Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply. – in the House of Commons on 7th June 1937.

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Photo of Mr Somerset De Chair Mr Somerset De Chair , Norfolk South Western

I am delighted to hear from my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) the use that has been made of that Act, and I hope that the practice will be extended, as I think it could be used very much more throughout the country. If that Act were properly used, and the councils would advance their one-third of the money, and the Government are only too willing to advance their third of the money, the landlords would, in the great majority of cases be prepared to renovate the cottages concerned. I have come in contact with that attitude in local governments, and I hope that the matter will receive the attention of the Minister. If he finds that the local authorities are not able to advance the money I hope that he will consider a scheme to advance the Government's share. Many landlords would do the work of renovation if they could be sure even of the Government's share of the grant.

A good deal of criticism has been directed against subsidies of one kind or another, and will no doubt be directed against the oat and barley subsidies, too. But I think we have got to face up to the fact that in competition with agriculture in other parts of the world, agriculture in this country is a quite hopelessly unremunerative occupation, and if England wants to keep its hedgerows, its fields and the cattle in them, if England wants these good things, it will have to pay for them like any other luxury which is quite unremunerative and has to be paid for. If, on the other hand, we want to allow the land to go out of cultivation, become derelict and become a jungle and if we want the country to starve when war comes, because we have let the land go out of cultivation, why, then, we can do that and save our money, but it will be a very short-sighted policy.