HC Deb 27 July 1961 vol 645 c585
16. Mr. Pym

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the total number of applications for grant under the Horticulture Improvement Scheme: how many have been accepted: the total value of the liability for grant so far incurred; how many applications have been rejected; and how many applications are now awaiting a decision.

Mr. Soames

The figures for which my hon. Friend asks are, to the end of June. 2,596 applications, 1,655 approvals, £854,942 grant liability, 256 rejections and 541 still under consideration.

Mr. Pym

Is not this rather a disappointing response to the scheme? Is not my right hon. Friend aware that horticulturists find it rather more difficult than their agricultural colleagues to obtain loans due, I think, to lack of confidence? Is my right hon. Friend thinking of taking further steps to encourage higher productivity in this industry?

Mr. Soames

The scheme has been running for little more than a year, and I do not agree that the figures which I have quoted are as unsatisfactory as my hon. Friend seems to think. I think that the scheme got off to an encouraging start. The difficulty is that with the smaller holdings not enough men can afford to put up two-thirds of the money to meet what is required after the one-third grant has been paid. I hope that more attention will be paid to this by the co-operatives.