New Clause. — (Penalty for damage to allotment fences.)

Orders of the Day — ALLOTMENTS BILL [Lords]. – in the House of Commons at on 28 July 1922.

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Sub-section (4) of Section twenty-one of The Land Settlement (Facilities) Act, 1919 (which imposes a penalty on a person causing damage to crops growing on an allotment cultivated as a garden), shall extend to damage to fences of any such allotment, and accordingly that Sub-section shall have effect as if after the words "any crops growing on" there were inserted the words "or any fence of."—[Sir A. Boscawen.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Sir Arthur Boscawen):

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

This is the fulfilment of a promise which I made in Standing Committee, to extend if possible to fences the penalty for damage to allotment crops.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , Fylde

Could the right hon. Gentleman see his way to extend the new Clause so as to take in temporary buildings or buildings put up by the allotment occupier on an allotment? Up and down the country allotment occupiers put up temporary huts or shelters for the storage of tools and seeds, and surely, if it is right and proper to protect the fences round an allotment, it is even more proper to protect the temporary building which the allotment holder has put up. Could the right hon. Gentleman accept an Amendment with that end in view.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I wish to support that appeal. Many cases of damage to these temporary huts have been brought to my notice. The answer I have always been given is that the existing law is sufficient. If my right hon. Friend would have regard to the statement just made it would be in the interests of allotment holders generally to have the statutory provisions strengthened.

Photo of Mr James Thomas Mr James Thomas , Derby

Anyone who has visited allotments must have noticed the care which the holders have shown in putting up some of these huts and the pride they have in them. You cannot say to them: "You are protected for your fences," and then say later, "You are not protected for your buildings, in spite of the labour you have put into them."

Sir A. BOSCAWEN:

If the House would permit me, I am willing to extend this new Clause, but I have already given a rather wider extension than has been suggested. It has been pointed out that sometimes ground is damaged by people tramping on it, If it were in order, I would withdraw the new Clause in the form in which I have moved it and move it in another form so that it would read as follows: Sub-section (4) of Section twenty-one of The Land Settlement (Facilities) Act, 1919 (which imposes a penalty on a person causing damage to crops growing on an allotment cultivated as a garden), shall extend to damage to allotments cultivated as gardens, or any crops or fences or buildings thereon, and accordingly that Sub-section shall have effect as if after the words 'allotment cultivated as a garden' there were inserted the words 'allotments cultivated as gardens, or any crops or fences or buildings thereon.'

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , Fylde

I would accept that revision.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I would point out that a new Clause cannot be moved without notice, and that unless these changes were introduced as Amendments to the Clause on the Paper, I could not put them to the House.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Williams Mr Aneurin Williams , Consett

Would I be in order to move them as Amendments to the new Clause?

Photo of Mr George Renwick Mr George Renwick , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

I would suggest that before the word "buildings," the word "temporary" be inserted. It was never intended that permanent buildings should be erected on the allotments. If the word "buildings" stands without the qualifying word "temporary" there will be an inducement to allotment holders to put up permanent buildings.

Photo of Mr James Thomas Mr James Thomas , Derby

Their huts are permanent to them.

Sir A. BOSCAWEN:

I could effect my purpose by moving three Amendments to the new Clause now before the House.

Photo of Mr George Renwick Mr George Renwick , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

I think the word "temporary" ought to be inserted in the Clause. Surely you are not going to have all buildings included.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I strongly object to the last speaker's suggested limitation. I wish he would get out of his mind the idea that allotments are temporary, and that the buildings on them are temporary. A good many of us hope to see permanent allotments and permanent buildings. As the Clause is drafted it includes both permanent and temporary buildings.

Photo of Sir Francis Acland Sir Francis Acland , Camborne

I think I can set my hon. Friend's mind at rest in regard to temporary buildings. The only buildings of which we know, which are not of the ordinary nature, for sheds, tools, etc., are where a considerable piece of land is held by societies, and where they put up in the centre a building which can hardly be called a temporary building, but is a real storehouse for manures and seeds and that sort of thing. Surely there ought to be a penalty for wilfully damaging a building of that kind by breaking glass and so forth. There is the question whether "allotment cultivated as a garden" fits in with the framework of the Bill. We have two definitions in the Bill. One is a watertight definition of an allotment garden, with an area of 40 rods in extent, and another the definition of an allotment as an area of anything up to two acres in extent. The question is whether "allotment cultivated as a garden" will be taken to refer to allotment gardens, which cannot exceed 40 rods, or will cover an allotment.

Sir A. BOSCAWEN:

There is no doubt that the expression will cover all allotments, but, I will see that that matter is dealt with in another place. It is a question only of drafting.

Photo of Sir James Bruton Sir James Bruton , Gloucester

On behalf of some 4,000 allotment holders whom I represent in the city of Gloucester, holding some 240 acres between them, I wish to thank the Minister of Agriculture for this Clause. I put down an Amendment in Committee dealing with this matter, and the Minister then promised that he would carry out the wishes of those who were anxious to see this provision made, and I have very much pleasure in thanking him for meeting us in this way.

Photo of Mr William Royce Mr William Royce , Holland with Boston

On the question of the buildings on these allotments, it will be found as a matter of fact that there are some in existence which are of a permanent character.

Clause read a Second time.

Amendments made to new Clause:

Leave out the words "fences of any such allotment" and insert instead thereof the words "allotments cultivated as gardens, or any crops or fences or buildings thereon."

Leave out the words "any crops growing on," and insert, instead thereof the words "allotment cultivated as a garden."

Leave out the words "or any fence of," and insert instead thereof the words "allotments cultivated as gardens or any crops or fences or buildings thereon."—[Sir A. Boscawen.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, be added to the Bill."

Photo of Mr John Hills Mr John Hills , City of Durham

I wish to reinforce the appeal made from the Benches opposite that there should be a more exact definition in connection with this Clause. I see great danger in the fact that we have three categories of allotments—first, the allotment pure and simple; second, the allotment garden up to 40 rods in extent as defined in the Bill; and now a third, the allotment cultivated as a garden. It is quite certain that any Court construing these provisions will put different interpretations on the three definitions, and it is asking for trouble if we leave the Bill in its present indeterminate state in this respect.

Sir A. BOSCAWEN:

I have already mentioned this matter in reply to a previous Question put to me, and have promised that it shall be dealt with.

Clause, as Amended, added to the Bill.