§ Mr. Dryden Brook
asked the Minister of Agriculture what progress has been made in the consultations with the National Farmers' Unions about a wool marketing scheme, and the proposal to add wool to the list of products for which prices are guaranteed under the Agriculture Act, 1947.
Mr. T. Williams
The National Farmers' Union of England and Wales, the National Farmers' Union of Scotland and the Ulster Farmers' Union have submitted to my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself, a scheme under the Agricultural Marketing Acts, 1931 to 1949, to regulate the marketing of wool in the United Kingdom. This scheme is now being advertised in accordance with the Act to afford an opportunity for any objections and representations to be received and considered.
In the course of the consultations with the Farmers' Unions which preceded the submission of this scheme, my right hon. Friends and I agreed that in the event of such a scheme coming into operation we would, subject to the necessary Parliamentary approval, make an order under Section 6 of the Agriculture Act, 1947, to add wool to the list of commodities in the First Schedule for which prices are guaranteed. We have also agreed with the Unions that in that event the following financial arrangements should apply to fleece wool grown in the United Kingdom:
(1) At the annual February review the guaranteed average price for fleece wool for the year starting 1st May following will be negotiated.
(2) The Government will guarantee this average price per lb. for all wool 175W clipped in that year plus an allowance per lb. for marketing costs. This allowance for marketing costs will be based initially on the actual costs incurred by my Department in the marketing of the United Kingdom wool clip.
(3) The Marketing Board will draw up each year a schedule of maximum prices for each type of wool which will be so calculated as to produce in the aggregate result the average price, exclusive of marketing costs guaranteed by the Government. If the Board's calculations are inaccurate, it will be at their risk and will not affect the Government's guarantee.
(4) The Marketing Board will maintain complete records of all transactions, including sales, and will make these available at all times to the Agricultural Departments.
(5) If the proceeds from the sale of wool exceed the amount guaranteed by the Government, the surplus will be dealt with in the following way:—
If in any year there is a surplus, 10 per cent. of that surplus will be retained by the Board and the balance will be placed in reserve.
At the end of each period of five years the annual surpluses (in excess of the 10 per cent. to be retained by the Board) and deficiencies will be aggregated and any net surplus will be retained by the Board.
(6) The provisions of Section 5 (2) of the Agriculture Act, 1947, will apply to fleece wool as for the commodities mentioned in that subsection to enable minimum prices to be guaranteed ahead.