HC Deb 24 April 1907 vol 173 cc70-1
MR. LANE-FOX (Yorkshire, W.R, Barkston Ash)

I beg to ask the Prime Minister on what official information he has relied in making the statement that in one district after another the demand for land for the purposes of use and labour is met with blank denial; and whether he can lay such information before the House, giving the names of the districts to which he referred.


The hon. Gentleman puts me in a position of some difficulty. If I were to refer him, in detail, to the evidence on which the passage that he selects from my speech was based I might seem to be accusing him of ignorance of the official testimony gathered, sifted, and reported on for the most part by his own political friends. And besides, I should be guilty of making an inordinate demand upon the time of the House on account of the abundance of the testimony. If, on the other hand, I were to give him only general references I might be accused of shirking what appears to be a perfectly sincere demand for information. I think perhaps the best course for me to follow will be this. I have with me a sort of catalogue, extending to the dimensions almost of a pamphlet, of the testimony on which this extract was based, and if an educational purpose would be served I should be glad to circulate it with the Votes. † There are, as no doubt he knows, various Returns and Reports bearing on the subject of small holdings and cottages. There is, for instance, the Report of the Select Committee of 1890 which was presided over by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and there is the recent Reports of Lord Onslow's Committee and the Select Committee on Rural Housing. But, as I have said, I will endeavour to provide him with samples, so that his researches may be rendered as little arduous as possible. Apart from the official evidence on the subject, it is, I imagine, within the knowledge of every Member of this House who is at all acquainted with rural life, that in very many parts of the country it is impossible to secure either sites for cottages or land for the purpose of small holdings.