§ 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.