Does not the continued decline in the acreage being grown for sugar beet factories show that the average grower in Scotland is only just covering his costs? In view of the fact that 60 per cent. of the cost of beet growing arises from the cost of labour and the cost of fertilisers, and that both are now rising, is there not an urgent need to reconsider the price paid for sugar beet in Scotland?
The figure of £9 10s. which I gave as the return for this year is the highest since 1961. I agree that there has been a fall in acreage. The British Sugar Corporation seems to have confidence in the future of the Cupar factory, which would at least indicate that it feels that the acreage is not likely to fall much lower, if at all.
Is the hon. Member aware that the sugar beet acreage in Scotland serving the Cupar factory has fallen very sharply in recent years and that the increased price to which he refers is barely enough to meet the increased costs, and the increasing costs, which farmers are meeting? Will he give serious attention to this problem, which is of great concern to farming in the locality and which is putting the future of this crop in jeopardy?
I remind the hon. Member that there was an increase of 2s. 6d. per ton in the price at the last Review and that the acreage went up from 1953, when it was not much higher than it is now, and that it has since tended to fall. One has to take a long view of this matter to see what is happening.