§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (LORD CHAMPION)
My Lords, I beg to move, That the Winter Keep (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) Revocation Scheme, 1965, a draft of which was laid before this House on 27th April, be approved. This Revocation Scheme is a simple measure. It is a part of the action which must be taken to implement the decision, announced by the Minister just before Christmas, that the existing system of acreage payments for winter keep would be replaced by headage payments as a supplement to the hill cow and hill sheep subsidies. I will not go into all the arguments for and against the Winter Keep Scheme—although I am, of course, willing to explain it in more detail if noble Lords wish. I should, however, like to emphasise just two points. The first is that these changes have been discussed and agreed with the Farmers' Union. The second is that as a result of the changed arrangements about 10,000 hill farmers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit.
Noble Lords will have noticed that this order does not have effect in Scotland. The reason is that after discussions with the Scottish Farmers' Union it was 11 decided that the existing system of acreage payments suits conditions North of the Border, and so Scottish farmers will go on receiving assistance for their winter keep in that way. But, in addition, Scottish sheep farmers will receive a payment of 2s. 0d. per head for each eligible ewe kept on farms which qualify for the winter keep schemes. The payments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be at the rate of £5 per head for eligible cows and 3s. 6d. per head for eligible sheep, and these amounts will be added to the subsidy payments of £13 a head for hill cows and 18s. 0d. for sheep which are being made this year.
I do not think I need say more except that these new arrangements will make for much greater simplicity for both the farmers and the Ministry. There will be no complicated conditions to understand, and farmers will claim the winter keep supplement automatically on the same forms that are used for the hill cow and hill sheep subsidies. Virtually the whole of the administrative costs of the Winter Keep Scheme—about £127,000 a year—will be saved. I therefore commend the Scheme to the House.
§ Moved, That the Draft Winter Keep (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) Revocation Scheme 1965, laid before the House on 27th April, be approved.—(Lord Champion.)
EARL ST. ALDWYN
My Lords, we on this side of the House welcome this Scheme. I am sure that it will be much easier for the farmers concerned to operate than the old one, and we give it our blessing.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
My Lords, may I just ask one question. When talking about Scotland, the noble Lord talked specifically about ewes, but when talking about Northern Ireland, England and Wales he spoke of "eligible sheep". Are eligible sheep what we in Scotland call ewes?
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.