Meat Marketing (Report)

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th July 1964.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington 12:00 am, 13th July 1964

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will announce his conclusions on the Verdon Smith Report on Meat Marketing.

Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford

When I am ready do so.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

We do not want flippant Answers like that. When does the Minister intend to take the matter of meat marketing seriously? Are we to have a decision by the Government before the General Election or not? We are entitled to know. Is what was said by the Secretary of State for Scotland, that the delay is due to the time asked for by the National Farmers' Union, the truth, or is it the case that the Government are procrastinating?

Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford

As to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, all I am prepared to tell him, or can tell him at the moment, is that I am not ready to make any proposals today—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—Because by the middle of June we had heard from 100 or more interested organisations, and it will take the Government some time to formulate a decision. When that will be I cannot tell, and I certainly cannot see why the hon. Gentleman should be so worried as to whether it will be in time for the General Election or not. We will do it as soon as possible. As to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, the Government are examining the whole range of the Committee's recommendations, the National Farmers' Union is working intensively on its own ideas, and other interests are equally anxious to develop their own views. Some discussions have already taken place and more will be needed.

Mr. B. Harrison:

Has my right hon. Friend yet received any firm views from the National Farmers' Union on the subject?

Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford

The discussions are still proceeding, and I know that the National Farmers' Union is working very hard and anxiously and intensively on the matter.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

But, in view of the Minister's earlier dogmatic pronouncements on Labour Party policy, are we not entitled to know the Government's attitude on meat marketing, and can we know whether we will get the statement before the General Election? Can I not have a pledge that the right hon. Gentleman will give it?

Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford

Most certainly not. I do not know why the hon. Gentleman seeks that I should give a pledge on that or the other, but this has nothing to do with the hon. Gentleman's commodity commissions for State trading to buy meat from abroad. It is totally a different question.