HC Deb 25 July 1934 vol 292 cc1772-5

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps were taken by the Commissioners of Crown Lands to secure from the incoming tenant of Spittalhill, Stirling-shire, the same sheep-stock values as were paid to the outgoing tenant; whether the incoming tenant refused to recognise the existence of any acclimati- sation values; and, if so, whether that fact was officially communicated to the arbiters who fixed the prices paid by the State to the outgoing tenant and so caused the State to lose a sum of £2,500?


I have been asked to reply. The Commissioners were unable to find a new tenant who would take over the sheep stock at the values at which the outgoing tenants were entitled to claim. They therefore let the farm to a new tenant, who was only prepared to take over the sheep stock at fixed prices. The incoming tenant did not refuse to recognise the existence of the acclimatised values, but he was not prepared to pay those values on taking over. This fact was not officially communicated to the arbiters or the oversman, because the basis of the award was simply the value to the outgoing tenant under the terms of the tenancy, even if the Crown had taken the farm in hand and let to no new tenant.


Is it not the case that that part of Scotland is looked upon as a health resort for sheep, and therefore no acclimatisation value should have been paid?


I am afraid that condition was contained in the terms of the tenancy, and it is not a question of whether the air is better there.


Does not this show the folly of State enterprise in sheep farming?


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the loss of £2,500 of public money arising out of the recent sheep valuations at Spittalhill, Stirlingshire, belonging to the Commissioners of Crown Lands, he will expedite the work of the special committee appointed to consider the problem of sheep-stock valuations in Scotland and will ask the committee to recommend as to the steps necessary to prevent arbiters from awarding extravagant sums or giving acclimatisation value where none exists?


My right hon. Friend is assured that the committee on the valuation of sheep stocks in Scotland appreciate the desirability of presenting their report at the earliest possible date, and he understands that they hope to complete their report very shortly. The questions referred to by the hon. Member fall within the scope of reference to the Committee, and I assume that they will be fully dealt with in the report.


Can the hon. Gentleman make any observations as to the difference in valuation which exists when State money is involved as against the valuation when no State money is involved?


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will ask the arbiters in the recent sheep-stock valuation at Spittalhill, Stirlingshire, on behalf of the Commissioners of Crown Lands, to state publicly for what reason they allowed any acclimatisation value for the sheep taken over by the Commissioners; on what basis they assessed the acclimatisation value at nearly double the market value of the sheep; and whether there is any local precedent for such values, which involved a loss to the nation of £2,500?


The award was made by an oversman, following disagreement by the arbiters acting on behalf of the Crown and the outgoing tenants. I have no power to call upon the oversman to explain his award, and in the circumstances I do not feel justified in taking action on the lines suggested in the question. I have, however, brought the facts of the case to the notice of the Committee on Sheep-stock Valuations.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the adverse comment which has appeared in the agricultural journals in regard to this valuation, and, in view of that, is it not necessary that the facts of the next valuation arrived at should be made public?


If I took note of all the adverse criticism appearing in journals, agricultural or otherwise, I should have. no time to do my work in the House.


Is not State money involved in this case?


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that this entirely fictitious acclimatisation value has caused a lot of trouble in Scotland for many years?


Actually a Committee is sitting at the moment on the matter, and it was appointed for that very reason by the Secretary of State for Scotland.

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