§ Mr. Boswell
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the future of the Agricultural Credit Corporation.
§ Mr. Donald Thompson
Decisions on the future of the Agricultural Credit Corporation, which is a private company limited by guarantee, are for the board of the corporation.
Under the provisions of section 64 of the Agriculture Act 1967 Government support was provided in respect of guarantees given by the corporation on bank loans for agricultural and horticultural businesses. These powers expired on 31 March 1989.
I have been reviewing the need for a continuation of such powers and have concluded that it is no longer appropriate for the Government to continue making special provision for this sector.
The Government take the view that public funds for bank loan guarantees should be targeted at those who do not have the necessary security or track record to obtain bank loans through the commercial market and yet have the potential for increasing national prosperity and the generation of additional employment. The Government are, however, considering the feasibility of whether the loan guarantee scheme operated by the Department of Employment, which helps small firms which would otherwise not be able to obtain finance, can be extended to include small firms in agriculture and horticulture.