HC Deb 14 February 1918 vol 103 cc303-5W

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he will cause an inquiry to be made into the conduct and administration of the Crown Colony, Patrington, Hull; whether he is aware that this colony was started largely with a view to supplying small holdings for ex-Service men who had knowledge of work on the land, and that the prospectus issued by the Board of Agriculture stated that the colony would consist of a central farm and sixty small holdings of about 35 acres each, including comfortable cottages and the necessary buildings for carrying on the holdings; whether he can state why these promises are not being carried out and why small holdings are not being provided on this colony to those who can work them; whether he is aware that numbers of ex-Service men who went there expecting to be provided with a small holding have been asked to work merely as farm labourers and have left the colony; and what action it is proposed to take?


The prospectus to which my hon. Friend refers announced that the Patrington estate had been acquired for the purpose of founding an experimental farm colony for ex-Service men, who would ultimately be allotted small holdings after they had passed through a probationary period of training as wage-earning labourers. Further consideration of the situation and character of the land in question has satisfied the Board that the estate can better be worked in the interests of the settlers as a single farm, and a scheme has been drawn up, and is now awaiting Treasury sanction, according to which the settlers accepted after their probationary period will become participators in the profits. It is anticipated that in this way they will secure a better living than from a small holding on this particular land. At the present time no large numbers of ex-Service men suitable for work upon the land are coming forward, but, without doubt, as the numbers of men discharged from the Army increase, the numbers of applicants for settlement on the colonies will also increase. The Department can find no ground for the suggestion that men have left the colony because they were required to work merely as farm labourers. They see no reason why a special inquiry should be made into the conduct and administration of the colony, of the full circumstances of which they are well aware.

Major HUNT

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture why Sergeant-Major F. W. Hymers, who served in the War for over two years and is a skilled market gardener, has not been supplied with a small holding as promised last October; is he aware that this man's discharge was marked "a capable man of excellent character "; and how, as no small holding could be found for this man, the large numbers which will be required for sailors and soldiers after the War are to be provided?


The circumstances of this matter, as they appear from the Board's official papers, are that on the 27th August last Sergeant-Major Hymers applied for a small holding on a land settlement colony, but stated that he was in negotiation for a holding in West Sussex, his letter indicating that he desired financial assistance for the purpose. On the 3rd September the Department asked Sergeant-Major Hymers to state definitely whether he was an applicant for land on one of the small holdings colonies or not. To this letter they have received no reply, although a further letter was sent to him repeating the question.