4,783 boxes of eggs were exported to the Continent in February. Information about exports in March is not yet available. Future prospects will depend upon the relationship between market prices in this country and on the Continent which I cannot predict.
§ Mr. Dodds
I am not raising this as a complaint, but is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a good deal of interest in these transactions, primarily because the taxpayer is spending a good deal of money subsidising the eggs being exported? If there is some justification, will he take an opportunity to explain what we are getting out of these transactions?
I am aware of the matter. We must keep it in perspective; in February, 4,783 boxes were exported. while in the same month we imported 8,000 boxes and the through-put of the packing stations was 1,750,000 boxes, so that the proportion at present is very low indeed.
§ 33. Mr. Willey
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the estimated amount of the subsidy paid on eggs exported to the Channel Islands during 1956– 57.
The best estimate that I can make of subsidy incurred on eggs sent to packing stations in this country and ultimately exported to the Channel Islands during the financial year 1956– 57 is about £ 50,000.
§ Mr. Willey
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have an estimate for the Channel Islands which puts the figure at £ 1 million? It is upsetting poultry keepers in the Channel Islands. In any case, it seems absurd that we should subsidise eggs for the Channel Islands, where they enjoy Income Tax at 4s. in the £, no death duties and no Purchase Tax.
The figure that the hon. Member mentions would be upsetting to me, too. This trade has been a small but regular one, and at present I see no reason to discourage it.
§ Mr. Willey
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is sufficient to upset 560 the poultry keepers in the Channel Islands?
I should not have suspected that the figures that I have quoted would be sufficient for that purpose. I would add that no representations have been made to me from the Channel Islands.