§ Mr. FIELD
asked the Secretary to the Treasury, whether he will consider the advisability of removing the Land Law loans under the Land Law Act of 1881 from under the control of the Treasury and bring its administration within the jurisdiction of the county councils; whether he is aware that every possible difficulty is placed in the way of obtaining loans for improvements, especially on farms of a low valuation; and whether he is aware that the expenses of obtaining loans are altogether out of proportion to the money lent?1629W
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
It would not be possible to transfer the control of Land Law Loans under the Act of 1881 to county councils, without also transferring the full financial responsibility for such loans to them. I apprehend that they would not be prepared to undertake such responsibility. The statutes and the Treasury Regulations governing these loans, prohibit the Board of Works from lending on insufficient security, or to persons known as unpunctual in their payments or for works not calculated to effect agricultural improvement. Many loans are refused each year on these grounds; there is also a fixed minimum of £35 which occasionally operates to prevent small holders from obtaining a loan. There is no attempt on the part of the Board to obstruct or discourage the obtaining of loans. In the year 1908–9, £29,758 was advanced under this Act. Expenses for these loans are charged on a fixed scale, according to (a) the amount borrowed, and (b) the cost of the work done. It is believed that the scale is equitable to borrowers; the Board of Works inform me that many persons borrow and pay the expenses although they could if they chose carry out the works from their own resources. The charges made do not cover the cost of the service to Government.