Republic of Ireland (Discussions)

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th November 1967.

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Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West 12:00 am, 29th November 1967

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the discussions which he has been having with the Minister of Agriculture in Eire.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

These discussions are still in progress and I cannot say anything about them at the moment.

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

Can the Minister say why these talks have had to be held at all, in view of the Prime Minister's assurance that the position of the British farmer would be in no way prejudiced by the Irish Trade Agreement—or is it that the right hon. Gentleman has found himself a victim of yet another misleading statement by his right hon. Friend?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

I am certain that the hon. Gentleman knows full well why I initiated talks. I was worried about the impact of Irish products on our market, and the lack of phasing. I felt that it was right that I should see also that the Irish Government did not put on an export subsidy, as they did last year. That is why we have been having talks. I think that that is sensible.

Photo of Sir Knox Cunningham Sir Knox Cunningham , South Antrim

Because of the present economic situation, has the right hon. Gentleman made any suggestion for a reduction in the £10 million which is annually borne by the United Kingdom taxpayer for the benefit of Eire agriculture?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

I do not think that we should cancel it. It is mutually advantageous to have the Agreement. It is good for our industry. We want Irish stores, and I have asked for them. I am glad to say that the figure has shown an improvement this year.