HC Deb 28 April 1954 vol 526 cc1617-8
38. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Food the extent of the price guarantees agreed with the Australian meat producers and the estimated liability of the United Kingdom Exchequer; and whether it is proposed to offer similar guarantees to New Zealand and other Empire producers selling meat in the United Kingdom.

The Minister of Food (Major Lloyd George)

The guarantees are to the Australian Government in return for specific obligations undertaken by them. They provide for a deficiency payment related to the difference between the average prices realised on the United Kingdom market during the year from 1st October, 1954, and the current bulk contract prices discounted by agreed percentages. I cannot yet say how these two sets of prices will compare in a free market. There are no similar agreements with other Empire producers, but the meat trade with New Zealand is governed by the joint declaration of the two Governments of which I informed my hon. Friend on 7th April.

Mr. Hurd

While this arrangement with Australia seems very satisfactory, would it not be well to offer similar terms to other Empire countries, bearing in mind that the world is short of meat and that the Conservative Party believes in Empire Preference?

Major Lloyd George

I would remind my hon. Friend that the joint declaration to which I referred in my answer was made at the request of New Zealand. It leaves New Zealand free to sell any quantity of meat elsewhere, whereas Australia is confined to the percentage agreed every year.

Mr. T. Williams

Am I to understand that the guaranteed price has been guaranteed by the Government and not by private importers?

Major Lloyd George

This is an agreement made between the Australian Government and Her Majesty's Government. If it is of any help to the right hon. Gentleman and to the House generally, I will put a copy of that agreement in the Library.