HC Deb 09 November 1966 vol 735 cc1293-4
18. Mr. David Steel

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he takes to ensure that the particular circumstances of Scottish farmers are adequately considered when fixing guaranteed prices at the Annual Price Review.

Mr. Willis

Economic and statistical data about the current position of Scottish farming are compiled by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland for each Annual Price Review and Scottish farmers are represented at the Review by senior office bearers of the National Farmers' Union of Scotland. My right hon. Friend maintains close touch during the course of the Review and senior officers of the Department participate throughout.

Mr. Steel

Is it not a fact that no Scottish Minister takes part, on behalf of the Government, in these discussions? If so, is adequate care taken to assess the particular difficulties of Scottish farmers; and is this not a case for having a separate Price Review?

Mr. Willis

The hon. Gentleman is misinformed. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland sits in during the Review discussions—[Interruption.]—and participates.

Mr. Rankin

Does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State give consideration to the position of consumers when fixing guaranteed prices for farmers?

Mr. Willis

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is, of course, always giving evidence of his concern for consumers.

Mr. Stodart

Will the Minister of State regard as a matter of importance relating the efficiency factor to Scotland, because obviously in a livestock-producing country the efficiency factor bears more hardly?

Mr. Willis

Certainly. The material that is compiled on the profitability of different farms in Scotland comes from independent surveys carried out by the agricultural colleges. These figures are discussed and agreed in advance of the Review by all concerned, including the economists of the Department, the farmers' representatives and others.