HC Deb 07 July 1960 vol 626 cc678-80
17. Sir J. Maitland

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what specific action he or those who represent him on international bodies such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation or the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation have taken to enable surplus food to be exported to countries part of whose populations are known to be suffering from undernourishment.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John Hare)

My representatives have always supported the efforts of the Food and Agriculture Organisation to find ways and means of furthering distribution of surplus foodstuffs compatible with their internationally agreed principles for surplus disposal and other relevant international arrangements and obligations.

Sir J. Maitland

My right hon. Friend has not answered the Question as to what lead we had taken. I asked him, does he not realise that here is an opportunity to help others at the same time as we are helping ourselves, because there is considerable anxiety about the amount of the agricultural surpluses that there are in Europe today? Will he not see that the promises of this Government and of previous Governments are honoured in this matter?

Mr. Hare

As I have said, we are taking our full part in the Food and Agriculture Organisation, which is specifically charged with responsibility for this, and we shall continue to do so. We, in fact, import something like 50 per cent. of what we eat.

Sir J. Duncan

Does not my right hon. Friend realise that we are subscribing very largely to various international funds, the principal part of which goes towards the purchase, mainly from America, of articles for the underdeveloped countries? Why should we not participate in that sort of thing so that the surpluses in Europe, and even in this country, can be exported in that way?

Mr. Hare

We are playing our full share in the F.A.O. in these matters, but I stress that the F.A.O. considers that the solution of the long-term problem of under-nourishment lies in improving the food productivity of these less developed countries and in the extension of their purchasing power. That is a view which Her Majesty's Government share

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

I hope that my right hon. Friend will not limit his interest in this matter to what we can do through F.A.O., since we have other important responsibilities, especially towards Arab refugees. Cannot the United Kingdom, perhaps together with other members of the Commonwealth, itself do something direct in real terms?

Mr. Hare

The point my hon. Friend has raised is always in the mind of Her Majesty's Government.

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