First, I apologise to the Minister for having to be absent during his wind-up speech. There was a joint meeting of the all-party rugby league group. I had to attend to put the case for the Featherstone rugby league club. I know that Mr. Deputy Speaker is even more devoted than am I. It was imperative that I should attend.
I was saddened to hear the Secretary of State praise the statement from the Tenant Farmers Association. In a previous incarnation, the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for good and clear English. I shall read one of the crucial passages in the statement, which states:
Instead, much professional effort is devoted to using the short term alternatives within the present law (such as 'Gladstone Bower' lettings which can not even be as along as two years), MAFF approved lettings (no more than five years and effectively unrepeatable) or to creating contrivances to avoid it.
That is the most appallingly unclear English that one has ever come across.
I invite the Secretary of State to read the conclusions. The last sentence, which is the last place in which one should make a mistake, is, to put it mildly, wrongly punctuated. The grammar and punctuation are wrong, but above all the reasoning is wrong.
No one would disagree with the Tenant Farmers Association that the present situation is not good. Indeed, it is bad, and it needs to be made better. The Bill merely makes it less worse. As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Dr. Strang) has said, it will not create a vehicle to bring about the sort of justice that we want.
I shall briefly touch upon a subject on which the Secretary of State is well versed—the question of foedere aequo, foederi in aequo. We, the Opposition, are trying to introduce a measure of fairness in agreements. It is not fairness when City institutions become involved. The hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Clifton-Brown) sounded, although he tried to clarify his position later, like someone seeking a sort of highland clearance. He did not give the impression that he was seeking to encourage the future of real tenant farmers.
We in the manufacturing industry and we who represent mining areas know only too well the destruction that can be caused by short-term City funds. City funds are exactly the sort of funds that are not required for the long-term interests of farming. I am amazed—I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am not amazed, because the hon. Gentleman is a Tory. I am not amazed that he could say such a thing.