Wages, Rents and Prices.

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture. – in the House of Commons on 5th February 1942.

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Mr. De la Bère:

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the increase in wages granted to agricultural workers, he will take steps to safeguard them against any increase in rent; and whether he can make a statement in this connection for the guidance of farm-workers who are tenants?

Mr. Hudson:

Where a farm worker holds a cottage from his employer, whether by virtue of a contract of service or of a separate contract of tenancy, the amount at which the employer can reckon the value of the cottage in part payment of the minimum wage is regulated by Orders made by the Agricultural Wages Committees. Workers who rent cottages from persons other than their employers have the same protection under the Rent Restrictions Act as any other tenants.

Mr. De la Bère:

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is now in a position, in conjunction with the Ministry of Food to make some pronouncement on the adjustments in prices for farm produce necessitated by the increase granted to farm-workers?

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

asked the Minister of Agriculture what steps are being taken to readjust the prices of agricultural produce in view of the recent increased expenditure which farmers have incurred?

Mr. Hudson:

As I indicated in my reply to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Sudbury (Colonel Burton) on 29th January, this matter is still under active consideration, and I hope that a statement will be made shortly.

Mr. De la Bère:

Is it not a fact that the Government promised to adjust these prices, and is it not also a fact that it is not the fault of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, but of the Ministry of Food, who seem to take some trouble to keep this matter going on, with the result that no adjustment is possible because of their delaying tactics?

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a big time-lag between the imposition of these new expenses upon farmers and the possible increase which is coming to them?

Photo of Mr Evelyn Walkden Mr Evelyn Walkden , Doncaster

Is the Minister aware that prices of green vegetables in shops have already gone up by 400 per cent. as compared with 1938 retail selling prices? Will he consider that fact in relation to the other matters referred to in the Question?

Mr. Hudson:

That is a matter for the Ministry of Food. Prices of vegetables are not controlled by my Department.

Mr. De la Bère:

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Photo of Mr Vernon Bartlett Mr Vernon Bartlett , Bridgwater

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether it is a principle accepted by his Department that the prices received by farmers for their produce should rise or fall according to the cost of production?

Mr. Hudson:

The principle accepted by the Government is that the general level of prices for agricultural produce should be such as to provide farmers with a reasonable return for their work and enterprise, after meeting costs of production.