§ 66. Mr. W. J. Brown
asked the Minister of Agriculture on what grounds he has decided that the appeal tribunals, to be set up to review cases where farmers are dispossessed of their farms by war agricultural executive committees, shall not review cases which have occurred in the past.
§ Mr. T. Williams
Any such course would be impracticable. Decisions were made on the weight of evidence regarding the condition of the holding at the time of dispossession. No tribunal could reassess these conditions to-day. Furthermore, in most cases the land is now held under new tenancy agreements which I have no power to break.
§ Mr. Brown
Is the Minister aware that after six years there has been no right of appeal at all? Does that mean that in no circumstances is the dispossessed farmer to be given any opportunity of seeking redress; and does that commend itself to the Minister as corresponding to the most elementary conceptions of justice in the matter?
§ Mr. Williams
I am afraid that is the case, since there would be no possibility of reassessing the conditions existing on the farm when dispossesion actually took place.
§ Mr. Williams
Assuming a statement was made to a tribunal, how could the tribunal—who were quite unable either to see or understand the conditions obtain- 1680 ing at the moment of dispossession—reach conclusions on evidence that did not exist?
Why should not the man be given a further chance and then, if he cannot make good, he could appeal to an impartial tribunal, and then, as a last resort, lose his land?