§ MR. COBB (Warwick, S. E. Rugby)
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether, on 18th July, the honourable Member for the Devizes Division (Mr. Long), as Secretary to the Local Government Board, wrote to the Banbury Board of Guardians, acting as the Rural Sanitary Authority, calling their attention to the unsatisfied demand for allotments at Hook Norton, and to the fact that, under "The Allotments Act, 1887," it is the duty of the Sanitary Authority to provide a sufficient number of allotments by purchase or hire, and, if they cannot 1330 be obtained by agreement, to purchase land compulsorily; whether he is aware that it appears from the report in the Banbury Guardian of 8th August, that, upon such letter being read, the Chairman of the Board of Guardians said—I would send the Board's compliments to the Local Government Board, and say we are perfectly aware of everything in that letter. It's a most ridiculous letter. … We are perfectly aware about the Act. We have read it till we are sick of it;whether he is aware that not only at Hook Norton, but at Farnborough, Mollington, Horley, and other villages in the Banbury Union, there still exist admitted demands for allotments, which have repeatedly been urged upon the Sanitary Authority, but which now remain unsatisfied in consequence of the majority of the Authority having refused to put the powers of the Act into force; and whether he will take any steps to induce the Chairman of the Banbury Board of Guardians to treat communications from the Local Government Board in a more respectful manner, and to compel the Guardians to carry out the provisions of the Act, and to provide allotments at Hook Norton, Farnborough, Mollington, and Horley, and in every parish in the Banbury Union in which there now exists an unsatisfied demand for allotments?
§ * THE PEESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE, Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
It is the case that a letter was written to the Banbury Rural Sanitary Authority in reply to their statement that there was a desire for allotments by the labouring population of Hook Norton, but that there were considerable difficulties in obtaining suitable land in a convenient position. In that letter it was pointed out that if there was a demand for allotments, and such allotments could not be obtained at a reasonable rent, and on reasonable conditions by voluntary arrangements, it became the duty of the Sanitary Authority under and subject to the provisions of the Allotments Act, 1887, to purchase or hire suitable land which might be available, whether within or without their district, adequate to provide a sufficient number of allotments; and further, that if the Authority could not procure land by agreement for the purpose, they might under Section 3 of the Act apply for 1331 power to put in force the compulsory clauses of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Acts in order to obtain such land. I have no information as to the observations said to have been made by the Chairman of the Sanitary Authority when the letter of the Board was read. The reply which the Board received was to the effect that the Sanitary Authority had endeavoured to obtain suitable land for allotments at Hook Norton, and that they would continue to do so. I am informed that the Chairman has been indefatigable in his endeavours to pro cure land for allotments, and that at Hornton, with a view to prevent difficulty, he took land himself and let it out in allotments, and further that when some land was offered for sale at Claydon he would have purchased it with the same view had the price been, in his opinion, reasonable. Applications for allotments have been made by persons living at Hook Norton, Farnborough, Mollington, Horley, and other villages in the Union, and I am informed that the Sanitary Authority have made great efforts to procure land for this purpose, but without success. It is stated that, no doubt, allotments would be accepted in the villages if they could be taken in close proximity to the dwellings of the applicants, and at very moderate rents. It is satisfactory to be able to add that, as I am informed, the Act has been the means of calling the attention of landed proprietors to the desire for allotments, and that in several parishes in the Union land has been let to applicants in allotments.
§ In reply to a further question by Mr. COBB,
§ * MR. RITCHIE
said: On the whole, I believe that the Sanitary Authority endeavoured to do its duty.