The number of animals certified in the young lightweight class is small, amounting last year to only 1·3 per cent. of all cattle certifications. To raise the minimum weights for this class could at most add only marginally to our beef supplies but would be tantamount to abolishing the class. The class serves a useful purpose, and I do not think it would be wise to change.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the average weight of animals qualifying for the higher rate of subsidy in Sturminster Newtown market in my constituency over the last four months has been no more than eight cwt. and that if it were possible to raise the weight of all animals brought forward in this county by half a cwt. it would give us about 5,000 tons of beef extra per month? Although I realise that this is not the time to talk of keeping beef animals off the market, would my right hon. Friend consider the possibility of changing the subsidy arrangements at a future date?
The Question refers specifically to the minimum weight. There is this small class brought in to satisfy a particular need from the producers' point of view, and it is half a cwt. less than it was before. If we were to cancel it out, in view of the small numbers taking advantage of it, it would make a difference of about 10 tons per week, against a total consumption of about 25,000 tons of beef from the market. I am not sure that raising this weight would have any significant effect.