§ 9. Mr. George Y. Mackie
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will create a special agricultural credit organisation to provide farmers with medium-term credit at reasonable rates of interest.
§ Mr. Mackie
May I express the hope that the Minister will implement this part of his pre-election promises? In view of his answer to the last Question when he said that he hoped that agriculture would play a big part in the balance of payments, will he bear in mind that the provision of capital for improvements and equipment in farming is extremely important? Will the right hon. Gentleman go ahead with this election promise and set up a special agricultural credit organisation?
§ Mr. Soames
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he has made an interesting 1056 comment in that he is now realising that the pledge which he made at the election is a complex matter which needs a great deal of study. Is he implying that he did not realise this before the election, and had not studied the matter then?
§ Mr. Peart
I declared that we would be anxious to provide medium-term credit for farmers. That still stands. How we shall do it is a matter for discussion. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] A three months' period is not unreasonable to have careful discussions and investigations before I make an announcement.
§ Mr. W. Baxter
May I draw attention to the fact that under the new Cereals Marketing Bill, now in Committee, certain credit facilities are being made available to the farming community? Is not this, within three months after the election, a very substantial step in the right direction towards the implementation of the promises which we intend to keep?
§ Mr. Soames
In view of the right hon. Gentleman's reply to his hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. W. Baxter), should I understand that he is regarding the introduction in the Cereals Marketing Bill of credit facilities for cereal growers, which was agreed upon, as he will be aware, by the previous Government with all the parties to the agreement, as an implementation of his pledge to provide medium-term credit?