HC Deb 14 November 1974 vol 881 cc202-4W
Mr. Conlan

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much assistance has been provided to horticulturists under the Horticulture Act 1960 and the Agriculture and Horticulture Act 1964 as amended.

Mr. Strang

By end-October 1974 a total of £45 million had been paid to horticulturists, mostly under successive Hortculture Improvement Schemes. The relevant legislation limited the aggregate amount of grants to £47 million.

As my hon. Friend will recall, an announcement was made in July 1973 that applications for grant approval under the HIS received up to 6th July 1973 would be approved, subject to the normal conditions of the scheme and that the approval of those received after that date would depend upon the availability of funds.

Further information on the final costs of projects approved earlier made it increasingly clear that insufficient funds would be available to permit an extension of this date. It is now apparent that, despite the steps which were taken at the time to restrict total grant payment to the level authorised by the legislation, the increased cost of approved applications will result in this level being exceeded by some £2 million at current prices.

Growers will have proceeded with approved works in the expectation of receiving grant, and their own share of the cost will have risen. The Government intend to honour all commitments to pay grant on approved applications, relying on the authority of the Estimates and the confirming annual Appropriation Acts to make payments after the statutory limit has been exceeded. Supplementary Estimates will be presented in due course, with recourse meanwhile to the Contingencies Fund.