§ 3.8 p.m.
§ LORD HILTON OF UPTON
My Lords, I beg to move that the Draft Ploughing Grants Scheme 1968, laid before the House on the 23rd of April last, be approved. I trust that it will be convenient, when dealing with this Order, to deal also with the Ploughing Grants (Scotland) Scheme, 1968.
This grant is payable for the ploughing up of grassland more than 12 years old where the cost of the operations involved is substantially heavier than normal. Your Lordships will recall that the objective is to assist farmers to bring under cultivation land which would otherwise remain unproductive. Some 50,000 acres are lost every year to farming due to nonagricultural development and this is approximately counterbalanced by a similar acreage reclaimed with assistance under these Schemes. I feel sure your Lordships will agree that at this time it is right that we should continue to provide this encouragement, not only to help to make good this land lost to farming, but also to help ensure that the best use is made of this country's natural resources.
598 The Schemes are virtually the same as those of last year, apart from a minor change. This is a further widening of a clause introduced in 1966 and allows approval given under the three previous Schemes to remain valid for the current Scheme. This will save farmers from some unnecessary form-filling, which I am sure will be welcome, and will also ease the administrative load on the Department, but it does not lead to any loss of financial control. My Lords, I am sure you will agree that a £12 ploughing grant provides a worthwhile form of assistance to farmers. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Draft Ploughing Grants Scheme 1968, laid before the House on the 23rd of April last, be approved.—(Lord Hilton of Upton.)
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Hilton of Upton, for moving this Scheme, and to say a word of welcome to it, but in the interests of economy of time I will make no more than one comment; namely, that the rate of f12 for bringing into cultivation this land, which in the main is difficult, marginal and expensive to bring into cultivation, was fixed in 1955, thirteen years ago. I therefore ask that before a Scheme is brought forward again next year the rate should be examined to see whether this is sufficient to continue to do the job that we all want it to do
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.