HC Deb 07 July 1965 vol 715 cc1564-5
7. Mr. Peter Mills

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what official proposals were made to him by the Devon farmers during his visit to the Devon County Agricultural Show; and what action he is taking upon them.

Mr. Peart

None, Sir. I visited the National Farmers' Union tent at the Devon County Agricultural Show quite informally, and had a short and pleasant chat with the county chairman and some of the members.

Mr. Mills

While I am not allowed to disagree with the Minister, may I ask a question, as I think he was wrong on that? Did it not really reveal the genuine fears and dismay of the farming community in the South-West, and, to say the least, is not the situation explosive? Before the next Price Review, will the right hon. Gentleman think very carefully before he and the Socialist Party make such promises again to the farming community?

Mr. Peart

As the hon. Member knows, my Price Review has been regarded as a very sensible and realistic review. As to my attendance at the Devon show, I have an impartial observer, John Winter of the Daily Mail who said: Hostile 'Hello' Ends with a Round of Beer. Mr. Peart in the Lions' Den. It was a friendly, informal meeting which I am sure was appreciated by the Devon farmers.

Mr. Thorpe

Does the Minister agree that, although Devon farmers are somewhat robust by tradition, they are politically very broad-minded? Would he not agree that perhaps one of the most serious indictments they have brought against the right hon. Gentleman is that his last Price Review appears to have inherited all the restrictionist tendencies of the previous Tory Administration?

Mr. Peart

I recognise that Devon farmers have a measure of political sophistication, but unfortunately they still return too many Conservative Members. However, I recognise that there are problems there. I hope very soon to be making a major announcement on long-term policy which I hope will benefit very much many small farmers all over the country, including Devon.

Mr. Prior

Does the Minister remember the promises made by himself and the Prime Minister when the Devonshire farmers came to London and met the Minister in a Committee Room upstairs? Does he not think that he cuts a pretty poor figure when he goes down among them?

Mr. Peart

Not at all. I remember not only the promises but my own statements. Our aim to have a long-term policy for the industry which is realistic and will make it more modern and efficient is a right one.

Back to