HC Deb 04 March 1964 vol 690 cc1300-1
34. Commander Donaldson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many farmers at present in receipt of hill cattle subsidy will cease to be eligible for this subsidy as a result of the review of livestock rearing farms.

Mr. Stodart

Forty-four farmers have so far been notified that they will be ineligible for hill cattle subsidy in future. As I said in reply to a Question on 27th November, these farmers will be paid subsidy in 1964 to give them time to make any necessary adjustments in their husbandry. There are in addition a number of cases which require further detailed consideration before a final decision on eligibility can be reached. These cases will be dealt with as quickly as possible in order that any farmers who are likely to lose their hill cattle subsidy may have reasonable warning of the withdrawal.

Commander Donaldson

I am amazed that the number is so small, but it is still a considerable number and of personal interest to the farmers concerned. Could my hon. Friend say what right of appeal is available to such farmers, how they will be dealt with and by what body?

Mr. Stodart

There will be the same sort of appeal procedure as is working so well now in connection with the Winter Keep Scheme. Whether or not the same panel will do the job has not yet been decided. I should like to consider further the precise composition of the consultative panel which will advise in this particular context.

Mr. Brewis

Can my hon. Friend say how many holdings will now become eligible for hill cattle subsidy as a result of getting winter keep?

Mr. Stodart

I am afraid not without notice.

Mr. W. Baxter

Is the Minister aware that this method of judging whether or not a holding is eligible for winter keep subsidy is causing a certain amount of discontent among farmers, because there is no way of being able to tell or to compare like with like? They do not know the criteria which justify getting them into the scheme or putting them out of the scheme. Would the Minister endeavour to draw up rules and regulations, probably based on arable land, to guide farmers as to whether they have a good case to go into the scheme or whether it is justified that they should be kept out?

Mr. Stodart

I think that goes slightly outside the range of this Question which has to do with the appeal procedure. As I said, the appeal procedure concerning winter keep grading is working, I think, to most people's satisfaction.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there has never been any time so far as I remember in the history of Scotland when there was so much discontent among the smaller farmers? Did he read that letter by a Conservative farmer in the Scotsman last Friday in which he was accused of "talking tripe"? Is he aware of the strong protests which have recently been made by the farmers of Perthshire? Now that we have the Prime Minister in the union, does not the hon. Gentleman realise that he might be expelled by the end of the year?

Mr. Stodart

I read the letter with some mortification last Saturday morning. The only thing I am not certain about is whether the hon. Member is right in describing the farmer as a Conservative.