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Act (Improvements to which consent of landlord is required) is done away with altogether, and the number of first-class improvements for which compensation is payable mentioned in that schedule is increased by the addition of some fresh items, and all are put on practically the same footing as drainage under the Act of 1883. So that a tenant will be able to carry out any first-class improvement on giving the statutory notice to his landlord, and to obtain compensation for such improvement if it adds to the value of the holding for agricultural purposes, while the landlord on receiving notice will have the opportunity either of carrying out the improvement in his own way or of having a reference under the Act on the question, whether such improvement is likely to increase or decrease the value of the holding for agricultural purposes.
In the case of drainage there is no provision for a reference.
Touching, first, the question of drainage, which is an extremely difficult one. Possibly the landlord may not have the money to do the work himself, and accordingly, he has, practically, no alternative but to let the tenant do the work.
Now, it is extremely difficult to assess the value, after some years, of drainage, even when well done; but when the drains are carelessly laid, and, as is frequently the case, not laid to a proper fall, more harm than good may be done; so that one of two things must happen. Landlords may have to pay for some work which, instead of being a benefit, is really an injury, or the tenant does not receive anything like what he has spent in drainage, and so the Act is blamed and spoken of as worthless. In such a case, when the landlord cannot afford to do the draining, he ought certainly to make arrangements that a competent person nominated by him lays all the drain pipes.
Then, as regards some of the other items mentioned in the schedule, as, for instance, the erection or enlargement or improvement of buildings. One tenant may go in for rearing horses, and, with that end in view, put up a number of boxes with small paddocks attached; his successor may not care for such a style of farming, and prefer to go in for dairying, and put up or alter a number of cow-houses and buildings suitable for this line, and on his leaving, the landlord, as in the previous case, may be asked to pay the value of these alleged improvements, which are supposed to add to the value of the holding. This, unfortunately, the state of the market tells him, more forcibly than the valuer has been able to do, is not really the case, as the only eligible tenant who applies is, perhaps, a man who goes in for rearing and feeding stock, to whom the buildings put up by the previous tenants are not at all suited, but who, on going round the farm, points out to the landlord or his unfortunate agent the result of milk-producing, when all the produce in the shape of milk is sold off the farm, and no adequate return in the shape of phosphates, food, or manure is made. Or, again, you may have the case of a tenant who, living within easy distance of a village, is unable, from, say, incompatibility of temper, to live on good terms with his men, so that his only way of obtaining labour to work his farm is to have cottages on
his farm, over which he has full control and which he puts up at his own expense. On leaving, the landlord may be called upon to pay for the erection of these cottages, although the new tenant assures him that there is plenty of good labour to be had at the adjoining village, that he finds it extremely difficult to obtain good men to live at outlying cottages, and that he certainly shall not pay any extra rent for this accommodation.
These may, possibly, seem extreme cases, but they are cases which, by the provisions of Mr. CHANNING'S Bill, might easily occur, and by which the landlord-hardly enough hit already-might be mulcted to a serious extent.
In the Mark Lane Express Bill the First Schedule is divided into three parts, the first of which comprises eleven items of first-class improvements. The landlord has the right to veto the execution within two months after receiving notice from the tenant, and this seems much fairer than that of the Bill in which the tenant has practically carte blanche to do what he likes.
I will most readily admit that there are cases where the tenant has, by judicious expenditure, improved the letting value of the farm, and, when such is the case, he most certainly ought to receive the value of the improvements, and this I should say was more especially the case in some of the Northern and North Midland Counties.
Notice of Claim.
In the Mark Lane Express Bill (sec. 8) a tenant claiming compensation has to give notice in writing to the landlord of his intention to make such claims before the termination of the tenancythe "two months' " notice, as in the present Act, being abolished.
The landlord, within 14 days after the receipt of such notice-not within 14 days after the determination of the tenancy-may give a counter notice, in writing, to the tenant of his intention to make a claim in respect of any waste or breach of covenant or other agreement.
This, I think, is fair, and there is hardly any necessity to extend the time within which the tenant may make the claim up to the end of two months after the determination of the tenancy.
I am informed that, in some parts of the country, in the case of a Lady-day tenancy, when a tenant has much stock in his yards, it is impossible for him to tell exactly the amount of cake he is likely to consume during the last two months of his tenancy, so much depending upon the weather, and he is, in consequence, not able to make out an account of claim for cake consumed, as he is obliged, under the present Act, to send in his claim two months before the termination of his tenancy.
I do not think the idea of sending in a claim and a counterclaim on the same day would be found to work well in practice, as each side would scrutinise very carefully the points on which he thought the other side had failed in his agreement, and this would have a great tendency to make both claims and counterclaims extravagant, and
would also, I am afraid, be the cause of much friction, which it should be the aim of all to try and avoid as much as possible.
In each of the two Bills allowance can be claimed for corn grown on the holding and consumed on the holding by cattle, sheep, horses, or pigs.
Taking, first of all, the question of the allowance for home-grown corn, it seems to meet a felt want, and, although there will be difficulties in arriving at the proper value to be allowed for such consumption, I think that, in the hands of competent valuers, the difficulties may disappear.
As regards the allowance for the consumption by horses, on the holding, of cake and other feeding stuff not produced on the holding, as well as for home-grown corn, I think the policy is open to question, and one which will require very careful consideration. In a hunting centre such as ours it is a well-known fact that many farmers breed hunters and are encouraged to do so, and they also keep more nags than, possibly, do others in other parts of the country on farms of the same size.
From such horses as these some of the manure is retained, certainly, on the farm, but much is removed from it by droppings on the road and on other persons' land, so that an incoming tenant cannot possibly derive anything like the full weight from the consumption of corn by horses under such conditions as these
While on the subject of allowance for the consumption of cake and other feeding stuffs, may I protest against price being almost invariably taken as the basis of value? For instance, one-third of the price the last year, one-sixth the previous year, for cake and beans, and one-sixth of the price the last year, and one-twelfth for the previous year for other feeding stuffs, are frequently used for the purposes of arriving at the valuation. In a rough-and-ready way perhaps price might answer; but when objection is taken that the valuation has not in the past been fair to either side, then I think we ought to take every precaution against the recurrence of anything which might be unfair in the future.
I need hardly remind you that the only reason for allowing compensation for the use of purchased and other goods on the holding is the fact that they contain certain valuable manurial constituents, viz., nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash, but that the principal object that the farmer has in buying such food is their feeding properties due to a great extent to the fat and carbo-hydrogen which have no manurial value at all, the manurial constituents being found in the albuminoids and the ash of the food.
Take as an illustration, and for the sake of comparison, linseed cake and cotton (decorticated) cake.
The price of the former in London to-day is about £8 a ton, and of the latter £7 5s.
Say that the farmer was in the habit of using about the same quantities of each cake every year, then, according to the practice in vogue, he would receive compensation as follows:
or, practically, for every ton of linseed cake he is repaid half its cost for the manurial residue.
If the price of cotton cake be £7 5s. a ton, then the farmer receives back £3 12s. 6d. in the shape of the value of the manurial residue. Now compare the value of the two cakes when their constituents, looked at only from the manure point of view, are considered.
I have not now time, nor is this the place, to explain how my values for the nitrogen as ammonia, phosphoric acid, and potash are arrived at, but anyone who cares to go into the subject will find the method fully explained in a Paper which I had the honour to read at Great George Street in 1887, and which has been published in the "Transactions" of the Institution.
For our present purpose I think it will be fair to take nitrogen as ammonia at 4d. a lb., phosphoric acid (P2 О ̧) at 2d. a lb., and potash (K O) at 2d. a lb.
From these figures you will see that, while the generally approved method of arriving at the value to an incoming tenant of these two feeding stuffs which have been consumed on the farm is, for linseed cake £4 a ton, and for cotton cake £3 12s. 6d. a ton, by taking the manurial constituents as a basis, the value of the former cake is only £2 14s. 4d. a ton instead of £4, and the latter £3 18s. 2d. instead of £3 12s. 6d. a ton.
Similar results would be discovered in treating other feeding stuffs in the same way, and some, as for instance brewers' grains, which are largely used in some dairy districts, have little manurial value, although I have known cases of considerable sums having been paid by an incoming tenant in respect of brewers' grains which have been used by the outgoing one.