HC Deb 16 December 1963 vol 686 cc823-4
5. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimates he has made of the total requirements for bacon and ham on the United Kingdom market for 1964, 1965, and 1966; and what his estimates are of home production in those years.

Mr. Soames

For the year beginning on 1st April, 1964, the recent understanding between countries supplying bacon to the United Kingdom market envisages total commercial supplies of between 615,000 and 640,000 tons, of which home production should provide about 36¼ per cent. I cannot forecast what the level of requirements will be in future years.

Mr. Farr

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, but does he not think that it would be of assistance if some forecast of future years' pattern of production could be evolved, especially bearing in mind that only seven or eight years ago British production of bacon and ham was far higher and foreign imports were far lower than they are under the present pattern, which has been more or less crystallised by the recent agreement?

Mr. Soames

The 222,000 tons, in round figures, which British producers will be producing under this agreement is the highest quantity of bacon produced by our own home producers since 1955. I am sure my hon. Friend will agree that I cannot foretell what the future increase in consumption will be, neither can I foretell how the demand will move on the part of the consumers for British as opposed to imported bacon.

Mr. Prior

If the British producers can secure a greater proportion of the market, will they be allowed to keep that proportion that they have secured by their own efforts?

Mr. Soames

Provision is made in the agreement for the percentage shares to be changed in the event of a substantial change in marketing conditions. I think that is what my hon. Friend has in mind, and this is expressly provided for in the agreement.

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