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.
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?
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.