HC Deb 06 December 1922 vol 159 cc1774-6W

asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of ex-service men placed on the land in connection with the various Government schemes, and the number who still remain there; and whether he has data to show that any of them and, if so, how many, have succeeded in making a livelihood?


The total number of ex-service men placed on the land by the Ministry and by local authorities since the Armistice is 16,493. As regards the Ministry's farm settlements, 21 ex-service men out of 485 provided with land have given up their holdings. The Ministry has no precise information as to how many of the ex-service men settled by local authorities have given up their holdings, but it believes that the proportion is considerably smaller than on the Ministry's own estates. Although the bad seasons and the agricultural depression have unfortunately placed smallholders, in common with all agriculturists, in an exceedingly difficult position financially, the Ministry has every reason for thinking that the large majority of the men settled will succeed in making a satisfactory livelihood.


asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of ex-service men settled on the land under the Land Settlement Act; the conditions as to rental under which such men have been settled; the average size of holding; and the number of applications not yet dealt with?


In reply to the first and last parts of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which was given yesterday to the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Simpson). In reply to the second part of the question, the rents of the holdings have been fixed in accordance with Section 11 of the Land Settlement (Facilities) Act at the best sum that can reasonably be obtained. This, in effect, is the fair rent for the holding, irrespective of the expenditure incurred in the purchase of the land or the provision of the house, buildings, water supply, fencing, etc. The average size of the holdings provided is 14.3 acres.

Lieut.-Colonel BELL

asked the Minister of Agriculture if, owing to the fall in value of all agriculture produce, the rents charged the ex-service smallholders are out of all proportion to the present value of their holdings, and that their financial position is desperate; and if, in order to prevent the land settlement scheme from becoming a complete failure, he will cause these holdings to be revalued?


I am aware that, in common with other tenants of agricultural land, ex-service smallholders are suffering as a result of the agricultural depression. To meet the situation, councils, with the Ministry's approval, have granted, and are granting, abatements of rent whenever they consider that such relief is desirable. In addition, a large number of holdings in different parts of the country, including those in my hon. and gallant Friend's constituency, have been, and are being, re-valued and the rents reduced. The conditions vary considerably from county to county, and the Ministry has accordingly left to the discretion of each local authority the date at which revision, where necessary, should be carried out.