HC Deb 24 July 1924 vol 176 cc1520-1
70. Mr. HANNON

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the Patrington Farm Settlement is still being run at a loss; whether he is aware that the accumulated losses on the estate were £12,101, and on the farm £46,525, on 31st March, 1923; whether the figures for the accumulated losses under both heads at the 31st March, 1924, are available; and, if so, what steps he is taking to reduce those losses?


Yes, Sir. My right hon. Friend is aware that the accumulated losses on the working of the Patrington Farm Settlement on 31st March, 1923, were as stated by the hon. Member. The estate loss of £12,101 and the farming loss of £46,525 were, however, arrived at after taking into account interest on Exchequer advances, amounting to £13,049 and £14,305 respectively. The actual cash loss on farming operations during the financial years 1921–22 and 1922–23 was, I understand, closely comparable with that sustained by other farmers in the district. Accounts for the year ended 31st March, 1924, are not yet available, but I am informed that a further loss was sustained during the year partly owing to a serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease which occurred on the farm. With regard to the last part of the hon. Member's question, the working of the farm settlement is being watched carefully. Steps have already been taken, and will continue to be taken, with a view to improving the financial results of the scheme. I am unable, however, to hold out any hope that the net cash receipts during the present year or in the near future will be sufficient to meet the whole of the charges for interest on Exchequer advances and other overhead charges.


Is the educational influence of this experiment on local agriculture sufficient to justify the losses which have been previously sustained?


I must have notice of that question.


Who is in charge of the farm?


Is it not a fact that every farm settlement has made a great loss under State control up to the 31st March, 1923?


As very few men are employed in these farms, will the Minister of Agriculture take into consideration the winding-up of this responsibility as early as possible, and the selling of the farms to the county council or the people who are on them?