§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government the number of applications for improvement grants from owners or occupiers of farms of less than 50 acres in extent necessitating an expenditure of not more than £100 for grant purposes and if any such schemes have been approved.]
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD (EARL ST. ALDWYN)
My Lords, it is one of the published conditions of the Farm Improvement Scheme that only improvements costing £100 or more may qualify for grant. The records do not distinguish applications submitted, in spite of the published conditions, for grants on expenditure of less than £100, but no such applications will have been approved.
§ LORD WISE
My Lords, may I call attention to the difficulty under which this particular scheme is being worked and ask the noble Earl whether it will be possible for an owner or an occupier to embrace two schemes on one particular farm, each costing less 'than £100, in order that he may qualify for grant? The difficulty is that a scheme costing £90 does not qualify for grant, but a scheme costing £105 or thereabouts receives a grant of £35. This seems hard on the small farmers. Is it possible to amalgamate single schemes on one farm so that a grant may be obtained?
§ LORD FORBES
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl whether he will bring to the notice of the Minister responsible 695 for Scottish affairs the fact that considerably more work on farm improvement schemes would have been carried out during this very bad winter had there not been intolerable delay in approving schemes, which have to be sent to Edinburgh instead of being dealt with on a regional basis?
EARL ST. ALDWYN
My Lords, may I deal with the last question first? My noble friend Lord Strathclyde is sitting beside me and I am sure he will pass on to his colleague the remarks of the noble Lord. As to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Wise, the £100 relates to the application. There can be in an application any number of schemes, and providing that they together amount to £100 they will then be eligible for grant. We bring home as best we can to applicants that they may join together as many different schemes as they can in order to raise the total to more than £100.