§ 28. Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
asked the Minister of Agriculture how many 803 persons have been settled on the land in this country since the passing of the Small Holdings Act of 1907; what amount of money has been contributed by the State for the purpose and what have been the contributions made by local authorities; how many of these persons are ex-service men and how many of the original settlers have given up their holdings; and what has been the average cost per settler to the State and municipalities combined?
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Guinness)
As the reply is long, I propose, with my hon. Friend's permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the last part of my question relating to what has been the average cost per settler?
§ Mr. GUINNESS
My answer says:It is impossible to divide this deficit between pre-War and post-War holdings, although it is certain that the major portion is in respect of the latter. Dividing the deficit, however, by the total number of holdings provided, it is equivalent to about £30 per annum per holding.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Would it not be better to migrate these people instead of trying to settle them on the land here?
§ Mr. GUINNESS
I think compulsory emigration would be looked upon as a very great hardship by those who wish to find an opening in agriculture in this country.
§ Following is the reply:
§ The number of persons provided with holdings under the Small Holdings Act from the 1st January, 1908, to the 31st March, 1926, and still in occupation of their holdings was about 13,000 on land acquired before the War, and 16,254 on land acquired after the War. Of the last figure 88 per cent. were ex-service men; the corresponding proportion of such men now occupying pre-War holdings 804 is not known. The number of men who had given up holdings on the pre-War estate cannot be stated. Of the 24,319 men provided with holdings between the Armistice and the 31st March, 1926 (some of whom were settled on land acquired before the War), 5,404 had given up their holdings by the latter date. Of these it is estimated that about one-third gave up for reasons other than failure.
§ In reply to the last part of my hon. Friend's question, no money was provided from public funds to meet the capital expenditure required for the provision of small holdings before the War, advances being made for this purpose from the Local Loans Fund. The deficit on revenue account in respect of the pre-War holdings amounted to £395,955 up to 31st March, 1919, which sum was wholly defrayed from the Exchequer. As a set-off against this amount, it should be mentioned that the accounts of a considerable number of local authorities showed a profit at 31st March, 1919, which profit remained with those authorities. The net capital required for the establishment of small holdings provided since the War amounted in the aggregate to £15 millions, of which about £1 million was borrowed by councils locally and the balance was raised by taxation. The money provided from taxation was advanced at varying rates of interest which, on the average, amounted to 6¼ per cent. The payments being received by the Exchequer in respect of interest and sinking fund on these loans amount approximately to £1,000,000 per annum. As a result of the valuation made at 31st March, 1926, it is estimated that the deficit on the small holdings accounts of local authorities will amount at the outset to approximately £880,000 per annum, which amount will be payable by the Ministry, the basis on which the valuation was made being that no loss should fall on the local authorities. It is impossible to divide this deficit between pre-War and post-War holdings, although it is certain that the major portion is in respect of the latter. Dividing the deficit, however, by the total number of holdings provided, it is equivalent to about £30 per annum per holding.
§ The figures given do not include (a) the holdings provided under the Act of 1926 or (b) holdings on the Ministry's farm settlements.