Mr Geraint Howells: On this occasion, I shall be complimentary to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. He deserves the support of all hon. Members. The future of the beef industry is at stake, if consumers are to have good supplies of beef in the years to come. I compliment the Minister for holding on to the beef variable premium scheme for many years. It has been a great success in this country. I...
Mr Geraint Howells: Will the Minister explain why the Government will not pay hill sheep subsidy in full, as they are entitled to do under the EEC rules?
Mr Geraint Howells: I am sure the Minister is aware that the people of mid-Wales have been trying to collect £400,000 to buy a scanner for Bronglais hospital in Aberystwyth during the past four months. Up to now we have exceeded £220,000 in that attempt. Does he have any plans to give us a contribution?
Mr Geraint Howells: Does the Minister agree that too many contradictory statements about food poisoning have been made by various Government Departments over the past month? Does he further agree that it is time for the Prime Minister to make a statement to the House to allay the fears of consumers and producers alike?
Mr Geraint Howells: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the present state of the Health Service in Wales.
Mr Geraint Howells: I am sure that the Minister is aware that the people of mid-Wales are succeeding in their concerted effort to raise £500,000 to install a scanner at Bronglais hospital, Aberystwyth. I am sure that he is also aware of the view of the majority of those people that the Government should re-establish the Mid-Wales health authority. Will he give an assurance that he will consider the matter, and...
Mr Geraint Howells: I have been listening to the hon. Lady with interest for a long time. She knows the state of Welsh agriculture because of family connections. Does she attribute any of the blame to Welsh producers? If she does, I should like her to clarify the position at once.
Mr Geraint Howells: Will the Minister give way?
Mr Geraint Howells: Will the Minister clarify what he means by the planting of agricultural land? Does he mean that the Government will try to persuade British farmers to plant trees on the best productive land?
Mr Geraint Howells: Braint ac anrhydedd yw caelsiarad am Gymru a'r. Ddydd Gwyl Dewi. To some of us St. David's day is very important but perhaps it is not so to the hon. Member for Delyn (Mr. Raffan), who does not understand the aspirations of the Welsh people and the nation. Turning, the clock back a few years to St. David's day 1974, four of us in the House today will never forget that day as it was early in...
Mr Geraint Howells: I accept your ruling, Madam Deputy Speaker—perhaps things will be better in a Welsh Parliament.
Mr Geraint Howells: rose—
Mr Geraint Howells: Many years ago I was a member of the Ponterwyd young farmers' club. One wintry evening I was chosen to speak on behalf of the club at a public meeting of the young farmers' movement. We were not told the subject until we reached the hall. On the platform I was given a piece of paper which said, "You are given three minutes to speak, if it is your wish, and the subject is eggs." Being a young...
Mr Geraint Howells: I listened to the hon. Gentleman's comments with interest. I shall not comment, because it is now up to the agriculture industry to decide whether, after hearing what the hon. Gentleman had to say, there is to be a change in the nature of the Ministry.
Mr Geraint Howells: I am very sorry for raising a thorny issue. We had better leave it at that for the time being. I have a further question for the Minister. Will he give a helping hand to the agriculture industry, which has been financially clobbered because of present Government policies? Unless something is done, many small farmers will go out of business. Please give a helping hand before it is too late.
Mr Geraint Howells: May I thank the Minister for looking after the interests of dairy and beef farmers? Can he give an assurance that, in the next round of negotiations, he will look after the interests of sheep farmers? Having said that, I am afraid that the majority of those involved in agriculture will not consider this a very good settlement. The Minister mentioned a figure of £155 million. I am sure that...
Mr Geraint Howells: Will the Minister consider making St. David's Day a national holiday for the people of Wales?
Mr Geraint Howells: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on progress on the negotiations on the future of the sheepmeat regime.
Mr Geraint Howells: I am sure that many of our sheep farmers would like to know whether the Minister is in favour of the present grading system, the deficiency payment and the headage payment, or is he in favour of further cuts in support systems.
Mr Geraint Howells: In his discussions with the leaders of the farmers unions in Wales, did the right hon. Gentleman discuss the Government's proposals for financial cuts in research and development establishments in Wales? Will he give farmers in Wales an assurance that the future of the Trawsgoed and Pwllpeirian experimental farms and the Welsh plant breeding station at Gogerddan, Aberystwyth, will be...