“The matter is one of great urgency in view of the approaching demobilisation of the Forces”

Some former soldiers were interested in the opportunity of farming – but would it be affordable?

A further circular letter has been received from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries dated 14 January, 1919, as follows:

Sir,

The Government have come to the conclusion that while the County Councils are the most suitable bodies to be entrusted with the local administration of the matter, the financial responsibility for the loss which must inevitably occur in creating small holdings under present conditions should be borne by the Exchequer and no charge should be placed on local rates…. The Board will repay to the Council the whole of the deficiency between revenue and expenditure on the Small Holdings undertaking of the Council as a whole including the land already acquired….

As the whole of the financial responsibility has been assumed by the State, the Board feel confident that they can rely on the active assistance of your Council in carrying into effect without delay the desire of the Government to settle on the land of this country as many as possible of the ex-service men who are qualified to become successful small holders. The Board will be glad to receive at the earliest possible date concrete proposals from your Council for the acquisition of suitable land for the purpose, and I am to point out that the matter is one of great urgency in view of the approaching demobilisation of the Forces….

The Board feel sure that Councils will be vigilant guardians of the public funds which they will administer and that they will exercise all possible care and economy with regard to the price to be paid for the land, the expenditure on equipment, and the cost of administration.

I am, Sir, &c

A D Hall
Secretary.

The men attached to Agricultural Companies working in Berkshire (approximately 1,500) have been circularised with a letter and application form (issued by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries) with a view to ascertaining, in accordance with the Board’s request, the number who desire to settle on the land on demobilisation.

The total number of application forms returned to this Committee from men who definitely state they desire to settle in Berkshire is 84, besides three others, of whom one gives Oxfordshire, one Surrey and one Hampshire as alternatives to Berkshire.

Of these 87 men, 26 state that it is their intention to maintain themselves wholly by farming a small holding.

Replies to the question as to capital available have seldom been filled in and only 16 have stated that they have sufficient or partly sufficient capital for the amount of land required, while no definite amounts have been stated with the exception of three cases.

Another circular is being sent out with a view to ascertaining more definite information both as regards the extent of land required and the amount of capital available.

Berkshire County Council minutes, 18 January 1919 (C/CL/C1/1/22)

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