HC Deb 22 August 1895 vol 36 cc573-4
MR. BRYN ROBERTS: (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, whether the Commissioners of Woods and Forests have lately received applications from a number of Crown tenants in Carnarvonshire for the purchase of their holdings; whether he is aware that the holdings were enclosed and reclaimed from public commons, and built upon by the tenants or their predecessors in title; whether the Crown has ever spent any, and, if so, what amount of money in improving these holdings; and whether, seeing that the tenants are willing, if they are allowed to purchase, that the conveyances shall contain a proviso entitling the Crown to repurchase at the same price, and without any increase on account of subsequent improvements, in case the holdings should ever be required by the Crown or its tenants for quarrying purposes, he will state what answer has been given to the application?


In the course of negotiations for renewing tenancies of land in Carnarvonshire which was originally waste of a Crown Lordship but never a "Public Common" some of the tenants have asked to be allowed to purchase their holdings, and have been informed that their request cannot be granted. The holdings were enclosed and have probably in most of the cases been improved by the tenants, but the land was never a "Public Common" but waste of a Crown Lordship over which only the common right of pasture was enjoyed by the tenants of the Lordship. The soil and freehold are and always have been in the Crown. The Crown has not directly spent money in improving the holdings, but in order that the tenants might recoup themselves they were allowed to hold the lands for many years at a nominal rent, which was subsequently increased and is now, after 60 years from the date of the first occupation, not more than a fair rent having regard to the history of the holdings. The Commissioners of Woods were so ill advised some 50 or 60 years ago as to sell some of the land in the same neighbourhood. They have had to buy it back at an enormously increased price. The district is the centre of a slate quarry industry, and the main interest of the Crown is in these slate quarries. In the opinion of the Commissioners of Woods, having regard to the future development of the slate quarries, the Crown ought not to create any interest in the land other than leasehold interests determinable whenever the development of the quarries renders such a course necessary. Subject to this condition, the tenants have been offered and in many cases have accepted leases for 21 years. Conveyances containing a proviso for repurchase would lead to demands, alleged to be founded on equitable considerations, which the Commissioner of Woods would probably find himself unable to resist if the time should come when the proviso might have to be enforced.


asked if all the land that had been sold had been repurchased, and if not all, what proportion of it had been.


I did not say all, but only a certain proportion. If the hon. Member wants further information I will make inquiries.