HC Deb 24 April 1939 vol 346 cc766-7
21. Mr. Mathers

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has noted the great falling off in the number and acreage of cultivated allotments; and whether he is taking steps to arrest this decline, in the national interest and to provide facilities for persons willing to raise additional foodstuffs by means of allotments?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

I am aware that in recent years there has been a gradual decline in the number and acreage of cultivated allotments, due mainly to the demand for land for other purposes in urban areas, particularly for housing. The primary responsibility for taking action to meet allotment needs falls on the local authorities, and, although these authorities should be fully cognisant of the importance that the Government attaches to the provision in the national interest of an adequate number of permanent allotments, I caused a circular letter to be sent at the end of last month by my Department to all the urban allotment authorities, urging them to make the fullest use of the ample powers entrusted to them by Parliament for the purpose of providing and maintaining allotments on a permanent basis for residents in their areas. I am sending a copy of this letter to the hon. Member.

Mr. Mathers

What kind of response has been received to that communication; and is it the intention to keep up that pressure?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

There has not been time to say exactly what the response is, but the pressure will be continued.

Mr. Lipson

Will the Minister take steps to compel local authorities who have taken allotment land for housing or other purposes to provide alternative land for allotment purposes?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

I have no power to do that.

Mr. Fleming

Is the Minister aware that in many cases the difficulty is due to the absence of a tenancy agreement in conformity with the Agricultural Small Holdings Act?

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