HC Deb 09 March 1966 vol 725 cc574-5W
Sir J. Langford-Holt

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware that since 1961–62 the cost of the Exchequer support for agriculture has fallen annually, whereas the administrative costs have risen each year; and what steps he will take to reverse this trend.

Mr. Peart

The administrative costs relate to the amount of work generated in the Agricultural Departments in handling, approving and checking applications and claims under the various schemes for grants, subsidies and deficiency payments. Apart from pay settlements and other price increases, the total of administrative costs is largely determined by the number of cases and the nature of the schemes concerned, and is only indirectly affected by the amount of money disbursed. The main reason for the fall in the cost of agricultural support since 1961–62 has been that smaller deficiency payments have been required in total to meet the price guarantees. It does not follow that a reduction is possible in the administrative arrangements required for the management and control of such payments.

The administration of schemes for agricultural support is regularly reviewed in order to secure the utmost economy to offset price increases but there is a limit beyond which economy cannot be pursued without adversely affecting the control over the proper disbursement of public funds.

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