Orders of the Day — Agriculture

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th November 1974.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington 12:00 am, 25th November 1974

This is the second debate that we have had on agriculture during the first month of this Parliament. Yet even during the short interval since our last debate a great deal has happened. In particular, we have had the meeting of the Council of Ministers last week, at which many important decisions were taken. That was perhaps the most important Council meeting since I took office, and I am glad to have the opportunity to say more about those decisions than I was able to do last week.

But first I want to say something more general. It really follows from what the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) said in a recent letter to The Times. He made an appeal for agriculture to be taken out of politics. I should be only too glad to do that, and I wish that the right hon. Gentleman would follow his own advice. His practice since he became Opposition spokesman on agriculture has been the exact reverse.

The right hon. Gentleman asks that a Select Committee on Agriculture should be established. I was involved in the setting up of the previous one. I dealt with this first as Minister of Agriculture and later as Leader of the House. We set up a Select Committee on Agriculture. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman continue it? The original Select Committee was set up for an experimental period, and if the right hon. Gentleman feels so strongly about this why did he not take the necessary action when he was in a position to do so?