47. Mr. De la Bère
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the Government will now consider giving some increased credit facilities for agriculture, with a view to assisting the agriculturalists to increase the production of foodstuffs?
§ 54. Mr. Bartlett
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will consider taking steps to provide cheap credits for farmers and, in particular, to reduce the present high rate of interest for loans]from the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation?
§ The Minister of Ariculture (Colonel Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith)
As regards short-term credit, I would refer to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Sir P. Hurd) on 16th November. The position as regards long-term credit, and in particular the rate of interest on loans from the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, was discussed during the passage into law of the Agricultural Development Act, 1939, and I do not think that subsequent events would justify any modification in the views which I expressed on that occasion.
Mr. De la Bére
Does my right hon. and gallant Friend not realise how vitally necessary it is—and, indeed, that it is the duty of the Government—to see that those farmers who have ploughed up their land under the Government's scheme should have sufficient credit to carry them over to the time when they are able to sell their new crops?
§ Mr. T. Williams
Has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman invited his War Executive Committee to ask the district committees what exactly is the position of those farmers who have been called upon to plough up their land?
§ Sir R. Dorman-Smith
No, Sir, I did not ask them to perform that duty. It would be a very difficult duty for them.
§ 57. Sir I. Albery
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will make arrangements for short-term credits at low interest rates to be granted to farmers ploughing up old grassland in addition to the £2 an acre grant?
§ Sir R. Dorman-Smith
Arrangements have been made to expedite the payment of the £2 per acre grant for ploughing up grassland and provision has also been made for county committees to enter into arrangements with contractors for the ploughing up of land, the charges being guaranteed by ear-marking the appropriate amount from the £2 per acre grant to which the farmers will be entitled when the work is completed. As regards credit generally, I have every reason to hope, as I have already stated, that, with the prospect of satisfactory markets and prices, additional credit for farmers will be forthcoming from the normal sources of supply.
§ Sir I. Albery
Does my right hon. and gallant Friend feel sure that sufficient acreage of grassland will be ploughed up without this additional assistance?