Agricultural Land Grading System

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd July 1981.

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Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman , Barnet Chipping Barnet 12:00 am, 23rd July 1981

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what response he has had to his consultation letter proposing changes to the agricultural land grading system.

Photo of Mr Jerry Wiggin Mr Jerry Wiggin , Weston-Super-Mare

We have so far received 44 replies to the 60 consultation letters that were sent out. The replies are being analysed now and I shall be considering them without delay.

Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman , Barnet Chipping Barnet

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that the slightly overkill reaction of the NFU to these modest and sensible proposals is rather depressing? Does he agree that his modest proposals will put beyond doubt the fact that grade 3 agricultural land is not third-class land, and will he pursue this matter and perhaps receive other representations from other members of the NFU?

Photo of Mr Jerry Wiggin Mr Jerry Wiggin , Weston-Super-Mare

Dealing with the latter part of my hon. Friend's question, I shall have to weigh up differentially the various advice that I have been given, but the whole idea of this proposal was to support the view that he has put forward. I would rather not get involved at this stage in commenting on individual attitudes, although naturally I was a little surprised by that of the National Farmers Union.

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

Will the Minister accept that the minimum of 1,000 acres for so-called island sites for marginal land—[HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."]—on the contrary, I know this subject backwards—could cause considerable hardship, especially where these sites are under 1,000 acres, mainly because of compulsory purchase? Will he therefore consider some discretion in this limit?

Photo of Mr Jerry Wiggin Mr Jerry Wiggin , Weston-Super-Mare

This does not truly have any relation to the question that was asked. However, I am considering the question of island sites, although not necessarily in quite the way that my hon. Friend would like.