§ Mr. JOHNSTON
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he has any information he can give the House regarding land raids which are reported as taking place in South Harris, and whether 30 landless men, several of whom are ex-service men, have seized and are now cultivating land in the Borve Deer Forest; and what steps he is taking to assure the people of Scotland that the promise made in 1914 of the provision of land for cultivation by smallholders shall be implemented by the Government without further unreasonable delay?
§ The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Sir John Gilmour)
I have information that interdict proceedings are being taken in respect of alleged illegal occupancy of a farm in South Harris, and that a seizure of land has occurred in Borve Deer Forest. As regards the farm to which I have referred, I understand that it is in size below the limit for compulsory taking under the Small Landholders Act, 1911. I would take this opportunity of expressing my opinion that the sub-division of small farms in the Islands is a policy not in the true interests of the community, 199 and is one which I am not disposed to follow. The process of land settlement will proceed in suitable areas as the means at my disposal will permit.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the time of his predecessor—now Lord Alness—an agreement was come to between the Scottish Office and the late Lord Leverhulme whereby compulsory acquisition of land for small holdings would be suspended for 10 years on condition that the late Lord Leverhulme was going to provide employment for large numbers of people in the Lewis; and, seeing that this employment has now stopped, is the right hon. Gentleman not going to see that provision of land is made for men who were definitely promised land when they went forth to fight in 1914?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I am aware that the cessation of the late Lord Leverhulme's works has caused a definite demand for land. The Board of Agriculture are taking steps and have taken steps to settle men upon the land since that has occurred.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Is not the Secretary for Scotland aware that there is something seriously wrong here? Here are men who are anxious to get work and who have gone on to the land to work the land and not to eat it or steal it? [HON. MEMBERS:"Order"]
§ Mr. N. MACLEAN
Is it not the case that, according to the returns, the number of small holdings has decreased in Scotland; and will the right hon. Gentle-
§ man not take steps to see that those small holdings which have been given up, or from which the tenants have gone away, should be put in possession of others who want small holdings?