asked the Minister of Labour (1) the total amount of money advanced from public funds and private sources to the Land Settle-men* Association, Limited, in gifts or loan; and whether he has any statement to make on the present position of that association;
(2) how many holdings of the Land Settlement Association are vacant; and whether he has any plans for the utilisation of the estates of the Land Settlement Association in order that the public funds invested in that organisation shall not be wasted and that the agricultural production of the country should benefit accordingly?
The total amount of money advanced to the Land Settlement Association from public funds is £1,968,544, and I am informed that the sum of £160,348 has been advanced from private sources. The total number of small holdings available is 1,030, of which 186 were vacant on 31st October, 1939. At a time when food production is a paramount consideration it is not proposed to recruit any more inexperienced industrial unemployed workers who require a long period of training, but active steps are being taken to fill all the vacant holdings with experienced agricultural tenants. In the meantime the vacant holdings are being cultivated by the Land Settlement Association in consultation with the county war agricultural committees. Undeveloped estates have been either let or are being farmed by the Land Settlement Association.
My I ask whether the Minister is going to publish the report of the committee of inquiry into the Land Settlement Association, and also whether anything is being done to preserve the very expensive machinery which, I am informed, is being left to rust on many of these holdings which have been left vacant?