HC Deb 23 May 1973 vol 857 cc449-50
13. Sir J. Gilmour

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what proportion of the beef and veal, mutton and lamb, pork, and bacon and ham marketed in Great Britain is produced in Scotland.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The available figures relate to total supplies on the United Kingdom market, excluding canned imports. Scottish production amounts to about one-seventh of beef and veal, one-tenth of mutton and lamb and one-twentieth of total pigmeat.

Sir J. Gilmour

Do not these figures show what an important part Scotland has to play in feeding the United Kingdom and saving imports? Is my hon. Friend satisfied that it is right to save capital grants which could help to increase production in Scotland?

Mr. Buchanan-Smth

I agree that the figures show the tremendous part that Scottish agriculture can play in serving the needs of the British housewife. We have given considerable encouragement through our announcements at the price reviews over the last three years, and the evidence is that Scottish farmers are prepared to respond to the incentives given to them. I appreciate the point about capital grants, but one of the main sources of capital for farming is from income, as it has always been, and the effect of greatly improved income over the last few years has, I hope, helped investment in the industry.

Mr. Strang

Has the Minister read the statement yesterday by the President of the Scottish NFU? Surely he must accept that production grants are an important source of income, particularly for hill farmers. How can he justify the decision to cut them in view of the Government's alleged policy of expansion of agriculture in Scotland?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I would ask the hon. Gentleman to look at the whole picture, at the greatly improved price incentives which farmers have received as a result of our policies. Therefore, one must balance what they obtain in prices against production grants. But I confirm that there is no doubt in principle that production grants play an important part, as they played a big part in our negotiations over Europe.

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