Land must be entrusted to those who know how to use it, and arable land must therefore be given to farmers, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Parliament on Monday where several Members of Parliament from opposition parties queried him during question time.

Mr Orbán pointed out: they are selling some 20 per cent of the total state land holding. He remarked that he personally finds this less than desirable. State-owned land is being sold subject to a maximum 300-hectare holding limit and a ban on alienation and encumbrance for a period of 20 years, as well as subject to the registration of the repurchase right of the State, the Prime Minister informed MPs.

“I understand that you continue to think in terms of agricultural cooperatives and state farms (…); we, however, take the view that land must be given to farmers. The State should not engage in state-controlled agricultural activities but should leave them to those who know how to do these things”, the Prime Minister said in answer to the question of a socialist politician.

In answer to the point raised by another socialist MP that an ad hoc committee of Parliament should perform the controlling function of the National Assembly in connection with the sale of state-owned land, the Prime Minister said: this function can be performed under the auspices of the controlling sub-committee of the Agricultural Committee.

He repeated: “we understand if you support the maintenance of agricultural arable land in state ownership as you were the ones who took farms away from their private owners”. By contrast, the Government wishes to give land to farmers, and by doing so, it is implementing a hundred-year-old small holder programme, he said.

Mr Orbán pointed out in his reply to a question from an MP for LMP: according to the Government’s agrarian policy, the percentages of land ownership should be 80 to 20 per cent in favour of small and medium holders, and less in favour of large farms.

Regarding the topic of corruption, the Prime Minister responded to a contribution by an MP for Jobbik: “we condemn crimes of corruption, we do not tolerate them, and shall prosecute them”. The Prime Minister further said: before Jobbik is to ask any questions, it should first clarify where that money came from with which Béla Kovács, MEP for Jobbik, whose immunity was lifted by the European Parliament last week, supported Jobbik. It should also be clarified what Jobbik was expected to do in return for that money, and whether it had anything to do with suspected spy activities, he added.

“In this House, we are now used to the MPs of every party accusing one another in the fashion of the pot calling the kettle black. But that an elephant should be making mention of the trunks of others is something truly astonishing”, the Prime Minister said.

In answer to another question from a Jobbik MP, Mr Orbán said: Lőrinc Mészáros, Mayor of Felcsút provides jobs for 700 people, and he is therefore happy about his success. The Jobbik politician suggested that if the Prime Minister is aware of any case involving malpractices, he should take the necessary legal action.

Since when have the MPs for Jobbik “become the advocates of large land-holders”?, Mr Orbán asked, who told the opposition politician: “you have a brand-new large land-holder supporter, and as far as I can see, he is rather influential.  So all I am asking you is: how do you like your mercenary pay?”

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)