§ 22. Mr. Crouch
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement regarding his refusal of Sir James Turner's request for a special farm price review.
In accordance with the provisions of the Agriculture Act, 1947, the Government had to consider whether the effect of the cost change arising from the recent wage award in England and Wales was not only sudden and substantial but also of sufficient importance to justify a special review of farm prices. If a special review had been held and full recoupment given for the amount of the wage increase, a sum of about £5 million would have been involved, which would have given an increase of about ½ per cent. in the guaranteed price level of all the review commodities. This would have affected livestock products for the six months to the end of March, 1957, and all crops of the 1957 harvest.
There would have been no increase on the guaranteed price for cereal crops of this year's harvest. Although the wage increase was only for England and Wales, the price increases would have had to be 1052 for the whole of the United Kingdom. The Government also took account of the fact that the effects of the wage increase would be considered along with other cost changes at the 1957 Annual Review, and we concluded that in the prevailing circumstances of the national economy a special review would not be justified.
§ Mr. Crouch
Is not my right hon. Friend aware of the discontent which exists among the farming community because of that refusal? I understand that it will be taken into consideration at the February Review. Would not it have been much wiser not to have had another outburst by the farmers who, taking them by and large, are our friends?
As my hon. Friend knows, it is never very easy to satisfy the whole of the farming community. In this case, it really would not have been a sensible way of trying to help the losses arising from the bad harvest this year because, apart from the other reasons I have given, it would have been spread so very thinly. I can confirm that an increase in wages, like any other increase in costs, is certainly a factor to be taken into consideration at the next price review, and will be so taken into consideration.