HC Deb 04 December 1952 vol 508 cc1743-5
37. Colonel J. H. Harrison

asked the Minister of Agriculture what instructions he has given as to standards to be applied for qualification for the beef calf subsidy.

Sir T. Dugdale

The standard I propose to apply is that prescribed in the draft calf subsidies scheme for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Instruction in the application of that standard by the officers who will inspect and certify calves for the subsidy is being given by means of practical demonstrations.

Colonel Harrison

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a livestock officer of his Department gave a demonstration recently in Cambridge, and that there is great concern among farmers in the Eastern area at the very high standard set because they think that the result will be that less meat will be produced rather than more?

Sir T. Dugdale

The draft scheme has been laid before the House. Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend will raise that point when the scheme comes to be debated.

Mr. Crouch

If my right hon. Friend finds that this scheme is not going as well as he expects will he reconsider it and perhaps issue fresh instructions as the months go by?

Sir T. Dugdale

Yes, Sir.

Mr. J. T. Price

Is it not surprising that agricultural production, as revealed in this last batch of Questions, is in inverse ratio to the subsidies paid to the agricultural industry?

40. Mr. Murray

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many forms are to be filled up to claim the calf subsidy; and why three officers were required to visit a farm, of which he has been informed, and inspect 10 heifer calves to establish qualification for this subsidy.

Sir T. Dugdale

One application form. One of my livestock husbandry officers recently visited several farms in Durham in company with two newly appointed certifying officers whom he was training in judging the eligibility of calves for the subsidy. Normally, one officer only will visit farms to inspect and certify calves for the subsidy.

Mr. Murray

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Hugill, of Wolsingham, is a life-long experienced farmer and is being penalised for producing and feeding good cattle? Will the Minister have another look at this matter and see whether something can be done about it? Would he also explain the Durham County Agricultural Committee's saying this: The Ministry's instructions are that where animals born in October, 1951, are concerned owners must produce documentary proof of date of birth. What is meant by "documentary proof"?

Sir T. Dugdale

I can say straight away that there has been no change of policy towards farmers who are producing good sheep and cattle.

Mr. Bullard

Can my right hon. Friend say whether there has been any radical change in the standards required, and in the qualifications for the subsidy, for steer calves? Is he aware that a number of people who are rearing Friesian steer calves are very much afraid that they will be excluded from the subsidy entirely?

Sir T. Dugdale

I take the opportunity of definitely informing the House that there has been no change.

Mr. Murray

I was not able to hear all the right hon. Gentleman's reply. Does he really mean that the bigger and better the cattle the greater the penalty for producing it?

Sir T. Dugdale

No, Sir. This scheme will have to be worked on a commonsense basis. What we want to get at the end of the day is good beef cattle. The scheme has not actually started yet. The Order is now before the House and when it gets the approval of Parliament the scheme will be under way, and a lot of these fears will be found to be groundless.

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