HC Deb 07 June 1956 vol 553 cc1254-7
14. Mr. Farey-Jones

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether, in view of the disquiet occasioned by the dispossession of Lady Garbett, he will initiate urgent steps to restore the lady and her family to their rightful domicile.

16. Mr. Crouch

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the circumstances in which Lady Garbett was evicted from her farm at Horam in Sussex; and why a dispossession order made in 1953 was withdrawn by him, and not reissued until October, 1955.

17 and 18. Mr. J. Eden

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) why Lady Garbett, of Horeham Manor Farm, Horam, Sussex, was dispossessed of her house and land; and when he approved the action;

(2) when he will permit Lady Garbett, of Horeham Manor Farm, Horam, Sussex, to reoccupy her own farm house and her own land.

22. Mr. Godman Irvine

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food why, in the recent case at Horam, Sussex, the owner-occupier was removed from her house.

Mr. Amory

A proposal to dispossess Lady Garbett was made in April, 1953, after three years of supervision. Lady Garbett appealed to the Agricultural Land Tribunal, but in view of the legal flaw in the notice the Ministry offered no evidence, and the appeal was allowed.

Lady Garbett remained under supervision, and a further inspection in May, 1955, showed that the farming had greatly deteriorated. For example, the cereal crop from the 1954 harvest had been wasted; the land was foul; and the farm was understocked. In the opinion of the county committee it is the worst case it has experienced.

In June, 1955, the Committee recommended dispossession, which was approved. Lady Garbett did not appeal, and a dispossession order was made on 26th October, requiring her to let the land to an approved tenant by 2nd February, 1956.

Lady Garbett took no action, and in March, 1956, the committee requested vacant possession within fourteen days. On 16th May a warrant was obtained from the justices requiring vacant possession to be given.

After careful consideration, the Committee advised that inclusion of the farm house was essential for proper farming, there being no other living accommodation on this holding. I understand that Horeham Manor Farm was not Lady Garbett's only home.

On the evidence before me, I am satisfied that I should be failing in my responsibility under the Agriculture Act if I were to permit her to resume occupation.

Mr. Crouch

Did my right hon. Friend carry out properly and conform strictly to the 1947 Act of the Socialist Administration in removing Lady Garbett? Was she evicted or did she leave her farm house, and, if the latter, when did she leave? What previous experience had she of farming before entering upon this holding, and how much did the output—my right hon. Friend mentioned that it dropped—drop during the last twelve months of occupation?

Mr. Amory

The answer to the first part of the question is that the procedure has been entirely in accordance with the Act. The committee has in fact shown the greatest possible restraint and patience in dealing with this case. The reply to the second part of the question is that when the time came, Lady Garbett was, I think, evicted. The third part of the question dealt with production and Lady Garbett's farming abilities. I do not know what Lady Garbett's farming experience was before she took possession of this farm, but I do not think it could have been very much, seeing the way in which the farming has been conducted since.

As to production during the time, production throughout the four years has been extremely small, and with a decreasing trend. Production during the last twelve months was at a very low level indeed.

Mr. Eden

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is very great concern—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"]—not among those who have no value for private property and personal freedom at all, but among the public generally—at the wide powers which Departmental officials have, not only to enter private property, but also to turn people out of their homes—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Let us have the question heard and answered.

Mr. Eden

Is my right hon. Friend further aware that in this case the fact of whether or not Lady Garbett has another home has no bearing whatsoever on the question?

Mr. Amory

In reply to my hon. Friend I would say that these cases are of course extremely difficult, but I should like to emphasise one or two things. Lady Garbett has not been dispossessed of her property. She remains the owner of this farm. She has the alternatives of selling it or letting it herself to an approved tenant, or letting it to the committee so that the committee can let it to an approved tenant. What I can no longer accept is that Lady Garbett can remain in occupation of the farm.

Mr. C. Howell

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that hundreds of people have been dispossessed of their homes, although they are making a far greater contribution towards the benefit of the country. without any protest from hon. Members opposite?

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