HC Deb 21 July 1970 vol 804 cc225-6
23. Mr. Maclennan

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with whom he will hold discussions concerning changes in the system of financial support of agriculture.

Mr. Prior

I am considering this matter. Broadly I intend to hold discussions with representatives of the domestic interests directly concerned and with overseas suppliers.

Mr. Maclennan

Why did the Conservative Party announce, prior to the election, that it was proposing to remove farmers' security by altering the agricultural price support system and increasing the cost to housewives without having carried out these full-scale consultations upon which he is now apparently to embark?

Mr. Prior

The hon. Gentleman should not make irresponsible remarks about moving the guarantees in that way. It does no good to the farming community, and little credit to the hon. Gentleman or his hon. Friends. We need no lessons from the Opposition in putting up food prices. They increased food prices in 1969 by no less than £310 million.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

As an increase in food prices is implicit in the right hon. Gentleman's policy, may I ask whether he is prepared to consult the consumer interests as a matter of urgency? Second, will he give an undertaking that in his negotiations with other countries, if he fails to negotiate the levies, he will impose them unilaterally?

Mr. Prior

No, Sir. I think that we had better see how we get on. I am giving no undertakings of any sort.