THE DUKE OF MONTROSE
asked His Majesty's Government—
- (a) Whether they would state under what authority the Agricultural Executive Committee for Bedfordshire have the right to destroy apple trees on 37 acres of land held in trust for "Copo" Tree Owners, without any notice what ever being served on the Tree Owners, as the proprietors of the trees.
- (b) Whether the Agricultural Executive Committee for Bedfordshire may be instructed to furnish the proprietors of the apple trees in question with copy of the order served on the "Copo" Company, Ltd., who have hitherto acted as cultivating agents for the proprietors.
- (c) Whether the apple tree proprietors may be afforded the opportunity by the Agricultural Executive Committee for Bedfordshire to make their
363 own arrangements for the ploughing up and future cultivation of the 37 acres of land in accordance with the A.E.C. orders.
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY OF THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (THE DUKE OF NORFOLK)
(a) County War Agricultural Executive Committees are authorized by Defence Regulation 62 and the Cultivation of Lands Orders, 1939, to give such directions with respect to the cultivation, management or use of land for agricultural purposes as they think necessary or expedient for the purpose of promoting, increasing or maintaining food production. Such directions are normally given to the occupier of the land to which they relate. Notice to any other person is not a requirement of the Regulations or Order, but where a direction is given to a tenant, it is usual to send a copy to the landlord.
In connexion with their urgent task of increasing food production in their county the Bedfordshire War Agricultural Executive Committee caused an inspection to be made of the orchards of Messrs. Copo at Cockayne Hatley, from which it appeared that an area of about 37 acres was uncultivated and in foul condition with a proportion of the trees dead and the remainder poor and unthrifty. The Committee accordingly issued a direction to Messrs. Copo, Ltd., on 24th March, 364WA 1943, requiring that the trees be grubbed up forthwith and the ground bare fallowed in a proper husbandlike manner during the summer of 1943 in preparation for wheat to be sown in the autumn. At the same time directions were given in respect of other parts of the orchards comprising some 225 acres, requiring that the trees be pruned, dead trees removed, and the ground between the trees cleared of weeds by suitable cultivations.
(b) It is not thought necessary that a copy of the direction issued by the Bedfordshire War Agricultural Executive Committee to Messrs. Copo, Ltd., should be sent to the owners of the apple trees. As a matter of fact, the Committee do not know who are the owners of the trees. The Committee will no doubt be willing as a matter of courtesy, to send copies of their directions to an accredited body representing the tree owners, if application is made.
(c) So long as the directions of the Committee are complied with, it will be immaterial to the Committee whether the work is done by Messrs. Copo, Ltd., or by some other person or persons, by arrangement with that body. It is obviously not possible for the Committee to make any such arrangements direct, and they must hold Messrs. Copo responsible for carrying out the work directed to be done.