§ 25. Mr. LEONARD
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that a smallholder of State-owned land in Glenelg, Inverness-shire, who vacated his holding about two years ago, has now recovered payment from the Department of Agriculture for Scotland of the sums due to him for the sheep stock he was compelled to leave; and whether, as the landholder had to instruct a firm of lawyers to enforce his claim, the Secretary of State is prepared to meet the legal expenses to which he has been put in consequence of the attitude which the Department had taken up, and also to pay interest on the sums so long withheld from him?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir Godfrey Collins)
I am aware of the case referred to. The circumstances are that there was a private arrangement between the club members which was outwith the terms of the joint and several obligations for repayment to the Department of Agriculture for Scotland of a loan in respect of sheep stock. On receipt of the necessary assurances from the remaining members of the club, the Department made to the outgoing holder an ex gratia payment with which his agent has expressed entire satisfaction. I am not prepared to authorise any further payment to him.
§ Mr. LEONARD
In view of the fact that this is a departure on the part of the Department, which they adopted about a year ago; that in consequence this man has been lying out of his money for two years and has had to take legal advice; and that he is a smallholder with very little money at his disposal, will the right hon. Gentleman see that he is recompensed for the losses he has sustained?
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I am sure that all these matters were in the mind of the Department, and I am informed that the agent who acted for the smallholder has expressed satisfaction with the sum received. If the hon. Member has any further information on this complicated question, I shall be happy to go into it.
§ Mr. LEONARD
If any similar cases should arise with regard to smallholders, will the Department endeavour to get this compromise arrangement made without the necessity of any action being taken?