HC Deb 05 May 1949 vol 464 cc1207-8
46. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture when he expects to bring into effect in England and Wales a scheme for assisting the reclamation of upland grazings and other marginal land in line with the marginal production schemes in Scotland and Northern Ireland; and if he has formed an estimate of the acreages in each county that it will be practicable to deal with in the next three years and the prospective increases in the stock of cattle and sheep.

Mr. T. Williams

The Marginal Production Scheme for England and Wales, recently published as Statutory Instruments 1949, No. 536, is generally in line with the schemes operating in Scotland and Northern Ireland. I have no basis on which to forecast the acreage of land in any county, or in England and Wales as a whole, that will be improved with the assistance of funds provided under the scheme, nor what increases in numbers of farm livestock will result from the use of the scheme.

Mr. Hurd

Is the Minister now proposing to take this problem seriously? Would he tell the House what the scope of the scheme is to be, and what he expects to be done under it, and at what cost to public funds?

Mr. Williams

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, we always take these things seriously. We have now issued a marginal land scheme, and now we must wait to see what the response of the farmers is to it.

Major Sir Thomas Dugdale

Will the right hon. Gentleman make a statement to the House? It is not appreciated in the countryside exactly what the Minister is doing under this S.I. 536.

Mr. Williams

We have given, and are giving, great publicity to the scheme.

Mr. Emrys Roberts

Will the right hon. Gentleman give this scheme special publicity in Wales, because it is one of the most important things that can be done to bring more land into cultivation in Wales?

Mr. Williams

The hon. Gentleman is a representative of Wales, and I hope he will do a little publicity himself, too.