HC Deb 21 July 1970 vol 804 cc223-5
22. Mr. Maclennan

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will institute an interim agricultural price review.

41. Mr. Peter Mills

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in view of the substantial increase in costs to the British agricultural industry, he will consider a special autumn review of farmers prices to reimburse them for increased production costs.

43. Mr. W. Baxter

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will bring in a supplementary price review.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. James Prior)

My right hon. Friends and I are aware of the difficulties facing the industry and are prepared to listen to any representations.

Mr. Maclennan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that answer does not go far enough and that when this year's Agricultural Price Review award was announced the Conservative Party drew attention to the highly inflationary situation in which the industry was finding itself'? Since his Government came to office there have been considerable cost increases, both in fuel and in transport. Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to sit by idly and to allow this to go on with nothing more than a promise to consider representation? What does he intend to do about it?

Mr. Prior

I hope that the hon. Gentleman voted against his party in the debate which took place just after the Price Review.

Mr. Baxter

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consult his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) and to recall what he said when he was on this side of the House? The hon. Gentleman said that it was necessary for him to have his parliamentary salary to subsidise his agricultural activities. As I recollect, the hon. Gentleman seemed to say at that time that he had had considerable consultations with the farming community and was thoroughly convinced that a supplementary review would be necessary.

Mr. Prior

I hope that we can rely on the continued support of the hon. Gentleman.

Sir D. Renton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in East Anglia especially there are a number of farmers who, because of weather conditions, are having their third bad season, and that unless some help is given in the course of this year they may not be able to go on farming? This applies especially to the smallholders.

Mr. Prior

I am aware of the problems of my right hon. and learned Friend's constituents, and I should like to do as much as I can to help, but a combination of three bad seasons and the attitude adopted by the Opposition when they were the Government was enough to reduce the industry to a very low level.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he has given the vaguest possible answers? Will he be more specific? Does he recall that he and his hon. Friends called the 1970 Price Review "derisory" and "appalling"? In view of that, will he now say that he will introduce an interim Price Review, or is he prepared honestly to agree that, having been in the Department for a few days, he sees the 1970 Price Review as having been fair and reasonable?

Mr. Prior

If the Price Review were as reasonable as the right hon. Gentleman is trying to make out, why are his hon. Friends asking me for one now?