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 welcome that intervention, in the sense that I hope to be proved wrong and hope that the industry will have the confidence to let under the Bill's provisions, because I desperately want a flourishing landlord and tenant sector. The Opposition's stance can only endanger that process, which is why I appeal to them to think again, even at this late hour. I say as loudly and clearly as I know how that it is better to have a let farm than a farm not let.

I desperately want to encourage young farmers. As I said on Second Reading, the average age of tenants is 55. I want it reduced considerably. Only new blood and fresh and innovative ideas will make the industry flourish. I fear that the Opposition will impede that process.

I fear also for the 40,000 workers in agriculture. Whatever Labour does, farms will inevitably become bigger. The one thing that will accelerate enlargement is the absence of a flourishing landlord and tenant sector. I want lots of people letting farms under the legislation, and I am confident that the current 10,000 short-term arrangements to skirt the 1976 and 1986 legislation will be encompassed by the Bill.

Even if the average size is only 100 acres, that will produce the 1 million acres that the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors predicted. Even the hon. Member for Clwyd, South-West (Mr. Jones) predicted 3,200 new tenancies on an average farm size of 250 acres. On Second Reading, I calculated that would produce a total of 750,000 acres. There is no disputing the fact that a substantial amount of land will fall under the scope of the legislation.