HC Deb 21 July 1953 vol 518 cc195-7
34. Mr. Logan

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the total amount of the grants and subsidies paid to Northern Ireland for the year ended 31st March, 1953, under the headings of calf-rearing, grassland fertiliser, hill-farm improvement, hill cattle and sheep subsidy, ploughed-up grassland, phosphatic fertilisers and lime subsidies, respectively.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As the answer involves giving a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Logan

Are we getting value for our money? Is an inquiry needed into the financial position between the two countries?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

That supplementary question arises more generally on the next Question in the hon. Member's name.

Mr. J. Hudson

Do the figures include sums of considerable millions?

Mr. Harden

Is my hon. Friend aware that exports of agricultural produce from Northern Ireland to Great Britain in the year ending December, 1952, totalled £43¼ million?

Following is the answer: The accounts for the year ended 31st March, 1953, are not yet complete; but the following are the amounts so far recorded as paid in that year to farmers in Northern Ireland:
Calf-rearing 534,577
Crassland Fertilisers 10,430
Hill-farm Improvements 13,414
Hill Cattle 134,452
Hill Sheep 20,999
Ploughed-up Grassland 637,511
General Fertilisers 662,441
Lime 235,409
35. Mr. Logan

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the payments received in 1952–53 period by the Northern Ireland Government under the Social Services Agreement Act, 1949, as well as the parity adjustments in favour of the National Insurance Fund for 1952–53 under the National Insurance Act, 1946.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Payment on account to the Northern Ireland Exchequer during 1952–53 under the Social Services (Agreement) Act, 1949, amounted to £4,300,000. The amount due for 1952–53 under Section 63 (2) (A) of the National Insurance Act, 1946, has yet to be determined but payments are made on account.

Mr. Logan

Am I to understand that about £10 million is being paid in subsidy? As there has been no statement to the House about what we furnish to Northern Ireland, and in justice to our taxpayers on whom there is a heavy demand, is it not time that we ascertained the financial position of Northern Ireland and its obligations to this country?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The amount in respect of subsidies is nothing like the figure which the hon. Gentleman mentioned. Social service payments are automatically assessed on certain formulae embodied in legislation which, as it so happens, was enacted by the party oppposite.

Mr. Healy

Do not the total subsidies paid to Northern Ireland amount to more than twice as much as their Imperial contribution? Is this not, in effect, a repeal of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and is it not subsidising the partition of Ireland?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I do not accept any of the assumptions made by the hon. Gentleman. All these payments are made under agreements which were carefully considered at the time and are part and parcel of the general, and generally satisfactory, arrangements between these two parts of the United Kingdom.

Sir D. Campbell

Does not my hon. Friend agree that all citizens in the United Kingdom should enjoy the same standard of social services and that the agreements in question merely ensure the implementation of that principle?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As I understand it, that was the purpose of the two Acts of Parliament to which I referred in my original answer.