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Agricultural Tenancies: Annual Report

Part of Orders of the Day — Agricultural Tenancies Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 4:29 pm on 19th April 1995.

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Photo of Martyn Jones Martyn Jones , Clwyd South West 4:29 pm, 19th April 1995

I disagree entirely with the hon. Lady. She will get the reply she requires if she listens to what I have to say.

The Ministry's figures on land use are at present based on a sample of farms, which is rounded up to form percentages. We need totals, absolute figures and percentages of the whole to ensure that the Bill is doing what it should do.

The Bill could be seen as a landowners' Bill, and we are not going to be so naive as to swallow all the nonsense figures on new lettings which will be released over the next few years. The new figures will be produced by a range of interested parties, all with their own slant on the figures. As we have seen this month, with the reporting of the Government's figures on unemployment, their methods of statistical collection and analysis can be highly creative, to put it mildly—or to put it less mildly, totally untrustworthy. However, their data will be better than nothing, a good starting point and easily analysed.

It is not a huge and expensive project that we are asking for. As the Bill stands, only members from three organisations are allowed to draw up the new agricultural tenancies: members of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, fellows of the Incorporated Society of Valuers and Auctioneers, and fellows of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. With a tiny bit of planning, it would be possible to get the figures needed at a low cost and with the minimum of time. The whole cost will probably come to a lot less than what has been wasted by the Ministry on ties and wellies with logos for the new Meat Hygiene Service.

The only reason why anyone would want to oppose the new clause would be if they wanted to keep something hidden. What the Government want to keep hidden is the fact that most of the new tenancies under the Bill will go not to first-time tenant farmers but to existing large farmers and to large corporations.