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Small Holdings (Scotland)

Volume 65: debated on Tuesday 21 July 1914

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27 and 29.

asked the Secretary for Scotland (1) what compensation is being paid to Lady Cathcart in South Uist for the creation of small holdings on her estate; whether compensation is being paid because the geese shooting is the rarest and most attractive sport in the island; whether this is the same island from which the crofters were driven to America to make room for sheep; whether geese have now supplanted sheep; and whether the Board of Agriculture in these circumstances propose to disturb the geese by placing small holders upon the land; and (2) whether his attention has been called to the proposal to award Lady Gordon Cathcart £500 for loss through prospective increase in school rates owing to the possibility of additional school accommodation being required for the children of the occupants of small holdings newly created in South Uist; and whether he proposes to introduce legislation to provide a fund to relieve rate- payers elsewhere of the same necessity, particularly as the birth rate in Scotland is on the increase?

In the case referred to the Arbiter has not yet issued his final award, but has issued his proposed findings. The total amount of compensation which he proposes to award to Lady Gordon Cathcart is £13,049. The rental of the two farms taken, exclusive of sporting rental, was £580. The total includes £400 in respect of seaware and tangle; £2,600 for damage to the geese and duck and other shootings; £1,000 for damage to fishings; £500 is awarded for "Loss through prospective serious increase in school rates owing to necessity for building additional school accommodation." The Board of Agriculture have represented that this latter is not competent, and have asked the Arbiter to state a special case for reference to the Court of Session. They have also taken exception to the amount awarded for the shootings and fishings. It appears from the Award that there will be no loss of annual revenue, but, on the contrary, after allowing interest on the sums to be paid for buildings, there will be a substantial margin, for which the Arbiter allows £1,274; but a sum of £4,523 is awarded for depreciation of selling value due to the creation of small holdings on the estate. This is in addition to the award for damage to sporting rights.

Will the right hon. Gentleman use all his influence to get the Scottish Smallholders (Amendment) Bill put through so as to avoid these unnecessary payments?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the statements in the question that the crofters were driven from this island is untrue; whether he does not know—everybody else does!—that these crofters were voluntarily offered concessions in Canada by Lady Cathcart, were financed by her, and succeeded and prospered there, and were very grateful for what she did, and that is a gross broach of the privileges of this House to put such a statement on paper?

Those facts are not stated in the question, and I must have notice.

Does it not state in the question that the crofters were driven out?

May I ask whether the scenes of the disturbances of small holders, mentioned by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh, are due to the same cause as those mentioned in the last sentences of the question?


asked the Secretary for Scotland whether the Board of Agriculture for Scotland has adopted plans for three standard types of cottage which are to be built by them upon small holdings; and, if so, whether No. 1, the smallest of these, consists of a large kitchen with a bed recess, a front room with a bed recess, a small back bedroom, and a scullery with pantry; whether this plan was submitted to him for approval before it was adopted by the Board; and whether he is satisfied that it carries out the requirements of modern sanitation and public health?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The answer to the second part is that provision is made for a recess in the kitchen and also in the front room, but that these recesses may or may not be used for beds, and in any event are open to the ceiling and have satisfied the local authorities concerned. The cottage is designed for people of small means in country districts who presently live in dwellings which are inferior both in sanitation and accommodation. As to the third part of the question, the answer is in the negative, but I have no reason to think that these dwellings, which have satisfied the public health authority, fail to carry out the requirements referred to.

Is it not intended that these recesses should be used as bedrooms in these cottages, and, if so, will these plans be referred for examination by somebody who will take the medical side of the question into account?

They satisfied the public health by-laws and the public health authorities. I dare say they are intended for that purpose. I am inclined to agree with my hon. Friend it is not a good purpose, but they are not the old recesses that used to be called box-beds.

Does my right hon. Friend agree with the suggestion in the question, and, if so, cannot he use his influence to see that those plans are altered so as to meet the highest requirements of modern science and not the older practice which prevailed in Scotland for many years?

Does the right hon. Gentleman not consider recesses for beds absolutely out of date, and will he ask the Local Government Board to see that there are new methods for new buildings?

Would it not be to the public advantage if there was at the Local Government Board for Scotland a man who had been through a sanitary engineering and architectural course?

We have, of course, officials who have the necessary technical experience. I would point out that these recesses are not the same as the old recesses to which my hon. Friend referred.