HC Deb 01 February 1999 vol 324 c442W
Mr. Swinney

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of the total level of bank borrowing by Scotland's farmers in each of the last 10 years; and what discussions he has had with the NFU and the Scottish clearing banks on this matter. [68003]

Mr. Macdonald

The only comprehensive survey of bank lending to Scottish agriculture is conducted annually by the Scottish Office Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries Department. The results for the last ten years, in both current and at 1998 prices, are given in the following table.

Total advance to Scottish agriculture, 1989–98
£ million
Year (end-May) Current prices Real terms 1998 prices
1989 909 1,292
1990 888 1,150
1991 884 1,083
1992 895 1,050
1993 868 1,006
1994 893 1,009
1995 893 976
1996 941 1,006
1997 966 1,007
1998 1,064 1,064

As the table shows, bank borrowings, in real terms, are now lower than they were 8 to 10 years ago, as are real interest rates.

Ministers and officials meet the National Farmers Union of Scotland and the agricultural representatives of the four Scottish Clearing banks on a regular basis to discuss a variety of issues affecting Scottish farming including the level of bank borrowings. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State last met the Scottish NFU on 22 December 1998 while my noble Friend Lord Sewel last met them on 22 January 1999. Officials last met the banks on 25 January 1999.

From 1 July 1999 this will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

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