HC Deb 22 April 1970 vol 800 cc402-4
15. Mr. Monro

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland to what extent the increased haulage charges to farmers by the operation of the Transport Act was taken into account by the Price Review.

Mr. Buchan

Increases in transport costs in general are taken into account at each Annual Review.

Mr. Monro

Does the Minister realise that, over and above increased transport costs, chaos is being created in the industry by the application of the Transport Act? Is he aware that large numbers of cattle and sheep are being stranded in the marts overnight, and even longer, because of the limitation on drivers' hours?

Mr. Buchan

This is not a new experience. It has always been the case at every busy mart that cattle may be left overnight, and hon. Members opposite know it. The only adjustment was the change in working hours of one hour. The House will be pleased to know that I am arranging a meeting of all those involved in markets to discuss this matter. It will be chaired by one of my officers and will include Ministry of Transport officials and the N.F.U.

Mr. Younger

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that the full effects of this measure were not known at the time of the Price Review? Does he not realise that auctioneers and farmers all over the country are worried about what will happen when markets get really busy at the end of the year and that this may cause more cruelty to the animals?

Mr. Buchan

I have been keeping an eye on this matter. The most publicised event was the mart at St. Boswells. I had a senior official there to keep an eye on things. The facts were not as bad as they appeared from similarly-worded reports in two newspapers on the following day. We are looking into this matter and it is being looked after. I wish hon. Members opposite would not try to cry "Doom " before a new project has got off the ground.

Mr. Ellis

Would my hon. Friend take a strong line against these backwoodsmen who are trying to portray Scotland as being a land where men have to work more hours than men do in England to keep the economy going? Will he see to it that the provisions applying to drivers' hours will apply in Scotland as they do in England?

Mr. Buchan

I hope that hon. Members opposite will have in mind what my hon. Friend has said. He is correct. This is a valuable social development which was done for good human reasons. If difficulties arise, it is our task to cope with them, rather than use them to try to defeat the Transport Act.