§ 3. Mr. Wingfield Digby
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what percentage of the small holdings administered by public authorities fell vacant during the last year; whether this percentage is increasing or decreasing; and what is now the average length of tenure for each tenant.
About 5½ per cent. of the small holdings administered by public authorities fell vacant in the year to 31st March, 1961. Since 1954, this percentage has fluctuated between 5 and 6 per cent. The average length of a smallholder's tenure is estimated at rather more than twenty years.
§ Mr. Digby
Is it not clear that this turnover is not very satisfactory if we are to regard small holdings as a very useful ladder for farm workers? Will 591 not my hon. Friend look into this again and review the Government's smallholding policy to see whether more cannot be done to provide this very much needed ladder for more farm workers who wish to become farmers?
I think it is wrong to belittle the advantages of this policy. Some 10,000 full-time small holdings have been provided under the post-war Acts. My hon. Friend cannot, of course, have it all ways; when agriculture enjoys stability there is not the same amount of movement on and off farms.