HC Deb 26 October 1954 vol 531 cc1736-7
14. Mr. Woodburn

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the concern of the agriculture industry about the considerable profits which are being made by the expedient of moving stock which has been certified for Government guarantee from one market to another, thereby increasing the Treasury's liability; and what steps he is taking to deal with the practice.

Mr. Snadden

My right hon. Friend is aware that there is some concern in the industry on this matter. The movement of stock is essential and, on balance, serves to reduce the overall Treasury liability provided there is no collusion. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman and the House that the Government are watching very closely the operation of fatstock markets and will not hesitate to take action where there is evidence that markets are inefficient or unsatisfactory.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the agriculture industry is concerned about the leakages which have taken place in this manner and that consumers would also be concerned if they knew about it? Apprehension is felt that once again both consumers and producers will be fleeced by people coming in as middlemen and using all kinds of rackets to take advantage of otherwise assured markets for the farmers.

Mr. Snadden

I should like to make two points clear to the right hon. Gentleman. First, there is no possibility of an animal qualifying for the Government guarantee twice over because it is marked with certain marks. Secondly, where there is any evidence of collusion—that is to say, of people getting together in order to depress prices and thereby raise the Exchequer liability—we have machinery ready to put a stop to it.