Mr William Snadden: I cannot add to what I have said. My right hon. Friend will make the statement immediately he has the information to which I have referred. Whether that will be tomorrow or Thursday, I am unable to say, but I can say that the statement he will make will cover the questions referred to by my hon. Friend.
Mr William Snadden: I think my hon. Friend can leave that to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
Mr William Snadden: I think we should await the statement of my right hon. Friend.
Mr William Snadden: My right hon. Friend has received a report from the Highlands Voluntary Development Association on their work at Inverasdale last year. This work consisted of the cultivation, maintenance and improvement of existing crofts rather than of reclamation. The Department of Agriculture have experience of land reclamation work being done elsewhere and I do not think that special steps of the kind...
Mr William Snadden: We appreciate very much the work of these students which is carried out on a voluntary basis, but the work that has been done on these crofts is not land reclamation. It consists of ploughing, carting and spreading of farm manure, and so on. In the Question reclamation is referred to: the Departments have already had experience of reclamation in the working of the Marginal Agricultural...
Mr William Snadden: My right hon. Friend has been in communication with the County Council of Inverness about this road and he is at present awaiting their proposals. I cannot say at this stage when the work is likely to begin or when it will be finished.
Mr William Snadden: The position is that the Secretary of State for Scotland has asked the county council to consider a scheme for this road with the aid of a grant. We have been informed that they are preparing a scheme, and when that scheme is received, it will receive consideration.
Mr William Snadden: My right hon. Friend has noted the situation to which the hon. Lady draws attention. But he has no power to intervene in decisions of the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board.
Mr William Snadden: It is true that the aggregate increase in labour costs taken into account at the Annual Price Review reflected mainly the rise in wage rates in England and Wales, but so long as we have a United Kingdom price structure and two separate wages boards such a position is inevitable. Of course, the reverse could have happened; wages might have risen in Scotland.
Mr William Snadden: I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the intricate problem arising out of the fact that there are two separate wages boards was presented to his own Administration but nothing was done about it. However, we have received representations from the farm servants' union recently about this and I am able to say that we are now re-examining the position.
Mr William Snadden: It is true that the wages in England are struck on a different basis from those in Scotland and that in Scotland 80 per cent. of our agricultural workers are in the specialist classes and are receiving wages certainly not less than those in England and Wales.
Mr William Snadden: Any interference which would change the wage-fixing methods of today would require legislation. However, I have said that the representations recently made by the farm servants' union about this are now being re-examined by the Government.
Mr William Snadden: I have already said that we will re-examine the position in the light of representations recently made to us. It is a fact that similar representations were made to the previous Administration.
Mr William Snadden: As time is getting short, and as some hon. Members may wish to put questions, I propose to make a brief explanation of the Supplementary Estimate required for the Department of Agriculture for Scotland. In Item E, the additional amount of £130,000 arises as a result of the extension of the Marginal Agricultural Production Scheme to include assistance for winter keep for hill cows following...
Mr William Snadden: My right hon. Friend is of the opinion that he cannot usefully make any further statement at present but he intends to do so shortly.
Mr William Snadden: I cannot say exactly on what day my right hon. Friend will make a statement. I can only say that it will be very shortly. With regard to the second part of the supplementary question, my right hon. Friend is fully aware of all these considerations, and I think that it would be better if we were to await the full statement which he will make to the House.
Mr William Snadden: Our most recent information is that the Forestry Commission are very quickly getting down to this job in every possible way.
Mr William Snadden: I cannot give that information without notice. Perhaps my hon. Friend will put the question down.
Mr William Snadden: No, Sir.
Mr William Snadden: My right hon. Friend is intensely interested in this tremendous problem, and I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that all these matters are very much in his mind at the present time.