HC Deb 14 March 1927 vol 203 cc1635-6
43. Sir H. CAUTLEY

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the three farms at Sunk Island, Patrington, recently farmed by the Ministry, or any of them, have been let; if so, at what rent; how many applications have the Ministry received from farmers to take any of these farms and what has been the result of the applications; and whether, seeing that the Ministry have cancelled the already advertised sale of farm implements, the Ministry are contemplating the continuation of farming any of these farms, and what is the reason for such decision?


Of the five farms comprising the Patrington Farm Settlement, three, containing an area of 986 acres, have been relet by the Commissioners of Crown Lands from 5th April, partly as farms and partly as small holdings and cottage holdings, at rents amounting together to £1,666 10s. Eight applications were received for particulars of the two remaining farms, but only one applicant entered into negotiations, and his offer was not such as the Commissioners could accept. The Commissioners accordingly propose to take these two farms temporarily in hand in the hope that more satisfactory offers will be forthcoming later. The Commissioners have therefore arranged to take over at a valuation such implements and livestock as they will require for these two farms, and the implements and stock concerned have been excluded from the forthcoming auction of the live and dead stock on the remaining farms, which will take place on 23rd and 30th March.


Is not this very good land, and does not the fact that no farmer will take them show that the present economic position of agriculture is very bad?


It is good land, and it is for that reason that we believe, given time, we shall he able to obtain tenants as we have for the other three farms.


Have the workmen who were engaged on these farms when the Government ceased operations been given the privilege of taking over their land and working it themselves, and did the Department offer them reasonable credit facilities to enable them to do this?


We have given facilities to those who wished to have small holdings on the estate to have them created for them and to continue in occupation of their houses. Under present conditions it is not a very promising proposition, and only nine of those on the estate have accepted the opportunity.


What proportion of the workmen who were previously engaged have been found employment by the Department?


I should have to have notice of that question, and I shall be glad to give the numbers.


Will applicants for small holdings from elsewhere be allowed to secure land on these farms?


It is not very suitable land for small holdings. It is much more suitable for large farming.