asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking, in view of the meat shortage, to increase the number of sheep in Scotland.
Encouragement is given to farmers in Scotland to improve and increase their breeding sheep stocks by means of the hill sheep subsidy, by increased prices for fat sheep and for wool, by the provision of rams to crofting townships and by offering grants of half the cost of carrying out schemes for the improvement of hill sheep farms under the Hill Farming Act. Since June, 1947, after the heavy losses of the storms, the number of sheep in Scotland has increased by over 705,000.
What steps is the Minister taking to stock the deer forests with sheep?
Steps have been taken during and since the war to put as many sheep in deer forests as the deer forests can carry, and that policy is being pursued steadily.
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree, in view of the present serious meat position, that the time is ripe for a comprehensive review of the maximum use of all our marginal hill and deer forest lands?
I am quite sure that farmers in the Highlands would be very surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman ask that question, because they have been pressed for the last five years and have been doing their maximum.
While the increase of food production is welcomed, will the right hon. Gentleman see that it is not done at the expense of the human population in the Highlands?
One of the limiting factors in the Highlands is that we cannot have cattle without human beings to look after them, and we must re-populate the Highlands with human beings before we can re-populate them with cattle.