§ Sir H. Roper
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he proposes to make any modifications in the guarantee arrangements for eggs; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. John Hare
Under the existing guarantee arrangements for eggs, which came into operation in 1957, Ministers are required, in determining the guaranteed prices for eggs in the light of the Annual Review, to make an estimate of the average selling prices for hen and duck eggs for the year ahead. The difference between the estimated average selling price and the guaranteed price of hen and duck eggs respectively is payable to the British Egg Marketing Board, subject to a profit and loss sharing arrangement, as a flat-rate subsidy on eggs qualifying for the guarantee.
The Government and the Farmers' Unions have both recognised the inherent difficulties of making a reasonably accurate forecast of market prices a year in advance and a conventional basis of estimation has now been agreed which is designed to obviate these difficulties.
The revised arrangements provide that the determinations of the estimated average selling prices for 1958–59 and 1959–60 respectively shall, for the purposes of the guarantee, be based on averages of the realised wholesale prices for fresh eggs, as ascertained by Ministers, in the two years immediately preceding the guarantee year in question. In calculating such estimated average 91W prices, the ascertained average wholesale prices for hen and duck eggs respectively in each appropriate year will be weighted according to the quantity of eggs attracting subsidy in that year. In addition to taking account of the respective quantities of eggs, double weighting will be given to the ascertained average prices in the year immediately preceding the guarantee year in question, e.g. in determining the estimated average selling prices for 1958–59 the weight given to the ascertained average prices for 1957–58 will be twice that given to the prices for 1956–57. The guarantee arrangements as a whole will be reviewed before 1960–61.
This statement does not, of course, anticipate Ministers' determinations of the guaranteed prices for eggs in 1958–59 which will be announced in the White Paper on the Annual Review in the usual way.