HC Deb 30 January 1957 vol 563 cc193-5W
Mr. J. E. B. Hill

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is yet able to make a statement on the application of the proposed farm improvement schemes to particular types of agricultural buildings, including those whose construction is urgently needed before next harvest.

Mr. Amory

Following the issue of the White Paper on Long Term Assurances for Agriculture (Cmnd. 23), the Government have had further consultations with representatives of farmers and landowners and have also had discussions with the professional bodies concerned with agriculture. It is now proposed, subject to Parliamentary approval of the legislation, to provide grants which will, except where grant is also obtained from other sources, be at a flat rate of 33⅓ per cent.

There are still many details to be worked out; but, subject to the general conditions of eligibility which were set out in the White Paper and which will be incorporated in the necessary legislation, the grants will cover a series of farm improvements which will, in the first instance, be on the following lines:

  1. (i) erection, alteration, enlargement or reconditioning of permanent farm buildings (other than dwelling-houses), yards, loading banks and stocks. (Internal fittings will be excluded; in such cases as grain dryers which are composed partly of a fixed permanent structure and partly of machinery and fittings, grants will be payable on the structure);
  2. (ii) making and improvement of farm roads and bridges;
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  4. (iii) execution of works for or in connection with the supply of electricity to farms for agricultural purposes;
  5. (iv) provision of pens and other fixed equipment for use in connection with the sheltering, gathering, marking, dipping treatment or feeding of sheep and cattle;
  6. (v) making, restoration, and improvement of permanent fences, walls and gates;
  7. (vi) provision of cattle-grids, including grids on public roads;
  8. (vii) provision of means of sewage disposal, other than from dwelling-houses;
  9. (viii) reclamation of waste land;
  10. (ix) provision of shelter belts;
  11. (x) removal of hedges and banks, filling in of ditches, removal of boulders, tree roots and other like obstructions to cultivation;
  12. (xi) claying and marling.

Repairs will rank for grant if they are necessarily associated with improvement work but not otherwise.

2. Horticultural units will be eligible for grant on permanent fixed equipment which is common to agriculture and horticulture, such as stores and yards, but not for specialised horticultural equipment such as glasshouses and cold storage equipment.

3. As stated in the White Paper (Cmnd. 23) grants will be available in respect of all equipped farm units that are economic or could be made so with the improvement proposed. Normally the equipment of new holdings on bare land will be assisted only as part of a scheme of amalgamation Units which do not at present provide a sufficient livelihood will be considered for grant where it is proposed to amalgamate them with other land to form one or more units which will do so. In such cases 33⅓ per cent. grant will be available towards certain incidental expenses of amalgamation, including legal and surveying charges and compensation for disturbance to out-going tenants.

4. Improvements of the types set out above will be eligible for grant provided

  1. (a) that they will contribute materially for the period of their life to the efficient working of the farm;
  2. (b) that they will be capable of giving a reasonable return in profitability for a period of years to an occupier and will result in an increase or prevention of decrease of annual value. Therefore assistance will normally be confined in practice to improvements with a life of not less than 15 years; and the cost and extent of the improvements will be expected, having regard to the character and situation of the holding, not to exceed the provision which a prudent landlord might be expected to make or to be disproportionate to the capacity of the unit to support it;
  3. (c) that they will be sufficient in scope to enable the fullest advantage to be obtained from the capital outlay;
  4. (d) that reliance on temporary rather than on permanent buildings would not be more appropriate.
5. Grant will be payable to landlords, owner-occupiers, and tenants who must, where this is necessary under the Agricultural Holdings Acts, obtain the approval of their landlord or of the appropriate Minister.