HC Deb 28 February 1968 vol 759 cc1388-90
12. Sir J. Langford-Holt

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assurances he has given to the National Farmers' Union and other interested bodies of his intention, through the Price Review, to ensure that agriculture will play a new and major part in the national effort to save imports.

13. Mr. Charles Morrison

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is now taking to obtain an increase in agricultural production.

Mr. Peart

The steps necessary to enable agriculture to play its part in the national economy are among the matters being considered at the Annual Review now in progress, and I cannot anticipate the outcome. I would, however, refer the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Sir J. Langford-Holt) to my statements in the House on 4th December and 21st December.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

The Minister will be aware that the country is being exhorted to make devaluation work. Does he realise that this is probably the greatest and perhaps last opportunity to enable agriculture to play the great part which it undoubtedly can play in this operation?

Mr. Peart

Again, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman should be pessimistic. I would not say that this was the last opportunity. There are always opportunities. The Price Review is the medium whereby we assess the rôle which the industry can play in the economy. We are doing that.

Mr. Maclennan

I understand that my right hon. Friend cannot anticipate his statement on the Price Review, but can he give an assurance that the present predicament of the hill and upland section of agriculture in Scotland, in particular, will be given special consideration at this time because of its sharply declining profitability?

Mr. Peart

Representing a constituency which has many hill and upland farms, I am naturally aware of the problems of such farms. The point has been noted. This is a matter which we are Agricultural Production examining.

Mr. John Wells

Would the Minister bear in mind when dealing with matters of increasing agricultural production, which is referred to in Question No. 13, that over one-sixth of all agricultural production is horticultural and is not covered by the Price Review? Therefore, will he not always fob us off with Price Review answers?

Mr. Peart

I am aware of that. I gave an answer to the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Sir J. Langford-Holt) and my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) on hill and upland farms. I agree that horticulture is not covered by the Price Review. It has other assistance.

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