HC Deb 07 June 1956 vol 553 cc1251-3
11. Mr. Wade

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many farmers were under supervision on 30th April, 1956; and how many had been dispossessed in the year 1st May, I955. to 30th April, 1956.

19. Mr. J. Eden

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many cases of dispossession of land on the grounds of poor husbandry he has confirmed since October, 1951.

21. Mr. Godman Irvine

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many orders for dispossession have been made under the Agriculture Acts during the last twelve months; what number applied to tenants and owner-occupiers, respectively; and what number included the dwelling-house.

Mr. Amory

Since 31st October, 1951, 259 farmers have been dispossessed on grounds of bad husbandry. The number dispossessed since 30th April, 1955, was seven, of whom five were tenants, and two owner-occupiers. In four of these cases the order covered the farmhouse. The number of farmers under supervision on 30th April, 1956, was 225.

Mr. Wade

In view of the fact that the number of cases of dispossession is not such as materially to affect the standards of husbandry, the expense involved in applying this procedure, and the distress and hardship caused to individuals who are evicted, will the Minister now consider abandoning this procedure alto-gether?

Mr. Amory

These policies are, of course, always under constant review. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that the Agriculture Act, 1947, contains a balance between benefits and obligations. Though I am aware of the concern felt among the public outside about these matters, it is very seldom indeed that I get a complaint from inside the farming community.

Mr. Eden

Does my right hon. Friend confirm the dispossession orders imposed in each case before action is taken on them? Does he review the cases?

Mr. Amory

Every case is considered at Ministerial level.

Mr. Champion

Will the Minister always keep in mind that it we give to the farmers security of markets and stability of prices, we can and we ought to expect from them a reasonable degree of efficiency in their use of the land?

Mr. Amory

I recognise that we have only a very limited quantity of good agricultural land in this small island, and that inevitably we are losing a good deal of it every year for purposes of development.

15. Mr. Farey-Jones

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will initiate at the earliest possible moment such legislation as will prevent a repetition of dispossession of homes and property such as recently occurred.

Mr. Amory

Such an amendment of existing legislation raises wide issues. While I have these issues very much in mind, I cannot accept any suggestion that recent dispossessions were unjustified, having regard to the existing law.

Mr. Farey-Jones

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether adequate thought has been given to the practice—I am concerned not so much with individual cases as with the vital principle that lies behind the utilisation of such powers, and any elected member of this House has a duty to safeguard human liberty? That is what I want my right hon. Friend to consider.

Mr. Amory

I will bear in mind what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Paget

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept the proposition upon which the 1947 Act was founded, that the possession of land in England involves a trust to use it properly? Will he stick to that and not be frightened off it by his hon. Friends?

Mr. Amory

I think that I have replied on that aspect of the case in answering a previous Question.

Mr. G. Wilson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many young farmers who have difficulty either in obtaining a lease or purchasing agricultural land welcome my right hon. Friend's insistence that agricultural land shall be used rightly?

Mr. Amory

I agree with my hon. Friend that it is extremely galling if, because of the very strong demand for farms, farmers who cannot get possession of land see a promising farm abused.