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Land Settlement

Volume 244: debated on Wednesday 12 November 1930

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65.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can give the approximate net cost to the State of the Land Settlement Act during 1919–26; and the number of persons settled on the land under that Act for the period 1919–26?

As the reply is long and contains a number of figures, it is proposed with my hon. Friend's permission to circulate it in the OFFICIAL. REPORT.

Following is the reply:

The number of holdings provided by councils under the Land Settlement Scheme during the period 1919 to 1926 was about 16,000. The net capital expenditure incurred on the purchase and equipment of land was approximately £15,250,000, of which £14,000,000 was advanced by the Public Works Loan Commissioners out of the Land Settlement Fund, the remainder being provided locally. These figures include a certain

amount spent on the equipment of land acquired before 1918. The sum advanced is repayable in full over varying periods with interest at rates varying from 4¾ per cent. to 6½ per cent., the average rate being 6¼ per cent. The losses due to the fact that the rents of the holdings fall short of the loan payments and the charges for repairs, management, etc., were repaid annually to councils for each year up to 31st March, 1926. The amount so repaid was £5,100,000, but it should be observed:

  • (a) That the number of holdings only reached its maximum in 1923; and
  • (b) That some part of the loss related to pre-War holdings upon which further money was spent after 1938.
  • As from 1st April, 1926, the Ministry pays to each council a predetermined annual contribution for the whole of the council's pre-War and post-War holdings. The total amounts so payable in respect of the first five years were approximately as follows, and it may he assumed that the hulk is in respect of the holdings created after 1918:

    £
    1926737,000*
    1927902,000
    1928892,000
    1929865,000
    1930845,000

    The contributions will continue at a progressively diminishing rate until by reason of the repayment of loans, the annual charges will fall to the level of the annual income. The high costs prevailing during the period when most of the equipment was provided are, of course, reflected in these figures.

    * The full contribution of about £900,000 was reduced to this figure in consequence of overlapping with payments made under the arrangements in force up to 31st March, 1926.