HC Deb 28 July 1958 vol 592 cc935-6
30. Mr. J. E. B. Hill

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will state the approximate number of farm improvement scheme inspections carried out each month, the approximate number of staff so engaged, and the average delay that normally occurs between reception of an application and inspection of the site.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John Hare)

In the past six months, initial inspections of new applications have averaged 2,740 a month in England and Wales. Further inspections of proposals and of work in progress may have been necessary, and inspections of more than 700 completed schemes were made in June. The inspecting staff have other duties, but it is estimated that the equivalent of 80 full-time officers are engaged on this work. However, somewhat less than eight weeks elapses, on average, between the receipt of an application and completion of the inspector's report. These reports may in some cases, have to await clearance of certain points with the applicant following the actual inspection.

Mr. Hill

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the publication of the standard costs scheme has affected the delay period? Is it correct to infer from these figures that the staff is working exceedingly hard on this scheme? If that is so, will he convey to the staff some sense of appreciation of its efforts?

Mr. Hare

I am very grateful for what my hon. Friend has said about the staff. The staff is working hard. On the whole, it is doing a very good job and will welcome what my hon. Friend said. It is too early yet to answer his question about standard costs. We have never counted on standard costs reducing the work for the Ministry, but they should reduce the work and expense for farmers.