HC Deb 10 November 1958 vol 595 cc5-6
7. Mr. Dye

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many applications for grants have been received and determined under Section 16, Part II, of the Agriculture Act, 1957, involving amalgamation of holdings; how many of the schemes resulted in holdings of under 100 acres; and how many resulted in holdings of over 100 acres.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. J. B. Godber)

Twenty-one applications for grant towards the cost of amalgamations under Section 16 of the Agriculture Act, 1957, had been received up to the end of September; of these sixteen have been determined. One was approved, 5 withdrawn by the applicants and 10 rejected. The proposed amalgamation that was approved for grant resulted in a holding of 52 acres.

Mr. Dye

Since it does not look as if we are making much headway in dealing with the amalgamation of holdings along these lines, is the Joint Parliamentary Secretary satisfied that the Government are approaching this question in the right direction?

Mr. Godber

Naturally we should like to have seen more, but this is only quite a small matter. It was inserted in the Act as an inducement, no more, and I am sorry if it has failed to encourage more people. I would point out, however, that only since April this year have people known exactly what is involved in relation to this point. We were dealing mostly with the normal farm improvement schemes, and these details were available only in April last, which is not a long time.

13. Mr. J. E. B. Hill

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of agricultural holdings of under 20 acres; and if he will estimate the number and proportion of those which require more than 450 standard man-days on existing cropping and stocking, and the number and proportion on which the occupier is engaged full-time, respectively.

Mr. Godber

There are about 160,000 separate agricultural holdings in England and Wales with less than 20 acres of crops and grass (excluding rough grazings). It is estimated from the results of an analysis of a 20 per cent. sample of the June, 1955, agricultural returns that about 9,000 (5½ per cent.) of these holdings require more than 450 standard man-days on existing cropping and stocking. My right hon. Friend regrets that there are no figures available of the number of holdings on which the occupier is engaged full-time.

Mr. Hill

Since it is obvious that the vast majority of the holdings must he part-time, will my right hon. Friend consider having a further statistical inquiry to determine the proportion of hours spent working off the farm and the number of farms where the occupier relies on farming as a part-time livelihood only?

Mr. Godber

I agree with the importance of having the full facts and figures, but I know that my hon. Friend will agree that in many cases farmers think they have enough forms to fill up now.

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