HC Deb 19 February 1924 vol 169 cc1543-5W

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that certain smallholders in the Highlands of Scotland who are unable to purchase their holdings are threatened with eviction within the next few months, and that feelings of alarm and insecurity are consequently spreading throughout the Highlands; and whether an assurance can be given that the Government will take action without delay with the object of securing these families in the possession of their homes?


I am aware that some dissatisfaction prevails in the areas referred to for the reason stated in the first part of the question. The difficulty arises from the terms of the provisions of the Small Landholders (Scotland) Acts. Linder Section 19 of the Act of 1911, the Land Court have no option but to grant resumption of a holding which has been purchased by a person for his own occupation if such person possesses no other landed estate. The question of introducing legislation with a view to remedying matters is receiving my close consideration.


asked the Secretary for Scotland if he will now receive applications from married ploughmen for small holdings whether or not such ploughmen have Army service?


It is, and has been, open to persons in the position mentioned to make such applications to the Board of Agriculture for Scotland, but in dealing with applicants the Board have to keep in view the preference to ex-service applicants conferred by the Land Settlement (Scotland) Act, 1919.

Major M. WOOD

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that it has been found practically impossible to make land in deer forests available for small holdings on account of the provision in the Land Settlement (Scotland) Act, 1919, which compels the Board of Agriculture to fence land so taken, thus making the cost of the holdings prohibitive; and whether he proposes to take steps to have the provision referred to repealed?


I assume the hon. Member's question refers to Section 10 of the Act of 1919, the provisions of which apply to any land on which schemes of land settlement may be projected by the Board of Agriculture for Scotland, and are not solely applicable to deer forests. I am aware that difficulty has arisen in connection with a scheme of settlement on deer forest land because of the operation of the Section. I am considering the matter, but I would remind the hon. and gallant Member that fences are only required where the land court declare them to be necessary.


asked the Secretary for Scotland whether it is his intention to introduce a Bill to amend the Scottish Land Settlement Acts, dealing particularly with security of tenure?


I assume the right hon. Member refers to the possibility that a holder may be dispossessed by the granting of an application for resumption by a person who has purchased the holding. As stated in my reply of to-day to the hon. and gallant Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair), I am considering closely whether it may be possible to introduce legislation on this subject.


asked the Secretary for Scotland if he is aware of the dissatisfaction prevailing in many crofting areas owing to the ease with which landlords can reacquire crofts and holdings under the Small Landholders (Scotland) Acts, whereby crofters and holders are dispossessed of their holdings, thus defeating the intention of the said Acts; and will he give facilities for the passing of a Bill to remedy this?


I would refer the right hon. Member to the reply which I gave to-day on the same subject to the hon. and gallant Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair).