HC Deb 29 October 1919 vol 120 cc730-1W

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture, whether he is aware that in the county of Hereford there are several hundreds of by-take farms suitable for small holdings; that over 1,000 ex-soldiers of this county have applied unsuccessfully for small holdings; arid that only one ex-soldier has been given facilities; and whether, in view of the fact that the county of Hereford is one of the best in England for small holdings, he will urge the Small Holdings' Committee to take greater advantage of their powers?


Yes, Sir. The Board are aware that there is a considerable number of by-take farms in the county of Hereford, but all of these are not suitable for small holdings. With regard to the figures contained in the hon. Member's question, the latest return received by the Board from the Hereford County Council shows that 400 ex-Service men have applied for holdings, and that one ex-Service man has been provided with a holding. The Board for some time have not been satisfied with the progress Being made in this county in carrying out the Land Settlement scheme, and the President accordingly instructed one of the Headquarter Commissioners on the 26th August last to visit and make a special report on the county. As a result of these inquiries the attention of the county council has been called to the unsatisfactory state of affairs, and the Board have themselves, since the date mentioned, inspected several properties and succeeded in acquiring, subject to Treasury approval, over 2,000 acres of land for the settlement of ex-Service men.

Captain BROWN

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture if his attention has been drawn to the number of small farms and holdings in the North of England that are being rented by large farmers for off farms; and if, in view of the fact that this practice tends to close the avenues of advancement to ex-soldiers and experienced men anxious to get on and is also a cause of social unrest, the Board propose to take any action in the matter?


My hon. and gallant Friend called my attention to this matter in a question which he put on the 5th May last, and as a result of his suggestion instructions were issued by the Board to county councils pointing out that where possible off farms should be acquired for the purpose of the settlement of ex-Service men in preference to farms where there was a tenant in residence. I do not think that the Board can usefully take any further action in the matter at the present time.

Colonel ASHLEY

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if any scheme of land settlement for ex-Service men is under consideration; and, if so, in view of the urgency of the matter, when details of the -scheme will be announced to the House?


I hope to introduce a Bill dealing with this matter next week.