§ 28. Mr. ELLIS DAVIES
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the fact that there was a decrease of 5,536 in the number of holdings under 50 acres in 1916 in England and Wales; whether he can give any explanation of the decrease and the failure of the Small Holdings Act; and whether he will appoint a Committee to inquire into the whole question?
§ Sir R. WINFREY
Whatever may have been the causes of the decrease in the number of small holdings in 1916, as stated by the hon. Member, of which the Board are fully cognisant, the decrease was not set off in that period by the normal working of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act. 1908, in creating small holdings. The Board cannot admit any failure of the Act, which, owing to the restrictions imposed on loans from public funds during the period in question, was to a large extent in abeyance. It is doubtful whether applicants for holdings would then have been forthcoming in view of the call upon men for service and industrial work; in consequence, the President sees no valid reason for the appointment of a Committee of inquiry.
§ Mr. DAVIES
Does not the hon. Gentleman think the statistics of 5,000 in the number of holdings under 50 acres is exceedingly serious in the present position of affairs, and does he not think some suggestion should be made to arrest this continuous decrease?