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Orders of the Day — Agriculture (Calf Subsidies)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th March 1968.

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Photo of Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith , North Angus and Mearns 12:00 am, 13th March 1968

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Torrington (Mr. Peter Mills) and the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Alasdair Mackenzie), I welcome the scheme, particularly for the money it puts into the hands of breeders and rearers of beef cattle, particularly in the hill and upland areas, because these breeders and rearers of cattle are not in receipt of subsidies under the Fat Stock Guarantee Scheme for the end-product. This is a great encouragement to both the calf subsidy and the hill beef subsidy. This puts ready money into the hands of those in the areas where, naturally, these animals are bred. For this reason I certainly welcome the scheme and endorse what my hon. Friends have said about it.

However, I should like to raise one specific point which I do not think has been mentioned tonight, and it is this. As the Minister knows, a lot of work has been done, particularly in agricultural research stations in recent years, on the question of rearing bulls for beef. I think it has been shown scientifically that there is not the same prejudice as there was to bull beef. I do not intend to go into the experimental work, which is known to the Minister; he knows the value of the work which has been done on this; but what I would like to do is to express a certain amount of disappointment, because I would have thought that a scheme like this, by which we are starting to pay calf subsidy at the time of slaughter, would have been the opportunity to have introduced payment of subsidy on bulls which are reared for beef, because, as I say, in practice that has been shown to be a perfectly proper and reasonable way of rearing and fattening beef. I would have thought that a Scheme like this would have been an opportunity to introduce something of that sort.

I can appreciate that punching bull calves for the subsidy might be difficult, though I do not altogether understand the difficulty because, once a calf is punched, it is unlikely to be produced for bull licensing purposes later on. Certainly it ought not to be, and the inspectors could prevent it happening. If there was any difficulty, it could be overcome by introducing Stage B, where the subsidy could be paid on the carcase.

As I say, this might be an opportunity for introducing a subsidy on bulls reared for beef. It would be limited in application, but farmers and others have cooperated in the experimental work. It is a genuine development, done with the best motives, and, in terms of growth rates, it has proved successful. I would like to hear why the Minister has not felt able in this Order to give encouragement to those who are pioneering this work, not only in research but in the fattening of cattle.