HL Deb 07 March 1922 vol 49 cc345-6

My Lords, I beg to ask the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture whether he will introduce the Allotments Bill, promised by Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen, to carry out the recommendations of the Committee on Allotments, presided over by the Parliamentary Secretary, but for which time cannot be found in the House of Commons. At this hour I shall be very brief indeed, though this is a question of great importance to a very large number of people in this country. The reason I ask the noble Earl, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, to introduce here the promised Bill to give greater security to allotment holders, instead of waiting until time can be found for it in another place, is that the Government have had to acknowledge how much they are hampered in the House of Commons for time. They have actually had to withdraw their Summer Time Bill, and to introduce it in this House to-day. That shows how great a blockage there is in the House of Commons. Then we are all aware that the sword of a General Election is hanging over the head of the House of Commons, and of the present Parliament, and if this Bill is not speedily introduced and passed through both Houses the allotment holders will have to wait a much longer time before they will be able to get the security they require.

The recommendations which I ask the Government to introduce here are embodied in the Report of the Committee presided over by the noble Earl who represents the Ministry of Agriculture in this House. That Committee made many recommendations as to the amendment of the present law in favour of allotment holders. It advised that the tenure of allotments should be made more secure, and that, as far as possible, the allotment holders should have such security of tenure as can be given in existing circumstances. An excellent provision was also introduced into that Report providing that co-operative allotment associations might obtain loans from the Public Works Loans Commissioners. That would be a great advan- tage to the small allotment holder. At the present moment he has to pay very high rent for his allotment owing to the fact that the money has to be borrowed at a high rate of interest. A matter which is exercising the minds of allotment holders very much indeed is that they should have adequate compensation for disturbance. The Government passed a very stringent Bill giving adequate compensation to large tenant farmers if disturbed, and it seems only fair that the small allotment holder should be treated in the same way and have full and adequate compensation. We all know what a great advantage it was during the war to have the amount of food that the allotment holders produced. These men are now being threatened that they will be turned out with little or no compensation. But what they fear most is the loss of allotments which have been a credit to themselves and a great advantage to the country.

Allotments are wanted now even more than in the old days, owing to the fact that shorter hours of labour are worked. All classes of working men have a holiday on Saturday afternoons, and it is better that they should be engaged upon these allotments rather than spend their time in the public house or looking at a cricket or football match. I know very well how much the railwaymen and miners and others in industrial areas would appreciate it if the Government would introduce this Bill, and carry out the valuable recommendations of the Departmental Committee which was presided over by the noble Earl. Such an Act would be received with great satisfaction, and would be a deed of justice to a most deserving and a large body of men in this country. I hope the noble Earl will be able to tell us that this course will be adopted, for I cannot see that there is any objection to it. We have plenty of time in this House to proceed with a Bill. There would then be no risk of losing it for want of time to discuss it.


My Lords, I hope to introduce a Bill in your Lordships' House before Easter, and I trust I am not over sanguine in anticipating that it will be given a Second Reading.

House adjourned, at half past seven o'clock.