HC Deb 08 March 1955 vol 538 cc153-4
64. Sir D. Robertson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that the holding of Clynelish, Brora, Sutherland, was graded as marginal under the Marginal Agricultural Production Scheme for the cropping year 1954, and was excluded from the benefits of the scheme in 1955 without notice and after the tenant had purchased lime, manures and seeds; and, in view of the fact that every other holding in the district continues to qualify for the grant, why Clynelish has been excluded from grant.

Mr. J. Stuart

It was possible for the Northern Agricultural Executive Committee, when making its offers of assistance in 1953 and 1954, to raise its rates of grant and to extend the scope of eligibility under the Marginal Agricultural Production Scheme to include a number of additional farms of which Clynelish, Brora, Sutherland, was one. Unfortunately the response to offers was such that the funds available would not permit the extended scope of the scheme to be maintained in 1955. The Committee has felt it necessary, therefore, to restrict eligibility again, and Clynelish farm is one of those that have been excluded. I understand on inquiry that the tenant was informed of his exclusion when he telephoned the Committee's office in December last.

Sir D. Robertson

In view of the fact that agriculture is a long-term job, was it not wholly wrong that a subsidy was taken from this farmer without notice after he had incurred a considerable amount of expenditure on lime, manures and seeds? Would it not be fair to repay him the amount of money he is out of pocket?

Mr. Stuart

If my hon. Friend would care to write to me on that point, I shall be glad to give him an answer. In the whole country there are 21 farms which have been removed from the Committee's marginal list. The agricultural executive committee did get an increase of funds for this scheme in 1953 and, as a result, increased its rates of assistance for 1954.I regret that owing to the increased number of applications it has not been able to cover the whole list.