§ 44. Mr. PALING
asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of smallholders in this country in the years 1913 and 1925, respectively?
No statistics are available of the number of smallholders but the number of agricultural holdings in England and Wales above one acre and not exceeding 50 acres was 292,446 in 1913 and 264,787 in 1925. These figures include many residential properties and accommodation fields not occupied by smallholders. I am not satisfied that the statistics relating to holdings below 20 acres are altogether reliable as it is difficult to ensure that the occupiers of all these small areas make returns.
§ Mr. NOEL BUXTON
Is it the case that the great diminution is mainly due to the encroachment of towns on agricultural areas?
The encroachment of towns and industrial development are no doubt responsible for a great deal of the decrease. That decrease, however, may be more apparent than real and we are going into the figures to see whether we can ascertain more exact particulars.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Has the right hon. Gentleman the accurate figures as to the small holdings held under the county councils. Have they gone down?
No, they cannot go down. They have gone up about 30,000 since the system of small holdings was applied by the county councils.
§ Major Sir GRANVILLE WHELER
Has the right hon. Gentleman any record of the losses on these county council small holdings?
Yes, those figures have been published. Of course, a good deal of the loss arose from settling men on the land at a time of "boom" prices.