§ Mr. Garro Jones
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will inquire into the administration of the Crown Lands at Fochabers, and, in particular, state their total purchase price, total income, total cost of administration in salaries, what requests for repairs have been refused in the last 12 months, and how many of the farmers has the factor visited in that period?
§ Sir R. Dorman-Smith
The local administration of the Crown Lands at Fochabers is in the experienced hands of the late owner's agent, in whom the Commissioners have full confidence and with whom they are constantly in touch. The lands so administered, together with valuable fishing rights, were purchased by the Crown for the net sum of £481,000. Until the estate has been in hand for a few years, it would be impossible to arrive at the total net income from the property, but in accordance with established practice the results will be reported confidentially to the Treasury when available. The cost of administration in salaries is about £3,000. Repairs were carried out 69W last year on over 100 holdings, and no repairs for which the landlord is responsible were refused. Improvements, however, were refused in a few cases, because the tenants would not pay interest on expenditure; and, since the war started, both repairs and improvements have had to be postponed temporarily, in accordance with public policy, save in most exceptional circumstances. Farmers are visited when necessary by the agent or his assistants, and nearly every holding on the estate was visited last year.