HC Deb 21 March 1960 vol 620 cc12-3
20. Mr. Scott-Hopkins

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in view of the estimated saving of £1,065,000 in grants to small farmers, how many applications for these grants have been submitted, and how many approved, in the South-West, to the latest convenient date.

Mr. Godber

The progress of the Small Farmers' Scheme in the South-West has been very satisfactory. Up to 29th February, 1960, 3,884 applications were received in Cornwall and Devon under the Small Farmers' Scheme. Two thousand, nine hundred and forty-five applicants have submitted farm business plans, and of these 2,503 have been approved. In addition, 611 farmers have applied under the Supplementary Scheme, and 445 have been registered.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

In view of this satisfactory figure, will my hon. Friend congratulate the N.A.A.S. on the tremendous work it must have done? Will he, at the same time, look into the question of extending the limit to which the Small Farmers' Scheme now applies down to, say, fifteen acres? At the same time, will he look into the fact that farmers in receipt of the small farmers' grant are excluded from the hill cow subsidy?

Mr. Godber

On the first point, I should be very happy to convey my hon. Friend's thanks to the N.A.A.S. On the second point, it is too early yet to decide on a revision of the minimum acreage, as the scheme has not been running very long. The third point is a little wide of the Question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Willey

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary has not dealt with the saving of £1 million over the financial year. Will he ensure that vigorous steps are taken in the coming financial year to see that this backlog is made up?

Mr. Godber

Yes. The Question did not relate to that aspect. The hon. Gentleman brought it up. This saving, as I think has been explained previously, was due to the fact that it was very difficult to get a precise account in advance. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we want to see any backlog made up, but by and large, except for certain isolated parts of the country, the scheme is going ahead very well.