HC Deb 03 March 1942 vol 378 cc514-5
47. Mr. Tinker

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now in a position to say what proportion of the cost to meet the increase of raising the mini mum standard of wages of agricultural labourers will be borne by the Treasury?

48. Mr. A. Edwards

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the recent agreement on the increase of farm prices is contrary to the declared policy of the Government to stabilise prices by means of subsidy; and whether this changed policy is to apply to all future increases in costs of production?

Sir K. Wood

My hon. Friend the Member for East Middlesbrough (Mr. A. Edwards) is mistaken in supposing that there has been any change of policy. The Government have already stated that it is the duty of both sides in industry to consider together all possible means of preventing the rise of costs of production; in particular, they have called attention in general terms to the fact that the policy of price stabilisation will be made impossible unless wage rate increases are regulated in a manner that makes it possible to keep prices and inflationary tendencies under control. In the case of agricultural products the new prices were decided after a review of the costs of production and in the light of the Government's undertakings. There is no present intention to increase the retail prices of the commodities concerned which are subject to control. The increased cost of farm products will, in general, apart from those entering into inter-farm sales, fall on the Exchequer.

Mr. Tinker

As a statement was previously made to this effect, were we not led to believe that the cost of living was to be further increased as the result of a change in prices?

Sir K. Wood

I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement made in connection with the Budget.