HC Deb 23 May 1960 vol 624 c26
30. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will consider, after future Annual Price Reviews and Determinations of Guarantees, giving instructions that the resultant figures will be analysed and referred to under the heading, A, Farm Improvement Subsidy, and the balance under the heading, B, Consumers' Food Subsidy.

Mr. Godber

I regret that this suggestion is not practicable. Apart from the subsidy on welfare foods, which is not taken into account at Annual Reviews, there is no identifiable consumers' food subsidy. On the other hand, it is true that the Government's support for agriculture yields very real indirect advantages for consumers, who are able to buy at world prices. In this way the cost of living is kept down.

Mr. Farr

Is my hon. Friend aware that my purpose in asking this Question was to call attention to the fact that many people in this country hold the view that the whole of the money in any one Price Review goes straight into the farmers' pockets? As he knows, that is not the case. In the last Price Review, out of a total of£259 million, the farmers benefited directly by less than half that sum. The remainder went solely towards keeping down the cost of food prices.

Mr. Godber

I appreciate the point that my hon. Friend is seeking to make, but it is very difficult to set any precise figures. What is clear is that, generally speaking, consumers gain a very real benefit from the support we give the farming community.

Mr. J. Hynd

Is not the whole purpose of subsidies to keep out cheaper foreign food?

Mr. Godber

Certainly not. Food prices in this country are relatively the same as world prices. We say that the market should be free, but that farmers should be safeguarded against any unreasonable effects on them.