Tenant Farmers (Security of Tenure).

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland. – in the House of Commons on 9th June 1942.

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Photo of Mrs Agnes Hardie Mrs Agnes Hardie , Glasgow Springburn

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that three tenant farmers on Saltoun Estate, East Lothian, have been evicted on the grounds that the landowner intends to work the farms himself; that these evictions are causing a feeling of insecurity amongst tenant farmers in South Scotland; and whether he will take steps to have enacted that tenant farmers shall have security of tenure for the duration of the war and for some time afterwards?

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Western

I understand there are some few cases in which proprietors have given tenants notices to quit at Martinmas, 1942, in order to take the farms into their own hands, but I have no detailed information regarding the three instances mentioned in the first part of the Question. The National Farmers' Union and Chamber of Agriculture of Scotland have asked for a meeting with the Scottish Land and Property Federation and my Department to discuss the questions relative to the security of tenure of tenant farmers, and this meeting will be held shortly.

Photo of Mrs Agnes Hardie Mrs Agnes Hardie , Glasgow Springburn

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that those farmers who have worked their farms through the lean and hungry years are not turned out now when guaranteed prices and subsidies have been introduced?

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

Will the Secretary of State do everything he can to take over land of this kind in order to protect the tenants?

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Western

That hardly arises on this Question, but a very considerable amount of deer forests and other land has been taken over.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

Is it not a fact that most of it that has been taken over is of no use?

Photo of Mrs Agnes Hardie Mrs Agnes Hardie , Glasgow Springburn

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether before he allowed the eviction of the tenant of Saint John's Farm, Berwickshire, he consulted the Berwick County Agricultural Execu- tive Committee and with what result; and, as the buyer of this farm owns another farm, why was the protection against eviction provided in Defence Order 62 (41) not granted to this farmer?

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Western

I consulted the agricultural executive committee for Berwick-shire and fully accepted the favourable report which they gave me of the existing tenant's management. But there was no evidence of land speculation in the purchase, and food production interests were not adversely affected by the proposed change of occupier. The purchaser of the farm is at present the tenant of a small-holding, not the owner of a farm. He has proved his farming capacity and he is giving up the tenancy of the smallholding when he takes over the farm. In my opinion, therefore, there were inadequate grounds for refusing my consent under the Defence Regulation.

Photo of Mrs Agnes Hardie Mrs Agnes Hardie , Glasgow Springburn

Does the Minister think that it is fair to the farmer who is a good farmer and has worked his farm should be turned out because someone else thinks that it is a good proposition; and why did he give his consent in a case of that kind?

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Western

The only ground upon which my consent can be refused under the Defence Regulations is if there is evidence of speculation. There was none in this case.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

Is it not the case that the outgoing farmer was farming the land usefully and well, and why is it therefore that another farmer can come along and supplant a farmer who has already proved his worth to the community in war-time? If there is no power under the Defence Regulation, cannot something be done to protect farmers who are making good use of the land that they are farming?

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Western

As I have already said, the Defence Regulation gives the Minister power to refuse his consent only if there is evidence of speculation in the rents and price of land, and there is no such evidence whatever here.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Would the right hon. Gentleman regard the putting-up of the rent as speculation or not?

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

What was the reason, if there was no speculation in this case?

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Western

There was a change of ownership; as a matter of fact, this was the winding-up of a trust estate.

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

Is there not power to prevent a farmer from being evicted in a case of hardship, and could the right hon. Gentleman not have refused it on these grounds?