The special premium for beef production, which replaced the beef variable premium, was introduced in the United Kingdom with effect from 3 April 1989. The first payments under the scheme were made to producers at the end of April.
Does my hon. Friend agree with the farming industry's opinion that, because of the decline in the national dairy herd of about 1·5 per cent. to 2 per cent. a year, we shall need an increase in the suckler cow herd of about 4 per cent. a year to meet the flow of beef required for the United Kingdom market? In the light of that, although the increase in the suckler cow premium to the maximum was welcome, is it possible that it will be insufficient to ensure that growth in the suckler herd? Will my hon. Friend carefully watch developments in the beef industry and ensure that growth is sustained so that United Kingdom producers can continue to supply their own present market shares and not be disadvantaged accordingly?
It is too early yet to see what effect the increase will have on dairy and suckler herds. Nevertheless, I will do exactly as my hon. Friend asked in the latter part of his question.
The Minister is not doing too bad. I liked his answer to the question. Is he aware that we like beautiful British beef on our tables on Sunday? I hope that the Minister will tell Europe where to get off and stop this European rubbish coming to our shores. We should all eat British beef.