HC Deb 22 April 1970 vol 800 cc404-5
16. Mr. Monro

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the target for the number of hill ewes in Scotland for 1970–71.

Mr. Buchan

There is no specific target for hill ewes; but numbers in Scotland have shown no significant change in recent years.

Mr. Monro

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the price of wool exerts a significant influence on the number of hill ewes? Why has the price of black-faced wool been reduced by 3d. per lb. and of Cheviot and half-bred wool by 2d. per lb. in the last week or two? Does he not agree that this is an intolerable reduction and shows further double-talk on the Price Review?

Mr. Buchan

That might have been useful if the hon. Gentleman had put down a specific question on the matter of wool. As regards the number of hill ewes, one of the most important factors involved is the weather, and not even this Government have been able to control the weather. On the question of Government resources for development, it will be remembered that we raised the end price for sheep by 8¾d. and that the Conservative Party reduced it.

Mr. Munro

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I shall seek leave to raise the matter on the Adjournment.

29. Mr. Brewis

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what level of production he estimates from hill and upland farms in 1970; and how this compares with 1969.

Mr. Buchan

Some increase in cattle production on hill and upland farms is expected in 1970 compared with 1969. The level of sheep production will depend on this year's lamb crop, which cannot yet be forecast.

Mr. Brewis

Is it not, therefore, extremely disappointing that the price of wool has now remained the same for the last 10 years? Will the hon. Gentleman look at this matter as sympathetically as he can?

Mr. Buchan

Yes, Sir. It is curious how hon. Members opposite pick on one aspect. If they look at the increases in end price and the hill sheep subsidy, the winter keep scheme, the hill land improvement scheme, and the introduction of the new upland hill sheep subsidy, they will find that all these are worth noting. I wish they would get the wool out of their eyes and look at this.