§ Mr. Godber
My right hon. Friend has no reason to think that the transactions which I understand the hon. Member to have in mind give rise to the problems he describes. The leasing and sub-letting of land is a matter tor free negotiation between the parties concerned and my right hon. Friend sees no grounds on which he could intervene.
§ Mr. Owen
Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that some 6,000 acres of National Coal Board farmland in the County of Northumberland have been sub-let to a foreign interest at a rental of 26s. an acre and that this foreign interest has sub-let the land at 65s. an acre? This is surely a challenge to the business acumen of the National Coal Board, and is a matter of considerable local public concern. Will the Minister call for a report from the National Coal Board and place it in the Library, or institute a public inquiry into the transaction?
§ Mr. Godber
I am not certain that the facts are as the hon. Member has stated them. I have seen a Press report which gives a somewhat different view of this matter. In any case, I do not think that this is a matter in which my Ministry can properly intervene. It is a matter between landlord and tenant, and I do not think it would be proper for my 538 Ministry to take any active part by intervening in the way in which the hon. Member suggests.