HC Deb 13 May 1957 vol 570 cc4-5
6. Mr. Grimond

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will now revise or abandon his powers of compulsory purchase of farms.

Mr. Amory

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the provisions of Part II of the Agriculture Act, 1947, whose operation has, during the past year, together with the other matters, been under review in consultation with the organisations concerned. The review is still in progress, and I am not at present in a position to make a statement.

Mr. Grimond

While I appreciate that the subject is under review and that the public will have great interest in the result, surely the right hon. Gentleman will agree that circumstances have changed a great deal over the last few years? I wonder if he could say when he thinks the result of the review is likely to be made known?

Mr. Amory

I do recognise that circumstances have changed. The kind of problem that arises for consideration is by no means easy to form decisions on in the existing circumstances of a free market. I am not yet in the position to say when the results will emerge from the discussions that we have been having.

Mr. T. Williams

Is the Minister aware that, as long as the nation is willing to provide anywhere between £200 million and £300 million per annum to preserve stability in agriculture, society will be very disturbed if Part II of the Act were now to be abrogated and we did not care whether or not there was efficiency?

Mr. Amory

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that efficiency is important. The problem really is which is the best way, it current circumstances, of obtaining the highest level of efficiency.

Mr. Williams

Is the Minister aware that the National Farmers' Union is quite happy that Part II should be administered as well as Part I?

Mr. Amory

I am always glad when the National Farmers' Union is happy.