HC Deb 27 November 1888 vol 331 cc310-1
DR. CLARK (Caithness)

asked the Lord Advocate, Whether it is the case that, from the 10th of October, 1886, till the 10th of December, 1887, the Crofters' Commission only determined 1,767 cases; whether, since December, 1887, to the present time, only about 1,500 cases have been determined; whether there are still 5,000 or 6,000 applications yet to be considered; whether he is aware that great dissatisfaction exists in all the Highland counties in consequence of the Commission being unable to get through the work in a reasonable time; and, whether the Government will consider the desirability of increasing the number of assessors and valuers, or permitting the Sheriffs' Substitutes to sit with valuers and determine fair rents, subject to an appeal to the Commissioners?


1,767 is the number of cases determined from June 10, 1886, till December 10, 1887. I am not in possession of official information as to the figures mentioned in the second and third paragraphs. The Secretary of the Crofters' Commission informs me that, in order to obtain anything like accurate figures as to the actual volume of business, it would be necessary to compare and analyze the applications, as in many cases both landlord and tenant apply regarding the same holding, although, from different descriptions being used, this is not apparent on the face of the applications. This analysis of the documents would involve time and trouble. The staff consists of only a secretary and two clerks; and, as indicated in the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's Question, it is most undesirable further to impede the work of the Commission, more especially as those statistics will have shortly to be compiled in regular course in preparing the Report. Without, however, accepting, as absolutely accurate, the figures suggested by the hon. Gentleman, it is certain that the amount of business awaiting disposal is very large, and that expressions of disappointment have come from various quarters in the Highlands. The matter has already engaged, and will receive, the consideration of the Government, who have every desire to see the work of the Commissioners as rapidly completed as possible.