HC Deb 17 December 1942 vol 385 cc2059-61
42. Mr. Granville

asked the Minister of Health what steps he proposes to take to deal with the shortage of suitable agricultural cottages in East Suffolk; and if he will consider the building of a minimum number of cottages in order to deal with the present shortage?

Mr. E. Brown

As I recently stated during the Debate on the Address, I fully realise the unsatisfactory housing conditions which obtain in many parts of the country, but the present demand on the available resources of labour and materials for works of urgent strategic importance preclude me at present from entertaining general proposals for the provision of new houses. I am, however, considering in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries whether any special steps can be taken to meet the urgent needs of agricultural workers.

Mr. Granville

Is the Department represented in the discussions now going on between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Workers' Union?

Mr. Brown

My Department is in close touch with the Ministry of Agriculture on the whole subject.

50. Mr. Granville

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will consider suspending the granting of cottage certificates by war agricultural committees; and whether he will take steps to prevent any unfair eviction from tied cottages during the war?

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. R. S. Hudson)

A certificate issued by an agricultural executive committee is merely one item of evidence that a court is required to take into account in deciding whether to grant an order for possession. This certificate shows the agricultural needs; but it is for the court to weigh those against other considerations. The arrangements for obtaining possession of agricultural cottages are, however, to be re-examined in consultation with the interests concerned.

Mr. Granville

Are the war agricultural executive committees responsible for finding alternative accommodation for farmers and farm workers who are turned out by their order? Is the matter being discussed in the talks that are going on?

Mr. Hudson

No farm worker is turned out by order of the war agricultural executive committees. All that the war agricultural executive committees have to do is to give a certificate whether in their opinion a cottage is needed for agricultural purposes. The question as to hardship and alternative accommodation has nothing whatever to do with the war agricultural executive committees. It is solely a matter for the courts.

Mr. Granville

What steps is the Department taking to find alternative accommodation for small farmers?

Mr. Hudson

That certainly does not arise out of the Question.