HC Deb 12 December 1955 vol 547 cc811-2
26. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what profit on imported bacon his Department expects to make during the present financial year.

Mr. Amory

In recent months, firsthand selling prices for bacon have been higher than those assumed when my Department's Estimate for the year was published. Trading in imported bacon may therefore show a profit for the current year, but I am not prepared at this stage to anticipate the outcome.

Mr. Willey

Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that first-hand prices show a deliberate attempt to increase retail prices of bacon, and that it is only when we raise the matter in this House that the first-hand price is reduced again, and that this is the cause of the increase in the price of bacon?

Mr. Amory

The hon. Gentleman is right off the rails. The first-hand selling price is fixed in relation to the strength of current demand.

33. Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether, in view of his decision that the Government cannot guarantee any particular level of output to bacon factories, and that in future this matter must be dealt with by the normal commercial methods of relating production to fluctuating demand, he will state precisely what amount of imported bacon it is intended to release during each month of the next three years so that producers can have a better opportunity to estimate future consumer requirements for British bacon in this country.

Mr. Amory

No, Sir. But I should draw my hon. and gallant Friend's attention to the fact that the Government's commitments in the trade in imported bacon cover only the first nine months of 1956.

Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

Is it not possible for the Government to limit their purchases from abroad in such a way as to ensure that a stable market is maintained for pigs in this country?

Mr. Amory

I am afraid that I did not catch the last part of my hon. and gallant Friend's supplementary question. Of course, that is the broad aim of the Government. The Government have been regulating imports, which, in the past 12 months, have remained remarkably steady and stable. We have been doing it, and we shall continue to do it, with the greatest care and sense of responsibility.