HC Deb 26 March 1956 vol 550 cc1763-4
35. Mr. F. M. Bennett

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will give an estimate of the direct and administrative saving, respectively, to public funds of the total abolition of the bread and milk subsidies; and what would be the average individual extra weekly cost per head of the population of such a step.

Mr. H. Nicholls

The annual cost of the current bread subsidy is estimated at about £24 million, which is equivalent to an average weekly expenditure of about 2¼d. per head of the population. The administrative costs of this subsidy are in the region of £130,000 per year.

When the recently announced increase in the price of milk becomes effective, the cost of the general milk subsidy in a full year is expected to be of the order of £22 million, which is equivalent to about 2d. per week per head of the population. This subsidy is operated through the Milk Marketing Boards, and its abolition would not yield a significant saving to the Exchequer in administrative costs.

Mr. Bennett

Since there are now millions of people who could well afford to do without these subsidies, would my hon. Friend not agree that there is a strong case for abolishing them altogether and for devoting part, if not all, the money thus saved to relieving the poorer sections of the community on the lines of the present Lord Privy Seal's 1952 Budget?

Mr. Nicholls

I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend will take note of the point of view expressed by my hon. Friend.

Mrs. Mann

Would the hon. Gentleman tell us the cost to Conservative funds of the posters that told the public that if the Conservatives were returned the cost of living would be reduced? What is the extra weekly cost per head of the population since the Tory Government came to power?

Mr. Nicholls

I have no doubt that the general public have already appreciated that they are getting very good value for their money for good Government.