§ Mr. WRIGHT
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will state the amount of public money expended on land drainage, and the acreage brought into cultivation as a result of this expenditure, from 1900 to 1925; the proportion of such expenditure which has been paid direct to the landlords; and the increase in the value of privately-owned land which has resulted from such expenditure?
Approximately £859,000 was expended by the State on land drainage, including water supply, between October, 1921, and June, 1925, in connection with schemes of unemployment relief, carried out mainly by hand labour, apart from grants made by the Unemployment Grants Committee mainly towards the cost of installing drainage machinery. These schemes were designed to improve or protect from inundation existing agricultural land, and in very few cases have they resulted in fresh land being brought into cultivation. The benefit derived from work on the schemes is cumulative from season to season, but it is estimated that the following acreages were benefited or protected from inundation during the four seasons from 1921: 342,000, 912,000, 727,000 and 669,000.
The schemes have been carried out partly by drainage authorities and partly through the medium of county agricultural committees. In the former case the drainage authority find a proportion of the cost; in the latter the landlords participating in the schemes find a proportion. The total amount found locally in this manner in the period in question was approximately £430,000.
I have no information as to the increase of the value in privately-owned land that has resulted from such expenditure, but it must be borne in mind that many of these schemes were designed to keep the land in its existing state by the prevention of flooding.753W
Apart from the above, the Ministry incurred some expenditure in connection chiefly with schemes carried out in the concluding years of the War with prisoners of war labour under the Defence of the Realm Act, Regulation 2M, but at this stage I regret that I cannot give the hon. Member any details as to the sum involved.