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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware that the provisions of the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1948, relating to the protection of sitting tenants of agricultural land are now resulting in a shortage of farms to rent, which bears hardly upon young farmers in particular; and how he proposes to remedy the situation.
I have received representations to this effect and am taking them into account with other factors in the discussions that are taking place with the organisations concerned. These discussions are not concluded, and I am not in a position to make a statement on their outcome.
Would my right hon. Friend not agree that the present rather stagnant condition with regard to agricultural lettings indicates clearly the need for reforms giving safeguards for sitting tenants? Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that he will have the good will of everybody in his efforts to find a solution to this very difficult matter?
Yes, I rather agree with what my hon. Friend has said. I am anxious if I can to get agreement on the improvements that we can make in that direction. I think we must remember that reasonable security of tenure is a prerequisite for efficient production, and I think also that the strong demand for farms at present is perhaps one indication that agriculture is in a sound condition.
Mr. T. Williams:
While agreeing with the latter part of the right hon. Gentleman's answer, may I ask, if county agricultural executive committees are doing their duty under Part II of the 1947 Act, what would be the point or the justice in dispossessing a good farmer, who is known, and replacing him by an unknown farmer?
I should certainly never be in favour of dispossessing a good farmer—very much to the contrary; but this question is not directly concerned with Part II of the Agriculture Act so much as with the question of security of tenure which is dealt with under the Agricultural Holdings Act.