HC Deb 25 May 1966 vol 729 cc452-3
7. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will hold an autumnal Price Review.

21. Mr. Biffen

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will hold an interim Price Review this autumn.

Mr. Peart

No, Sir.

Mr. Farr

While hon. Members, particularly those on this side of the House, welcome the changes in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's original proposals relating to the Selective Employment Tax, may I ask whether the Minister would not regard it as disgraceful that agriculture should, in the first place, be regarded as a service and, in the second place, even now, not be regarded as a manufacturing industry?

Mr. Peart

That is another question. The hon. Gentleman should bear in mind that the industry is being helped considerably in a different way. If we were to consider it a manufacturing industry, would it be the policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite to treat it and rate it as such an industry?

Mr. Biffen

While appreciating that the circumstances have altered since Question No. 21 was originally tabled, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman would agree that bank overdrafts for agriculture, according to the latest available figures, stand at well over £500 million? Will not the result of even the revised imposition of this tax mean that farming will have to carry a further £11 million for six months? Would the right hon. Gentleman assure us that, even if this is not included in an interim Price Review, it will be borne in mind next April?

Mr. Peart

Does not what the hon. Gentleman states show that the banks have confidence in the industry?