§ 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.
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?
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. 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?
I recognise that we have only a very limited quantity of good agricultural land in this small island, and 1253 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.
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. 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?
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.