§ 31. Captain HEILGERS
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can now give particulars of the terms that have been agreed upon between the Pigs and Bacon Marketing Boards for the next contract period?
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Elliot)
After prolonged negotiations regarding the contract prices for pigs for the period commencing 1st March next, the Pigs and Bacon Marketing Boards decided to bring into consultation the committee which had already been set up by the Government, under the chairmanship of Sir Wyndham Portal, to administer the loan promised to the Bacon Board for the purpose of meeting losses occasioned to curers, during the current contract period, by the operation of the scheme. Agreement has now been reached as follows:—The period of the contract will be 10 months, namely from 1st March to 31st December, 1934. For the months March and April, the basic price will be 12s. 6d. per score, and will rise or fall, as in the current contract, with rises or falls in the price of an agreed ration of feeding stuffs. This price is for delivery as in the existing contract, and is subject to a deduction of 6d. per score as the producer's contribution towards repayment of the advances to curers in respect of losses, already referred to. The contract price for the remaining eight months of 1934—i.e., from 1st May onwards—will be arrived at on an agreed sharing basis, the details of which are at present under consideration by the boards in conjunction with the Wyndham Portal Committee. The aim will be to relate pig prices not only to costs, but also to the selling price of bacon. As part of the general arrangement, it has also been agreed between the two boards, with the cognisance of the Government, that registered curers shall be compensated, out of the loan referred to, in respect of losses incurred on pigs bought from registered pig producers at the prescribed 347 prices, and on which the Pigs Board levy was paid, during the period 15th September to 31st December, 1933, and that no account shall be taken of profits or losses on pigs bought subsequently. The rate of compensation, assessed by the Wyndham Portal Committee, in respect of pigs bought between 15th September and 31st December, 1933, is 7s. 5d. per pig. I am glad to say that the short-term loan required from public funds will be in the neighbourhood of £160,000 instead of £500,000 as originally anticipated. I should like to express gratitude to Sir Wyndham Portal and his colleagues for their valuable assistance in this matter.
§ Captain HEILGERS
Is there any guarantee that the prices for the months subsequent to March and April will not be less than the price of 12s. 6d. a score for March and April?
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I do not think that I can give any guarantee. What we desire to do is to put this matter upon a profit-sharing and co-operative basis.
§ Sir JOSEPH LAMB
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the subsequent prices will at any rate be equal to the cost of production?
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I am afraid that I cannot discuss that matter by way of question and answer, but certainly I hope that it will not be less, because otherwise there will be no pig production.