Oral Answers to Questions — National Plan (Targets)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1966.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus 12:00 am, 20th July 1966

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is satisfied with the progress of the home agricultural industry towards fulfilment of the targets set out for it in the National Plan and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr John Mackie Mr John Mackie , Enfield East

Yes, Sir. Good progress is being made towards the objectives of a selective expansion of output and the release of labour through increasing productivity. The Government and the industry have taken steps to implement the Plan and we have measures in hand, such as the Agriculture Bill, which will give the industry further help towards the achievement of these objectives.

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that, even if the planned targets were achieved, there would be a substantial increase in the bill for imported food, which we cannot afford? Would not he further agree that the right way to give the agricultural industry its head would be gradually to move over to something nearer the Common Market system of agricultural support?

Photo of Mr John Mackie Mr John Mackie , Enfield East

I do not think that that arises from the Question. The figure for increased demand is roughly what the industry itself thought it was capable of achieving.

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

May I ask the hon. Gentleman a question which arises directly from Question on the Paper? Will he define what neither he nor his right hon. Friend the Minister have previously defined, namely, what is meant by saying that "a major part" of the increased demand at home will be met under the National Plan by home producers?

Photo of Mr John Mackie Mr John Mackie , Enfield East

One cannot possibly be precise in agricultural production, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, but a "major part" is a major part.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

Would my hon. Friend say whether any provision was made in the National Plan for a 7·2 increase in rents last year? In order to encourage small farmers, will he agree to a retrospective rent freeze?

Photo of Mr John Mackie Mr John Mackie , Enfield East

We all understand my hon. Friend's interest in rents, which, as he well knows, are always taken into account in the Price Review. We did not include this point in the National Plan, because it is not a production point.

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that one of the targets in the National Plan was to get rid of 140,000 agricultural workers, 5,000 of them in Wales. Would the hon. Gentleman say whether the Government still have that target and whether they intend to carry it through?

Photo of Mr John Mackie Mr John Mackie , Enfield East

It is not a good description to say that the aim is to get rid of men. We are asking agriculture to make a contribution of 140,000 men to increasing productivity. We are up to that target. I have not the figures for Wales, where the hon. Gentleman and I were yesterday, as against the rest of the country. But this is part of the target, and it is one which the industry is meeting.