HC Deb 30 June 1960 vol 625 cc1552-3
36. Mr. John Hall

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether, in view of the fact that discussions with the principal buyers of potash have now been concluded, he will now include potash amongst those fertilisers receiving the benefit of a subsidy.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John Hare)

I am afraid that none of the objections to a subsidy on potash has been removed as a result of these discussions. A major part of our supplies is still obtained through one firm, but competition from other sources is increasing and we shall continue to watch the position.

Mr. Hall

Does my right hon. Friend realise that that is a very disappointing reply, especially for those farmers who work on land similar to the Chiltern Hills in my constituency and require to use a great deal of potash? Will he make further efforts to remove the remaining difficulty in the way of giving a subsidy for this type of fertiliser?

Mr. Hare

My hon. Friend will understand that, as matters are, with so much of the supply going through one firm, we would have no assurance that the subsidy, or some part of it, would not be passed back to the supplier, with little or no benefit to those whom my hon. Friend wants to help.

Mr. Webster

Is my right hon. Friend aware that where intensive cultivation of crops is carried out for a long time over the same parcel of ground, such as strawberries, this type of producer-subsidy is of the utmost value?

Mr. Hare

Yes, but my hon. Friend should realise that, in spite of the lack of subsidy, farmers and horticulturists are using nearly 80 per cent. more fertiliser than they did in 1952–53.