HC Deb 26 April 1960 vol 622 cc8-9
11. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the widespread concern about the indiscriminate and unfair distribution of farming subsidies; what representations he has received on this matter; and what action he intends to take.

Mr. Maclay

I am not aware of any widespread concern on this matter, and I have not received representations about it. The subsidy arrangements were recently reviewed, with the results set out in the White Paper, Cmnd. 970, and the Government have no further changes in mind at the moment.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the Minister refuting what his hon. Friend said on 4th March, that they are encouraging laziness among farmers? Will he not now denounce or deny that statement on behalf of the Government, because it really was a scandalous attack on the farming community?

Mr. Maclay

The hon. Gentleman cannot have listened to the reply I gave to an earlier supplementary question. If he takes the trouble to find out the full context of my hon. Friend's remarks, he will find out what it is all about.

Sir J. Duncan

Would my right hon. Friend agree that, judging from recent market prices, agriculture in Scotland is in a very healthy state?

Mr. T. Fraser

If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that agriculture is in such a healthy state in Scotland, perhaps he will take the opportunity at some time of explaining why it is that the farmers' organisations in Scotland are up in arms now? Does he realise that there is great dissatisfaction with this level of subsidies in Scotland at the present time? If his hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley) is right in suggesting that the subsidies are to a large extent going to well-to-do farmers and small farmers on thin land are getting a very rough deal, will he undertake to have a look at some of the leaks in the bucket?

Mr. Maclay

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that all these matters are looked at extremely carefully each year when we come to the Annual Price Review, and I do not think that in Question and Answer I can go into full details of the matters that have to be considered when we are considering the Price Review.