HC Deb 14 December 1966 vol 738 cc441-2
12. Mr. Godber

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will announce the targets for agricultural production to be contained in the revised National Plan.

Mr. Peart

The arrangements envisaged for reviewing the National Plan were indicated in the reply which my right hon. Friend the First Secretary gave on 10th November to my hon. Friend the Member for Bebington (Mr. Brooks). As I have already informed the House, the Government consider that the present situation underlines the importance of the contribution agriculture can make to the national economy and import saving, through the selective expansion programme.—[Vol. 735, c. 341.]

Mr. Godber

Will not the Minister go much further? Surely it has been proved up to the hilt that there is a need for a much larger expansion than was provided for in the original Plan, whether or not we go into the Common Market. Is there not a good opportunity now to make a bold move to get a much greater expansion and, therefore, to help not only our balance of payments but the whole position in respect to food supplies?

Mr. Peart

The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that this is the first time that the farming community has had a plan put before it, in the sense of long-term objectives, and it was welcomed. We have said that the Plan should be reviewed periodically, and we shall use the February Price Review as a mechanism for reviewing it.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

I accept that in the future we shall have an expanding market, but is it the policy of the right hon. Gentleman that British agriculture shall produce a greater percentage of that expanding market?

Mr. Peart

I have said that the increase in the amount of food in 1970 will be running at approximately £200 million a year. I have emphasised over and over again that the main contribution to that increase will come from British farmers.