HC Deb 04 December 1958 vol 596 cc1338-9
6. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what were his reasons for refusing to agree to the recent suggestion of the National Farmers' Union that the Government should agree to an interest-free loan for small farmers.

Mr. John Hare

I would refer the hon. Member to paragraph 13 of the White Paper "Assistance for Small Farmers" Cmnd. 553.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Minister aware that that does not answer my question? He has not clearly stated his objection to interest-free loans to small farmers. Is he aware that small farmers, especially in Scotland, are deeply disappointed at the turning down of something that would be far more practicable than the present proposals, and does not he think that, even at this stage, he could amend his proposals so that this money would not be lost but invested in long-term investment and bring increased profitability to farmers.

Mr. Hare

I enjoy the ingenious way in which the hon. Gentleman puts his questions. He knows that we have been talking about this matter for four sittings in Standing Committee and have gone into it thoroughly. I would remind him of what the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Dye) has said on the subject of interest-free loans: The National Farmers' Union recommended no interest charges in certain cases. Personally, I have never asked for anything for nothing, and would not do so now. I believe that people should be prepared to pay for what they receive, whether it is credit or other facilities".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 25th November, 1958; c. 12.]

Sir A. Baldwin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that small farmers do not want to increase their overdrafts or have interest-free loans but would sooner be put in a financial position to repay what they already owe?

Mr. Hare

I think my hon. Friend's comment is perfectly just. We have discussed this matter at some length upstairs.

Mr. Willey

Would the right hon. Gentleman devote a little time during the Christmas Recess to reconsidering the question of loans and see whether he cannot instruct his Parliamentary draftsmen to prepare an appropriate Amendment for Report?

Mr. Hare

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have discussed this and he knows my position on it very clearly. I do not think I can amplify it.

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