Mr Thomas Peart: The future of the common fisheries policy is one of the most urgent and important issues in the Community, and the Government will continue to press for arrangements which meet the needs of our fishing industry.
Mr Thomas Peart: I think that that was a very general question as well. I cannot accept this. I agree that it is important that we push forward with negotiations. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has been conducting negotiations. Indeed, the Minister of State has already announced a broad policy to the House.
Mr Thomas Peart: These matters are under discussion and negotiation. I cannot reveal the Government's negotiating stance at this stage. Conservation and policing are important matters, and I agree with the hon. Gentleman that they will have to be studied.
Mr Thomas Peart: I am aware of that. My hon. Friend must know about the Council decision from the Community on the 200-mile limit, and we are ready to take action on this.
Mr Thomas Peart: I do not conduct negotiations in Europe. That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. He represents an important fishing constituency and is anxious to see that our interests are protected. I note carefully what the hon. Gentleman said.
Mr Thomas Peart: The gap between the two rates is 21 per cent., giving a calculated monetary compensatory amount percentage of 19·5 for the current week.
Mr Thomas Peart: That point has been put to me many times, and I have considered the matter very carefully. I have made changes, and the Community has been pressing me to make further changes. We shall examine the matter.
Mr Thomas Peart: My hon. Friend knows that I try to represent the food industry and the consumer. I would remind my hon. Friend that I am not only Minister of Agriculture but also have responsibilities in regard to fisheries and food. I recognise that I have responsibilities to see that prices are not excessive, but I must strike a fair balance. I have already said that I shall carefully examine the matter,...
Mr Thomas Peart: I do not accept that there needs to be an automatic arrangement. This topic is discussed at most Council meetings and will inevitably come up at the next meeting.
Mr Thomas Peart: I note what the right hon. Gentleman says, and I have made several moves in that direction. I must point out that no similar move was made by a Conservative Government.
Mr Thomas Peart: I would refer my hon. Friends to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Scotland Exchange (Mr. Parry) yesterday.
Mr Thomas Peart: It is too early yet to forecast the state of our own sugar beet crop, and I appreciate that there are weather problems. The results from the samples taken by the British Sugar Corporation will not be known until later in the month and, therefore, one cannot be specific. The subject of supplies from elsewhere is not an easy matter. Nevertheless we signed the Lomé Convention, and supplies are...
Mr Thomas Peart: We are well aware of the problem of unemployment. I have received representations from the trade unions, many of whose members I have met. The Government are anxious to protect the workers as far as we can. It would be wrong for me to comment on the merger, but discussions are now taking place. There is a dispute between the two firms, and they have made representations to me. I have seen...
Mr Thomas Peart: I made my statement in reply to a Written Question. It was a long statement which I thought would assist hon. Members. We are in close contact with employers and employees, and when necessary I shall inform the House of the situation.
Mr Thomas Peart: I cannot say when I shall make a statement. I shall do so as soon as possible. I must judge what will be in the interests of those concerned. I have no other proposals to make. We must see how the matter goes.
Mr Thomas Peart: On 1st July 1976 the numbers of men and women employed full-time in my Department were 9,218 and 5,808 respectively. Additionally, 91 men and 784 women were employed part-time.
Mr Thomas Peart: My hon. and learned Friend seeks to raise a wide question. I am satisfied that the recruiting of staff is fair and consistent. There is no question of discrimination between the sexes.
Mr Thomas Peart: I would refer the hon. Members to the reply given to the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) on 23rd July. I shall continue to seek improvements in the milk sector and for other commodities.
Mr Thomas Peart: I have sought and achieved improvements in certain directions. The beef premium system is to be discussed by the Council and there could well be a Community scheme based on the principles which we advocate. I also want the efficient farm to be one of the criteria when we have discussions on price, and there must be price restraint. However, the price of some commodities in Europe is below the...
Mr Thomas Peart: Certainly. I know that my hon. Friends who are Members of the European Parliament have been working hard. Naturally, I shall look carefully at their proposals. I congratulate them on taking the initiative in this direction.