Mr. J. E. B. Hill:
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will announce details of the new incentives to encourage investment in agriculture; what consultations he is having with the industry; and what advice he is giving to farmers who are reluctant to invest further capital before new arrangements have been announced and passed into law.
Why is the grant being restricted to licensed tractors? Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the delay, obscurity and confusion which there has been over this whole matter is thoroughly regrettable and entirely unjustified.
There was no delay on this. When the main scheme was announced, it was stated that agriculture would have to be specially considered. I immediately had talks with the National Farmers' Union and other interests concerned. The scheme itself has been welcomed by the National Farmers' Union and the C.L.A. as well.
Is it not a fact that, rather than have this delay and uncertainty, the industry as a whole would have preferred that the old system was left as it was? Alternatively, if the Minister says that he wants to make these changes to help the smaller farmers and the farms which do not make a profit, should he not have introduced some scheme for second-hand machinery, of which that type of farm is a considerable user?
I cannot accept that. We carefully consulted the interests concerned. I think that, in the circumstances, this is a very good scheme and I am glad that it has been welcomed.