16. Mr. B. Harrison
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the effect of the increase in the Bank Rate on farm improvement schemes; and whether he will estimate what proportion of farmers will have to borrow in order to pay their two-thirds share.
Precise statistics of the progress of the scheme in recent weeks are not immediately available, but the rate of applications since 1st September has been greater than in earlier months. I regret that I have no information which would enable me to answer the second part of the Question.
Would my right hon. Friend consider making a survey to find out just how much of the money has to be borrowed, so that he can keep in touch with the progress of the scheme and the effect of the high Bank Rate?
A survey of that kind would be very difficult to carry out. I doubt whether all farmers would agree to give me information about how much they have borrowed or are proposing to borrow. It may well be that through the high cost of interest at present the scheme will be held back a little, but we must remember that this is a long-term scheme and Parliament has given approval for the grants to be available for ten years.