Farm Rents

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd July 1981.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Iain Mills Mr Iain Mills , Meriden 12:00 am, 23rd July 1981

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has received further representations on the present system of arbitration of farm rents between tenants and landlords.

Photo of Mr Jerry Wiggin Mr Jerry Wiggin , Weston-Super-Mare

No, Sir, but a proposal for a revised rent formula has been submitted to me by the presidents of the Country Landowners Association and the National Farmers Union.

Photo of Mr Iain Mills Mr Iain Mills , Meriden

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he satisfied that the present system of arbitration is completely independent, since the arbitrator may be involved with one of the parties? Will he consider a system with an independent chairman—perhaps involving a panel—to ensure true independence?

Photo of Mr Jerry Wiggin Mr Jerry Wiggin , Weston-Super-Mare

The arbitrator may be chosen by agreement between the parties. Failing that, my Department may be asked by either party to make an appointment from the Lord Chancellor's panel of arbitrators. That frequently happens.

Mr. Mark Hughes:

Will the hon. Gentleman carefully study these proposals, which seem to have considerable merit, from both the CLA and the NFU, allied to the suggestion by his hon. Friend that the appointment of an arbitrator would make honourable, legal and decent what is infrequent practice in reality?

Photo of Mr Jerry Wiggin Mr Jerry Wiggin , Weston-Super-Mare

I must rebut that accusation. The appointment of arbitrators is not a matter of dispute between the parties. The machinery is well established and well organised. My right hon. Friend is meeting both presidents this afternoon to discuss the proposals put forward by the two organisations.

Photo of Mr Stephen Ross Mr Stephen Ross , Isle of Wight

Does the Minister accept that it would be wrong for an arbitrator to continue with an arbitration if he were connected with either of the parties? Any arbitrator worth his salt would certainly withdraw from the scene.

Photo of Mr Jerry Wiggin Mr Jerry Wiggin , Weston-Super-Mare

Arbitrators in these matters are appointed either by agreement between the parties or from the Lord Chancellor's panel, from which my Department selects names. There is no difficulty about this matter, but if the hon. Gentleman knows of a specific case I shall be glad to look into it.