§ Sir DOUGLAS NEWTON
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in cases where loans have been guaranteed to tenants of small holdings which the tenants cannot repay without being sold up, he will be prepared to provide for a discretionary power to county councils in the matter of any proceedings taken for recovery of the amount due?
The Laud Settlement (Facilities) Act, 1919, gives councils full discretion to manage their small holding estates as they think fit, and the Ministry is required only to pay the loss which in its opinion has been reasonably and necessarily incurred each year up to 31st March, 1926. I do not consider, however, that it would be reasonable and necessary for a council between now and the date mentioned to write down as irrecoverable sums due from its tenants, and claim such amounts from the Ministry as part of its annual loss. At the same time, my Department have given a committee of the County Councils Association, of which my hon. Friend is Chairman, an assurance that it will be prepared to agree to a reasonable allowance for bad debts outstanding at 31st March, 1926 (including the loans referred to in the question), being deducted from the valuation of the estate which is to be made at that date. This arrangement should meet every reasonable requirement on the part of councils.