HC Deb 04 February 1908 vol 183 cc701-2

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury why the Duchy of Cornwall, as owners of a farm at Shippon, near Abingdon, containing about 430 acres, recently gave the lessee of the farm, whose family had been tenants from year to year under the Duchy since 1891, and who had no desire to leave it, notice to quit the whole of the farm, for the purpose of establishing thereon a society called the North Berks Small Holdings and Allotments Society, instead of allowing the procedure to be followed in relation to the matter which is prescribed by the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, 1907, under which the tenant might have been heard.

(Answered by Mr. Runciman.) I learn that the Duchy of Cornwall had not given, and never had any intention of giving, notice to quit to the tenants of a farm at Shippon, near Abingdon. When last year the Duchy was approached to let some land at Shippon for allotments, it was arranged with the tenants, who occupy two farms of together about 1,000 acres, that they would give up not less than 16 acres, and up to 50 acres, for the purpose, but no applications were received, presumably because there was more land for allotments at disposal than could be let. At least this was the statement of the local authority at Abingdon when the land was offered to it by the Duchy. On receipt last month of an application for one of the two farms, the Duchy land steward, assuming that there was now a real demand for some land, wrote to inform the manager of the farm of the application, but not to the tenants, on whom alone a valid notice to quit could be served, so as to prevent his purchasing more seeds, etc., than might be required. He stated, however, that he would personally arrange as regards the lands to be given up for small holdings. No communication with the North Berks Small Holdings and Allotments Society has taken place, as the Duchy land steward has instructions to arrange with the local authorities for the letting of Duchy land for small holdings. The whole matter is in a preliminary stage, as the land steward has no authority to enter into any binding contract, but has to submit for the sanction of the council any arrangement which he may recommend.