HC Deb 09 October 1912 vol 42 cc346-7

asked: (30) Has the attention of the right hon. Gentleman been drawn to the recent floods in Huntingdonshire; and may I ask what help the Government can give towards the farmers in their distress; (31) has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to the plight of the county council small holders in Huntingdonshire; and will he authorise the county council to remit their rent for the current year?


Has the President of the Board of Agriculture caused inquiry to be made into the loss and damage sustained by farmers and small holders in Norfolk through the recent floods; and whether it is proposed to render assistance to those seriously affected out of national funds, either in the shape of special Grants or by loans made on easy terms, whereby such may be enabled to tide over a period of stress and difficulty.


I have caused inquiries to be made as to the extent of the damage caused by the recent floods, and, although it is impossible at present to estimate the loss even approximately, I am afraid there can be no doubt but that farmers and others have suffered severely not only in Huntingdonshire and Norfolk, but in other parts of England as well. Funds have been opened to public subscription for the relief of distress in several districts, and I do not think that it is either necessary or desirable for the Government to take any action, at any rate for the present, but I shall continue to watch the situation very closely. With regard to small holders, the Board are prepared to consider favourably applications from county councils for assistance out of the Small Holdings Account, in conformity with the conditions prescribed in the Treasury Minute of the 31st December, 1907, in cases where schemes have resulted or are likely to result in loss through the inability of small holders to pay their rent in consequence of the floods.


If I raise £5,000 outside, will the right hon. Gentleman contribute a similar sum in order to start a credit bank for farmers?


I am afraid I could not at present see my way to agree to that suggestion. If the hon. Gentleman has any specific proposal to make, I shall be only too happy to consider it.