HC Deb 25 November 1909 vol 13 cc363-4

asked the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether the attention of the President had been called to a.speech made by the chairman of the small holdings Committee of the Berkshire County Council at the last quarterly meeting of the council, in which he said that in Berkshire 5,000 acres had been applied for by individual small holders, exclusive of 2,290 by the North Berks Society, that 4,138 acres had been recommended by the committee to satisfy the approved applicants, but that only 1,786 acres had been acquired by the council, that many applicants remained unsatisfied, and that the committee had no land available at the present moment to satisfy the applications; and whether, under these circumstances, the President proposes to use the compulsory powers given by the Small Holdings Act to obtain the land required?

Captain NORTON (Lord of the Treasury)

The President has seen a report of the speech referred to. In view of the difficulty of obtaining suitable land he thinks that the acquisition of nearly 1,800 acres shows that the council are endeavouring to administer the Act in a satisfactory manner, and he has no doubt that all possible steps will be taken to satisfy the remaining demand with as little delay as possible.


asked the hon. Member for South Somerset whether the attention of the President has been called to the report of the small holdings committee, which was discussed at the last quarterly meeting of the Berkshire County Council; whether he is aware that the chairman of the committee stated that the committee had been for months trying to obtain 20 acres of land at Aldermaston for an applicant of approved character and capital, and that the Board of Agriculture had advised the use of compulsory powers to obtain the land, but that Mr. Keyser, who owned two-thirds of the village, refused to let any of his land, on the ground that the applicant was not a suitable man, and possessed political opinions of which he did not approve; and what action the President proposes to take to see that the applicant obtains the land to which the county council have held him to be entitled?

Captain NORTON

Yes, the attention of the President of the Board has been called to the report to which my hon. Friend refers, and he gave instructions last week for inquiry to be made into the matter by an inspector so soon as opportunity offers. The President will await the receipt of the inspector's report before deciding what action, if any, he can with advantage take to help the applicant in question.