HC Deb 17 November 1949 vol 469 cc2195-6
61. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the reductions that have been announced in the subsidies on cattle feeding-stuffs, he can give an assurance in advance that the February price review of farm products will adequately reimburse the farmers and livestock breeders throughout the country for the additional cost which must be entailed as a result of this action.

Mr. T. Williams

No, Sir. I cannot anticipate in any way the result of the forthcoming February review.

Mr. De la Bère

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that 88 per cent. of the farms of this country are of 100 acres or less, and that most farmers are living from hand to mouth? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] In view of the fact that agriculture is the greatest dollar saver we have, why does not the right hon. Gentleman make sure we get maximum productivity?

Mr. Williams

I am also aware—and I hope the hon. Gentleman will be one day—that when this Government pass an Act of Parliament they observe it.

Mr. De la Bère

I am not aware of it. They are thoroughly unsatisfactory.

Sir T. Dugdale

Can the Minister inform the House definitely that this question will be a subject for discussion in the February price review, as there have been conflicting statements made by various Ministers on the subject, and there is some uncertainty?

Mr. Williams

I can assure the hon. Baronet that there is no misunderstanding about the statement made by the Prime Minister when he announced that feedingstuffs subsidies would be removed. Feedingstuffs prices are included in the computation of prices in the February review.

Sir Frank Sanderson

Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider it anomalous that America has to subsidise her growers to keep the prices of food up whereas we have subsidies to the consumers in order to keep them down? Would not the remedy be to free feedingstuffs and allow them to be purchased in the ordinary way between buyers and sellers, rather than by bulk purchasing?

Mr. Williams

I shall be very happy to see the day when we can completely abolish rationing, but, as a matter of fact, the announcement the Prime Minister made a short time ago has not increased the price of feedingstuffs to farms, and will not do so until after the next February review.

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