§ Queen's Recommendation having been signified—
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to authorise the payment of food subsidies, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of—
Provided that the sums so authorised to be paid by virtue of paragraph (a) above, together with any payment out of moneys provided by Parliament in respect of the year ending with 31st March 1975 in pursuance of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 1191/73 or of any Regulation amending or replacing that Regulation, shall not in the aggregate exceed £700 million.—[Mr. Maclennan.]
§ 1.55 a.m.
§ Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)
Will the Minister confirm that the moneys payable under the Money Resolution—the £700 million—are restricted to payments during the financial 370 year 1974–75, and that it would be wrong or illegal to provide any money for 1975–76 under the Bill? Indeed, if food subsidies were to be continued beyond the end of 1974–75, would not a new Bill have to be introduced and enacted?
In view of the Under-Secretary's commendation of the Bill in such glowing terms, as an act of major social justice and a contribution to the reduction of the rate of inflation, I find it curious that these blessings should be restricted to a period of one year. What will happen is that at the end of one year the money will have run out and we shall have a 2.2 per cent. increase in the cost of living on top of the 15 per cent. or 18 per cent. which will already have taken place during the year.
I ask the Government, therefore, much though I dislike the principle of the Bill and the subsidy clause in particular, why they have limited the Money Resolution powers to one year. Is it something to do with electoral considerations? Are food subsidies to last only until the next election, or do the Government think that in some way the price of food will come down? I am asking these questions because I do not know the answers. Are the Government trying to fool the people that this puny Bill will make a contribution for more than a very short time, and at the end of that period all will have to be recouped?
§ Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)
If it is intended that the subsidies will apply in a later year, is the Minister satisfied that they will be adequate, granted the rate of inflation which, at the very outset of her speech, the Secretary of State said was likely to run at the rate of 18 per cent. or 19 per cent. this year? Will there not be a shortfall of about 18 per cent. or 19 per cent. on the £700 million which is required? May we be told whether the bill is really £700 million, or twice or three times that amount?
§ Mr. J. Bruce-Gardyne (South Angus)
Will the Minister, in addition to answering the questions already put, elaborate somewhat on the response which the Under-Secretary gave to the intervention by my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) during his rather inadequate speech on the Bill? The hon. Gentleman announced that the £700 million covered by the Money Resolution 371 was all that the Government had in mind at present, but, of course, they might come forward for more. Are we to understand that they would be obliged to come forward by means of another Bill before the conclusion of the current financial year? If the £700 million is exhausted before then, would they be able to operate by order? That is something which the House is entitled to know. To most of us it is clear that the £700 million will not last for many months at the present rate of progress.
§ 2.0 a.m.
§ Mr. Ian Gow (Eastbourne)
I share the concern of my hon. Friends on the question whether £700 million provided in the order will be enough. There seems to be confusion on the Labour benches as to the amount of money that will be needed in order to pay for the subsidies. This confusion is compounded by the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget Statement on 26th March, when he saidThe provision already allocated "—that is, for food subsidiesfor this for 1974–75 by my predecessor was £50 million".He then saidI believe that in the current year"—that is the year to which the order relatesit would he right to spend about £500 million extra on food subsidies on top of the limited existing provision I have already mentioned." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th March 1974; Vol. 871, c. 297]Here was the Chancellor, on 26th March, saying that the amount of the food subsidy would be £500 million over and above the £50 million provided by my right hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Barber) when he was Chancellor.
The Bill increases the amount from the £500 million mentioned by the Chancellor to £700 million. [Interruption.] If that is the increase which can take place —[Interruption.] I know that Labour Members want to get to bed—[Interruplion.] We are anxious to be clear on
|Division No.11.]||AYES||[2.4 a.m.|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Boothroyd, Miss Betty|
|Ashton, Joe||Bennett, Andrew F. (Stockport, N.)||Brown,Bob(NewcastieuponTyne,W.)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Bidwell, Sydney||Brown, Ronald (H'kney, S. & Sh'ditch)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Bishop, E S||Buchan, Norman|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Buchanan,Richard(G' gow,Springbrn)|
|Bates, Alf||Booth, Albert||Butter,Mrs.Joyce(H'gey, WoodGreen)|
§ the Government's thinking. If the figure has escalated between 26th March and 3rd April from £500 million to £700 million, how can the Government be satisfied that the allocation they are making is correct?
§ 2.3 a.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection (Mrs. Shirley Williams)
After listening to the interventions of the Opposition I find myself more confused than ever. Hon. Members did not seem to have listened to any of the explanations given from these benches. In reply to the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst), I thought we had made it clear time and time again that the total sum in the Bill was £700 million, which is a cash figure. It does not, therefore, alter when prices go up and down. That is the usual practice, which, as far as I know, has not been changed.
As for the question about the life of the Bill, it provides powers for 1974–75 and a total sum of £700 million. Once that sum is exhausted, new powers will have to be sought. During the debate Conservative Members called for just such a parliamentary scrutiny and I find it strange that they should question it now. Clause 2 states that the law will last until 31st March 1975 and is extendable by order, if the House so approves, for one year to 1976.
I found it impossible even to begin to understand the intervention by the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow). He should, perhaps, have done a little more homework before keeping the House up so late. I do not know why he referred to £50 million being provided by his right hon. Friend the former Chancellor. The previous Government committed £190 million in subsidies. The difference between £700 million and £190 million is £510 million, and I commend that sum to him.
§ Question put:—373
|Callaghan, Jim (M'dd'ton & Pr'wich)||Hooley, Frank||Pendry, Tom|
|Campbell, Ian||Horam, John||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Cant, R. B.||Howell, Denis (B'ham, Small Heath)||Phipps, Dr. C. B.|
|Carmichael, Neil||Huckfleld, Leslie||Prescott, John|
|Carter, Ray||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Price, Christopher (Lewisham, W.)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, North)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Clemitson, Ivor||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Radice, Giles|
|Cocks, Michael||Hunter, Adam||Richardson, Miss J.|
|Cohen, Stanley||Jackson, Colin||Roberts Albert (Normanton)|
|Coleman, Donald||Janner, Greville||Roberts, G. E. (Cannock)|
|Colquhoun, Mrs. M. N.||Jay, RI. Hn. Douglas||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Roderick, Caerwyn E.|
|Conlan, Bernard||John, Brynmor||Rodgers, G. (Chorley)|
|Cook, Robert F. (Edinburgh, C.)||Johnson,James(K'ston upon Hull,W)||Rodgers, William (Teesside, St'ckton)|
|Cox, Thomas||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Rooker, J. W.|
|Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, Maryhill)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Rose, Paul B.|
|Cunningham,G.(Isl'ngt'n,S&F'sb'ry)||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Cunningham,Dr.JohnA.(Whiteh'v'n)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda)||Rowlands, E.|
|Dalyell, Tam||Judd, Frank||Sandelson, Neville|
|Davidson, Arthur||Kaufman, Gerald||Sedgemore, B. C. J.|
|Davies, Bryan (Enfield, N.)||Kilroy-Silk, R.||Selby, H.|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Kinnock, Neil||Shaw, A. J. (Redbridge, Ilford, S.)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Lambie, David||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Lamborn, Harry||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (S'pney&P'plar)|
|Deakins, Eric||Lamond, James||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'ctle-u-Tyne)|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds, W.)||Latham, A. (City of W'minster P'ton)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (L'sham,D'ford)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Lawson, G. (Motherwell & Wishaw)||Silverman, Julius|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Leadbitter, Ted||Skinner, Dennis|
|Doig, Peter||Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)||Small. William|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold||Smith. John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Snape, Peter|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Loughlin, Charles||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Dunnett, Jack||Loyden, E.||Stewart, Rt. Hn. M. (H'sth, Fulh'm)|
|Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Eadie, Alex||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, W.)||Stott, R.|
|Edelman, Maurice||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Edge, Geoff||McElhone, Frank||Swain, Thomas|
|Ellis, John (Brigg & Scunthorpe)||MacFarquhar. R. L.||Taverne, Dick|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||McGuire, Michael||Thomas, D. E. (Merioneth)|
|Evans, loan (Aberdare)||Mackenzie, Gregor||Thorn, S. G. (Preston, S.)|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Maclennan, Robert||Tinn, James|
|Ewing, Harry (St'ling,F'kirk&G'm'th)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Tuck, Raphael|
|Faulds, Andrew||Magee, B.||Urwin, T. W.|
|Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Marks, Kenneth||Varley, Rt. He. Eric G.|
|Flannery, Martin||Marquand, David||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Mayhew, Christopher(G'wh, W'wch, E)||Walker, T. W. (Kingswood)|
|Foot, Michael, Rt. Hn.||Meacher, Michael||Watkins, David|
|Ford, Ben||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Weitzman, David|
|Fowler, Gerry (The Wrekin)||Mendelson, John||Wellbeloved, James|
|Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood)||Mikardo, Ian||White, James|
|Freeson, Reginald||Millan, Bruce||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Garrett, John (Norwich, S.)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)||Whitlock, William|
|George, Bruce||Molloy, William||Wigley, D. (Caernarvon)|
|Gilbert, Dr. John||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Golding, John||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Graham, Ted||Moyle, Roland||Williams, A. L. (H'v'ring, H'church)|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (H'tf' d&St'nge)|
|Grant, John (Islington, C.)||Murray, Ronald King||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.E.)|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Sheffield, Brightslde)||Newens, A. S. (Harlow)||Wise, Mrs. A.|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, C.)||O'Halloran, Michael||Woodall, A.|
|Hardy, Peter||O'Malley, Brian||Woof, Robert|
|Harper, Joseph||Orbach, Maurice||Wrigglesworth, I. W.|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Ovenden, J. F.||Young, D. W. (Bolton, E.)|
|Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Owen, Dr. David|
|Hattersley, Roy||Palmer, Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Hatton, Frank||Park, G. M. (Coventry, N.E.)||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Mr. Laurie Pavitt.|
|Beith, Alan||Howells, G. W. (Cardigan)||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Biffen, John||Pardoe, John||Wainwright, R. (Colne Valley)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Ross, S. (Isle of Wight)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)||Mr. David Steel and|
|Dr. Michael Winstanley.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to authorise the payment of
food subsidies, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of—
Provided that the sums so authorised to be paid by virtue of paragraph (a) above, together with any payments out of moneys provided by Parliament in respect of the year ending with 31st March 1975 in pursuance of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 1191/73 or of any Regulation amending or replacing that Regulation, shall not in the aggregate exceed £700 million.