Consequential Amendments

Part of Orders of the Day — Agricultural Tenancies Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 6:11 pm on 19th April 1995.

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Photo of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Geoffrey Clifton-Brown , Cirencester and Tewkesbury 6:11 pm, 19th April 1995

I am grateful to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to speak on Third Reading of what has been described as a milestone in landlord and tenant legislation. I pay great tribute to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and to my hon. Friend the Minister of State, who piloted the Bill through Committee. They listened to the Country Landowners Association, National Farmers Union and associations representing young farmers and tenant farmers. I ought to declare that I am a member of the CLA and NFU and I farm, so I have an interest in the Bill—although its provisions do not affect me directly.

Land in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland should be farmed to the highest possible standard. The Bill can only enhance that standard. The word "stewardship" has not been mentioned, but it should be. All involved in agriculture should give stewardship the highest priority.

It was a remarkable milestone for all sections of the industry to reach an historic agreement on a deregulatory measure. All sides of the industry having agreed, my right hon. Friend drafted a Bill and brought it before the House, and today we are giving it a Third Reading. Is it not remarkable that the only people who cannot see that it is a worthwhile measure are Labour Members? Surely it is better to have a let farm than one that is not let. When, under Labour in 1976, a farm was let to a tenant and succeeding tenants, the letting market dried up almost overnight—as the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Dr. Strang) knows full well.

It is sad that Labour Members will vote against the Bill tonight, because they will be sending a signal to the industry not to let farms under its provisions. There are 10,000 short-term agreements.