HC Deb 13 April 1927 vol 205 cc361-2

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the Scottish Board of Agriculture, or anyone On its behalf, entered into an arrangement with the late Lord Leverhulme whereby landless ex-service men in Harris were to have their claims for holdings postponed for 10 years; whether he is aware that since Lord Leverhulme's death there is no employment for the men thrown idle by the cessation of his schemes; that five men at Scaristavore, Harris, have been imprisoned for breach of interdict in cultivating land for the sustenance of their families; and that these men were ordered to attend the Sheriff's Court on 31st March, but were arrested before that date; and what steps it is proposed to take to provide these men with an opportunity to earn a livelihood?

The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir John Gilmour)

As I informed the hon. Member on 27th April last, the understanding as to land settlement in Harris rested, as far as I am aware, upon an arrangement made between the late Lord Leverhulme and the people of Harris. Following on the cessation of the late Lord Leverhulme's works the Board of Agriculture formulated certain schemes of land settlement whereby 41 applicants for small holdings have so far been settled in the district. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative. Information as to the imprisonment of the five men was given yesterday in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Bridgeton. I am informed that these men were cited to appear at 11 a.m. on the 31st March and having failed to do so were arrested on the afternoon of that day. As regards the last part of the question I have already made it clear that persons who take illegal possession of land must be excluded from consideration in connection with land settlement schemes.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when these men's imprisonment comes to an end they have nothing else in front of them but further imprisonment, unless the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to provide land for them?


Of course I cannot say what may be before these men, but one thing is quite clear, and that is that those who raid are struck off the list for all time for getting land under the Board of Agriculture schemes.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware of the fact that these men have no employment in front of them other than tilling the soil? Does he mean to say that he is not going to allow them to till the soil, that he is going to starve them to death because they happened to cross his path? I want an answer to that question. That is what it means; it means that the right hon. Gentleman is going to starve them. Is there to be no answer? Wait until tonight, and we will skin him alive.