HC Deb 20 February 1917 vol 90 cc1147-50

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the urban district council of Queenstown have endeavoured to secure land for the purpose of allotments for labourers as suggested in the circular of the Local Government Board; whether the owners of land in the district have refused to place any land at their disposal; and whether he will take steps to secure that compulsory powers will be conferred upon local authorities with a view to carrying out the tillage proposals?


There have been fifty-two applications for allotments in Queenstown, but the urban district council have not adopted the allotments scheme, as they have not received any offers of land. Although many of the urban authorities in Ireland have succeeded in obtaining allotment ground, I am informed there are cases in which land is withheld or only obtainable subject to exorbitant demands for rent. In view of this information, powers have been given to the Department of Agriculture to secure land in proper cases.


Will the Department put these powers into operation at once, as the cases where local authorities have been refused facilities are very numerous?


The powers have been conferred on the Department to be used.


Will the right hon. Gentleman publish the Order made under the Defence of the Realm Act in order to give these powers?


The Order was published in the "Gazette" on 16th February. If the hon. Gentleman has not seen it, I may say that it is only a very short Order, and provides for the taking of land in cases where the land is situated in or near an urban district, and the Department are of opinion that in order to provide the necessary food for residents in the locality the land in or near that district is immediately required for the purpose of being cultivated in allotments, and that the use of the land for that purpose is unreasonably withheld.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Queenstown Council will obtain those powers?


That is a question which I am sure my hon. Friend will not expect me to answer without knowing the particular facts of the case.


Will the right hon. Gentleman see that the same powers are conferred on the rural district councils are now being conferred on urban councils?


So far as I know at present, the facts are not the same in the two classes of cases.

44. Mr. DORIS

asked whether, in the event of an urban council tailing to form a scheme under the food production Regulations, labourers and small householders of the urban district who obtain conacre lettings of land in the neighbourhood can procure seeds and manures from the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction or other Government Department; and, if so, by what means and on what terms?


Rated occupiers of holdings not exceeding £10 valuation, and tenants of labourers' plots and holders of town allotments, are eligible for assistance by the district councils. County committees of agriculture are able to give facilities to other classes of cultivators.


Where the urban councils fail to get land and a labourer succeeds in getting some conacre lettings, what means has he of getting seeds and manures on easy terms in accordance with the Regulations?


Particulars relating to these matters have been published in great detail by the Department of Agriculture If the hon. Member would like me to do it, I will send him a copy of the publication.


I shall be much obliged.

58. Mr. CONDON

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he has received a resolution from the Cashel Rural District Council, passed at their meeting, stating that the members of the council ho appointed to take up the interests of the labourers and small farmers in the matter of procuring land for cultivation by them and inquire from the ranchers in their district what amount of land, if any, they intend to set aside for distribution, and that the council are desirous that immediate steps should be taken by representatives in Parliament to put this matter before him, with the view of the necessity for immediate compulsion; and whether ho proposes to take any action in the matter?


I have not received the resolution of the Cashel Rural District Council referred to. As I stated last Thursday in an answer to the hon. Member for North Meath, the Department of Agriculture will take all the local circumstances into consideration if they have to enter on land to enforce the tillage Regulations.