HC Deb 04 July 1932 vol 268 cc15-7

asked the Minister of Agriculture the annual loss to the Exchequer and to the local authorities for land settlement since 1919; and what is the average annual cost for each smallholder established?


As the reply is long and includes a number of figures, I propose, with my night hon. Friend's per- mission, to circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.


In preparing the statement, will the right hon. Gentleman also make a statement of the intention of the Government with regard to ex-service men settled on the land after the War?


Will my right hon. Friend say, when the statement is issued, the advantage to local authorities by increased rateable value as well?


The hon. Member had better wait until he has seen the statement. If he requires further information, he must put down a question.

Following is the statement:

(i) Up to the 31st March, 1926, the actual losses on smallholdings provided by councils were repaid in full by the Ministry. The total amount so repaid was £5,100,000, this being almost entirely in respect of holdings provided under the Land Settlement (Facilities) Act, 1919. Figures for single years would be misleading because (a) the number of holdings was increasing each year up to 1923, and (b) the amounts repaid in any one year did not correspond exactly to the losses incurred in that year.

(ii) As from the 1st April, 1926, the Ministry pays to each council a pre-determined annual contribution for the whole of the council's smallholdings estates as existing at that date. The total amounts so paid each year have been:—

For the year. Amount.
1926 737,000*
1927 902,000
1928 892,000
1929 865,000
1930 845,000
1931 839,000
* The full contribution of about £900,000 was reduced to this figure in consequence of overlapping with payments made under the arrangements in force up to 31st March, 1926.
The total number of smallholdings concerned is approximately 29,500, but the contributions relate mainly to the post-War holdings numbering about 16,500. The contributions represent the excess of councils' loan charges and other payments over the income from the estates and will diminish progressively as the loans on the properties are paid off. The figures reflect the high rates of interest and high costs of building prevailing after the War.

(iii) Since 1926 further holdings have been provided by councils under the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, 1926. In respect of any such holdings involving a loss the Ministry pays contributions not exceeding 75 per cent. of the estimated annual loss, the remainder falling upon the councils' smallholdings accounts. The number of smallholdings comprised in schemes approved up to the 31st December, 1931, was 946, the aggregate loss in the first normal year being £26,732 or £28 5s. 2d. per holding and the Ministry's contribution towards that loss £19,997. As in the case of the holdings referred to in paragraph (ii) the annual loss and contributions in respect of these holdings, without taking account of any further holdings provided, will diminish progressively as loans raised on the properties are repaid.

A few holdings have been provided by councils under the Act of 1926 without incurring any loss.

(iv) Some smallholdings have been established by the Ministry itself under the Small Holding Colonies Acts 1916 and 1918 and the Sailors and Soldiers (Gifts for Land Settlement) Act, 1916, but it is impossible to separate the cost of providing these holdings from the total expenditure incurred in operating the Acts.