HC Deb 04 February 1930 vol 234 cc1654-5

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is yet in a position to announce the terms upon which grants are to be made available under the Government's land drainage scheme; when application forms will be available for fanners who wish to apply for grants; and if he will state to what circumstances, avoidable or unavoidable, the delay which inconveniences both farmers and tile manufacturers in publishing the scheme is due?


The terms of the scheme have now been adjusted. Subject to the approval of Parliament, a sum of £30,000 will be made available on the Vote of the Department for the year 1930 for field drainage and heather-burning purposes, as compared with £15,800 in the current year. This means an increased provision for field drainage alone of £14,200. The conditions of the scheme are similar to those of a year ago, with the exception that the limit of the Department's grant to £6 per acre in the case of tile drainage is withdrawn. Application forms will be issued as soon as possible. With regard to the last part of the question, it is necessary to give consideration to the details of a scheme before it is finally approved.


As this scheme has only been varied in one particular, surely there has been rather an undue delay in announcing it. Does not the Secretary of State for Scotland realise that the farmers have not time in which to make their arrangements for doing drainage work as early as they would like, and that the whole of the grant will not be used, and will he be able to ensure that he will get an earlier announcement made of the scheme next time?


I have not intimated that the whole of the grant will not be used.


Will the right hon. Gentleman make certain that the applicants will get earlier notice, because this in the past has been one of the causes of holding up the work to be done under such a scheme?


I do not agree that that is the main cause for holding up the scheme, but steps will be taken to let farmers know as early as possible.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say what is the cause of holding of these schemes?


There has been no holding up of schemes. I think, if the right hon. Gentleman had paid attention to my answer to the first part of the question, he would realise that in the first place the grant is increased from £15,800 to £30,000.


I know, but may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not a fact that that announcement was made about a fortnight ago, that yet no steps have been taken, and that the proposed scheme varies only in one particular from the scheme which was before the House of Commons a year ago?


Even although it was intimated a fortnight ago, the application forms, as I have already said, are being prepared and will be allocated as soon as possible.