HC Deb 07 July 1955 vol 543 cc1280-1
16. Mr. Baldwin

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will alter the present system of wheat deficiency payments from a tonnage basis to an acreage basis similar to the deficiency payment for oats and barley.

Mr. Amory

No, Sir. Most of the oats and a considerable amount of barley are normally retained on the farms whereas wheat is primarily a cash crop.

Mr. Baldwin

Will my right hon. Friend give the matter further consideration? Is he aware that if the system were on an acreage basis rather than a tonnage basis it would prevent any allegations being made that farmers are "fiddling" their wheat—as were made in the debate a few days ago? Would it not also assist farmers who want to consume their own wheat and at present have to send it twenty or thirty miles to be certified, which is unnecessarily costing farmers between £1 million and £2 million a year? Would not a third reason in favour of it be that it would average up the acreage payments as between good farms and marginal farms?

Mr. Amory

I agree that it might have the merit of greater simplicity, but our present method of basing the deficiency payment on tonnage was the method which was practised with some success under the Wheat Act in the eight years prior to the war. It has the additional advantage that we can have seasonable variations in the standard price.