§ Mr. ROYCE
asked the Minister of Agriculture if, in the first instance, he intends to offer for sale any agricultural land now possessed by the Government to the respective county councils in whose area the land is situated; and, failing acceptance by the county councils, if he will direct that such land for sale shall be offered by public auction?
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
The question of the future of the Ministry's farm settlements is at present under consideration by the Cabinet in connection with the recommendations contained in the Second Report of the Committee on National Expenditure, and I am not, therefore, in a position to make any definite statement on the subject at the present time. I may say, however, that it has for some time been the policy of the Ministry to arrange, wherever practicable, for the transfer of settlements which are fully equipped and let as small holdings to the neighbouring county councils.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will give the total cost of settling men on the land in England and Wales out of public funds; will he give the present position of the Land Settlement Scheme in England and 1922W Wales; how many ex-service men have been settled on the land and how many civilians; what is the average annual loss to the State of this national experiment in land settlement, including administration costs; and what is the average cost per person settled on the land?
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
The present total capital commitments of county councils and councils of county boroughs for the purpose of the Land Settlement Scheme in England and Wales is estimated at £15,466,992. This capital expenditure is advanced by way of loan, and is repayable by the councils. According to Returns supplied by the councils as at the 16th January, 9,413 ex-service men who applied for small holdings before the 1st December, 1920, had been approved and were waiting for holdings. In addition, 2,864 were awaiting interview, or their applications are standing over. Since the 20th December, 1918, the date of the inception of the Land Settlement Scheme, 17,275 applicants have been settled on the land, of whom 15,635 are ex-service men and 1,640 civilians, and it is estimated that a further 2,770 applicants will be settled on land already acquired and not let pending the completion of adaptations and equipment. As regards all those schemes in respect of which the Ministry has approved the councils' proposals for the equipment and letting of the land in small holdings, the average annual loss per holding, after making provision for the repayment of loans and administration expenses of the councils, is £28 16s., the average capital cost per settler being £824.