§ Captain Kerby
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware that the Horticultural Improvement Scheme is not functioning as intended, that only one-sixteenth of the total sum available under the scheme has been taken up by growers, and that smaller growers can ill afford the two-thirds they are expected to contribute to qualify for a one-third grant; and if he will increase the grant to 50 per cent., or alternatively introduce a low-interest loan scheme to replace grants.
§ Mr. Soames
The Horticulture Improvement Scheme has not yet been in operation for a full year. I think that it has made a promising start. By 31st January, 1961, approval had been given to projects in the United Kingdom attracting grant of about £530,000, which is a little more than one-sixteenth of the total sum available. But the projects which are now under consideration, will, if approved, double this sum. It is too soon to reach any conclusions about the functioning of the Scheme, the use which the industry will make of78W it during its five-year life, or the need for changes. But I shall watch carefully the progress of the Scheme.