HC Deb 20 November 1947 vol 444 cc1338-9
60. Mr. Manningham-Buller

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what respects top priority has been given to agriculture.

Mr. Marquand

Various forms of special priority are given in the provision of labour and in housing and in addition every effort is made to meet as far as possible the demands for fuel and power for agricultural production. As regards supplies of steel for the manufacture of agricultural machinery, perhaps the hon. Member would await the general statement on the revised steel priority system which I shall, with permission, be making after Questions today.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

As it appears from the answer that, in fact, no top priority is given to agriculture, will the hon. Gentleman agree that the statement broadcast by the Lord President of the Council on 28th August, that food growing is a top priority is grossly inaccurate, and that that broadcast should be counted as one of the Socialist party broadcasts?

Mr. Marquand

I am an earnest student of my right hon. Friend's pronouncements, but I am not aware that he did broadcast on 28th August.

Mr. Frank Byers

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there are still 23,000 agricultural workers in the Armed Forces, and are they not still required in agriculture?

Mr. Baker White

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that on 21st August the Lord President of the Council told farmers that the Government would insist on high priority for agriculture from all Departments, and that the instructions had been issued accordingly to the Departments concerned?

Mr. Marquand

Yes, Sir, there is no reason to dispute that. The hon. Member used the words "high priority" and I have said "special priority."

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that as far as housing in rural Scotland is concerned, the whole thing has closed down completely?

Major Sir Thomas Dugdale

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the farmers have been under the impression that there has been high priority ever since August when the Lord President of the Council and the Minister of Agriculture made statements?

Mr. Marquand

I repeat that there is a special priority.