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 John Mackie Mr John Mackie , Enfield East 12:00 am, 7th April 1970

Since our Committee debates we have given considerable thought to the new Clause. We discussed it fairly fully in Committee, when I explained some of the difficulties.

Although the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) has suggested that the drafting does not matter, the Clause goes far wider than its supporters intended. I think that the hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. J. E. B. Hill) said that it would apply to any house that had ever been occupied by anyone in agriculture. When we pass legislation it must apply as drafted, and it is not easy to define the type of house to be covered.

It is almost impossible to define the class of house hon. Members want to come under the Clause. As I said in Committee, it makes no exception for the ex-farmer or his widow, particularly under our amalgamation scheme. There would have to be words inserted into any Clause to clear them and to clear a house that had been out of agriculture for many years. So we would go on and on trying to find legislation. The hon. and learned Member for Northwich (Sir J. Foster) is a member of the legal profession, and he must see the difficulty we should be in in trying to formulate a Clause to meet what hon. Members want.

I do not see that I can go any further than I went in Committee in explaining the matter to the House.