Agricultural Tenants (Rents)

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th March 1983.

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Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , Berwick and East Lothian 12:00 am, 17th March 1983

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will introduce legislation to restrict rent increases for agricultural tenants on the lines of the proposals of the National Farmers Union and the Country Landowners Association.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I have already said that the substance of any new legislation should be based on the principles of the NFU/CLA agreement. Unfortunately, it was not possible to find time for this legislation during the current Session of Parliament.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , Berwick and East Lothian

Is the Minister aware that inflated rent offers for scarce new tenancies are leading to intolerable and unjustifiable increases in rents for some existing tenants? Is he further aware that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has found time to introduce a Bill that will overcome that part of the problem? As both sides of the industry in England and Wales are pressing for similar reforms, is it not time that he took the appropriate action?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I gather from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland that he is not receiving much assistance from the Labour party in getting that legislation through. In answer to what the hon. Gentleman says about legislation that we should introduce in the next Session of Parliament, after the general election I am sure that we shall do that.

Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Renfrewshire West

May I assure the Secretary of State that if he would introduce that half of the agreement that relates to rents and restrict the rise in rents we would give him full support? The nonsensical system of key money, scarcity money, and market value penalises the farmer and enriches the landowner. If he brings in the proper rent legislation, we shall support him.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I notice, and I think that many young people who hope to obtain tenancies will notice, the totally doctrinaire attitude that the Labour party is taking, which will make sure that in future no farms become available to young farmers, other than under the system of nationalisation of land which the hon. Gentleman has advocated.