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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 Elfyn Llwyd Elfyn Llwyd , Meirionnydd Nant Conwy 4:29 pm, 19th April 1995

On Second Reading, or at some time when the Bill was being considered in Committee, the Minister said that he would be looking closely at the way in which the proposed legislation would work. I support the new clause tabled by the Opposition, as I believe that it would not entail a' great deal of work.

Some time ago, a west country surveyor told me that he had some 25 branches throughout the west country. He was able to tell me within a matter of seconds how many full tenancies he or his firm had been involved with in the previous 18 months, so I do not necessarily see that it will mean a lot of bureaucracy and difficulty. Indeed, I would go further, and say that the facts and figures in agriculture are available here, there and everywhere, but they need to be collated in one short simple form, and it is necessary that we do so.

I do not profess to have the ultimate answer. I certainly do not have a crystal ball, any more than any other hon. Member. The Government may be right, in due course, to say that the Bill will release a great deal of new agricultural land for letting. I sincerely hope that they are right. I have definite misgivings and have made them known at several stages during the passage of the Bill. I am not necessarily playing the Opposition game. I am looking at the problem.

We may well encounter a situation in which experienced, well-established farmers again perpetuate a semi-Gladstone v. Bower situation. Further short tenancies will be taken on, and longer ones will not be needed. They will be the icing on the cake. What we need now—what I believe to be the purport of the Bill, and what I sincerely hope will be its effect—is new units for new entrants into agriculture. That is the task for the future.