asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture whether his attention his been called to the increasing inflation of prices recently paid for agricultural land, and to ask what steps have been taken by his Department to obtain powers to buy such land on reasonable terms in order to satisfy the demand of ex-Service men for small holdings; whether, if the Board's published statement that under the Land Settlement Bill holdings are to be let at the best rents obtainable, but the prices paid for land will not form the basis of the rents to be charged to the ex-Service men, is to be taken to mean that such small holdings will be apportioned to the highest bidder; and whether, when the Board finds any land especially suitable for the purpose of such small holdings, it intends to pay the vastly increased cost, plus 10 per cent. for forced sale?
Sir ARTHUR BOSCAWEN
The Board's attention has been called to the high prices which have been paid recently in certain cases for agricultural land. The proposals of the Government with respect to the compulsory purchase of land are embodied in the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Bill. In all cases where land is purchased by agreement county councils have to obtain the assent of the Board to the price proposed to be paid, and the Board have in many cases refused to allow councils to buy on account of the high price proposed. The Land Settlement (Facilities) Bill will empower county councils to let small holdings at the best sum that can reasonably be obtained, but this does not mean that the 597W holdings will be let to the highest bidder, as suggested by my hon. Friend, and county councils will not adopt that course.