Clause 3. — (Procedure for Compulsory Acquisition of Land, and Entry on Land to be Acquired.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Old Age Pensions. – in the House of Commons on 19th December 1919.

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Photo of Mr James Hogge Mr James Hogge , Edinburgh East

This Amendment of the Lords practically excludes the home farms from the possibility of small holdings being carved out. As a matter of fact, my right hon. Friend was quite right an saying that nearly all of us who have been interested in the question of small holdings in Scotland have taken the view that, as far as possible, the home farm should be excluded, and as I myself was the father of the Bill in which that was recognised, I do not feel that one could oppose this Amendment from the Lords right out. At the same time, I want to bring a case before my right hon. Friend which, I hope will receive his sympathetic consideration. It is very material to one part of Scotland where the question of small holdings is vital. There is one fact which has emerged since we discussed the Scottish Land Bills in the House of Commons, and that is the effect of the War. Indeed, this Bill is in the nature largely of emergency legislation. If the home farm is excluded in all cases, then I submit that the possibility of settling men on the land in the Islands and Highlands is somewhat remote. That is the ease I wish to make against this Amendment.

This morning I got a letter from a man in the islands who gives one or two apposite examples of the kind of thing to which I am referring. For instance, he gives a case in North Uist which is in the Outer Hebrides, where an estate of the name of Bellrannel was confiscated from the adjoining crofters prior to the passing of the Crofters Act. This estate is of 2,000 acres, and is surrounded entirely by crofting townships. One of these townships, says my correspondent, is comprised of nineteen crofters, there being no other land except this estate from which to get enlargements, and he goes on to point out that those crofters have actually said, as many crofters have been saying in the Islands and Highlands of Scotland, that they are going to take possession of the other land unless it can be obtained for them. He also gives me two examples in Sutherland. I know there are other Members of the House who represent the Islands and Highlands who have probably a number of examples in their mind. This correspondent gives an example in Sutherlandshire, where there is a certain community of nearly 1,000 souls, some with miserable patches of land, and where, like other places, the young men fought for their country in the recent War. He points out that if the home farm in those cases is not available, then the success of the Act may he jeopardised. After all, the home farm is going to be bought and compensation is going to be paid, and what I would like to suggest to my right hon. Friend is whether the words suggested by the Lords could not modified in some way. I thought of tie words "exceptional circumstances," but I know that if I suggested Hose words ray right hon. Friend would say that there would be a difficulty in defining them. What I want to achieve is that particularly in the islands and Highlands the question of the home farm should occupy a different position from that in the rest of Scotland. I would suggest that we should compromise on this Amendment, and that in the case of the islands and Highland counties the home farm should be looked upon in a different category from the other counties in Scotland. I am sure, then, there would be sonic hope in those districts of the men, and partieuiarly the ex-Service men, getting a piece of land. I hope, my right hon. Friend will hold out some hope that we shall conic to terms with the House of Lords on that point. I think it is a fair compromise, and I know perfectly well that hon. Members who represent, those counties would approve of it.