HC Deb 01 April 1946 vol 421 cc828-9
69. Mr. Dye

asked the Minister of Agriculture why the Norfolk Smallholdings Committee was not consulted in letting land attached to the airfield at Ludham, which was previously requisitioned from them; and why has land under the ownership of the county smallholdings committee been let to tenants of other estates while the committee has a long waiting list of applicants.

Mr. T. Williams

This airfield, like many others was made temporarily available to my Department for agricultural use pending final decisions as to its future. In view of this uncertainty it would have been impracticable to have let the land in the form of smallholdings, more particularly as the buildings required would not have been available. The Norfolk War Agricultural Executive Committee, therefore, arranged short-term tenancies to enable the land to be cropped this year.

Mr. Dye

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this land was previously occupied by the smallholdings committee? Why was that committee not consulted when it was handed back?

Mr. Williams

Surely, the hon. Member must be aware of the urgency of food production this year, and that it was hardly the right moment to start laying out smallholdings, especially where buildings were necessary.

Mr. Charles Williams

Were not these smallholdings of economic value? Why are the Government attacking smallholdings?

Mr. Williams

The Government are not only not attacking smallholdings, but in this matter they are doing no more than was done by the last Government when they set out to produce more food.

Mr. De la Bère

The small men will bring this Government down.