Recovery of Possession of a Dwelling-House Occupied by a Person Primarily Engaged in Agriculture

Part of Agriculture Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th April 1970.

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Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham 12:00 am, 7th April 1970

I, too, shall be very brief, Mr. Speaker, bearing in mind your wise words to us, in endorsing what my hon. Friends have already said.

We have put forward many suggestions during the passage of the Bill, a number of which the Government have accepted as helpful. This Clause has more sound common sense to it than any other suggestion that we have made, yet we do not seem to have got through to the Government that while it is a very modest proposal it is very sensible. It can do no one any harm as far as I can see, and it can do a great deal of good in a limited number of cases.

My hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. J. E. B. Hill) emphasised the limited nature of the new Clause. We do not pretend that it is important, but the fact that it is limited in nature does not mean that it does not deserve the attention of Parliament where a situation has arisen as a result of legislation introduced by the present Government, for reasons which they have felt to be good and just, in which the owners of a small number of houses do not know what to do with them. As my hon. Friend has said, the soundest and wisest course for most farmers in this situation is to leave the house empty. This must be wrong from every national point of view as well as from the individual's point of view.

We are not asking for a great deal. My hon. Friends have asked that the matter be looked at again so that these cases can be taken care of. I reinforce their argument. We should look at the matter completely dispassionately and consider the problem of any individual or any individual estate owner faced with the problem of owning a house that he would like to see utilised, yet knowing that if he lets go of possession under the law as it stands he might not be able to regain it when it was very necessary to do so in the interests of the land and the farm.

Ministers must concede that here is an overwhelming case. It concerns a very small number of individuals, but they deserve help from the Government. I ask that Ministers look at the matter again and reassure us that if they cannot do anything now they will introduce an Amendment in another place to deal with the problem.