HC Deb 07 December 1948 vol 459 cc244-6
7 and 8. Mr. Snadden

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what was the total number of applications for subsidy payments in 1948 under the Hill Cattle Subsidy (Scotland) Scheme; how many of these applications were received on or before 30th June, 1948; and how many were received on 1st July, 1948, and within the immediately following 13 days; and

(2)in regard to subsidy payments under the Hill Cattle Subsidy (Scotland) Scheme, whether he is aware that the Department of Agriculture for Scotland require 50 days in which to intimate refusal of an application on the ground of late receipt; if he is satisfied that a maximum of 28 days during a busy season in agriculture is sufficient time for farmers to prepare and lodge their applications; and if he will extend this period.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Woodburn)

Under the Hill Cattle (Scotland) Scheme in 1948, over 13,000 application forms were received in the Department by 14th July. Of these just over 93 per cent. were received on or before 30th June, the final date prescribed in the Scheme. Four hundred and nineteen forms were received on 1st July and a further 494 during the next 13 days. I regret that it was not possible to deal with late applications immediately thereafter. This was due partly to the need to concentrate action first on the applications received in time and partly to a desire to consider carefully the rather awkward problem of late applications. I shall certainly consider the possibility of extending the period allowed to farmers to prepare and lodge their applications next year.

Mr. Snadden

While I am much obliged to the Secretary of State for saying that he will reconsider the matter, may I ask him whether the reply does not indicate that a large number of farmers just failed to get in by the due date owing to preoccupations in the month of June? Does not he agree that the time allowed was not enough, and will he look into the matter again?

Mr. Woodburn

I will look into it again, but, except for a very small group, the applications came in by the due date, and that will be the case, whatever date we fix.

Mr. Baldwin

In view of the facility with which millions of pounds are put into the reclaiming of land in other parts of the world, does not the Minister think that something better should be given to the Scottish hill farmers to enable them to receive these grants more easily?

Mr. Snadden

If the right hon. Gentleman says that the numbers who failed to get in were comparatively small, surely the administrative difficulties will be very slight, and could he not make a payment to satisfy the applicants?

Mr. Mathers

In view of the small number of late applications, will not my right hon. Friend consider reviewing the position, and, in doing so, give some heed to the public services rendered by those who carried out the conditions under which the grant is earned, apart altogether from the paper work connected with it?

Mr. Woodburn

It is evident from the figures that there has not been any great difficulty, but I promise to look into the matter again next year to see if we can extend the time.

Commander Galbraith

Could not the right hon. Gentleman look at the matter sympathetically and take into consideration the small number of claims received after the due date?

Mr. Woodburn

In regard to the claims received after the due date, where there was a good reason for them coming in after the due date, they have received sympathetic consideration, and that was the reason why the grants were made, but, where there was no reason for their being received after the due date, they had to be turned down, because, otherwise, there was no point in having a date at all.

Mr. Snadden

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter on the Motion for the Adjournment.

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