Consequential Amendments

Part of Orders of the Day — Agricultural Tenancies Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 6:50 pm on 19th April 1995.

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Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack , Fylde 6:50 pm, 19th April 1995

The Opposition have given a typically negative response to an enormously positive piece of legislation. Conservative Members have a right to know their attitude, and they have told us what it is—in uncompromising terms that will be noted not just in the House but in the world outside.

I thank the hon. Member for Clwyd, South-West (Mr. Jones) for his kind words about the courtesies that were extended throughout the Committee stage. I think that there was a genuine wish for those proceedings to be conducted properly, and I thank the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members on both sides of the House for their contributions. At times, the discussion was learned, because I had experts behind me. I would not say that I had too many in front of me, but they made their contributions to the smooth passage of the Bill and the proper probing of areas that people outside the House wished to be raised within it.

The hon. Member for Clwyd, South-West spoke briefly about banks. It is remarkable—especially in view of the amendments relating to mortgages that have been moved this evening—that the banks have shown increasing enthusiasm for the measure. They see opportunities to assist agriculture and to make more land available. I rebut the hon. Gentleman's criticism of their attitudes.

The positive side of the Bill was highlighted by my hon. Friend—my hon. and learned Friend, indeed; I congratulate him—the Member for Harborough (Mr. Gamier). He praised the legislation, neatly—and forensically—exposing the Opposition's failure to understand our analysis of why it will succeed.

I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Clifton-Brown) on the positive and assiduous way in which he suggested amendments, probed, put pressure on the Government in the right place, and enabled us to present useful measures today. He said that he considered the proposed length of tenancies reasonable, and I agree: it is in the interests of landlords to find good-quality tenants in whom they can have long-term confidence.

That is the basis of the Bill. The Opposition fail to understand that it is based on mutuality—on landlord and tenant acting together for a common purpose. Both landlord and tenant will get a good deal, and there will be security to protect their respective interests.

My hon. Friend rightly drew our attention to the importance of innovation in both human and monetary terms. In Committee, he also drew our attention to matters connected with privity. We shall have an opportunity to explore such matters further when we debate the Second Reading of the Bill to be introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham) later this month. My hon. Friend will know of the warm way in which the consultation document has dealt with the issues that he presented to the Committee so carefully, and he can take pride in the fact that the matter is to be addressed by the House.

The hon. Members for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler), for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd), for Hemsworth (Mr. Enright) and for Clwyd, South-West entertained us with their views on the Bill. I have already dealt with the hon. Member for Clwyd, South-West. The hon. Member for North Cornwall rightly praised the Tenancy Reform Industry Group, but left what he described as a "nagging doubt" about his party's attitude. He spoke of a need for extra measures to encourage more lettings, but—as always happens with Liberals—did not let us into the secrets. He will be probed in due course. I welcome his comments about monitoring, however.

The hon, Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy and my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman) drew our attention to the importance of the RICS guidelines. I hope that I can make it clear that, while I cannot make clear statements on behalf of the RICS, I accept the need for an early publication of the document: people want to see the basis of the advice, and I shall convey the message to the RICS.

We wrote to the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy on 31 May 1994 about Tir Cymen. If points in my letter still require attention, I shall be delighted to deal with them in further correspondence with the hon. Gentleman.