§ 96 and 97. Mr. Leslie
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) whether he is aware that there are 3,430,000 acres of land in Scotland devoted to deer; and whether, in view of the loss of food supplies from Denmark and Holland, he will consider the advisability of utilising these deer forests for arable and pasturage farming;
(2) whether he will consider the extension of crofters' holdings and the acquisition of land now under deer to the thousands of applicants for land settlement and that help be given by money and equipment grants, as in the case of Luskintyre, when new holders, in order to stock land formerly under deer, were granted State loans?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Westwood)
My hon. Friend will appreciate that the acquisition of land for holdings and their constitution and equipment, especially in the case of deer forests, are processes requiring much time and material, and I regret that, under present conditions, it is not practicable to make funds available for this purpose. As I stated in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) on 21st May, instructions and guidance have been given to agricultural executive committees in the Highland counties with a view to securing the full utilisation of the grazing capacity of deer forests, and steps have been taken in certain cases to enable townships of crofters to obtain additional grazing on sporting lands. I should be glad to hear of any special cases of difficulty which my hon. Friend may wish to bring to my notice, but he will, I am sure, realise that the vital considerations at the present time are the production of more food and the efficient organisation of our resources in men and materials for victory.
§ Mr. Leslie
Would my hon. Friend call for a report as to the speeding up of the matters that he has mentioned, and is he aware that more than 2,000,000 acres of these deer forests were at one time under cultivation and could be utilised again?
§ Mr. Westwood
I am aware of the facts which are stated in the question by the hon. Member. Every endeavour is being made to speed up the full utilisation of our land to give us the best result possible for the victory which we desire.
§ Mr. Maxton
Is the hon. Member recollecting, when he says that the acquisition of land is necessarily slow, that this House granted to this Government emergency powers to deal with all property that was necessary to be acquired for national purposes? I would cite the Minister of Labour again, who operated his powers in transferring the use of labour on the following day; will those who are interested in the acquisition of property act with similar expedition?
§ Mr. Westwood
The powers referred to by the hon. Member are well known to those at the Scottish Office at the present moment.