HC Deb 28 March 1938 vol 333 cc1629-30
56. Mr. Leslie

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the fact that less than one-half of the applicants for small holdings in the Highlands and Islands during the past six years have been provided with holdings, action can be taken by him to expedite the matter and thereby minimise to some extent further depopulation?

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Wedderburn)

The possibility of advantageous settlement of applicants in holdings in the Highlands and Islands is under constant review. Land settlement can proceed only as suitable opportunities offer, but I can assure the hon. Member that no suitable opportunity is missed.

Mr. Leslie

Does not the Minister think that when the splitting up of a farm is under consideration and it has been examined and reported on, the applicants should receive a decision without a lapse of several months, and in some cases over 12 months?

Mr. Wedderburn

I should be glad to know of any particular case in which the hon. Member thinks there has been any undue delay, but there is always a large number of cases being considered, and it is not always easy to fit them into the holdings that are available.

Mr. Robert Gibson

As 50 per cent. of last year's applicants remain unsatisfied, will the Minister inform me what is the total number of unsatisfied applications now at the Scottish Office?

Mr. Speaker

The question refers to the Highlands and Islands.

Mr. Gibson

I mean the total number in the Highlands and Islands.

Mr. Wedderburn

I think that was answered last week. The number of applications for small holdings during the last six years was 673, of which 316 were provided with holdings. It must not be assumed that all the remainder were suitable.