55. Mr. BROWN
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he has received any representations as to the rents of smallholders; 32 and if he can now make any statement as to a proposed reduction of such rents?
§ Mr. BUXTON
Under the Land Settlement (Facilities) Act, the rents of small holdings provided by county councils and councils of county boroughs must be the best rent that can reasonably be obtained. It is, of course, obvious that varying conditions affecting agriculture may render revisions of such rents necessary from time to time, and the Ministry has agreed to the rents of small holdings being reduced temporarily or permanently as the circumstances required. Temporary abatements were made as long ago as Michaelmas, 1921, and since that date permanent reductions have been or are being made in 52 out of the 62 administrative counties in England and Wales, of which particulars were given in my reply to the hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Hobhouse) on the L2th March last. In the other counties the question of revision of rents is being considered, and the Ministry will be prepared to approve any proposals put forward by councils for reasonable and proper reductions.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in Warwickshire rents vary from 38s. to 78s., and can some action be taken with regard to this matter?
§ Mr. BUXTON
In all cases the representative of the Ministry agrees with the county authorities and bases his rent upon reasonable ability to pay.