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Wages And Prices

Volume 390: debated on Thursday 8 July 1943

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asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the recent increases in wages fixed by the Agricultural Wages Board and the claim now before the Board for an increase in the national minimum wage for adult male workers, he can give an assurance that the prices at present fixed for farm products will be increased so as to meet the whole cost of increases in wages?

No, Sir. Last November, when the powers of the county wages committees to fix rates of wages in the counties were transferred by Defence Regulation to the Agricultural Wages Board, the Board and representatives of the National Farmers' Union and the Workers' Unions were informed as follows:

"That in any review of farmers' returns in. relation to costs of production, labour costs would be assessed by reference to the national minimum wage as fixed by the Agricultural Wages Board, and that in so far as the county rates exceeded the national minimum wage the difference would fall to be met out of the current returns of the industry and that the Government would not contemplate an automatic general increase in prices to cover the cost of any increase in the national minimum wage."

If the farmers have no control at all over wages, are they to have no say in the control of prices?