HC Deb 02 August 1956 vol 557 cc187-90W
Mr. Spence

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to give particulars of the deficiency payments on wheat, rye, barley, oats, and mixed corn for the cereal year ended 30th June, 1956.

Mr. Amory

The particulars of payments under the Cereals Deficiency Payments Scheme. 1955, are as follows:

Yearly Standard Price per cwt. for oats Ascertained United Kingdom average "at farm" price per cwt. for oats Price Deficiency per cwt. Deficiency Payment per acre Acreage qualifying Deficiency Payments Payment Total Payments
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. million acres £ million
Cereal Year 1st July, 1955, to 30th June, 1956 23 3 22 7 0 8 11 6 2.45 1.4
No advance payment has been made on oats and mixed corn. Payments at the full rate will begin immediately and will be completed in September or October.

Mr. J. E. B. Hill

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to make a statement about the long-term arrangements for the administration of the Cereals Deficiency Payments Scheme.

Mr. Amory

It was announced in September, 1953, in the White Paper on Guarantees for Home Grown Cereals (Cmd. 8947) that after consultation with the interests concerned the Government held the view that the only practicable way of guaranteeing cereal crops in a free market was a deficiency payments system.

This system was introduced for the harvest of 1954 and has now been run successfully for two years. The arrangements for 1956–57 have already been announced and the White Paper on the Annual Review and Determination of Guarantees 1956 (Cmd. 9721) has indicated that the scheme will operate for the 1957 crops. The system has proved a most effective method of implementing the Government guarantee while preserving all the advantages of the free marketing of grain. Administration by the Agricultural Departments, with the help of advisory committees representing growers and the trade, has been smooth and efficient. The Government are greatly indebted to the members of these committees for their co-operation.

In the light of this experience, and after consulting the interests concerned, the Government have decided that the deficiency payments system should be continued as a permanent arrangement. Responsibility for the administration will remain with the Agricultural Departments who will continue to rely on the cooperation of the interests represented on the two existing advisory committees. No change is at present proposed in the method of financing deficiency payments from the Exchequer.

All the interests concerned will continue to be consulted regularly, through the advisory committees, about the detailed administration of the system, but no changes are at present proposed by the Government.

Pre-war legislation providing for deficiency payments on wheat (administered by the Wheat Commission) and for subsidies on oats and barley, has been in suspense since 1940. The Government's decision on permanent arrangements will call for the repeal of the pre-war legislation and, with that, the disbandment of the Wheat Commission set up under the Wheat Act, 1932.

In preparing and administering the present deficiency payments system the Agricultural Departments have benefited greatly from the successful pre-war experience of the Wheat Commission. The Government wish to acknowledge their indebtedness to the valuable work which the Commission did in a quite new field of agricultural policy and administration.