HC Deb 05 May 1949 vol 464 cc1208-9
47 and 49. Mr. Hugh Fraser

asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) on how many hill farming schemes work is completed or in progress; and what is the average delay between the mooting of a scheme and its physical inception;

(2) how many hill farming schemes have been approved by his Department—either alone or jointly—so that work can commence; how many acres are involved; and what is the total estimated cost of schemes in hand to be borne by the Treasury up till the end of the current financial year.

Mr. T. Williams

Work has been authorised on 683 improvement schemes in England and Wales; the total area of the farms to which these schemes relate is about 279,000 acres; and the amount of Exchequer grant payable up to the end of the current financial year on completed work is estimated at £150,000. The average time that has elapsed between the submission of proposals and authority being given for the start of the work has been nine months.

Mr. Fraser

Is not the Minister somewhat disappointed with the extent of, and the success which has attended, this scheme, and does he not consider that there are certain steps which could be taken to improve its scope by perhaps offering greater certainty to producers of beef and mutton in the form of a longer guarantee?

Mr. Williams

The hon. Gentleman cannot be aware that, as distinct from the figures given in my original reply, 1,891 schemes have been submitted to deal with approximately 731,000 acres, and costing approximately £2,114,000. It is a question of the applicants themselves making up their minds as to how many of the 23 items of improvement they actually want in any given scheme.

Mr. Baldwin

Is the Minister aware that there are 16 million acres classified as rough grazing in Great Britain, and that the pace of these schemes is not fast enough to catch up with the work that wants doing?

Mr. Williams

I happen to be responsible only for England and Wales.