HC Deb 01 December 1977 vol 940 c419W
55. Miss Maynard

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in view of the stated policy of encouraging small businesses, if he will seek powers to prevent local authorities from selling agricultural smallholdings.

Mr. Strang

My right hon. Friend, the Minister and I are concerned that widespread disposals of county council smallholdings would damage the farming industry. The Government regard the provision of small holdings for letting as an important county council function, which has for many years acted as the gateway into farming for able and experienced young people. On 21st November my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment and I had a useful discussion on this matter with representatives of the Association of County Councils. The acquisition and sale of smallholdings land is the responsibility of the county council concerned, but it is hoped that county councils will delay any major review of their estates pending the report of the special inquiry by Lord Northfield into the acquisition and occupancy of agricultural land. We are watching the situation closely.

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