HC Deb 12 March 1931 vol 249 cc1382-3
78. Mr. PYBUS

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that Mr. A. F. Carnell, an ex-service man of Clacton-on-Sea, having occupied a smallholding for seven years and secured fourth prize in all Essex in the smallholders' competition, has made application to be allowed to purchase his holding; that on the recommendation of the smallholdings and allotments subcommittee of the Essex County Council his application has not been approved by the Ministry of Agriculture; and that the Essex County Council as an alternative has now, after a lapse of six months, offered to Mr. Carnell a portion of another man's smallholding upon which they are prepared to expend public money for the erection of a house and buildings upwards of a quarter of a mile from Mr. Carnell's present holding, the rent of which on a 5 per cent. basis would be more than treble Mr. Carnell's present rent, and whereby Mr. Carnell would be sacrificing, not only the goodwill of his present business, but the results of eight years' cultivation of his existing holding; and whether, in these circumstances, the Minister will withdraw his consent to the refusal by the Essex County Council for Mr. Carnell to acquire his present holding?


All the facts mentioned in the first part of the question were before me when, after careful consideration of all the circumstances, I decided to consent to the county council's refusal of Mr. Carnell's application. There is no intention on the part of the council to deprive him of the tenancy of his present holding, and the proposals described in the second part of the question, which have doubtless been made to meet Mr. Carnell's desire for the ownership of a holding, do not afford sufficient ground for reviewing my decision.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether this ex-service man has not fulfilled all his part of the bargain; and whether he is not within his rights in asking to be allowed to purchase this holding instead of merely renting it?


This ex-service man is, I have no doubt, a very good man, and he is quite within his rights in asking to be allowed to purchase the holding, but the county council are also within their rights in not wishing to sell it. The existence of a semi-detached house and of a footpath at this point and other reasons, seem to be quite good reasons for the county council not wishing to sell.


On a point of Order. May I ask for the guidance of hon. Members whether a question of this length and character affecting a single individual is not an abuse of the time of this House?


I should not like to lay down a Rule on that point.


In view of the unsatisfactory answer given by the right hon. Gentleman, I propose to raise this matter on the Adjournment of the House at the earliest convenient opportunity.