HC Deb 05 November 1956 vol 558 cc1922-3
5. Mr. Dye

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he will take to prevent excessive quantities of imported meat from undermining the foundations of a prosperous home meat industry.

Mr. Amory

In spite of this year's increases, imports of beef from the Argentine are about 30 per cent. less than pre-war while home production is 25 per cent. greater. Current imports are not excessive, and I cannot anticipate what action might be necessary in hypothetical circumstances. The hon. Member will be aware of the steps which are being taken to adapt the livestock guarantee arrangements so as to ensure that the home meat industry continues to be fully safeguarded.

Mr. Dye

Would the right hon. Gentleman say to what level he expects the market price of home-killed fatstock to fall before he expects to take any steps to prevent this deluge, as he calls it, of imported beef?

Mr. Amory

I never called it a deluge. I have said on previous occasions what I am saying here, that imports at their current level are not excessive.

Mr. Baldwin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the best methods of regulating the importation of this meat would be by a tariff; and is he aware that the only way of countering the dumping of meat, with a depreciated currency, would be by a tariff which would help to pay the guaranteed price to the farmers instead of it being paid by the taxpayer?

Mr. Amory

I will, as I always do, give great weight to the views of my hon. Friend.

Mr. Royle

With all respect to my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Dye), will the Minister note that it is not of necessity to the advantage of the consumer that there should be a limitation of supplies of imported meat?

Mr. Amory

I am well aware of that aspect; I agree with the hon. Member that it is a very important one, which has to be considered.