Mr William Snadden: My right hon. Friend is fully aware of the difficulties confronting woodland owners and will consider what steps may be necessary to assist in solving them. It has seemed to him desirable to concentrate on problems relating to clearance of the timber rather than on replanting, which cannot take place on any major scale for some time. In the meantime, he would say that he hopes and expects...
Mr William Snadden: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his suggestion, but my right hon. Friend thinks it would be premature to consider setting up such a board until further progress has been made on the general question of land drainage legislation.
Mr William Snadden: No, Sir, nothing has been done in respect of the Clyde Valley, because in this field our skilled and trained staff is very small and has been almost wholly occupied in the Spey Valley survey. However, I have my hon. Friend's point in mind.
Mr William Snadden: My right hon. Friend hopes to receive this report in time for publication in the early months of next year.
Mr William Snadden: The Commission hope to present their report to the Secretary of State for Scotland about the end of December.
Mr William Snadden: I beg to move, That the Draft Agriculture (Ploughing Grants) (Scotland) Scheme, 1953, a copy of which was laid before this House on 19th May, be approved. This is the third Agriculture (Ploughing Grants) (Scotland) Scheme, and is similar to the one which has just been approved. I do not think I need go into the details which have been dealt with by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary...
Mr William Snadden: Perhaps, with permission, I might reply briefly to one or two of the points which have been made. With regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) about neighbouring holders, we are making the provision as wide as possible and are in no way drawing the line very tightly. My information with regard to the crofting position is that the provision does...
Mr William Snadden: It is really a three-year ley, but many people would regard it as a four-year ley, including the year of sowing down. The hon. Member also referred to fallow. Certain types of land, even quite good grass land, contain a grass called twitch grass, and in Scotland we have a particularly nasty one called knot grass, which is often found on good farming land and is not always the result of bad...
Mr William Snadden: I can assure my hon. Friend that the Government's view is the same as his own. We recognise that our hill areas are the reservoirs from which we draw the raw materials in order to finish the product on the low ground.
Mr William Snadden: We have had an increase in milk.
Mr William Snadden: It was my hon. Friend behind me to whom I was speaking.
Mr William Snadden: I regret that in the absence of agreement among the proprietors concerned on the financing and execution of a scheme of drainage works, my right hon. Friend has no powers to undertake this work.
Mr William Snadden: My hon. and gallant Friend will know that works of this nature would require compulsory powers which we do not at present possess. We are hoping to introduce a Bill—I hope next Session—which will give compulsory powers which will enable this work to be carried out.
Mr William Snadden: I am aware of these difficulties. One difficulty is that to provide compulsory powers we have to solve some extremely complicated problems but, as I said, we hope to be able to introduce a Bill next Session.
Mr William Snadden: The latest figures available from the agricultural returns show the numbers of persons employed as farm workers in these counties at December, 1952, as 14,404 compared with 14,377 at December, 1951. The figures for June, 1952, and June, 1951, were 14,120 and 14,875, respectively.
Mr William Snadden: It is true that the decline in the crofter counties is greater than the decline in the rest of Scotland. It is 5·4 per cent. as against 1·8 per cent. That causes us concern. At the same time, we have no evidence of acute labour shortage, but we are watching the position carefully.
Mr William Snadden: The Question asked for the number of people employed. I have given the figures which cover all employees in agriculture in the crofter counties. I could not answer the hon. Gentleman without looking up a lot of figures.
Mr William Snadden: I answered the Question on the Order Paper. The supplementary was a different question.
Mr William Snadden: I appreciate the difficulties and the enterprise shown in developing grazing grounds to which there is access by water only, but I am afraid there could be no prospects of an amendment of the Livestock Rearing Act as suggested.
Mr William Snadden: I quite appreciate what the noble Lord has in mind, but the suggestion made in this Question is alien to the provisions of the Act, which are designed to give grants in respect of the improvement of the static things about a farm, and not of expendable machinery. We have to bear that in mind.