§ SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston):
To ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether he is aware that on 21st June 1898, the President of the Local Government Board stated that the law officers of the Crown advised that the amount of rent charged by a county council under 227 the Small Holdings Act should be limited to the sum required for interest, with a margin for eventualities, and that the funds for the repayment of the principal of the loan should be obtained from the county rate within the limits specified in Section 18, subsection 2, of the Small Holdings Act, 1892; and whether he will point out the section in the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, 1907, indicating the intention of Parliament as stated in the letter from the Board of Agriculture to the Norfolk County Council that the rents of small holdings created under the Act should be sufficient to include the payments to the sinking fund in respect of any capital expenditure for the purchase of land.
(Answered by Sir Edward Strachey.) The reply to the first inquiry of my right hon. friend is in the affirmative. The question is not affected by the Act of last session, but depends on the proper interpretation of Section 18 (1) of the Small Holdings Act, 1892, and on this point the law officers of the Crown in a recent opinion dissented from the view expressed in 1898. The Board propose, in these circumstances, to offer no objection to the exclusion of sinking fund charges in the calculation of rents where a county council is itself willing to defray them.