HC Deb 04 February 1960 vol 616 cc1213-4
33. Mr. Sydney Irving

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what reply has been given to the request made to him by the National Council of the British Association of Pig Producers for a review of agricultural policy.

36. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has considered the resolution of the National Council of the British Association of Pig Producers, a copy of which has been sent to him, expressing their lack of confidence in Her Majesty's Government's pig policy; and what reply he has sent.

Mr. John Hare

The Association was informed that the terms of its resolution on the Government's pig policy, which had been sent to the Prime Minister, had been noted. The position of the pig industry will of course come up for reconsideration at the Annual Review which will begin next week.

Mr. Irving

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the December figures show the pig population to be down by 3 per cent., and by 10 per cent. on the figures for a year ago, and that the deep concern that has led the National Council of the British Association of Pig Producers to move a motion of no confidence in the Government means that unless the Government do something very quickly there will be permanent damage to the industry? Will the Minister bear that in mind in the weeks to come?

Mr. Hare

Yes. As I have told the hon. Gentleman, this matter will certainly be considered at the Price Review. I hope that he will note one encouraging fact about the pig returns, which is that the numbers of gilts in pig were up by 7,000 compared with September.

Mr. Dodds

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it a reflection on his Ministry that this body should bypass the Minister and go to the Prime Minister to ask that action should be taken? Does not he appreciate that the complacency which he has shown for such a long time has exhausted the patience of these persons, and that it is hoped that he will do something before long?

Mr. Hare

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I have never shown any complacency. I am sure he would agree that this is a free country and that people may send representations to anyone.

Mr. Willey

While not expecting the right hon. Gentleman to anticipate his Price Review statement, may I ask whether we may assume that he will endeavour during the next few weeks to extract himself from the awful muddle which is now disturbing pig producers?

Mr. Hare

I do not know what the hon. Gentleman means. There is no muddle. I have said that I shall consider this matter at the Price Review.

38. Mr. Grant-Ferris

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will give urgent consideration to the possibility of paying the quality premium on pigs in the form of a production grant.

Mr. John Hare

I am sure that my hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that this proposal has been put forward by the National Farmers' Union and is a matter for the forthcoming Annual Review. I cannot comment further at this stage.

Mr. Grant-Ferris

Whilst appreciating that my right hon. Friend cannot say very much at the moment, may I ask if he realises that the disincentive of 2s. a score has done much to reduce the national herd and that we must pay much more attention to quality if we want to maintain our standards?

Mr. Hare

I will certainly note what my hon. Friend has said.