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Orders Of The Day

Volume 523: debated on Monday 1 February 1954

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Hill Farming Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

7.31 p.m.

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

The principal objects of this Bill are, first, to amend Section 10 of the Hill Farming Act, 1946, so as to permit grants to be made under that Act, as extended by the Livestock Rearing Act, 1951, for the erection, improvement or reconditioning of service cottages; and, second, to ensure that the consequences of a breach of the conditions imposed by regulations made under that Section are the same as those imposed in similar circumstances by the Housing Acts, 1952, I should like to emphasise the latter point, and say that the need for this Billis to bring the legislation affecting farm cottages under the Hill Farming and Livestock Rearing Acts into line with existing housing legislation. That is the principal object of the Bill.

Before I deal with the separate Clauses of the Bill, it may be of some interest to the House if I give some information about the progress made with the improvement of our hill and livestock rearing farms under the Hill Farming and Livestock Rearing Acts. At 31st December, 1953, improvement schemes in the United Kingdom had been approved in respect of work estimated to cost just over £17¼ million. That amount is made up as follows: England and Wales, £12¼ million; Scotland, £4¾ million; and Northern Ireland, £250,000. In addition to this, schemes estimated to cost about £2¾ million have been approved in principle, and schemes under consideration are estimated to involve another £2¼ million.

The House will recollect that 50 per cent. grants are payable, so that, taking schemes finally approved or approved in principle, we are at present committed to approximately £10 million or one half of the £20 million authorised in the Acts for schemes submitted within 10 years from the commencement of the 1946 Act; that is, until 6th November, 1956.

The figure of £17¼ million, to which I have referred, is made up as follows: Land improvement, £5·15 million; farm-steadings and equipment, £4·4 million; farmhouses, £2·2 million; fencing, £1·8 million; workers' cottages, £1·4 million; water and electricity supplies, £1·2 million; and roads and bridges, £1·1 million.

As this Bill deals specifically with workers' cottages, it may be appropriate to give the House the following figures relating to cottages. The estimated expenditure of about £1½ million on workers' cottages represents roughly 8 per cent. of the total estimated expenditure in the United Kingdom. The national figures work out at 4 per cent. for England and Wales, 18 per cent. for Scotland and 1 per cent. for Northern Ireland. The numbers of cottages affected, as at 31st December, 1953, were: England and Wales, 548; Scotland, 1,071; and Northern Ireland, 6;a total of 1,625. The figures I have given, of course, cover both new and reconditioned cottages.

The grants in respect of cottages are governed by regulations made by Ministers, and the House will recollect that theoriginal Act laid down, in Section 10 of the Hill Farming Act, that the regulations must include a condition prohibiting the occupation of the cottage otherwise than by the owner or a tenant, and the regulations cover a period of 20 years. The effect of this is that, if a grant is made for the erection or improvement of a cottage, that cottage must cease to be a service cottage, and the case may well arise where a farm worker takes another job but continues to live in the cottage, and the farmer is therefore unable to obtain another worker because he has no house to offer him.

It has been argued by various hon. Gentlemen opposite that, if a cottage protected under the Rent Restriction Acts is necessary for a proper working of a farm, the farmer can expect to obtain vacant possession of it by court action. It is quite true that that is the method involved, but it gives rise to very considerable delay, possibly of several months, and anything up to four or five months is quite a common occurrence. Therefore, this is a serious matter for many of our farms, particularly hill farms, because that period may arise during the time of lambing or marking. At the same time, as hon. Gentlemen opposite will agree, during the passage of our housing legislation, particularly the Housing Act, 1952, the Government recognised that hardship may arise if the occupier of a service cottage is liable to immediate removal.

Therefore, in this Bill, we propose to do exactly what we did in the Housing Acts. Where a contract of service is brought to an end by the employer at less than four weeks' notice, or by the death of either party to the contract, the employee, or, in the case of his death, his dependants, should have the right to continue in occupation of the cottage free of charge to the end of a period of four weeks from the date on which notice was given or on the determination of the contract, as the case may be.

In this way, we shall bring the conditions for grants applied to houses under the Hill Farming Act and Livestock Rearing Act into line with those which apply and are working very successfully under the Housing Acts. Some smaller Amendments of the principal Act are also included in this Bill. I should like to refer briefly to the three Clauses in it.

Clause 1 (1) extends generally the effect of Section 10 of the Hill Farming Act, 1946, and the first part of this subsection amends that Section by the removal of the requirement that the regulations shall impose the condition that the cottage must be occupied by an owneror a tenant. The second part provides that the regulations shall contain a condition assuring the occupier of a service cottage, whose employment is terminated, a period of not less than four weeks before he has to leave the cottage. Subsection (3) provides that where there is a breach of the conditions laid down, the owner or other person from whom grant may be recoverable shall be given an opportunity, which is at present denied him, of remedying the breach. Provision is also made for scaling down the amount recoverable according to the unexpired portion of the 20-year period applying to the cottage.

It may be that those conditions will affect only a small number of cases, but it is obviously desirable to afford an opportunity for a breach to be remedied, and it is equitable to take into account the length of time during which the conditions have been faithfully observed. Suppose that 10 years have gone; it is not reasonable to charge the man for the whole of the 20 years. We give him the benefit of half the period, during which he faithfully carried out his obligations, and he would have to repay the other half. That principle was approved by the House when it passed the Housing Act, 1952.

Subsection (4) deals with cases where the grant is paid to persons other than owners. Hon. Gentlemen will realise that hill farming improvement schemes can be put up by the owner, by the owner jointly with the tenant, or by the tenant himself. The subsection deals with cases where the grant is paid to the person other than the owner, for example the tenant, who accepts responsibility for carrying out improvements. It would not be reasonable in these cases to hold the owner liable, in the event of a breach, for a grant he has never received. Consequently, we propose to enable the Minister to recover grant from the person who actually received it.

Subsection (5) makes it possible to bring within the ambit of the regulations cottages already erected or improved by the aid of a grant. This is necessary, for reasons which will be given later, as a legal matter. The present occupants of grant-aided cottages sitting under tenancy agreements will not be affected by the new regulations, but when existing tenancies expire it will not be necessary to enter into new tenancy agreements. It will, however, be necessary to give effect to the provisions of subsections (2) and (3), which I have already explained.

The hon. Gentleman says that sitting tenants under existing tenancies will not be affected. Is there anything in the Bill to prevent a landlord from terminating tenancies and then making service cottages of the premises?

If a worker is in a cottage under a contract of tenancy, nothing in the Bill will affect him so long as the contract of tenancy exists. Should a worker go, or die, and the cottage becomes vacant, the owner is entitled under the Bill to treat that cottage as a service cottage; but he must observe the conditions I have mentioned in regard to the one month's notice.

:Presumably also, with the encouragement given by the Bill and particularly by the back-dating provisions of the Bill, the landlord can terminate the existing tenancy contract and turn the cottage into a service cottage straight away. So the existing tenant is affected.

:He cannot do that so long as the existing tenancy is run under a contract of tenancy, because obviously that would be a breach of contract. Until that contract ceases, the conditions of the Bill will not apply to the tenant.

Clause 2 deals with the registration of the conditions applying to cottages under Section 10 of the 1946 Act, and Clause 3 gives the usual short title and citation, clause and provides that the Bill shall come into operation two months after the date on which it is passed. This will allow time for new regulations to be made and publicised in the usual way.

I have said that the object of the Bill is to bring legislation affecting farm cottages under the Hill Farming and Livestock Rearing Acts into line with the Housing Acts of 1952, thereby removing the anomalous position that exists today, when we have two Acts of Parliament offering grants for reconditioning under different conditions. I accordingly commend the Bill to the House.

Does not the hon. Gentleman regard it as anomalous that Parliament is making 50 per cent. improvement grants under the hill farming scheme while it does not offer a 50 per cent. grant for any other purpose?

The answer would be that the cost of rebuilding a cottage on a hill farm away out on a glen is very much greater than elsewhere. Assistance under the Housing Acts for hill farming purposes would not cope with the existing position.

7.46 p.m.

I should say at the outset that I have never heard the Second Reading of a Bill moved with such flimsy justification. What v/as the justification of the Under-secretary of State for this proposal to amend Section 10 of the 1946 Act? It was that a case may well arise that a worker will stay on in his cottage and keep a new worker out; "may arise," after the Act of 1946 has been in operation for just over seven years. The Under-secretary could not tell us that any case had arisen, not a single one. He said, "a case may well arise," and that under Section 10 court proceedings may be instituted, and may cause unnecessary delay. The hon. Gentleman was not able to say that court proceedings had caused unnecessary delay, inconvenience and embarrassment to hill farmers in a single case. Not a shred of evidence has been brought before us in support of the Bill.

The Under-Secretary started off his speech by saying that he would tell us something about what had been achieved under the 1946 Act and under the later Livestock Rearing Act. May I remind him of what he said on other occasions? He was telling us a few minutes ago how successful the Hill Farming Act of 1946 had been. What did he say in 1946? Let me remind him. He said:
"If the…Clause"—
now Section 10, which is being amended—
"is accepted, the main proposals in this Bill will be nullified."—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 9th July, 1946; col. 2220.]
Then we had the Summer Recess. We came back afterwards, and took the Report stage and Third Reading of the Bill. On the Third Reading, on 9th October, 1946, the Under-Secretary then said:
"During the Recess I have toured a large number of the farms which will come under the Bill, and I have talked with the farmers. I have not met one who is prepared to take advantage of the Government's provisions in regard to housing. I am very much afraid that we may, as a result, have very few improvement schemes."
Then he went on to say, again referring to what is now Section 10:
"It deals very nearly, if not completely, a fatal blow at an otherwise promising Measure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th October, 1946; Vol. 427, c. 270.]
This evening he has proved what a false prophet he was. He has told us of the great achievements under the Hill Farming Act. He gave us the number of schemes and the amount of money involved in the schemes that have been submitted and approved, and the proportion of the total cost accounted for by cottages. He said that the cottages accounted for 8 per cent. of the total cost of works approved under the hill farming or livestock rearing schemes. He said that so far as he could learn from speaking to hill farmers in his area, not one of them would build a cottage under the Act. He went on to tell us that in Scotland about 18 percent. of the money involved in these hill farming schemes was accounted for by cottages.

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman would listen to his Minister, he would know that it was 18 per cent. in Scotland. Eight per cent. was for the United Kingdom.

For the whole time I was in office, cottages always represented the biggest single item under the scheme. I discovered, from figures given to me by the Minister after this miserable Bill had been published, that cottages came second on the list. Farm buildings came first. But the hon. Gentleman said that the farmers would not build cottages under the 1946 Act, and, furthermore, that we would not even get schemes because of this iniquitous provision for the untying of cottages which we had inserted in that Measure.

I repeat that I have never heard such flimsy justification of a Bill, and I cannot understand any Government or any Minister seeking at this time to amend legislation that has worked so well. They do it, of course, for no other reason than political prejudice, for doctrinaire reasons. They, of course, are having a hard time with the farmer of this country.

The farmers are very critical of the present Government because of their lack of policy. They have been saying that the Labour Government passed legislation that was showing good results, and although the farmers did not like the Labour Party, they liked its legislation. From the Government's point of view, far too many farmers have recently been saying that the Labour Government were not so bad after all. Therefore, the Government have said, "Let us bring up this issue of the tied cottage in order to prove that we are on their side." That is all there is to it.

As I have already pointed out, the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland said that not a single farmer in his area would build a cottage under the scheme. I cannot say how many farmers in his area have built cottages under the scheme, but there must be quite a number. He thought that farmers would not even submit schemes. I find from the document which the Under-Secretary gave me in December that, in the county of Perth which he represents, schemes amounting in all to £846,000 had been approved up to 30th November, 1953. He was the man who, when the Bill was going through, told us that it would not be operated, and that he had received an assurance from the farmers that they would have nothing to do with it.

I asked the Under-Secretary of State in September how many owners had found it necessary to break the conditions of tenancy and had, in consequence, to repay part of the grant. I thought that must surely be part of the Government's case. In Section 10 of the 1946 Act we provided that if a farmer wished to have a tied cottage on his hill farm, he could do so provided that he himself paid for the new building or for the improvement of the existing cottage. We said that inasmuch as the cottage was built or improved under a hill farming scheme it had to be untied, and that if, later on, the farmer wished to breach that condition, then he would have to repay the grant which he had received from Government funds

I thought when this Bill was published that there must have been some such cases, so on 25th November I wrote to the Joint Under-Secretary asking him the question. On 11th December he replied, saying:
"We have not had any cases where the owners have broken tenancy conditions, and, consequently, there have been no cases where part of the grant has had to be repaid."
As far as I can see, there is no justification whatsoever for this Bill. The Government seem still to agree with the Labour Party that tenant farmers should have some security of tenure. The National Farmers' Union think that the tenant farmer should have security of tenure. The security of tenure given to the shepherd under Section 10 of the 1946 Act was nothing like so good as the security of tenure given to the tenant farmer. But the Government are not proposing under this Bill to disturb the security of tenure provisions with regard to the tenant farmer. They are not attacking the farmer, but only the poor farm worker. Perhaps they think he is less able to defend himself. Perhaps the union of my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Gooch) is not quite so strong as the National Farmers' Union.

But my hon. Friend's union, the National Union of Agricultural Workers, has not the same influence with the Government as has the National Farmers' Union. The Government are not prepared to interfere with the tenancy provisions as regards the farmer, but any security which the poor farm worker may have has got to go.

There is not the slightest doubt that the effect of this Bill will give rise to conflict between farmers and farm workers where at the present moment there is none. It will disturb the harmony which has existed in this industry for some years. There has been no outcry about the unfairness of the 1946 Act. Some academic speeches have been made here and there, but there has been no evidence to prove that the Act has not worked well.

We shall certainly oppose this Bill, because we do not think that Parliament has any right to muck about with Acts of Parliament unless it can be shown that a certain piece of legislation is not working well. Only in those circumstances should a Government amend an Act. No such suggestion regarding the 1946 Act was made in the speech of the Joint Under-Secretary, because, of course, all the evidence is to the contrary.

I do not wish to get down to Committee points at this stage, but the Joint Under-Secretary did say that the existing tenant would be protected. Perhaps he will be able to prove that that will be the case, but, as I read Section 5 (1), I fear that the regulations which are now to be made will have retrospective effect without any regard to who happens to be occupying the cottage at the present time.

We have often heard criticisms about retrospective legislation from hon. Members opposite. Here we have retrospective legislation going back to 1946 without a shred of evidence regarding the need for it. This is a wicked Bill, and we shall most certainly oppose it in the Division Lobby.

8.0 p.m.

I represent aconstituency which has the biggest hill farming area in the United Kingdom, the greatest number of hill farms, and the greatest sheep population of any county. I must confess to being a little surprised at the line taken by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser). He accuses the Government of retrospective legislation, but I cannot see in what respect it is retrospective. Payments will not be made for work already done, but only for schemes presented from the time this Bill becomes law.

:I did not think that I would have to give the hon. and gallant Gentleman some counsel in this matter, but surely he will agree that those hill farmers, so numerous in his constituency, did, in spite of what he has said, take advantage in 1946 of the grants under the Hill Farming Act and have improved cottages subject to their being untied, but are now being relieved of the conditions, under which they receive the grant in the first place, retrospectively to 1946.

That is not retrospective at all. When the hon. Gentlemen opposite were in opposition there was some penalising retrospective financial legislation which was much to be deplored, but this is nothing of the sort.

The hon. Member says that an Act of Parliament should not be changed unless it is shown to be working badly. I remember that, on First Reading of the Hill Farming Bill in 1946, Clause 10 allowed for what is known as tied cottages, but only on Second Reading did the right hon. Gentleman opposite have second thoughts and amend the Clause to read that any grant would thereby untie the cottage. That was introduced between First and Second Readings of the Bill.

I welcome the Bill, because it takes the place of a Private Member's Bill which I attempted to introduce in 1950. At that time I had certain differences with hon. Members then sitting on this side because I referred, as they thought, in a derisory or contemptuous way to the large spate of propaganda launched at me by the Union of Agricultural Workers. The hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Gooch) will remember the occasion—when I had dozens of letters from the various branches of that union, all couched in the same terms.

The hon. Member then threw down the protests of the Union of Agricultural Workers in disgust, did he not?

:I dropped them on the seat in front of me, but I did point out that no propaganda of that kind had come from any hill farming area—from the hill farmers, the shepherds or the workers on hill farms.

Yes, there was. Was it not a fact that a protest was received by the hon. Member from the Scottish Farm Servants' Union—

No. I will tell the hon. Gentleman that the Scottish branch of the Agricultural Workers' Union comprises workers mostly from the Borders or Lowlands, but hardly a single member—I doubt if any—from the Highland area. I do not think it holds sway there at all. Perhaps, when my hon. Friend replies, he will tell me if the Ministry of Agriculture or the Department for Scotland have been subjected to the same flood of threats and propaganda that I received at that time, because there is no doubt that this is merely an amending Bill to bring the housing question here, and the housing regulations in regard to the ordinary building of cottages into line with the 1952 Housing Act of this Government.

When I tried to introduce my Bill, the hon. Member for Hamilton, speaking for the Government of the day, pointed out to me, as he has done today, that 17·8 per cent., in money value, of the improvement schemes for hill farming in Scotland was for cottages. That was in 1950, but the hon. Member today tells us that the amount is still only 18 per cent.

:Only 18 per cent., so there has not been that great improvement or addition under the Act which the hon. Gentleman seemed to say was working so wonderfully.

Again, when introducing my Bill in 1950, I pointed out that the certificate procedure for evicting a man from a cottage was hardly known—certainly not in my own constituency. The hon. Gentleman in his reply, which I have here in Hansard, pointed out that there had been 1,000 applicants for certificates, yet he tells us today that there was no such thing as anybody being discontented with the conditions of the Act

I challenged him again, in regard to my own constituency, that, in three years, only seven of the total number of applications for certificates had been made in Argyllshire of which, he admitted, only two were in respect of hill farms. There is no doubt that the necessity for applying for certificates was abnoxious to all hill farmers, especially when it came to obtaining possession of a cottage in order to house another shepherd.

:Does the hon. Gentleman tell us that the farmers of Argyllshire find it less obnoxious to turn a shepherd into the street than to go to the sheriff for a certificate?

I was pointing out that there was no case in Argyllshire of shepherds being turned out by farmers. I was talking at the time about hill farmers, but the hon. Gentleman took me up about farmers as a whole and I questioned him again on that. He said then that out of the total number of hill farmers in my constituency only two had applied for certificates. The point is that in hill farming it is almost unknown; there were, in fact, only two cases—in one of the largest areas—of a hill farmer wishing to put out any man.

Because times have changed. In the hill farming areas there is greater development of forestry and of hydro-electrical schemes, all of which tend to attract labour from the hill farms, and it is possible—as I pointed out to him at that time—that those people could stay on in their cottages while working for these schemes in the hill farming areas, and so prevent the farmer from having the cottage for the new shepherd or worker. That was why I made my effort at that time. I welcome this Bill for that very reason. It brings this matter into the housing policy of the Government and does save local authorities to a certain extent, as I will try to explain.

I am just trying to explain some cases which I want to put forward.

There were, in my constituency, certain farmers who, finding it necessary to build or modernise cottages, have done so with the assistance of the 1952 housing improvement scheme of this Government, but could not do it under the Hill Farming Act. Instead of the grant being paid by the central Government, under the 1952 Act it will be paid by the local authority. Therefore, the introduction of the Bill will bring the hill farming community into line and will enable these schemes to go forward and even more schemes, I am convinced, to be presented when it is known that assistance can be given under the Hill Farming Act. It is for that reason that I very much welcome the Bill.

8.11 p.m.

I do not think any Member can accuse me, during nearly nine years' membership of the House, of trying to do other than my best in the interests of farming. Furthermore, I have not always made it a party matter. I hope that I have an opinion of my own, and I express it from time to time. In the main, I loyally supported my right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) when he was Minister, but there were occasions even then when I felt constrained to point out to him what I regarded as the error of his ways. So far as the present Government are concerned, I have on occasion ventured to praise the Minister, but I regret to say that lately he has blotted his copybook. On the top of all the ill-conceived schemes of the Government we have this Hill Farming Bill, which seems to have arrived from Scotland. I do not mind Scotsmen coming to England—I welcome them—but I wish that they would leave Bills of this kind behind. I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) has said about the Bill. It is a miserable little Bill, vicious in make-up and harmful in effect. I have said repeatedly that agricultural tied cottages are an abomination to the tenants. They are anti-social and, above everything else, they take away a man's liberty.

The Bill not only envisages the erection of more tied cottages and the improvement of those that exist, but it goes so far as to provide State grants to enable such a project to be carried into effect. In other words, it will compel a tied cottage tenant to contribute through State funds towards the improvement of his cottage, from which he can still be evicted without court order and without alternative accommodation being made available.

I readily agree that summary eviction will not be possible under the Bill as it is possible in the case of many thousands of tied cottages today. If he cannot find another cottage, a tenant under notice from his job is to be allowed to stay in the cottage for four weeks. That is certainly a step in advance. At the end of the four weeks, however, he has no protection under the Rent Restriction Acts, and he can be evicted at the end of that period by the farmer without resort to law.

By allowing four weeks' grace, as the Bill does, the Government and hon. Members on the other side of the House, who have always taken the line that a tied cottage tenant has no grievance and that summary eviction was a myth, now admit by the Clause that a tenant is at least worthy of a limited amount of protection. We have various forms of security of tenure, and I only want to add my word to those of my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton in regard to the security of tenure that the Labour Government gave to the efficient tenant farmer.

I did not demur when that Measure was brought forward. I voted for it gladly. It is today the most difficult job in the world, as every estate and farm owner knows, to get an efficient tenant farmer out of his farm. While I welcome this and I hope it will continue for a long time, I believe there are moves afoot to try to stop it. At the same time, this vicious Bill is introduced that denies to an efficient farm worker the same measure of protection that we all agree should be, and is being, given to the efficient tenant farmer.

It is not always that a man who lives in a tied cottage gets notice because his work is bad. Often he gets notice because he has a row with his employer, and when he gets notice to leave his job for that reason it means that he has to go out of the cottage. I regret that the Labour Government did not go a little further and seek to solve for all time the question of tied cottages and deal with the problem as itexisted. But if the Labour Government did not abolish the system of tied cottages on farms, at least they went all the way towards preventing fresh tied cottages from being created. To that extent the Labour Government did right.

The Bill proposes to repeal the Section of the Hill Farming Act, 1946, which prevents any grant-aided cottage from being occupied under a contract of service by a person who is not a tenant. Under the 1946 Act, grants towards the building or improvement of cottages may be given only when the cottages are for occupation by a tenant. This was a limited measure of giving satisfaction to tied cottage tenants. A tenant, in this connection, does not necessarily mean a tenant having the full protection of the Rent Acts. In practically all cases it means a person occupying the cottage under what is called a restricted tenancy—that is, a tenancy which may be determined without alternative accommodation being proven.

I am glad that light is at last shining upon hon. and right hon. Members opposite in regard to the question of tied cottages. We have in the Bill a provision that a man who has to leave his cottage shall be allowed four weeks' grace, but when the four weeks is up that tied cottage tenant has not the slightest protection of law if he occupies a service cottage. The Bill is a United Kingdom Measure, but it is being piloted through the House by the Secretary of State for Scotland because proportionately, I gather, Scotland has made greatest use of the provision which allows grants for the building or improvement of cottages under comprehensive farm schemes.

The hon. and gallant Member for Argyll (Major McCallum) referred to what happened when he tried to incorporate in a Private Member's Bill the very principle now being incorporated in the Bill today. There was a debate in the House on the Second Reading of the Hill Farming Bill in June, 1946, and another on the Bill, as amended in Standing Committee, on 9th October, 1946. I took part in the debate and I tried to state clearly my objections to tied cottages where no tenancy existed. It was a very interesting debate which took place on that Private Member's Bill introduced by the hon. and gallant Member for Argyll. It had as its object the amending of the Hill Farming Act, 1946. All I want to say in this connection is that I had the pleasure of talking out that Bill. I cannot do that with this Bill. I wish I could. I would talk for a long time if that were possible, but it cannot be done tonight. Later on I hope to go into the Division Lobby to express in the strongest possible manner my objection to the principle enshrined in this Bill.

My own organisation, the National Union of Agricultural Workers, objects to the granting of public money for building or reconditioning cottages outside the scope of the Rent Acts, and their opposition is not lessened by the fact that occupants must be given four weeks' notice before the owner takes the cottage, but at the expiration of that period the tenant can be ejected from the cottage without recourse to an order from the court.

All the way along the limited protection to tied cottage tenants which in the last few years we in the Labour Party have been able to give has been resented by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. They resisted the Hill Farming Act, 1946, they approved the abortive attempt made by the hon. and gallant Member for Argyll, and they resisted the provisions of the Livestock Rearing Act when it was introduced by the Labour Government. In this connection, when the Bill was considered in Committee the present Minister of Agriculture—I am sorry he is not in his place at the moment—moved an Amendment to enable farmers to obtain grants for building or reconditioning cottages let on a service occupancy where no tenancy existed. At that time my organisation was constrained to make a few remarks about the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and as they are relevant to the matter now under discussion I will read them now to the House:
"There was nothing original in the arguments put forward by the right hon. Gentleman. They have been pulverised many times. He even repeated the arrant nonsense about the Prime Minister living in a tied house. Any man who sees some parallel between the Prime Minister leaving his official residence and a farm worker being thrown out of a farm tied cottage is incredibly stupid."
I am quoting, and I want to assure the right hon. Gentleman that I did not write this. [Hon. Members: "Why not?"] I might have written something worse, but I am only explaining here that I am not the father of this child. It goes on:
"The right hon. Gentleman said in effect that unless farmers were allowed summarily to eject their workers they would refuse to repair or recondition their dilapidated cottages even with the aid of public money"—
that, of course, proved to be wrong—
"and that therefore the Labour Government was condemning farm workers to bad housing conditions. If farmers are taking up this mean and shabby attitude they should be compelled to put their property in order."
Hon. Members opposite want more tied cottages and they want the State to pay for them. I think I would be wanting in my duty to those men who place their trust in me if I did not condemn the tactics of the Government in this present Bill. That I do with the utmost of my strength, and I will go into the Division Lobby against the Bill's Second Reading.

8.25 p.m.

I welcome the opportunity of following the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Gooch), for I well remember the tussles we had when the Hill Farming Bill, 1946, was going through Standing Committee. I can also appreciate that he sometimes had differences of opinion with his right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams). In fact, this little Bill that is now before the House is putting back into the 1946 Act what the right hon. Gentleman wanted to leave in the Act, but pressure from his hon. Friends forced him to insert a new Clause in the Bill in Standing Committee.

I am sorry that this tied cottage bogey has been brought up again, and I am going to ask the hon. Member for Norfolk, North, before the Committee stage of this Bill, to give me instances of these summary evictions because workers have had rows with their bosses. If he can give me any of these examples from his or adjoining constituencies, I will investigate them, and I will debunk some of the nonsense that is talked about the men in tied cottages.

:Has the hon. Gentleman not seen the case in Nottinghamshire where the rural district council was willing to grant a house to a person who was about to be evicted if the farmer held his hand for a few weeks, but the farmer did not hold his hand, although the rural council did its best to dissuade him, and the tenant and his goods were set on the street?

I have not seen that case, and if it is a fact, I do not support such action one little bit. I appreciate that there are one or two instances where hardship has occurred, but if we object to this Bill because we want to prevent hardship in one or two cases, we are going to create hardships for hundreds or even thousands of labourers in cottages who will not get their houses improved unless they are tied. If the hon. Member is right that at the end of four weeks a farmer can go to a tenant and summarily evict him, then I am quite prepared to support an Amendment in Committee if he will bring it forward. I have no sympathy for actions of that sort, and I have never yet come across such instances.

Hon. Members will remember that in the Standing Committee on the Hill Farming Bill, Mr. Alpass, the then Member for Thornbury, was a bitter opponent of the tied cottage. After the Bill I challenged him to debate the subject of tied cottages anywhere he liked to name. He chose Thornbury, a town in the centre of his own constituency and we went there one evening. Before the debate took place, I said to him, "Shall we get anybody at our meeting?" He said, "Yes, there will be a packed hall. Mr. Dann, the secretary of the N.U.A.W. has circularised the farm workers in this area and they will all be there. "Well, we had a full and friendly meeting. A division was taken at the end for or against the tied cottage and the vote went in my favour.

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to remind him that we both appeared over the radio one evening in a certain city and discussed the question of the tied cottage. I am not prepared to admit that he got away with it that time.

Then all I can say is that it is a pity the hon. Gentleman did not go down on the other occasion to help Mr. Alpass. Between them they might have won the trick.

I think it a pity that objection should be taken to this Bill. I am speaking more from the point of view of the improvement of cottages of which I have had a fair amount of experience. During my time as agent and farmer I have improved 12 cottages under the Housing (Rural Workers) Act. The only condition under which we did that work was that if we sold the cottages within 20 years we had to refund any portion of the grant which we had been given. The rent was restricted to 6s. a week or such rate of rent as was common at that time.

Most of the tenants are still living in those cottages in comfort, not in fear. In not one instance has a man been turned out or summarily evicted, and any change made has been mutual. Therefore, it is quite wrong to raise this bogey of hardship. It may be good political stuff but it is not good for the farming industry. I want to see this Bill passed, and then I want to see the owners of cottages bringing them into such a state of good repair as will enable the workers and their wives to live in comfort.

:If we do not do something of this kind, there will be a still bigger drift from the land than there is at present. [Hon. Members: "Nonsense."] The only way to stop that is to make the house a decent place for the wife to live in. After all, it is the woman, generally speaking, who decides whether her man shall take a certain job. Rightly so, because a man does not want to come home tired from his work to meet complaints. So, unless we have decent cottages to offer, the wives will not let their men go to remote districts—

:Can the right hon. Gentleman find me a tied cottage which is empty today? The time will come when the council houses are over-built, and I will make a bet with him that our tied cottages will be occupied and the council houses will be empty, because we have men living in tied cottages and paying a rent of 6s. a week while their pals living in council houses are paying 25s. a week. I have never seen any fear in the faces of men living in tied cottages.

However, I can give instances of hardship in another connection. In one case a farmer gave notice to the owner that he would give up his farm on 29th September and he also gave notice to the service tenants of two of his houses to give them up on 25th September. They are still in those cottages today. Who is suffering hardship because for 12 months those men have not found other accommodation? There are two cases of hardship involved there. One is the owner of the farm, a widow, who, because she cannot give possession of those two cottages to the man who bought the farm cannot get what the man has promised to pay, so she has lost the interest on £8,000 or £9,000 for eight months. The other hardship is caused to two men who want to get into those cottages to work on the farm and who have to cycle many miles night and morning to get to their job. Therefore, do not let it be said that all the hardship is on the poor chaps who are summarily evicted. In the few cases of evictions I have come across it has been because the man has been a thoroughly bad workman whom nobody wanted to employ. So if a man living in a tied cottage wants to feel safe, let him do a better job of work if he wants to remain there.

I dare say there will be more said in Standing Committee, and I hope that those who make such a fuss about hardship will give instances then of the hardships that have arisen within the last 12 months. When I challenged the hon. Member for Norfolk, North on a previous occasion, he produced eight cases of hardship, some of which went back seven or eight years. Those were all the cases he could find spread out over Great Britain.

:The hon. Member shakes his head. I ask him to let us have some more reasonable evidence. I have not had time to look up the debate, but I will do so before the Committee stage. I ask the hon. Member to bring his cases to that Committee.

:No. I said that the hon. Member produced seven or eight cases, of which I thought two were cases of summary evictions, and that the cases were spread over a period of seven or eight years. If those are all the incidents that have taken place over the whole of Great Britain, I do not understand this synthetic fury in attempting to defeat the Government on this Bill. I welcome the Bill. It will be a great help to the workers and to the farming industry generally.

8.35 p.m.

I had not intended to intervene in this debate after hearing the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Gooch), who covered the position from the point of view of the agricultural workers exceedingly well. I changed my mind about intervening when I heard the speech of the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin).

I am not prepared to state that the majority of farmers are guilty of the action, in which undoubtedly some of them indulge, of evicting agricultural workers summarily from agricultural tied cottages without just cause. The hon. Member for Leominster, however, threw some doubt on the possibility of that happening at all. I want to speak from my own knowledge.

I have been connected with the agricultural industry for over 25 years, having represented the agricultural workers in Kent on the County Agricultural Executive Committee and being at present a member of the Central Agricultural Wages Board. I want to refer to two cases that have occurred in my constituency since I have been a Member of Parliament. In neither case was there a just cause for the action taken. I will willingly give the hon. Member for Leominster particulars of the cases if he desires them.

In the first case, the wife of a farm worker came to me at one of my "surgeries," bringing her daughter with her. Both were in tears. The woman informed me that her husband had died a week previously after serving for many years on a certain farm. While his body actually lay in the home, she was served with a notice to quit her cottage. It is perfectly true that when I got in touch with the farmer concerned he offered an alternative cottage, but it was one which had not been occupied for many years and had been condemned. There is one such case where, after a worker had given many years of satisfactory service—he was not dismissed, he died—his wife was treated in that way.

The other case that I recall is one where an agricultural worker desired to better himself and he applied to his employer for a reference. He wanted to apply for a job as a stockman, and, as he had a perfect right to do, he asked his employer for a reference. Not only was the reference refused but he was given notice immediately to leave his job and get out of the cottage. Those are two cases which I took up on behalf of constituents. I stall be pleased to give information on them to the hon. Member for Leominster in order that he can make the necessary inquiries into them.

I say at once that no hon. Member on this side of the House would support actions of the sort quoted by the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. P. Wells). But we must remember that those are isolated cases and, in order to put those few isolated cases right, it is proposed to inflict hardship on thousands in tied cottages all over the country.

:I readily agree that the majority of farmers would not take action of that kind. In justice, I will quote another case that has come to my notice within the past few weeks. It was of a widow of an agricultural worker who asked me whether I could assist her to set a council house as the farmer in whose cottage she was residing was now pressing her to get out of it because he required it for another worker. On going into the case, I found that her husband had died two years ago but the farmer had allowed her to remain in the cottage rent free all that period. It was only when one of his workmen was getting married and insisted on having a cottage that he applied pressure.

I am not one who thinks it possible to score a point by saying that all, or even the majority, of farmers are prepared to use unjustly this power which a tied cottage gives them. But the fact is that the power is there. I have known cases where a farmer who for many years worked with his employees has died and the son has taken over. Very often the son has not been so considerate as—to use farm workers' language— "the Guvnor," and injustice has been inflicted. It is the fact that the power is there which the agricultural worker very much fears. They never know when the power will be used. It can be used, as many instances can be advanced to prove, unfairly.

We say it is a great pity that the Minister has thought fit to undo something which we thought was bringing a little confidence to the agricultural workers of this country. We really felt we were at last showing agricultural workers that the perpetuation of tied cottages was not a policy which would be pursued in future in this country. Unfortunately, the position with which we are now faced reverses what we looked upon as a small measure of progress in that direction.

For that reason, I am prepared to go into the Lobby against this Bill. I am not much influenced by the argument used by hon. Members opposite that by opposing this Bill we shall be delaying the improvement of agricultural cottages. From time to time I have opposed my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans), but by this Measure farmers are going to benefit in two ways. First, they are to get a grant to improve their cottages. When they have improved their cottages, they will go to the county wages committee and ask for an increase in rent. If the cottage is in a condition that warrants it, they will get the maximum rent of 10s. a week.

It is being done now. Farmers are getting it in two directions, while the agricultural worker is getting it in the neck.

We shall go into the Division Lobby against this Bill. I hope we shall have some support from hon. Members opposite, who are so concerned about farmers. I saw the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) look in a little time ago. He is very much concerned about farmers only having a year under supervision, and then, if they do not pull up their socks, being dispossessed of their farm. It would be much more to his credit had he been in the Chamber tonight supporting those of us who are opposing the Bill.

8.45 p.m.

This is a Hill Farming Bill, and although I enjoyed listening to the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. P. Wells) speaking about his constituents, I have yet to learn that any of his constituents come under the provisions of the Bill.

The hon. and gallant Member would agree that the principle of the tied cottage applies to constituents of mine.

:That is the next point to which I was coming.

The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) and other hon. Members have made a great fuss about the principle of the Bill. The principle was dealt with, so far as Scotland is concerned, in 1952. I was in the House then, although I was not in 1946. Let me give a quotation from the speech of Mr. Wheatley, as I think I have a right to call him today:
"This is a very serious matter. It involves a matter of principle."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th October, 1952; Vol. 505, c. 334.]
It was a matter of principle then, which we fought out. The Government won the battle of principle in relation to the position dealt with in 1952, and it really should not arise again on this very limited question of a Hill Farming Bill.

The rest of the agricultural industry has been operating this principle for 18 months or so. Hon. Gentlemen may try to make out, as some have done, that it is not speeding the reconditioning and improvement of cottages and the erection of modern cottages for farm workers, but if one goes round the county of Angus today it is astonishing to see the enormous amount of renovation and modernisation going on to farm cottages as a result of grants under the 1952 Act. If one goes along any road in the county of Angus on almost every farm something is being done to one of the cottages.

:Parliament provided for it in 1938 and in 1946, and has done so under the Livestock Rearing Act, and the Housing Act, 1952. It is astonishing to see the amount of work now being done. Some of that work, I have learned from conversations with farmers and farmworkers, was held up until that provision under the 1952 Act.

I am quite prepared to admit that there was another reason for the holding up of that work—the difficulty of getting licences. There was also the restriction on the amount which could be spent. It was about £600 under the Labour Government. We, under the 1952 Act, raised the figure to £800. Now the limit has gone altogether.

The point with which we are concerned on this Bill is a very much more limited one. Who will it affect? It will not affect the ordinary agricultural worker, only the agricultural worker on the hill farm—shepherds, grieves and people like that. Hon. Gentlemen have been talking about the evils of the tied cottage. The nearest analogy is that of the accommodation for forestry workers. They are all tied houses. When he was Minister of Agriculture the right hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) was responsible for building cottages for forestry workers which were all tied, and still remain so. No one has complained to me that that was not just. It is necessary to have tied cottages in these far distant parts if a farm is to be worked properly. A shepherd may have miles to traverse and it is not possible, as was once advocated by the Socialist Party—I do not know whether they still advocate it—to build groups of houses down in the valley, with men cycling to their work.

In 1952. If the hon. Gentleman wants the quotation, he should look at the speech made by the right hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) in October, 1952—

Yes, for shepherds. The right hon. Gentleman said:

"We recognise that it may be convenient for the workers to live very near lo the stock and that that is a plausible case for the perpetuation of a situation in which houses are segregated from villages."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th October, 1952; Vol. 505, c. 400.]
It is impossible to build shepherds' cottages in villages in these isolated areas. They must be built up on the bills. Every man counts on these farms. There is not a lot of labour which can be switched around. If something happens to a ewe during the lambing season it may not only be a serious matter to the farmer's income, but it may lead to the death of the ewe. The shepherd must be on the job night and day during the lambing season.

Although it is a small Measure, this Bill would appear to me to raise no new principle at all. It does what is necessary in order to complete the hill farming picture. It will encourage many owners to modernise cottages and to encourage shepherds and their wives by giving them decent living conditions. I wish therefore to support the Bill, because I think it will do good in the isolated communities on the hill side in the crofting counties in the north of Scotland and the Scottish Islands. [Interruption.] I am trying to confine my remarks to the hill farming areas, unlike the hon. Member for Faversham. The hon. Member for Hamilton, who keeps murmuring from the Front Bench opposite—

said this will lead to a conflict between employer and employee. I do not believe this Bill will make the slightest difference to the relationship between master and man if the man is a good worker and the master a decent person, there will be no difficulty at all. As my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) said, the only case where difficulty will arise will be where there is a bad workman—

8.55 p.m.

I have not previously intervened in an agricultural debate. I cannot claim that in my constituency there is a large population of hill farmers. Probably there are not quite as many as there are in the constituency of the hon. and gallant Member for Angus, South (Captain Duncan). Nevertheless, mine is an agricultural constituency. The Lothians are among the best agricultural land in Great Britain and, indeed, the world. Therefore, I make no apology for intervening.

I should not have intervened had it not been for the astonishing speech of the hon. and gallant Member. He attempted to persuade us that there was a fair and accurate analogy between cottages built by the Forestry Commission in isolated places for its workers and cottages owned by private farmers or tenant farmers for their shepherds. There is no analogy whatever. In Scotland the Forestry Commission builds cottages at the expense of the State for the occupation of forestry workers who otherwise would not be housed. The cottages are built entirely at the expense of the State for the benefit of the whole nation. They are owned by the State. How could they be tied otherwise? To whom could they be untied, unless the workers themselves desire to purchase them? No doubt the State makes arrangements for that to be done.

The hon. and gallant Member, with others, seemed to be doing farmers a scant service when he said that since the previous Act in 1952 there had been a great resurgence in building. So did the hon. and gallant Member for Argyll (Major McCallum) when he stated that unless we approved this Measure we were condemning agricultural workers to live in insanitary and bad housing conditions. That seemed to be a reflection upon the humanity of the farmers and certainly upon their business acumen.

I was astonished to hear that there has been this terrific amount of bad housing in the countryside by landlords and tenant farmers. I did not know that it existed to that extent. The purpose of this narrow Bill is to ensure that if public money is spent on the improvement of houses by the State, then the houses shall be available for tenancy by anybody in the State who happens to be in the district and requires a house. The Bill is niggling and unnecessary. We ought to vote against it. I shall have pleasure in going into the Lobby to vote against the Motion.

8.58 p.m.

The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. J. Taylor), whose voice we welcome in these debates, as someone whom we rarely hear from nowadays, spoke about the use of public funds for the purpose of hill farming. There is a risk that, without the Bill, these funds may not be used for the purpose for which they were intended. As the law stands, it is possible for somebody to leave his occupation and cease to be a shepherd and take up some other occupation—

The hon. Gentleman knows that in a case like that the farmer can go to the county agricultural committee and get a certificate. He can take the man to court and get him evicted by-means of the certificate.

That may be so, but there is a delay, and that was the point I was about to make. Of course, I realise that, but the fact is that a man may change his occupation and remain in occupation of his house, at any rate for a limited time.

For a limited time. The process of the law does not work all that quickly. Surely that is a misuse of public funds. It means that public funds must be used at least for a limited time, for the provision of accommodation in a place where it would not have been provided in normal circumstances. The money is provided purely and simply for hill farming and for nothing else. If a man changes his occupation, for a period it does represent a misuse of public funds. Moreover, it is not easy to get a replacement at outlying farms. The man who has changed his occupation may remain in the house for a considerable time, and that may hinder the best use of the land.

One of the main purposes of the Labour Party, as well as the party on this side, is to ensure the best use of the land and of agricultural capital, so that when a farmer puts money into the construction or improvement of a house for a shepherd he can be certain that it will be used for a shepherd and not for someone in another occupation.

:This is a very nice theory, but I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman has a single case of a farmer in Dumfriesshire suffering this embarrassment or not building a cottage as part of a hill farming scheme because of the conditions under Section 10. I have travelled very much in the hon. Member's constituency, as well as elsewhere in rural Scotland, and I have met no such case. All we ask is that we be given some evidence.

:It is very difficult indeed to get negative information of that kind.

:No, it is negative information. The hon. Member is asking for instances of farmers who have refrained from reconditioning cottages because they would be untied. Farmers whom I have met have constantly assured me that it is a handicap and a factor which weighs in their minds, as it is bound to be. Why should they put money into the building of a house or the improvement of a house when they cannot be certain that it will be used for the purpose to which they are devoting their money?

I agree that some are doing it, but the percentage for the whole country is only 8 per cent., that for England being only 4 per cent., although in Scotland the percentage is 18 per cent. I cannot say how many more might have done this, because there are no statistics for people who have not made application, but I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that I am constantly told that agreat deal more impetus would be given to the reconditioning of cottages and the building of new ones if the condition were altered. The Bill alters the condition. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating of it. We shall see whether in the future there is an increase in the reconditioning of houses in England and Wales and in Scotland. I hope it will be so.

There is, of course, the human appeal in respect of cases in the past where there may have been quarrels between masters and men, and men have been put into the street. We recognise that, but we face the Bill as it is with the changed conditions of today. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, Central (Brigadier Medlicott) who initiated the Clause providing for four weeks' notice. We welcome it, believing that it will improve human relationships between master and man.

Hon. Members opposite, including the Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Gooch) have said that this is a limitation of liberty. If it is, it is a very widespread one, for it is generally accepted in many walks of life, whether it be in the case of the schoolmaster's house, a manse, the Forestry Commission's houses, houses built by the Scottish Special Housing Association specifically for miners, who lose the houses if they cease to be coal-miners, or the houses built by county councils for agricultural workers, who, if they cease to be agricultural workers, and there is a demand for those houses, are obliged to leave them.

What has to be recognised is that in farming there is a well-recognised discipline of the job, a discipline which farm workers not only recognise themselves but of which they are also proud. They realise that it is essential that there shall be somebody to tend the flock, and they realise very well that it is not easy to get a replacement for a shepherd who is going out, even at a month's notice, unless he is to tend the flock in the meantime until the day he goes. Both sides recognise that that is necessary.

Therefore, this Bill is only doing something which is entirely consistent with the discipline of the job. It is essential to have on a hill farm somebody who is able to look after the primary purposes of that job—for a shepherd to be there at hand all the time. It is very easy for shepherds to get jobs elsewhere, and skilled shepherds are very definitely in short supply. If a shepherd is dissastisfied with his job, he can easily change, and it may be very difficult to replace him, but, if he leaves because his house is in bad repair, then it will be even more difficult to replace him, and we in this House ought not to do anything which will make it more difficult to keep shepherds on the land.

This small Measure, which will encourage farmers to put their capital into the improvement of farm cottages and the building of new shepherds' cottages, is, I believe, a wise step. I think it is a necessary step, and one that is entirely consistent with the discipline of the job.

9.8 p.m.

I am glad to have the opportunity of intervening in this debate, although the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Gooch) has already spoken, and it might be thought unexpected that two hon. Members for the County of Norfolk should speak on a Hill Farming Bill. There is a widespread misconception as to the nature of the County of Norfolk. It is thought that we have no hills, but in fact we have hills and they are very beautiful, although I believe that very few of the Norfolk farmers would qualify technically for grants under the Hill Farming Acts.

I particularly want to refer to what was said by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) when he referred to this Bill having been introduced on the basis of party prejudice. I cannot think of anything more inaccurate. Our relationships with the farmers at the moment are a great deal better than they were. Indeed, at this moment, I should myself be enjoying the hospitality of one of the largest branches of the National Farmers' Union in Norfolk but for the fact that this Bill is being taken today.

It was not made quite clear to me whether I was to be on the toast list to be praised or on the menu to be eaten, but I hope I am right in assuming that it was the former. The hon. Member for Norfolk, North was also to have been there, but I suggest it was out of the farmers' personal regard for him, and not on account of his political views, that he was invited.

If there is any political prejudice, it is in the opposition to the Bill. The object of the Bill is to effect improvements in the conditions of service cottages. The occupant of such a cottage is more interested in that than in any political theory. He is interested in whether his roof is to remain wind and water tight and whether the cottage can be made a better and more comfortable place to live in.

I would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite who have spoken with such feeling in regard to the tied cottage that, to use a legal phrase, they are estopped by their past record from working up any emotion about this matter. They were in power for six years, and the question of the tied cottage was brought to the notice of the Labour Government time and time again by the hon. Member for Norfolk, North. The remarkable thing is that to abolish the tied cottage would have been one of the simplest steps to take: a single Clause in a very short Bill, in the first few weeks of the period of office of the late Government was all that was required. They failed to do anything for six years, and because of that it is not now open to them to work up all this synthetic emotion about the tied cottage.

The hon. Member for West Lothian made an extraordinary remark when he said that if public money is expended for their improvement the cottages should be available for any member of the community. Anybody with knowledge of the agricultural community knows that the service cottage is part of the mechanism of the agricultural industry and, as the Labour Government found, to take it away would result in interference with food production and cause chaos in many aspects of country life.

The object of the Bill is to enable improvements to be made in the service cottages occupied by agricultural workers. I believe it will achieve that object and will bring these grant-aided cottages under the Hill Farming Act into line with other grant-aided cottages. Under the Housing Acts we extended the period of notice for grant-aided cottages from one week to one month. I have a personal hope that the day will come when no one can be discharged from his employment in any walk of life without at least one month's notice. In a small way we have tried to put that into effect in the Housing Acts and in this Measure. It means that there is now four times as much opportunity and time for occupants of agricultural cottages to find other accommodation.

Although this is a modest improvement, it is definitely a step in the right direction. The Bill is a part of our plan to enable farmers to provide better accommodation for their workers. Because of that it will primarily help the workers, and I therefore give it my unqualified support.

9.15 p.m.

The last phrase of the hon. and gallant Member for Norfolk, Central (Brigadier Medlicott) just about epitomises the complete confusion among hon. Members opposite. He welcomes this Bill because it makes a contribution towards providing better cottages in the interest of the workers. It does absolutely nothing of the kind. It does not make a single penny piece available; it does not make a single brick or a piece of cement or plaster available. It does absolutely nothing, except make it easier to turn workers or the dependents of deceased workers out of their homes. An hon. and gallant Member who can convince himself that the Bill is in the interest of the workers, and who. therefore, can get up in this House and welcome it, had better give up dining with the National Farmers' Union and, instead, go and eat with his own workers or with his constituents. He is mixing with the wrong people, and getting muddled up.

In my view, this is a dirty little Bill. The other day we heard from the Minister of Agriculture about what I described as a "rag bag" of a Bill. A lot of odds and ends that did not matter had all been tied up together to make a piece of legislation. This is a miserable, mean, nasty little Bill. When I saw the Minister of Agriculture sitting on the Government Front Bench, almost larger than life, and beside him, until a short while ago, the Secretary of State for Scotland, whom we are always delighted to see, and then realised that the two Joint Under-Secretaries were going to deal with this Bill despite the presence of the Ministers, I knew that it was a piece of dirty business.

As I have said many times before, all Members and ex-Members of the Under-secretaries' Union know that when a Bill is given an airing by them in the presence of their Ministers, it nearly always is a dirty bit of business. This Bill is all of that. The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, who had the unenviable task of opening the debate, made a most unhappy speech. He sounded unhappy, he looked unhappy, and he clearly was unhappy. His unhappiness at making the speech was only equalled by our unhappiness at hearing it. He produced not one single argument for the Bill.

All the experts on tied cottages on the benches opposite have spoken tonight, but not one hon. Member has produced a single case here a cottage was not built or was not improved because of Section 10 of the original Act which this Bill seeks to amend. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) said, no Government should mess about with a piece of legislation which is working extremely well. If legislation is to be altered, then some kind of prima facie evidence of the need to alter it should be forthcoming.

What the Government have done here is to interfere with an Act that was working perfectly well, and under which, as the hon. Gentleman who opened the debate said at great length, enormous good was being done. I think he said that nearly £10 million of public money is already committed. We only had £20 million, so we are already half way there before the half way stage is reached.

The hon. Gentleman said that enormous schemes of farming improvement were being embarked upon under the Act. but he stopped short in his brief when he was discreetly reminded that the Measure was introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) and not by the Tories Up to that point, he had said that it was a first-class piece of legislation and was doing well. To interfere with it after having boasted of all that is really going a wee bit far.

Let us be quite clear about this. Hon Gentlemen on the other side have talked about synthetic indignation over the tied cottage. I appeal to them to get it clearly into their heads that, in agriculture, the tied cottage is an issue about which people feel passionately—whether they always feel logically is besides the point. From time to time I have expressed views about the tied cottage with which my friends do not agree, but I do beg of hon. Members opposite to recognise that the cases that occur of summary eviction, of eviction without thought, and of eviction in unhappy circumstances, do stir up the keenest of passions and the keenest of feelings. It is no use saying "It is the odd case—I have only heard of two"—they are deeply felt injustices.

There is a great difference in this between the agricultural industry and any other industry. If a worker, and particularly an isolated worker on an isolated holding—not a member of a community, nor one with other people easily available to encourage and help him—falls out with his employer, which can happen without all the blame being on the worker's side, and his employer says, "You must go, and you must leave the house," there is an element of hardship and injustice about that which does not apply to the fellow in a tied house in another industry where, being in a community, he can easily get advice and help, and where pressures and persuasion and all that can be brought to bear. It is a different case and must be borne in mind.

:Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves this question, could I obtain from him an answer which we have never obtained from him or from any of his colleagues before? If he holds these views about the place of tied cottages in agriculture, why did his Government for six years refrain deliberately from doing anything about it at all?

:But we did a number of things about it, and the very thing which is now being amended is one of them. If hon. Gentlemen opposite would treat this a little more seriously, they would not get into the difficulty they are getting into now.

I was not saying that the tied cottage—the cottage going with the job—should never exist in agriculture. I have never said that. I was trying to persuade hon. Gentlemen at that stage that it is such a difficult thing, and something which involves such a degree of hardship at times, that it should therefore, be treated very gently and carefully indeed.

There is no issue on the countryside so easily capable of being stoked up into a burning issue as this. Many of us have had experience of trying to handle it gently, and what I have against the Government on this Bill is that, for no real gain to them or to the industry, they are going straight in to stoke up the whole controversy. The tenor of the debate tonight is the best example of that.

What we have had for most of the afternoon is the House devoting its attention to the injustices—or to the alleged advantages—of the tied cottage system, and what has been said on the other side of the House can now be used in the industry to bolster up whatever particular view someone wants to put. Thus, the whole controversy is stoked up again, and that would only be justified if, in fact, it could be shown that there was some advantage coming out of this Bill. Every Member who has spoken from the Government side has said, "Of course, I cannot show any evidence coming from it." [Interruption.] It is no use, if I heard the Minister aright, prompting the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to say that we have stoked it up. We have not introduced the Bill. But the Bill having been introduced, the protection for the farm workers having been taken away, we would not be an Opposition worthy of our salt if we did not then come to defend the farm workers.

:I know cases which I could quote but, surely, the right hon. Gentleman does not expect that we have the right to break somebody's confidence and give names of cases. I could tell him of three names in my own area, but I am not giving them in public like that.

If hon. Members opposite had any evidence that more improvements would have been included in hill farming schemes but for Section 10, it is extraordinary that that one relevant thing has not, even by accident, been mentioned by anyone on the Government side in the last two hours. It would have leaked through somewhere, but nobody has said it. The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) said, "Of course, I cannot show it." The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland just now said, "Of course, we cannot show it," but the hon. and gallant Member for Argyll (Major McCallum) says, "I could show it, but I should be betraying confidences."

:They are all excuses, they are quite contradictory. The only fact that emerges is that nobody who theoretically supports the Bill has said what the evidence is. If the Minister, who is so shyly unwilling to take part in the debate, although so anxious to tell his Joint Parliamentary Secretary what he might say, has any evidence, let him give it to the hon. Gentleman so that he can deploy it in a minute or two.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary tell us how many schemes—there is plenty of advice available, and I am willing to carry on until it comes down—have been submitted, including cottage improvements, which, after it has been pointed out to the applicants could not be allowed except on this condition, the applicants have then withdrawn? There must be evidence of some of them if there is any evidence for the Bill. I do not want names; let us have cases.

Let the Parliamentary Secretary also answer this. I cannot remember a single case of a demand, from an industry which is not shy of making its demands on Governments, as the Minister will know, that Section 10 should be amended. Has it been demanded or asked for? Has this come in answer to any pressure from within the industry, or has it simply been thought up in the Government because somebody said, "We did something like this in another Bill: we really ought to tidy this one up and bring this one in too"? I believe it is only for that purpose.

We have been told about how much money has been spent: nearly £10 million overall, of which, I gather, some 18 per cent. of the total expenditure in Scotland has been on farm cottages, and in England 4 per cent. One or two hon. Members seemed to talk as though, if this protection for the tenant were not in the parent Act, that expenditure would go on mounting. Of course it would not. There are 20 odd schemes of improvements in the Hill Farming Act. One cannot improve a hill farm by putting on all the cottages and fences, buildings and water, farmsteads, drainage, and hosts of things. If a much bigger percentage than that was spent on farm cottages alone, I should suspect that something was going wrong with the hill farms. The balance should be kept, and there is no evidence at all that in these figures there is any such thing.

:The right hon. Gentleman refers to the 18 per cent. and he tells us about the number of schemes put forward comprising 18 per cent. to be expended on the cottages. But how many cottages have actually been undertaken? Remember the schemes may last for 20 years.

:I cannot tell the hon. and gallant Member how many schemes have actually resulted. He must ask his right hon. Friend the Minister for that information. I am prepared to go over to the Treasury Bench and give the House a very good service in answers, but something has to happen before I get there and, in the meantime, he has to put up with his right hon. Friend, which is the best the party opposite can do. No doubt the Parliamentary Secretary will take note of that query and give an answer.

There is nothing in the figures deployed from the other side which suggests that there is any need for this Bill at all. When the parent Act was introduced—and it has worked well in spite of all that Ministers can do—Section 10 was an arrangement so that the old fires could die down. The arrangement was that we would not, in fact, stir up hateful controversies, and the hill farmers have found that they can be with their cottages under schemes without getting into very great trouble of difficulty. The workers and the unions have found that we are not using public money deliberately to put power into the hands of the owners of the cottage as well as the employers of the men. They have been able to feel that the thing was not being made any worse.

There is talk about a drift from the land. I wish we could persuade hon Members opposite to listen to some of us on this subject. As the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) said, it is the wife of the farm worker who in the end will determine whether he stays and works on the land or goes into industry. But most young women with their own homes, however good they may be, when they find they are dependent not only on the whim of the husband's employer but on the husband never falling out with the employer, will not want to stay. That is going to be a most powerful deterrent to the young woman staying on the land.

Let us make no bones about it. We would be very wise to go carefully on this, and only have this tied cottage problem where we cannot do without it. I repeat that if Ministers could have shown that there were cases where this Act could not operate because of this particular provision, I would have been more than willing to listen carefully to the arguments about that, but they have failed to produce a single case where that is so.

Do not let us overdo this alleged protection. The hon. and gallant Member for Norfolk, Central has been given the credit of being the author of this so-called protection for tenants which is known as the four weeks' business. Let us look at it. In the first place, according to the Explanatory Memorandum, the four weeks' protection applies in only three cases, the case of a man being dismissed with less than four weeks' notice by the employer; the dismissal of the employee without notice; or the death of either party. The tenant is not protected by the four weeks if he leaves of his own accord, no matter what the circumstances leading up to his leaving may be. After all, just as when employers and workers have a tiff and the employer says the man must leave, so it operates the other way at times.

As to the four weeks, when we were discussing the Housing Bill I said that in many cases the protection would become less than was being given before. The fact that previously people, even in the case of service tenant cottages as well as others, were tending to go to the county court before taking the law into their own hands for their own protection often meant that the man was getting more than four weeks' protection. To put four weeks in the Bill has meant that in practice protection for a large number of people has been whittled down to something less than what it was before. So we are not conceding anything.

We on this side of the House were responsible politically for the 1947 Act and for all that it conferred by way of guaranteed prices and security of tenure upon the farmers. The farm workers' unions have been noble supporters of the principle of that Act and of all its advantages for farmers. It is silly deliberately to amend an Act which is working well in order to give the farm worker noticeably less security than the farm workers have seen that the farmer gets. If the degree of protection in this Bill had in any way interfered with the working of the Act, the argument might have been different, but it has not, and nobody has even tried to show that it has.

I wind up our case by saying that we were proud of the Hill Farming Act; we were proud to put it on the Statute Book. We have been proud of the progress made under it in improving the hill farms of Britain, not only because that means something for the farmer but, above all, because it means a long-term improvement of something of priceless value to this country. We were proud of all the money spent under it and of the jobs achieved under it. We do not want to see that Act wantonly interfered with by a Government that cannot produce an agricultural policy with any meaning, but must mess about in the agricultural field to make it look as if they are doing something.

Not a single contribution has been made by those Ministers opposite who boasted of their collective and several agricultural experience and knowledge when we were on those benches. Not a single contribution has come from any one of them to help to solve the problems as a result of which agriculture is suffering. Poultry farmers, gentleman farmers, land owners—all the experience is there on the benches opposite—and the industry goes on getting more and more in the mire, more and more in a muddle, more and more unsettled, as the meetings last week, and the dinner, showed.

Having nothing to say, they then descend to the final refuge of every Government devoid of constructive thought. They look round to see what their predecessors did and start to undo it. That is what they are doing. Anything that we did that they can undo they will undo, even though they have not the faintest clue about what to put in its place.

This is the undoing of something we did, the provision which we made to see that farming improvements on hill farms went forward on conditions that were satisfactory to everyone in the industry and which enabled the money to be spent to the best advantage. We oppose this Bill partly for that reason, and partly because nobody in the House has made out a single tittle of evidence of there being any need for this interference with the parent Act. We oppose the Bill because of the stupidity of interfering for no reason at all with the kind of thing that can stir up so many emotions. We oppose it because of the badness and unreasonableness of using public money to give the landlord and employer, the one and the same person, a still larger hold over his worker.

We oppose the Bill for all those reasons. If it had not been introduced, the parent Act would have gone on doing the good which it has been doing up to now, and all the interests in the industry would have gone on being glad and pleased, including the Scottish Farm Servants and the Agricultural Workers Union. By introducing this miserable, wretched, mean little Bill, nothing better will be achieved under the Hill Farming Act. Not another penny will be spent on more improvements, but a number of people hitherto happy about the Act will have cause to be very unhappy indeed. I am surprised, shocked and disappointed that, having set their hands to such a miserable course, the Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland have not had the courage to defend themselves.

9.42 p.m.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
(Mr. G. R. H. Nugent)

I acknowledge that there are warm, sincere feelings on this very knotty problem of the tied cottage, but it can be shown that these human feelings are present on both sides of the House, and that this is an argument which has been carried on on both sides, between both sides and within both sides. The mere fact that during the previous Administration it was not found possible or wise to abolish the tied cottage is more than sufficient evidence to show how difficult it is to find the right balance on this subject. Humanity is not found on the other side of the House only, nor is it peculiar to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown). After listening to the right hon. Gentleman's winding-up speech, I felt like young Faulconbridge in "King John"

"…never so bethumped with words."
But when I look at the substance of his argument I do not find so very much in it.

I shall deal with such positive evidence as there is of the need for the Bill, but I must stress the point made by several of my hon. Friends and particularly by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norfolk, Central (Brigadier Medlicott) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Angus, South (Captain Duncan) that the evidence of the deterrent effect of existing legislation is bound to be mainly negative; that is to say, in the main we shall not know the cases where farmers or landlords have not brought forward an application because they felt that it would be unwise for the cottage to be untied. Therefore, the positive evidence that I can give to the House is bound to be limited. Such as it is, I shall be glad to give it. At any rate it gives some evidence of how this deterrent effect works in the cases we know about.

The figures I can give are that in Scotland, on a very careful examination of all the cases, five schemes have actually been withdrawn, in 10 schemes applicants are doing work at their own expense, in one scheme the applicant is doing work under the Housing Act, in 16 cases applicants inquired about the Regulations and eventually cottages were included in the schemes—in some cases grant has been claimed and in others it has not and claims may not come forward—and in 12 cases applicants undertook to carry out cottage repairs out with the scheme but gave no reasons for so doing.

For England and Wales I have only a global picture. We found after examination that in 50 cases there was evidence to show that the applicant was deterred from going on with the scheme in regard to the cottage because he did not wish to have the cottage untied. I agree that those cases are relatively few, but I insist that in the main the evidence is bound to be largely negative because we cannot know of cases that have not come forward.

Surely the hon. Gentleman will not object to telling the House what percentage those figures represent of the number of schemes submitted and finally approved? After all, it is the percentage of cases that might or might not have been withdrawn thanks to Section 10 which ought to guide the House in taking a decision tonight.

No, I cannot agree. I think that it is a matter of judgment as to the extent that this has a deterrent effect. These figures are only some indication of the cases we know about. We cannot know about the cases that have not come forward.

I should like to give the House another piece of evidence which I think is relevant to this picture. This is evidence of the effect of the 1952 Act on reconditioning of farm cottages. The Act went on to the Statute book in August, 1952. Figures for England and Wales read as follows: for the three years ending 31st March, 1951, there were 358 applications for reconditioning grants; in the next year there were 691, and then the Act came in in August, 1952. In the year ending 31st March, 1953, there were 817 applications. That was a year half of which had the benefit of the grant given to a cottage which was a tied farm cottage as opposed to the untied cottage before. In the eight months from 1st April, 1953, to 30th November, 1953, there were 1,103 applications for reconditioning grants. That shows some evidence of an increase, although not a great increase.

When we turn to the Scottish figures we find that in 1950, 1951 and 1952 there were only 111 applications for reconditioning grants for farm cottages other than under the Hill Farming Act—that is, 37 a year. I immediately acknowledge that there were other factors, and year after year building conditions were becoming better, more particularly under the guidance of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government. Nevertheless, in the year 1953 applications for reconditioning of farm cottages had gone up from an average of 37 a year to 1,186. So there is considerable evidence to show that a deterrent had been removed and that landowners and farmers who before were not willing to take a grant because they thought it was impracticable to untie a farm cottage were willing to apply when they could get the grant for a tied cottage.

The hon. Gentleman will agree that the figures of cases in which application for grant was made in the earlier years do not represent the total number of cottages improved by farmers and landowners. Many were improved at the expense of the owner and the farmer.

I thank the hon. Member for giving me a useful piece of evidence to show that landlords and farmers are interested in the human problem which confronts them. Of course it really has nothing to do with the argument. The fact was that neither of them was willing to take advantage of the grant when it meant that to do so they would have to untie the cottage. That is further evidence to show that there has been some deterrent effect, even in the Hill Farming Act, which I agree has gone forward well in its broad aspect and has done valuable work. There has nevertheless been, in our judgment, some deterrent effect in some cases which has held back the landlord or the farmer from building a new cottage or reconditioning an old one which he would have done if he knew that he could get the grant and still keep the cottage as a tied cottage.

It is for that reason that my right hon. Friend has brought this Measure before the House, because he feels, and we all feel, that it is right that this sector of agricultural housing should be brought into line with the rest, which was so much improved by the Housing Act, 1952. It is simply to remove that anomaly, as the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland said, that this Measure is now before the House.

The whole basis of our thought in this matter is that in the farming industry the tied cottage is part of the structure of the farming industry. As was said by my hon. and gallant Friends the Members for South Angus, and for Norfolk, Central (Brigadier Medlicott), it is the custom of the industry that when a married man is engaged on a farm he expects the farmer to provide him with a cottage. When he goes to the farm to consider the engagement, he asks where the cottage is and takes his wife with him to see it. If he cannot have the cottage the man is unwilling to go to the farm. That might be said to be a good or bad thing, but there are certainly many practical justifications for the arrangement. That is why it has grown up. It is just a fact. The farm worker acknowledges it just as much as the farmer does.

I sympathise with the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. P. Wells), who made a moving speech. Indeed, I sympathise with the strong feelings of the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Gooch). There have been hard cases. I also agree with the right hon. Member for Belper that the position of the employer can be abused. I am not saying that all farmers are angels. There are good and bad, as in every other walk of life. But then one could find the case of a farmworker who has left his place but, remaining in the cottage, goes to work somewhere else without regard to the fact that he is preventing the farmer from engaging someone else.

There are good and bad people everywhere but, taking the broad picture, there is no doubt that this is a system which serves the practical necessities of the industry. Livestock cannot be looked after unless the man lives on the job, and if the farm worker is given a choice of

Division No. 26.]AYES[9.55 p.m.
Aitken, W. T.Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)Hirst, Geoffrey
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Holland-Martin, C. J.
Arbuthnot, JohnDavidson, ViscountessHollis, M. C.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)Deedes, W. F.Holt, A. F.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Digby, S. WingfieldHope, Lord John
Aster, Hon. J. J.Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.Donner, Sir P. W.Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.
Baldwin, A. E.Drewe, Sir C.Horobin, I. M.
Banks, Col. C.Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Barber, AnthonyDuncan, Capt. J. A. L.Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)
Barlow, Sir JohnEccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)
Baxter, A. B.Erroll, F. J.Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.
Beach, Maj. HicksFell, A.Hurd, A. R.
Beamish, Maj. TuftonFinlay, GraemeHutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Fisher, NigelHylton-Foster, H. B. H.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Fletcher-Cooke, C.Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Ford, Mrs. PatriciaJohnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Foster, JohnJoynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.
Bishop, F. P.Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Kerr, H. W.
Boothby, Sir R. J. G.Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)Lambert, Hon. G.
Bossom, Sir A. C.Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David MaxwellLambton, Viscount
Bowen, E. R.Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)Leather, E. H. C.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Boyle, Sir EdwardGeorge, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. LloydLegh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Braine, B. R.Glover, D.Linstead, Sir H. N.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cmdr. Sir GurneyGodber, J. B.Llewellyn, D. T.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Gower, H. R.Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Bullard, D. G.Graham, Sir FergusLongden, Gilbert
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.Gridley, Sir ArnoldLow, A. R. W.
Burden, F. F. A.Grimond, J.Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Butcher, Sir HerbertGrimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Carr, RobertGrimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Channon, H.Hall, John (Wycombe)McCallum, Major D.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir WinstonHarden, J. R. E.McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Hare, Hon. J. H.Macdonald, Sir Peter
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry
Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.Harris, Reader (Heston)McKibbin, A. J.
Cole, NormanHarvie-Watt, Sir GeorgeMackie, J. H. (Galloway)
Colegate, W. A.Hay, JohnMaclean, Fitzroy
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelMacleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)
Cooper-Key, E. M.Heath, EdwardMacpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Henderson, John (Cathcart)Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Higgs, J. M. C.Markham, Major Sir Frank
Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)

whether he will occupy a cottage on the farm or one in the village, in99 cases out of 100 he will take the cottage on the farm.

I say that to underline the fact that we have given this matter as much thought and feeling as have hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The reason why we are bringing the Bill before the House now is that we want these cottages in the outlying districts—on the hill farms, in livestock rearing areas—to receive the same benefits of better accommodation as those in other areas. It is because we have that proper human feeling for thesepeople that we are now bringing the Bill before the House, and for those reasons I ask the House to give it a Second Reading.

Question put.

The House divided: Ayes, 231; Noes. 206.

Marples, A. E.Raikes, Sir VictorTeeling, W.
Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)Rayner, Brig. R.Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Maudling, R.Redmayne, M.Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.Rees-Davies, W. R.Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Medlicott, Brig. F.Remnant, Hon. P.Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Mellor, Sir JohnRenton, D. L. M.Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Molson, A. H. E.Roberts, Peter (Heeley)Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Morrison, John (Salisbury)Robertson, Sir DavidTouche, Sir Gordon
Nabarro, G. D. N.Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)Turner, H. F. L.
Neave, AireyRodgers, John (Sevenoaks)Turton, R. H.
Nicholls, HarmarRopner, Col. Sir LeonardTweedsmuir, Lady
Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)Russell, R. S.Vane, W. M. F.
Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Nield, Basil (Chester)Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.Vosper, D. F.
Nugent, G. R. H.Scott, R. DonaldWard, Hon. George (Worcester)
Oakshott, H. D.Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.Snadden, W. McN.Watkinson, H. A.
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Soames, Capt. C.Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminter)
Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)Spearman, A. C. M.Wellwood, W.
Osborne, C.Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Page, R. G.Stanley, Capt. Hon. RichardWilliams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Peake, Rt. Hon. O.Stevens, G. P.Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Perkins, Sir RobertSteward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Peto, Brig. C. H. M.Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)Wills, G.
Peyton, J. W. W.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Pickthorn, K. W. M.Storey, S.Wood, Hon. R.
Pilkington, Capt. R. A.Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Pitt, Miss E. M.Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Powell, J. EnochTaylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)Mr. Studholme and Mr. Kaberry.
Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)

NOES
Acland, Sir RichardFienburgh, W.King, Dr. H. M.
Adams, RichardFinch, H. J.Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Allan, Scholefield (Crewe)Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Follick, M.Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Lewis, Arthur
Awbery, S. S.Freeman, John (Watford)Lindgren, G. S.
Bacon, Miss AliceFreeman, Peter (Newport)Logan, D. G.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.MacColl, J. E.
Bartley, P.Gibson, C. W.McGhee, H. G.
Benn, Hon. WedgwoodGooch, E. G.McInnes, J.
Benson, G.Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.McKay, John (Wallsend)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)McLeavy, F.
Bing, G. H. C.Grey, C. F.McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.
Blackburn, F.Griffiths, David (Rather Valley)MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Blenkinsop, A.Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Mainwaring, W. H.
Blyton, W. R.Griffiths, William (Exchange)Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Bowden, H. W.Hale, LeslieMann, Mrs. Jean
Bowles, F. G.Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethHall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)Mason, Roy
Brockway, A. F.Hamilton, W. W.Mellish, R. J.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Hannan, W.Messer, Sir F.
Brown Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Hardy, E. A.Mikardo, Ian
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Hargreaves, A.Mitchison, G. R.
Burke, W. A.Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)Monslow, W.
Burton, Miss F. E.Hastings, S.Moody, A. S.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)Hayman, F. H.Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.
Callaghan, L. J.Healey, Denis (Leeds S.E.)Morley, R.
Carmichael, J.Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Herbison, Miss M.Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)
Champion, A. J.Hobson, C. R.Mort, D. L.
Chapman, W. D.Holman, P.Moyle, A.
Chetwynd, G. R.Holmes, HoraceMulley, F. W.
Clunie, J.Houghton, DouglasNeal, Harold (Bolsover)
Coldrick, W.Hoy, J. H.Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.
Collick, P. H.Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)O'Brien, T.
Corbet, Mrs. FredaHughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Oliver, G. H.
Craddock George (Bradford, S.)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Orbach, M.
Crosland, C. A. R.Hynd, H. (Accrington)Oswald, T.
Crossman, R. H. S.Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Padley, W. E.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)Paget, R. T.
de Freitas, GeoffreyIsaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Deer, G.Janner, B.Palmer, A. M. F.
Delargy, H. J.Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.Pannell, Charles
Dodds, N. N.Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)Parker, J.
Driberg, T. E. N.Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)Peart, T. F.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)Jones, David (Hartlepool)Plummer, Sir Leslie
Edelman, M.Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)Popplewell, E.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)Jones, Jack (Rotherham)Porter, G.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Keenan, W.Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Fernyhough, E.Kenyon, C.Proctor, W. T.
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.

Pursey, Cmdr. H.Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)Weitzman, D.
Reeves J.Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir FrankWells, Percy (Faversham)
Reid, Thomas (Swindon)Steele, T.Wells, William (Walsall)
Rhodes, H.Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.West, D. G.
Roberts, Albert (Normanton)Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.Wheeldon, W. E.
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)Sylvester, G. O.White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Ross, WilliamTaylor, Bernard (Mansfield)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Royle, C.Taylor, John (West Lothian)Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Shackleton, E. A. A.Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)Witkins, W. A.
Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir HartleyThomas, George (Cardiff)Willey, F. T.
Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Short, E. W.Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)Williams, Rt. Hon.Thomas (Don V'll'y)
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)Thornton. E.Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)Tomney, F.Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Skeffington, A. M.Ungoed-Thomas, Sir LynnWoodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)Viant, S. P.Wyatt, W. L.
Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)Wallace, H. W.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)Watkins, T. E.Mr. Pearson and Mr. Arthur Allen.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[ Mr. Kaberry.]

Committee Tomorrow.

DEVELOPMENT OF INVENTIONS [MONEY]

Resolution reported,

That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to extend the period during which advances may be made to the National Research Development Corporation out of the Consolidated Fund and during which the Board of Trade may waive interest on such advances, it is expedient to authorise—

  • (a) any increase in the sums which in accordance with section eleven of the Development of Inventions Act, 1948, fall to be issued out of the Consolidated Fund or raised under the National Loans Act, 1939, or in accordance with section twelve of that Act fall to be paid into the Exchequer or issued out of the Consolidated Fund and applied in redeeming or paying off debt or paying interest;
  • (b) any waiver of interest in accordance with section eight of that Act;
  • being an increase or waiver attributable to extending the said period.

    Resolution agreed to.

    Development Of Inventions Bill

    Considered in Committee.

    [Sir CHARLES MACANDREW in the Chair]

    Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 2.—(Functions of Corporation RELATING TO RESEARCH.)

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

    The Parliamentary Secretary will remember that when we discussed the Bill on Second Reading, my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) raised questions relating to Clause 2 (2). Perhaps he will be kind enough to give me some interpretation of the words "practical requirements" and "brought to the knowledge of the Corporation." I hope the latter words do not exclude the possibility of the Corporation's bringing a matter to its own knowledge through its staff encountering points which they consider come within the subsection. I should be grateful for an explanation.

    Under Clause 2 (2) the industry must have "practical requirements" but no special method is laid down by which these must come to the knowledge of the Corporation. It is not intended by the Measure to give the Corporation general powers to undertake surveys or investigations to discover the practical needs of industry. That can best be done by industry itself, although perhaps with the help and encouragement of Departments, and possibly with the help and at the suggestion of the Corporation.

    Once such an investigation has established that an industry would benefit—if, for example, a machine or a piece of plant would be capable of carrying out certain specified operations and there was a reasonable prospect of producing such a machine or plant—the powers to be given to the Corporation will enable them to step in and to take the responsibility for getting the research done. I believe that that is what right hon. Gentlemen had in mind, and I hope that with that explanation they will be content with the Clause.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clauses 3 and 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Bill reported, without Amendment; read the Third time, and passed.

    National Insurance (Married Women)

    10.9 p.m.

    The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance
    (Mr. R. H. Turton)

    I beg to move:

    That the Draft National Insurance (Married Women) Amendment Regulations, 1954, a copy of which was laid before this House on 19th January, be approved.
    These Regulations are submitted in accordance with my right hon. Friend's policy of doing away with unnecessary complications in the National Insurance Scheme. At present a married woman who has fewer than 45 contributions in any Class paid or credited in a contribution year loses her right to pay contributions as a non-employed person or to count for the purposes of unemployment or sickness benefit contributions paid for employment in Class 1 or Class 2 after the end of the contribution year until she has satisfied a re-qualifying condition of 52 Class 1 or Class 2 contributions paid or credited, of which at least 26 have to be paid.

    Regulation 4 abolishes this 45 test, and the remainder of the Regulations are of a minor character. They are designed, for the benefit of married women, to simplify the rules governing their position in National Insurance. They have been examined and approved of by the National Insurance Advisory Committee, which also approved the draft Regulations. If the House approves of these Regulations, it is intended to bring them into operation from the first Monday in March. For that reason, I ask the House to approve of them.

    I am obliged to the Parliamentary Secretary for the explanation which he has given of the Regulations, and I share his pleasure that the 45 test, as far as married women are concerned, is now to go. We approve of the Regulations.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Education (Science Teachers)

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[ Mr. Studholme.]

    10.11 p.m.

    I entered this item in the Adjournment Book in the early part of December, before the Christmas Recess, and, since then, this matter of the shortage of teachers in schools has had tremendous publicity in the Press. This shortage of teachers can undermine our very existence as a nation unless something is done to solve the problem. If we have not got the teachers in the schools, we cannot have the pupils; if we have not got the pupils, we cannot have the students; if we have not got the students, we cannot have the graduates, and without the graduates we cannot have the scientists.

    Since the end of the First World War, our industry has developed largely on a basis of the introduction of scientists into industry to assist in industrial expansion. We were far behind both Germany and the United States in the scientific development of industry. Indeed, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was founded in 1860, less than 100 years after America had achieved her independence. In Germany, the Charlottenburg High School of Technology, which is known as the Charlottenburg Physikalisch Technische Reichsanstalt, was founded in 1880, less than 10 years after Germany had come together as a nation. In fact, Germany spent over 10 million marks, and, in those days of 1880, marks were 20 to the £ on a gold basis, so that both Germany and America understood the problem of the intervention of science into industry much better than we did in this country. Since the First World War, our industry has developed very rapidly on a basis of scientific development.

    But unless we continue the flow of scientists, industry cannot go ahead and compete with the other scientifically developed industries in the world. This is much more important for us than for any other nation, because we are more vulnerable in this respect than any other people on earth. We have more than 51 million inhabitants in these islands, and no natural exportable resources. True, we have coal, but if we are to expand our industry sufficiently for us to live, we shall not have any coal to export. We have to import nearly half the food we require and nearly all the resources we need for our industry. For all this, we depend upon the export of manufactures to bring in the food and the raw products. Without all this, we cannot exist or even survive. If we are to export our manufactured products in competition with the most highly developed nations in the world, we must have the scientists. Unless we have teachers in the schools, we cannot have scientists in industry.

    Not only will our industries be threatened by this shortage of science teachers, but our shipping. If we have not the exports, we cannot maintain our shipping; with our shipping goes marine insurance, and with all that goes the City of London. We depend upon a very small band of people for our livelihood, reminding us of those desperate days of 1940 when we depended upon another small band of people for our life. The struggle is in the hands of that very small band. Unless we solve this problem, our very survival as a nation is threatened.

    The difficulty is being increased by industry itself, which can and does offer a much higher level of remuneration, better conditions and easier existence to the scientists than they get by teaching in schools. The attraction for the young man faced with teaching in schools or going into industry often sways in favour of industry. As industry expands, it absorbs more scientists, and unless something is done to level out the distribution of scientists, industry itself will have killed the goose that lays the golden eggs. It is this very balance between industry and education which is being threatened to the point of extinction by the prosperity of industry brought about by the knowledge and work of the scientists in the development of industry.

    The Federation of British Industries is so alarmed about this position and about the future outlook that, on 15th January last, it called a mixed conference of educationists of high standing and representatives of British industry to see what could be done to get a better distribution. I read very carefully the report of that conference, but there was nothing in them, as far as I could see, of any great event that could solve the problem.

    A little later in my speech I am going to make some very revolutionary proposals, because one has to be revolutionary in dealing with a position which, although not serious at the moment, will in the next 10 or 15 years become more than serious. As I have related, the cause of the trouble is the higher remuneration offered by industry to young people who have to earn their living. It might be said, why not pay them a rate of remuneration that could compete with industry and offer them promotion that could compete with industry.

    I have had a lengthy correspondence with the chairmen of four of our giant industries. I.C.I., de Havillands, Unilever and Shell. The chairmen of these four great branches of industry put their experts at my disposal in order to furnish me with as much information as possible. From the educational side, I have taken four people from outstanding establishments of education, the director of Nottingham University, the headmaster of Uppingham, the president of Lough-borough College, and the headmaster of Loughborough Grammar School. They have all helped me in bringing forward the proposals I have to make in this debate tonight. In their letters to me, each one of them recognises that this is not a problem, but a danger. It is a danger which we shall have to overcome, because, unless we do, it will be very difficult for us to maintain anything like the level of livelihood that we enjoy today.

    In mentioning these distinguished people, I must also tender my thanks to the American Embassy, because its representatives have given me all possible information about how the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is being run and the benefit it represents to American industry. Some of our great firms, such as Shell, have pressed our universities to adopt courses and to promote departments in their establishments for the development of scientific industrial expansion. Shell gave about £500,000 to Cambridge University to found a chair of chemical engineering and also promoted the teaching of geophysics in our universities. Other firms have also given large sums of money to our teaching establishments to help us in this difficult problem, and such matters will be part of what I shall recommend presently.

    I find that no headmaster agrees with the payment of a differential rate.

    :We have in the hon. Member an authority, belonging to the National Union of Teachers, which does not agree with it either.

    Nevertheless they all have to employ expedients to get science teachers, and here I will quote from letters from the headmasters of Uppingham School and of Loughborough Grammar School. I have told them that I might be using some of their correspondence in my speech. The headmaster of Loughborough Grammar School, Mr. Pullinger, says:
    "I, myself, although I have been very fortunate in retaining my science masters, experienced the difficulty in mathematics three or four years ago. when, in spite of repeated advertisements, I found it impossible to secure a man qualified to teach mathematics to Sixth Form level."
    I have just been speaking to the hon. Lady the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) who says that in Stafford they had great difficulty in obtaining science teachers and that the difficulty is so acute that some schools have had to close down their science departments. If we are to close our departments of science for want of teachers we cannot possibly have either the students or the graduates who would turn into scientists, and the supply will therefore dry up.

    I wish now to quote what the headmaster of Uppingham School has to say:
    "In common with, I think, most headmasters, I am strongly opposed to upsetting the harmony and balance of a school staff by paying science masters more than those who are teaching other subjects. Despite this view, one is forced to expedients such as granting one or two extra increments to scientists in order to get them in the first place."
    In almost every case, therefore, some extraordinary treatment has to be given in order to get science or mathematics masters in schools, and, if that be the case, why not face the matter bravely and, instead of these expedients, and this going round the corner business, make a differential? We shall have to do it sooner or later. We shall have to make a differential in order to attract science and mathematics teachers back to the schools.

    It may be said that this would not be fair to the arts teacher who goes through the same studies and the same long university training to reach his position. But there is a great difference. I am sorry for the arts teacher, but when we want to obtain a scarce commodity in the market we have to pay more for it.

    :Is my hon. Friend aware that women teachers are harder to obtain than men at present, and therefore, on the basis of that argument, would he be in favour of paying women teachers more than men teachers?

    I am coming to women teachers, do not worry. I was saying that the arts teacher has little other outlet for his experience and training, whereas the science teacher has not only industry but the scientific Civil Service. What is more, the science teacher is vital to our existence. We could go a year or two without Latin or Greek or history or geography and still survive, but we shall not be able to survive unless we overcome the difficulty of getting science teachers in our schools.

    I refrained purposely from calling this Adjourment debate "Shortage of Science Masters" and instead called it "Shortage of Science Teachers. "That was because according to the report of the Advisory Council, the shortage of women teachers is even more acute than the shortage of men teachers; in fact, the report mentions this shortage of women teachers six times.

    :I am talking about science teachers—the subject of this debate. Therefore I ask the Parliamentary Secretary, under these conditions of such a shortage of women teachers, if it was wise of the Burnham Committee to make a sex differential in their salary-increases? Why not have given them all the same increments? I appeal to the hon. Gentleman to ask the Minister that there shall be no sex differential in the case of special responsibility allowances. It is hard enough to get the teachers now, but if we make the sex differential continuous, it will be impossible in the future.

    At the beginning of the century there was little outlet for women's labour. A woman could be a shop assistant, she could become a domestic servant, she could have a junior post in the Civil Service, or she could be a teacher. Now, however, there are as many outlets for women's labour as there are for that of men. So I ask the hon. Gentleman to appeal to the Minister not to approve any special responsibility allowances where there is a sex differential. The L.C.C. have abolished them. Why make a woman an inferior being when she is doing a job which a man is paid more to do?

    As time is running on I must bring forward the revolutionary proposals about which I was speaking. I have explained how M.I.T. and the Charlottenburg High School of Technology were founded for helping the scientific expansion of industry. Industry supports M.I.T. whole-heartedly in the United States. Eastman, the Kodak man, left 20 million dollars to M.I.T. The last figures I have are for 1951, when eight million dollars were given to M.I.T. by American industry.

    Now, what am I going to propose as my first revolutionary suggestion? It is that Loughborough College be taken over and become an ancillary of British industry; that British industry goes in, to a large extent, to finance Loughborough College and also gives guidance to that college in the kind of sciences, physics, or mathematics which British industry desires for its expansion and development. The one person whom I should have thought would have objected to this idea is the president of the college. But no; on the contrary, he comes out whole-heartedly in favour of it. Much to my surprise he has written to me in favour of the plan, and I will read what he has written:
    "Your suggestion does mark a break from our traditional method of providing technical education, and I think that there is a need for breaking from this tradition. The national colleges set up in about six branches inside technical colleges have done a little in the way you talk of going, but progress is very slow indeed. I feel that our method at Loughborough, of gaining the confidence and thence the collaboration of industry, will produce results, but only slowly, and I constantly wonder whether the country can afford this slow development. I am, therefore, in favour of your suggestion, though I realise that a great deal of effort and determination will be necessary to put it into effect."
    That is my first revolutionary proposal and in it I have the backing of the president of Loughborough College. What would be the result of this? The result would be that Loughborough College would be there as an ancillary of British industry, producing the scientists, the physicists and the mathematicians which British industry requires, leaving the universities and training colleges to provide the teachers in schools and colleges. Therefore, one would get a flow from the schools to the universities on the one hand, and the flow from Loughborough College to industry on the other. Hon. Members may ask why I specify Loughborough College. I do so, not because I have the honour to represent Loughborough, tout because this college is recognised as the principal engineering and technological college in the Commonwealth. Under my proposal, one line would go to industry and one towards the educational services.

    I have much to say, and my second proposal is one which has already been discussed; that is the aspect of National Service and attracting teachers if they were exempt from it. I have not received any whole-hearted—

    I think that the hon. Member is now proposing something which would require legislation.

    I am only making suggestions for consideration.

    In Germany, before the First World War, they had a system, Das Einjährige system, under which a student served only one year for National Service. He did his National Service and continued his studies at the same time. He wore his uniform during this year, but there was no alteration in his status. He did not live in barracks, but continued at home or wherever he normally resided. He continued his studies and his National Service at one and the same time. If we could have some similar service to that German system of pre-1914 days, it might appeal to people and they might like to do it, saying, "Well, we are serving our country in two ways, in that we are training to become teachers and we are doing our National Service at the same time."

    :The hon. Gentleman is not only making a speech, but he is preventing me from making one.

    These are two considerations of a revolutionary character, but, as I have pointed out, of a totally acceptable—

    The Question having been proposed after Ten o'Clock, and the debate having continued for half an hour, Mr. Speaker adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

    Adjourned at Nineteen Minutes to Eleven o'Clock.