HC Deb 19 July 1916 vol 84 cc1153-6

With the consent of, and subject to Regulations made by the Treasury, the Board may promote the formation or extension of societies on a cooperative basis, having for their object, or one of their objects, the profitable working of holdings provided under this Act, whether in relation to the purchase of requisites, the sale of produce, credit banking, or insurance, or otherwise, and may assist any such society by making Grants or advances to the society, or guaranteeing advances made to the society, upon such terms and conditions as to rate of interest and repayment or otherwise, and on such security, as the Board think fit.


I beg to move, after the word "may" ["the Board may"], to insert the words, "with the assistance of the Small Holdings Commissioners."

I move this Amendment in order to call attention to the fact that there seems to be no place provided in this scheme of colonies for our Small Holdings Commissioners. I am one of those who with others went to a great deal of trouble in getting additional Commissioners appointed. We had two Small Holdings Commissioners, but we found out that it was impossible for them to get through their work, and so four additional Commissioners were appointed, making six in all. These Commissioners are now scattered about the country. The original two Commissioners had their headquarters in London. The Board of Agriculture have now these six Commissioners in different parts of the country, north, south, east, and west and in the Midlands, and I cannot understand why those who prepared this Report upon which the Bill is based have not brought in those six Commissioners. They are Gentlemen who get salaries of from £800 to £1,000 per year, and so far as I can see there is practically no small-holdings work now being done, because the whole machinery of the Small-Holdings Act is out of gear owing to the want of money. Those gentlemen, I understand, are turned on to attend War Agricultural Committees and things of that sort. I have no objection to their being used for that purpose, but now that we are going to have a further scheme of small holdings, small as it is and futile as I think it is, I do think that those six gentlemen ought to be brought within the purview of the Bill. We ought to get our money's worth out of them.


I am afraid that this Amendment is out of order, because it deals with a purely administrative matter. It must be left to the Board how they employ part of their staff. The hon. Member cannot bring in this sort of thing on the Committee stage.


I intend to move an Amendment, which I have handed in, after conversation with you, Mr. Whitley, instead of an Amendment which stands on the Paper in my name as a separate Clause. The object of my Amendment on the Paper was to enable the Board to give pecuniary assistance to public utility societies as denned by the Housing and Town Planning Act, 1909, for the purpose of establishing small colonies similar in character but in addition to those provided by the Bill. You intimated to me, Mr. Whitley, that that Amendment would be out of order, and in consequence I beg to propose the following Amendment: After the word "basis," to insert the words "or co-partnership"; after the word "holdings," to insert the words "established or"; and at the end of the Clause to add the words "and the Board, where they think fit, may transfer to such society the whole or any portion of any colony of small holdings provided under this Act upon such terms and conditions as the Board may think fit." The object of this Amendment is, as the Bill is experimental, to permit of an experiment of utilising the services of public utility societies such as there are already in this country in considerable numbers in connection with housing and other matters. It seems to me of great importance, as we are dealing with experimental work, that we should test this aspect of the management of small holdings, and you will observe that one aspect of it is, if we can have a co-partnership system 'worked by a public utility society of the kind, you may test the advantages with the man of ownership as compared with tenancy.


Though the hon. Member has not given me a copy of his Amendment, yet, subject to the power to reconsider it on Report, if I find that it does no harm, as I think it will do good—and I believe these cooperative societies have really good work to do—I shall be glad to accept it. I think it will be an improvement.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, after the words last inserted, to add the words:

"(b) during the first three years graduate the rent payable by tenants or advance part thereof on such security, personal or other, and upon such conditions as may be approved by the Board;

(c) appoint directors and other persons to farm the land kept in hand by the Board, to. instruct and advise candidates for holdings and tenants, and generally to do all things in the opinion of the Board necessary or desirable for the financial and other success of the farm managed by the Board and of the tenants in their holdings."

It is important to give the Board permissive power to make the first year of rent of the small holder easy, so that if on coming on the holding they have no money they can wait until they gather in their first year's crop. That difficulty will be found in a less degree next year.

It being Eleven o'clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 22nd February, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."

Question put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Two minutes after Eleven o'clock.