AGRICULTURE (AMENDMENT) BILL [Lords].

TUESDAY, 21st JUNE, 1921.

191

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Mr. William Nicholson (Chairman.

Armitage, Mr. Robert (Leeds, Central)

Barker, Mr. George (Monmouth, Abertillery)

Barrand, Mr. (York, W. R., Pudsey and Otley)

Bennett, Sir Thomas (Kent, Sevenoaks)

Bigland, Mr. (Birkenhead, East)

Birchall, Major (Leeds, North-East)

Bird, Sir Alfred (Wolverhampton, West)

*Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith- (Somerset, Taunton)

Cape, Mr. (Cumberland, Workington)

*Cautley, Mr. (East Sussex, East Grinstead)

*Davies, Mr. Thomas (Gloucester, Cirencester and Tewkesbury)

Dennis, Mr. John (Birmingham, Deritend)

Denniss, Mr. Bartley (Oldham)

Du Pre, Colonel (Bucks, Wycombe)

Edgar, Mr. (Richmond)

Edwards, Mr. John Hugh (Glamorgan, Neath)

Fildes, Mr. (Stockport)

*Fitzroy, Captain Hon. E. A. (Northampton, Daventry)

Forestier-Walker, Mr. (Monmouth, Monmouth)

*Gardiner, Mr. James (Perth and Kinross, Kinross and Western)

Gray, Major (Accrington)

Guest, Mr. John (York, W. R., Hemsworth)

Hartshorn, Mr. (Glamorgan, Ogmore)

Hayward, Major (Durham, Seaham)

Herbert, Mr. Dennis (Hertford, Watford)

Hirst, Mr. (York, W. R., Wentworth)

*Howard, Major S. G. (West Suffolk, Sudbury)

Johnstone, Mr. Joseph (Renfrew, Eastern)

Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)

Kiley, Mr. (Stepney, Whitechapel and St. George's)

Lynn, Mr. (Belfast, Woodvale)

Mills, Mr. (Kent, Dartford)

Murray, Dr. (Inverness and Ross and Cromarty, Western Isles)

Myers, Mr. (York, W. R., Spen Valley)

Norris, Colonel Sir Henry (Fulham, East)

Palmer, Major Godfrey (Durham, Jarrow)

Parkinson, Mr. Allen (Wigan)

Perring, Mr. (Paddington, North)

*Pretyman, Mr. (Essex, Chelmsford)

Rae, Mr. (York, W. R., Shipley)

Raeburn, Sir William (Dumbarton)

Raffan, Mr. (Leigh)

Raw, Lieut.-Colonel (Liverpool, Wavertree)

Redmond, Captain (Waterford)

Reid, Mr. (Down, East)

Robertson, Mr. (Lanark, Bothwell)

Rodger, Mr. (Lanark, Rutherglen)

Roundell, Colonel (York, W. R., Skipton)

*Royce, Mr. (Holland with Boston)

Seddon, Mr. (Stoke-on-Trent, Hanley)

Shaw, Mr. Alexander (Ayr and Bute, Kilmarnock)

Sitch, Mr. (Stafford, Kingswinford)

*Smith, Mr. W. R. (Northampton, Wellingborough)

Stanton, Mr. (Merthyr Tydfil, Aberdare)

Townshend, Major-General Sir Charles (Salop, The Wrekin)

Warren, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alfred (Edmonton)

*Warner, Sir Courtenay (Stafford, Lichfield)

*White, Mr. Charles (Derby, Western)

*Williams, Mr. Charles (Devon, Tavistock)

Yeo, Sir Alfred (Poplar, South)

* Added in respect of the Agriculture (Amendment) Bill [Lords].

Committee Clerks. MR. COLOMB

Committee Clerks. MR. EDENBOROUGH.

192
193 STANDING COMMITTEE A Tuesday, 21st June, 1921.

[Mr. WM. NICHOLSON in the Chair.]

HOUSE OF COMMONS. AGRICULTURE (AMENDMENT) BILL [Lords].
[OFFICIAL REPORT.] CLAUSE 2.
—(Explanation of certain provisions of Agriculture Act, 1920.)

(1) Where a demand in writing for arbitration as to the rent to be paid for a holding has been made for the purposes of Section ten of the Agriculture Act, 1920 (which relates to compensation for disturbance), and has been agreed to, whether in writing or otherwise, the question as to the rent shall be referred to arbitration under the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1908.

(2) Proviso (4) to Section twelve of the Agriculture Act, 1920 (which applies the provisions of that Act relating to compensation for disturbance to cottages on agricultural holdings), shall have effect, and be deemed always to have had effect, as though the words "recoverable summarily from the tenant" were therein substituted for the words "recoverable summarily by the tenant."

(3) The First Schedule to the Agriculture Act, 1920 (which sets out certain minor Amendments to be made in the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1908), shall have effect, and be deemed always to have had effect, as though the words "In Sub-section (1) after the words 'in this Act mentioned' there shall be inserted the words 'and, in a case where the contract of tenancy was made on or after the first day of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-one, then'" were therein substituted for the words "In Sub-section (1) after the word 'Act,' where that word first occurs, there shall be inserted the words 'and the tenancy was entered upon after the first day of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-one.'"

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

194

Mr. GARDINER: Before we agree to this Clause, I should like an explanation from the Minister in charge of the Bill to see whether or not he is thoroughly satisfied that this puts the position as we understood it to be when the Bill of last year was passing through the Commons and before it reached the other place. I am sorry that there is no representative of Scotland here representing the legal side of the question, to see whether he is satisfied as far as Scotland is concerned.

The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Sir Arthur Boscawen): As far as I am concerned, we very carefully considered this particular Clause. In the hurry with which the last Amendments were agreed to last Session, one or two obvious mistakes were made. At all events, we are aware of three obvious mistakes that were made, and we correct the whole of those three in this Bill, and I think we do it effectually. The first, in Clause 1, Sub-section (1), is hardly a mistake; it is rather an explanation. It is a question as to what sort of arbitration must be employed where there is an application for an increase or a reduction of rent. We lay it down that it shall be the same arbitration as is employed in every other part of the Act. We make that clear. Then there is an obvious verbal mistake; the words "recoverable summarily by the tenant" were put in when it should have been "from the tenant." It is a question of recovering from the tenant farmer by a labourer in respect of a cottage. Obviously, he recovers from the tenant, and not by the tenant. Thirdly, we deal with a certain limitation which inadvertently was introduced in a matter of compensation, in which a certain limitation of time was only intended to apply to the new provisions, and the manner in which it was passed appeared to make it apply to the older provisions, which was not intended. I have taken the best legal advice on these three points, and I am quite satisfied that they are fully covered and that the Act, if this Bill is passed, will correctly carry out what was the obvious intention of Parliament. I am not aware of any further points on which it can be said that there was a mistake made. There are many further points, some of them affecting Scotland, where Members would like to make alterations, but that is quite another matter. This Bill is really 195 a Bill of what I should call drafting Amendments. If these Amendments were moved in the House on the Report stage I should merely lift my hat and say, "Drafting, Sir," and point out that they really make no alteration in the intention or meaning of the Act, excepting that they put things in the proper language; but when it comes to further points which hon. Members may desire to raise, which are not drafting Amendments, where the intention of Parliament is not clear, or where Parliament may have decided a thing in a sense opposed to the wishes of some section of Members of this House or of the other House, I could not undertake in such a case to extend the Bill, because we should be introducing subjects of controversy in what is simply and solely a drafting Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.

CLAUSE 2.
—(Short title and construction.)

(1) This Act may be cited as the Agriculture (Amendment) Act, 1921.

(2) This Act shall, so far as it relates to England and Wales, be construed as one with the Agricultural Holdings Acts, 1908 to 1920, and, so far as it relates to Scotland, be construed as one with the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Acts, 1908 to 1920, and this Act and those Acts respectively may be cited together as the Agricultural Holdings Acts, 1908 to 1921, or the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Acts, 1908 to 1921, as the case may be.

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

Mr. WHITE: Could we have one word of explanation? This legislation by reference is very confusing. I want to be certain that the first Schedule of the Agriculture Act of 1920, which deprived tenants of compensation for improvements unless they entered the tenancy after the 1st January, 1921—

The CHAIRMAN: I put the question "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill," and that has been passed. We cannot go back to it.

Mr. CAUTLEY: I have an Amendment which deals with that point.

Mr. WHITE: If you have an Amendment, it is all right.

Sir A. BOSCAWEN: Answering the hon. Member on that point, if I follow him aright, it is dealt with by Clause 1, Sub-section (3).

Question put, and agreed to.

196

The following proposed new Clause stood on the Order Paper in the names of Mr. Cautley and Captain FitzRoy: "The repeal by the Agriculture Act, 1920, of Section eleven of the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1908, shall not prejudice or affect the right which any tenant who was on the first day of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-one, holding under a tenancy for a term of two years or upwards granted or agreed to be granted before that day would have had save for such repeal to compensation for unreasonable disturbance in accordance with the provisions of that Section as a result of refusal by a landlord to grant a renewal of the tenancy."

The CHAIRMAN: I think the new Clause is not in order. It does not come under the scope of the title of the Bill.

Sir A. BOSCAWEN: I was prepared to accept the new Clause, because I think it does cover a point on which it may be said that the Bill as it finally emerged did not carry out the intention of Parliament. It deals with the case of leasing, and the new provisions for compensation in the case of leases were confined to leases entered into after the Act became law; but in doing that Parliament took away from leaseholders compensation to which they had been entitled. It was not a case that often arose. I am not certain that it ever arose; but still, a leaseholder was entitled to compensation for arbitrary disturbance, unnecessary disturbance, under the Act of 1908; and, inadvertently, that was taken away. As I say, I am not aware of any case having arisen where, under the Act of 1908, a leaseholder did claim compensation for arbitrary disturbance. However, this having been pointed out to me, I was prepared to accept this new Clause, which I think puts right a matter left out by inadvertence, and I am prepared to accept it now. If it were in order, Mr. Chairman, subsequently, when we reach the consideration of the Title, I would be prepared to move words to extend the Title so as to cover this new Clause. The proposal I wished to make was, if Members will be good enough to look at the long Title of the Bill, to insert after "1908," where it occurs on the second occasion, these words, "to continue in force certain provisions as to compensation for unreasonable disturbance." I submit to you, on a point of Order, that if I give you the undertaking immediately this Clause has been disposed of, assuming it has been passed, to move an 197 Amendment of the Title in the direction I have indicated, it will bring the matter into order.

Sir COURTENAY WARNER: On a point of Order. Surely, Sir, in a Bill that has come down from the House of Lords with the Title fixed there, we are not at liberty to alter the Title here so as to include the Clause, however much the Minister may desire this?

The CHAIRMAN: I am afraid I cannot accept this Amendment. I think, if this were accepted, it might lead to every Clause in the 1920 Act being amended under this Title. What I would suggest is that the mover might put this down again for Report, and then it might be made acceptable on that stage of the Bill.

Mr. CAUTLEY: On a point of Order, Sir. If the words are limited, as the Minister suggests, to give only compensation for unreasonable disturbance, I submit that that would not admit any Amendments of the Act of 1908. It must be limited to a continuation of the provisions of the 1908 Act.

The CHAIRMAN: As I have said already, if Amendments of this kind were accepted in Committee, it might lead to an Amendment of every single Clause of the Act of 1920, and as the Title of the Bill is not mentioned under the second Schedule—and I think Section eleven was repealed under the second Schedule and not under the first Schedule of the Bill of 1920—I would suggest that it be put down for Report.

Sir A. BOSCAWEN: I have no doubt, Sir, that your suggestion is bonâ fide, but if this is not in order in Committee, I do not quite see how it is likely to be in order on the Report stage of the Bill. When my hon. Friends put this new Clause down, I thought that clearly it was not in order, but I consulted the authorities of the House at the Table, who informed me that it was a perfectly proper proceeding and that it would be quite in order to amend the Title. I do not say that they had seen this particular Clause, but they told me that the procedure was a recognised form of procedure and that possibly it might be adopted in this case. Although this is not my Clause, therefore, I am perfectly willing to accept the Clause, which I think is a desirable one, and I had hoped that by that method it might have been possible to have intro- 198 duced it and to have amended the Title afterwards.

The CHAIRMAN: I am aware of the Standing Order No. 24, under which the Committee has power to make such Amendments as they think fit, provided they be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. That, no doubt, is the Clause to which my hon. Friend refers, but I do not think that this new Clause is relevant to the subject-matter, and therefore I rule it out.

Mr. CAUTLEY: The object of the Bill was to remove certain inadvertences, more or less of a drafting nature, which had been discovered. Under Clause 13 of the Agriculture Act, 1920, the House of Lords put in a certain provision involving a restriction. The later Section of the Act repealed Section eleven, and I suggest that the Clause only deals with what is akin to a merely drafting Amendment or, if one pleases, a consequential Amendment. The effect of the Bill as it stands now is to deprive by inadvertence a certain class of person who had the benefit of leases granted before the 1st January, 1921, of the statutory rights of the Act of 1908, and of which nobody intended to deprive him, unless he had new rights conferred upon him. The new rights which it was intended to confer were taken away by the subsequent Amendments, and the result of this was not foreseen when the Clause was put in.

Sir C. WARNER: I think, Sir, your ruling is quite correct, and it is possible that what you suggest might offer a way out of the difficulty. The House on the Third Reading may recommit the Bill for an addition to it, even though that is not in the context of the Bill.

The CHAIRMAN: It is not for me to find a way out. That is a matter for the Minister.

TITLE.

"An Act to explain proviso (4) to Section twelve of the Agriculture Act, 1920, and the First Schedule to that Act so far as that Schedule amends Sub-section (1) of Section one of the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1908, and the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act, 1908, and to remove doubt as to the procedure in arbitrations as to rent under Section ten of the Agriculture Act, 1920."

Title agreed to.

Bill, without Amendment, ordered to be reported.

The Committee rose at Twenty-five Minutes after Four o'clock.

199

THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:—

Nicholson, Mr. William (Chairman)

Barker, Mr. George

Barrand, Mr.

Bennett, Sir Thomas

Birchall, Major

Bird, Sir Alfred

Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith-

Cape, Mr.

Cautley, Mr.

Dennis, Mr. John

Denniss, Mr. Bartley

Du Pre, Colonel

Edgar, Mr.

Gardiner, Mr. James

Jones, Sir Evan

Perring, Mr.

Pretyman, Mr.

Raeburn, Sir William

Rodger, Mr.

Royce, Mr.

Seddon, Mr.

Warner, Sir Courtenay

White, Mr. Charles

Williams, Mr. Charles

Yeo, Sir Alfred

200