HC Deb 27 June 1917 vol 95 cc378-80
61. Major HUNT

asked the Prime Minister what steps have already been taken to provide houses and land and the loan of the necessary capital for those of the sailors and soldiers who have already returned from the front incapacitated for further service, and who are desirous of becoming permanently settled on the land in the United Kingdom?


Steps are being taken to provide land and accommodation for ex-soldiers and sailors under the Small Holdings Colonies Act of last Session. The facilities are not intended primarily for incapacitated soldiers, although some of these will be taken in under the scheme where possible. A statement of the progress made under the Act was given by me on 27th March. Agricultural training for wounded soldiers and sailors is available either at Wye Agricultural College in Kent or through arrangements with individual farmers of standing. These training facilities, which are under the control of the Board of Agriculture and the local pensions committees, provide for the upkeep of a man's dependants during his period of training, for the payment of the fees of the training, and also for pocket-money for the man. No provision exists for the loan of capital for setting up ex-soldiers and sailors as farmers.

Major HUNT

I do not quite understand the reply. Have any houses and lands been provided for our soldiers who want to go on the land in this country?


If my hon. and gallant Friend will read the answer, he will see that that is dealt with.


Is it not a fact that the Colonies Act only provides small holdings for 300 families and that we have 5,000,000 soldiers?


That, of course, only touches the fringe of the question. There is another question to which I shall give an answer later on which deals with another aspect of the matter.

Colonel C. LOWTHER

Is there any national organisation for providing work for our soldiers and sailors who find themselves destitute and have given up their avocations?


Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman mean at the end of the War?

Colonel C. LOWTHER



That is one of the subjects with which the Reconstruction Committee is dealing now.

62. Major HUNT

asked the Prime Minister whether the Imperial Government have yet agreed with the Governments of the Oversea Empire as to the settlement and provision of land and houses and the loan, of the necessary capital for those of our sailors and soldiers who are anxious to settle on land for agricultural occupation after the War in our Oversea Empire?


It is obviously impossible to take action in the matter until the Report of the Committee now sitting has been received and considered.

Major HUNT

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when this Committee is likely to report, as this matter is very urgent, and are not the Dominions waiting for a lead from the Mother Country?


I cannot say when the Committee will report as I am not a member of the Committee. The Dominions are all represented on the Committee, and are perfectly well aware of what is going on through their representatives.

64. Major HUNT

asked the Prime Minister whether £2,000,000 have already been voted for buying land and providing houses and small holdings for sailors and soldiers who have served abroad in this War; and, if so, whether he can say why applicants are not coming forward in the numbers anticipated?


£2,000,000 was the sum mentioned in paragraph 101 of the Final Report of the Departmental Committee (Cd. 8,182), but no definite sum has been voted by Parliament for this purpose. Two estates have already been acquired by the Board on long lease for use as experimental land settlement colonies for discharged sailors and soldiers, and the acquisition of two other estates is contemplated one of which will be in Wales. These undertakings are being financed by the Treasury as and when required. Application for holdings cannot be usefully made or considered until the men are actually discharged from the Forces, but a satisfactory number of applications has been received from men who have already been discharged and are fit for work on the land, and many inquiries have been received from men who are still serving, but are not likely at present, in view of the uncertainty as to their future to make formal applications. No considerable number of applications, however, can be expected until the end of the War.


Under what law does the Treasury spend money for that purpose?


Common-sense law.


Yes. Without notice I cannot say exactly under what power it is done, but I have no doubt whatever that we have the power.