51. Mr. De la Bère
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in connection with the substantial wage increase that farmers are being called upon to pay and the Government assurance that the new prices will take account of the rise in wages and increased costs, he will take immediate steps to couple this with credit facilities to farmers at a rate not exceeding 3 per cent., through the existing bank channels, since some farmers are prevented from engaging extra men needed to deal with the increased acreage crops owing to lack of credit facilities?
§ The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. R. S. Hudson)
My predecessor and I have had an assurance from the banks that they will do all in their power to assist farmers in carrying out the food production programme, and I have no doubt that they will regard this assurance as covering the matter to which my hon. Friend refers. I also propose to instruct county war agricultural executive committees to give sympathetic consideration to applications for goods and services, under the Agricultural Requisites Assistance Scheme, from farmers whose cash resources are likely to be required for the payment of wages. Coupled with the satisfactory prices I hope to be in a position to announce shortly, these measures should be sufficient to allay any apprehensions the farming community may still entertain.
Mr. De la Bère
Does the Minister not realise that there is very strong public 241 feeling that some concession by banks from their charge of 5 per cent. should be made? Is he further aware that in the national interest this should be done, that the excuses put forward are neither valid nor adequate, and that the whole thing needs drastic action?
§ Sir P. Colfox
Can we have an assurance that the rise in wages, which we shall all be glad to see, shall not take place until the corresponding rise in selling prices makes that possible?
§ Mr. Hudson
As I have said, I hope to be able to announce the prices very shortly. We are going to get them settled but it will not be an easy or simple job.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
Is the Minister aware that the great difficulty farmers experience in their desire to raise funds is that they have no securities to deposit with the banks? Has he received any explicit assurance from the banks that they will, to some extent, having regard to the prospect of increased prices, dispense with the necessity of securities and make reasonable advances to the farmers?
§ Mr. Craven-Ellis
Is the Minister in a position to take action where banks have refused to give credits to farmers who were in a position to give adequate securities?
§ Mr. Hudson
I have not come across such cases yet, but if the hon. Member will supply me with information, I will look into it.