HC Deb 07 July 1965 vol 715 cc1565-6
8. Mr. English

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the number of farmers in the United Kingdom, and its various parts, respectively, according to such definition of the word farmer as he may consider appropriate.

Mr. Hoy

Of the 455,000 agricultural holdings in the United Kingdom in 1964, about 210,000 are believed to provide full-time work for one man or more, and of these, approximately 160,000 are in England and Wales, 26,000 in Scotland and 23,000 in Northern Ireland. These estimates are, however, open to a substantial margin of error since on many holdings the amount of work provided cannot be assessed without inquiries on the spot. The Agricultural Departments are therefore proposing to undertake a comprehensive sample survey in the autumn of this year.

Mr. English

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware of a graph published by the National Farmers' Union which purports to show that the rise in farmers' incomes was exceeded over recent years by that of other incomes? Is he aware that the National Farmers' Union has never published the number of farmers upon which such graph is based or even said whether it is consistent over the period? Would my hon. Friend, after this survey, take steps to re-publish the graph on a consistent basis?

Mr. Hoy

I should not like to comment on all the graphs which are published in connection with agriculture, but I would give my hon. Friend the assurance that, when this survey is carried out, we will certainly take into consideration the request he has made.

Sir M. Redmayne

What will be the size of the sample? This sample will not be of great value unless it is fairly widespread and has regard to the particularities of various areas. I hope that the sample will be on a sufficiently wide scale.

Mr. Hoy

All this we have in mind. That is why I said in my Answer that it would be a comprehensive sample survey.