HC Deb 13 January 1971 vol 809 cc55-6
27. Sir J. Gilmour

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is satisfied that there are in Scotland adequate facilities for research into soil structure; and if he will make a statement.

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

Yes, Sir. Different aspects of this research are covered by the Agricultural Colleges and Research Institutes in Scotland and there is also full and free access to information arising from research in England and Wales.

Sir J. Gilmour

Would my hon. Friend say, in view of the Report published today affecting England and Wales, "Modern Farming and the Soil", which has shown a great need to increase drainage, whether an adequate survey has been made of drainage requirements in Scotland? Second, also in view of what this Report says—that soils cannot be expected to maintain the intensive farming systems imposed on them because of the squeeze on farmers' incomes—is he satisfied that he is right to acquiesce in the British Sugar Corporation's closure of the sugar beet factory at Cupar?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I agree with my hon. Friend about the question of drainage. On the second part of his question, about a break crop in Scotland, I would remind him that sugar beet is not the only break crop in Scotland; temporary grass is a major crop. Also the English Report says that there are problems of soil structure in beet-growing areas in England.

Mr. Dalyell

What conclusions has the Scottish Office drawn from the parlous situation of soil over-use in Northamptonshire, North Oxfordshire and other English counties?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

This is what the question was about. The Report which my hon. Friend mentioned has implications for Scotland. We shall be studying them in that light.