HC Deb 03 November 1955 vol 545 cc1201-2
37. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the good harvest and increased crops due partly to the elimination of rabbits by myxomatosis, he will consider reducing the subsidies and deficiency payments to the agricultural industry.

Mr. H. Brooke

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Collins) on 31st October by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

In view of the excellent harvest and statements that myxomatosis will save farmers tens of millions of pounds this year, will my right hon. Friend give earnest consideration to the needs of the general body of taxpayers who are providing some £250. million as support for the farmers?

Mr. Brooke

These matters are considered annually at the February Price Review, and I should have thought that that was the proper procedure.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

Can the right hon. Gentleman give one valid reason for which farmers are less worthy to receive subsidies than all the townee industrialists who receive subsidies from the public in higher prices, due to protection?

Mr. Brooke

As I am not the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, I think I had better not embark on these troubled waters.

Mr. Hurd

If and when the Chancellor considers this matter in the light of what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke), will he also consider the prosperous time which the motor car manufacturers are having, and whether it is necessary that they should have the protection of the 33⅓ per cent. tariff which keeps up their incomes?

Mr. Usborne

Is it not a fact that farmers are making too much money anyway?

Mr. Grant-Ferris

Will my right hon. Friend remember the bad seasons which the farmers had before this one?