§ 1 and 2. Mr. du Cann
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) to what extent farmers carrying out their own work in schemes approved in connection with the new improvement grants referred to in Command Paper No. 23 will be entitled to reimbursement;
(2) whether the principle that a farmer may be reimbursed in respect of part of the cost of his own work in approved cases now conceded in the Silo Subsidies Act, 1957, will now be extended to schemes under the Hill Farming Act 1956.
The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Derick Heathcoat Amory)
For reasons given on 23rd October, 1956, in Committee on the Hill Farming Bill, it would not be practicable, even if it were acceptable in principle, to pay grant on the farmer's personal services. The Government is, however, seeking power in Clause 13 (2) of the Agriculture Bill to make regulations fixing standard costs for particular items in the farm improvement scheme. I would prefer to wait until experience has been gained of the working of the silo subsidy scheme before considering how far it may be practicable to use this power, should it be authorised by Parliament, or whether it could usefully be extended to livestock rearing schemes.
§ Mr. du Cann
While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask whether he is aware—as I am sure he is—that there is considerable feeling on this point among the farming community and that people are of the opinion that it is illogical to have one system for one Act and not for another? Will he please keep the situation under permanent review?
Yes: I most certainly will do that. I know full well the feeling on this matter, but, as my hon. Friend knows, it has been an established principle of a number of legislative Measures that a man cannot charge his own labour.
While not wishing to discourage self-help, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman, if he intends to keep this under review, to consider, should the 3 occasion arise, consulting the building trade unions about it?
I will consider the point the hon. Gentleman has made. I should not have thought that it was relevant to this problem, but I will consider what he said.