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Secretary Of State For Scotland (Speech)

Volume 656: debated on Thursday 29 March 1962

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Q4.

asked the Prime Minister whether the speech of the Secretary of State for Scotland to the National Farmers' Union of Scotland, at Glasgow on 23rd March, on the question of agricultural subsidies, represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Does the Prime Minister realise that the policy which was advocated by the Secretary of State for Scotland at that meeting means an increase in the prices of milk and eggs, which, with the increases in rent following the Government's policy, means a considerable increase in the cost of living for the poorest people in Scotland, especially the unemployed? Does he not agree that this policy is not in the interest of the people of Scotland?

It is rather more complicated than that. What my right hon. Friend was discussing was the level of the guarantee. The actual price of agricultural commodities depends on other factors—on world prices and so on, in many cases. The guarantee, the support price system, makes up the loss on the market price.

Will my right hon. Friend point out to the hon. Member that in this case the farmers are getting less for their milk than they did the previous year?

That may be so, but my right hon. Friend was speaking of the whole range of the guarantee.

Since the alleged policy of the Government is to channel public money only to those who need it, can the right hon. Gentleman say how he will make that policy effective with subsidies and grants to the farming community?

That is another and larger question more suitable to an agricultural debate than to an answer to a supplementary question.