§ LORD CLINTON
My Lords, I rise to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture the total amount spent by the Board during the last completed year for the purposes of agriculture and forestry in Scotland. This Question is based on the assumption that the accounts of the Board of Agriculture are kept in such a way that the expenditure upon England and Scotland can be shown separately. I am anxious to learn what is the actual amount spent in Scotland upon all departments of agriculture under the control of the Board of Agriculture. I have asked in my Question only for the total sum, but it would be an additional favour if the noble Lord could tell me how it is divided up among the more important works—works carried out under the Feeding Stuffs Act, agricultural education, agricultural colleges, the money spent for research and experiment, and so on. Indeed, in all those cases where the Board of Agriculture are spending money in Scotland I should be glad to know if the noble Lord could include the amount in his answer.
THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (LORD LUCAS)
My Lords, there is a certain difficulty, as the noble Lord will readily understand, in separating the accounts for Scotland and those for England. In a Return asked for by Mr. John Dillon in the House of Commons in 441 July of this year that part of the expenses of the Board of Agriculture which might be considered as directly attributable to Scotland was given in round figures as £15,500. I can give the noble Lord the main items, but of course he will understand that it is a little difficult to estimate these figures exactly. Take the case, for instance, of the administration of the Diseases of Animals Act. You can say exactly what the cost is of the number of inspectors allocated to Scotland, what they cost the Board in the matter of salaries, and so on. Under that head the cost is £3,750, but that does not take into account other expenses which have to be considered. For instance, if you are trying to make out what the administration of the Act costs you have to allow a certain proportion of the salaries of the head veterinary officers and so on at the Board of Agriculture. In round figures that is estimated at about £5,000. Salaries and wages are the largest of all, and they come to £9,960; travelling expenses come to £2,700, and the collection of statistics to £1,085. These go pretty far to make up the total sum. They at any rate are the principal heads of the expenditure as far as it can be calculated, and I hope the information meets the noble Lord's point.
§ LORD BURGHCLERE
Can my noble friend inform the House how many inspectors of the Board there are at the present moment in Scotland purely for Scottish purposes?
§ LORD CLINTON
I am much obliged to the noble Lord for his answer; but surely there is, in addition to the amounts he has mentioned, a considerable sum spent on agricultural education.
§ LORD CLINTON
At one time there was a grant from the Board of Agriculture for research in Scotland, because I recollect very well its being withdrawn.
The Board of Agriculture has nothing to do with that at the present time. I think it is entirely administered by the Scottish Office.
§ LORD CLINTON rose to ask the Secretary for Scotland what sums he estimates will be available from the Agriculture (Scotland) Fund for the purposes set forth in the Small Landholders (Scotland) Bill, Clause 4 (2), (3), (4), and (5).
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, as we have just learned from the noble Lord who represents the Board of Agriculture, the ordinary expenses of the Board do not include a considerable number of those items which apparently will be chargeable to the proposed new Board of Agriculture in Scotland. The mall Landholders (Scotland) Bill provides that a sum not exceeding £185,000 is to be annually voted by Parliament for the whole of the purposes of the Bill. Section 6 of the Bill provides that this Fund—the Agriculture (Scotland) Fund—shall be applied for the following purposes, namely, for the purposes of facilitating the constitution of new landholders' holdings, the enlargement of landholders' holdings, and the improvement and rebuilding of dwelling-houses or other buildings of landholders and cottars in terms of the Landholders Acts. That apparently is the first matter for which this money is to be used.
§ In addition to that, the Fund is to be applied to meet the requirements of the Congested Districts Board and for the purpose of exercising the other powers and duties which will be transferred from the Board of Agriculture under the Order of the Secretary for Scotland to the new Board which is to be set up in Scotland. Those purposes, of course, are not yet defined, but we see that they are to cover matters of very large importance, such as the general duty of promoting agriculture, forestry, rural industries, etc., and also the collection of statistics relating to these purposes for research, experiment, and instruction, and the promotion and development of agricultural organisation and co-operation. Those are all matters of great importance to us agriculturally in Scotland, and what we fear is that when the prior claims under this Bill for the purpose of small holdings are satisfied, we may find that an inadequate amount of money will be left for these other purposes of the Board of Agriculture.
§ There are in Scotland considerable objections to a grant which is absolutely fixed and out of which a variety of possibly 443 conflicting interests have to be satisfied, particularly when there is no allocation made for those particular interests in the granting of the money itself. The Government will probably recollect the case, with which we were very familiar in Scotland, of the incidence of the Residue Grant. The residue of certain licences was paid to the Local Taxation Account, and that was diminished every year by sums required for the purpose of the Diseases of Animals Act. The balance remaining was utilised on technical education, and we used to have the extraordinary result that the more swine fever we had in the country the less technical education we were able to carry out. It was a very objectionable feature, and I fear very much that we may have the same sort of result under this Bill—that the more small holdings are created the less money we shall be able to get for the ordinary purposes of agriculture. Important as small holdings are, they are of relatively small importance compared to the real great interest of agriculture as a national industry.
§ We are proud in Scotland of the very high standard to which we have reached in agriculture. We are, we understand, far ahead of the world in that respect. But the time has come, and really has long since arrived, when we do require a great deal more consideration paid to agricultural education, particularly in the way of research and experiment. At the present moment we are probably behind any other country in the world in the attention and assistance paid to any of those objects. We are anxious to have increased expenditure in all these directions; and though the Secretary for Scotland may tell us that the present allocation is sufficient actually for the moment, it is more than likely that it would be quite inadequate if these industries are set going and attended to, and there is no provision in the Bill for giving us larger funds. Forestry will demand under this Bill considerable assistance. We hope something will be done at all events in the way of agricultural organisation and co-operation and also in the direction of many rural industries, but we fear very much that under this scheme the work of the Board of Agriculture, the legitimate work which has to be carried out in Scotland, may be stereotyped to such a degree that all these newer purposes may be almost starved. I beg to ask the Question standing in my name.444
§ THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (LORD PENTLAND)
My Lords, I am gratified to find that the noble Lord is so heartily at one with us in our endeavours to develop this kind of work which will fall to the proposed Board of Agriculture in Scotland. In the first place, may I make one correction The Fund will amount, not to £185,000, but to £200,000. There are two sums, £185,000 plus £15,000; so that when we are dealing with the total sum available for the whole of Scotland we are entitled to say that the total sum available for the purposes set forth in the Small Landholders (Scotland) Bill is £200,000. It is not possible at this stage to frame such estimates as the noble Lord desires.
It is quite true that under the Bill duties are laid upon the Board of Agriculture to promote forestry and other rural industries, to collect statistics, to develop inquiries, research, and experiments, and to develop instruction in order to help those industries. There is also the duty laid upon the Board of assisting agricultural organisation and co-operation. As a safeguard to the methods in which this money is applied, I may remind the noble Lord that a full report will be presented to Parliament every year, and will, of course, be subject to the criticism of Parliament. The main distinction which I wish to draw is in regard to the charges which will be laid on the public in relation to this Bill. The charges connected with the office and establishment of the Board will be laid upon the Votes in the annual Estimates and will be voted by Parliament every year, whereas the money applied for the different purposes to which the noble Lord has drawn attention will come from the Agriculture (Scotland) Fund of £200,000; that also will, of course, be under the full control of Parliamentary criticism.
I may, perhaps, remove a misapprehension on the part of the noble Lord in regard to the present expenditure on agricultural education in Scotland. The agricultural colleges in Scotland, through which this work is done, are under the supervision of the Scottish Education Department, and they receive an annual grant altogether of something like £12,000 from central funds. It is not intended at this moment to disturb that arrangement; in fact, as years go on it is hoped that it will be possible to further encourage and develop that work, but it 445 will not fall on this Agriculture (Scotland) Fund. It is not thought desirable to apply rigidly parts of this Fund to separate purposes. The noble Lord drew attention to the inconvenience and hardship inflicted by the Residue Grant and its distribution in Scotland; but let me point out a distinction between this and the Residue Grant. The hardship in regard to the Residue Grant was that it was a varying sum. There is no variation about this. The sum paid will be a fixed sum of £200,000 until Parliament in its wisdom chooses either to increase or diminish that sum; so that the hardship due to the diminution of the Residue Grant will not be present in this case. In the opinion of the Government it is safer and wiser to allow this Department to develop forestry and other rural industries as time goes on, and to be guided in applying the funds by the public demand for such development. I do not honestly think that there is any real justification for the fears expressed by the noble Lord.
My noble friend who represents the Board of Agriculture has just stated to the House that the total annual sum now spent by that Board in Scotland may be estimated at £15,500. Making every possible allowance for rapid development, I think there are ample funds at the disposal of the proposed Board of Agriculture for Scotland to carry out all its purposes—in the first place, the development of small holdings; and, in the second place, though I do not put one before the other for they are both of equal importance, the promotion of the general well-being and prosperity of all agricultural interests in Scotland. I may remind my noble friend that only recently a Development. Fund has been established under the Development Act of two years ago, and that fund, which is open to all Government Departments, will, I trust, be equally open to the Board of Agriculture which is now proposed for Scotland.
§ LORD CLINTON
I am much obliged to the noble Lord for his answer, but he has not given me the figures for which I asked. It is no doubt difficult to get at them in accurate detail, but I am surprised that there is no estimate of the annual cost of promoting these small holdings at the beginning of the scheme.
§ LORD PENTLAND
The charge made by the Congested Districts Board last year in 446 respect of agriculture, which includes the improvement of live stock, the development of poultry, and other agricultural industries, was between £8,000 and £9,000. Again, the charge for settlement schemes—that is, land schemes—was a sum of nearly £9,000. That makes a total of £17,000 annually expended on purposes of this kind at present by the Congested Districts Board, which work will fall, if the Bill passes in its present form, to the new Board of Agriculture. That is all that is being done by any authority in Scotland for that particular purpose. Then I come to forestry. All the money that is spent on forestry in Scotland now is spent largely on instruction through the agricultural colleges. That expenditure will not be disturbed. I may remind my noble friend that quite recently the Scottish Office appointed a Committee to inquire into certain matters connected with forestry in Scotland. That Committee has not reported. No doubt its recommendations will, if approved, lead to some expenditure, but how far that expenditure will fall upon the Agriculture (Scotland) Fund, and how far, for instance, it may possibly be met by the Development Fund, it is quite impossible at the present moment to state. It is difficult to forecast with any precision whatever the actual charge upon public funds which will be caused by the development of forestry in Scotland. We have set our hands to the work and we mean to pursue it, but to give any estimate now of what is likely to be the expenditure next year or the year after is really very difficult. But an examination of what is at present spent and what is likely to be required in the immediate future will bear out my assertion that there are ample funds for all the purposes undertaken by the Bill; and the noble Lord may rest assured that, if these funds in time to come are not sufficient, those who represent the Board of Agriculture for Scotland will come to Parliament for increased funds.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
I would ask the noble Lord whether the figures which he just quoted as the expenditure of the Congested Districts Board include salaries.
§ LORD PENTLAND
I think they amount to something like £2,000 a year. But that is not in question. I have already pointed out that the establishment expenses of this Department will fall, not upon the £200,000, but upon the annual moneys laid before Parliament in the Estimates and voted by Parliament; so that that, as the noble Earl will appreciate, does not enter into the estimate which Lord Clinton desires to have from me.