HC Deb 16 July 1952 vol 503 cc2119-20
1. Mr. Follick

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that quantities of eggs and meat are going to Spain from Ireland with the name, Irlanda, marked on the eggs and, seeing that the need for these commodities is urgent in this country, if he will make it attractive to the Irish to send their exportable food surplus to help to assuage the need in this country for more eggs and meat.

The Minister of Food (Major Lloyd George)

Under our existing contract for eggs I expect to receive about 95 per cent. of the total exports from the Irish Republic in the 12 months ending next February. Most of our supplies of meat come in the form of live cattle and we get not less than 90 per cent. of the total exports at prices closely comparable to those we pay our own farmers.

Mr. Follick

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that I have seen piles of these Irish eggs in the Spanish shops and that in almost every butcher's shop in Spain there is Irish meat? The Spaniards tell me that this meat is very good meat. Cannot the right hon. and gallant Gentleman do something about the Irish market which is so close to us, because it might better the relations of this country with Ireland if he would take more of their products, and it would help us in this country?

Major Lloyd George

I think the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the fact that we get 95 per cent. of the exportable surplus of eggs and about 90 per cent. of the exportable surplus of meat from Ireland shows that they are very satisfied with the terms we offer them.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

Is not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that there is a difference of 5s. per live cwt. between the price paid by his Ministry to the Republican farmers and the price paid to the Northern Ireland farmers, and that, in addition, the farmer of the Irish Republic has to pay transport from Ireland to Birkenhead whereas the Northern Ireland farmer has not? Would it not make a great difference to the supply of meat from Ireland—even this 5 per cent. is worth having—if he considered that matter?

Mr. T. Williams

Is it not also the case that the wages paid to agricultural workers in Southern Ireland are only about two-thirds of what they are in Northern Ireland?

Major Lloyd George

That is so, and, of course, the case of Northern Ireland approximates more closely to our position here. But the arrangement to which the hon. Gentleman referred has been in operation for some time, and the fact remains that the percentage of our imports from Ireland is very high and that our imports of carcase meat have increased by considerably more.

Mr. W. G. Bennett

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that Ireland takes very large quantities of fruit from Spain, and that these have to be paid for in some way, such as the export of meat and eggs?

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