HC Deb 20 April 1948 vol 449 cc132-3W
Sir E. Graham-Little

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware of the present derelict state of Sherington Nurseries, Newport Pagnall, Bucks.; what were the horticultural qualifications of the tenant introduced by the Newport Pagnall sub-committee in 1941 after the requisition of the premises and the eviction of Mr. C. C. Peach; what subsidies, pay and allowances were made to such tenants; how long the premises were granted free of rent; what other occupations were followed by these tenants; and what labour was supplied on their entry in 1941 when it was refused to the owner.

Mr. T. Williams

The Buckinghamshire Agricultural Executive Committee took possession of land at Sherrington Nurseries in April, 1941. The Committee were themselves unable to undertake cultivation and had difficulty in finding tenants willing to do so. Eventually they agreed to let the property to joint tenants, by profession a consulting physician and a blood transfusion organiser, who although themselves having no particular horticultural qualifications, engaged as a manager a fully qualified horticulturalist approved by the committee. Under this arrangement the production of food from the holding was greatly increased.

Under the terms of agreement with the committee in regard to rent, based on the report of a valuer on the condition of the premises, no rent was paid between April, 1941, and September, 1942, during which period, pending completion of somewhat extensive repair work, the tenants were not in full beneficial occupation of the premises. The tenants were paid a potato subsidy in the usual way, but otherwise received nothing in the nature of pay or allowance in respect of their occupation of the nursery.

I understand that the tenants engaged adequate labour on taking over the property and I do not accept the suggestion that the committee had previously refused to fulfil any specific application by Mr. Peach for labour which they were properly in a position to supply. The property was derequisitioned on 31st October, 1947, and I am aware that since that date no effective arrangements appear to have been made by Mr. Peach for cultivation, and he has apparently refrained from fulfilling his responsibilities under the Agriculture Act, 1947. I understand that he considers that, if he did so, his present negotiations for settlement of claims arising from the derequisition might be prejudiced. As I informed the hon. Member on 18th December last, I am advised that this is not so, and Mr. Peach has been so informed. If the land is not properly cultivated the provisions of the Act will of course have to be brought into operation.