compulsory hiring of the land, nothing in paragraph ( b) of this Subsection shall prevent the extension or renewal of the tenancy or the compulsory purchase of the land.

    (5) Where by virtue of this Section the provisions of Section fifty-nine of this Act apply to the council of a county borough—

  • (a) nothing in Subsection (3) of that Section shall prevent the council referring thereunder to the smallholdings committee any matters relating to the exercise of the council's functions in connection with allotments, so however that those matters shall not be referred to the smallholdings committee unless a sub-committee of the smallholdings committee is constituted in accordance with the provisions of Section fourteen of the Allotments Act, 5922, and the matters are referred by the smallholdings committee to that sub-committee;
  • (b) reference of the said matters to the smallholdings committee under the said section fifty-nine shall be sufficient compliance with the requirements of the said Section fourteen as to reference to an allotments committee.—[Mr. T. Williams.]
  • Brought up, and read the First time.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    In Committee there was a good deal of criticism of the inclusion of county boroughs as smallholding authorities under Clause 45. It was pointed out that many county boroughs, although primarily urban, had really no agricultural land within their boundaries, and following the discussion at that time I promised to look into the matter between then and the Report stage. The purpose of this new Clause is to deal with that point. Its effect will be that county boroughs will not automatically become smallholding authorities for the purposes of Part IV of this Bill. Any county borough will, however, be able to apply to the Minister to become a smallholding authority, and the Minister will have power on such application to direct that a county borough council shall become a smallholding authority for the purposes of Part IV. When such a direction is given, the county borough council will have exactly the same powers as any county council under the terms of the Bill. The Minister can also revoke such a direction, either on his own initiative or on that of the county borough council concerned.

    In view of this change it is clearly necessary to deal with the case of county borough councils which already hold land for smallholding purposes, or which be-tome smallholding authorities and acquire land, and subsequently, as the result of a revocation of a direction, cease to be a smallholding authority. Arrangements must be made to meet that situation. The effect of Subsections (3) and (4) of the new Clause is that where a county borough council hold land for smallholding purposes they will continue to have all the necessary functions, powers and duties under Part IV of the Bill in relation to that particular land. They will not, however, have power to acquire additional land except after a direction made by the Minister. This new Clause, I repeat, is intended to meet the point raised by hon. Members in Committee. Also for their satisfaction I would say that it has been discussed and agreed by the Association of Municipal Corporations and the County Councils Association. I hope, therefore, that the Committee will accept it.

    I think the Minister has gone a long way towards meeting the objections we raised from this side, but the point we made in Committee, and which should be made again here, is that the amount of land available in the whole country is limited, and that any allocation of smallholdings in county areas will cause a good deal of trouble. If the allocation is in any way overweighted by the demands of borough councils to whom the Minister gives permission, that will inevitably take away from the total area available in those parts of the country where agricultural workers are far more numerous. I want to enter that caveat because I feel that large-scale demands will upset the balance of the whole scheme, making land available for agricultural workers in county areas and, to that extent, making fewer smallholdings available for agricultural workers outside the county boroughs.

    I am certain that hon. Members on this side of the Committee will be grateful to the Minister for having introduced this new Clause because we do not want to upset any existing arrangement where the county councils have smallholdings. On the other hand we do not wait to enforce them to provide them where that is impracticable. There are some words in Subsection (5, a) which I do not quite understand, and I should be grateful if the Minister will explain them. It is quite obvious today that allotments are a very important factor in producing food, and allotment holders are crying out for security of tenure. They also need loans to help produce the food, and protection against the Town and Country Planning Bill. Subsection (5, a) says that agricultural matters may be referred to the Smallholdings Committee. It goes on to say that in connection with allotments:

    "those matters shall not be referred to the smallholdings committee unless a sub-committee of the smallholdings committee is constituted."
    It appears to me, therefore, that matters concerning allotments may not be referred to this sub-committee unless there is a special sub-committee of the sub-committee itself to deal with allotments. Surely, allotment problems must come under discussion from time to time by county councils, and it seems that they should be allowed to put their problems before the sub-committee irrespective of whether or not there is a special subcommittee to deal with allotments. I would ask the Minister for some explanation on this point.

    4.45 p.m.

    As I read Subsection (5) of the new Clause it in no way alters the existing conditions, I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman that allotment holders are calling aloud for security of tenure, but I am afraid we cannot deal with allotments in this particular Bill.

    Allotments are being dealt with in this Bill, and the new Clause says that nothing can be done about them unless a sub-committee of the smallholdings committee is constituted. This seems to rule out any question of matters connected with allotments being dealt with under this subsection.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

    Bill reported with Amendments; as amended (in the Standing Committee and on re-committal) considered.

    New Clause—(Supplementary Provisions As To S 36 And S 37)

    (1) Where by virtue of Section thirty-six of thirty-seven of this Act the liability for the maintenance or repair of any item of fixed equipment is transferred from the tenant to the landlord, the landlord may within the prescribed period beginning with the date on which the transfer takes effect require that there shall be determined by arbitration under the Act of 1923, and paid by the tenant, the amount of any compensation which would have been payable either under Section twenty-eight of this Act or in accordance with Sub: section (3) of that Section, in respect of any previous failure by the tenant-to discharge the said liability, if the tenant had quitted the holding on the termination of his tenancy at the date on which the transfer takes effect.

    (2) For the purposes of so much of Subsection (3) of Section twenty-eight of this Act as prevents a landlord claiming compensation in respect of the same holding both under a contract of tenancy and under Subsection (1) of the said Section twenty-eight, any claim under the last foregoing Subsection shall be disregarded.

    (3) Where by virtue of Section thirty-six or thirty-seven of this Act the liability for the maintenance or repair of any item of fixed equipment is transferred from the landlord to the tenant, any claim by the tenant in respect of any previous failure by the landlord to discharge the said liability shall, if the tenant within the prescribed period beginning with the date on which the transfer takes effect so requires, be determined by arbitration under the Act of 1923.

    (4) Where it appears to the arbitrator—

  • (a) on any reference under Subsection (2) of Section thirty-six of this Act that by reason of any provision included in his award, or
  • (b) on any reference under Section thirty- seven of this Act that by reason of any provision which he is required by that Section to include in his award,
  • it is equitable that the rent of the holding should be varied, he may vary the rent accordingly, and for the purposes of Subsection (3) of Section thirty-four of this Act any variation of rent under this Subsection shall be disregarded.

    (5) The award of an arbitrator under Section thirty-six or thirty-seven of this Act shall have effect as if the terms and provisions specified and made therein were contained in an agreement in writing entered into by the landlord and the tenant and having effect as from the making of the award or, if the award so provides, from such later date as may be specified therein.—[ The Solicitor-General.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    I beg to move "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    Its object, roughly speaking, is as follows. Hon. Members will remember that Clauses 36 and 37 of the Bill have the effect that in certain circumstances the liability to repair and maintain fixed equipment can be transferred from the landlord to the tenant or vice versa from the tenant to the landlord. During the discussion of these two Clauses in Committee it was pointed out that apparently the effect of that would be that in the event of such a transfer, and of the landlord or the tenant, as the case might be, committing a breach of his obligations before the transfer, the parties would have to wait until the termination of the tenancy before damages could be claimed for that breach. It was further pointed out that that was unsatisfactory, and the argument was adduced that supposing, in the event of such a transfer taking place, it became apparent that the landlord or the tenant had committed a breach of his obligation to repaid and maintain fixed equipment, it should be possible there and then for the wronged party to claim damages or compensation for that breach.

    What this new Clause seeks to do is to bring that about. If they will look at it more closely, hon. Members will see that Subsection (1) provides that in the event of there being a transfer of liability the landlord may ask that the arbitrator should determine his claim for compensation. Subsection (2) is machinery, intricate and complicated, and I think the House would not want me to go into much detail about it. It impinges upon Clause 28, and is necessary in order to prevent certain results from ensuing under that Clause. Subsection (3) enables a tenant to have his claim adjudicated upon by arbitration under the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1923. The tenant's normal remedy in regard to a breach of obligation would be to sue for damages under his contract, and he will still be able to take this course if he wishes. The advantage of Subsection (3) will be that he can adopt a more convenient procedure by having his claim dealt with by arbitration under the Act of 1923 if he wishes. Subsections (4) and (5) are only drafting and machinery provisions. If hon. Members will look at Clauses 36 and 37 they will see that Subsections (4) and (5) of Clause 36, and Subsections (4) and (5) of Clause 37 are identical in wording. The proposed new Clause gathers these parts of those two Clauses together, for the sake of brevity. Later Amendments will deal with other aspects of the same matter.

    I should point out something which was referred to during the Committee stage. If hon. Members will look at the last line of the proposed new Clause, they will see that it brings about the result that the award is to operate with effect from the date of the order, or from such later date as may be specified. In other words, it cannot be made to operate retrospectively. In Clauses 36 and 37, orders can be made to operate retrospectively, but now they have to start at the date of the award. I hope that the House will think that the new Clause is satisfactory and meets the objects for which it was designed.

    We have given careful consideration to the proposed new Clause, and we are grateful to the Solicitor-General for the explanation he has given. We agree that it is a little definite improvement in the drafting of the Bill, and we thank the Minister for it.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

    Clause 3—(Variation Of Factors Determining Operation Of Arrangements For Providing Guaranteed Prices And Assured Markets)

    I beg to move, in page 2, line 29, to leave out "appropriate Minister," and to insert "Minister."

    On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Am I to understand that you have passed over my proposed new Clause—[Co-operation among producers]?

    The hon. Member's proposed Clause has not been selected by Mr. Speaker.

    We had a discussion in Committee on the points raised in the Amendment which I have moved, but for the benefit of hon. Members who were not members of the Standing Committee I should mention that the "appropriate" Minister whom we wish to see removed from Clause 3 and from subsequent Clauses is either the Minister of Agriculture, the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Home Secretary in relation to Northern Ireland, or the Minister of Food. Those who have studied the Bill will realise that in these Clauses very wide powers are given to the person described "the appropriate Minister", who I take it will be either the Minister of Agriculture or the Minister of Food. That Minister will have power, when it appears to him expedient or in the public interest, to vary the guaranteed price for any particular agricultural commodity He can also limit the quantity to which the price is applied and can vary the methods by which the price is paid. I think hon. Members will agree that questions of price and method of payment are essentially agricultural matters, and should be the responsibility of the Minister of Agriculture.

    In the Committee, the Minister answered the case which we put forward with a very plausible, and in some ways a reasonable argument. He said that in the conditions we have in the country today, rationing being in force, many questions as to price had been settled by order or by regulation under the authority of the Minister of Food. That Minister had power to do it, and it was administratively convenient that he should do so. The Minister of Agriculture went on to say that he, as Minister of Agriculture, took full responsibility although he may not have made the orders himself. On this side of the House we hope that existing conditions will not prevail for very much longer, and that we shall soon see the end of the present system of rationing. We feel that it should somehow be made clear in the Bill whether the Minister of Agriculture or the Minister of Food is responsible on these vital questions affecting the agricultural industry. If the Minister cannot accept this Amendment and the consequential Amendments, we hope that he will give us some firmer assurances than we have had so far that this procedure will not be extended indefinitely. We hope that he will take the earliest opportunity to get back for the Minister of Agriculture those powers which, in the opinion of hon. Members on this side of the House, should be vested in him, and in him only.

    5.0 p.m.

    This Amendment brings up the very important question of the power of the Minister in relation to other Ministers. The essential thing is co-operation. I had down a new Clause relating to co-operation among, smallholders which was not called. Here I am talking about the co-operation of the Minister. All will agree that Ministers working separately will not do so effective a job as Ministers working in close co-operation with one another. If the Ministers are co-operating they will be anxious to see that the smallholders are co-operating. I hope the Minister will accept this suggestion and see that a great deal of co-operation takes place. We are often told that those en- gaged in agriculture work "from see to can't see," from early dawn till the last hour of night. They have to exploit their own living to make a livelihood, and it is hard work. I have had some experience of this. I remember on a hot summer's day standing with the sweat running down my forehead watching the wife cultivating the garden. Recently she has revolted and she now does the watching and I do the groaning. The smallholder can only hope to make a success of his smallholding if we have co-operation between the Ministries and co-operation to the utmost among the smallholders.

    I know from the Debate we had in Committee that hon. Members opposite do not like the Ministry of Food. They made that very plain, but their reasons, I thought, were very thin. The effect of this and other Amendments on the Order Paper is to preclude the Ministry of Food from taking any action under the Bill. It is clear to me that hon. Members are not quite seized of how the Clause will work. Certain actions under the Bill which are of vital importance are reserved exclusively for the agricultural Ministries, and there is co-operation between those three Ministries. The three agricultural Ministries are responsible for conducting the annual price reviews and for extending the powers under Clause 4, should that be necessary to give effect to their reviews. They are also responsible for fixing the periods during which minimum prices for livestock shall apply. The remaining functions and duties are concerned with the carrying out of the decisions taken by the three agricultural Ministries following upon these price reviews. Those functions may devolve upon any one or all three of the agricultural Ministers, or upon the Minister of Food. It is right that it should be so. I must repeat my statement in Committee that while food rationing remains, it is absolutely necessary that the Minister of Food should make the appropriate orders when prices have been fixed for various commodities. It is necessary for the Minister of Food to continue to purchase or control practically all rationed foodstuffs but he only makes an order following a price review. The Minister of Food purchases practically the whole of our meat. Therefore, once a price has been fixed for meat it is for the Minister of Food to make an Order giving effect to that decision. Similar considerations apply to milk and cereals.

    This Amendment would, quite unnecessarily, complicate food administration in this country. This Amendment and the 13 or 14 Other Amendments on the same subject are therefore pointless. It is true that if at a later date it became necessary for the agricultural Ministers to make arrangements for the payment of guaranteed prices, it would still be inconvenient if they had in all cases to act jointly. Methods sometimes differ between England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Therefore, the Bill distinguishes between those functions which are part of the determination of guaranteed prices which are a joint responsibility of the three agricultural Ministers and those other functions which are concerned with carrying out the various decisions taken. I could not possibly accept this Amendment. While the Minister of Food is responsible for purchasing and controlling all rationed foodstuffs he is the right and proper person to take action under Clause 3 following upon the price reviews. I hope hon. Members will see the wisdom of not pressing this Amendment, since it would completely upset the rationing system of this country.

    I am sure that the Amendment has served its purpose in getting the explanation which has just been given—

    Is the hon. Member asking a question? He has already exhausted his right to speak.

    I am informed that the hon. Member seconded the Amendment. That being so, he has exhausted his right to speak. If he wishes to ask a question, that would be permissible.

    May I ask the Minister a question? I do not think he was quite accurate when he said that the Minister of Food will only make orders as a result of annual reviews. The Subsection reads that the appropriate Minister can vary prices and so on:

    "… when it appears to him expedient so to do in the public interest."
    There are, later, certain safeguards to the effect that he cannot reduce the prices. Surely the right hon. Gentleman will agree that it is not quite accurate to say that these orders can only be made as a result of annual reviews and that he is, therefore, directly responsible for the orders.

    May we take it from the Minister of Agriculture that the Minister of Food will, definitely, be the servant of the Minister of Agriculture in all matters connected with agriculture?

    I should be very sorry to employ any servants, let alone a Ministerial servant. I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that my right hon. Friend would not willingly become the servant of myself or any other Minister.

    But as the Minister of Food has already said that he will buy the food in the cheapest market, how can he be anything but the servant of the Minister of Agriculture in these matters?

    The hon. and gallant Member seems to have forgotten that once the review has been conducted and the price fixed, it is the Minister of Food alone who provides the order to give effect to the conclusions.

    Can my right hon. Friend clarify the position with regard to the fixing of prices for horticultural products? There is no question of any annual price review, but horticulture is covered by the Bill, and is the responsibility of the Minister. It appears, however, that there is no relationship in the fixing of horticultural prices, and that no responsibility attaches to the Ministry of Agriculture. There is, then, the extraordinary position that, for example, the price of tomatoes is fixed at 2S. 5d. a lb. Can my right hon. Friend tell us to what extent horticultural prices will come under review by the Ministry of Agriculture?

    I also would like to ask a question about horticultural prices. Horticulture is to receive a certain amount of direction and supervision, but it is not to receive any guarantee in regard to the commodities that have been mentioned. Some hon. Members who were not members of the Standing Committee that considered this Bill, and who come from horticultural districts, are very perturbed about the matter, as is also the National Farmers' Union.

    I am afraid that if I were to attempt to reply to these questions, I should be out of Order, since the price review affects only the commodities mentioned in the First Schedule.

    I should like to refer to what I think my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) might have said a few moments ago if he had not already exhausted his right to speak. This short Debate has been well worth while in that it has drawn from the Minister an assurance that there will be no statement with regard to prices made by the Minister of Food without prior consultation with the Minister of Agriculture. That, of course, is what the farmers throughout the country want to know. If they were under the impression, as a result of reading the Bill and not knowing Parliamentary procedure too well, that the Minister of Food could one day make an announcement without having previously consulted his colleagues in the Government, they might feel unhappy about their future. It is clear from what the Minister has said that that is not likely to happen, and I hope that will reassure the farmers that their position will be safeguarded by the Ministers in conference, and that the appropriate Ministers will invariably consult with the Minister of Food before any announcements are made.

    Amendment negatived

    5.15 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 3, lint 13, to leave out "as nearly as may be."

    The purpose of this Amendment is to ensure that in fixing or varying prices and quantities, all the factors shall be taken into account by the Minister at the time. We are anxious that the Minister in using the machinery of price fixing, should make a clean job of it once a year, and not have it at the back of his mind that he can fiddle about with one or other of the factors in the price structure and thereby alter the effects of the price settlement which in future years, we hope, will have won the approval of the farming and consuming community. We want to make sure that the Minister will make a clear job of price fixing once a year. It is very necessary that the farmers should be able to look ahead with confidence to definite guaranteed prices and markets. In the past it has been the curse of the agricultural industry that it was so often left open to the whims of imports, and that the farmers never knew how the market would settle down six, 12 or 18 months ahead. One of the virtues of the Bill is that it puts stability into the market for the British farmers and, therefore, for the British farm workers, so that they will know where they will stand 12 or 18 months ahead. I hope the Minister will accept the Amendment. In Committee he went a good deal of the way to meet us and expressed a good deal of sympathy with us, and, therefore, I have some confidence that he will accept the Amendment.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    I cannot see why the words "as nearly as may be" are necessary in the Clause. I should have thought it would have been quite possible in the price review to fix the quantity as well. Personally, I hope it will never be necessary for quantities to be specified. It has always been the contention of hon. Members on this side that there should be no limitation of quantity as long as the farmers are able to produce at a reasonable price. I would like to point out a difficulty that might arise if prices and quantities are not fixed at the same time. For instance, would it be possible for the Minister to fix the price of, say, sugar beet in a February price review, and then at some later date before the beet was harvested to limit the quantity of beet that was to be accepted for sale?

    If the Minister says it would be impossible, that helps, but I still think that the words "as nearly as may be" are unnecessary, and I hope the Minister will agree that, when fixing prices, he should fix the quantity at the same time.

    My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture said in Committee that he viewed a similar Amendment with sympathy, and would consider whether it might be administratively possible to agree to the exclusion of these words without causing administrative inconvenience. My right hon. Friend has considered the matter again with great sympathy. I think hon. Members recognise my right hon. Friend's desire to do his best at all times in price fixing, to safeguard the interests of the producers, but he finds that it would be administratively inconvenient to remove these words. The effect of the Amendment would be that, if the appropriate Minister found it necessary to limit the assured market quantitatively, he would not only have to announce his decision on this point at the same time as he announced the prices and other factors, but would have to include it in the same order as that relating to prices and other factors. It is here that the point of administrative inconvenience arises. My right hon. Friend does not feel certain that it would at all times be possible for him to do this, and if it were difficult for him to do it, surely the effect would be that when he was ready to announce a price he might have to hold up the announcement of the price until the other Minister engaged in the consultation was fully ready to make an order concerning quantity. Surely that would be a disadvantage to the producers? Surely they would like to know as early as possible what the price is to be, instead of having to wait for some short interval to see if there is to be any change of quantity? My right hon. Friend has already given an assurance that he will, wherever possible, do this at the same time or make the interval as short as possible, and therefore we feel unable to accept the Amendment.

    I do not think my hon. Friends on this side of the House are at all satisfied with that reply. The Minister must make up his mind what quantities of any commodity he wants and, having decided on the amounts, he fixes a price

    Division No. 231.]


    [5.25 p.m.

    Adams, W. T, (Hammersmith, South)Bacon, Miss A.Berry, H.
    Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Balfour, A.Beswick, F.
    Alpass, J H.Barstow, P. G.Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)
    Attewell, H. O.Barton. CBing, G. H. C
    Austin, H. LewisBattley, J. R.Binns, J.
    Ayles, W. H.Bechervaise, A. EBlackburn, A. R.
    Ayrton Could, Mrs BBenson, G.Blyton, W. R.

    upon which he hopes he will get that quantity. If he does not adopt such a policy, I am quite certain we shall be in a serious state before many years have passed. The whole basis of Part I of this Bill is the price structure and the Government policy of giving the agriculturist a guaranteed price and a guaranteed market. Unless the Government know what quantity they require produced, it is impossible for them to decide what price should be given to the farmer, because upon the price will depend the quantity produced. For that reason I shall ask my hon. Friends to divide the House on this Amendment.

    There is another point. In Committee the Minister made sympathetic reference to this subject, and so did the hon. Gentleman just now, but they were not able to accept the Amendment because it is said to be administratively inconvenient. All farmers will be affected tremendously by the question of whether the Amendment is carried or rejected. If it were carried, the farmers would know that when a price was fixed; a quantity limitation would be fixed at the same time, and therefore they would know how to plan. It is not good enough to say that these words cannot be deleted, because it is not administratively convenient to do so. The Minister went so far to say previously that he was in sympathy with the proposal, and although it was inconvenient administratively, yet it was not impossible.

    I will read out exactly what the right hon. Gentleman said:

    "I am informed it would be administratively inconvenient, though perhaps not utterly impossible. [OFFICIAL REPORT, STANDING COMMITTEE A, 18th February, 1947; c. 124.]
    Now time has passed and the Minister has looked at this point again. He has failed to meet us on this side of the House and I feel that we should register our protest.

    Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

    The House divided: Ayes, 235; Noes, 103.

    Boardman, H.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Porter, G. (Leeds)
    Bowden, Flg-Offr. H. W.Herbison, Miss M.Proctor, W. T.
    Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaten)Hewitson, Capt. MPryde, D. J.
    Braddock, Mrs. E. M (L'pt Eton ge)Hicks, G.Pursey, Cmdr. H
    Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Hobson, C. RRandall, H. E.
    Bramall, E. A.Holman, P.Ranger, J.
    Brook, D. (Halifax)House, GRees-Williams, D R
    Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Hoy, J.Reeves, J.
    Brawn, George (Belper)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Reid, T. (Swindon)
    Brown, T. J (Ince)Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pten, W.)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
    Bruce, Maj. D. W. THynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Rogers, G. H. R.
    Burden, T. W.Irving, W. JRoyle, C.
    Burke, W. A.Janner, BSargood, R
    Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Jay, D. P. T.Scott-Ellict, W.
    Carmichael, JamesJeger, G. (Winchester)Shackleton, E. A. A
    Castle, Mrs. B. AJeger, Dr. S. W. (St Panoras. S.E.)Sharp, Granville
    Champion, A. J.John, W.Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)
    Chetwynd, G. RJones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Shinwell, Rt. Han. E.
    Cluse, W. S.Jones, P. Asterley (Hitohin)Shurmar, P
    Cooks, F. S.Kenyon, CSilverman, J. (Erdington)
    Coldrick, W.King, E. MSilverman, S S. (Nelson)
    Collindridge, FKinley, J.Simmons, C. J.
    Collins, V. J.Kirby, B. V.Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.
    Colman, Miss G. MLang, G.Skinnard, F. W.
    Cemyns, Dr. L.Lee, F. (Hulme)Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
    Cook, T. F.Levy, B. W.Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
    Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.Lewis, A W. J. (Upton)Soskice, Maj. Sir F.
    Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camberwell, N.W.)Lewis, J. (Bolton)Stamford, W.
    Corlett, Dr. J.Lewis, T. (Southampton)Stephen, C.
    Cove, W. G.Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
    Crossman, R. H. SLyne, A. W.Stokes, R. R.
    Daggar, G.McAdam, W.Stross, Dr. B.
    Davies, Edward (Burslem)McGhee, H. GStubbs, A. E
    Davies, Harold (Leek)Mack, J. D.Swingler, S.
    Davies, Hadyn (St Pancras, S.W.)McKay, J. (Wallsend)Sylvester, G. O.
    Deer, G.McKinlay, A. S.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
    Delargy, H. J.Maclean, N. (Govan)Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
    Dobbie, W.McLeavy, F.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
    Dodds, N. N.Mainwaring, W. H.Thomat, D. E. (Aberdare)
    Driberg, T. E. NMailalieu, J. P. WThomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
    Dumpleton, C. WMann, Mrs. J.Thomas, George (Cardiff)
    Dye, S.Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
    Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Manning, Mrs L. (Epping)Thurtle, Ernest
    Edelman, M.Marquand, H. A.Titterington, M. F.
    Evans, E. (Lowestoft)Mathers, G.Tolley, L.
    Evans, John (Ogmore)Medland, H. MTomlinson, Rt. Hon G
    Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Mellish, R. J.Turner-Samuels, M.
    Fairhurst, F.Middleton, Mrs. LVernon, Maj. W. F.
    Farthing, W. J.Mitchison, G. RViant, S. P.
    Foot, M. M.Monslow, W.Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
    Forman, J. C.Montague, F.Wallace, H. W (Walthamstow, E.)
    Gallacher, W.Moody, A. S.Warbey, W. N.
    Ganley, Mrs. C. SMorgan, Dr. H. B.Watkins, T. E.
    Gibbins, J.Morley, R.Watson, W. M.
    Gilzean, A.Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
    Glanville, J E. (Consett)Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
    Gooch, E. GMorrison, Rt. Hon H. (Lewisham, E)White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
    Goodrich, H. E.Mort, D. L.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
    Gordon-Walker, P. C.Moyle, A.Wilkins, W. A.
    Greenwood, Rt. Hon A. (Wakefield)Murray, J. DWilley, O. G. (Cleveland)
    Greenwood, A. W. J (Heywood)Nally, W.Williams, D. J. (Neath)
    Grenfell, D. R.Neal, H. (Claycross)Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
    Grierson, E.Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
    Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Noel-Buxton, LadyWilliams, W. R. (Heston)
    Gunter, R. J.Oldfield, W. H.Willis, E.
    Guy, W. H.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Wills, Mrs. E. A
    Haire, John E. (Wycombe)Palmer, A. M. F.Wise, Major F. J
    Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Parkin, B. T.Woodburn, A
    Hannan, W. (Maryhill)Paton, J (Norwich)Yates, V. F.
    Hardy, E. A.Peart, Capt. T. F.Young, Sir R (Newton)
    Harrison, J.Piratin, P.
    Hastings, Dr. SomervillePorter, E. (Warrington)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
    Mr. Pearson and Mr. Snow.


    Amory, D. HeathcoatBuchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.
    Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)Butcher, H. W.Crowder, Capt. John E.
    Baldwin, A E.Byers, FrankCuthbert, W. N.
    Barlow, Sir J.Carson, E.Darling, Sir W. Y.
    Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Challen, C.Davidson, Viscountess
    Birch, NigelChannon, H. Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.
    Boothby, R.Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.Drewe, C.
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.Dugdale, Maj. Sir I. (Richmond)
    Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Cole, T. L.Duthie, W. S.
    Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.Cooper-Kay, E. MElliot, Rt. Hon. Walter

    Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. OSanderson, Sir F.
    Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
    Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.McKie, J. H. (Galloway)Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
    Gage, C.Maitland, Comdr. J. WSmithers, Sir W.
    George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)Marsden, Capt. A.Spense, H. R.
    Glyn, Sir R.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
    Grant, LadyMorris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
    Granville, E. (Eye)Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
    Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)Studholme, H. G.
    Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Mott-Radolyffe, Maj. C. E.Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
    Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.Neven-Spence, Sir B.Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
    Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir CNicholson, GVane, W. M. F.
    Henderson, John (Cathort)Nutting, AnthonyWadsworth, G.
    Hinohingbrooke, ViscountOrr-Ewing, I. L.Walker-Smith, D.
    Hollis, M. C.Osborne, C.Ward, Hon. G. R.
    Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Peto, Brig. C. H. MWebbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
    Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J,Pickthorn, K.White, J. B. (Canterbury)
    Hurd, A.Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
    Hutchison, Li.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Prescott, StanleyWilloughby de Eresby, Lord
    Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)Prior-Palmer, Brig. OWinterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
    Kendall, W. D.Raikes, H. V.York, C.
    Lambert, Hon. G.Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
    Lancaster, Col. C. GRoberts, Emrys (Merioneth)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
    Lennox-Boyd, A. T.Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)Major Conant and
    Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)Major Ramsay.
    Low, Brig A. R. W.Ropner, Col. L.

    Clause 10—(Good Estate Management)

    I beg to move, in page 7, line 5, to leave out from "land," to "is," in line 7, and to insert:

    "whether treated by itself, or as affecting other land."
    We have left chapter 1 of this Bill, with its limited blessings, and have arrived at the longer chapters, with their almost unlimited sanctions. Clause 10 attempts to define the rules of good estate management. That has not previously been attempted in any Statute. As at present drafted, Subsection (1) makes rather heavy weather of the definition.

    I think it might be an advantage if we discussed at the same time the next two Amendments together—in page 7, line 10, after "husbandry" to insert:

    "or such an occupier of other land affected by the adequate management of the first mentioned land."
    and, in line 16, after "owner" to insert "has been and."

    Subsection (1) as I say, attempts to define what is and what is not good estate management, and the Amendment which I move is purely administrative. It attempts to improve the definition, but not to undermine the 'principle which is in this Clause, and more particularly in this Subsection. As the Subsection is at present drafted, an owner

    "shall be deemed to fulfil his responsibilities to manage it in accordance with the rules of good estate management in so far as his management of the land and (so far as it affects the management of that land) of other land managed by him is such as to be reasonably adequate."
    That means that if a man owns two farms, one slightly further up the valley than the other, and allows the drainage from the slightly higher farm to flood the slightly lower farm, then in considering the management of the lower farm acts of neglect which are presumed to have taken place in respect of the higher farm are likely to be taken into account. We consider that that is the wrong way round. If any complaint is to be made about the management of the higher farm, the whole question of whether or not that land is being managed according to the rules of good estate management should be limited to the top farm, and not approached by the very devious and intricate means of going into the management of the farm lower down the valley. This view was put forward by my hon. Friends in Committee, and commanded a certain amount of sympathy from the Minister. On a previous Amendment this afternoon, the Solicitor-General suggested that it was necessary to avoid inordinately long Clauses. I am sure it -is also necessary to avoid inordinately confusing definitions. The difficulties which will arise in assessing whether or not land is managed according to the rules of good estate management, unless these words, or something similar to them, are accepted, will be extreme, and will give rise to an enormous amount of dispute.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    I wish also particularly to support the second Amendment which has been referred to. These two Amendments would work together. We shall find great difficulty in deciding these matters if we have to take into consideration more than one particular piece of land. I hope the two Amendments will be inserted in the Bill.

    Both the mover and seconder have sought to justify this group of Amendments on the ground that they clarify the definition contained in Clause to (1). That is a laudable motive, but I must ask the House to reject the Amendment now before us, because as I see the position, the words which it is sought to substitute for those which at present appear in the Bill not only do not clarify the position, but, on the contrary, introduce a great deal of obscurity. I know hon. Members will say "If it is only a matter of drafting, surely you can improve the words and to that extent assist us?" I would if I could, but there is a fundamental vice underlying the Amendments—that if an owner manages land in such a way that it affects any other land, whether in his ownership or not, then he is guilty of bad management, if that effect is injurious. That is obviously much too wide.

    What the Clause seeks to do is this: Supposing there is an owner who own plot A and also owns or manages plot B, and his management of plot A adversely affects the management of plot B, he comes within the terms of the Subsection. The Amendment would result in a much more indefinite position. Its result would be that, supposing the owner of plot A so manages it that it injuriously affects, in the wide sense of that word, any other land, say plot X, Y or Z, in which he has no interest, which is owned and managed by completely different people, and which may be at a distance from plot A, he comes within the scope of the Subsection. I am sure that hon Gentlemen do not wish to bring about that position. It would impose an intolerable burden upon the landowner, and greatly multiply the responsibilities placed upon him by Clause to. In contradistinction to that, we say that we are only concerned, in Clause 10 (1) with holdings or areas of ground which can fairly be said to be managed by the landowner, that is to say plot A, which he owns, and plot B, which he manages, in the sense that he may have let it out to a tenant. Therefore, in considering whether he is within the purview of the Clause we simply say that consideration must be limited to those two plots. The Amendment would require that the area all round, which could in no sense be said to be under that person's ownership or management or under his responsibility, would have to be considered. I ask the House to say that the Amendment not only does not improve the Clause but that in so tar as it is easily intelligible—I do not mean that in any depreciatory sense—it would impose an intolerable burden on the landowner. Indeed, the word "affect" being of such general significance in the context of the actual Amendment, in which it is used, it is impossible to see how far its extent would go.

    5.45 p.m.

    Having heard the explanation of the Solicitor-General, I am not yet satisfied that the original terms of the Bill really meet the point, though I am prepared to admit that the Amendment, as drafted, may not be in the appropriate words to effect what we desire. The point we want to make clear is whether when this Bill becomes an Act it will be right to bring in the management of other land when deciding whether an owner is fulfilling his responsibilities of management in accordance with the rules of good husbandry. We do not like the wording of the Clause as it stands. We appreciate the point made by the Solicitor-General and on behalf of my hon. Friends, I would ask whether the Government, appreciating our point, with which I believe the Minister is much in agreement, will look at these words again before this Bill becomes an Act. We ask them to see if the words can be made clearer than they are at present, and at the same time to bring out the point about considering the effect on other land, when deciding whether an owner is fulfilling his responsibilities to manage land in accordance with good husbandry. Could the Solicitor-General give an undertaking that he will look at these words, and see whether they meet the point which my hon. Friends have made?

    I confess I am rather muddled as to exactly what these words mean. From what the Solicitor-General said and from my reading of this Clause, it would appear that if an owner owns land in one county, and also owns land in another county or another part of England, it is possible to consider these two separate pieces of land in conjunction when deciding whether he is carrying out his responsibility for good estate management. The Solicitor-General said that the words we desire to have included in the Bill would make the Clause far too wide, and would involve consideration of how the management of one piece of land affected neighbouring farms. It seems to me reasonable that that should be taken into account—far more reasonable than to take into account how the owner concerned was managing another piece of land, very widely separated from the land in question.

    Amendment negatived.

    I beg to move, in page 7, line 16, after "owner," to insert, "has been and."

    Subsection (2) of Clause 10 is important because it lays down the rules of good estate management by which owners will be judged. We are a little afraid that if the words in that Subsection are not altered a rather too narrow construction may be placed upon them. As now drafted the Subsection reads:
    "In determining whether the management of land is such as aforesaid regard shall be had, but without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of the last foregoing Subsection, to the extent to which the owner is providing, improving, maintaining and repairing fixed equipment …"
    If a too narrow interpretation is placed upon those words, it might apply only to actual current expenditure. That would be an unfair yardstick because, first, on a great many estates it has been the custom to do repairs on farms in rotation and, second, the actual current expenditure on fixed equipment is no criterion of whether a landowner is able or willing to do his job properly. Owing to the extreme difficulty of getting licences and permits to do essential work, landowners who may be anxious to get the work done are sometimes unable to do it in terms of current expenditure. We feel that if a man's future tenure of land is to be judged in the narrow sense of this Subsection, it would be fair to take into account past expenditure in addition to current expenditure.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    Whereas maintenance and repair are primarily matters of small outlay to meet current deterioration, provision and improvement constitute large outlay. That is what we are thinking about. Often such improvement cannot be arranged on every holding on an estate except at an interval of so many years. Normal standards of good estate management in this country allow for major expenditure to be carried out on holdings in rotation. It might very easily be argued that if the Clause is left as at present drafted, considerable expenditure which took place when a tenant came in—and one is glad to say that tenancies are, on the whole, of very long standing—would be ruled out completely from consideration when a dispute arises. If these words, "has been and" are inserted, then where previous expenditure is relevant it will not be excluded from consideration. At the same time, it does not compel undue consideration of that expenditure, because it is always possible to argue that it was reasonable at the time but that it has no particular relevance to the present. The acceptance of these words would not weaken the case at all. I feel that it would be a great deal stronger in some instances and a great deal fairer.

    I follow the motives behind the Amendment, but I must advise the House that the fears expressed are not well founded. If I can summarise them, it is feared that the word "is" is too narrow. It was argued that it would shut out anything that had gone before and anything that came after, and would involve simply looking at me actual state of affairs at the moment by reference to which one is judging. The advice I give to the House is that the word "is" in this context permits and indeed requires a general circumspective view. It requires the consideration of a trend: not only the state of fact at the moment. If the words which are sought to be introduced, "has been and," were in the Clause, the position would be very much more difficult and it might be unfair to the landowner.

    Suppose there was a case of a landowner who in the past had done very little in the way of good estate management. There may have been a great deal of complaint and it may be that latterly he had entirely changed the position and put in a good deal of work, greatly improving the position of the holding. The result of introducinc, the words of the Amendment would introducing that in a case of that sort one would not only have to say to oneself, "At present the estate management on this farm is excellent," but one would have to discount that by reference to the fact that by looking back two or three or five or six years, one found that under the management of the same landowner the farm was in a very bad state. It would be very bad luck for the landowner if he had done a great deal to improve the farm and had brought it up to the requisite standard, that one should have to say, "Because in the past you have neglected this estate, we shall write you down and we shall, condemn you for your past record. We shall not allow you to gain the credit of having effaced that, and having brought your estate up to a very good pitch of management." That would be the effect of these words.

    As the Clause stands, anybody considering the position must look at it generally and consider what has gone before, what exists at present and what is likely to be the trend in future, to see whether it can fairly be said to be in a state of good management. One is not tied down to discounting a good present record by a bad past record. If one were tied down to that—and one would be if the Amendment was accepted—it would be very bad luck on a landowner in some cases, and in others it might advantage him. It would impose an entirely unnecessary and unfortunate restriction. It would work very unfairly in many cases. The Clause is sufficiently widely worded to enable a general view to be taken, making due allowance for all the relevant considerations which one would consider in asking whether an estate is properly managed.

    I do not think that the Solicitor-General's argument is satisfactory. If the landowner in the past has not been doing well, there is no reason why that fact should not come out. If he is now doing the work in a proper manner, it shows that he has improved and is getting on with the job. There is no reason why his past record should not be known. If it happens that a man has had a good past record, the words, "is providing," do not mean that one can consider that past. There are many great estates in this country where the work cannot be done in one year or two years. What has been done on farm A last year, is done this year on farm B, and perhaps next year on farm C, before it is done again on farm A. That cannot be taken into account under the words "is providing." "Is" denotes the present; "has been" the past. If a man did work two years ago and he intends to do it again in the cycle, that can be considered under the words "has been" It will be very hard on the man who has done good work if it is not recognised because the word "is" is in the Subsection.

    6.0 p.m.

    The argument put forward by the Solicitor-General was quite extraordinary. He said that if these words were accepted it would be bad luck on the landowner. It would be bad luck only on the man who is a bad landowner. There is the case of the man who had ignored his land for years, and I think that the Solicitor-General or the Minister should give a rather better explanation than that to which we have listened. My hon. Friend pointed out that it has been impossible for the last few years to do these repairs, had the landlord wished to do so, and, therefore, landowners who spent large sums of money in keeping their holdings up to date before the war are not going to get any benefit at all when their cases are considered. I hope we shall have a more helpful explanation in answer to the arguments put by my hon. Friends.

    I would like to ask whether hon. Members of the Opposition are really urging that the legislation which we are now framing should be made retrospective.

    The term "is providing" cannot possibly be strictly interpreted as meaning what the landlord provided before the war. That is seven years ago, and, grammatically, it does not seem to me that, if a landlord provided certain improvements seven years ago, we can say that he is providing them now. That was seven years ago, and the term "is providing" cannot mean what was done seven years ago.

    We certainly cannot say that a landlord "is improving" if the last improvement which he carried out on his land was done before the war, and it seems to me to be very hard indeed that somebody who is interpreting this Bill strictly at a later date may be able to argue that these improvements which were carried out before the war should not be taken into account. Very little was done during the war, and it is exceedingly difficult to do anything now. I suggest that there is another form of words which might appeal to the Minister, and it is this: "The extent to which the owner provides, improves, maintains and repairs fixed equipment on the land." I think that would convey the sense which we all intend to be conveyed, and that is that, over a period, the owner does provide these things, and not that he provided them seven years ago and is not providing them now, or that he is not providing them now when he did so seven years ago. It would convey, generally speaking, that he does provide what is required for the working of the farm.

    It would be very unfortunate if the idea got abroad that the past record of an owner may not be taken into account. The learned Solicitor-General, I think, gave a very cogent and clear explanation. It is perfectly clear from the language of the Clause that the past record is to be taken into account. What this Clause does is to say that, without prejudice to the generality of the provisions in Subsection (1), nevertheless, in order to get a balanced view of the contributions which the owner has made in the way of maintaining and repairing machinery and so forth, we are to take account of what is being done at the moment. That seems to me to be very sensible and fair. Supposing the' owner's previous record has not been so good, but that he is trying to make up for past faults by doing more at the present time. It is provided that all that shall be taken into account, in order to give him an opportunity to satisfy the test whether there is an attempt at good management or not. That does not mean that the past is to be cut out. Supposing, on the other hand, his past record has been good. That will be taken into account with what he is doing now. His general record will be taken into account, and this Clause is intended to be the means of getting a balanced view of the whole situation. It takes the past completely into account with the present in order to get that balanced view, and, in my submission, the argument of the Opposition on this point is misconceived.

    I think the syntax of this Clause is perfectly good, and that what Opposition hon. Members are seeking to do is to make the Clause very much worse for themselves than it is now. If we say that a farmer is providing certain things, it must be, by and large, everything on the farm in the way of buildings and so on. He is providing and continuing to provide them at the time. If a barn was built 100 years ago, and it is still in use, the owner is still providing it, and, in. fact, everything which is provided and which is continuing to be used he is providing at the moment. If the owner knocks down that barn, or it is destroyed and he does not put it up again, he would not be providing it, but, if it is still there, he is providing it. Hon. Members opposite are trying to make the Minister look back into the past, when he will find out something which I think will make this an infinitely worse Clause from their point of view.

    I think it is obvious that this Clause requires reconsideration. The hon. and learned Solicitor-General, the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) and the hon. Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) have all spoken of this Clause in three different senses. Surely, there must be some very good reason for this confusion? The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester said that the Solicitor-General gave a cogent and fair answer. It may have been cogent, but it was not fair, according to the hon. and learned Member, because the two arguments were entirely contradictory one with the other. The learned Solicitor-General argues that it would be extremely bad luck if the past record is taken into account. The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester says that the past record would be taken into account, and if it is bad luck that the past record should be taken into account, and, at the same time, it will be taken into account by this Clause, then, surely, it follows that there must be something wrong with the Clause? The hon. Member for Epping says that if a farm building was built 100 years ago and is still being used, the owner is providing it. No doubt, that is true, but what we are concerned with at the moment is the fact that where, owing to an act of God, an act of the Government, or an act of somebody else, the barn or fence has fallen down, in present circumstances it is not possible to carry out repairs, not for any lack of good will on the part of the person concerned, but because one cannot get repairs done. I agree with the argument of the hon. Lady that, when the building is not usable, then we cannot say that the owner is providing it. That is a very cogent argument, but it surely follows that this Amendment should be accepted and not rejected, or, at least, if the Amendment is not accepted, that the Clause should be looked at again and redrafted. I would appeal to hon. Members opposite to recognise that they have demonstrated the cogency of this Amendment even more convincingly than have my hon. Friends on this side of the House.

    I would like to lend my plea to the eloquent effort of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel Clifton-Brown). We have heard three different explanations of the Government attitude towards this Amendment. We heard the hon. and learned Solicitor-General, the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) who, on the Agricultural Committee, we described as the "legal conscience of the Socialist Party," and, may I say—I hope in Order and in parenthesis—there was a moment when we feared we might be losing his services—that some service outside might take him away—but we were glad to hear that there was unlikely to be a by-election—

    I have very great difficulty in finding anything in the Amendment related to that matter.

    Thank you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for letting me get so far. Then we heard from the hon. Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) what appeared to be the only logical and commonsense defence of the Government's point of view. If her reading of the present position is that what grandfather provided should be maintained for the use by a tenant, then there would be reason to think that there was some sense in it. But even on that reading, owing to the difficulty of maintaining in proper repair what grandfather provided, one might well find oneself legally compelled not to provide something which one is only too anxious to provide. Taking all these things together, surely, in fairness to the Committee and to the House, the Government should withdraw this Clause and think again.

    Amendment negatived.

    I beg to move, in page 7, line 20, at the end, to insert:

    "and to the rental value of the land having regard to the economic condition of that section of the agricultural industry which comprises produce of the kind produced by the occupier of that land."
    The object of this Amendment is to protect the landlord, which I know is something not very popular in this country at the present time. But landlords are a long-suffering race, and, therefore, I think it is our duty to be reasonable towards them. The Amendments seeks to protect the owner of a farm from having to erect or provide some fixed equipment for which the farm is not suitable. As far as I can see, there is nothing in this Clause to protect the landlord by way of appeal if the executive officer or the sub-committee appointed decide whether fixed equipment shall be provided or not. As an instance of what might happen, I would point out that, at the present time, grass drying is a very popular job and plants for this purpose are being erected at considerable expense all over the country. It may well be that the executive officer for a district is a grass-drying maniac and that there may be some tenant in the area who is also a grass-drying maniac. He may decide that the landlord should erect grass-drying equipment which might be wholly unsuitable for the land on which it is erected. I know it may be argued that if such equipment is erected, the landlord can get a re-assessment for rent, and that he is protected in that way. But that is no protection at all, because the tenant, after carrying on for one or two years, may find that grass drying on that particular farm is not an economic proposition, and may then give notice to quit, and the landlord would then be left with the uneconomic equipment, which may have cost him several thousands of pounds to provide, and which another tenant may not be willing to take over. I feel that there should be some protection for the landlord from anything which is not fair, and, therefore, I would ask the Minister to accept this Amendment, or to insert some words on the lines of this Amendment.

    6.15 p.m.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    I endorse all that my hon. friend has said. It is most important that we should not force a landlord to erect some equipment which is uneconomical and expensive, and which is only likely to be used by one particular man.

    In considering this Clause, we must remember the background of the whole Bill, which is intended to give stability to the agricultural industry by means of guaranteed prices and assured markets. In return for this guarantee of stability, the State very reasonably imposes certain requirements of good management which are set out in the Bill. The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) and the hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel Clifton-Brown) seem to fear that, somehow, the Bill is going to be 'administered by maniacs. I agree, of course, that if the Bill is so administered it will not work. It may be, of course, that in the neighbourhood of their own constituencies there are some maniacs in the employ of county agricultural committees. I can see that my right hon. Friend will have to look into that possibility, but, as regards the rest of the country, there is no reason to fear on that score. I feel that to suggest that the criteria of good management as set out in this Bill, which are criteria of the equipment and the provision of adequate facilities on estates, should be extended to include monetary gains which may be made, is quite unacceptable. Therefore, we could not agree to this Amendment. It is perhaps remarkable that the mover and seconder of this Amendment have not suggested that any similar provision should be inserted in the rules of good husbandy. They are seeking to differentiate between the owner and the occupier, a differentiation which we have been careful to exclude from the Bill. For these reasons, I must ask the House to reject the Amendment.

    I was unable to follow the remarks of the hon. Gentleman opposite. If I understood him aright, he said it would be wrong to take into consideration the economic position of the farm, the money which can be made out of it, when telling the landlord to provide certain equipment. If that is what the hon. Gentleman meant, it is quite wrong, and this Amendment should be accepted. In order to illustrate his point, my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) gave what was obviously an extreme illustration. But the fact that an extreme illustration was made, should not make it possible to say that there is a much narower margin between what can be provided on a farm and what cannot be provided. It is obvious that on a small farm a certain amount of profitability can be taken out; it is equally true that if a certain amount of equipment is put in and capital spent on it, the output and the consequent profitability of the farm is increased. But there comes a moment when any more equipment that is put on the farm becomes an uneconomic proposition, and, as my lion. Friend the Member for Leominster said, it is no good increasing the rent, because if the point is reached where the tenant cannot pay the rent, it is obviously unsatisfactory for everybody.

    The object of this Amendment is to give a direction as to what equipment can be put on a farm, and to guide people so that the economic position and the increased profitability of a farm should be assessed in conjunction with the equipment that is put on it. If the case of the Government is that such matters should be taken into consideration, I do not quarrel very much with the Minister, but, if I understood the Paymaster-General aright, he said that the question of how much money is made on a farm should not be taken into account, and if he means that, I for one am prepared to support the Amendment in the Lobby.

    Everybody sympathises with and appreciates the difficulties of the Paymaster-General in assisting the Minister of Agriculture in this Debate because, through no fault of his own, he was not a member of the Standing Committee. Nevertheless, I was surprised that he advanced the argument that the economic aspect of a farm in relation to repairs and fixed equipment should not be taken into consideration. Does he follow the logical implication of that argument? Supposing a landowner is ultimately dispossessed for being unwilling or unable to provide fixed equipment, the Land Commission will take over. Will the Land Commission carry out to the farm buildings improvements which, owing to the nature of the farm, are entirely uneconomic? If so, the uneconomic expenditure will be at the expense of the taxpayer. I was surprised that the Paymaster-General should argue that there was no need to protect a landowner from being asked to provide fixed equipment for a farm which he knew to be uneconomic, because the farm in question was unable to carry the extra rent which that capital expenditure would involve.

    I was surprised at the speech of the Paymaster-General. He began by pleading amateur status, and I think he gave us a demonstration of the little connection he has had with the practical side of agricultural management when he asked the House to reject this Amendment. He said, quite rightly, that stability is one of the things we want in agriculture, and then he discounted instability which resulted from over-capitalisation. He then apparently forgot that the history of agriculture, which is repeating itself today, is a history of the advice of faddists; and if one reads books of the 17th and 18th centuries one finds an immense amount of advice put forward by faddists, much of which has been forgotten and only about 5 or 10 per cent. of which is bound up with our agricultural progress. Therefore, it is as well to bear in mind that in a few years' time, something between 5 and 10 per cent. of present advice will have passed the test of time. Another point is that at the moment in this country there is a great dearth of professional men whom one can call consultants in farm buildings. I know the right hon. Gentleman is hoping to appoint a certain number of people to such positions, but the professions as such have among their ranks very few architects or surveyors with a specialist knowledge of agriculture and of farm buildings. I do not refer to people who can put up buildings, because anyone can do that. I refer to people with the knowledge to advise in a consultative capacity in relation to what is right and wrong.

    The hon. Gentleman said he was surprised that we had not tried to insert similar words affecting the farm tenant. I do not think the situation is exactly parallel, but if it were, I for one, and, no doubt, my hon. Friends, would immediately accept any form of words which would put the farm tenant in the same position. The illustration of my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) was ridiculed on the grounds that it was exaggerated. No one can say it is, exaggerated when one remembers that in this country there are at least a million acres of marginal land, and that every day a great number of occupiers of that land suggest to land agents, owners and others how much better it would be if this, that or the other could be done on their farms, but that when it is explained that the economic return for such an improvement will add so much to the rent they think again and say it is not worth while. That is because Part I of the Bill, which is intended to be so strong, has a number of inherent weaknesses. So long as we have limitations on the production from marginal and other land, so long will those weaknesses remain when one tries to expend capital in a big way economically on marginal land. Therefore, the House would be right in rejecting the argument of the Paymaster-General and in accepting this Amendment.

    I intervene in this Debate with diffidence. I do a little farming myself, but I had not the advantage of being on the Committee. I fail to understand the arguments which have been put forward, particularly those put forward by the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Vane). This Subsection specifies one consideration that is to be borne in mind, but it follows a Subsection which contains the main points which have to be considered. Those main points are:

    "the character and situation of the land and other relevant circumstances."
    I find it impossible to see how anybody, having looked at those points, should omit to consider the marginal character of the land or, having to consider other circumstances, should fail to consider the rental value. Therefore, it seems unnecessary to add the proposed words to Subsection (2). Moreover, I find the greatest difficulty in understanding what the Amendment means. If it said,
    "and to the rental value of the land,"
    and stopped there, I should have had some idea, but the remainder of the Amendment seems to me, with all respect to those who moved it, to be bad grammar and extremely bad sense. After the words,
    "and to the rental value of the land,"
    it goes on to say:
    "having regard to the economic condition of that section of the agricultural industry which comprises produce of the kind produced by the occupier of that land."
    That, I think, is rather horrible English, anyway. We were given the case of the grass-drying maniac. I assume that a farm would, at any rate, produce grass, since otherwise the maniac would have no room in which to exercise all his frenzied activity. Therefore, we have to look at
    "the economic condition of that section of the agricultural industry which comprises produce of the kind produced by the occupier of that land."
    What do we have to look at? Mixed farming, grass, arable, or what? I would have thought that the acceptance of this Amendment would produce a state of affairs which the ordinary landlord or farmer would find extraordinarily difficult to understand. I would like hon. Members opposite, since this is their Amendment, to tell us what they suppose it really means, because so far I am quite unable to understand it. Let them give us concrete cases, and. explain the application of these words, for example, to the case of an ordinary mixed farm.

    6.30 p.m.

    I understand the feelings of those who put down this Amendment. It is simply to ensure that landlords should not be expected to provide more fixed equipment than is economically reasonable. There are always a certain number of tenants who desire to have all kinds of improvements, which may not be economically sound. I understand that point of view. However, I do not think this Amendment achieves the object which they have in mind. I follow the lion and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) in saying that this is covered in Subsection (1). The relevant part of that Subsection is in the last few lines which, paraphrasing them, state that a landlord will be doing his job if he provides the sort of equipment which is necessary to enable a farmer to farm properly. Now, farming properly is not grass-drying. I approve of grass-drying, and do it myself, but it is not the sort of farming which any war agricultural executive committee could expect the landlord to provide.

    There are difficult marginal cases. There is no limit to the amount of fixed equipment that the tenant farmer can use. He can always use more hay boxes; he can always use more covered yards. But that, I think, is covered by Subsection (1). I do not think that the war agricultural executive committees, composed of farmers and landlords, will expect a landlord to provide an unreasonable amount of equipment. That is the second safeguard. Therefore, I do not think that this rather complicated addition would add clarity to the definition of the good management of land.

    The real danger in this Amendment lies in the fact that it is, so far as one can understand it, a very muddled Amendment. It appears to be designed to ensure that the farmer will not get necessary improvements, or will find it difficult, if not impossible, to get them. Therefore, it is something of which we should be very wary. Surely, the really operative words in Subsection (2) are:

    "to enable an occupier of the land reasonably skilled in husbandry to maintain efficient production.…"
    If he is to maintain efficient production all the extravagant and extreme cases which have been suggested are quite unnecessary. I am sure hon. Members opposite would find it impossible to indicate any part of the Bill which would compel landlords to put in the different kinds of equipment such as they have suggested might be found necessary under the Clause as it stands. Marginal land was mentioned, and the new improvements needed to bring it up to a certain state of efficiency. Surely, the point is that husbandry on marginal land must be related to that land, and efficient husbandry on that land must have regard to the condition of the land? I suggest that this Amendment, so far as I can understand it, would be detrimental to the tenant.

    I regret that the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) and the hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts) do not understand the Amendment. I thought the arguments put forward by my hon. Friend about the economic conditions had made it quite clear.

    On a point of Order. I hate to intervene between the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) and the House, but, surely, on Report hon. Members can speak only once, unless they have the leave of the House?

    The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. When a Bill comes to the House from a Standing Committee the mover of an Amendment is entitled to speak again. That is in Standing Orders. I was just looking it up as the right hon. Gentleman rose. The hon. Member is entitled to speak again.

    Having been caught out once this afternoon, I did not intend to be caught out a second time. What we are nervous about is, who will decide the revelant circumstances. The hon. and learned Member for Kettering and the hon. Member for North Cumberland thought the wording of the Clause protected a landlord from having to do something which was not economical. I contend that it does nothing of the sort. The word "maniac" has been used. There are extremists, shall I say, who, as my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland (Mr. Vane) said, have appeared throughout the centuries, who have insisted on a particular line. At one time it is all silage, and the next time all grass drying. There may be an executive officer in the county who is all for one particular form of farming, yet that particular form will not last. The executive officer may force a landlord to put up some building —and I will stick to grass-drying—which will not prove economical to that farm. Who is to decide—and I hope the Minister will think this is sufficiently important to tell us—whether that fixed equipment is necessary, or is an economic proposition?

    The Paymaster-General said that I was visualising these executive officers as maniacs. I did not quite mean that, but I will say there are extremists. If he thinks they do not exist I will give him a concrete instance, not from my own county—where he thought we had maniacs—but from an adjacent county. The executive officer for that county was what I call a "ploughing-up maniac." A client of mine had an order to plough up 202 acres of a 240 acre farm; he knew it was not ploughing-up land, and had not been ploughed up during the previous war, and he refused to do it. Consequently, he was dispossessed, and he is still out of that farm today.

    We must protect farmers from those executive officers who get a bee in their bonnet, and who compel landlords to do something which is not economical. That is all we are asking. We are not retrograde; we want to see proper equipment put on the farms, but we also want to see that it is proper equipment and not merely something which is not worth while being forced on a landlord. We want to see that the equipment is necessary. The hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Collins) said they would provide the necessary equipment. But the landlord is not protected; there is nothing to say what is necessary and what is not necessary. We say the landlord should be protected from extremists; that is all.

    Could the hon. Member tell us the meaning of the words after "rental value"?

    The hon. and learned Member says he is a farmer I wish he got his living at it, because then he would probably have more sympathy with the people on the land. I mentioned grass drying. Would the hon. and learned Member suggest that it is an economical proposition to put a grass drier on an ordinary mixed farm, probably of hilly land, of 150 acres? It is nothing of the sort. There is an economic level at which a grass drier could be put in.

    Perhaps I might be allowed to speak again, with the leave of the House. I may have replied a little shortly and cavalierly to the remarks of the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin). The arguments which he and his hon. Friend advanced were so thin that I felt they could not mean them sincerely, and I answered in a rather flippant way. I do not wish it to be thought for a moment that we do not attach importance to the general economcis of the situation. I do not wish it to be thought we do not recognise that a reasonable return on capital has to be earned, or that it is possible to over-capitalise. I thought that all these matters were adequately covered in Subsection (1) by the words "other relevant circumstances," and, therefore, I was addressing myself to the Subsection to which the Amendment relates Subsection (2) has to be read in relation to Subsection (1). All that is at issue is whether these Subsections will be reasonably and sensibly administered, and whether there will be regard to economic circumstances. I would point out to the hon. Member for Leominster that the authority to determine these matters will be the county executive committee. They must have regard to the relevant circumstances, and it will not be one of their officers exercising dictatorial powers. As he knows, the county executive committees consist of practical agriculturists.

    It does not say that there is any form of appeal to the county executive committee. Is it a fact that the county executive committees have to decide this point?

    I am sure that that is so. The officer concerned is only the servant of the committees, and it is certainly possible for the individual owner to approach the committee if he dislikes something their servant has done.

    Amendment negatived.

    Clause 12—(Power Of Minister To Supervise Estate Management And Husbandry)

    On a point of Order. I have put down a very good Amendment and it is apparently being passed over. I cannot understand it.

    The hon. Member may have thought it was a very good Amendment, but, unfortunately, the Chair did not think so, and it is not being selected.

    I beg to move, in page 8, line 28, after "satisfied," to insert:

    "on representations by the appropriate County Agricultural Executive Committee appointed under Part V of this Act."
    We are now moving from the stage where one is expected to be a good boy in farming and. coming to the stage where the big stick is appearing. According to the Minister, supervision is better than lifting up the big stick. We think that this Amendment should appear at this stage in the Bill, to make quite clear who it is that will advise the Minister in future. We all agree that this will be done by the county executive committees, but that is only for the moment, and this Bill will last a long time. It should be stated that the people who are to advise the Minister are the committees, so that there is no chance of it being said that the Minister did not take the advice of a committee but did something off his own bat. I am not saying that this will be done now, but it is a possibility which may occur in the future. During the war we found that certain committees were not doing all that the Minister or the farmers thought they should do, and there will be a chance in a few years that a Minister may be tempted to say that he could not go to a committee because he knew it was not doing its job properly. We do not want to see that happening. We want it to be clear that the committees are the people to advise the Minister and we want to see it laid down in black and white.

    6.45 p.m.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    Ministers occassionally have representations made to them by individuals who may have a particular axe to grind. There are such things as anonymous letters and signed letters which are written out of spite to a Minister and serve no good cause. It is most desirable, therefore, that the Minister, in his own interest, should safeguard himself by acting only on the advice of the county executive committees. By doing that he will reinforce the good relations between the committees and the Ministers, because nothing' is more injurious to good relations than for the committees to feel that someone is going behind their backs and getting some action taken by the Minister If this part of the. Bill is to work at all, it will be dependent on the fullest confidence between the Minister and the executive committees. We do not want to see Ministers acting on a few private words, but on the recommendations of the committees.

    I am rather surprised that the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) should have associated himself with this Amendment. I am sure he knows that the county executive committees are the only bodies from which the Minister would expect to receive representations and advice. The insertion of these words is both unnecessary and undesirable. The hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel Clifton-Brown) cannot get out of his mind that Part II of this Bill is a big stick. He is willing to accept Part I, but is very reluctant to accept Part II. We have witnessed this on a fairly wide scale from the Opposition Benches. We made rapid progress on Part I, but the moment we came to deal with Part which introduces a quid fro quo in the form of control, our progress was very different. The Bill has been drafted on the basis that the Minister will be delegating his functions under Clause 69, subject to such conditions or restrictions as he may consider desirable, to the county executive committees. The county executive committees should be made absolutely and entirely responsible for day-to-day administration. It would be entirely wrong to attempt to circumscribe the Minister's powers of delegation in the way suggested. Nothing could then be done until after representation by the Minister's own agents to the Minister, which would be an absurdity, and no one knows that better than the hon. Member for Newbury.

    If a county executive committee, responsible for day-to-day administration, is not to be able to place a person under supervision, or to give a direction until it has, first of all, made representations to the Minister, for him to say, "Yes, go ahead," then the whole business will be held up. The Government's intention, in producing this Bill, has been to set up county executive committees consisting of practical agriculturalists, men who have the confidence of their counties and the agricultural industry. They are to become the Minister's agents, under Clause 69, when power is delegated. Therefore,it is absurd that, having been appointed agents they can do nothing without first of all making representations to the Minister, and getting his word to go ahead. That is the object of the Amendment.

    While the county executive committees are responsible to the Minister for day-to-day administration, the Minister is responsible to Parliament for all their actions, and it is constitutionally undesirable to insert a provision in the Bill requiring the Minister to be satisfied, after representations have been made to him by his own agents, before they can do anything. That seems absurd, and could only retard and delay the county executive committees in doing their work. Further, if these words were inserted here, they would have to be repeated throughout the Bill. I hope hon. Members opposite will take it from me that there is nothing sinister in this form of administration. It has been going on for seven years; it was very effective during the war. I hope my predecessor did not act on the basis of an anonymous letter, or because someone whispered in his ear. I hope he acted, through his county executive committees, on the basis of their practical knowledge and good sense. Unless those committees carry with them the goodwill of the industry, administration will suffer. I hope the House will not accept this Amendment.

    I do not like this Amendment, and I did not like the remark made by the Minister, that it would only be from the county agricultural executive committees that he would take advice: They are not elected to be the sole parties who can give the Minister advice. It may be that a Member of Parliament, carrying out his job, will discover a situation which requires attention. He should be able to give the Minister advice. During the war, I had to raise, with the then Minister of Agriculture, questions about the bad advice and attitude of certain county agricultural committees. I had to fight against some of them occasionally. It is possible to have a county committee in one area which has a bias for grass. That would be dangerous. The decline of agriculture in this country, before the war, was due to the neglect of millions of acres of land. Special inducements had to be given to plough up that land. We have to see that the correct balance is maintained. As things are going at present, we are drifting back to where we were before the war.

    The hon. Gentleman must not now discuss an Amendment which I did not select.

    I would not wish to do that, Sir. I only want to draw attention to the fact that it would be a bad thing for the Minister to leave these matters entirely to the county agricultural committees. A committee in the north of England may adopt quite a different attitude from a committee in the south. There may be bias in favour of a particular form of management that would unbalance agriculture as a whole. I therefore ask the Minister to make the fullest possible use of the advice given by the county committees, but always to be prepared to take advice from Members of this House. We must ensure that an effective and efficient balance is kept between the county agricultural committees and the land that is under their consideration, so that our agriculture can prosper and not decline as it did before the war.

    There is nothing sinister in this Amendment at all. All we are seeking to do is to ensure that not merely will justice be done, but that it will seem to be done. Nobody is suggesting that the right hon. Gentleman would act against a farmer as a result of a whispering campaign, any more than anyone would suggest that his predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) had acted in that way. But we feel that where a supervision order is pending—which is a serious matter for the farmer concerned —it is only right that the farmer should be certain that the Minister has acted only through his responsible agents, the county agricultural executive committees.

    The Minister seemed very uncertain in his opposition to this Amendment which, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Windsor (Major Mott-Radclyffe) has just pointed out, has nothing sinister about it. First of all, the right hon. Gentleman said that it was unnecessary and undesirable to put these words into the Bill, because the county executive committees were the only people to whom he would look for advice. Then, towards the end of his speech, he said that the business of considering whether or not a supervision order would he made would be held up if the Minister had to wait for the advice of the county executive committees. The two statements do not tally. Either the right hon. Gentleman is going to take the advice of those committees or not. I do not know on which leg the right hon. Gentleman wants to stand.

    7.0 p.m.

    Splendid. Then the right hon. Gentleman had much better do what we say and put these words into the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman also said that it was the intention that agricultural executive committees should be absolutely and entirely responsible in these cases. If that is so—I do not quarrel with the decision that it should be so because that is what we are trying to put in as an Amendment—it is much better to put it in. We have heard, time and time again throughout this Bill, that the Minister is to do something about which we all agree but, unfortunately, it does not appear in black and white in the Bill. Here is a sample case. He says that he will take the advice of the county agricultural executive committees because that is the only way the Minister can be satisfied on a matter of this kind. If he says that he is to take that advice, I cannot see why that should not be put in the Bill. He said something to the effect that it would be unconstitutional. I do not know from where he got that. Is it unconstitutional to put in the fact that the Minister will take advice from his own servants? I do not know whether "unconstitutional" is the right word, but in a Bill we do not say that the Minister shall be guided by any servants in his own Department. Obviously, that is why they are there — to advise, guide and help. I did not think, until the Minister used that argument in that context, that anyone in the world thought that the county agricultural executive committees were servants of the Minister in that sense. He does not mean that these gentlemen, or ladies, who are to sit on these committees are to be held in the same position as the ordinary civil servants in Government Departments from the point of view of giving advice. Surely not; but that is what he implied in using that argument. If he likes to withdraw that—

    The position then becomes more confounded. Are these committees to be considered as civil servants giving advice in the Civil Service sense of the word, or are they not? We say, "No." We agree that they are there to give advice. The Minister also agrees that they are to give advice, and he would not dream of acting in cases of this kind without their advice. Having agreed to that, the obvious thing to do is to put the words in the Bill I cannot see that there is any argument which the Minister has given against it, and unless he changes his mind, I would advise my hon. Friends to divide the House.

    In view of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's determined effort to confuse the issue, I think that I should say a further word, with the leave of the House. That is, to remind the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that if he will read the first few words of Clause 12 he will see that where the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries is satisfied, he may do certain things. Clause 69 states that the Minister may make regulations providing for the delegation to a county agricultural executive committee of certain powers. The county executive committee, therefore, will be an executive body—an executive body acting for the Minister which need not tell the Minister every little thing they do during their day to day administration. That is why we call them county agricultural executive committees. There is no reason, therefore, to have these words in the Bill.

    The Minister's further remarks have done nothing to close the dangerous door left open by the Minister in Clause 12. I do not think that the Minister can, deny that under Clause 12, as it stands, it would be legally possible for him or one of his successors to act independently of representations and advice of the executive committees. I he fact that under Clause 69 the Minister may delegate such of his functions as he cares to specify does not mean that the danger will be removed. The Minister may so frame his regulations delegating powers to the executive committees as still to leave it open to him to carry on independently of them. That being so, and in view of the Minister's

    Division No. 232.]


    [7.9 p.m

    Amory, D. HeathcoalCarson, ECuthbert, W. N
    Baldwin, A. EChallen, CDarling, Sir W. Y
    Barlow, Sir J.Channon, HDavidson, Viscountess
    Beamish, Maj. T V HClarke, Col. R. SDonner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.
    Birch, NigelClifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. GDugdale, Maj. Sir T (Richmond)
    Boles, Lt.-Col. D C. (Wells)Cole, T. LDuthie, W. S.
    Boyd-Carpenter, J A.Cooper-Key, E. M.Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter
    Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr J GCorbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)
    Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Fyfe, Rt Hon. Sir D. P. M.
    Butcher, H. W.Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O. E.Gage, C

    previous remarks—for, as has been pointed out, there is not a great deal of disagreement as to the wishes to be fulfilled in this matter—I should have thought that the Minister would have been well advised to accept the Amendment. He is establishing a system—a hierarchy within the Civil Service. One will only have a successfully working Civil Service if there is no short-circuiting. That has always been the experience of the Services, whether Army, Navy or Civil Service. To leave this loophole open shows the lack of faith of the Minister, and he would do better to close it by accepting this simple Amendment.

    It seems that the Amendment which the Opposition are proposing to press is at complete variance with everything that they have said so far as the application of this Bill is concerned. They have always argued that they do not want farming from Whitehall, but the implication of this Amendment is that every supervisory order that is issued should come from Whitehall, after they have received the advice of the county agricultural executive committee.

    The hon. Member for South-West Norfolk (Mr. Dye) has put forward an argument which is equally incomprehensible. There is nothing in this Amendment which suggests that supervisory orders should be issued. The question of the extent to which supervisory orders should be issued is not touched by the Amendment. It is simply whether the Minister should have power to issue them uncontrollably or under certain circumstances, and the hon. Gentleman's argument, therefore, seems to be completely nonsensical.

    Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

    The House divided: Ayes, 86; Noes, 270.

    Glyn, Sir RMcKie, J. H. (Galloway)Smiles, LI.-Col. Sir W
    Grant, LadyMacmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Smithers, Sir W.
    Gridley, Sir A.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Spence, H. R.
    Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Morris-Jones, Sir H.Stuar., Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
    Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)Studholme, H. G.
    Haughton, S. G.Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
    Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon, Sir CMott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. ETouche, G. C.
    Hinchingbrooke, ViscountNeven-Spence, Sir B.Vane, W. M. F.
    Hollis, M. CNicholson, G.Ward, Hon. G. R.
    Hope, Lord J.Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.Wheatley, Colonel M, J.
    Hurd, A.Orr-Ewing, I. L.White, Sir D. (Fareham)
    Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Osborne, C.White, J. B. (Canterbury)
    Jeffreys, General Sir GPeto, Brig. C. H. M.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
    Jennings, R.Pickthorn, K.Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
    Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)Winterton, Rt. Hon Earl
    Lambert, Hon. GPrescott, Stanley,York, C.
    Langford-Holt, J.Ramsay, Maj. S.
    Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. HRenton, D.TELLERS FOR THE AYES
    Lennox-Boyd, A. T.Ropner, Col. L.Mr. Drewe and
    Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)Major Conant.


    Adams, Richard (Balham)Dumpleton, C WKinley, J.
    Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Dye, S.Kirby, B. V.
    Allen, A. C (Bosworth)Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Lang, G.
    Alpass, J. H.Edelman, M.Lee, F. (Hulme)
    Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)
    Attewell, H. C.Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Leonard, W.
    Austin, H. LewisEvans, E. (Lowestoft). Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
    Ayles, W. H.Evans, John (Ogmore)Lewis, T. (Southampton)
    Bacon, Miss AEvans, S N. (Wednesbury)Lindgren, G. S.
    Baird J.Fairhurst, F.Lyne, A. W.
    Balfour, A.Farthing, W. JMcAdam, W
    Barstow, P. G.Foot, M. MMcGhee, H. G.
    Barton, C.Forman, J. C.McKay, J. (Wallsend)
    Battley, J. R.Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Mackay, R W. G. (Hull, N.W.)
    Bechervaise, A. EFreeman, Maj. J. (Watford)McKinlay, A. S.
    Benson, G.Freeman, Peter (Newport)Maclean, N. (Govan)
    Berry, H.Gallacher, W.McLeavy, F.
    Beswick, FGanley, Mrs. C. S.MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
    Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)Macpherson, T. (Romford)
    Bing, G. H. C.Gibbins, J.Mainwaring, W. H.
    Binns, J.Gilzean, A.Mann, Mrs. J.
    Blyton, W. R.Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
    Boardman, H.Gooch, E. G.Marquand, H. A.
    Bottomley, A. G.Gordon-Walker, P. CMathers, G.
    Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)Granville, E. (Eye)Medland, H. M.
    Braddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)Greenwood, A. W. J (Haywood)Mellish, R. J.
    Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Grenfell, D. R.Messer, F.
    Brock, D. (Halifax)Grierson, E.Middleton, Mrs. L.
    Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)Millington, Wing-Comdr. E R
    Brown, George (Belper)Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Mitchison, G. R
    Brown, T. J. (Ince)Gruffydd, Prof. W JMonslow, W.
    Bruce, Maj. D. W. TGunter, R. JMontague, F.
    Buchanan, G.Guy, W. H.Moody, A S.
    Burden, T. W.Hairs, John E. (Wycombe)Morgan, Dr. H. B
    Burke, W. A.Hale, LeslieMorley, R.
    Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. RMorris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)
    Byers, FrankHardy, E. AMorris, P. (Swansea, W.)
    Carmichael, JamesHarrison, J.Mort, D. L
    Castle, Mrs. B. A.Hastings, Dr. SomervilleMoyle, A
    Chamberlain, R. AHenderson, A. (Kingswinford)Murray, J. D.
    Champion, A. J.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Nally, W.
    Chetwynd, G. RHerbison, Miss M.Neal, H. (Claycross)
    Cocks, F. SHewitson Capt. MNicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
    Coldrick, WHicks, G.Noel-Buxton, Lady
    Collins, V. J.Hobson, C. ROldfield, W. H
    Colman, Miss G. MHouse, G.Oliver, G. H.
    Comyns, Dr. L.Hoy, JPaget, R. T.
    Cook, T. F.Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Paling, Rt. Hon, Wilfred (Wentworth)
    Cooper, Wing-Comdr. GHughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
    Corlett, Dr. J.Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Palmer, A. M. F
    Corvedale, ViscountIrving, W. J.Pargiter, G. A
    Crossman, R. H. SJay, D. P. T.Parker, J
    Daggar, G.Jeger, G. (Winchester)Paton, J. (Norwich)
    Davies, Edward (Burslem)Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)Pearson, A.
    Davies, Harold (Leek)Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Peart, Capt T. F.
    Deer, G.Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)
    Delargy, H. JJones, J. H. (Bolton)Porter, E. (Warrington)
    Diamond, J.Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Porter, G. (Leeds)
    Dobbie, WKendall, W. DPritt, D. N.
    Dodds, N. NKenyon, C.Proctor, W. T.
    Donovan, T.Key, C. W.Pryde, D. J.
    Driberg, T. E. NKinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. EPursey, Cmdr. H

    Randall, H. ESoskice, Maj. Sir F.Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
    Ranger, J.Sparks, J. A.Watkins, T. E.
    Rankin, J.Stamford, W.Watson, W. M.
    Rees-Williams, D. H.Steele, T.Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
    Reeves, J.Stephen, C.Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
    Reid, T. (Swindon)Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
    Rhodes, H.Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
    Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Stross, Dr. B.Wigg, Col. G. E.
    Roberts, W (Cumberland, N)Stubbs, A. E.Wilkins, W. A.
    Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)Summerskill, Dr. EdithWilley, F. T. (Sunderland)
    Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Swingler, S.Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
    Royle, C.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)Williams, D. J. (Neath)
    Sargood, R.Taylor, R. J, (Morpeth)Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
    Scott-Elliot WTaylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
    Segal, Dr. SThomas, D. E. (Aberdare)Williams, W. R (Heston)
    Shackleton, E. A. AThomas, I. O. (Wrekin)Williamson, T
    Sharp, GranvilleThomas, George (Cardiff)Willis, E.
    Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)Thomson, Rt. Hn. G R. (Ed'b'gh, E)Wills, Mrs. E. A.
    Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St Helens)Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)Wise, Major F. J.
    Shurmer, PThurtle, ErnestWoodbum, A.
    Silverman, J. (Erdington)Timmons, J.Woods, G. S.
    Simmons, C. J.Titterington, M. S.Yates, V. F.
    Skeffington, A. M.Tolley, L.Young, Sir R. (Newton)
    Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. GYounger, Hon. Kenneth
    Skinnard, F. W.Turner-Samuels, M.Zilliacus, K.
    Smith, Ellis (Stoke)Ungoed-Thomas, L.
    Smith, H N. (Nottingham, S)Vernon, Maj. W. F.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
    Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)Viant, S. P.Mr. Collindridge and
    Sorensen, R. WWadsworth, GMr. Hannan

    I beg to move, in page 8, line 36, to leave out "appointed by the Minister," and to insert:

    "to be selected from the panel of persons appointed under paragraph 5 of the Second Schedule of the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1923."
    In moving this Amendment may I first call attention to a printer's error on the Amendment paper. Reference is made to paragraph 6 of the Second Schedule, and it should be paragraph 5. We are now coming to a Clause which is causing more heartburning in the agricultural world than any other in the Bill. The Minister rather taunted us on this side of the House with having accepted Part I very quickly and making a considerable amount of fuss about Part II. May I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that the reason why Part I was passed through so quickly was that you decided that the first Amendment on the Order Paper should not be called. If that Amendment had been called, I can assure the Minister that he would not yet have arrived at Part II.

    This is the Clause which forms the chains in which the industry has agreed to bind itself in return for what it is promised in Part I, and it is to see that justice is accorded to the landlord or the tenant if either is aggrieved that I am moving this Amendment. I should declare that I have some interest in this matter, and that I am, or rather was, on the panel of arbitrators. I have not acted for the last two years, and I do not intend to act—in fact, the Minister said upstairs that there were some names on the panel that he would like to remove, and it is possible that by this time he has put his pencil through my name. The argument the Minister uses with regard to the arbitration Clause is that a tenant or a landlord is protected because he has to have a decision made by the county executive committee. May I call attention to the wording of this Clause where it says that the Minister must be
    "satisfied that the owner of agricultural land is not fulfilling his responsibilities to manage …"
    He has to be satisfied by going down one step in the ladder to the county executive committees, and the county executive committees accept advice from the district committees, while the district committees accept advice from some smaller committee. The danger that the agricultural industry sees is that this decision of the Minister's should be influenced through the various stages by a small committee who may not be practical agriculturists and who may not be the right sort of persons to deal with such a question.

    I can assure the Minister that in spite of all the glowing words he used about the executive and district committees, they were not all angels, and it is in order to protect any aggrieved persons from a decision which is wrong that I hope the Minister will accept this Amendment. He knows full well that bad decisions were come to by executive committees during the war. I know that he will reply that it was the decision of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) that there should be no appeal from dispossession cases. I do not defend that. I always condemned the fact that there was no right of appeal, and I am condemning it today. It is the inherent right of every Englishman to have the right of appeal to another tribunal if he is dissatisfied with a decision which has been given against him. That is all I am asking for, and the reason why I want the decision to be made by someone from the panel of arbitrators is that they are independent, and the industry would feel that a decision given by one of the members will not be affected by Ministerial influence. I hope to get the support of the leader of the Communist Party, the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), for this Amendment. I am sorry that he is not here. He supported this appeal on the Hill Farming Bill and it was carried, much to the annoyance, I believe, of the Minister. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not feel annoyed with hon. Members on both sides of the House who fall in with the suggestion which I have put forward.

    The names on the panel of arbitrators are the names of those sent forward to the Lord Chief Justice, and they are drawn, from various professional bodies, having been selected for their practical knowledge and integrity. They are men who are familiar with the whole industry, and in my opinion they are men who will give a fair decision whether it is for or against the Minister. During the war we had decisions brought to light on several occasions which were bad decisions. There was no right of appeal from a dispossession order though there was the right of appeal when a landlord gave his tenant notice to quit and asked the county executive committee for a certificate that the tenant was not farming according to the rules of good husbandry. The decision of the county executive was upset on many occasions, and quite rightly too.

    I was interested in one case where the owner of a farm was himself farming as a tenant. As a member of a district committee I helped to dispossess him of his farm. He owned a farm himself, and he said, "It I am farming badly, my tenant is farming worse and I will get rid of him." He applied to the county committee for a certificate of bad farming and we as a small committee advised the county executive of Worcester that the certificate should Lot be issued. There was a right of appeal to the committee and both sides attended. At once the chairman of the executive committee, by his opening statement, showed that he was not there to decide whether the tenant was farming according to the rules of good husbandry, but he was going to make a decision on the fact that the landlord was a bad landlord. We felt at the very outset that we were up against a brick wail, and the decision was that the man was not farming according to good husbandry although we showed that he had never reaped the work that he had done in three years. That shows that an executive committee is not infallible. We appealed to the arbitrator of the same county in which this decision was made, and without any hesitation he upset the decision of the county executive committee. That illustrates what will happen under the new set-up if there is not some form of appeal. I know that the Minister has said that the county executive committees will be composed of practical men. No doubt some of them will be, but some of them will not be. What I want to point out is that of the set-up of 12 members it is proposed to include only three farmers, two landlords—

    And two labourers. If there was an appeal from the decision of the executive committee on the question of labourers I should be very interested to know what it would be. The hon. Member for Northern Norfolk (Mr. Gooch) has got this particular grievance in his mind. If the agricultural labourers were interested in this Bill I should be willing that they be given equal representation. The landowners are interested in this Bill and they are only a small minority on the executive committee. It is for that reason that I and my hon. Friends maintian that an aggrieved person should have the right of appeal, and I hope that the Minister will see his way to give it. Let us realise what the absence of such an appeal during the war really meant. At the present time there is a Motion before the House signed by some 37 Members asking for a Royal Commission to be set up to deal with cases of dispossessed farmers during the war. I did not put my name to that, because I do not agree with many of the cases quoted, but it is to avoid grievances of that kind that I ask for the right of appeal to be included in the Bill.

    7.30 p.m.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    I want to deal with it in rather wider terms than those used by my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin). This is the first occasion on which this expression "representation to the Minister" occurs in the Bill, though it is there later on and it is also used in a number of cases, the most of which vary according to circumstances. The Solicitor-General on the Committee stage attempted to make it clear that this was an appeal. He said, in effect, that this was an appeal because the farmers concerned could make their case after it was considered by the full committee and in that sense it was an appeal; I wonder whether any rational man really considers that it is an appeal to take a case to a body, a considerable proportion of which has already judged the issue.

    I am bound to say that I think that the great majority of people would reject that as any kind of appeal at all. I suggested to the Parliamentary Secretary on that occasion that at any rate the Minister's Land Commissioner might be a suitable person to bring a fresh mind to bear on the subject. I am afraid that owing to the fact that the Solicitor-General was unaware that there was such a person as a Land Commissioner—he took it to mean a member of the Land Commission, which is something quite different— that question was never taken up. The point we are making is that in an appeal against the decision of the committee a fresh mind should be brought to bear. My hon. Friend suggests that the single arbitrator should be the man to apply a fresh mind to the question, and that is reasonable because it has been the case to such an extent under the old powers. The Solicitor-General rejected our similar demands in Standing Committee because, he said, the Government did not want the whole matter to be re-opened. That in itself implies that the case has already been judged. If you refuse to accept the principle that a new mind should be brought in to consider the subject then surely you are also admitting that the case, on re-presentation to the Committee, has been prejudged.

    I consider that the single arbitrator is a very reasonable compromise between the two points of view. I know that some of my hon. Friends would like to see this particular provision that where supervision—a very heavy penalty—is to be inflicted on a man, the case should go to the land tribunal. I can see that there is some force in the argument of the Minister that that would add excessively to the work of the land tribunal, but here there are single arbitrators. They are all practical men who know their job and have had practice in this difficult matter of deciding points of fact. They have been used throughout the industry, they are trusted, and it seems to me that there would be no delay and complete fairness. On the one side, the man about to be placed under supervision would receive fair treatment and, on the other side, the Minister and his agents, the committees, would be quite certain that their case also would have adequate weight given to it. For these and other reasons which I will not develop now, I urge upon the Minister that this is a reasonable Amendment, and one which should be accepted.

    I am rather surprised that the hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment should have concentrated so much upon appeal tribunals and dispossessions—as if dispossession had anything to do with this Clause. All the hon. Member's wartime experience is apparently vitiating his point of view at the moment, and because of that I do not think he sees the thing quite as clearly as might be It is true that in Committee hon. Members opposite tried to provide for appeal to the land tribunal before a person could be placed under supervision. That Amendment was rejected by the Standing Committee, and the present Amendment is designed to ignore the Committee once again and to- allow an arbitrator to decide whether a person should or should not be placed under supervision. That is contrary to the whole spirit of this Bill, which is designed on the basis of the control of the industry from within. Hon. Members opposite want it to be controlled from without. Indeed, this Amendment means control of the industry by an arbitrator, and not by a county agricultural committee.

    The hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. York) referred to the heavy penalty imposed upon a person who is placed under supervision. What sort of heavy penalty, and for what? After all, no person can be placed under supervision except for bad farming or bad estate management. Therefore, it cannot be described as a heavy penalty and, in any case it is only after a person has been receiving the advice, guidance, and help of a county agricultural committee for a considerable period and has, perhaps, had many warnings that a decision is finally taken to place him under a supervision order. Subsection (1) provides that before making a supervision order the Minister must afford the owner or occupier an opportunity to make representations to the county executive committee in writing, or by being heard by a person appointed by the Minister. That provision runs throughout the Bill, and the county agricultural committees are the persons who would hear the representations of the person concerned. After all, despite what the hon. Gentleman said about his particular county, I think that county executive committees throughout the country have been composed of reasonable men. When he refers to there being only three farmers on one particular committee I can only say that I do not know it. Throughout the period from 1939 to 1947 there have been, on the average, nearer nine than three farmers on each of these Committees.

    I meant on the new panel which is to be set up. I was not referring to the old panel.

    The hon. Member speaks of the past when he refers to what happened during the war, then tries to relate that to the future, and the result is that no one knows just where he is at any given moment. If he will stand by his wartime experience when there were approximately nine farmers on every county executive committee, instead of thinking in terms of the possibility of a minimum of three in future, we shall understand what he is talking about. I do not accept the theory that either landowners or farmers, or technical agriculturists or agricultural scientists, are not able to decide whether or not a person should be placed under supervision. I feel that it is the county executive committees, which are responsible to the Minister—who is in turn responsible to Parliament—who should decide whether or not a person should be placed under supervision.

    Is the Minister saying that the appeal of the individual in such a case is to be made to the county agricultural committee, and that the same committee are responsible for issuing the order or recommending it to the Minister? In other words, is he saying that the appeal is to the same people who have in fact issued the Order through the Minister? The right hon. Gentleman knows, from his experience during the whole of the war, the number of times when the Minister did not exercise his power, which was the main cause for hundreds of injustices.

    I do not accept the statement of the hon. Member. He suggests that there were hundreds of instances throughout the war, but so far as I have been able to ascertain there were very few instances indeed. Of course, during the war, there was no such body as the agricultural land tribunal. For every case where dispossession is proposed, as distinct from supervision, there is an appeal to the agricultural land tribunal. I could give the hon. Member figures for this year of the number of appeals that have been heard by the appeal tribunals. However, we are speaking now not about dispossessing a landowner but merely of placing a person under supervision in order to help him to improve his farming, and to reach a high standard of efficiency. It is not a proposal to "down" the person, as is frequently thought by some hon. Members opposite.

    Who is more capable of deciding the issue whether a person should be put under supervision or not than the county executive committee? They have had the case of the particular farm under review for perhaps 12 months or 18 months before they reached that point. It is not a matter for an arbitrator but for the county executive committee, who know all the facts and the farmer, and know what they have done to try to help and advise him, and the warnings which they have given him. Before placing a person under supervision they will listen to any representations he may care to make. They will say, "You may bring along a friend, if you wish, a practical farmer or otherwise, to show cause why you should not be placed under supervision."

    It seems to me that there could not be anything more democratic and more calculated to provide the atmosphere of control of the industry from within than the policy that we are pursuing. It would clearly be wrong if the county executive committee—the appropriate body to which representations should be made—were sidestepped and the case submitted to an arbitrator. What would happen in the last analysis would be that the committee would learn only at second-hand, of the proceedings before the arbitrator and of the evidence submitted to him. We think that they must hear the views of the parties themselves and not learn them at second-hand. What is more, the party concerned would have no right of access to the county executive committee, if the Amendment now proposed were accepted. I do not know whether the mover and seconder of the Amendment appreciate that the landowner or tenant involved would have no right of access to the committee.

    It would destroy the very basis of co-operation on which the Bill has been built up. The committees consist of practical agriculturists, whether they be landowners, farmers or agricultural workers. They are the persons who can best weigh all the evidence when representations are made. The Amendment would undermine completely the authority of the committees and divest them of the responsibility they carry. Despite the plea made by the mover and seconder, I ask the House without hesitation to reject the Amendment.

    7.45 p.m.

    From the speech of the Minister of Agriculture one might not have thought that this matter had been discussed before at all, or that the Amendment which we have moved, was defeated only by a majority of one in the Standing Committees. One would not have thought, for example, that two members of the right hon. Gentleman's own party opposite expressed views strongly in favour of the line we are taking. That is all left to me to bring to the attention of the House. I am very glad to do it. The object of the Report stage is that everybody should know all the facts. I would recall that the hon. and gallant Member for King's Lynn (Major Wise) said he hoped that the Minister would have another look at this point. The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) who always had a great deal to say in the Committee, was in support of our view. It all arose because not until we reached Clause 101—as it now is—did it really come out what "making representations" in this case meant. The Minister quite rightly said that that was a thing which runs as a sort of thread right through the Bill. It was discovered that making representations "to a person appointed by the Minister" meant making them to the people who had taken the decision in the first place.

    If the Minister will not accept our Amendment I beg him to redraft the words round about lines 32 to 34 so that anyone reading the Bill for the first time will understand what it means. In simple language, the effect of the Bill at the moment is, as it has now been discovered, that the Minister has to afford to the person an opportunity
    "of making representations to the Minister, whether in writing or on being heard by a person appointed by the Minister."
    That is what the Bill says. The Minister may first offer an opportunity to people to make representations to himself, but in both cases "himself" means not the Minister as a physical entity, but the county agricultural executive committee. Therefore, we ought to write into the Bill that when there is a question of a supervision order the county executive committee shall afford the owner or occupier an opportunity of making representations to the county agricultural executive committee, whether in writing or on being heard by a person selected by the county executive committee. In fact, it is the committee themselves, in three different roles. The Minister's answer is that they are the right people all the time. If we accept that, let the right hon. Gentleman say so, so that any one reading Clause 12 will recognise that that is what it means. Ordinary people reading Clause 12 at present will think that the Minister will arrange that a person will have his case brought before a person appointed by the Minister and will never believe that the Minister is really going round and round in circles, and that it is the county executive committee acting for the Minister all the time.

    The Minister charged us with wanting to get an appeal against orders of the land tribunal, and said we were now trying to get a form of appeal before an arbitrator. As a matter of fact, that is not so. It is not surprising that he misunderstood, since our Amendment which deals with that matter was not called. If the Amendment which we had down for the recommittal stage had been called, the right hon. Gentle- man would have seen that it is still our desire to have an eventual appeal to the land tribunal. That is another matter. We are now talking about an earlier stage, where the Minister says, "You have a perfect right to go and make representations." The whole point at issue between us is: To whom are those representations to be made, before the supervision order is made? The right hon. Gentleman always comes back to the same point of playing down the effect of supervision orders. He says that, as a matter of fact, this is machinery which is meant to be very helpful. One would almost conceive that every farmer would go to his executive committee and ask, "Let me have a supervision order. It is such a delightful thing and is going to do me such a lot of good."

    I am learning some of the ideas at the back of the minds of hon. Members opposite. The Minister certainly gives us the impression that so far from being harmful it is something very helpful, and that everything will be very good when there is a supervision order. I do not think that the bulk of people look upon any form of disciplining, even the highest form which you in the Chair, Mr. Speaker, exercise over us, as any fun at all. The Home Secretary, as an old school-teacher, will know. One may realise in after years that it was very good. I do not suppose that at the time any of his victims thought it was such fun.

    It may be that in the long run people who have been under supervision orders may think that that form of discipline was a good thing, but it does not follow that the Minister is correct in his bland assumption that everyone will enjoy themselves under a supervision order, and enjoy themselves particularly, because the county committees are such an agreeable body of men. It does not follow that they all feel that way, because they do not. They feel that they ought to be heard and that they should be able to make representations to someone. Because of that we do not think it is right that the Bill should remain as drafted. In defending the general outline the Solicitor-General went so far as to say that the result of this was that the person affected is given the right of insisting on having his case known. That, I am sorry to say, was met by laughter by the Committee because it did not seem to be a very big concession. The Solicitor-General said—and indeed the Minister said it too:
    "If you are to hinder and fetter agricultural committees by saying that they cannot arrive at any decision without knowing that it will be reviewed by somebody who is altogether independent it will be quite impossible for them to carry on and operate this Bill."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, Standing Committee A, 17th April, 1947, C. 974.]
    There was no laughter after that statement. It was a very strange one coming from one of our legal advisers. To say that anybody's actions are going, to be fettered by the mere knowledge that some decision they make may be taken to appeal—even the most wrongful decision—was rather shocking.

    I ask the Minister to consider this again. There is a case here which was supported by some of his own hon. Friends, and if the Liberal Party had been present on that morning—I do not know where they were—we should have carried this Amendment at an earlier stage. No doubt the Liberal Party went to a party meeting and were not able to give us the support in the Lobby which they are morally giving us today. They agree with us on this issue, as many other people do. I ask the Minister to accede to the very wise alternative suggestion put forward by my hon. Friend or else let him redraft the words of the Bill and make it quite clear so that everybody really understands that making representations is a completely futile thing to do.

    I join with the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) in his appeal to the Minister. I doubt whether I can make such a good speech in support of this Amendment as the Minister did. It was only his strong dogged Yorkshire tenacity which prevented him seeing the strength of his own argument. May I remind the House of the position. The Minister's words are very well worth reproduction. When dealing with this Clause in Committee he expressed a view which did not go quite so far as the view he expressed today. He did not indicate at that time that a supervision order was something quite so desirable as he rather gave the House to understand this afternoon. The words he then used did not indicate that farmers were likely to jump at the opportunity of being placed under a supervision order. He said:

    "… let me at once make it perfectly clear that a supervision order is not necessarily a disciplinary measure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 25th February, 1947; c. 208.]
    I emphasise the words "not necessarily." It is perfectly true that it is not necessarily a disciplinary measure, but the probability is that it is the first step towards a disciplinary measure. Therefore it is only right and fair that at that stage when the supervision order is first brought into action, the facts of the case should be ascertained where they are in dispute between the two parties concerned, on the one hand the county agricultural committee and on the other hand the farmer, whether he be the landlord or the tenant farmer. That is undoubtedly an issue, and in fact the Minister recognised it later on when he said:
    "There is one thing that I should like to point out. He"—
    that is to say, the person who is likely to be put under the supervision order—
    "will be tried"—
    I emphasise the words "be tried"—
    "not by officials but by his own peers."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 25th February, 1947; c. 209.]
    —referring to the members of the county agricultural committee. When one uses the expression of a person being tried, surely it presupposes an entirely different attitude and atmosphere to someone who is gladly yielding to a suggestion that he should be put under a supervision order. In what he has said today the Minister has put an entirely different complexion on what supervision orders are and what they are going to mean to farmers than he did when he was discussing the matter upstairs. With regard to the actual procedure, let me again quote the Minister's words. He said:
    "What will actually happen in practice"—
    I quite agree that it is what will actually happen in practice—
    "is that members of a district committee will, perhaps, declare that a person's farm is not what it ought to be. They will have watched the farm over a long period of time"—
    I emphasise that expression to the House:
    "They will have watched the farm over a long period of time"—
    that must mean that they have for a long time been in contact with the person whom it is proposed to put under a supervision order. They know one another's case. If one likes to use the analogy of a trial, they know one another's case from beginning to end. The Minister went on to say that they:
    "… will have spoken to the farmer at the beginning, not in unpleasant terms, but in the terms of the old school tie."
    The Minister knows what representatives he is going to appoint to the Committees and so we must accept that they will speak in the terms of the old school tie, whatever that may mean. The Minister went on:
    "They will say to him that things are not looking too good on field No. 444 or field No. 443, and they will do their best to advise him …"
    and so on—
    "It after all this advice, he still fails, then, finally, he is warned that he is likely to be put under a supervision order."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 25th February, 1947; c. 208.]
    The sole point we make in support of this Amendment is what is the advantage—what difference can it make—in giving to a person who is being served with a supervision order the right to make representations to the very people who have been looking over his farm, who have been in contact with him, who have been talking to him in terms of the "old school tie," who have then been talking to him in, apparently, somewhat different terms, and who, finally, have been suggesting to him that they are warning him he is to be put under a supervision order? What difference will it make to him, and what good will it be to him, to have the right to go back to those people and make representations, with or without a friend? I feel that the Minister is putting into the Bill a provision—perhaps unintentionally—the only result of which can be to mislead the farmer, or the person who is to be put under a supervision order, that he has some right of appeal against an order which will affect him, his farm and his career, whether as a farmer or a landlord, for a considerable period of time.

    It is all very well to say that there may be opportunities of appeal later on, but it cannot but be derogatory to his reputation, in whatever branch of the profession he may be practicing, to be put under a supervision order, and it is at the time he is put under that order that the matter should be independently assessed to see whether or not the facts justify the supervision order being made. It is utterly impossible for those facts to be assessed in an unbiased and independent way by the committee which has, through all that period of time, been working up to the point where finally it has come to the conclusion that a supervision order is necessary. I appeal to the House on grounds of fairness, honesty, straight dealing and common sense, to agree that the Amendment is right and proper, and to accept it.

    8.0 p.m.

    I am glad to be able to support the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) and to express the hope that he will press this Amendment. I do not complain that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman took the opportunity of twitting the Liberal Party, but I would point out that the thing which we are debating tonight did not begin in the Committee upstairs, but when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was sitting on the Government Front Bench, with a Conservative Minister of Agriculture and a Socialist Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture beginning the first wartime experiment of the agricultural executive committees. We are now finding it extremely difficult to find fitting machinery whereby the small farmer—because it is the small farmer who has to fight for his independence here—can have a proper right of appeal in regard to supervision. The Minister knows that there have been good committees and bad committees—

    and there have been scores of occasions when it has been found that the only appeal which a small farmer had was an appeal through a committee which came up to the Minister, and I think there were about two occasions on which the Minister disagreed with a committees recommendations. There were good committees in some counties and bad committees in other counties. What guarantee is there under the provisions of this Bill that the small farmer, who may have been struggling for 20 years in conditions for which he was not entirely responsible—

    No, I am not dealing with dispossession, but with supervision. I happen to have represented an agricultural constituency for a good many years and this is not the first time we have had to discuss this problem. Will the Minister guarantee that all the things which he now promises are within the terms of the Bill? Will he guarantee that the committees are really going to assist the farmer to run the farm? Will he guarantee that the farmer's credit will not be damaged? Will he give an assurance that the farmer's standing and status in the local agricultural community will not be damaged? The right hon. Gentleman knows that he has never faced the problem that is involved in supervision. If the words of the Amendment are not appropriate, will the right hon. Gentleman find some appropriate form of words so that he can honestly say that he is finding an independent form of appeal for the small farmer when he is being subjected to supervision? Considering the experience we had with the war agricultural executive committees and the number of injustices and hardships that were caused, I am amazed that the best that a Labour Minister of Agriculture can do to safeguard the independence of small farmers is to provide this inadequate machinery. When this is known even to the right hon. Gentleman's own supporters in the country, it will be said that, whereas he had a great opportunity he has lost that opportunity by not giving the proper machinery.

    I am very depressed by the Debate that has taken place. It has destroyed another one of my illusions. I was always under the impression that hon. Gentlemen opposite had the greatest interest in seeing that there was the very best husbandry of the land. I had always believed that they had some trust in the judgment of their peers on the county executive committees. I had always felt that with regard to this Bill, a great deal of which they support, they would not, as they are doing tonight, play down the question of supervision. I do not know whether it is a question of playing up or playing down. I think hon. Gentlemen opposite said that the Minister was playing down the question of supervision, so perhaps it would be right to say that they are playing up the difficulties of supervision when they ought really to be doing propaganda in favour of it, if they believe in good husbandry. What we want to get out of this Bill, in return for what we are giving in Part I, which hon. Members opposite accept with the greatest alacrity, is the very best that can be got out of the land. Surely, it is a fact that all farmers are to some extent under supervision all the time by the executive committees? The executive committees are watching to see whether the land is being cultivated, whether it is in good heart, and whether there is good husbandry by the farmers. If not, how is it that any farm at any one time comes under the suspicion of the county committees? There is some watching going on all the time, and we feel that is right, if we are to get out of the Bill what we hope to get from it. There comes a point at which the watching which the executive committee must do becomes so positive that they have to tell the farmer, "We are going to watch your land for a year or i8 months in order to get to know what is happening on your farm, and if at the end of that time we feel that you really need help, we hope you will take the help that supervision gives.

    It is right both in theory and in practice, and if it is not, it is up to hon. Gentlemen because they have representation in those areas. They know the farmers on the executive committees, and it is part of their job, as it is of ours, to see that the executive committees do their work properly. I hope we shall have the co-operation of all hon. Members opposite in trying to get farmers to co-operate with the executive committees. I hope they will not think them all unworthy and not to be trusted. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] But hon. Gentlemen opposite have been talking tonight in that very strain—that the executive committees are there to "do down" their friends. What we want is that you should try to get co-operation. You should be out in your areas doing propaganda to show how important these executive committees are, showing that you do trust them, that they are to do a job of work in co-operation with this House—

    I apologise, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Hon. Members should be doing propaganda to get farmers to accept the importance and the standing of these executive committees as bodies who are engaged, with them, in getting the very best out of the land in their areas. If that is so, and if the members of the executive committees have been running the farms until the time they have been put under supervision, how ridiculous it is that we should ask for some independent person, with no knowledge of the situation, to come in and act as judge in the case of an appeal. Hon. Members opposite say that somebody should come with a fresh mind; but it is not a fresh mind that is needed, it is somebody with full knowledge of what is going on in the farms. What is wanted is an impartial tribunal—impartial in the sense that they want the best out of the land, but with full knowledge of what is going on in the farms. Those are the people who, in the opinion of the Minister and most of us on this side, are best capable of judging whether the farms should be put under supervision.

    I am sorry to interrupt, but may I ask the hon. Lady whether she thinks there should be no appeal, as far as supervision is concerned? Does she agree with the Minister's idea of planning an appeal to the land tribunal?

    At the moment I am talking about this Amendment and its relation to this Clause. This Amendment suggests that there should be an appeal to some persons selected from this panel who would not know the facts of the case but would come, as has been said, with a fresh mind—in this case with an uninformed mind. I say it is much better that the people to whom the appeal is made should be people who know something about the situation. Therefore I appeal to the Minister to reject this Amendment, and I appeal to hon. Members opposite not to be led away by carping criticism, but to go to their constituencies and do propaganda as we on our side are doing propaganda.

    8.15 p.m.

    The real difference between hon. Members on this side and hon. Members opposite is in regard to what we think of a supervision order, and the stage at which an appeal to an independent person should be possible. There is a view held by many hon. Members opposite that a supervision order is a friendly act; that the recipient of a supervision order will welcome it with both hands and, if it comes at Christmas time, will put it on his mantelpiece with such Christmas cards as he may get. There is the other point of view, which we hold, that a supervision order will not be widely welcomed. The intention of the county committee may be all right, but a supervision order casts a slur on the man who receives it because, as the Minister said, it means that he is suspected of being a bad farmer or a bad landlord, and it may be the first step to something much more serious, namely, ultimate dispossession. We believe, therefore, that is only fair there should be an appeal to an independent source.

    I agree that to attempt to ask the agricultural tribunal to listen to appeals against every supervision order would be to overload grossly that body. That is why we suggested that the appeal against a supervision order should go to an independent arbitrator from the panel under the 1923 Act. As a matter of fact, the right hon. Gentleman knows that there are several references in the Bill already to such an arbitrator. In Clauses 36 and 38 there is reference to an arbitrator from the panel laid down under the 1923 Act. It seems to us to be a curious form of appeal—though I do not think "appeal" is the right word to use—which is now suggested, namely, that a man appeals against a supervision order to the body of men who are issuing that order. Actually the word is "representations" but the average landowner or farmer reading the Bill, and not acquainted with the niceties of Parliamentary language, seeing the word "representations" will take it to mean "appeal."

    It would be better, if the right hon. Gentleman will not accept this, to cut out the phrase altogether and make it clear that the only form of representation which the recipient of a supervision order can make is to those who serve the order on him. Nobody suggests that every county committee is infallible. I know hon. Members opposite referred to them in Committee as "all-wise bodies of men," but "all-wise bodies of men," some of whom may be appointed by the Minister, are occasionally fallible. My hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) quoted in a different context cases where war agricultural executive committees had made unwise decisions and where appeals against those decisions had been upheld. The Minister said there was not injustice generally. I do not think we ought to be concerned with the question of whether injustice is done, or is likely to be done, in 50 or 100 cases. What we should be concerned with is to see, as far as is humanly possible, that no injustice is done in one single case because if this Parliament means anything, it means that the right of even one individual should be assured. That is why I beg the right hon. Gentleman to think about this Amendment again and, in order to gain the confidence of the farming community, to agree with us that an appeal against a supervision order should be made, not to those who serve it but to an independent arbitrator from the panel laid down under the 1923 Act.

    When the right hon. Gentleman, in chiding us for having failed in our attempt to get an appeal to the land tribunal, said that we were now seeking to set up a panel to which an appeal could be made, he was slightly unfair. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) said that a great many of us did not realise until the later stages of the Bill in the Committee—until what is now Clause 101 was reached—that in point of fact the opportunity of making representations to the Minister only meant making representations to the agricultural executive committee which had already considered and decided upon the case. That knowledge came as a real shock, not only to us but also, I think to hon. Members opposite on the Committee. As far as I remember, when we asked why the right hon. Gentleman took the trouble to provide an opportunity for making representations to the Minister, he said it was in case some new fact had come to light, which was not in the possession of the executive committee when they arrived at their decision. Tonight he told us that in point of fact the executive committee are the right people to deal with these questions, because they are the people in possession of all the facts. There is a psychological question involved here. It is important when a supervision notice is served, whether on a landlord or a farmer, that he should feel not only that justice is done, but that he has received justice from the Minister.

    I can understand the arguments of the hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning), from her point of view. But, as has been pointed out, some of us take a slightly different view of a supervision order. If one feels there is no particular slur in receiving a supervision order, it is difficult to see why we should go to such pains to put into the Bill an opportunity for representations to be made to the Minister. If we took the point of view of the hon. Lady we should let the executive committee consider the case and decide on it. But, it would appear from the wording of the Clause that the Minister wants to give some opportunity for an appeal for further consideration of the case. In point of fact we have now found that any further consideration is to be by the people who have already taken a decision. It is leading the farmer or landlord "up the garden path," to leave words in the Bill which would lead to the belief that there is an appeal, but which would not be considered by any legal authority as giving a right of appeal.

    Division No. 233.]


    [8.26 p.m.

    Adams, Richard (Balham)Barton, C.Brook, D. (Halifax)
    Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Battley, J. R.Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)
    Allen, A. C (Bosworth)Bechervaise, A. EBrown, George (Belper)
    Alpass, J. H.Benson, G.Brown, T. J. (Ince)
    Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Berry, H.Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.
    Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Beswick, F.Buchanan, G.
    Attewell, H. C.Bing, G. H. CBurden, T. W.
    Austin, H. LewisBinns, J.Burke, W. A.
    Ayles, W. H.Blyton, W. RButler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs BBoardman, HCarmichael, James
    Bacon, Miss A.Bottomley, A. G.Cattle, Mrs. B. A.
    Baird J.Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.Champion, A. J.
    Balfour, A.Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)Chelwynd, G. R.
    Barstow, P. GBraddock, Mrs. E. M (L'pl, Exch'ge)Cobb, F. A.

    Probably I am the only hon. Member who was not a member of the Standing Committee who has spoken in the Debate. Having listened to the arguments, I am convinced that my hon. Friends have put forward a case which has not been answered by the Minister. We have been taunted by the hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) who suggested that, presumably, we did not wish to get the best out of the land. We do not believe we can get the best out of the land, if at the same time perpetrate an injustice. We feel that a grave injustice is being done to the small farmer by not allowing him a proper right of appeal. The right hon. Gentleman is underestimating the opposition which his attitude this evening will create in the farming industry. Is his Bill designed to assist the farmers? Has he consulted the farmers? Do the farmers consider the attitude he is taking up will be helpful to them?—[HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."]— I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman is not going the right way about getting the good will of the industry first by trying to mislead farmers into thinking they have a right of appeal, and then when the cat is let out of the bag, saying that it is merely a question of putting people under supervision; that it is not so bad really and that they can be dealt with quite fairly. Those arguments will fool no one, and the Minister would be wise in his own interests, let alone those of farming, to give the farmer a proper opportunity for appeal, which is the normal right any Englishman would expect under those circumstances.

    Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

    The House divided: Ayes, 260; Noes, 106.

    Cocks, F. S.Jeger, Dr. S W. (St Pancras, S.E.)Reid, T. (Swindon)
    Coldrick, W.John, W.Rhodes, H.
    Collins, V. J.Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
    Colman, Miss G. MJones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
    Cook, T. F.Jones, J. H. (Bolton)Royle, C.
    Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Sargood, R.
    Corlett, Dr. J.Kenyon, C.Scott-Elliot, W.
    Corvedale, ViscountKey, C. W.Shackleton, E. A A
    Crossman, R. H. SKinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. ESharp, Granville
    Daggar, G.Kinley, J.Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
    Davies, Edward (Burslem)Kirby, B. V.Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St Helens)
    Davits, Harold (Look)Lang, G.Shurmer, P.
    Deer, G.Lee, F. (Hulme)Silverman, J. (Erdington)
    Delargy, H. JLee, Miss J. (Cannock)Simmons, C J.
    Diamond, J.Leonard, W.Skeffington, A. M.
    Dobbie, W.Leslie, J R.Skeffngton-Lodge, T C
    Dodds, N. N.Lewis, T (Southampton)Skinnard, F. W.
    Driberg, T. E. NLindgren, G. S.Smith, C (Colchester)
    Dumpleton, C. WMcAdam, W.Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
    Durbin, E. F. MMcGhee, H. GSmith, H. N. (Nottingham, S)
    Dye, S.Mack, J. DSmith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)
    Ede, Rt. Hon. J. CMcKay, J. (Wallsend)Snow, Capt. J. W.
    Edelman, MMackay, R W. G. (Hull, N.W.)Sorensen, R. W
    Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)McKinlay, A S.Soskice, Maj. Sir F
    Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)McLeavy, FSparks, J. A.
    Evans, E. (Lowestoft)MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Stamford, W.
    Evans, John (Ogmore)Macpherson, T. (Romford)Steele, T.
    Evans, S N (Wednesbury)Mainwaring, W H.Stross, Dr. B
    Ewart, RMann, Mrs. JStubbs, A. E.
    Fairhurst, F.Manning, Mrs L. (Epping)Summerskill, Dr. Edith
    Farthing, W. JMarquand, H A.Swingler, S.
    Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)Mathers, G.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
    Foot, M. M.Mayhew, C. P.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
    Forman, J. C.Medland, H. MThomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
    Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Mellish, R. J.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
    Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)Messer, F.Thomas, George (Cardiff)
    Freeman, Peter (Newport)Middleton, Mrs. L.Thomson, Rt Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E)
    Gaitskell, H. T. N.Millington, Wing-Comdr. E RThorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
    Gallacher, WMitchison, G. R. Thurtle, Ernest
    Ganley, Mrs C SMoody, A. S.Timmons, J.
    Gibbins, J.Morgan, Dr. H. BTitterington, M. F
    Gibson, C. WMorley, R.Tolley, L.
    Gilzean, A.Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G
    Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)Turner-Samuels, M.
    Gooch, E. G.Mort, D. L.Ungoed-Thomas, L.
    Gordon-Walker, P. CMoyle, AUsborne, Henry
    Greenwood, A. W. J (Heywood)Murray, J. DVernon, Maj. W. F
    Grenfell, D. RNally, WViant, S. P.
    Grey, C. F.Neal, H. (Claycross)Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
    Grierson, E.Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P J. (Derby)Warbey, W. N.
    Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)Noel-Buxton, LadyWatkins, T. E.
    Guy, W. H.Oldfield, W. HWatson, W. M.
    Haire, John E (Wycombe)Oliver, G. H.Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
    Hale, LesliePaling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
    Hall, W. G.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
    Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. RPalmer, A. M FWigg, Col. G. E.
    Hannan, W. (Maryhill)Pargiter, G AWilkins, W. A.
    Hardy, E. AParker, JWilley, F. T. (Sunderland)
    Harrison, J.Parkin, B. T.Williams, D. J. (Neath)
    Hastings, Dr. SomervillePatan, J. (Norwich)Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
    Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)Pearson, A-Williams, Rt. Hon. T (Don Valley)
    Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Peart, Capt. T. F.Williamson, T.
    Herbison, Miss M.Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)Willis, E.
    Hewitson, Capt. MPorter, E. (Warrington)Wills, Mrs. E. A
    Hicks, GPorter, G. (Leeds)Woodburn, A
    House, G.Price, M. PhilipsWoods, G. S.
    Hoy, JProctor, W. T.Yates, V. F.
    Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Pryde, D. JYoung, Sir R. (Newton)
    Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, NOPursey, Cmdr. H.Younger, Hon. Kenneth
    Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Randall, H EZilliacus, K.
    Irving, W. J.Ranger, J.
    Janner, B.Rankin, J.TELLERS FOR THE AYES
    Jay, D. P. T.Rees-Williams, D RMr. Michael Stewart and
    Jeger, G. (Winchester)Reeves, JMr. Collindridge.


    Amory, D. HeathcoatBromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. WClifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G
    Baldwin, A. E.Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Conant, Maj. R. J. E.
    Barlow, Sir J.Butcher, H. W.Cooper-Key, E. M.
    Beamish, Maj. T. V H.Byers, FrankCorbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)
    Beechman, N. ACarson, E.Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon H. F. C
    Boles, Lt.-Col, D. C. (Wells)Challen, CCrosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E
    Bower, N.Channon, H.Cuthbert, W. N.
    Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Clarke, Col. R. SDarling, Sir W. Y.

    Davidson, ViscountessJoynson-Hicks, Hon. L. WRamsay, Maj. S
    Digby, S. W.Kendall, W. D.Renton, D.
    Dodds-Parker, A. D.Lambert, Hon. G.Roberts, W (Cumberland, N)
    Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. F. W.Lancaster, Col. C GRopner, Col. L.
    Drewe, C.Langford-Holt, J.Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
    Dugdale, Maj. Sir T (Richmond)Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. HSmiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W
    Foster, W (Wigan)Lennox-Boyd, A. T.Smith, E. P (Ashford)
    Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)Low, Brig. A. R. WSmithers, Sir W.
    Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Spearman, A. C. M
    Gage, C.Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Spence, H. R.
    George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)Stoddart-Scott, Col. M
    George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
    Glyn, Sir R.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
    Gomme-Duncan, Col. AMaude, J. C.Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
    Grant, LadyMedlicott, F.Thorneycroft, G. E P (Monmouth)
    Granville, E. (Eye)Morris-Jones, Sir H.Touche, G. C.
    Gridley, Sir A.Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)Vane, W. M. F
    Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)Wadsworth, G.
    Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. VMott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
    Haughton, S. G.Neven-Spence, Sir B.White, Sir D. (Fareham)
    Headlam, Lieut.-Col Rt. Hon. Sir CNicholson, G.White, J. B. (Canterbury)
    Henderson, John (Catheart)Noble, Comdr. A. H. PWilliams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
    Hinchingbrooke, ViscountOrr-Ewing, I L.Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
    Hollis, M. C.Osborne, C.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
    Hope, Lord>lPeto, Brig. C. H. MYork, C.
    Hurd, A.Pickthorn, K.
    Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Ponsonby, Col. C. E.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
    Jeffreys, General Sir GPoole, O. B S. (Oswestry)Mr. Studholme and
    Jennings, RPrescott, StanleyLleut.-Colonel Thorp.

    I beg to move, in page 9, line 15, to leave out from "Subsection," to the end of line 16, and to insert:

    "as soon as may be after the expiration 01 twelve months from the coming into operation of the order, and, where one or more reviews have already been held under this Subsection in relation to the order, such a review shall be held as soon as may be after the expiration of twelve months from the previous or last such review."
    This Amendment and the subsequent Amendment in my name in page 9, to leave out lines 22 to 24, go together. They are necessary in view of the new Clause, which provides that in the case of each annual review, when either the owner or occupier is under supervision, either party may request the committee to dispossess the owner or occupier as the case may be. If the committee refuse, then one or the other may appeal to the land tribunal. In view of this new right which is attached to the annual review, it is clearly desirable that the first review should take place after the Minister's power of dispossession has arrived, namely, after the first 12 months of supervision. Under Clause 12 (2) as at present drafted, the first review would have to be held during the first 12 months' supervision, before the Minister has any power of dispossession at all. The effect of these two Amendments is to make sure that the first review shall take place as soon as possible after the first year of supervision has elapsed. Subsequent reviews would, of course, be approximately at annual intervals. Hon. Members will appreciate the need for these two Amendments.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 9, line 16, at the end, to insert:

    "and upon any change taking place in the ownership or occupation of the land or agricultural unit."
    There were certain complaints earlier today from the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) and other hon. Members opposite that they had not been able to master the meaning and intention of some of cur Amendments. This one will be well within the comprehension of all. Clause 12, as we all now know, is the Clause, which enables the Minister to place art owner or occupier under a supervision order. Subsection (2) lays down that when a supervision order is in force it must be reviewed from time to time, and paragraph (2, a) lays down that it shall be reviewed once every 12 months. We want to extend that provision so that the order will also be reviewed whenever the land or farm changes ownership. This is necessary and desirable. When a new farmer takes over a farm which is under a supervision order, there should be some form of valuation or assessment so that the Minister can see later what improvements have taken place during the 12 months, and so that possibly he may remove the supervision order. When a new tenant comes in, we think he should have 12 clear months in which to reorganise the farm before it is again inspected with a view to seeing whether the supervision order can be removed. As the Minister no doubt is aware, we have several Amendments on the Order Paper which seek to ensure that when a new tenant or farmer comes in he is no longer subject to a supervision order. Whether or not those Amendments are accepted, the matter should be reviewed when a new tenant takes over, and he should have 12 clear months before it is reviewed again so that he can have a proper opportunity to improve the condition of the farm.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    What we are suggesting is in accordance with the best traditions of good estate management. It is exactly what any owner or his agent, or both, would do if they could. When a new tenant came in, they would look at the holding as he took it over so that they would know later whether or not he had improved it or whether he had let it down. It is in accordance with the custom of taking a schedule of condition. I hope the Amendment will be favourably received.

    We have every sympathy with the arguments put forward, and I do not think there is any difference between us. I suggest that the Amendment is really unnecessary. Clause 13 provides that:

    "where a supervision order is in force in respect of an owner or occupier, any disposition of land to which the order relates … whereby some other person becomes the owner or occupier of that land shall not, unless approved by the Minister either before or after the disposition is completed, affect the continued operation of the supervision order."
    The saving words there to ensure the purpose expressed by hon. Members opposite are, "unless approved by the Minister." The Clause provides that where there is a change of ownership or occupation, any supervision order in relation to the land shall continue unless the new owner or occupier is approved by the Minister. Therefore, it will be open to the parties concerned to ask the Minister for his approval and, in that way, for the lifting of the supervision order. This will mean automatically that the question of the continuation of the supervision order will have to be reviewed. If the new owner is satisfactory, it will be possible for the Minister to remove the order and let the new owner go in and continue to manage the property.

    I do not think anybody on this side of the House and, I suspect, this applies also to quite a number of hon. Members opposite could accept such an easy and fallacious way out of the difficulties propounded by my hon. Friends. If the argument is carried to its logical conclusion it means that the Government propose that the disposition of all land, whether in ownership or by tenure, if the land has once been subjected to a supervision order, should be at the disposal and in the hands of the Government of the day. There was no such intention when this Bill was first drafted. These supervision orders are personal orders against an inefficient landlord or tenant. We in the Conservative Party wholly agree with His Majesty's Government that bad landlords and bad tenants should have some sanction against them if they are to get the advantages which some parts of this Bill confer.

    8.45 p.m.

    These are personal disabilities under which only an incompetent landlord or tenant should labour. There comes a change and a new man comes along. Surely he should not be subjected to the disability which his predecessor suffered. Now the Paymaster-General is suggesting that the incoming landlord or tenant, if he wants to avoid the penalties of his predecessor, must get the Minister's sanction before he buys the land or becomes the tenant of it. Since when has one been obliged to go to a Government Department and ask permission to buy a piece of British land, which, after all, is the common heritage of all of us. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Most certainly. The eager anxiety with which the Co-operative movement in this country is trying to buy up the land of England—

    I do not propose this time to allow the hon. Member to get so far away from the Amendment under discussion.

    With all respect, I think I am in Order in pointing out that there is a natural anxiety among all sections of the community, not limited to those who historically are regarded as the landowners of Great Britain, to own and cultivate the land of this country. We welcome this interest which the Government of the day are showing in it. What we very much object to is the assumption that an incoming landowner or tenant, if he Wants to avoid the sanction of Clause 12, must get the Minister's permission before he buys the land or becomes the tenant, even though there has never been the slightest suggestion that he would be an incompetent landowner or tenant. We agree that if, after coming into such a place, a man continues the bad practices of the previous owner or tenant, he should himself be subject to a supervision order in his own turn, but he should wait until it has been proved that he is the sort of person who deserves that sort of sanction. The hon. Gentleman would not, I think, claim that he has ever himself either lived on the land, earned his living by it or been deeply concerned in the welfare of the people who do, and for him so easily to dismiss this as if all a man has to do is to ask the Minister's permission to become the landlord or tenant, is straining the credulity of this House a little far.

    We believe that this Amendment should be carried and that, on any change taking place in the ownership or occupation of the land or of the agricultural unit concerned, the supervision order should lapse automatically, and that the incoming owner or tenant should be given a chance to prove that, as a free man in what we are always told is a free State, he can do his job properly. If he then fails to do it, we are at one with the Government in saying that sanctions should be imposed against him. This Amendment has the further effect that it will give a new owner or tenant a clear 12 months to put the old property in order and to show that he can so conduct himself that the penalties of this Clause need not be imposed against him. We look to the day—and I think we, almost alone in the State, believe in private ownership—when an ever increasing number of people will be able to own the soil of Britain. We are not in the least frightened of that development. We would like to ensure that the people who come along to establish their own stake in the country should not be penalised by the faults of their predecessors.

    If the. Paymaster-General really has this sympathy, I wish he would accept our method of giving expression to it. It would be very much better to accept our Amendment, and then perhaps he would be able to find it possible to omit Clause 13 from the Bill completely. If that could be done, the end would be served and the Bill would be simplified. There is a certain difference of opinion between us on this matter of supervision orders. We have always maintained that this supervision is really a personal matter, and it is utterly wrong that the stigma of supervision should be transferred from the person to the land. By this method, we are going to create in the countryside two different kind of markets for land—one for land where there is a supervision order in force, and another for land where there is not. I think the Minister will find that there is the greatest reluctance among farm tenants to take land where a supervision order is in force. The hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) rather talked as if she was coaching backward children for examination, and she seemed to think that the average farmer would be only too glad to welcome this supervision as being some form of assistance. I can assure her that the truth is the very opposite of that, and that there will be a great feeling of shame among farmers when the county agricultural committee does put a man under supervision, and that they will be extremely reluctant to take such a farm. I hope the Minister will change his mind, because it is not too much to ask that he should accept this Amendment and agree with our objective.

    The Minister of Agriculture is usually a very logical man, and argues in a logical manner, but, as the Bill now stands, it does not really make sense, because it suggests that the man should be supposed to be guilty before he is proved so. If the police go looking round public houses to find landlords who sell drink after hours, they are perfectly justified in doing so, but if the ownership or tenancy should change, the police are surely not justified in snooping round to see that drinks are not being sold after hours. Similarly, because the owners of land have been bad farmers in the past, why should a new tenant be considered to be a bad farmer before he starts? In this way, the Bill almost savours of persecution. The Amendment should not have been necessary at all, because the Clause itself should have been omitted.

    As the Bill stands, the new tenant coming in may well be the best farmer in the country, but if he has to take over a farm which is under a supervision order, he may be as shy as some of us on this side of the House are of red tape and refuse to take it over. The Minister will thereby be defeating his own object of bringing a good farmer to that farm to get the land back into good heart again. Equally, the landlord who owns the farm will also be losing a good farmer, simply because he will not face taking on a farm which is under a supervision order. I believe that what is really at the back of the Minister's mind in this matter is the idea that a change of ownership may be brought about by starting a bogus company, so that a man who is placed under a supervision order may form a new company and start up again. If the Minister wants to legislate against that sort of thing, he ought to be able to do so, and I am sure that if he takes the advice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he will receive a few tips on the way in which he should do it.

    I hope the Minister will not accept this Amendment. I think that the way in which he proposes to deal with this problem is the better way. I hope it will not be necessary in very many cases to carry on a supervision order from one tenant to another or from one owner to another, but I think it is quite right that the Minister should have the opportunity of doing so if necessary. In the past, it has far too often been the case that land which had gone down remained down, and that a farm which had been badly farmed by one tenant was taken over again by another bad tenant. It was often a cheap farm, on which the buildings were bad, and which only a bad tenant would take over. This is the sort of thing which Clause 13 will prevent. If it is not bad enough to be taken over completely, the fact that the Minister's approval to the new tenant is required will mean that the land would be put in order, so that a tenant who is reasonably likely to farm well will be selected. I think it is much the better way of bringing a farm up to the condition in which it was kept under previous tenants or owners, rather than assuming that, once the ownership or tenancy is changed, the supervision order will be immediately released. I hope it will not, in fact, be necessary in changes of that sort to carry on the supervision order, but I think it is necessary and that the best way of handling the matter is by giving the Minister the power to continue the order. The hon. Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) never was in favour of any sort of sanctions, but—

    I am rather mystified about what the hon. Gentleman is referring to.

    The word "sanction" at one time had a quite important international significance—

    That does not seem to me to have anything to do with the Amendment under discussion.

    I am sorry, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I will not pursue the matter further. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford set me a bad example in this matter. I think that this provision should be applied as a means of improving the farming or management of land. It is one that the Minister should preserve and I hope that he will not give way.

    I am sorry to speak again, but, before we take a decision on this matter, I would like to bring the House back to the Amendment and what it seeks to do. The hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts) was very far removed from the Amendment in his speech, and I am afraid the Minister when he replied appeared to be replying to other Amendments which we have put down to Clause 13, and especially when he said that we wished to revoke a supervision order. That is not what this Amendment seeks to do at all. All it does ask is that there shall be a review when a new owner or occupier comes in, so that no new man takes over a farm unless there is some basis by which his work can be judged in the future.

    If a review takes place when he takes over the farm, another review will have to take place in 12 months' time, when the Minister might possibly see that a great improvement has taken place and might be able to revoke the supervision order which, if he had nothing by which to judge the amount of improvement, he might not be able to do. I think that this is a most reasonable Amendment, and I am sorry that the Minister did not address his remarks to it. As I say, this Amendment does not revoke a supervision order; all it says is that it shall be reviewed when a new tenant or a new occupier comes in.

    9.0 p.m.