HC Deb 18 October 1949 vol 468 cc470-1
28. Mr. Spence

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will consider revising the date under which the ploughing subsidy is payable in the North of Scotland, having regard to the fact that much of this work is done in the early spring.

Mr. Woodburn

As the date, which is applicable over the whole country, was fixed by statute, I have no power to revise it.

Mr. Spence

Will the right hon. Gentleman give consideration to the fact that this season the Scottish farmer has to decide whether he will use his grazing to the full or whether he will have to cut it up in order to get the ploughing subsidy; and, further, swill the Minister receive representations on this matter with a view to reconsidering it?

Mr. Woodburn

We are always prepared to consider any matter, but I must point out that the Scottish farmer received notice in August last year that the ploughing subsidy would come to an end this year, and he had to make his provisions accordingly. We will consider the matter, but I cannot hold out any great hopes.

Mr. Snadden

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is in the national interest that grass should be grazed for as long as possible, and that the better the grass the longer the grazing? Does not this decision penalise efficiency and run counter to his own exhortations?

Mr. Woodburn

This has been an exceptional year and one cannot always budget for exceptional years. Moreover, the arrangements for this are always taken into account when settling other prices, and, therefore, what the farmer loses on the swings he gains on the roundabouts. In other words, he gets the price for his cattle if he keeps grazing them.

Mr. McGovern

Has the Minister received any representations from the Opposition to cut out these ploughing subsidies in the interest of economy?

Mr. Woodburn

No, Sir.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

The Minister says that the whole country is subject to this Order under statute. That being so, is it not a perfect example of how stupid it is to treat the country as one unit?

Mr. Woodburn

No, Sir. It may surprise the hon. and gallant Gentleman to learn that quite a lot of grass grows in England.