HC Deb 10 November 1953 vol 520 c759
31. Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what advice he has received from the Hill Lands Commission in regard to beef production in the last 12 months; and what action the Government has taken.

Mr. J. Stuart

The Hill Lands Commission have continued to assist me with their advice on the scope for cattle rearing in the Highlands. Recent increases in the hill cattle subsidy are the result of recommendations made by the Commission. I understand that the Commission are at present considering the terms of a general report but that before completing it they wish to take into account the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Crofting Conditions, which is expected to become available in the early spring.

Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton

Is it not the case that the Forestry Commission are still planting in certain areas which would be very suitable for beef production? Can my right hon. Friend either authorise the Forestry Commission to go into beef production or else stop them planting on this land?

Mr. Stuart

I do not think that they should go into beef production. There is always apt to be a conflict of interest, but we do our best to see that suitable land is preserved for agriculture.

Mr. Woodburn

Would the right hon. Gentleman take an early opportunity to state what is the Government's long-term agricultural policy in relation to hill farming and beef on the Highlands, otherwise there is no hope of any Commission making any report that will give any confidence to Highland farmers?

Mr. Stuart

I can hardly do that now.

Mr. John MacLeod

Can my right hon. Friend say whether any of these reports are to be published at all?

Mr. Stuart

Certainly they are.

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