On this section, I should like to raise a question about which the Minister has heard from me before, that is, that he should consider the position of what I might call the derelict demesne owner, the person who is struggling to live on his demesne. He is over-housed, and of necessity he has to give very considerable employment. I think his is a case which is deserving of special consideration. He has got no surplus cash income out of which he can meet increased taxation. The only thing he can do is to shut up more and more of his house, and disemploy people who are doing very necessary work in the maintenance of the meagre amenities to which he is clinging. These men belong to a class—and I am not going to be snobbish about it—who are a civilising influence in the country. Nobody can deny that, in spite of their black record in the past. The Minister may reply that by giving special treatment to these people he would be opening the door to other people who are living more or less in the same way, but not in comparable economic circumstances, people who are living probably on a biggish cash income in places with not very much land attached to them, and who do not deserve very exceptional treatment.
I put this point to the Minister. In the case of the ordinary farmer his houses, offices and lands are valued under one heading. In the case of these unfortunate people the buildings are not valued as part of his farm because in the old days these people had very considerable incomes and maintained mansions, you might say—work which in no conceivable circumstances could be considered as part of the farm work. Now, however, circumstances have altered and I think there is a very strong case for allowing people of that kind who are undoubtedly farming a certain acreage, the upkeep or the repair of their houses and the upkeep of any gardens, the net cost of the gardens, of course, after deducting what they sell—as part of their farming operations.
The Minister is aware, I suppose, that these people get a very raw deal over the repairs allowance. Up to a few years ago, as is the case in England now, they were allowed to set off the cost of repairs of their houses, which in the case of old mansions, or derelict buildings which were in a bad state of repair, was very considerable. That is relief over and above the statutory allowances. Nothing of that sort is allowed here now. I suggest that these people are a very deserving class in the community and that their claim requires consideration. They are very poor, a new genteel poor. I would ask the Minister not to cling too rigidly to the official point of view of his advisers, but really to consider the human aspect of these cases which, I think, has never appealed so far to his Departmental advisers.