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The Earl of Kinnoull: My Lords, I wish to support this amendment and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Gallacher, on the comprehensiveness of his arguments. I see that he almost repeated the brief that I was sent as well. This is the second time that this amendment has come up. The more one looks at the amendment, the more one realises that it adds continuity to farming. As has been known for generations, and in fact since 1947, the one thing one could never do was to contract out of tenant right. It was a case of an operational improvement to the land accepted by custom and statute. I recall that as a student learning some of these intricacies, one had to understand how to value unexhausted manurial values and indeed farm-yard manure as well. The noble Lord rightly listed five key items which this amendment covers. The part of the amendment which I like best is the end which states that the measure would not apply if it specifically came under a written tenancy agreement. Therefore the amendment does not damage the Bill at all, it simply gives a continuity which I think is of value.

Lord Stanley of Alderley: My Lords, I have much sympathy for the amendment. I wish to ask my noble friend one or two questions and I hope that he can clear my mind on those points. If nothing is mentioned in the lease, I rather understand from the noble Lord, Lord Gallacher, that it would have to be renegotiated each year. I believe he said that might be awkward. I would use a totally different word from "awkward". It would be totally impractical and no tenant would think of doing it each year. He would forget.

I cannot emphasise too strongly that tenant right is embedded in tenancy law. It would never occur to me to ask permission to apply lime. By the time I had asked

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for permission, it would have rained and I would not have time to apply it anyway, and that would be to the detriment of the farm.

If that is covered by the agreement, can my noble friend say whether it would be necessary therefore to obtain the landlord's permission for every single thing one intends to do? That is totally impractical. Although I do not want to press my noble friend on the matter this evening, I hope that when the Bill reaches another place it will be considered very carefully, because I believe that that is a mistake.

Earl Howe: My Lords, since our debate on this subject last week, I have looked carefully at the arguments which the noble Lord, Lord Gallacher, advanced in support of provisions on tenant-right in the Bill. I also listened with interest to the comments which he and my noble friends made in support of the amendment. I remain unconvinced that a provision in the legislation is necessary or indeed desirable.

As I said at Report stage, this is a matter which is best left to the RICS guidance. I would expect that the guidance might propose a standard clause giving the tenant consent to undertake various short-term improvements and tenant-right matters with the consequence that he will receive compensation for them. Such a clause could become a standard part of a tenancy agreement, perhaps balancing a similar clause giving the landlord the right to compensation for dilapidations since, just as for tenant-right matters, no dilapidation provisions are included in the Bill.

When a tenancy agreement does not contain a standard clause or any other provisions on compensation for tenant-right matters, it is true that the tenant would need to apply for his landlord's consent as soon as he received notice terminating the tenancy. In all cases there will of course be at least a year's notice of termination.

I hope that that answers one of the questions posed by my noble friend, who asked whether, when the lease was silent on these matters, they would have to be renegotiated each year. The answer to that question is, strictly, no. That would only be the case if it were a tenancy which ran from year to year. In a term tenancy, the question of compensation arises only at the end of the tenancy so there is no need for repeat consents.

At Report stage, I touched on the fact that the amendment as it stands would be inadequate and some definitions would be needed. I should like to return to that point for a moment and give an example of the problems which may arise, however familiar the concepts may seem. The amendment refers to "beneficial acts of husbandry". I have seen it suggested that that should cover "normal operations", but I doubt very much whether that would be adequate. Schedule 8 to the 1986 Act also refers to "acts of husbandry". There is a Statutory Instrument which sets out the methods for calculating the compensation for such acts of husbandry and it may be instructive if I quote part of that Statutory Instrument. It says that the value of compensation is to be the reasonable cost taking into account:

    "(a) normal current costs, having regard to the current agricultural wage, the cost of horse and tractor operations, the size and shape of fields, and other relevant factors;

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    "(b) reasonable costs of hired tractor cultivations;

    "(c) increased costs over normal tractor rates, where owing to the size of the farm or fields, the shape of the fields or to other special circumstances, it was reasonable to use horse labour."

Your Lordships will agree with me that that sounds more appropriate to the 1930s or 1940s than to the 1990s. There are other examples in the 1986 Act, for instance complicated provisions on sod fertility. The problem is that once something gets onto the statute book it is not so easily removed. Neither the Government nor Parliament needs to be involved in updating legislation all the time. That is why it is so much better for guidance of this nature to be provided by organisations such as the RICS.

Finally, the amendment does not have the support of the industry group. I hope that in the light of that fact and my comments the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

3.45 p.m.

Lord Gallacher: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for his not unexpected reply. I am even more grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, and the noble Lord, Lord Stanley of Alderley, for their support. As they spoke, I reflected that I was hearing from a professional man on the one hand and a practical farmer on the other. To some extent that compensates for my own lack of knowledge of the subject, which I freely admit.

The noble Earl said that following our earlier discussion, he had looked carefully at the amendment. Having said that, I know the noble Earl has carried out that exercise very carefully. However, from my point of view it is disappointing that he remains unconvinced that there is merit in the amendment. As he developed his arguments against it I formed the impression that, far from containing merit not only was the amendment devoid of merit but that it contained the seeds for future difficulty and litigation. Since the object of the exercise is to avoid just that, it seemed to me a peculiar paradox that having put our hands to the plough we had produced more potential problems than we hoped to solved.

The Minister's position is firm: we should look to the RICS for guidance on these matters, with the possibility of a clause being devised by the RICS to form part of the standard agreement. No doubt that observation, which I have deliberately repeated in my response to the Minister, will be taken up by the industry. Certainly the industry should reflect upon both the principle involved and the practicalities.

I concede that the one-year notice of termination gives some protection. However, we do not operate in a perfect world and there may be situations in which problems arise simply because the deficiences of a sketchy oral agreement are only discovered when the agreement comes to an end.

The noble Earl also said that the amendment is inadequate. In support of that observation, he cited the fact that, for example, "beneficial acts of husbandry" are already defined by Statutory Instrument under the 1986 Act. He gave the House, in some detail, the benefit of what that SI contains. Undoubtedly that is an extensive piece of legislation. The noble Earl rightly pointed to the

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dangers inherent in trying to define in too much detail in statute matters which are perhaps best left to the parties concerned.

We shall go along with the proposition that this matter can be safely entrusted to the RICS. I am sorry that there has not been wider support for the amendment. Nevertheless, it has raised matters of continuing importance. As the Bill is to go to another place, I do not think that we have heard the last of it. The fact that the industry as a whole does not support the amendment does not rule out the validity of some of what the amendment contains. It would be a very sorry situation if a strongly-held minority view did not find expression in your Lordships' House at some point in the discussion of a Bill of this kind.

Having said that, we shall reflect on what has been said. We may even take the trouble to alert our colleagues in another place to the matter. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Gallacher moved Amendment No. 5:

After Clause 30, insert the following new clause:

("Section 22 of the Solicitors Act 1974 not to apply

. For the purpose of drawing or preparing any instrument under this Act, subsection (1) of section 22 of the Solicitors Act 1974 shall not apply to any Fellow or Associate Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 5 is grouped with Amendment No. 6 in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Howe. To my untutored eye they are virtually the same type of amendment and have the same objective. Amendment No. 5 has been carried over from the Report stage of the Bill. The noble Earl promised a Government amendment on the same lines. In putting down our amendment, we wished to ensure that an amendment would be tabled for the Third Reading.

The noble Earl has kept his promise. Therefore I can be brief in speaking to Amendment No. 5 because I am anxious to hear what the noble Earl has to say on Amendment No. 6. If we are satisfied that the drafting of Amendment No. 6 is as good as or superior to that of Amendment No. 5 we shall not need to be hit over the head with a hammer in order to know what to do with Amendment No. 5. A point has arisen which is supplementary to our deliberations at Report stage. I shall bother the Minister with it although I do not expect him to give an answer today. Any pursuit of the point raised will have to be elsewhere.

Since the Minister gave his promise at Report, we have been told that full members of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers are fellows or associates of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or the Incorporated Society of Valuers and Auctioneers. We have been further told that the examinations of the latter body are at a similar level to those of the RICS. For good measure, full members must also pass the CAAV practical and written examinations which require practical experience in agriculture. Therefore, those qualified persons are specialists in agriculture in their own right.

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It has been suggested that the amendment as drafted may exclude some CAAV members; they may wish to pursue the matter in another place. I do not even ask the noble Earl for an answer to the point today; I merely state that the point has been raised with us. I know well that sometimes the chartered bodies and incorporated bodies have difficulty in coming to terms on such matters. I have done what I was asked to do in bringing the issue to the attention of the House and of the Minister. It is to be hoped that the matter can be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, or at least one party, when the Bill goes to another place.

I move Amendment No. 5 without giving details in support of it because I have already done so. I look forward to listening to what the noble Earl says in support of his Amendment No. 6 which is grouped with the amendment. I beg to move.

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