Pig Production

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th July 1976.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Tom Arnold Mr Tom Arnold , Hazel Grove 12:00 am, 8th July 1976

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the current EEC subsidy per ton on bacon imports to this country.

Photo of Mr Colin Shepherd Mr Colin Shepherd , Hereford

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what provisions he will make to save British pig producers and processors from the ill effects resulting from the present discrepancy between pound sterling and the green pound.

Photo of Mr Hilary Miller Mr Hilary Miller , Bromsgrove and Redditch

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the state of the pig industry.

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

The United Kingdom accession and monetary compensatory amounts payable on bacon imports are currently, together, equivalent to £228·18 per tonne. Pig producers have enjoyed a substained period of firm prices and the national herd is expanding, but I recognise that the curing and processing industry is particularly concerned about the effects of these compensating payments. My right hon. Friend will be meeting representatives of the industry shortly to discuss the situation.

Photo of Mr Tom Arnold Mr Tom Arnold , Hazel Grove

Faced with MCA payments that give a substantial subsidy to Danish and Dutch competitors, will the Minister give an assurance that he will seek to devalue the green pound in the pig sector, so as to improve returns for British pig farmers?

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

As I said in reply to an earlier question, the decision to change the value of the green pound is a delicate one. One has to take into account the interests of consumers, producers and processors. It is a matter that the Government keep constantly under review. In view of the importance of curbing inflation and the level of agricultural support that my right hon. Friend announced on 8th March, I do not believe that a change at this time is justified.

Photo of Mr Colin Shepherd Mr Colin Shepherd , Hereford

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that devaluation of the green pound for the pig sector would give relief? Is he aware that my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) and Mr. Lardinois have both asked for devaluation? Why does the hon. Gentleman insist on disadvantaging the home producing sector?

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

I am sure that Mr. Lardinois and the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) are equally sensitive to the need for this country to deal with inflation. There is no alternative to the present policy of the Government, whereby we have to restrain prices as well as wages and incomes. I believe that my right hon. Friend has done a good job in keeping a balance between the interests of all those concerned.

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Birmingham Handsworth

If an attempt is made to force a revaluation of sterling, with the adverse effects mentioned by the Minister, may we be assured that he will use his veto?

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

That is a matter we shall bear in mind, but in the circumstances, that would be extreme action to take. The Community has shown a great degree of sensitivity to the problems, and we are not anxious to make too many changes. We have, indeed, made four changes in the last two years.

Photo of Mr Hilary Miller Mr Hilary Miller , Bromsgrove and Redditch

Does the Minister accept that, contrary to earlier assertions, there is no confidence in the pig industry at present because, apart from its difficulties over imported products, it is frustrated by having to pay a levy on imported proteins, while it can find no use for skimmed milk powder? What does he intend to do about the situation?

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

I challenge the hon. Gentleman's assertion that there is no confidence in the pig industry. He may be aware of the warning given by the NFU a month or so ago to the effect that overproduction could be bad for all the interests concerned. One has to model supply in relation to demand and in terms of prices obtainable in the market.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Central

What is the import levy on bacon imports from non-EEC countries, such as Poland?

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

That is a question of which I should like notice.

Photo of Mr Michael Jopling Mr Michael Jopling , Westmorland

Is the Minister aware that we are shocked at his complacency? Does he realise that at this moment the bacon industry is losing an enormous amount of money? Will he look again at the possibility of having a special devaluation of the green pound in the pig sector—otherwise, before long he will not have a bacon industry at all?

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

In regard to the bacon industry, I have yet to hear rasher statements than those made by the hon. Gentleman. According to the census taken in April last, there was an increase in the United Kingdom pig breeding herd of 4 per cent. compared with April a year earlier. The hon. Gentleman will also be aware of the change in average prices. The warning of the NFU should be heeded. The hon. Gentleman will also be aware that it is not possible for a change in the green pound to be selective.