Self-sufficiency

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25 March 1993.

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Photo of Mr Geoffrey Dickens Mr Geoffrey Dickens , Littleborough and Saddleworth 12:00, 25 March 1993

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the duration of United Kingdom self-sufficiency in food in the event of docks and airports being unavailable.

Photo of Nicholas Soames Nicholas Soames Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

Food stocks would be sufficient to maintain the current levels of supplies in the United Kingdom if port and airport facilities were disrupted. In the unlikely event of long-term disruption, adequate supplies of food would still be likely to be available.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Dickens Mr Geoffrey Dickens , Littleborough and Saddleworth

I thank my hon. Friend for his reassurance. Does he accept that we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the farmers of the United Kingdom, and that self-sufficiency in food is of paramount importance? It is no good having the greatest nuclear deterrent in the world and placing ourselves in a position to have to submit through starvation. [Interruption.]

Photo of Nicholas Soames Nicholas Soames Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

I think that my hon. Friend would do extremely well in those difficulties. He is perfectly correct in recognising that British farmers and growers are second to none in the world in the efficiency of their production. It is nevertheless true that we need to do more to ensure that the marketing of our food is better. If we were at any time placed in the difficult circumstances that my hon. Friend has described, I hope that he would take comfort from Mr. Jonathan Porritt, as reported in The Star today, and eat squirrels.