HC Deb 16 December 1963 vol 686 c841
29. Mr. Harold Davies

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to what extent the costs of agricultural production have risen in the latest convenient period.

Mr. Soames

Estimates of aggregate cost changes are prepared for the Annual Review each February. The change since the Annual Review last February will be prepared for the purposes of the 1964 Annual Review, and will be published in the White Paper following the Review.

Mr. Davies

While half-thanking the Minister for that reply, may I ask him whether he is aware that he has given no facts to the House? Is he aware that these prices are rising? Will he kindly look into the possibilities of the existence of monopolies in agriculture and ancillary industries and check some of their activities, especially in the supply of fertilisers?

Mr. Soames

I cannot accept that there are monopolies in the supply of fertilisers. There will be considerable increases in costs to be taken into account at this Review as there were at the last Review. A notable example is the increase in wages granted by the Wages Board. There is also likely to be some movement in rents, but I cannot assess these increases yet. That is not done until the Price Review.

Mr. Peart

Will the Minister use his influence, through the use of the fertiliser subsidies in certain industries which supply fertilisers, by pointing out that if the cost can be reduced to the farmer it is far better than giving a subsidy to the Tory Party?

Mr. Soames

I see no relationship between the two whatever.