§ Mr. GINNELL
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if, in view of the danger of a shortage of food, he will say when, and under what statutory authority, the Estates Commissioners began to retain in their own hands untenanted lands which the Statutes they administer direct them to distribute among certain specified classes of persons needing land; what is the reason for holding up such lands when there are in the vicinity many persons of those classes in need of land and eager to till it; how much land of this class the Commissioners held undistributed on the 31st March, 1916, and on the 31st March, 1917, respectively; and if he will state, by counties, where the latter is situated, what use is being made of it, and what rent or profit per acre is derived from it?
§ Mr. DUKE
Section 9 of the Irish Land Act, 1903, contemplates that the Estates Commissioners may have in their hands lands of a value not exceeding £5,000,000. Exclusive of mountain, turbary, and woodlands, the unalloted lands in the hands of the Commissioners on the 31st March, 1916, comprised about 3,600 acres, and on the 31st March last about 2,700 acres, situated in the counties of Galway, Limerick, Louth, Meath, and Westmeath. Schemes of allotment have not yet been prepared for the resale of these lands, and under the Defence of the Realm Regulations, the Estates Commissioners are cultivating about 550 acres of the arable lands, and they have set 275 acres in conacre for food production. The balance has been let temporarily for grazing, or is being utilised for taking in of cattle of occupiers of small holdings at rates varying according to the character of the land.