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Volume 889: debated on Tuesday 25 March 1975

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what were the total amount of subsidies paid to agriculture in the United Kingdom in 1973–74, and the estimated totals for 1974–75 and 1975–76; and if he can give an estimate by how much these sums reduced and will reduce the retail price index.

The latest published figures are those in Table 25 in the recent White Paper on the Annual Review of Agriculture 1975 (Cmnd. 5977). This table shows the following:Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales has completed its review of the permit of exemption system in agriculture; and if he will make a statement.

Yes. The Chairman of the Agricultural Wages Board has reported that the board believes that the system provides a useful service by allowing some handicapped persons to obtain employment, so giving them a degree of independence and self respect, which might not otherwise come their way. In the light of its review, the board is giving further guidance to the agricultural wages committees on the administration of the system. My hon. Friend will recall that the general problem of disabled workers was referred to in the report to Parliament on "Social Security Provisions for Chronically Sick and Disabled People" (House of Commons Paper No. 276 of 1974), which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services published last September. In due course, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State with particular responsibility for the disabled will be considering with ministerial colleagues how best to follow up what was said in that report.