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Lord Carter: My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the noble Earl for giving way. I apologise for having to continually intervene, but let us put the record straight. We have not said anything of that sort at all. We have merely said that we shall be prepared to consult in order to consider the possibility of inheritance tax relief for the owners of let land as long as that can be deemed to be fiscally neutral--in other words, that it will not cost the Treasury any more. As the noble Earl knows, there are many, many loopholes in tax law not only as regards inheritance tax, but generally. All we have said is that as long as there is not any extra cost to the Treasury, we are prepared to consider the matter and no more than that.

Earl Howe: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. I am sure that that will be helpful to all those who read the account of this debate in Hansard.

The noble Lord, Lord Gallacher, referred to problems of privity of contract. I do not expect significant problems with the likely length of terms for agricultural tenancies. The parties have the option of using break clauses to end a tenancy early or of agreeing terms for the surrender of a tenancy. The Government intend to bring forward proposals for the reform of the law on

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privity of contract; but in doing so I am sure that they will wish to cover all types of tenancies and not simply agricultural tenancies.

The noble Lord, Lord Gallacher, also commented that there was no reference to CAP rules in the Bill. One particular virtue of that is that it provides more flexibility to adapt to future policy changes whether they be from Brussels, Whitehall or wherever. Parties will be able to respond to circumstances by adjusting their own tenancy agreements rather than being bound by the detailed tenancy legislation.

There is general agreement--even, I venture to suggest, among noble Lords opposite--that the continuing decline of the tenanted sector calls for government action. We have brought forward a set of coherent proposals that command a wider degree of support from all sides of the industry than most people

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would have thought possible. There is a consensus for change that the Labour Party cannot deny. I say to them that if they really want to help new entrants to farming, as they claim to do, they should join with us and with the rest of the industry and support the Bill. The new leader of the Labour Party has spoken of dealing with issues on their merits instead of routinely opposing every government measure on principle. The Bill provides an ideal opportunity for noble Lords opposite to demonstrate that approach and, by supporting these reforms, to benefit the younger generation of farmers and the future of British agriculture. I commend the Bill to the House.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

        House adjourned at twenty-seven minutes before seven o'clock.

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