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Volume 345: debated on Monday 20 March 1939

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asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can now make a statement on the case presented to him by the National Allotment Society; and what steps is it proposed to take to encourage the allotment movement and to secure more land for permanent allotments and assist local authorities where necessary?

The main proposals put forward by the National Allotments Society are based on the provision of financial assistance by the Exchequer towards the purchase of land for allotments by local authorities and allotment associations. Inasmuch as Parliament has entrusted to urban local authorities ample powers to provide allotments, including those governing the compulsory acquisition of land and financial assistance from the rates, the Government cannot see its way to introduce legislation on the lines suggested by the society. In announcing this decision, I would desire to emphasise the value and importance of allotments in the general scheme of local administration, and to urge local authorities to make the fullest use of their powers to extend the allotment movement. My Department will continue to do everything possible to encourage local authorities in the direction of providing more allotments on a permanent basis in order to satisfy the demands of those of their residents who wish to make good use of their spare time by providing food for themselves and their families from the cultivation of small plots of land.

Are we to understand that the Government are really not going to do anything to prevent the very deplorable practice of all sorts of councils taking over allotment land for housing schemes, schools, and all kinds of purposes?

Do the Government propose to do nothing to alter the present position? If that is so, I understand that the answer is "Yes."

The Government can urge the local authorities to exercise their powers.

Does not the Minister realise that the whole problem is, that the local authorities do exercise their power, which is to take back the land and that is what we want to stop?

It is for the local electors to educate their local authorities in the matter.

How can the right hon. Gentleman expect the local authorities to act honestly when they use the Public Authorities Protection Act to defraud people?