Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:13 pm on 11th February 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Judicaelle Hammond:

It is really important to understand that, in most cases, we would expect agreement to be found. I think the reason why we do not like one of the particular provisions in schedule 3, which has to do with arbitration in case of disputes, is that at the moment it very much looks at the interests of the tenants, who might be gaining financially quite a lot, without necessarily having a balance of the interest of the landlord.

I will give you a few examples of why landlords might withhold consent. It might be about landscape protection. For example, the National Trust will have properties where they want to make sure that the landscape continues to be enjoyed as it is. Or it might be that something does not fit with the business planned for the whole of the holding—in particular, if you are looking at other areas of the holding that are currently in hand or are farmed by somebody else, which might be better suited to planting trees, because trees cannot grow very well in all places. Or it might be about putting buildings on land in order to create new activities.

As drafted, the schedule would mean that, in the case of a dispute, it would go to an arbitrator, and then the decision is binding on the landlord. That means that there could be really long-term and possibly irreversible decisions being imposed on the landlord. We see that as a really fundamental infringement of property rights, and that worries us. It is the absence of balance that worries us.