§ Mr. W. R. SMITH
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture whether he is aware that returned soldiers who have applied through the Kent County Council for land, each in his own parish, in the Romney Marsh, Kent, have been outbid by farmers who, not having had to join the forces, have improved their financial position, and who conse- 2065W quently have been able to buy up all the cottages and more land than they could cultivate or find sufficient labour for; can he state why civilian fathers and brothers of ex-Service men are unable to obtain small holdings from their parish councils as in pre-war days; whether at the present time small holders who live in a farmer's cottage are obliged to work for the farmer or to run the risk of being turned out of their cottage; and whether action can be taken to help all Romney Marsh smallholders by the purchase of a large farm and cottages in some central place like St. Mary's, where instruction and loan of Implements could be given?
§ Mr. PRATT
The Board are aware that in many cases county councils are finding difficulties in purchasing land at auction, owing to the high prices that are being paid by tenant farmers and others. Civilians can still apply to county councils for small holdings as in pre-war days, but the councils are required to' give a preference to applications from ex-Service men. With regard to the third part of the question, the operation of the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (War Restrictions) Acts should have removed any apprehension on the part of tenants of cottages as to the risk of eviction. With regard to the last part of the question, the Board have been informed by the Kant County Council that they are considering the question of the acquisition of a considerable acreage in the Romney Marsh district for the provision of small holdings.