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Agricultural Tenancies: Annual Report

Part of Orders of the Day — Agricultural Tenancies Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 19th April 1995.

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Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East 4:45 pm, 19th April 1995

In his opening remarks, the Minister of State said that the Opposition were not rejoicing in their support for the Bill. I can certainly confirm that. Indeed, we have been consistent in our opposition to it.

We oppose the Bill because we believe in security of tenure for tenant farmers, and we regard the relationship between a landlord and a tenant as fundamentally unequal. That means that legislation is required, and the Government have implicitly accepted that need in the Bill.

I think that the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman) encapsulated the argument when he mentioned freedom of contract between the landlord and the tenant. We believe that the tenant needs something more, which is why we regard this legal framework for governing relationships between farmers and landowners as flawed and unacceptable on the fundamental points of social justice and security of tenure.

The argument for the Bill has been stated, and there is no doubt about the motives of some of the participants—there is a genuine wish to encourage new entrants into the industry. Labour Members certainly share that wish, which is why we published the consultative document that my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, South-West (Mr. Jones) produced. The document proposed some hard, practical and concrete proposals for encouraging new entrants into the industry, and I will return to the industry's reaction to it, but not during this debate.