asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether, in the event of the occupiers of a large farm and of a non-commercial holding both wishing to purchase a non-commercial holding vacated by a third party who has obtained a grant or annuity under the terms of the Agriculture Act, both prospective buyers are given equal consideration for amalgamation grants.
Whichever buyer the outgoer chooses will be eligible for the amalgamation grant provided the amalgamation meets the conditions of the scheme. The outgoer would not qualify for a grant or annuity until the approved amalgamation had been completed.
If it is the intention of the Government to create a larger number of viable commercial holdings should not preference be given to amalgamations which will create additional commercial holdings and not merely increase the size of farms which are already viable units?
The hon. Member has argued this with me very often on previous occasions. My reply is the same. It would do away with the voluntary nature of the scheme, and that we do not want to do.