HC Deb 07 July 1965 vol 715 cc1567-9
10. Mr. Eldon Griffiths

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the additional cost to the farming industry of the increase to 7¾ per cent. in the interest rates charged by the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation.

Mr. Peart

The cost of the increase in the interest rate charged by the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation depends on the amount of new loans taken up by farmers at the increased rate and cannot be forecast.

Mr. Griffiths

Is the Minister aware that that reply, which adds very little to the sum of existing knowledge, is not particularly helpful? Is he aware, further, that the Government's policies have added some £30 million to the costs of the farming industry? Against this background, does he recognise that the great majority of farmers will have been delighted to read of the results of the voting in the House of Commons last night and cannot wait—[Interruption.]

Mr. Peart

I am certain that the worst thing the farming community would wish for would be the return of a Government who failed to provide a long-term policy for British agriculture. Hon. Members opposite, who also defend the National Farmers' Union, must know that in the main the criticism of the Union has been the trend of incomes under successive Conservative Administrations.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many farmers will also wonder where the money for Price Review prices would come from if all the Amendments to the Finance Bill were carried?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

First, will the Minister put this to the test and recommend to the Prime Minister that he should go to the country? Secondly, will he answer the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths)? Has he no estimate of what the increased costs are? Cannot he tell the House how much the Government's policies have cost the industry this year—a figure which cannot be recouped until after the next Price Review, which will be done by a Conservative Government?

Mr. Speaker

That part of the supplementary question concerned with whether the Prime Minister should go to the country was wholly out of order.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

Is it not evident that the rate of interest referred to in the Question will discourage capital expenditure in the industry, at the very time when capital expenditure in the public sector is rising so fast?

Mr. Peart

I cannot agree that there is any discouragement. I hope that hon. Members will not be so pessimistic about the future of this great industry.