HC Deb 03 February 1971 vol 810 cc1650-1
11. Mr. Strang

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the future of production grants to Scottish agriculture.

The Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs and Agriculture, Scottish Office (Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith)

The production grants will be fully considered at the Annual Review.

Mr. Strang

Is the Under-Secretary aware of the concern that exists in the farming industry about the firmness of the Government's commitment to production grants? Will the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the Government will not reduce the level of these grants, which are essential for the continuance of hill and marginal farming?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I endorse entirely what the hon. Gentleman says about the importance of these grants to agriculture in Scotland and, in particular, to the hill and upland areas. The points he raised will be borne closely in mind during the annual review.

Mr. Lawson

As the Tory Government believe that tax allowances are so much superior to grants, will the hon. Gentleman consider scrapping the grants in favour of income tax allowances for farmers?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The hon. Gentleman, even through his urban glasses, must realise that the problems in agriculture are very different from those in industry. I invite him to go round some of the hill and upland areas of Scotland and see what conditions are like.

Mr. Maclennan

In view of the vital importance particularly of the hill sheep and hill cow subsidies in Scottish hills and uplands, will the Government press the E.E.C. to consider these measures as conformable with its regional assistance under Article 92 of the Treaty of Rome?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising this point. This is a matter which we have very much under consideration in our negotiations with the E.E.C.

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