HC Deb 27 May 1954 vol 528 cc605-6
43. Mr. Bullard

asked the Minister of Agriculture how much additional land has been acquired for smallholdings by county councils between March, 1953, and March 1954, or between the latest convenient dates; and how many new holdings have been established.

Sir T. Dugdale

Between 1st April, 1952, and 31st March, 1953, 2,091 acres of land were acquired for smallholdings by county councils which, in addition to the enlargement of some existing holdings, will eventually result in the establishment of 56 new full-time holdings. Thirty-three new full-time holdings were actually established during the year, partly as the result of acquisition in earlier years. I shall not know the corresponding figures for 1953–54 until all county councils have reported to me.

Mr. Bullard

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he thinks these figures are tending to increase or whether the rather slow rate of progress which we have been making up to the present is only being maintained? Is there any indication of an increase?

Sir T. Dugdale

I hope to have the figures complete by the end of June, and, as at present anticipated, I think they are likely to show an increase over 1952–53.

Major Legge-Bourke

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, in some areas, there is a demand for part-time smallholdings, and can he give an assurance that that matter is having attention?

Mr. T. Williams

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that, in this House in 1947, all parties voted for proper smallholdings as distinct from part-time ones?

Sir T. Dugdale

I think it was so, but that is a different Question from the one on the Order Paper. Earlier on in this Parliament, I made a very detailed and definite statement on the position regarding part-time smallholdings which I think my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) found satisfactory in his part of the world.

Dr. King

In view of the importance of extending smallholdings, would not the Minister agree that this is a very disappointing figure, and will he say what he is doing to encourage local authorities to provide more smallholdings?

Sir T. Dugdale

I do not accept that it is disappointing. These smallholdings are extremely expensive. The most important thing is that those already in existence should be well equipped in order to give a livelihood to the people on them.