§ 13. Mr. David James
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he will take to implement the Government's aims expressed in the White Paper "Food From Our Own Resources".
§ 15. Mr. Boscawen
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals he is considering to facilitate the expanson of British agriculture as outlined in the Government White Paper entitled "Food From Our Own Resources": and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Peart
The Government stated in the White Paper "Food From Our Own Resources" that they would continue discussions with the interests concerned during the coming months to determine whether there are specific measures which it would be right and practicable to take. I have already met the farmers' unions and agreed that among the areas to be further examined are the effectiveness of capital and production grants, the effect of capital taxation and the green pound and beef market prospects.
§ Mr. Peart
I have noted what the hon. Gentleman said. I am dealing specifically with the proposals in the White Paper. I agreed to meet the unions concerned. I have already met their representatives and we shall have continuing discussions. I have met representatives of the farmers' unions not only of England and Wales, but of Scotland and Ulster also.
§ Mr. Boscawen
The Minister will be welcome in my constituency next week, when he comes as a guest of the Bath and West Show, for making that statement on the White Paper. Does he realise that he will be 100 times more welcome if he tells my constituents that he has been able to carry the Government with him in suggesting that by giving the farmers a decent return—not by interfering with their capital and trad- 1602 ing by means of ridiculous taxes—they will be enabled to produce the results we all desire?
§ Mr. Peart
I accept that. I believe that the farmers' unions are right to stress their agreement with the principles of the White Paper. This White Paper, which is a very good document, has been accepted. In the end it will be the way in which we apply our resources which will be important. I am grateful for what the hon. Gentleman said about his constituents. I hope we have a pleasant day.
§ Mr. Corbett
Will my right hon. Friend, after his consultations with the industry to turn the hopes of the White Paper into food for the consumers, bear in mind the urgent need to give extra assistance for the development of agricultural co-operation? Will he also strengthen the rôle of the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service?
Is the Minister aware that the Opposition welcome the target set out in this important White Paper? Is he further aware that the White Paper has met with a deal of cynicism from the industry, partly because we have seen from previous Labour Governments in 1965 and 1968 similar documents which were not backed by cash and which did not therefore enable the targets to be reached? Is he aware that we all hope that the cash will be produced this time. To show that the Minister has the determination to achieve these targets, will he give us an undertaking that there will be adjustments before the autumn so that we can achieve them?
§ Mr. Peart
The hon. Gentleman speaks of cynicism. There is always cynicism in certain quarters. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will look at the history of agriculture in the post-war period. I remember the 1947 Act and the target set in the White Paper which was issued by the late Tom Williams. That was accepted by the industry. The proposals on agriculture were accepted in the national plan 1603 produced by the second Labour Government, of which I was a Minister. I agree that the results will depend on what we put into the industry and the state of the market.