HC Deb 27 October 1965 vol 718 cc297-312

10.10 p.m.

Mr. James Scott-Hopkins (Cornwall, North)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Home-Grown Cereals Authority (Rates of Levy) Order, 1965 (S.I., 1965, No. 1325), dated 25th June, 1965, a copy of which was laid before this House on 1st July, be annulled.

Mr. Speaker

Order, order. Will hon. Gentlemen leave the Chamber quietly? An hon. Member is trying to speak.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

We now come to a very important part of the procedure of the House, dealing with a Prayer against a Statutory Instrument laid by the Government. The purpose of the Prayer is to find out from the Government what their intentions are in the Order.

This is the first of the Orders relating to the new Cereals Marketing Authority which was negotiated and the Bill in respect of which was compiled by my right hon. Friends when they formed the Government. So this is the first fruits of their labours. We now want to know from the Government various facts about how and why the levy has been fixed at the rate at which it has.

The first point one notices is the amount of money which it has been decided by the Government, on the advice received from the Cereals Authority, should be raised, which is £1,175,000. In one context this would seem a very large sum of money, but in another, as I shall try to show, it could be very insufficient. The first question which one must ask is whether the money is required purely for the purposes of Part I of the Cereals Marketing Act. We should like an assurance that there is no question of any of the levy being used for the trading powers which the Authority could have under Part II. The House will realise that the Minister has not been given powers by the House to use Part II, and so we want to be quite certain that no money is being put aside for that purpose.

Next, the Minister has presumably been satisfied that the amount of money raised is exactly right and necessary for the purposes which the Authority has in mind. We should like to know how the mathematics have been divided between the three countries—Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England and Wales. How does the Minister see the money divided between them. We know how the money has been divided between wheat and barley, and now we want to know the division between the countries.

The main enabling legislation lays down that the Authority must put schemes to the Minister for the two products, wheat and barley, and schemes as to how it is to carry out its functions under the Act. This is laid down in Sections 2 and 3. We should like to have a look at the schemes. We should like to know what the schemes submitted to the Minister are, whether there will be an opportunity for the House to examine them, how the Authority intends to operate under its powers, and what it will do for this purpose. We must question the Ministry as to how the money is to be used. It is a great deal of money in one sense—over £1 million.

There are various purposes under Part I for which the money can be used—for instance, bonus payments and loans. An apportionment must have been made by the Authority to the Minister. How much is to be used for bonus payments? I have made some calculations. If a bonus of 10s. a ton is to be paid for a forward contract, then the whole of the levy sum will be taken up by 2 million tons of the crop, which is barely one-sixth of the total crop of the United Kingdom. If a little less than one-sixth of the crop is sold forward, thus attracting a bonus, the whole levy will be gone.

Is the Minister satisfied, therefore, that the sum involved is enough? What is to be the level of the bonus that the Authority intends to pay to cereal growers for forward contracts? What is the Authority's estimate of the quantity to be sold by forward contract? Again, how much is to be used for the granting of loans, particularly for loans to other persons on the recommendation of the Authority? This is an important point on which there was a great deal of discussion when the legislation was passing through this House. Presumably the Authority has made a forecast of what will be needed for this cereal year.

How much of the money is to be used for the other purposes permissible to the Authority, particularly its own credit facilities and the granting of credit facilities to other institutions which in turn will give credit to cereal growers? Equally important is the question of how much is to be used for research and development and for market information, which is of vital importance to both producers and the trade? In the light of all these purposes, we would like to be convinced that the money will be enough. On the other hand, we also want to know how much is to be spent on administrative purposes for payments to personnel, for travel expenses, etc.

There is a sub-division between wheat and barley and, within this context, a rather strange aspect concerns the acreages. Using the figures, produced in the June census, of the acreage planted for barley on which payment is to be based—5,195,000 acres at 2s. 2d. per acre—we arrive at a total payment of levy to the Authority of £562,791. That leaves a bigger sum to be raised through the levy on wheat—£612,210. It seems that less is expected to be raised from a larger acreage crop of barley than from wheat. Yet the strange thing about this is that if one converts the home-grown wheat levy to the same basis as that for barley, in other words, an acreage basis, taking the average yield at the fairly low minimum of 28 cwts. to the acre, the levy per acre on wheat is 3s. 7d., far in excess of that on barley.

Therefore, on the two counts, that much more money is to be raised from wheat and that it is to be raised at a much higher rate of levy, I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary will agree that we are entitled to an explanation of this apparent disparity. I am sure that there must be a purpose behind this. Perhaps the Government are showing compassion for the farmer who grows barley and feeds it to his own stock and thereby attracts a lower rate of subsidy. Although the Parliamentary Secretary is smiling as I say that, this is a serious matter, as I am sure he will remember from our earlier discussions. I am sure that the House would like to feel assured that the Government have taken that matter into account and are fully satisfied that the levy on cereals for con- sumption by livestock on the farm on which they are grown will not harshly and adversely affect the farmers concerned out of all proportion to the effect on other cereal growers.

It must be remembered that cereal growers who sell their crop to merchants or neighbours get the maximum benefit from the Cereals Authority. It is therefore right and proper that they should pay a levy for the benefits which they hope to receive. The farmer who feeds his wheat or barley to his own stock does not receive the same benefits as his neighbour who sells it. We must be certain that the Government have borne that factor in mind. It may be because of that that there is this glaring disparity between the two rates of 2s. 2d. a ton for barley and 3s. 7d. a ton for home-grown wheat.

I am sure the House will agree that, as long as the Authority is properly directed and the money properly used, the Authority's work will be of great benefit to cereal growers. However, we should not approve the scheme unless we have firm and clear guidance about how the money is being used and a firm assurance that it is being used for the right purposes and that it is properly divided among market research and development and pure research and bonus payments. I am certain that the House must also be satisfied that we have the right rate of bonus for forward contracts and that the Parliamentary Secretary is satisfied that he will not run out of money. Nothing could be worse than to have a supplementary levy introduced, as can happen under Schedule 3, at a later stage in the cereal year.

If the Parliamentary Secretary can answer those questions, then I am sure we can agree with this scheme, which is the concept of Conservative thought and administration in the last Government.

10.24 p.m.

Mr. Peter Kirk (Saffron Walden)

My hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) has outlined various questions to the Parliamentary Secretary, and very pertinent questions, too. This is the first levy to take place under the Cereals Marketing Act. Therefore, it is very important that we should get it right at this stage. Even though the hour is somewhat advanced, it is important that the Parliamentary Secretary should give us a very clear explanation of the sort of things which my hon. Friend has brought before the House. I am particularly worried by the disparity, which my hon. Friend noticed, between wheat and barley. My hon. Friend was perhaps being a little on the mean side in his calculations, although neither of us is a mathematician by profession and we might have got it wrong.

My hon. Friend took an average figure of 28 cwts. per acre for wheat. As far as I can make out, the figure should be well over 30 cwts. an acre for wheat, which, of course, raises the figure considerably. I would like to know how this figure of £1,175,000 is arrived at. What average is the Parliamentary Secretary hoping to strike between barley and wheat in order to reach it? I can see that one has to calculate on a different basis because the deficiency payment is made on a different basis in that one can only make one's levy on an acreage basis in one case and on a crop basis to the buyer on another. But if one calculates on the same basis and takes 1.7d. per cwt. for wheat and accepts an average figure of about 28 cwts. per acre for barley, one comes to a figure less than a penny a cwt. on barley, which is a very considerable drop on the wheat figures.

If one takes the calculation the other way round and takes 2s. 2d. an acre on barley and the figure which I think is the latest figure, the 1963 figure, of 31 cwts. an acre for wheat, which is less than the 1962 figure, which is the figure that we should work on, one comes not to 3s. 7d. but 3s. 10d. That is the acreage figure for wheat, which is 1s. 8d. an acre higher than the figure for barley. This is a considerable disparity, even allowing for the deficiency payment on wheat being higher than the deficiency payment on barley. The target price is that much higher and I think we must have an explanation for this. Is this a concealed subsidy? I would not object if it was, but I think we should know whether or not it is. At this stage we should have some indication from the Government whether it is their intention to add to the barley deficiency payment through these means or through some other means.

My hon. Friend raised the question as to what this money is to be spent on, and I think this is of vital importance. If one considers the two functions of the Authority, the first is purely administrative, and this is far too much money for this purpose. If one takes the second function, the helping function, it is far too little. We must get some idea as to what the Government's intentions are. Are they trying to build up a bank account against a bad year in the future? I would not blame them if they were, but I think we should know what they are planning.

I personally have no objection in principle to this Order. I think the House will be well advised to accept it, but I think before they do so it must be fairly clearly indicated by the Parliamentary Secretary how these figures are arrived at and on what it is proposed to spend the money. If we have these indications, then I for one will be quite happy to let the Order go through.

10.29 p.m.

Mr. Peter Mills (Torrington)

It is important, when considering this Home-Grown Cereals Authority (Rates of Levy) Order 1965, to ask the simple and pertinent question, what is the farmer really getting in return for this levy of 2s. 2d. an acre for barley and 1.7d. per cwt. for wheat? What I want to know from the Minister is how many will benefit through making a form of contract? Has he any figures to tell us? I do not think there will be very many. How many will really be tempted by this 10s. per ton? I do not think very many so far. I know very well that everyone who grows barley and wheat will sell it and will have to pay this levy. It does not strike me that the Ministry is paying out very much, certainly on forward contracts. I think it is most important to know where the rest of the money is going.

I have not heard of many forward contracts being made. I know, of course, that there are other benefits, but I have not heard of many forward contracts. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will check this and give me an answer, but my figures up to 27th September this year show that only 80 forward wheat contracts were made—a mere 7,000 tons—and only 188 barley contracts—a mere 74,000 tons—through registered contracts. This is a mere fleabite, when one considers that merchants normally handle from the farmers between 7 and 8 million tons of grain. In the West Country, because of farmers having to pay these levies, very few people will get any benefit from these forward contracts, because they are not made.

I agree that this is a very difficult year to start the scheme. There are all sorts of problems and difficulties, but we ought to look into the main reasons why the scheme is fairly slow in starting. Normally, if farmers pay a levy, they want to get something from it. This is natural. But what are these reasons? There is still the very deep suspicion between grower and merchant, perhaps even greater this year than most years. Then there is the very strong feeling that prices will rise far more than the levy and far more than the 10s. bonus which the farmer can expect from the forward contract.

This is not surprising when one considers what the farmer had to pay for his grain last year—those who paid—and that the farmer who sold received quite a fair price for his grain and is therefore not prepared to enter into these forward contracts unless he thinks and hopes that he will get a better price.

Thirdly, the quality this year is affecting the whole process of making a contract between grower and merchant. There is a very real reluctance to make these contracts—a reluctance to sell. Barley farmers think, too, that the quality this year will be down and therefore they want to hold on to all the barley they have, and make no contract, no forward contract, and do not even want to sell at all.

All this makes it very difficult, in spite of the levy and the 10s., bonus for farmers, to make forwards contracts. What can the Minister do about this, because we all want this scheme to work? He should give more publicity to the scheme and its advantages. He should warn of the dangers of holding on to the grain too long without making a forward contract, and I hope that he will seek energetically to break down this suspicion between grower and merchant.

I hope that he will also look at the possibility—this might be a hot cake, but it should be investigated—of open price contracts. I believe that it is important to look at all these factors and to help where necessary. Charge the levy, yes, but it is necessary to get the other side of the scheme working as well.

10.34 p.m.

Mr. Michael Jopling (Westmorland)

Following on what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Torrington (Mr. Peter Mills), about whether it was really so much of a surprise that few forward contracts had been made this cereals year, I believe that this is inevitable for the first year of a scheme of this sort. Farmers and merchants are notoriously slow in taking up new schemes of this sort. There might be a trickle this year, rather more next year, and possibly a flood in two years' time. I hope this will be so.

I wish to make only one point, which is to enlarge on what my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) said about something which has caused more irritation over this scheme than anything else. This is the fact that all growers, whether they sell their grain or feed it themselves, have to pay the same flat contribution by way of this levy. This has been discussed before in Committee. I spoke on this point in Committee, and my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) was very vehement on this point. We then agreed that it was desirable that those growers who sold their grain should have to bear a rather larger burden of levy than those who fed their own grain. I took arms with my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West about this. Having ruminated on it—if that is the right word—for a little time, I am not sure that we could not have tried to find a way round this problem. We agreed in Committee that it is not fair on those producers who feed all their grain that they should have to pay the same rate of levy as those who sell it.

We should not run away with the idea that those who feed all their grain get no advantage at all out of the scheme. I am one who feeds all his own barley. These people have certain advantages out of the scheme which we must not overlook. Very few farmers who grow grain have an exact balance between consuming it all on their own farms and selling it. Virtually all farmers have to buy, on balance, or to sell, on balance. Virtually none has an exact balance between selling and home consumption. The vast majority of the fanners who feed all their own grain also have to go into the market to buy, which means that the market intelligence which the Cereals Authority provides is of great use to them.

There is a second great advantage for those who feed all their grain; the whole purpose of the scheme is to jack up the market price, and experience has shown that if more can be obtained out of the market, there is less chance in future that the guaranteed price will be reduced at a Price Review. We are all aware of occasions—this year was one and so was the previous year—on which we have suspected that the guaranteed price for grain was reduced because the Government were frightened of the subsidy bill which would arise. Those farmers who feed their own grain still draw acreage payments on barley, and it is very much in their interests to keep the market price as high as possible. But those who feed their own grain derive no advantage at all from the activities of the Authority in making forward contracts and in advancing loans.

Very few hon. Members would feel it strictly fair for all growers of barley, in particular, to have the same uniform rate of levy. Very few hon. Members would feel it wrong, if it were possible, to introduce a two-tier system of levy so that those who sold all their own grain paid at the top rate and those who consumed all their own grain at home paid a reduced rate of levy. Most hon. Members would agree that this was fair and equitable. But the problem of enforcing this would be extremely expensive and would probably cost more than it would yield.

Nevertheless, I ask the Minister to tell us in his reply that he will look into the problem. I am sure that the Ministry are aware of the inequity which arises under the scheme. I ask him to instigate an inquiry and to see whether a way can be found to introduce a two-tier system, which I believe would remove much of the irritation which this scheme has caused.

There is a way by which it might have been done. Perhaps if the barley levy were put on a tonnage basis—that is, merely the levy and not the subsidy—it would be possible to collect it only from those growers who sell grain through the registered merchants. That would be one way to achieve this aim because all sales are now registered through merchants. I hope that the Minister and the House will see the equity of such a course and that the Government will try to find a way of introducing a two-tier system.

10.41 p.m.

Mr. George Y. Mackie (Caithness and Sutherland)

I have listened to the repetitive small points and calculations which have been adduced by hon. Members of the Conservative Party, and I appreciate and agree that the matter had been placed on the stocks by them and was later brought in by the Labour Government. I have always been doubtful about the value of this provision, and I was interested to hear the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) say that he wanted to be sure that no part of the money which we are discussing would ever be used in connection with the only really useful purpose of the Home-Grown Cereals Authority—the placing of a bottom price on the market—by entering the sphere of trading.

I, too, would like further information about the matter, and since the Authority has been in existence since July this year and has been operating with some extremely able men within the organisation, does the Minister consider that any good has been achieved? Has the Authority done any good during this harvest? Or does the Minister consider that the price of barley, it having risen, is entirely due to the weather, which is what I believe?

Since we are taking over £1 million from the farmers in the form of the levy, I agree with the hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. Peter Mills) that there should be more market intelligence and encouragement given to farmers to place forward contracts. We appreciate that able men are on the Authority, so the sooner they have permission to put a bottom price on the market in a bad year, the sooner the farmers are likely to reconcile themselves to the Government taking more than £1 million from them by the levy, whether it is done on the 2s. 2d. or 3s. 1d. per acre basis. However the calculations are done, it means that this £1 million is being taken from them for a service which, frankly, I do not believe will stand up to a really good and big harvest and good weather. It will not keep up the price unless we have the power to intervene in the market in connection with the purchase of grain and so on. If that were done, the taking of £1 million from the farmers would be useful.

10.43 p.m.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John Mackie)

The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) clearly said that the Opposition had tabled the Prayer to find out our intentions about the Order, which we laid on 1st July. I will do my best to answer all the questions, although some of them may not have been pertinent to the precise matter under discussion. However, since you have shown leniency in this matter, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I hope that your leniency will continue so that I might endeavour to satisfy all hon. Members.

As the hon. Member for Cornwall, North is well aware, the Order lays down the rate of levy on growers of wheat and barley which is required for the cereal year 1965–66 to finance the operations of the Home-Grown Cereals Authority. The Authority got off the ground, so to speak, only a short while ago, on 3rd June last, and its members have been engaged in the task of obtaining staff and so on. As the hon. Member for Cornwall, North pointed out, some extremely able men are on the Authority. They have had to prepare estimates and that work must be based on knowledge of the industry and past events. To a tremendous extent, they must be left to make these estimates. Hon. Members may be critical of them, but we must consider the short time the Authority has been established.

Then there is the question of the actual use to which this money will be put. As I have said, the Authority is only starting, and it decided that this year it would concentrate on forward contracts, and bonus payments on them. Anyone who has any knowledge of the barley market, and the grain market generally, will agree that one of the greatest faults in the past has been that the farmers would not try to have level selling of their barley during the year, and anything that entices them into doing that is good. Whether this particular bonus on contracts will do that remains to be seen but, as the hon. Member for Cornwall, North said, this is partly their idea, and everyone in Committee agreed that one of the main things was to try to get level selling of barley, which is the idea behind the forward-contract bonus. The bonus is to be 10s. a ton for wheat and barley.

Therefore, the next thing was to estimate how much of each of those cereals would be contracted. In its wisdom, the Authority decided that there might be one million tons of each. The hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. Peter Mills) was slightly scathing about the numbers. He produced some figures, though I am not quite sure where they came from. I should like to keep him up to date, and I have taken the opportunity to get the figures up to 5 o'clock this evening, which I think hon. Members will agree is as near as I could go.

Mr. Peter Mills

My figures were up to 27th September.

Mr. Mackie

I can assure the hon. Member that a lot has happened since then. The up-to-date figures show that the total number of contracts for barley is 4,122, with a total tonnage of 286,496. For wheat, the total number of contracts is 590, with a total tonnage of 46,504. These are fairly—

Mr. Anthony Stodart (Edinburgh, West)

This information is most interesting and is exactly what we wanted. Can the hon. Gentleman indicate how this is allocated over the country? Can he say whether growers in Scotland are as bitten with the idea as are those in the south of England, or whether or not we are further forward?

Mr. Mackie

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman right-up-to-date figures, but I can give them up to the 25th. The figure for England and Wales is 3,768 and 269,102 tons; for Scotland, 169 and 12,941 tons, and for Northern Ireland, 14 and 957 tons. That is the breakdown for the three countries.

Whether or not this is good or bad I do not think anyone can say at present, but as you will notice, Mr. Deputy Speaker, contracts for barley are very much more than those for wheat. There may be a reason for this. As most of us know, the price of wheat rises automatically right up to the end of the period in June, and it may be that many farmers would prefer to contract in the later period, when wheat contracts may come up. But, as I have said, the Authority has decided to base its estimates on one million tons of each—

Mr. J. E. B. Hill (Norfolk, South)

Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the subject of the number of contracts, can he say whether the numbers he has given include contracts with open arrangements, in which the price is not agreed and, therefore, contracts from which the vendor might be able to resile if he was not offered a satisfactory price, or are they all fixed contracts, with fixed prices, from which there will be no withdrawal?

Mr. Mackie

I have no actual figures to give the hon. Member. The information I have is that contracts are mostly on a fixed price basis, the majority for a December to January delivery period. I am sorry that I cannot give any information about whether there are open price contracts. I will try to find out, and I will let the hon. Member know.

That is the position about the total tonnage, and the reason is that there are about 5½ million acres of barley and 2½ million acres of wheat and, as hon. Members will know, the deficiency payment for wheat is on a tonnage basis, whereas that for barley is on an acreage basis, and in the estimates a higher figure had to be provided for wheat than for barley. Hon. Members have made various calculations based on the Authority's figures, but the 1.7d. per cwt. and the 2s. 2d. per acre depend entirely on the size of the crop. They had to make the estimate somehow, and the Authority, being the responsible body, has arrived at those figures. They are more or less round figures and, in the long run, they may turn out to be correct.

The hon. Member for Cornwall, North made the point that if the Authority has not estimated for sufficient money, there is nothing worse than coming back and taking a supplementary levy. That may have to be done, though we hope not, and, unless contracting comes very much quicker than anticipated, it looks as if the Authority will be on the right side. Naturally, we should prefer not to do it, but there is provision in the Act that it can be done. That deals with several points made by other hon. Members as well. I have dealt with the point about the split up between the three countries, and I have dealt with the point about the supplementary levies.

As for the use of the money, bonuses will amount to £1 million or thereabouts, and of the rest £125,000 will be used, along with contributions from the taxpayer, for administration. The rest will be for the market information and statistical services. The Authority feels that the contracting and those two other functions of market information and statistical services are about as far as they can go in their first year of work. During the year, it will be giving consideration to possible future methods of implementing its responsibility as regards the guaranteeing of loans for next year, but that is not in its work for this year. I would assure the hon. Member for Cornwall, North, as I think he knows perfectly well, that the Authority cannot use any money for reserve trading powers. It has to come to the Minister and ask for such trading powers. However, it has not come to ask for those powers so far, and the House will be notified when it does.

The hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Kirk) also brought up the point about the disparity between wheat and barley and the calculations being on a different basis. I have explained why that is, and I have also explained that all the calculations are estimates. Again, I emphasise that a responsible body like the Authority can only use the knowledge that it has, and it may or may not have to ask for a supplementary cut from the deficiency payments.

The hon. Member for Torrington wondered what the farmers were getting for it. I do not want to go through all the detail now, because we went into it in tremendous detail in Committee, but the hon. Member for Cornwall, North answered most of the hon. Member for Torrington's questions in what he said to begin with, and everyone appreciates what the farmers will get out of it. I am sure that it will be of great benefit to them.

I have given figures to satisfy him on the amount of contracting that there is, with which the Authority is very satisfied.

The hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Jopling) asked for the figures again and put forward a point about the Authority asking growers of wheat and barley to sell. All growers of wheat naturally sell because they want to get the deficiency payment, but many barley growers use a lot of barley for feed, though not all of it. A great deal of this was thrashed out in Committee on the Bill. Every one is a potential seller and the hon. Member answered his own question. The benefit to all growers of a stable market is something not lightly to be thrown away and if the Authority assures that, they will get the benefit. To start the Committee argument all over again would not get us much further tonight. The hon. Member suggested that we should look into the question of a two-tier system. I am willing to put that to the Authority and to get the Authority to study it. After a year's experience we might get something out of that.

The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. George Y. Mackie) wondered if during the last two months the action of the Authority in offering a bonus had done anything to keep up the price of barley. It is anybody's guess whether this has helped or not, but what we know—and this was one of the main reasons for setting up the Authority—is that the levelling out of the market and selling of barley keeps a stable price, which is all to the good. If growers are not doing the job properly, knowing the Authority, I know that it will not hesitate to ask for powers to start buying.

I think that I have answered most of the questions that were asked. I think Mr. Donald Scott and Sir Charles Norman have done a first-class job in getting down to this Authority's work so effectively and quickly and we congratulate them on that. The Authority was not firmly established until 3rd June and it reflects great credit on them that after securing Ministerial approval to publish the scheme, they brought it out on 2nd July. This scheme should act as a stimulus towards more orderly marketing of home-grown wheat and barley. The statistical services should prove of great value in the work next year. That is why they wanted to offer this bonus for contracts and do the statistical work, to go on next year with better information to do still better work.

If I have not satisfied the hon. Member for Cornwall, North, I know that he is not always easy to satisfy, but I think that tonight I have answered the points which he and his hon. Friends have raised and I hope that he will withdraw the Prayer.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

There are some things which the hon. Gentleman has not answered—at least not satisfactorily. There is the disparity between the two rates of levy, and I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary has explained the difference between the two rates of levy. This should be clearly defined. I think there is enough money left, if the tonnage is correct, for forward contracts, but this would be going near the limit and it could well be that more money would be needed. But I agree with the hon. Gentleman in congratulating the Authority on getting down to work so quickly. I hope that its work will be fruitful. I hope that it will have money for purposes outside the bonus payments, to do the vital work of publicising itself.

Mr. Mackie

I make it quite clear, and I would have thought that the hon. Gentleman would have seen, that if we have 5½ million to 6 million acres of the one crop and 2½ million acres of the other and we have to raise the same amount of money from the two, there must be a higher levy on the one than on the other. Surely that must be plain to anybody.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

I do not want to hinder the Authority's work. I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.