HC Deb 10 February 1965 vol 706 cc361-3
10. Mr. Snow

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what his policy is towards the easing of quantity restrictions for domestic agricultural production in view of the foreseeable increase in world population and food consumption.

Mr. Peart

The standard quantities will be determined at each Annual Review taking account of the growth of demand and of any changes necessary as a result of reviewing the balance between home production and imports.

Mr. Snow

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I had hoped that there might be some reference to the requirements of the increasing world population? Are his views in that context in accord with those of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation?

Mr. Peart

Certainly. This Government, like the last Government, have always been anxious to help F.A.O. and its World Food Programme.

Sir D. Renton

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that his Answer means that British agriculture will have continuous expansion?

Mr. Peart

Certainly. British agriculture will be able to play its part in an expanding economy. I have repeatedly said that.

27. Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the policy of the Government towards the potential growth in productivity of the agricultural industry in view of their balance of payment problems and other financial difficulties.

Mr. Peart

I welcome the industry's excellent record in improving the ratio of output to resources used and I intend to see that the industry has the necessary help and incentives to continue this valuable improvement in its productivity. As regards agriculture's contribution to import saving, I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the replies I gave to the hon. Members for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance) and Norfolk, South (Mr. J. E. B. Hill) on 3rd February.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, while the record of agricultural productivity in the past has been exceedingly good, production could rise still further? In view of the great saving in imports and the improvement in the balance of payments situation which that would produce, will he ensure that every encouragement is given to farmers to increase production as much as possible?

Mr. Peart

Certainly. As I have said, the industry has an excellent record in productivity and we are all naturally anxious that production should rise.

Mr. Soames

In view of the action taken last year under the 1964 Act and through the negotiations and agreements made with overseas countries, would the right hon. Gentleman agree that the industry is now very firmly based to be able to expand to a satisfactory extent without imposing an undue burden on the taxpayer?

Mr. Peart

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I agree with the main principles of the 1964 Act. I welcomed the desire to phase imports with home production.

Mr. Biffen

Is the Minister aware that only yesterday the Prime Minister talked about the desirability of increasing imports from the Commonwealth? Can he assure the House that any increase in temperate foodstuffs from the Commonwealth will not be at the expense of the domestic agricultural producer?

Mr. Peart

Hon. Members must expect a responsible Minister to seek a proper balance.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many farmers are discouraged from increasing production because of increased rents? Why do we get no objection to that from the benches opposite?

Mr. Peart

I accept what my hon. Friend has said, because on a previous occasion we believe that instructions to the arbitrator under Conservative legislation led to increases in rents.

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