HC Deb 07 July 1955 vol 543 cc1274-5
3. Mr. Dye

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many fat cattle in England and Wales qualified for the collective guarantee for the period 25th April to 22nd May; and on what grounds these payments were made.

Mr. Amory

Sixty thousand and sixty-five. In accordance with the Fatstock Guarantee Scheme, 1955–56, the rate of the collective guarantee for cattle for the four weeks ended 22nd May, 1955, was determined by the difference between the estimated average return to producers during the fifty-two weeks ended 27th March, 1955, and the guaranteed standard price.

Mr. Dye

Was not the average price received for the 60,000 cattle during that period well above the guaranteed price, and therefore the subsidy in addition was far above the guarantee; and, coming at that time, did it not attract to the market more and smaller cattle, which were slaughtered? As they will not be available for the store market, will not the result be less beef later this year?

Mr. Amory

The reply to the first part of the supplementary question is that that may well have been the case over a short period because that is the effect of the way the payment is computed. The method is called "a moving average." I am satisfied, however, that this method of computing has two great advantages: first, that it enables the payment to be made promptly and, secondly, that over a longish period it means more stable prices instead of fluctuating ones.