asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of the increase in costs to Scottish dairy farmers caused by the reduction in the lime and fertiliser subsidies; and how much this represents in pence or fraction of pence per gallon produced.
The effect of this reduction will vary from farm to farm, depending upon the extent of the particular change in efficiency and input. Any general estimate would be misleading.
I cannot accept that this will be a very serious handicap. In fact, the increase will be very, very small. In any case, I imagine that most dairy farmers will still find it profitable to keep up their use of fertilisers and lime.
Does my hon. Friend recognise the difference in the attitude of the Opposition to subsidies to a nationalised industry such as coal and subsidies to a privately-owned industry such as farming? Can he say why subsidies should be given at all for fertilisers, the use of which is in any case very good husbandry?