HC Deb 27 March 1963 vol 674 cc1291-3
5. Mr. Darling

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what reply he has made, or intends to make, to the representations sent to him by the British Farmers' and Smallholders' Association regarding the effects on food prices of present arrangements at fat stock auctions and at fruit and vegetable markets.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

No such representations have been received, although I am of course aware of the comments on these matters in the Association's recent Report.

Mr. Darling

As the annual report makes strong criticism of the failure of the Government to introduce a proper meat marketing policy and their failure to do anything about horticultural marketing, can the hon. Gentleman tell us when we shall get some action on these two important matters and what kind of action it will be?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

The hon. Member will know that there is a committee studying marketing. But that is rather different from the Question that he actually asked. I must repeat that we have not received any actual representations from the association.

7. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to what extent the contemplated changes in agricultural policy will result in increased food prices to the consumer; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Soames

We have yet to carry through the necessary discussions before deciding on any changes, and I am not therefore in a position to make a statement or to assess what effect they may have on the level of food prices.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the last year, with existing policies, food prices have gone up by not less than 10d. in the £ and that substantial increases will follow the new change of policy which the Government have indicated? Will he give an undertaking that the consumers will be given a clear indication before the next General Election of what it will involve for them?

Mr. Soames

We shall, of course, be keeping consumers' interests very much in mind in deciding what changes are necessary. All I am saying is that I have no statement to make this afternoon.

Mr. Stodart

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that it is highly satisfactory that the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton) at last realises that the food support programme has benefited not only farmers but consumers?

Mr. Hamilton

Before the right hon. Gentleman replies, is he aware that, despite the increased support, food prices are continually going up? Why should the consumer be fleeced both as a consumer and as a taxpayer?

Mr. Soames

The hon. Gentleman will realise that our food prices would have been very much higher than they are today if we had not had the present system.

Mr. Lipton

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In answering this Question, was not the Minister, in effect, also answering Question No. 31?

Mr. Speaker

We will see when we get to No. 31.

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