HC Deb 25 June 1953 vol 516 cc2093-4
44. Brigadier Medlicott

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many new smallholdings have been provided in Great Britain in each of the years since 1945; how this compares with the prewar figures; and if he is satisfied with the rate of increase.

Sir T. Dugdale

Figures are not available to show the number of new smallholdings provided between 1945 and 1st October, 1949, when Part IV of the Agriculture Act, 1947, came into operation. During the period 1st October, 1949, to 31st March, 1951, and during the past two financial years I approved schemes for the creation of 91, 80 and 42 new smallholdings, respectively, in England and Wales. Although fewer new holdings are being provided each year than before the war, they are much larger and better equipped, and under prevailing conditions the progress made is as good as can be expected.

Brigadier Medlicott

Is the Minister aware that in some counties at least the provision of new smallholdings has been virtually at a standstill for many years? Will he do what he can to stimulate counties which are not doing so much as perhaps they could?

Sir T. Dugdale

Yes, Sir; the first thing is to get the existing smallholdings brought up-to-date and improve standards. I am concentrating on that as a first move. I would tell the House that it costs now approximately £7,500 to provide and equip a smallholding.

Major Legge-Bonrke

Would my right hon. Friend agree that one of the difficulties of this problem is that areas most suited to smallholdings are those where land values are most prohibitive to the Ministry assisting the county council in purchasing land? Will he do something to ease that situation?

Sir T. Dugdale

Yes, Sir. I have this problem always with me, but it is surrounded by a tremendous number of difficulties, such as the one raised by my hon. and gallant Friend.