Mr. C. Royce
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what proposals have been put forward by the Government of British Honduras to bring back into circulation some of the uncultivated land privately owned, as referred to in the Downie Report, paragraph 12, page 14, and paragraph 13, page 15.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
The recommendation to deal with this particular problem—No. 2 in the summary of recommendations in the Downie Report—was endorsed by the Executive Council in British Honduras and agreed at the recent Conference in London. The British Honduras Government recognise that the most practical way of bringing into circulation privately-owned agricultural land which is still undeveloped is 25W through the system of land tax already in force. The Conference decided that the necessary measures were a matter for local legislation in the light of circumstances. The British Honduras Government consider, however, that if such measures are not merely to have the effect of removing land from private ownership, it will be necessary to link them with an active land settlement and investment policy, a matter which is now being pursued in conjunction with the proposals for large-scale immigration.
§ Mr. C. Royle
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps have been taken to implement the recommendation in the Downie Report, paragraphs 14 and 15, page 15, that a suitable expatriate officer be engaged on a contract basis to draw up, after consultation with the Government departments concerned, a schedule of areas which would be subject to designation as need arose in British Honduras and to strengthen the Survey Department.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
The recommendation in paragraph 14 of the Downie Report was endorsed by the Executive Council in British Honduras, subject to the omission of the word "expatriate". This omission was designed to leave roam for the appointment of a local officer if a suitable one could be found. The recommendation as modified was approved by the recent Conference in London.
No steps have yet been taken to engage such an officer since it may be possible to prepare a schedule of areas without the assistance of extra staff. Much basic work in this connection has already been done by the Land Adviser to the British Honduras Government.
The recommendation in paragraph 15 was also agreed in principle. Steps have already been taken to strengthen the Survey Department. An expanded training programme is in operation and, if all trainees are successful, a total of fifteen British Honduras surveyors should be available by 1964. It is recognised that meanwhile it will be necessary to find surveyors from abroad in whatever way proves to be practicable. To this end, application has recently been made by the British Honduras Government to the Canadian Government for the services of three surveyors under that Government's Technical Assistance Programme.