43. Mr. DUNDAS WHITE
asked the Secretary for Scotland on what date the Board of Agriculture for Scotland first became aware of the desire of persons in the island of Tiree to use the derelict sheep-run on the farm of Balephetrish for the purpose of food cultivation; what was the number of sheep on that sheep-run at that time, and what is the maximum number that have since been on it at any one time; and whether the cottars who were sentenced to imprisonment for taking possession of it for the purposes of food cultivation are still in prison?
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL for SCOTLAND (Mr. Morison)
The Board of Agriculture for Scotland has been aware since 1912 that there is a desire for small holdings in Tiree. In 1913 they prepared a scheme for new holdings and enlargements on part of the farm of Balephetrish, which was approved by the Land Court. The tenant of the farm elected to have his compensation determined by arbitration, and the amount awarded by the arbiter was so large that the Board had no option but to abandon the scheme. In November last an application was made to the Board to provide land for cultivation under the powers contained in the Defence of the Realm Regulations, and the Board were about to proceed on these lines when in the month of December the land was seized by certain of the cottars. There is no derelict sheep-run on the farm of Balephetrish, which is fully stocked and well farmed. The number of sheep on the farm, or any part of it, necessarily varies from time to time, and I am unable to give the figures for which my hon. and learned Friend asks. The cottars who were imprisoned for breach of interdict have been liberated in ordinary course. My right hon. Friend is informed that none of the cottars are in distress for food and there is no risk of their suffering any privations through want of land. He understands that during 1917 the farmer offered them plots for potato growing, 661 but these offers were declined by some of the cottars, who wished the farm broken up into small holdings.
Is the Board of Agriculture now proposing to put this scheme through under the powers of the Defence of the Realm Act?