HC Deb 03 December 1945 vol 416 cc1911-3
54. Flight-Lieutenant Haire

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has yet any statement to make regarding Government intentions to set up independent appeals tribunals for the hearing of cases of farmers dispossessed of their holdings by County War Agricultural Executive Committees.

Mr. T. Williams

Yes, Sir. I apologise for the length of the reply. I have decided to set up eight regional tribunals of a non-statutory and informal basis, pending the introduction of permanent legislation to give effect to the policy which I announced in this House on 15th November. Each will consist of a chairman with legal qualifications selected by me, together with one member selected from a list of persons nominated by the National Farmers' Union and one member selected from a composite list of persons nominated by the Central Land Owners' Association, the Land Agents' Society and the Chartered Surveyors' Institution jointly.

As soon as the tribunals are set up, a farmer will have the right to appeal, should he so desire, against any proposal by a county war agricultural executive committee to terminate a farm tenancy or to take possession of a farm in the interests of more efficient food production and to state his case before a tribunal, who will report to me. The final decision will be taken by me as the Minister responsible to Parliament for the administration of the Emergency Regulations concerned. Each regional tribunal will be appointed ad hoc to deal with a case, or group of cases in a particular locality, regard being had in the selection of the personnel to the geographical situation and the type of farming in question.

Flight-Lieutenant Haire

Will there be retrospective consideration in the case of farmers who were dispossessed during the war?

Mr. Williams

No, Sir, that would be quite impossible, since the evidence is no longer available.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Does this apply to Scotland, and if so, will appropriate bodies be drawn upon for the members of these tribunals?

Mr. Williams

I think my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland replied to a similar question last week.

Lieut.-Commander Joynson - Hicks

When will these fresh arrangements come into operation, and will the House have an opportunity of discussing them beforehand?

Mr. Williams

I hope the tribunals will be set up almost immediately, but I do not see the point of any discussion upon them.

Major Legge-Bourke

Is it the Government's intention to consider setting up tribunals for appeals other than those against dispossession?

Mr. Williams

No, Sir.