HC Deb 11 May 1971 vol 817 cc190-1
19. Mr. Douglas

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the latest estimates of the average size of British farm-holding, and the most recent comparison with farmer-holdings in the European Economic Community countries.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

The average area of crops and grass on holdings of 2½ acres or more in the United Kingdom is estimated to have been 79 acres in 1967, which is the latest year when comparable figures are available for European Economic Community countries. The average area was about 47 acres in France, 27 acres in Netherlands and in Belgium/Luxembourg, 26 acres in Germany and 18 acres in Italy. The average size for the European Economic Community as a whole was about 28 acres.

Mr. Douglas

Does not the hon. Gentleman concede that, in view of the figures he has given, the Community will experience extreme difficulty in reaching the Mansholt target plan for the 1980s?

Mr. Stodart

There are great difficulties lying ahead for the Community in that sphere. One thing to be thankful for is that we start with a good lead.

Mr. Deakins

Do not these figures show that British farming under the postwar Agriculture Acts of 1947 and 1957 has been able to grow in prosperity and confidence, based on investment, because of the guarantees in the 1947 and 1957 Acts which are now being removed?

Mr. Stodart

British agriculture has indeed done a magnificent job since the war. It is an example to the nation. It will continue to do so.