The Order to which the hon. Member refers was made and operated under emergency powers which no longer exist. Local authorities have adequate powers to purchase or lease land for allotments under the Allotments Acts, 1908 to 1925, including the power 3210 to acquire land compulsorily, and also the power, after 14 days' notice to the owner, to enter upon any land which at the date of the notice is not the subject of a rateable occupation.
§ Mr. LUNN
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the system of acquiring land is very complicated and certainly not as easy as under the Cultivation of Lands Order of 1916; and is he not also aware that 250,000 allotments have gone out of cultivation; that in the mining areas there is a state of national emergency to-day; that there ought to be an opportunity for allotments being obtained easily for the miners, and that in the North of England full advantage would be taken of it?
I cannot express an opinion as to whether the existing procedure is as satisfactory as the emergency procedure during the War, but I have no power to establish that emergency procedure without legislation.
We are most anxious to do anything we can to help allotments, but it is by no means certain that we should help the movement by the reestablishment of the emergency procedure, and I cannot hold out any possible hope of a Government Measure to amend the Allotment Acts during the present Session.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Has the right hon. Gentleman not been planning any constructive proposals on these lines, and is he aware of what the Society of Friends has done already in the mining areas in organising allotments? Is it not possible for his department to cooperate with the Society of Friends in. order to facilitate the acquisition of allotments, whether by the means already proposed or by a Measure passed through this House, unopposed as it would be?
We are most anxious to co-operate in the provision of allotments. I am, however, answering the question that we should legislate for the 3211 re-establishment of a particular method, and on behalf of the Government I cannot commit myself.
I have already said that these emergency powers most definitely cannot be put into operation because they were under the Defence of the Realm Act and have lapsed.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
Would my right hon. Friend say whether there is a general demand from the mining areas for allotments and for facilities to provide allotments?
We have carefully considered whether anything can be done to make more land available in the mining areas and in certain cases there is scope for the provision of further allotments. I cannot promise legislation, nor am I convinced that legislation on this subject is necessary.