§ 32. Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware of the grievance felt by many farmers by the use of the expression" Government Farm Subsidies"; and whether, as the present system is one of agricultural support prices, he will see in future that this definition is used in all official documents and references.
I am not aware that the term "Government Farm Subsidies" is normally used, but I am afraid that the term "agricultural support prices" could also be misleading to describe the payments made from the Exchequer.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport
If the public are compelled to pay increased prices to the nationalised industries in order that they shall be supplied with transport, fuel and so on, is it not fair that they should be compelled equally to pay the farmer higher prices in order that he can continue to supply this country with food?
Mr. T. Williams
Is it not the case that where the right hon. Gentleman is referring to "guaranteed prices" or to prices produced through the deficiency payment system, Chancellors of the Exchequer always refer to both of them as subsidies?
§ Commander Agnew
Whether these prices are called "subsidies" or "support 814 prices,"do they not still implement the guarantee given under the Agriculture Act, as changed in outline by the Government's scheme introduced in 1954?
The answer to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Commander Agnew) is that that is so. The answer to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Knutsford (Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport) is that the term "agricultural subsidies" is commonly used as an inclusive term to cover deficiency payments, support prices, and production grants.
Mr. T. Williams
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that this is a term of odium, which is never used in general industry, which enjoys the luxury of the Safeguarding of Industries Acts? Is it not intended and calculated to be recognised as a term of opprobrium against the farming community?
In every speech that I have made, I have said there was no reason whatever for the farming community to regard it as a term of opprobrium.