asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that in connection with the hill sheep subsidy payment, hill farmers vacating their holdings at Whit-Sunday or Martinmas, 1941, will receive no benefit although they have, in fact, suffered all the losses, whereas their successors who suffered no loss will be substantially in pocket; and what steps he proposes to take to remove this injustice?
I am aware that the hill sheep subsidy is payable to the owner of the sheep at 4th December, 1941, just as last year's subsidy was payable to the owner at 4th December, 1940. Clearly it is necessary to be consistent in the date; otherwise two subsidies might become payable in the same 12 months. Under the arrangements hill sheep farmers who have continued in their industry, whether they have changed their farms or not, will receive a subsidy. With regard to the relatively small number who have left the industry, I would say to my hon. Friend that the object of the subsidy is a good deal more than compensation for past losses. It is intended primarily to enable hill sheep farmers who are carrying on to do so in good heart and to make their important contribution to the essential business of food production.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I could give him a case of an outgoing tenant whose losses amounted to several thousands of pounds, yet the subsidy goes to the proprietor; and has not the taxpayer a right to demand that this money should go to the person who has actually suffered the loss?