HC Deb 23 March 1961 vol 637 cc556-7
14. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware that over the last 10 years the proportion of the national income received by the agricultural industry has steadily declined; and what steps he is taking to stop this decline.

Mr. Soames

Yes, Sir. This is inevitable because with the increasing prosperity which the country has enjoyed these last 10 years the demand for other goods and services had risen faster than the demand for food. But the agricultural industry is in a sound condition and if any evidence were needed that the Government are determined to keep it so the recent Price Review provides it.

Mr. de Freitas

Would not it be very right and proper if the Minister, on behalf of the Government, told the members of the agricultural industry that it clearly is not true to say they have never had it so good?

Mr. P. Browne

Can my right hon. Friend say what is the income per head in agriculture compared with that of other industries, in this country, in France and, say, in the United States of America?

Mr. Soames

Yes, Sir, because the Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations conducted an inquiry into this a year or two ago, country by country. The proportion per head in agriculture for the United Kingdom was 80 per cent.; for France 60 per cent. and for Western Germany 70 per cent.

Mr. Peart

Is the Minister aware that the Government have actually legislated over a period for declining incomes and that the position of small farmers has deteriorated since they came to office?

Mr. Soames

No, it is the case throughout the Western world that as prosperity increases and income levels have been rising the amount spent on food is a lesser proportion than on consumer goods. This applies to Belgium, Denmark, Western Germany, the Netherland, Canada and the United States.

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