HC Deb 14 December 1970 vol 808 cc925-6
10. Mr. Gwynoro Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many farm units there are in Wales; and how many he estimates will be in existence in five years' time.

56. Mr. Gower

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many separate farm holdings there are in Wales and in Glamorgan, respectively; and what proportion of those in Wales and in Glamorgan is of less than 50 acres.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

With permission, I will answer questions Nos. 10 and 56 together.

There are estimated to be some 36,200 agricultural holdings in Wales of which about 2,800 are in Glamorgan. About 45 per cent. of these in each case are holdings under 50 acres. No reliable estimate can be made of the number of holdings that will be in existence in five years' time.

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is important that the Chair should know in advance which Questions are grouped together.

Mr. Jones

What effect does the Minister envisage the increase in size of farm which will qualify for amalgamation grants having on the number of farm units in Wales? Will he also explain why his party, when in opposition, voted against the introduction of such a scheme by the then Government? Will he also give an estimate of the impact of an import levy system on the number of farm units in Wales, bearing in mind that 30 per cent. of Welsh farmers' income comes from grants and subsidies? If they lose that proportion of their income, where will the money come from, and how many units will remain as a result?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

The hon. Gentleman will remember that the Mid-Wales Rural Development Board was opposed by the Welsh people because it was not wanted by anyone in Mid-Wales. Farm structure schemes are intended to help voluntary amalgamations, whose rate depends on decisions of farmers and landowners. His third point hardly applies to the Question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Gower

Has my hon. Friend compared the number of farm holdings in Wales with that of the rest of the United Kingdom in recent years, and has the decline in the number in Wales been excessive compared with the rest of the United Kingdom?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's question. The Welsh figures are not much out of line with the rest of the United Kingdom.