HC Deb 22 March 1967 vol 743 cc1702-3
24. Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how the incomes of farmers and farm workers compared with their industrial equivalents in October, 1964; and how they compare today.

Mr. John Mackie

Average weekly total earnings of all hired adult male regular whole-time workers in agriculture in England and Wales in July-December, 1964, were about 71 per cent. of earnings for adult male manual workers in industry in the United Kingdom in October, 1964; and about 73 per cent. in the corresponding periods of 1966. A similar comparison of the average incomes of farmers and other self-employed persons is not available.

Mr. Godman Irvine

Is it not time that the hon. Gentleman had a look at the objective set out in the Labour Party policy for agriculture in which it was said that the industry was to move rapidly towards the industrial equivalent of income?

Mr. Mackie

I think that we are doing that. At least, we have decreased the gap by 2 per cent., which is a higher rate than was the case in the last 13 years about which we have heard so much lately.

Mr. John Hall

Can the hon. Gentleman say what is the percentage return to farmers on the total capital employed in the industry?

Mr. Mackie

Not without notice.

Mr. Hazell

Would not my hon. Friend agree that the gap would be considerably narrowed if fanners on the Agricultural Wages Board were more generous about wages?

Mr. Mackie

As my hon. Friend knows, the Wages Board is an autonomous body, and I would hate to start to give it advice.