MR. LLEWELLYN WILLIAMS (Carmarthen District)
To ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether his attention has been called to the state of unrest and agitation prevailing in the parish of Cayo, in the county of Carmarthen, owing to the collection of chief rent alleged to be due to the Crown; whether he has been informed that a large number of farmers in the parish have formed a committee with a view to oppose the payment of chief rent; whether they object to its payment on the ground of the disproportionate amounts levied respectively on small and large farms, and their ignorance as to its meaning and application; whether the deputy - steward and the Woods and Forests Department have, upon request being made to them, refused information on these points to 827 the farmers; whether, in some instances, levies had to be abandoned on account of excessive distresses; whether distresses were levied this month on two farms, and the goods distrained upon taken away by the bailiff in the absence of the farmers to another parish; whether this was done because the deputy-steward was afraid to conduct the sales on the premises owing to the inflamed condition of public opinion in the district; whether, in the neighbouring parishes of Llangadock, Myddfai, Llanfair-ar-y-bryn, Lland-densant, and Llansadwrn chief rent has not been paid for the last fifteen years, and, if so, why; and whether, in view of the difficulty of collection, the inequality of the incidence, the irritation created, and the inadequacy of the result, the Government will take steps either to commute or terminate the payment of chief rent.
(Answered by Sir Edward Strachey.) I am informed by' the Commissioner of Woods in charge of the Crown Land Revenues in Wales that he is aware that there is some unrest and agitation in the parish of Cayo on the subject of the chief rents payable to the Crown in the manor of that name, and he believes that a committee has been formed to oppose payment. No tangible reasons for the objection to payment have been given. The rents are very ancient ones of a manorial character, and have been collected for some hundreds of years. They form part of the Land Revenues of the Crown. No reasonable requests for information have been refused. The Commissioners paid a visit to the district and invited the chairman and secretary of the committee referred to to meet him, but they declined to come. In some instances levies have been abandoned owing to apprehended violence, and in one case in which it was alleged that an unneccessary quantity of hay had been seized the distress proceedings were abandoned with a view to recovery in another way. In a very recent case the article distrained was removed to a distance owing to apprehended violence if the sale were carried out on the premises. There do not appear to be any chief rents payable to the Crown in the neighbouring parishes mentioned in the Question, and the Commissioners of 828 Woods are not concerned in any way with rents due to private landowners. It is intended to enforce payment of the rents really due to the Crown unless and until they are redeemed, but the Crown is perfectly willing to sell them on the usual terms as a whole or singly.