HC Deb 24 November 1932 vol 272 cc221-3

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he can make any statement relating to the limitation of meat imports, with a view of raising home wholesale prices?


On the question of meat other than bacon there is nothing further to add to my previous statements. With regard to bacon, my right hon. Friend will be glad to learn that all the Governments concerned have signified their willingness to co-operate in the voluntary restriction scheme, and the plan came into operation at midnight on 22nd November. Some final adjustments are still being made, and, if my right hon. Friend will repeat his question in a week's time, I hope to be in a position to give him full details.


May I ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, apart from bacon, as the price of imported beef and mutton has risen while the price of home produce has not risen, when the British farmer is to benefit in this respect?


I think that my right hon. Friend is not fully informed of the latest price level. I can inform him now that in all these cases there has been a rise in the home products.


asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) whether any estimate has been made in his Department, or communicated to him by any of the traders with whom he has been in conference, as to the probable effect on wholesale and retail bacon prices of the proposed reduction of imports; and, if so, what were such estimates;

(2) whether any estimate has been made as to the probable effect on wholesale meat or cattle prices of the proposed reduction of imports of beef, mutton and lamb; and, if so, what are the estimates;

(3) what amount he contemplates that the prices of imported beef, mutton and lamb will be increased by the proposed restrictions; and by whom the increased amounts will be received?


No close estimate has been or indeed can be made of the effects of the recent voluntary arrangements on the prices of imported meats and of homegrown livestock, if for no other reason because all meats are in competition with one another. Any measures designed to bring about a more normal price situation must, in the circumstances, be tentative, but as my hon. Friend is aware, the arrangements that have been made have, so far, been effective not merely in arresting the fall but in bringing about an improvement in the wholesale prices both of meat and fat stock. Only in the case of some classes of bacon has any noticeable advance been reported in retail prices. The improvement in prices will, I believe, lead in general to a better return to the primary producers.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the price of bacon has already increased by 3d. a lb., and can he say whether that was the intention of the Government when they imposed the restriction? Does he suggest that the Government made any estimate of the probable increase in prices of meat and bacon?


No, Sir, and it would be very difficult to enter into a discussion of these factors at Question Time and by question and answer.


Will the Government in course of time try to ascertain what the real effects have been to the consumer of these inevitable increases?


Certainly. We are doing our best to keep a watch over all aspects of the situation, particularly those affecting the consumer.

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