[Sir WATSON RUTHERFORD in the Chair.]
The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. Munro): I beg to move, "That the Committee do now adjourn" I have been looking into the new Clauses on the Paper during the week-end, and I am really terrified at the prospects of debate which they open out. Some of them I do not profess to understand. They are extraordinarily obscure. Others I understand only too well, and they raise questions which date back not only to 1911 but to 1886, the date of the passing of the Crofters Act. All of them, whether obscure or not, open up possibilities of discussion which would last not one day or two days, but possibly a week or more of Committee days. We are within practically a month of the end of the Session. After the Bill has passed through Committee, it will have to go through the Report stage, which cannot be taken, according to ordinary practice, for at least a week after the conclusion of the Committee stage. The Bill then has to go to another place and come back, possibly with Amendments, which may or may not be acceptable, all involving negotiation and expenditure of time. The net result may well be that the end of the Session would find us with the Bill not on the Statute Book, all the work of this Session would be lost, the Bill would perish and would have to be revived as a new Bill in the ensuing Session, and all the provision it makes for the settlement of ex-soldiers and sailors upon the land would in the meantime be rendered nugatory. That really is a prospect which appals me, and any one of us who has any contributing share in bringing it about obviously will incur a very grave responsibility. In these circumstances, with all the earnestness which I can compass, I make an 942 appeal to my hon. Friends to reconsider these new Clauses and, if possible, to refrain from moving many, if not all of them. I think this Bill as it stands, without these new Clauses, is an effective instrument for the purposes for which it is devised, and I am confirmed in that view by an incident of which I wish to inform the Committee. It finds a reflection in the third new Clause standing in my name on the first page of the Paper. Yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer agreed with me that he would contribute from the Treasury per annum for ten years £15,000 for crofter housing, on the footing that I should contribute from the Agriculture (Scotland) Fund another £15,000 per annum during these ten years. That, of course, I have undertaken to do, and the net result is that £30,000 per annum for ten years will be secured under this Bill for crofter housing, which is precisely the sum which was recommended for that purpose by the Royal Commission for Housing in its recent Report. In these circumstances, I would beg that nothing should be done to jeopardise the fate of this Bill this Session or to interfere with its rapid progress to the Statute Book. I know we all desire the same thing, but I think the risks which are being run may be imperfectly understood by some of my hon. Friends who have put down Amendments which might be useful enough if we had lots of time at our disposal, but in the circumstances in which we are met will really jeopardise the Bill, and I appeal to those who are responsible for putting down the new Clauses to re-consider the situation in the light of what I have said.
Mr. HOGGE: I am sure the Committee would desire me to congratulate our right hon. Friend on his achieving this £30,000 for Housing in the crofting districts. We are all very grateful to him for the influence which he has exerted, and I am certain that what he has done will be relished by the people of Scotland. With regard to the appeal that he has made, of course, he is perfectly correct so far as Parliamentary time is concerned. If I were inclined to be critical the only criticism I would make is that the Bill might have been introduced much earlier. The discussion took place before the Recess, and it was not until after the Recess that we saw the Bill. At the same time I think we ought to get the Bill, having spent so much time on it. Would it not clear the ground if my right hon. Friend would say at once which of the new Clauses he is prepared to accept or to consider and which he intends to resist. If we knew now 943 that certain new Clauses would be resisted at all costs it might have an influence on hon. Members who have these Clauses down.
Mr. W. GRAHAM: The Labour members of the Committee have a number of new Clauses on the Paper, and I think it is desirable that I should try to make our position clear. I appreciate what has been announced by the right hon. Gentleman, and we Labour members are grateful for the consideration that has been shown, but we are tremendously disappointed with the course of events over this Bill, because, rightly or wrongly, we hoped, following the war, that there would be introduced an adequate scheme of land settlement in Scotland. That was certainly our understanding prior to the introduction of this measure. We were very much disappointed to hear the phrase used that this was merely an emergency measure and that it was designed to settle ex-soldiers on the land, but probably not to go beyond that into the other reaches of the Scottish land difficulty.
The CHAIRMAN: I am advised that that is the position.
Mr. GRAHAM: Quite. I do not want to dig up that controversy now, but our idea in putting down the new Clauses—and we did not do it without the advice of people who were experts in small holdings—was that we might improve this measure considerably in its progress through Committee, provided always that there was time to do so without endangering the Bill from the point of view of the House of Lords later. We have lost heart as far as this measure is concerned. We are satisfied, from our point of view at least, that it will not attain the object that it set out to attain. It contains to our mind far too many vices to do that, and accordingly we have no particular point in moving the new Clauses. I prefer to say these things candidly and frankly rather than to indicate a point of view which we do not hold. I want to associate myself with the appeal which the right hon. Gentleman has made. If there is the slightest danger of delay on our part, leading to the sacrifice of the interests of discharged men, that is a crime for which we should never forgive ourselves, and mainly with that in view I am desirous of co-operating with the right hon. Gentleman to the fullest extent. Accordingly I suggest, as far as our Amendments are concerned, that we might refrain from moving one or two of them certainly if we have any 944 indication that they are to be opposed, as I understand they will be opposed. We might refrain from moving them and content ourselves with one or two others which might be introduced, possibly with less controversy and with more hope of acceptance.
Major W. MURRAY: I agree very much with what has fallen from the hon. Member and share his regret that this is only an emergency measure, but I am moved by what the right hon. Gentleman has said, though I should like him to give us an assurance on the question of small farms and to say whether he will give that matter reconsideration if it is brought up again on Report.
Mr. MUNRO: I am grateful to my hon. Friends for the way in which they have responded to what I said. The Bill was introduced and read a second time before the Recess, and there has been no delay at all in proceeding with the subsequent stage. I regret very much the tone adopted by the hon. Member (Mr. W. Graham). His language was pessimistic in the extreme and quite unjustified by anything that has taken place in the progress of the Bill. It never pretended to be anything but an emergency measure to meet a grave emergency in the history of the State. It is what it professes to be, and in that view it will be of the utmost service to ex-service men, and anyone who delays its progress will be guilty of an unforgivable sin. I shall certainly look into the question of small farms before the Report stage and reconsider the matter carefully. I think it would be most convenient if I dealt with each Amendment as we reach it instead of going through all the Amendments on the Paper, which would take a considerable time. Roughly speaking, the measure of acceptance of the proposals on the Paper will be seen in the new Clauses which I have put down, coupled with this, that I propose to meet the case with regard to water on the Report stage. I cannot meet it at this stage because it ought to be made part of Clause 9. I shall have an Amendment on the Paper on Report which will meet hon. Members on that. Subject to these observations, I doubt very much whether I can accept any other of the new Clauses on the Paper. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.NEW CLAUSE.
In the event of the estate (or part thereof) of which the land comprised in any 945 order made under this Section forms part, being sold by public auction within five years after the date of notification of the order to the landlord, the board shall pay to the landlord such compensation (if any) for damage or injury done in respect of any depreciation in the selling value of such estate or part thereof in consequence of, and directly attributable to, the constitution of new holdings under the Order as may be agreed on, or as may be determined, failing agreement, by an official arbitrator under The Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, upon the application of either party, and after giving to both parties an opportunity of being heard and, if they so desire, of leading evidence on the matter.—[Mr. H. Hope.]
Question again proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time"
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL for SCOTLAND (Mr. Morison): My hon. Friend who moved this Clause did so very briefly, and I propose to reply very briefly, explaining why it is not possible for the Government to accept it. Some of the arguments awakened echoes of the Lindean case, about which I know a good deal because I conducted it before the arbiter and in the Courts. I know that case fully, but that case affords no justification for this Clause. The Lindean case was one which had special circumstances and considerations attached to it, which were not present in any other subsequent case. The main reason why I object to this Clause is that it is quite contrary to the principle of compensation which is laid down in the Bill. It is perfectly true that there are some estates in regard to which the persons who buy them would give more for them if there were no small holdings there, even when small holdings are established. There have been cases in which the arbitrator has refused wholly to recognise a claim of this character. That, no doubt, was properly done in cases which were suitable. It is not at all a case in which one can say that the principle underlying this Amendment really applies to the constitution of small holdings as a whole. The Lord Advocate explained the principle of compensation which the Government have adopted for this Bill, and it was that there was to be no compensation given because of the loss of control or because of the tenure. The principle of compensation was to satisfy the test of the loss of return upon the land regarded as an investment. The principle of this Clause is that if after an auction sale of part of an estate upon which small holdings have been established the proprietor says the price obtained is less than would have been obtained before 946 the small holdings were established, then compensation is to be awarded. Any person who considers a proposition of that kind will see how difficult it is to make the calculation. The property market varies from time to time, and I hope it is not going to be the case that the constitution of small holdings is to be regarded as a disadvantage to any estate. The proprietor must take some market risk in connection with his investment, and it must be remembered that under the tenure he is relieved of the expenses which the ordinary obligations of a landlord undoubtedly involve. There is the broad objection to this Clause that it interferes with the perfectly well-settled principle of assessing, which is that you must assess once and for all. It is important both from the point of view of the proprietor and from the point of view of the Board of Agriculture to know what any particular scheme is going to cost. It is vital from the Board of Agriculture point of view because they have a right, if the expenses are prohibitive, to prevent it going on. It is also very important from the proprietor's point of view. The way this Clause would work would be that every time a proprietor upon whose ground small holdings had been established by compulsion sold even a portion of his estate he could say, "I would have got so much more if there had not been small holdings on it" That could go on for five years and he could come forward every time during that period with a claim of this character. As a practical proposal that ought not to obtain the consent of the Committee. One of my hon. Friends referred to a statement of the Prime Minister that compensation to proprietors should be proper and fair. I certainly hold that view. There is, of course, difference of opinion as to what is proper and fair, and very likely the views of members of the Committee would not be unanimous on that topic. I ask the Committee to look at this class of question on broad lines. The Bill says that if new holdings are established the proprietor has a chance of agreeing with the Board of Agriculture about his compensation, and speaking from long experience I do not know of any Government Department which deals meanly with any proprietor whose land is being taken for public purposes. Let us suppose that they fall out for reasons for which neither can be blamed. The question then goes to the Land Court, and speaking again from a very wide experience I say that the Courts always deal generously on 947 the question of money in any case which arises between the subject and the Crown. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend will not press this Clause, and that he will let us get on with the other Clauses of the Bill.
Captain W. T. SHAW: I support this Clause, and I hope that those who are responsible for it will not allow themselves to be over-borne by the appeal made by the Secretary for Scotland. We all recognise the suave and silvery manner in which that appeal was made. I support the Clause because I believe that legislation which is going to settle soldiers on the land should be upon sound principles of justice. These small holdings will be of particular advantage to the community as a whole, and it is for the community as a whole to foot the bill. It is a gross injustice that a small portion of the community should be asked to bear more than their fair share of the cost of this legislation. The principles of compensation in this Bill do not agree with the principles laid down in this Clause, but I believe that this Clause is founded upon justice more than any principles in the Bill as it stands at present. If this Clause is put into the Bill it will enable the landlord to say, when a man who has probably lent him money comes forward and says that as the land on which he lent the money had been depreciated he must call in part or whole of the loan to the landlord, "I have the option of selling my property in the next five years and of getting back the loss from those who have inflicted the loss upon me" Five years seems to me to be a reasonable time. It gives the proprietor an opportunity of considering what the loss is. If he does not elect to use the option given to him under this Clause that is his business; but if the House of Commons in passing this Bill insists upon putting this Clause in, it will give the proprietor that option and of seeing that justice is done. For that reason I strongly hope that the Committee will insist upon going forward with this Clause.
Question, "That the Clause be read a second time," put, and negatived.
In the case of every burgh where the Secretary for Scotland so requires, it shall be the duty of the town council to appoint a committee, which may consist in whole or in part of persons who are not members of the council, to consult with the council on matters relating to the provision, equip- 948 ment, and management of allotments.—[Mr. Munro.]
Brought up, and read the first time.
Mr. MUNRO: I beg to move "That the Clause be read a second time" The object is to meet, in so far as is possible, the purpose which my hon. Friend the Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Jameson) had in his mind when he drafted his Amendment for a similar new Clause dealing with Consultative Committees for Burghs. I have looked into this matter very carefully and I think it is better that the Council should appoint such Committee than that the Board of Agriculture should appoint the Committee. It is better that the expense, if any—and I think it would be negligible—should be borne out of public funds at the disposal of the Town Council than out of the already overburdened Agriculture (Scotland) Fund. The only difference between the third Clause and my Clause is that my Clause does not, in terms, provide that the allotment holders shall be put upon the Committee. There is a diffculty in providing that they should, because probably the most need for a Committee may exist in a town where there are no allotment holders at the moment when such a Committee is set on foot. Such a Committee may be set on foot in order to promote that movement and to provide that there should be allotment holders in the community. The Clause provides that the Committee need not necessarily be composed of members of the town council alone. That is the law as far as Committees appointed under the Town Councils Act, 1900, are concerned.
Mr. HOGGE: What proportion?
Mr. MUNRO: Speaking from recollection, I do not think any proportion is laid down, but they must be members of the town council. I am avoiding that by the terms of this new Clause. I think it is a quite fair compromise and it gives effect to what my hon. Friends have in mind, which is to provide that in large cities there shall be a Committee looking after the interest of allotment holders for the purpose of consulting the town council in the matter.
Mr. HOGGE: The question arises upon the words whether it should consist "in whole or in part of persons," &c. Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that on any of these Committees the members of the town or city council ought to be a majority of the Committee? I always regret a city council or town council being allowed to elect a Committee on which there are persons 949 who are not directly responsible to the ratepayers, and who cannot be got at at the November election. I should have thought that it would be wise to say that the majority of the Committee must be members of the city council.
Mr. MUNRO: I should prefer to leave that to the town councils themselves. Let them have freedom of choice in the matter, and if they think it proper they can have a majority on any Committee. I should prefer to leave it to their discretion.
Mr. JAMESON: I have a similar Clause upon the Paper, but I think the Government Clause is an improvement. I should, however, deprecate the Committee being entirely confined to the town council, because the idea of these Committees is that they should be people interested in allotments. It is very-likely that on a town council there may not be any members who are in the least interested in allotments. I think it is quite proper, as the Government propose, that this Committee should not necessarily be members of the town council.
Mr. A. SHAW: One would like to hear from the Secretary for Scotland whether it is his intention as an administrative act that the majority of Scottish burghs should make this requirement for the appointment of a Committee. In many burghs it would be necessary. The Secretary for Scotland should give some indication as to what he wishes. I take it under the Clause it is perfectly competent for the town council to make the appointments they wish.
Mr. MUNRO: Hear, hear!
Mr. SHAW: I also take it that if the Secretary for Scotland receives representations he will not scruple to use the powers which this Clause gives him. Then the Committee which is to be set up seems to be a Committee of a semi-permanent character. It is desirable that such Committee should be appointed from year to year. The Secretary for Scotland, I think, should provide that they should be appointed annually. One knows how these committees grow up and never alter and lose touch with those whom they are supposed to represent.
Mr. MUNRO: On the first point: This is really a question which concerns chiefly the large industrial burghs. I have not chosen language which in this particular differs from the language of the Clause which this is designed to supersede. Apparently, 950 my hon. Friends are prepared to leave it to the Secretary for Scotland, in the light of representations made and the circumstances of the case, to require that the Committee shall be set up. On the second point, I am disposed to agree with my hon. Friend. I am not inclined to say "from year to year" I would not like to bind the town council down on this. I think that "from time to time" would meet the wishes of my hon. Friend.
Question, "That the Clause be read a second time," put, and agreed to.
Mr. MUNRO: I beg to move, after the word "Council" ["Town Council"], to insert the words "from time to time"
Mr. HOGGE: Perhaps my right hon. Friend will accept the word "annually" to keep it in conformity with the practice of Scottish municipalities. All the committees are elected annually, but if they do their work properly they remain largely the same unless there is a big influx of new members into the Town Council at the November elections "From time to time" is indefinite.
Mr. MUNRO: I will look into the matter before the Report stage. Having heard this point for the first time, I should prefer to use the more indefinite language, but if I find, on consideration, that there is no objection to my hon. Friend's proposal, I shall give effect to it on the Report stage.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.
The following new Clause stood upon the Paper in the name of Mr. Munro:
Amendment of Provisions as to Bequest and Assignment of Holding.
For the purposes of Section sixteen of The Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act, 1886 (which relates to bequest of holding), and of Section twenty-one of the Act of 1911 (which relates to assignment of holding), the son-in-law of a landholder shall be deemed to be a member of the landholder's family.
The CHAIRMAN: Before this new Clause is moved, I desire to make some observations on a matter of Order. If it had been intended to make a new code of land laws or to make an alteration in the law of land tenure or inheritance, we should have had a Bill dealing primarily with aspects of those subjects, and almost necessarily, in a matter 951 of such complexity, it would have been preceded by a Report of a committee of experts. This is not the case. The sole object of this Bill is to facilitate land settlement in Scotland. It is only an emergency measure, principally for the purpose of helping ex-service men, and with that specific object. It therefore follows that outside points are only relative so far as they are strictly related to the carrying out of that object. In several of these new Clauses attempts are made to alter the tenure or inheritance, and these are out of order, as being outside the scope of the Bill. That applies to this new Clause which the Secretary for Scotland desires to move, and a number of other Clauses which have been put down. I do not know whether it goes as far as grand mothers or relations, but we have nothing to do with tenure or inheritance in this Bill, which is a Bill to facilitate land settlement.
Mr. MUNRO: I do not desire to argue the question which you have decided, but merely want to say that this Clause was put down in order to meet a number of Clauses on the Order Paper dealing with the power of bequest of the land holder, in order, if possible, to find a via media in the matter. As you have ruled these Clauses out of order, it follows that my Clause is also out of order.
Sir WILLIAM SUTHERLAND: Among the objects of the Bill we find "to amend the Small Landholders (Scotland) Act, 1911" I want your ruling with regard to an Amendment which I have put down, as I do not know whether the ruling which you have just given is supposed to cover it.
The CHAIRMAN: We shall deal with that when we come to it.
Sir W. SUTHERLAND: I submit that the words in the title which I have quoted do not confine the Act within the limits which I understood your ruling to indicate just now.
The CHAIRMAN: While no doubt, as the hon. Member points out, there are sections in this Bill to amend the Small Landholders (Scotland) Act, 1911, I think that those sections must be confined to the object of the Bill that is now before the Committee in accordance with the basis on which the House of Commons has given it a second reading, namely, to facilitate land settlement 952 in Scotland, and no Member of the Committee must be allowed to roam over the whole scope of land laws or inheritance or matters of that sort which are matters for legislation of a special nature relating to those subjects alone.
Dr. MURRAY: The question of inheritance will affect a man's mind when he is about to decide whether he will apply for land or not, and he considers whether he may transmit it to his son-in-law.
The CHAIRMAN: My ruling is that all those subjects have nothing to do with the real object of the Bill, which is to facilitate land settlement. The next Clause ("Further money placed at disposal of Board of Agriculture for Scotland"), in the name of the Secretary for Scotland, cannot be dealt with now.
Mr. MUNRO: I do not propose to move the next Clause at this stage, because it must be preceded by a financial resolution in the House. I hope to get the Committee Stage to-night and the Report Stage tomorrow, and then on the Report Stage the Bill can be recommitted for the purpose of reconsidering this matter.
The CHAIRMAN: The next Clause on the Paper, in the name of six hon. Members ("Use of land for allotments"), is covered by what we have already decided. The next ("Land Court to receive representations") is consequential, and therefore that goes. The next one ("Financial assistance of allotments movement") is also covered. The next one ("Allotments Consultative Committee for burghs") is covered by the new Clause which we have just adopted. The next clause ("Provision against conversion of land acquired or leased for allotments to other purposes") is also covered. The next Clause ("Interpretation") is out of order on the ground which I have already laid down, and so are the Amendments put down to it. The Clause ("Amendment of Section 6 of the Act of 1886") in the name of the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) is in order.
Mr. W. GRAHAM: Having regard to what the right hon. Gentleman has said, I desire to say that I do not propose to move this and the following Clauses: "Amendment of Section 26 of the Act of 1911," "Statutory Small Tenants to become Landholders," "Protection against Damage by Game," "Freedom of Cropping and Disposal of Produce," "Declaration of Law as to 953 Permissible Uses of Small Holdings," "Avoidance of Agreement Inconsistent with Landholders Acts," and "Amendment of Section 24 (4) of the Act of 1911"
In any Order for the constitution of one or more holdings the Board, being satisfied that there is not on the lands included in the scheme a sufficient supply of water for the requirements of such holdings, may, upon such terms and conditions (including payment of compensation for any surface damage) as the Land Court may determine, take and convey from or through any part of the estate to which the said lands belong such supply of water as may be necessary for the said requirements.
Provided that the Board shall not under this Section be authorised to take any supply of water which the Land Court, on the application of the landlord, may determine is, or may reasonably be expected to be. required for the use of the remainder of the estate, and provided further that nothing herein contained shall be construed as affecting the rights of any persons other than the landlord and the landholders.—[Mr. Hogge.]
Brought up, and read the first time.
Mr. HOGGE: I beg to move "That the Clause be read a second time" I will not make a speech on this now, because my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland said that he would meet the point on Report.
Mr. MUNRO: I have given very careful consideration to this Clause, which, it seems to me, deals with a very important matter. It would, however, be more appropriate that the provision with regard to a water supply should be included in Clause 9. Clause 9 is the Clause which provides all that is necessary under a scheme, and now, under (d), it is provided that "The water supply for each new holding, including the source from which the supply is to be taken, and any necessary pipes or other works," shall be shown. I confess that one must make it quite clear at that point that there should be compulsory powers to get an appropriate water supply for the holding. Whether that is sufficiently provided now is, perhaps, a matter which is in doubt. I can assure my hon. Friend that the substance of his Clause will be met upon the Report Stage in Clause 9 by an Amendment which I will put down on behalf of the Government.954
Mr. HOGGE: That being so, I beg leave to withdraw.
Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
The CHAIRMAN: It seems to me that the new Clause ("Statutory small tenants may obtain enlargement") standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) is out of order for the reason that I have already laid down.
Mr. HOGGE: I do not know, Sir Watson, whether you are familiar with land tenure in Scotland?
The CHAIRMAN: No, thank Heaven!
Mr. HOGGE: If I may say so respectfully, that makes it rather difficult for some of us to appreciate the ruling of the Chair, although please do not misunderstand me.
The CHAIRMAN: Given under competent advice.
Mr. HOGGE: Please do not understand that I am contesting the ruling of the Chair, because I realise that when the Chairman rules we must respect his ruling and realise that he has taken sufficient advice. Some of us, however, do think that the ruling does exclude from our discussion tenures which, if you appreciated it more as a Scotsman, would scarcely have led you to give that ruling, even with competent advice. This is a point which has long troubled many holders in Scotland, and is, as you yourself said in a phrase on a previous ruling, an attempt to facilitate land holding.
The CHAIRMAN: It is not facilitating land holding; it is facilitating land settlement.
Mr. HOGGE: This is a Land Settlement Bill.
The CHAIRMAN: The new Clause is out of order for the reasons already given. The following new Clause ("Further powers for enlargement of Holdings"), standing in the name of the same right hon. Gentleman, is also out of order, and in any case it is unnecessary, because it is now the law.
Mr. HOGGE: Would it not be useful to have a statement from the Solicitor-General for Scotland about that, because it is not 955 generally understood? I have long taken an interest in land schemes in Scotland, and I was unaware of it.
The CHAIRMAN: It is quite recent, I think, for the convenience of the Committee, that some information may he given to us.
Mr. MORISON: It is perfectly true there was a judgment by the Court which allowed a land holder to have his holding extended from property which belonged to an adjoining proprietor, but the same considerations do not apply to the case of the statutory small tenant. So that the existing law, while it certainly meets a portion of the desire of my hon. Friend, does not go the whole way.
Mr. HOGGE: Is that decision binding on future practice?
Mr. MORISON: Yes. With regard to the statutory small tenant, I do not wish to speak. Perhaps what I have said may satisfy my hon. Friend, so far as it is consistent with the ruling of the Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN: The next new Clause ("As to land within burgh in crofting counties"), standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), has already been dealt with.
Mr. HOGGE: Where has it been dealt with?
The CHAIRMAN: It has been dealt with by my ruling. It is out of order.
Mr. HOGGE: You will be getting the freedom of some of these burghs.
The CHAIRMAN: The following new Clause ("Protection against damage by game"), standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Aberdeen (Major W. Wood), has also been dealt with.
Every tenant of a small holding created under the Small Holdings Colonies Acts, 1916 and 1918, shall be registered as a landholder under the Landholders' Acts.—[Major M. Wood.]956
Brought up, and read the first time.
Major M. WOOD: I beg to move "That he Clause be read a second time" I do not want to take up time in view of what has transpired. I cannot help feeing sorry that the statement of the Secretary for Scotland should have been made just as we were entering upon a number of Amendments which were of particular interest to a constituency like my own. Under he Small Holdings Acts of 1916–18 a provision was made that soldiers should be settled on the land. These soldiers are not registered as land holders; they do not get the benefit of security of tenure which is conferred upon land holders under the 1911 Act. This new Clause proposes that they shall be registered under the Act the same is any others, and will get all the benefits under the Act. I do not want to argue the case in view of what has been said this morning, but I formally move it in order to get a statement from the Secretary for Scotland as to the Government's intention in this matter.
Mr. MUNRO: Under the existing law the Board of Agriculture, after they acquire land under the Colonies Acts, may give the tenant of that land any tenure which they think fit—the land holder's tenure if they think it preferable, or they may withhold it if they think it desirable. The object of this new Clause, apparently, is to provide that every tenant of the board on "Colonies" land shall automatically become a small holder. Whatever the board, or both the board and the tenant, may decide upon or desire, a small holder may be created though he did not want to be a small holder and might prefer to remain an ordinary tenant. The effect of the Amendment would be to create him automatically a small holder directly he settled. I think that is a very large order. I should rather deprecate this interference with the discretion of the Board of Agriculture, which, as the Committee knows, we have regarded as the regulating matter in all these questions. I think the Board should have a free hand. I would respectfully point out that in Clauses 6 and 7 of this Bill we have really so determined. I think it is just doubtful whether my hon. and gallant Friend is not proposing something which is inconsistent with that decision. I do not press the point, but on the merits I ask my hon. and gallant Friend not to press his Amendment.
Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.957
The CHAIRMAN: The four succeeding Clauses ("Power of land holder to bequeath his tenancy," "Repeal," "Interpretation," and "Amendment of S. 21 of Act of 1911"), standing respectively in the names of the hon. Member for Argyllshire (Sir W. Sutherland), the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), and the hon. Member for Central Aberdeen (Major M. Wood), are all out of order. I do not know whether the next Clause ("Amendment of Section 4 (14) of the Act of 1911"), standing in the name of the hon. Member for Argyllshire (Sir W. Sutherland), is in order or not, because I cannot understand it. Perhaps the hon. Member will be good enough to explain.
Sir W. SUTHERLAND: This is the Clause to which I was referring when I suggested that, as it directly proposes to amend the provisions of the Act of 1911, it was very difficult to see how it was out of order. The point is that the Infectious Diseases (Animals) Acts just now are administered in Great Britain by the English Board. In Scotland there are very many fine herds of cattle—
The CHAIRMAN: If it relates to the diseases of animals, I am quite certain that it is out of order.
Sir W. SUTHERLAND: I submit that it is in Order under the title of the Bill. There is an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the Isle of Wight. Scotland has had no outbreak since 1909. Just recently there were about a thousand cases in the Isle of Wight, and every farmer in Scotland is prevented from exporting his cattle—
The CHAIRMAN: I think it is quite clear from the explanation up to now that, whilst it does propose to alter the Act of 1911, as stated, it is with reference to a point which has nothing to do with land settlement in Scotland.
Mr. HOGGE: I should like to understand why a provision which would enable a small holder in Scotland to dispose of his stock does not facilitate land holding in Scotland.
The CHAIRMAN: I do not think it does.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT: Will your ruling also rule out a similar Amendment which I have down on Schedule 4?958
The CHAIRMAN: It is very possible when we come to it. The new Clause ("Amendment of Section 21 of the Act of 1911") of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major M. Wood) with regard to intestacy is also out of order. His next Clause ("Amendment of Section 25 of Act of 1911") I do not understand. Perhaps he will explain.
Major M. WOOD: There have been several unfortunate decisions by the Court of Sessions on cases submitted to them by the Land Court, and in many of these cases there has been good reason to believe that the points at issue have not always been put before the Court as well as they might be because the tenant has not been represented. This Clause has for its object the empowering of the Land Court in stating a case to give fully the arguments in favour of it.
The CHAIRMAN: It is quite clear from what the hon. and gallant Gentleman says that it is out of order. We have nothing to do here with the decisions of the Land Court. The object of this Bill is to facilitate land settlement.
Major WOOD: This Clause is designed to make effective the settlement of soldiers on the land when they are there.
Dr. MURRAY: The Bill deals with cases which have been decided, because the object of part of it is to deal with decisions of the Court of Settlement.
The CHAIRMAN: I do not think so.
No holding which has ceased to be held by a landholder or by a statutory small tenant shall be let except to a new landholder or as an enlargement of a landholder's holding, or be occupied exclusively for the purpose of a deer forest, or grouse moor, or any other sporting purpose without the previous consent of the Board of Agriculture, and if any holding shall be so let or so occupied, or has been so let or so occupied since the passing of the Act of 1911 without such consent, the Board shall be entitled to constitute new holdings or enlargements thereon without being liable in payment of any compensation.—[Major M. Wood.]
Brought up, and read a first time.
Major M. WOOD: I beg to move "That the clause be read a second time." This is designed to prevent small holdings falling out of the Act and being merged in large farms.959
Mr. MORISON: This Clause really relates to a subject matter which is dealt with in Section 17 of the Small Landholders (Scotland) Act, 1911, which regulates the disposal of small holdings which have been renounced or become vacant, and the Board of Agriculture has power to make arrangements for the constitution of a new small land holder wherever one has become vacant. The present proposal seems to take away a certain amount of the discretion which the Board of Agriculture has at present, and would limit the powers of resettlement which it has. The Clause reminds me of a sentence in Lord Kennedy's Report, but I rather think the opinion of the learned judge on that topic did not fully keep in view the extensive powers which the Board of Agriculture already has in Section 17, and I suggest that the hon. and gallant Gentleman should not press this Clause, because it is already substantially covered by Section 17.
The CHAIRMAN: It seems to me to be sailing rather near the line, but I do not think the Clause is out of order.
Major WOOD: I do not think the Solicitor-General is quite fair to the Clause. I quite agree that there is a provision in the Act of 1911 which was designed to prevent small holdings falling out of the Act and being merged in large farms, but there is no doubt that, whatever the object of the Sections dealing with that may have been, they have failed to prevent small holdings falling out of the Act, and great numbers of them every year are being added to large farms, or in any case are getting out of the hands of small holders, the reason being, I think, that there has been no penal provision to punish any landlord who does not report a vacancy to the Board of Agriculture and allow them to deal with the matter, as no doubt they would otherwise deal with it. The Clause differs from the Sections dealing with the subject in the Act of 1911 in this, that if the landlord lets a small holding to some one who is not a land holder without consulting the Board of Agriculture and without giving them an opportunity of consenting to the new arrangement, the land may be taken without the Board being liable to pay anything in the nature of compensation. Unless there is some penal provision of that kind, the Sections of the Act of 1911 must fail to do what it was intended they should do, and they have failed, and I submit that something in the nature of this Clause is required, and if the drafting of it is not such as the Secretary for Scotland 960 would like, I should be pleased to withdraw mine in favour of some other one which more exactly meets the case than mine.
Mr. MORISON: I am sorry we cannot accept the Clause as it is put, but it would not in the least facilitate the establishment of small holdings if a Clause on these lines were accepted. My hon. and gallant Friend is quite right in saying one of the differences was that it provided that the landlord should not get compensation. That certainly is a new point, but I think that is a provision which is not fair. If it be the fact that the landlord's interests have been damnified, then under Section 17 he already has a statutory right to get compensation, and in so far as this Clause interferes with that right it alters the whole scheme of land settlement with regard to compensation, and I think that would be an unfortunate result. But let me take the other part of the Amendment. At present the law certainly is that a landlord cannot put this piece of ground either into a large farm or into a deer forest or into sporting ground without the consent of the Board.
Major WOOD: But he does it.
Mr. MORISON: If he does it now it must be with the consent of the Board.
Major WOOD: No.
Mr. MORISON: It must be so, because the Board has the right at present to object to any proceeding of that kind and to take it to the Land Court, which may prevent it from being used. Let me give one instance of how I think the Clause would militate against suitable small land holders. There are some small holdings situated in certain parts of Scotland which it would be better to remove and put on more suitable ground, and other unsuitable small holdings which at present exist would, if this Amendment were carried, be stereotyped for ever as small holdings and nothing else. I certainly think that is undesirable. It seems to me that that is a matter which might safely be left to the Land Court and to the Board of Agriculture, who, after all, are the responsible authorities for administering this movement, and it certainly would prevent the bad small holdings being used for any purpose whatever, and would, I think, hamper the chances of a small land holder being removed to a more suitable holding.
Major WOOD: The Solicitor-General's speech seems to me largely to be an argument against the drafting of my Amendment 961 rather than against what I set out to achieve, which was to insert some penal provision that if the landlord does not do his duty in reporting vacancies, in consulting the Board of Agriculture and in filling vacant holdings he should be punished for it. There is nothing in the Act at present to do that, and in spite of what the Solicitor-General has said I think there is no doubt that a number of these holdings are becoming vacant and are not being filled with the consent of the Board of Agriculture as they ought to be. The Board of Agriculture, I am certain, does not know of all the holdings that become vacant, and I would appeal to the Government to try to devise some means whereby there shall be some compulsion upon the landlord to do this, and if he fails in his duty that he will be adequately punished for it. If the compensation method I suggest is not satisfactory I hope the Government will be able to suggest a better.
Mr. MUNRO: I certainly do not want to take my stand in opposing the Clause merely because of its drafting and I am sure the Solicitor-General would not do so either. I am impressed by what the hon. and gallant Gentleman has said. I think there is a point which deserves and shall have careful consideration before the Report stage. I will look into it and see whether it is possible to give effect to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's argument.
Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
(2) The Order shall be in the prescribed form, and shall contain such provisions as may be prescribed for the purpose of carrying the Order into effect, and shall incorporate, with any necessary adaptations, the Lands Classes Acts (except the provisions thereof relating to the sale of superfluous lands), and Sections seventy to seventy-eight of the Railways Clauses Consolidation (Scotland) Act, 1845, and those Acts shall apply accordingly, subject to the provisions of any Act which may be passed in this or any future Session, of Parliament relating to the compulsory acquisition of land for public purposes.
(6) In the case of an Order providing for the compulsory acquisition by leasing of land for allotments, the provisions of Section twenty-six of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1894, shall apply with the necessary modifications; and in such application references to a parish and to a parish 962 council shall include references respectively to a burgh and to a town council; references to the county council and to the Local Government Board for Scotland shall be construed as references to the Board: references to Section twenty-five of the said Act of 1894 shall be construed as references to this schedule; and the reference to allotments last occurring in Sub-section (1) of the said section twenty-six shall include a reference to common pasture.
Mr. MUNRO: I beg to move, in paragraph (2), to leave out the words "subject to the provisions of any Act which may be passed in this or any future Session of Parliament relating to the compulsory acquisition of land for public purposes" The words which I propose to leave out were intended to refer to the Acquisition of Land Bill, which was still before the House when this Bill was introduced. The Acquisition of Land Bill, as passed and now in force, applies to "any Statute, whether passed before or after the passing of this Act, where land is authorised to be acquired compulsorily by any Government Department or any local or public authority" It would, therefore, apply to any case of compulsory acquisition under this Bill. If there should be anything in this Bill, or in the Lands Clauses Act, which are incorporated in this Bill, which is inconsistent with the Acquisition of Land Act, then by Section 7 of that Act its provisions prevail. The reference in the present Section is, therefore, quite unnecessary, and, I am advised, may be misleading. It is for that reason, and that reason only, that it is proposed to leave it out. It will tend to clearness, and I hope the Committee will accept the Amendment.
Amendment agreed to,
Mr. MUNRO: I beg to move, in paragraph (6), after the word "allotments" ["land for allotments"], to insert "(a) the provisions of the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, so far as applicable to compulsory leasing, shall apply with the necessary modifications; and" It may appear that this Amendment is inconsistent with the one that I have just moved, but it is not so. The Acquisition of Land Act applies all its weight to any case of compulsory acquisition by purchase, but its terms do not include compulsory leasing. This Amendment makes its application explicit for that purpose.
Mr. HOGGE: This Amendment is to apply the ransom price which the Acquisition 963 of Land Act gives to the landowners to all land which may be obtained in Scotland for small holdings. I am, therefore, opposed to the Amendment. Not only does the Amendment deal with the acquisition of land, but with compulsory leasing; not only are we to pay ransom price for land; not only is the public to pay through the nose for land in Scotland purchased for small holdings, but also for leasing. If this Bill is to extend land settlement in Scotland, one thing which will prevent land settlement is the extraordinary price which will be asked for land which the Board of Agriculture seeks to acquire. In the House of Commons, when the Acquisition of Land Bill was being discussed, an alternative was put forward, which, I suggest, is a much better alternative, namely, that any land which is taken for these purposes in Scotland should be taken on the same value that the land is rated for taxation. That would enable us to get hold of a great deal of land, and it would be a fair method of dealing with the subject. If you have large estates and large areas of land in Scotland which are rated for the purposes of taxation at low levels, as we know they are—in many parts of Scotland it is less than a shilling an acre, certainly less than 2s. 6d. an acre—then if we are to take land at all, in order to get over some of your rulings this morning, Mr. Chairman, we ought to cheapen the process by which we obtain land. We ought not to agree to the Secretary for Scotland applying the ransom Act, under which the public are being plundered for the benefit of the landowner, but we ought to give the Secretary for Scotland power to take land in Scotland by purchase on the same basis on which it is rated for taxation. I shall vote against this Amendment, if nobody else does.
|Division No. 9.]||AYES|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||Henderson, Major||Scott, Mr. MacCallum|
|Buchanan, Lieutenant-Colonel||Hunter-Weston, Lt. Gen. Sir A||Shaw, Mr. Alexander|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Kidd, Mr.||Shaw, Captain|
|Cowan, Mr. D. M.||McMicking, Major||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Morison, Mr.||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Elliot, Captain||Munro, Mr.||Talbot, Mr.|
|Gardiner, Mr.||Murray, Major William||Taylor, Mr. J. (Dumbarton)|
|Gilmour, Colonel||Pratt, Mr.||Thomson, Mr. F. C.|
|Glyn, Major||Rodger, Mr.||Wason, Mr. Cathcart|
|Graham, Mr. William||Johnstone Mr.||Wallace, Mr.|
|Harmsworth, Sir Leicester||Murray, Dr||Wood, Major McKenzie|
Schedule, as amended, agreed to964
Mr. MUNRO: My hon. Friend has raised the same question as was raised and decided, not in accordance with his views, upon the Acquisition of Land Bill. That controversy has been settled. In the meantime we are under the provision of the Acquisition of Land Act, and unless it is to apply to compulsory leasing I do not know what my hon. Friend suggests. He would have to find some entirely new code and apply it to this purpose. I know of no such code being suggested. This is the only means I can think of of finding a tribunal to settle the question of compulsory leasing. I am confirmed in this view when I look at the corresponding English Act and find this provision there inserted with the assent of the House of Commons. If I did not move this Amendment I am afraid the question would have to be settled in the Law Courts. I do not know whether my hon. Friend would prefer that.
Mr. HOGGE: That would save money.
Mr. MUNRO: I will not offer any definite view upon that subject. So far as I can see there is no alternative to this proposal, and I beg the Committee to accept it.
Dr. MURRAY: I think it would be a mistake to extend the provisions of the Acquisition of Land Act to compulsory leasing, and I agree with all the adjectives which my hon. Friend (Mr. Hogge) has applied to that Act. The Secretary-for Scotland said that the House of Commons has passed that Act. The House of Commons we have at present will pass anything. As a protest against the House of Commons passing anything in favour of the landlords I oppose this Amendment.
Question put, "That the words proposed be there inserted"
The Committee divided: Ayes, 28; Noes, 7.965
|MINOR AND CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS OF THE ACT OF 1911.|
|Enactment to De amended.||Amendment.|
|Small Landholders (Scotland) Act,1911 (1 & 2 Geo. 5. C. 49).|
|Section 7||At the end of subsection (6) the following words shall be inserted:—"nor shall the rent payable in respect of a new holding constituted "by a scheme made under this section be so altered for a like period'|
|In subsection (12) for the words "Land Court"there shall be substituted the word "Board"|
|At the end of subsection (18) the following words shall be inserted:—"and any other land which has been or may be acquired by the "Board"|
|Section 24||In subsection (3), after the words "or the Land Court," there shall be inserted the words "on the Board"|
Mr. MUNRO: I beg to move, at the end of the Schedule, to add "and after the words from the Land Court' there shall be inserted the words 'or from the Board'". This is a drafting Amendment. It is necessary to complete the adaptation of Section 24, Sub-section (3) of the Act of
standing in the name of the hon. Member for Argyllshire (Sir W. Sutherland), is out of order.
Sir W. SUTHERLAND: When I wanted to move this Amendment before as a new Clause you ruled it out of order on the ground that it was a minor Amendment of the Act of 1911 and not relevant to land purchase. As this Schedule is headed "Minor Amendments of the Act of 1911," I have put it down here, and I am less clear why you rule it out of order now than I was when you ruled it out of order as a new Clause. You probably rule it out of order now because it is a new Clause.
Mr. HOGGE: I strongly protest against the ruling that this is out of order. We are met as a Scottish Committee to try to increase facilities for getting people on the land, but if you continue to rule, as you ruled this morning and as you now rule this out, it obviously prevents men whom we put on the land from breeding stock and exporting their stock from Scotland and966
1911. It is consequential on the substitution of the Board for the Land Court in Clause 10 of the Bill.
Amendment agreed to.
The CHAIRMAN: The next Amendment, at the end of the Schedule, to add the words
|Section 4, Sub-section (14)||The following words shall cease to have effect, viz., "or any powers "or duties exercisable under The Diseases of Animals Act, 1894, or "any enactment amending or extending the same"|
making a livelihood. If you say that this is out of order, then there is no use any of us staying on this Committee, and I do not propose to stay any longer.
The CHAIRMAN: If any hon. Member who has an Amendment can show me that it has any relation to facilitating land settlement in Scotland I shall not rule it out of order. If the hon. Member for Argyllshire can show that his Amendment is calculated to deal with that topic, which is the scope of the Bill, I should be glad if he would do so. The hon. Member not desiring to do so, I shall call upon the hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division (Mr. MacCallum Scott). The same point arises on this Amendment, but if the hon. Member can show me that it relates to facilitating land settlement in Scotland I shall rule that the Amendment is in order.
Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Third Schedule (Minor and Consequential Amendments of the Act of 1892) agreed to.967
|Sessional Chapter.||Short Title.||Extent of Repeal|
|1 & 2 Geo. 5. c. 49.||The Small Landholders (Scotland) Act, 1911.||Subsection (6) of section 4.|
|6 & 7 Geo. 5. c. 38.||The Small Holding Colonies Act, 1916.||In paragraph (c) of section eleven, the words "The total "area" and the words "shall not at anytime exceed "two thousand acres, of which"|
|8 & 9 Geo. 5. c. 26.||The Small Holding Colonies (Amendment) Act, 1918.||In section one, the words "twenty thousand acres for two "thousand acres" and from "and paragraph (c) "to "the same in feu."|
Mr. M. SCOTT: I beg to move, in paragraph (1 & 2 Geo. 5, c. 49), after the word "four" ("Sub-section 6 of Section 4"), to insert the words "Sub-section (14) of Section 4, the words 'or any powers or duties exercisable under The Diseases of Animals Act, 1894.'" Not only does the title of the Bill include an Amendment of the Smallholders Act, 1911, but the particular portion of the Schedule with which we are now concerned deals with Section 4 of the Act of 1911. It is amending Section 4 of the 1911 Act. I am merely proposing a further Amendment of the same Section of the same Act. Is it also out of Order to do that?
The CHAIRMAN: I think so.
Mr. MUNRO: I beg to move, in paragraph (6 & 7 Geo. 5, c. 38), to leave out the words
Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.
Title of the Bill agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported to the House.
Mr. MUNRO: I am quite sure that the Committee would not desire to separate without tendering to you their sincere thanks for your services in the Chair. It may be that the rulings of the Chairman are not always in accordance with the views of each Member of the Committee, but my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) laid down a few minutes ago the968
"In paragraph (c) of Section 11, the words 'The total area' and the words 'shall not at any time exceed two thousand acres, of which'" and to insert instead thereof the words "paragraph (c) of section eleven" There are three Amendments, all of which are really of a drafting character. This is consequential on an Amendment to Clause 1 which was made on the first day.
Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendments made: In paragraph (8 & 9 Geo. 5, c. 26) leave out the words "In Section one, the words 'twenty thousand acres for two thousand acres' and from", and insert instead thereof the words "Section one from".
At the end of the Schedule add
|9 and 10 Geo. V., c. 57||The Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919||In section eleven, paragraph (a) of sub-section (1)|
correct constitutional attitude when he said that they ought to be, and always were, loyally accepted. We are extremely indebted to you for the despatch with which the business of this Committee has been carried through, and we can all join in expressing the hope that you will have pleasant recollections of your sojourn among the Scottish Members. I also desire, if I may, in a single word, to tender my sincere thanks to the Committee for the courtesy and co-operation with which our business has been conducted, and in particular for the ready response which was made to the appeal which I ventured to address to them this morning. The Bill, I venture to hope, is now safe.969
The CHAIRMAN: I thank the Secretary for Scotland and the Members very sincerely for their expression of goodwill. I trust that at no distant date a Bill will be brought in to amend a number of these difficulties as to tenure inheritance and other matters which have gradually crept into Scottish law. But I trust the Members will all realise that this Bill did not set out with any such object. It would necessarily require a committee of experts to deal with those subjects and bring forward a comprehensive Bill dealing with tenure inheritance and all those complicated and difficult matters in Scotland. I hope that Members, therefore, will realise that in ruling Amendments out of order it was not my desire to prevent any of those Amendments being made, some of which may be very-judicious and very much desired by all parties. But I do not sincerely and honestly 970 think that the House of Commons in passing the second reading of this Bill intended that the Bill should stray into these directions at all. The Bill was only one for facilitating land settlement in Scotland. I hope that Members will kindly believe that in giving the decisions which I gave they were given honestly and to the best of my ability.
Mr. GARDINER: As one who is deeply interested in land settlement in Scotland, on behalf of this Committee I thank the Secretary for Scotland and those associated with him for the way they have met the desires of the Committee. We want specially to thank the Secretary for Scotland in reference to the magnificent grant he has secured towards housing the crofters, which is so much needed in Scotland.
The Committee rose at twenty minutes before one o'clock.
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:—
Rutherford, Sir Watson (Chairman)
Cheyne, Sir William Watson
Cowan, Mr. D. M.
Craik, Sir Henry
Graham, Mr. William
Harmsworth, Sir Leicester
Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-General Sir A.
Maclean, Sir Donald
Murray, Major William
Scott, Mr. MacCallum
Shaw, Mr. Alexander
Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander
Sutherland, Sir William
Taylor, Mr. J. (Dumbarton)
Thomson, Mr. F. C.
Wason, Mr. Cathcart
Wood, Major McKenzie.