HC Deb 23 January 1947 vol 432 cc90-1W
Sir E. Graham-Little

asked the Minister of Agriculture why, as the truth is admitted of the charges that the district labour officer and the district officer of the Buckinghamshire A.E.C. had been responsible for growing canary seed on land which should have been otherwise utilised, these officers have not been prosecuted for this offence when several other persons, guilty of the same offence but not enjoying official positions, have been heavily fined; and why both he and the committee in question were unaware of these offences committed by their officers until the attention of Parliament was drawn to the incident.

Mr. T. Williams

The facts of the case to which the hon. Member refers are as follows: The district labour officer concerned grew canary seed on a plot of land which he had purchased for the purpose of building a house, having previously been informed by the district officer that the committee would not give specific instructions regarding the cultivation of so small an area. Prosecutions are not undertaken automatically for infringements of the Buckwheat and Canary Seed (Control of Cultivation) Order, and in deciding not to prosecute the district labour officer, I took into account the special circumstances of this case including the fact that he appeared to have acted in good faith and to have inferred from the district officer's statement that there was no objection to the use of this small piece of land for any crop he wished to grow. My decision was not affected in any way by the fact that he occupied an official position. Both officers concerned acted improperly, however, and they have been reprimanded. As regards the last part of the Question, I can only say that it is difficult for me or my committees to be aware of all the private activities of the members of their staff.