HC Deb 10 November 1964 vol 701 cc818-9
14. Mr. Stodart

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will give an estimate of the extra cost to the agricultural industry of the 15 per cent. surcharge on potash.

Mr. MacDermot

In a full year the levy imposed by the charge would amount to approximately £1½ million. It cannot be estimated how much of this would be passed on to the agricultural industry.

Mr. Stodart

Why have the Government imposed this charge on what is virtually a raw material and one which cannot be produced in this country? Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, unless it is imported, food production will fall? Did he consult the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of State for Scotland before taking this precipitate action?

Mr. MacDermot

Potash was not excluded because it did not fall within the category of raw materials, but representations have been received about it and many other cases for exemption. I cannot anticipate my right hon. Friend's Budget statement tomorrow.

Sir P. Agnew

Can the hon. and learned Gentleman give an assurance that any part of the surcharge falling upon agriculture will be taken into account in the next price review?

Mr. MacDermot

No. I cannot give such an assurance.

Mr. Maudling

Why not?

Mr. MacDermot

Because it is not my responsibility.