§ 4. Mr. Mackintosh
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food why, when the total money disbursed in price guarantees and grants and subsidies fell in the seven years between 1957–58 and 1965–66 from £276 million to £232.4 million, the estimated administrative costs of administering this support rose from £4.7 million to £10 million; and if he will state the administrative costs of each type of price guarantee and subsidy in 1957–58 and 1965–66, respectively, so as to define in which category of grant or subsidy the costs have risen to account for the extra £5 million.
§ Mr. John Mackie
A reduction in the rate of grant or subsidy does not reduce administrative costs. We try to keep these as low as we can, and the number of staff engaged on this work has actually been reduced in recent years. The difference between the figures of costs for 1957/58 and for 1965/66 is due partly to increases in rates of pay and other expenses and partly to a change in the basis of calculation that was made in 1961. Information on the second point is not available, partly because of the changed basis of calculation and partly because the latest detailed costing was made in 1964/65.
§ Mr. Mackintosh
I thank my hon. Friend for his Answer, but he has rather missed the point of my Question. It seems to me that different grants require a totally different degree of administrative expenditure. Therefore, could not a new look be taken at the multiplicity of grants to see whether we could give the same amount of assistance for a lower administrative cost and use the money saved to assist other sections of the industry?
§ Mr. Mackie
If I missed the point of my hon. Friend's Question, I also missed the point of his supplementary question. I cannot understand his argument. I could give him the figures which I have 430 here, but no doubt Mr. Speaker would stop me if I went on too long. Knowing my hon. Friend's interest in the administration of Government, it would be better to carry on this discussion by letter rather than by question and answer.
§ Mr. Hooson
Surely the hon. Gentleman will agree that the three reasons which he has given for the increase in administrative cost do not explain it, because it has more than doubled; therefore, there must have been a considerable increase in numbers?
§ Mr. Mackie
Salary increases amount to a tremendous lot, and there were changes in the system, which were asked for by the Estimates Committee in 1961–62.
§ Mr. Godber
On that last supplementary point, would not the hon. Gentleman agree that some part of this increase is due to the introduction of, first, the farm improvements scheme and, secondly, the small farmer scheme, both of which require a considerable amount of administration?
§ Mr. Mackie
A lot of the new schemes are considerably more sophisticated than the old ones and require more administration, as the right hon. Gentleman has said.