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Agriculture (Price Margins)

Volume 886: debated on Monday 10 February 1975

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34.

asked the Secretary of State for prices and Consumer Protection what progress she has made in her inquiries into the causes of the gap between the retail price of agricultural products such as beef and leather and the prices the farmer receives for cattle and hides.

There is no special inquiry concerning agricultural products generally, but the Price Commission's study of the meat industry is continuing. My right hon. Friend has asked that it be given the highest priority.

I am grateful to the Minister for indicating that the study is continuing. Could it be broadened into a general inquiry into why everything that the farmer has to sell has fallen in price whereas everything that he has to buy has risen in price? Surely this shows the fault in the whole marketing system which farmers' organisations and other would like to see put right, but first we must know why this is so.

The Government are consulting the agriculture industry about the current price review. Some of the considerations to which the right hon. Gentleman has given expression will be borne in mind.

Will the Minister assure the House that he will bring all possible influence on the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to support the National Farmers' Union in its drive for marketing boards?

I understand that the National Farmers' Union is consulting its membership on a county-by-county basis about its reactions. We shall be interested in the outcome of the inquiries.