Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Milk Marketing (Special Areas) (Scotland) (Charges) Order, 1942, dated 14th May, 1942, made by the Treasury under Section 2 of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, a copy of which was presented to this House on 19th May, be approved."—[Captain Crookshank.]
I must apologise to the House for taking up its time with what may be considered a matter of very small importance, but this is a matter of considerable importance to the part of Scotland which lies within my constituency, namely, the three islands to which this Order refers. Agricultural conditions in these islands have been steadily declining for a number of years, and I would like to say to the Government that the farmers there are deeply appreciative of this scheme having been extended to them as a result of representations which have been made. It is true that there has been a certain dilatoriness in the scheme being brought into effect for these three islands, and I frankly admit that it is not only the authorities which are to blame for the delay. There was, among a very conservative set of farmers, definite opposition to bringing these three areas under the control of the Milk Marketing Board However, good sense has prevailed, and the scheme is now to include these three islands.
I would like to refer to the Island of Coll, which is five or six hours' steaming away from the mainland and has a population of about 200 people. Not so long ago the number was about 1,000. The cheese-making industry on this island was fast disappearing. The inclusion of Coll in this scheme will be the beginning of a new lease of life for the farmers and inhabitants of this island. I am given to understand that this is only a war-time Measure, and while many of us know wartime Measures of control are not always welcome or acceptable, I can assure the Government, on behalf of the farmers, that this one is most decidedly welcome. We hope it will not only be a war-time Measure but a peace-time Measure, when that happy time comes again. The war may be over in two or three years' time and it is very difficult for farmers when they are more or less at the mercy of uncertainty, particularly in such an industry and in such remote areas, if they do not know whether this is to be a permanent scheme or not. On behalf of my constituents, I hope that the scheme will be carried on after the war. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and many others in Scotland are firmly convinced that co-operative marketing is one of the principal conditions that will bring better times to our agricultural industry. We look upon this scheme as a small beginning. I know that in some parts of my constituency, inclusion in the Milk Marketing Board's scheme has brought a tremendous revival in agriculture. We look forward to these three islands also having a new lease of life as a result of the scheme. Other islands in my constituency and outside it on the West Coast of Scotland, and also certain parts of the mainland, have rejected up to now all efforts to include them in the scheme, but I feel certain that when they see the beneficial results that come from inclusion, they also will be only too anxious to be included in the scheme. On behalf of the agricultural community of the islands, I heartily welcome the scheme.