HC Deb 24 March 1971 vol 814 cc149-50W
Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will state the percentage of the total value of the guarantees which fell to be borne by the consumer in each Annual Price Review determination between 1960 and 1971.

Mr. Prior

The percentage of the total value of the guarantees borne by the consumer could only be calculated on a very arbitrary basis using the assumptions—whether correct or not—made at the time of each year's determinations about market prices for the subsequent year. The figures embodying these assumptions are not easily available for past years and the amount of work required to construct a table of percentages would be out of proportion to its accuracy and usefulness.

It is possible to give figures of the proportion of the change in the total value of the guarantee which in each year might be expected to fall on the consumer though even these cannot be calculated precisely, particularly since, although a change in the guaranteed price for potatoes affects the level at which the market will be supported, it does not mean that the market will in fact have to be supported.

There is no clear basis on which to apportion the changes in the milk guarantee between the consumer and the Exchequer up to the ending of the deficiency payments on milk in 1961–62 and therefore percentages cannot be worked out for 1960 and 1961. For the years since then, percentage of the change in the total value of the guarantees that can be regarded as a consumer liability, taking into account the determinations on milk and sugar beet and the potential cost for potatoes, is as follows:

Per cent.
1962 11(*)
1963 (†)
1964 84
1965 119
1966 43
1967 57
1968 27
1969 4
1970 48(‡)
1971 44(‡)
* The value of the guarantees and the consumer liability were both reduced.
† No meaningful percentage can be calculated as the overall change in the guarantees was virtually nil.
‡ Includes the value of brucellosis incentives for dairy herds.