HC Deb 01 February 1937 vol 319 cc1274-5
17. Mr. Lambert

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he proposes to take any steps to secure the home-beef producer from the consequences of the new subsidies to be granted by the Argentine Government to the producers and exporters of Argentine meat to this country?

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. W. S. Morrison)

The action taken by the Argentine Government appears to be designed to offset in part the lower price that might otherwise be payable to producers of cattle in Argentina in consequence of the Customs Duties recently imposed on foreign beef and veal imported into the United Kingdom. The position of beef producers in this country is safeguarded by an Exchequer subsidy and by the quantitative regulation of imports for both of which, as my right hon. Friend will be aware, permanent provision is made in the Livestock Industry Bill at present before Parliament.

Mr. Lambert

How can producers of beef in this country get a reasonable living if they are faced with subsidised foreign competition, plus depreciated currency?

Mr. Morrison

My right hon. Friend appears to ignore the fact that there are quantitative regulations and subsidy in force.

Mr. H. G. Williams

Do I understand that the duty on Argentine beef will not have any effect on prices in this country?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot say that. My information is that the additional cost is being shared between the producers in the Argentine and the other interests involved. If such action can be taken against a tariff by a foreign Government, it only shows how inadequate a straight tariff is for the protection of agriculture although it has been strenuously advocated in the past by both my hon. Friends.

Mr. Williams

Has the right hon. Gentleman thought of the advisability of putting on a tariff so high that the Argentine Government will not be able to swallow it?