HC Deb 03 April 1968 vol 762 cc353-4
19. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will decide the course of action that is to be taken in relation to the recommendations in the Wise Report, that certain estates, including Elmesthorpe, be closed.

30. Mr. Godber

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he proposes to announce his decision in regard to the future of the three Land Settlement Association Estates which the Wise Committee recommended should be withdrawn from the Land Settlement Association scheme.

Mr. Peart

I regret that I am still not able to make a statement on the future of these estates, but I will do so as soon as possible.

Mr. Farr

This is yet another matter on which the right hon. Gentleman is required to do something. Is he aware of the distress and suffering being caused to tenants who have to work these estates under sentence of death, as it were? Cannot he get on with it?

Mr. Peart

I am always anxious to speed up and do things. I do a lot of things for the agricultural industry, though I am usually attacked by hon. Members opposite for it. The livelihood of these tenants is at stake and I am anxious to make the right decision after careful inquiries. 'I am not going to be rushed into taking action which might be disastrous. I must be sure of taking the right long-term view, and that I shall do.

Mr. Godber

But the right hon. Gentleman has had adequate time. We want him to take the right decision, as it is very important for the tenants. But this Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads has been there a long time and it is up to the right hon. Gentleman to say something to enable these tenants to plan their future. Is not he aware of the real concern there is?

Mr. Peart

I am aware of that concern and it is for that reason that I am making careful inquiries and studies. Of course many of the tenants are worried and concerned. I am well aware of that, since I have met their representatives and I want to make the right decision.

Mr. Hawkins

The Wise Report has been out nearly two years. When are we going to get action on it or at least a debate?

Mr. Peart

There were two sections to the Report, the first part dealing with local authority smallholdings. The question of a debate is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and if the hon. Gentleman feels strongly about it he must ask him.

22. Mr. Ridsdale

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will make a further statement on his proposed legislation following the Wise Committee's Report.

Mr. Peart

I intend to introduce legislation to implement the proposals announced in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Hazell), on 7th March [Vol. 760, c. 156–8] but I cannot yet say when this will be possible.

Mr. Ridsdale

Am I to understand that the Minister is proposing legislation to allow units which are financially viable to become independent? If so, is he aware how much some of us will welcome this measure of denationalisation, however small? When will he implement this legislation or is he coming to this side of the House before then?

Mr. Peart

I cannot go beyond what I have already said.