HC Deb 22 July 1963 vol 681 cc1032-3
10. Mr. P. Browne

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will give the percentage change in the net farm income of the United Kingdom between 1957 and 1962, using 1957 as the base year, as adjusted for normal weather conditions; and if he will give the figure when adjusted to take account in the change in purchasing power between the two dates.

Mr. Soames

These figures are not available for calendar years, but figures for the crop years covering 1957 and 1962 show an increase of 13 per cent., or about 2 per cent. after adjustment for the change in purchasing power.

Mr. Browne

This figure is low. Bearing that in mind, is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the farmer whose capital is at considerable risk compared with many other businesses is getting a fair return on his capital and management employed?

Mr. Soames

This is a problem which, as my hon. Friend knows, is not confined to this country. The relationship between farm income and the income of the rest of the economy, in a rising standard of living, with people devoting a higher proportion of their earnings to goods other than food, is bound to make difficult the achievement of what we would all like to see, not only here but in all industrial countries. However, the relationship between farm income in this country and that of the rest of the economy compared with the same relationship in other countries has fared well under our system of support.

Mr. Prior

Is not it rather dangerous to take specific years such as 1957? Could my right hon. Friend say what would happen if he took 1956 or 1958?

Mr. Soames

The figure would be much better from the point of view of farm income if the year 1958 were taken. One can take specific years and make what one will of them.