§ The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Thomas Williams)
I desire to make a statement as a result of the recent annual review of economic conditions of the agricultural industry. In accordance with the established procedure the Agriculture Departments in consultation with the Farmers' Unions of the United Kingdom have conducted an annual review of the economic conditions of the agricultural industry. An examination was made of the forward estimates of costs and of the price changes made in August last in connection with the plans then initiated for securing an expansion of agricultural output of £100 million by 1951–2, when revised prices were fixed for crops from the 1948 and 1949 harvests, and for milk, eggs, cattle, sheep and pigs, for the period from September, 1947, to 31st March, 1949.
After considering the results of this review the Government have decided to confirm the prices announced on 21st August last and for the same periods. The Government have also agreed that an investigation should be made by the Agricultural Departments and the Ministry of Food, in conjunction with the Farmers' Unions, of certain suspected anomalies in 2584 the detailed price structures for milk and potatoes on the understanding that any adjustments made in consequence of this examination must not result in any increase in the overall average prices of these commodities, and that in the case of potatoes any such adjustment will not be applied before the 1949 crop.
§ Captain Crookshank
In view of the fact that we did not know this statement was going to be made today, I do not know whether the Minister can say whether it has met with general agreement on the part of those taking part in the negotiations.
§ Mr. Williams
The statement is based on agreement between the Departments and the National Farmers' Union and, finally, of course, with the Government.
§ Mr. Collins
Can the Minister say whether these possible changes in the prices of potatoes may affect the 1948 crop?