Agricultural Grants and Deficiency Payments

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th January 1964.

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Photo of Mr Alexander Hendry Mr Alexander Hendry , Aberdeenshire West 12:00 am, 29th January 1964

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the number and amount of agricultural grants and deficiency payments refused to Scottish farmers in respect of season 1963 on account of alleged irregularity or lateness in giving notice or making application to his department.

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

This information requires a search of Departmental records, which is proceeding. I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

Photo of Mr Alexander Hendry Mr Alexander Hendry , Aberdeenshire West

I thank my right hon. Friend for the trouble that he has taken in this matter, but is it not a fact that the figures will show a very harsh and oppressive attitude on the part of his Department, involving, in some instances, penalties of several hundred pounds for what, after all, are technical breaches of the regulations? Will he consider laying regulations before the House with a view to imposing modest penalties in such cases, in order to make the punishment fit the crime?

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

I do not want to anticipate what the picture will show, but I have seen a little of it in the past. The number of farmers who are late now represent only a tiny percentage. We are operating a scheme under which people are expected to forward their applications by a certain date, and the scheme will immediately run into chaos if we forget that fact altogether.

Photo of Mr Alexander Hendry Mr Alexander Hendry , Aberdeenshire West

But does not my right hon. Friend agree that a loss of £850, which was inflicted upon a constituent of mine—my right hon. Friend has details of the case—is quite harsh and unconscionable in the circumstances? Will not he give the matter further consideration?

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

I will certainly look at the matter, but if that amount of money is at stake it is all the greater reason why my hon. Friend's friend should have taken the trouble to put in his claim in time.

Photo of Mr Alexander Hendry Mr Alexander Hendry , Aberdeenshire West

On a point of order. In view of the quite unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter at the earliest opportunity on the Adjournment.