HC Deb 12 April 1921 vol 140 c913

asked the Minister of Agriculture why the grants necessary to enable county agricultural committees to execute drainage schemes under the provisions of Section 16 of the Land Drainage Act, 1918, are now being withheld; and whether, seeing that all the money advanced is repayable by the owners of the land affected, and that these minor drainage works are in many cases urgently necessary, he will now give instructions that approved schemes shall be financed as provided for in the Act?


In the interests of national economy, the Government have been forced to the conclusion that it is essential to reduce to a minimum the expenditure on land drainage during the present financial year, and that money can only be advanced for schemes under Section 16 of the Land Drainage Act, 1918, where certain considerations, such as public safety and serious unemployment, are involved. I regret extremely that this decision should have been found necessary, but under present conditions it is not possible to act as suggested in the last part of my hon. and gallant Friend's question.


Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the whole of this money is repaid—money to bring the land into cultivation which cannot otherwise be cultivated because there is water on it; that every penny of this grant, which in any case cannot exceed £5,000, is repaid to the Government by the people concerned?


Yes, it is repayable, and I admit it is generally repaid, but the Government have to find the money in the meantime and there is the difficulty.