§ 38. Mr. Nabarro
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will make a statement upon his recent conversations with British bacon producers and curers, consequent upon the difficulties of the industry, and the proposed removal of the tariff on Danish bacon; and, in view of disquiet among pig rearers, what steps he proposes to take to assist the British pig and bacon industries.
§ 44. Sir R. Grimston
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on future policy affecting bacon pig producers and bacon curers in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. John Hare
The present difficulties of the curing industry arise not from the proposal to remove the duty on Danish bacon, but from the strong demand for pork pigs at a time when pig numbers have fallen following the decline in our breeding herd. The present situation affects not only the curers but also the pork and manufacturing markets. I have already met the curers and have arranged meetings with other sections of the industry shortly.
So far as producers are concerned, pig prices are at a high level. Producers will, of course, continue to have the protection of the guaranteed price. I have already announced that the guaranteed price for pigs will not be reduced at the next Annual Review. Pig producers should be able to plan ahead with confidence.
§ Mr. Nabarro
Having regard to the grave anxiety felt throughout the pig rearing industry and the bacon curing industry, will not my right hon. Friend agree that a proper measure to deal with this situation would be the separation of guarantees as between bacon pigs and pork pigs? Will he consider that aspect of the matter, together with a marketing scheme, as a longer-term solution?
§ Mr. Hare
I shall, of course, consider any practical and sensible proposal which is; put before me from any quarter—[Interruption.]—especially from the source from which the suggestion has come at this moment. I would remind the House, however, that there is a great number of arguments against the two courses suggested by my hon. Friend.
§ Sir R. Grimston
Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the difficulties has been to get an even through-put at the bacon factories? Will he consider this question of a two-tier price list from that angle?
§ Mr. Hare
There is a great number of arguments for and against the various proposals which have been put forward. I think that we must keep the matter in perspective. I do not think that it is realised that, in fact, 38,000 more pigs were certified at bacon factories between April and September this year than last year.
§ Mr. Willey
He said that he is willing to consider any representations. Does he remember that we had a debate on the subject in the summer, when we pointed out what would happen? We made representations. I hope that he will now consider them.
§ Mr. Hare
I can assure the House that, if my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) does not think that the reply was bureaucratic, it was not. To the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) I will say that he knows just as well as I do that there are considerable complications in this matter and considerable differences of opinion. A right course must be thought out extremely carefully and no precipitate action would be wise.