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Clause 7—(Amendment Of Provisions Of Act Of 1955 Relating To Right Of Dispossessed Absentee Crofter To Acquire Dwelling-House)

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 5 July 1961

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I beg to move, in page 6, line 28, at the beginning, to insert:

(1) Subsection (1) of section seventeen of the Act of 1955 (which relates to absentee crofters and treats as an absentee crofter a crofter who is not ordinarily resident on, or within two miles of, his croft) shall have effect as if for the words "two miles" there were substituted the words "ten miles".

I think that it will be convenient to take with this Amendment the Amendments in page 6, line 29, and page 7, line 1.

Yes, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. These are three drafting Amendments, to secure greater clarification.

Although we have not got as far as we wished with this Amendment we have advanced a considerable way towards bringing some reality into the question of absentee crofters. The two-mile provision was ludicrous, and the substitution of a ten-mile limit brings the matter into far better focus, because it is now not nearly so arduous a matter to travel long distances in the Highlands, thanks to propulsion by means of the internal combustion engine. The new provision should be welcomed by all Members.

We do riot mind galloping through the Bill at considerable speed, but we cannot gallop at the expense of clarity and accuracy on the part of the Minister. This is rather more than a drafting Amendment. I know there was a time when Ministers merely nodded their heads and said, "drafting", or "consequential", and gat all sorts of things through the House, but now that we have a vigilant Opposition we cannot allow those malpractices. I am surprised that the Minister should be indulging in an action of this kind. The Amendment extends the distance at which a crofter may reside from his croft. That is an important change.

In fact, it does not. We are dropping subsection (3) and putting the provision at the beginning of the Clause instead of at the end.

But it deals with an alteration from two miles to ten. I do not know whether we are discussing subsection (3). If the hon. Member had said that this was a tidying-up Amendment it would have been all right. I hope that he will treat us to a little more information in future.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 6, line 29, leave out from "under" to "such" in line 30 and insert "the said subsection (1)".

In page 7, line 1, leave out subsection (3).—[ Mr. Leburn]