Fertilisers and Agricultural Machinery

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th February 1972.

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Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton 12:00 am, 29th February 1972

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what have been the respective increases in the prices of fertilisers and agricultural machinery bought by farms and in the wages paid in agriculture during the last 12 months.

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

During the year ending October, 1971, prices before subsidy for solid compound and straight nitrogen fertilisers rose by 15 per cent. and wholesale prices of agricultural machinery rose on average by 10 per cent. The minimum weekly wage of regular whole-time adult male workers in England and Wales rose over the same period by 13 per cent. for a 42-as compared with a 43-hour week.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

In view of those figures, will my hon. Friend represent to the Minister that unless there is a considerable increase in the Price Review he will not be able to achieve from agriculture the expansion across the board which Conservative Members so desire?

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

I think it not unlikely that my right hon. Friend has heard those remarks.

Mr. Mark Hughes:

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that earnings rates rather than weekly rates would have shown that the increase in earnings was below the increase in either fertiliser or machinery prices, and that from the point of view of the farm labourer the earnings rates form a rather more important element?

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

I am afraid that I cannot give the hon. Gentleman a direct reply on that matter. If he cares to table a Question on that point I shall give him an answer.

Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe

Does the Parliamentary Secretary agree that the break- down of negotiations on the farmworkers' resubmitted claim is a serious matter? Will he and his right hon. Friend agree to use their best offices to seek a resumption of negotiations as soon as possible?

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

I am sure the hon. Gentlemen realizes—I know that his right hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) realises it—that wage rates are entirely a matter for the boards, which are autonomous bodies. It would be a bad day if Ministers started to interfere with them.